Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reverb Gamers #20 - #31

Reverb Gamers is a project from Atlas Games that includes 31 question prompts to kick off gaming in 2012. It gives a structure to gaming conversations and asks all the right questions. My plan is to do at least 2 questions a week starting here. Also, check out @ReverbGamers on twitter or check it out on Facebook to keep the conversation going.
In an attempt to catch up a bit, I'm doing these in bulk.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #20: What was the most memorable character death you've ever
experienced? What makes it stick with you?

The most memorable death is a relatively recent death and wasn't one of mine.

In Star Wars Saga RPG, I was gamemastering the Dawn of Defiance campaign for my friends. The group of  proto-rebels were deep in Imperial territory on Coruscant. And they were in the skyscraper fortress tower of the Inquisitorus. As the tower began to fall, the resident scoundrel, Jaster, decided the best thing to do was to make sure his friends and the scientists they were sent to rescue were safe. Unfortunately for Jaster, despite securing everyone in pods that would inevitably keep them alive for the fall of a couple hundred stories, he had only his jetpack to keep him alive, and it was out of fuel. Jaster fell to the ground and severl thousands of tons of building fell on him.

Heroic deaths are always the best in an RPG, and the group felt like it was missing something without Jaster, despite the fact that his player built a new character to keep playing. I've seen many other character deaths in my years of gaming, but Jaster riding a building down to his own end remains my favorite.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #21: What's the best bribe you've ever given (or received as) a GM? What did you get (give) for it?

I'm not above doing art for the group or miniatures if it nets me extra XP, but I've rarely been bribed as a GM. Sure people have given me food for game, and I am always willing to give a reroll or some lesser reward.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #22: Describe the worst game you've ever played in. What made it so bad? Did your fellow players help, or make it worse?

I cannot blame the game, but I played an absolutely horrid game of D&D at I*CON one year in the RPGA room. It was an intro adventure to the then living campaign (Forgotten Realms, I think). I remember a game with dire cows and other insipid monsters, and it COULD have been funny, or at least fun. But the people that were running it.. Gods, it was boring as watching tar fill the gaps in a street.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #23: Have you ever experienced Total Party Kill (TPK), or been close to it? What effect did that have on you personally? On your group of players? Have you ever used retroactive continuity (retcon) to save yourself? Why or why not?

Actually, I just had my first TPK as a gamemaster recently. The party had stumbled across an angry Will 'O Wisp. Despite several ways to stay alive, a mixture of bad tactics and bad dice rolling cost the party their healer first. The rest followed within five turns after. I cheered inwardly at the genocide, but it was the end of the campaign as a result. Oh sure, I could have retconned it, but I have a rule. Unless you are a complete moron, I won't let you die in the first adventure, but from that point on it's no holds barred. That first adventure prepares you for the level of lethality to come, so despite it meaning the end of the campaign, it was a rule I stood by. I was even rolling in front of the players so I couldn't fudge the rolls to keep them alive.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #24: Have you ever been to a game convention? What was it like to be surrounded by so many other gamers? If not, would you like to go to one? Why or why not?

We regularly attend Origins Game Fair in Columbus and Gencon in Indianapolis both as representatives of Slugfest Games as well as on our own. Of course, I could take the low road and make the obligatory smelly gamer joke, but honestly, it's great to be among people with the same interests as myself. Knowing at any moment, I can sit down and play any game I choose, it's a little like nerdly heaven. Yeah, there's work and I spend more time like a zombie in my exhaustion than I'd like, but such is life.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #25: If you game enough, you're bound to run into someone being an ass. What's the most asinine thing someone's done in a game with you? How did you react? Did that experience change the way you game?

I used to game with a guy named Pete. I can tell Pete stories all day, because the man made some terrible, terrible decisions: in life as well as game. There were times he got bored so blindly ran into battle with Lone Star forcing us to fight off the cops just to pull his character, Rook's, miserable ass out of the fray. There were times he would speak up in tense negotiations only to make it all go to pot.

Yet we kept him around. Despite bing an ass, as a group we were able to sit back and laugh at him- often to his face. Sure, there were times we wanted to kill him, but as a whole, we were tolerant of him.

It did make me judge my gaming companions more thoroughly in the years that have passed, but that's no surprise.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #26: Who or what was the most memorable NPC you've ever encountered? Why?

Maybe I have short term memory only... but the only one that stands out is from a couple years ago. Long before he became the leader of The Shadow Lodge in Pathfinder Society Games, the information broker Grandmaster Torch was always a fun character to meet or control as a GM.

Pompous and less than magnanimous, Torch played PC's like chess pieces and ruled Absalom's underworld with a smirk, wink, and fire. He was scarred and burned on half his face, but used it more to intimidate than to make others feel sorry for him. And he was never really an ally, but often players had to meet with him to learn more about the goings on in Absalom.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #27: If you were an Ent, what kind of Ent would you be? Or, what other NPC creature would you be? Why?

An Ent? interesting question...  I suppose I'd be a willow: Big and bowed to protect the little things beneath my leaves. Bendable in the wind, but solid as oak in my trunk. Slow to move, but quick to change, full of beauty in unconventional ways.

Or maybe I just like that tree.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #28: Do you have any house rules when you game? What are they, and why do you use them? If not, why not?

Our favorite house rule regards hit points when advancing in d20 games. The Gamemaster rolls a hit die in secret for the players as they advance. When the player rolls his HP, if he doesn't like it, he has the option of using the GM's roll instead. However, since the GM rolled in secret, they might end up with a lower roll. Regardless, if they choose to go with the GM's roll, they have to keep that number even if it is lower.

I don't know why I started this house rule, It just came out when playing Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 in the early 2000's and as I went from game group to game group, it followed. It even happens in d20 games I don't run now.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #29: What does the word "gamer" mean to you? Is that different than what other people seem to think it means? 

The word gamer, to me, means anyone that likes there entertainment with a healthy does of rules. It doesn't matter the medium, board, rpg, video game, all have rules and attract similar aspects of the player.

Game has a different meaning to the world at large. Images of fat, smelly, uncouth guys comes to mind rather than everyone and anyone that lets themselves enjoy games of role, board, card, and video.

Their loss, not ours.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #30: What lessons have you taken from gaming that you can apply to your real life?

Tolerance, to think before I leap, and never trust in luck alone. Luck is a traitorous, jealous temptress and she'll screw you every time.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #31: How would your life be different if you'd never gotten into gaming?

Gaming has been a very large part of my life for many many years so it's hard to imagine. When I wanted something to take the place of other addictions, gaming was there for me to dive in. And my dreams, of writing in the industry I love? Yep, I'm there now.. so wow. Where would I be without something that so defines me?

I wouldn't be writing, that's for sure. Gaming pulled that out of me and made it important. I'd still draw and paint, but my subject matter would inevitably be different. I think the better question would be "How would I be different" rather than my life.

And I would be someone else entirely.

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