Here it is. I am starting this mildly sleep deprived and we shall see what horrors my brain comes up with as it slowly deteriorates, but these are the final 10 questions. Let us not delay before I zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..
QUESTION THE TWENTY-FIRST: Favourite RPG Setting
Hm. So there are a few strong contenders. For a world that is fantastic straight out of the box that comes with its own tone and flavour I think I’d go, once again, with WFRP, with the 40K version being not too far behind it. They really are just perfect little packages of grimdark with rules to match and the universes they represent are so integral to their being that I love them dearly. However I think my absolute favourite has to be my heavily modified version of Eberron from my much talked about campaign. It’s the one I think about most, the one I want to return to the most, and the one with more scraps of paper and thought lying around.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-SECOND: Perfect Gaming Environment
I wish I could play face to face with my group but, sadly, we’re somewhat scattered throughout Canada. A perfect gaming environment would be a separate room in a house I don’t yet (and probably never will) own with dimmer-switch mood lighting controls on the table, surround sound speakers with a connection to my computer also at the table, and a large table (have I talked about the table?) made of some rich wood and covered in a protective layer of clear plastic large enough for up to 9 people to sit comfortably in the surrounding comfortable chairs. The walls would be decorated with weapons and books and in the corner would be a slightly concealed mini fridge and snack cabinet.
But, since I like my current group and they would never be able to play in that room, I rather like my current setup which is just my computer and aged, but still comfy, computer chair. The benefit is I can totally play in my boxers if I feel like it and no one complains!
QUESTION THE TWENTY-THIRD: Perfect game for you (meaning me)
Hm, once again the language of the question is a little ambiguous but my reading of it is going to be, once again, about game systems and their IPs that are inherently connected to them.
Since I usually sit in the GM role and typically have more enthusiam than dedication or time to prep there are a few things I have to have from my games. First, they need to be relatively simple. I’m a fairly smart guy and it doesn’t take me terribly long to figure out the basics, at least, of most systems but if I’m going to be running it I need to know that I have a good handle on the mechanics. DnD is fine because I’ve been playing it the longest and most of the editions that have come along haven’t made the math any more difficult, and haven’t changed how a basic roll is made much, if at all. MnM seems like it would be complicated with so many custom abilities available to players but actually the entire game is just DnD’s Save vs DC mechanic and once you figure that out it’s all easy. The Warhammers have a simple D10 system because they just want to kill things and you and don’t want to muck about with too many rules. Cthulhu is similar even though it uses twice as many D10s.
The next thing I look for is how easy it is for me to adlib and create meaningful and fun encounters completely on the fly when my players madly dash off in some random direction I didn’t anticipate or plan for. DnD gets harder for this because I like to make my combats meaningful and don’t really enjoy random encounters, but putting together an actual encounter takes time. Cthulhu’s a bit easier because if they avoid the plot they either find nothing, the plot finds them, or you get bored and drop a byakhee on their heads to teach them a lesson. Warhammer’s pretty much the same.
But for me the perfect sustem is one where you don’t even need the rulebook to make up these new encounters. In fact, by the later games we played using it I barely even looked at the book at all. Mutants and Masterminds was so easy for me to improvise with that it is, in my mind the perfect system for me.
“But Tom,” I hear you say, “there are other games with even fewer rules that you can completely make up stuff with, like HeroQuest or etc.” And that is very true and while I enjoy that about those games it comes down to what they lack. My group and I very much enjoy crunching numbers during character gen. Some of us more than others, sure, but by and large it holds true. If the maths aren’t there to back things up two things happen: some of my players gets bored and listless and can’t come up with a concept, or some of them go nuts and we get into shouting matches about why they can’t play this overpowered bundle of traits they’re trying to justify. MnM allows them to build just about anything they want, and encourages them to try and break it. However it usually just bends a little and everyone is happy.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-FOURTH: Favourite House Rule
We don’t use these a lot so I have a limited number I can even remember. Most aren’t very interesting or are just a minor thing I let a character have that either made them more interesting in exchange for mechanical power or was a boost to bring them up to party level when they felt underpowered.
The only one I can think of actually worth talking about isn’t even really a house rule, because stuff like this is built right into the system even if it isn’t implicitly used in this way, is my Eberron game, which uses MnM 2e, has an adjusted power cap. Normally power levels cap out based on the experience analog of the system. Individual characters can trade off one type of cap for another – for instance you can trade your maximum possible defense down, making it more likely that you will get hit, but can raise your toighness up by an equal amount, meaning that if they do hit you it probably will hurt less. During the game the GM makes a combat more or less difficult by putting out enemies over or below that cap. In our game I’ve gone a step further. While the players’ level is 7 and powers are capped there, I’ve giving them the experience for almost lvl 9 characters. This allows them to really flesh out their builds and have lots of options while still keeping their upper limits in check.
As I said, I really didn’t have a lot to choose from. It’s either that or the fact that I have a DMPC sorcerer right now who only learns spells if they get cast on him.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-FIFTH: Favourite Revolutionary Game Mechanic
I think it my be a bit of hyperbole to call it revolutionary but I really am a big fan of DnD5e’s Proficiency system. For those who don’t know about it, the way it works is characters just get better at doing things as they level up, independent of stats or multiclassing because it’s tied only to character level. It’s a simplified version of the BAB charts from 3rd edition and everybody follows the same one regardless of class. It improves anything the character rolls a d20 for, as long as they are proficient in what they are attempting. For instance, a fighter is likely proficient in his weapon and the Athletics skills, so he adds the bonus to those rolls, while the wizard is trained in arcana and casting spells so he adds the bonus to those rolls (and Save DCs vs the spells he casts). Now, this does sometimes lead to odd moments such as if you were to give the wizard Gauntlets of Strength he would suddenly become an expert at fighting with his quarter staff. However, it really simplifies so many headachy parts of a DnD character sheet and it makes calling for rolls that much easier. I very much approve of this change.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-SIXTH: Favourite Inspiration for your Game
This is a tough one because I steal ideas from just about everything. It sometimes depends on what game I’m running – maybe I’ll pull a little more heavily from comic books if I’m running a superhero adventure, for instance. However sometimes I get wild ideas like running a Gundam suit game using modified DnD4e rules. At the moment one idea that’s tickling my brain is a campaign I’ve put off running yet again in favour of others, but it’s a pirate-themed DnD adventure on the Inner Sea of the Forgotten Realms setting, but heavily inspired by tone and maybe some elements ripped off of the One Piece series.
But I would have to say there’s one font of inspiration that I owe a lot to, and that’s actually our very own Hal. Listening to him run the 4e games that got me listening to the site, Rolemaster, Largest Dungeon, and others really taught me a lot about how to be a good DM and how to relax and have fun while doing it.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-SEVENTH: Favourite Idea for Merging two games into one
Did you not see above where I mentioned Gundams and 4E?
In all seriousness, though, the real answer is my Eberron game which is using a completely different system and features two distinct parties on their own quests and adventures but with intermingling plots, operating at completely different levels of power and with completely different themes. it’s a mess and I love it.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-EIGHTH: Favourite Game we no longer play
Technically the Eberron game as well? Although we’re going back to it in a few months (knock on wood) so maybe it doesn’t qualify. Same with the Cthulhu games we have in the works but play sparingly.
I think, then, it’d have to be the MnM campaign that started it all. It was my first time GMing, I had only 2 players, and almost no idea what I was doing. We had amazing adventures in that game – memories that I will never forget. Fast forward many years and I now have as many as 6 devoted players, a number of games under my belt, and more memories than I can count. None of it would have happened without that first game, so it will always hold a place in my heart.
Man, I could talk about that game forever! But then we’d never get this done, so we’re gonna push forward.
QUESTION THE TWENTY-NINTH: Favourite RPG website/blog
If anyone answers anything but RPGMP3.com I move that we throw them under a bus.
QUESTION THE THIRTIETH: Favourite RPG playing celebrity
Lately I’ve been very impressed with Yuri Lowenthal, who can be seen playing Titansgrave or as the voice of various characters including Sasuke in the English dub or Naruto. He just seems like a really cool dude and I’d like to hang out with him sometime. Maybe play a game. Not with my usual friends though. One session with those monsters and Yuri might never talk to me again.
I’d also be totally cool with hanging out with Alison Haislip cuz she’s purty.
QUESTION THE FINAL QUESTION THANK GOD: Favourite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGing
There are things besides RPGing?
In reality, aren’t we all just playing a role? We present the character we have generated over the years, minimizing our flaws and maximizing our potential. We play games of chance with uncertain outcomes every day. Sometimes we try to shift the odds in our favour by attempting skills we have honed, complaining as loudly as possible, or strategic gifts of pizza and beer. We try to handle dialogues and interactions as best we can, but aren’t always as witty or capable as we wish we were. We pursue loot and treasures, though sometimes not monetary, and anyone standing in our path and preventing us from obtaining them is a monster. And sometimes it feels as though there is a great and omnipotent being who controls our fates by his whim, and he is a sadistic motherf****r who will never get a girlfriend because his face looks like pizza and he still lives with his mom.
We did it! Okay, in theory there should be another 4 months at least before there’s another one of these lists. I will totally do the next one when it comes out but for now I need sleep and I need to play more games so that I’ll have more to talk about then.
Goodnight, goodbye, good luck, and good god, it’s 5:30 in the morning