10: Largest in-game surprise you have experienced?
Playing Rifts, I was most surprised the moment that it was revealed that my Dog-Boy, Asher, just unwittingly became a Paladin of the archangel Gabriel. We had no idea that old Gabe was Gabriel, and I certainly wasn’t expecting a whole slew of new abilities (and responsibilities).
11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?
Definitely my Dad. He was my first DM, and as such really shaped the way I play and the way I run campaigns myself. I haven’t played more than a couple of games without him, actually, and I’m glad to be influenced by his easygoing and creative style.
I have my own style, of course, but without Dad introducing me to RPGs and gaming with me on the regular, I’d be a very different gamer.
12: What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?
Rifts, which is what we always play because we love the setting and world created by Palladium Books. Also because I won’t have my physical copies of Savage Worlds: Rifts until December, and we’re trying to set up a game before that. Same beloved setting, but with the streamlined SW rules.
However, we’ll have a new player, too. So I’m going to try my hand at convincing the group to run a new system, something less familiar, but far less crunchy. Maybe Wayfarer: Things Beyond Wonder (an indie RPG which I reviewed here) or the World of Warcraft RPG (based off of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5)?
13: What makes a successful campaign?
Creativity. Fun. Focus. Comradeship. Heart. By your powers combined, I am Captain Campaign!
Seriously though, I think the most successful campaigns are ones where everyone gets a share of the spotlight, where the DM didn’t pour all their blood and tears into the campaign only to be derailed by a revolving door, and one where the players and DM are creative and loose enough to fly by the seat of their pants when necessary.
So much goes into a good campaign. And so much can derail or spoil it, too.
14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?
Hmmmm…Trevor and Jackie were great fun to play with, and hopefully I’ll be able to play with them in the near future. Katie was super creative and her puns were the best, plus she knows Jackie and Trevor, so there’s no need for an intro. Throw in my Dad as the DM (or myself, if he’s not feeling into it) and my Brother Kelder as another avid player, and you’ve got a team of people that I would love to play with, which you, the reader, have no knowledge of! :D
Why they’d make my dream team? I think Jackie would play an overpowered character, whether a magic user or just an immensely strong one, and Trevor would play a skilled character that could take the leadership role (thank goodness, it’s usually up to me to do so). Katie plays a good support character, but also a hard hitter, heavy artillery class, so she could be a damage dealer, support, or our tank! Dad is a great DM, and as a player he would probably play something else that hits hard to help even out the odds in combat. I like playing skilled characters and support classes, so I would probably be the fixer or healer of the group. And Kelder likes playing oddball races and characters (his first was a Vampire, for example), that can lend support and high velocity damage with their special abilities. We’d make a damn fine party.
15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?
There’s a lot of fantastic sources to draw inspiration from; television, books, other RPGers and the content they put out, etc. I’d have to say my greatest inspiration comes from the novels I read. I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi stories, and cobbling together little references and outlines of plots from those memorable stories makes for more interesting campaign much of the time. And way less work for the DM!
Plus, when you see that gleam in your player’s eye, that they know where that NPC name or the blue police box came from…I love that shared recognition across the table.
16: Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?
This was a tough one, but I eventually settled on Douglas Adams, the iconic author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Any gamer who’s read his works would have to agree with me that his imagery and wordplay are what Dungeon Master’s dream of. He’s imaginative, brilliant, and sometimes downright loony. He is more than welcome at our table if he happens to come back from whatever grave or far flung planet he’s hiding in.
Alternate answer: Maya Angelou. I bet she’s a bad ass role player. She just has such a way of thinking things through and talking to others, I feel like she could really change an entire campaign (like she did the world).
17: What fictional character would best fit in your group?
Hmm…Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy? Lots of explosions and improvised weaponry. I’m only half joking with that suggestion.
Perhaps FN-2187, or “Finn”, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens is another one that would fit in so well with our group. I feel like he’d be hesitant at first and just wanting to get along, but then he’d really become his character and look at the rest of us and our half-brained schemes and say, “Oh, come on!” before diving in to rescue us all.
Honestly, any of the Star Wars characters would be welcome at our table; excepting Palpatine and Kylo Ren (no force powers at the table!)
Any intellectual character would fit in well, too. Like Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?
There are just so many new things constantly being produced that RPGers could re purpose and use to make gaming easier. I’d have to say that the most impressive innovation recently is Roll20 and other similar applications that allow gamers to get together over long distances. Add in dice rolling applications and it’s own marketplace for developers to put out exclusive art and adventures, and you’ve got an incredible model of what kind of network and influence gaming has all over the world. It can only go up from here.
Other innovations worth mention include things like mobile applications, braille dice (and other accessibility options), interactive tabletop tablets, and 3D printing, especially with how accessible they’ve become to the average person. I am currently saving up for a 3D printer, and we don’t even use miniatures when we play (but we will)!
19: Best way to learn a new game?
By jumping in, of course!
Well, in a manner of speaking. I greatly prefer having an experienced, forgiving, and patient player showing myself or a new player the ropes with a new system (or role playing in general). But, I stand by it, the best way to learn a game is to play it. Skim the book a little bit, get a character idea cobbled together with the DM, and then have fun and learn the rules as you go!
As the Dungeon Master, however, though I don’t feel you have to have read every scrap of supplements and the GM’s guides, you should at least get the premise and basic rules of the game down before you throw your players into it. It’s just easier on everyone. So a DM should read the important, meaty parts, write a character or two of their own before playing, and commit the most common rules (and any applicable house rulings) to memory.
20: Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to play as many systems as I’d like…I haven’t even played all of the ones that I own! So I’m going to have to default to Rifts here.
To be sure, Rifts is a “challenging” system; as far as crunchiness, it’s like comparing porridge to Grape Nuts cereal – you get more than your daily dose of RPG-flavored fiber when you play!
As far as it being rewarding, it’s my favorite system, even above other mainstream games. The most rewarding part of it, that which redeems all of its faults, is the setting itself. There is so much content to choose from and be inspired by. You can pick up any other Palladium book or supplement and graft it in seamlessly. the Megaverse is vast, and Palladium Books really captured that.
21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?
We actually haven’t had many rule snafus. I think the closest thing to a funny misinterpretation would be my Brother Kelder writing up a character in Rifts and completely neglecting to select his skills for two whole sessions. It wasn’t until I got a glance at his woefully short skill list that he realised he was supposed to pick up few more skills during creation.
22: Supposedly random game events that keep recurring!?
When our groups roll up a character in Rifts, we always get one Insanity to start, which is (usually) a detriment like a phobia, mental illness, or obsession that tends to get in the way – any character who suffers a trauma gets an additional insanity. This is actually an optional part of character creation, but we always do it; it adds a certain spice to backstory, character motives, and other aspects.
One of our inside jokes is “If you get Reborn on your first Insanity roll, roll again.” You roll percentile dice to determine a random insanity, or to be directed to another, more specific table (Rifts is all about specificity). To get Reborn, you have to roll between 01-10% on your very first Insanity roll, and here’s what it does:
The trauma turns the character into a different person. Alignment reversal: good becomes evil, evil becomes good. Anarchist becomes Principled or Scrupulous. Unprincipled becomes Aberrant or Anarchist. Also make a random roll on on the Disposition Table in the section on Optimal Character Background also presented in step 8. – Page 332, Rifts: Ultimate Edition
Three players with different characters in two different campaigns all ended up with Reborn right off the bat. The campaign and/or group makeup didn’t really work well with the stark alignment reversal (read: we were feeling lazy after two hours of writing up characters in the first place), so we rerolled Insanities and thus the inside joke was born. Funny enough, for being a random occurrence, it keeps on happening.
And we keep on ignoring it.
23: Share one of your best “Worst Luck” stories.
Oh, I’ve got a few of those. This one is a very strange case of “worst luck, best luck, worst luck” (and in that order…don’t worry, it will make sense in a minute.)
I was playing an Auto-G in Rifts, which is a shape shifting race that can replicate the exact DNA of a specific individual by ingesting some of their hair, saliva, blood, etc., or just a general appearance of a specific race. This is one of the few times I was playing on the side of the “bad guys”, the Coalition State (which is more interesting because the CS hates shape shifters and seeks to exterminate the Auto-G race).
So our party, composed of a small group of Coalition soldiers with various skills (mine being the only “magical” ones), we come across a felled tree while driving. The tree has obviously been set as a trap, so my character takes on the form of the most powerful creature who’s DNA he has available: a wolf breed Dog-Boy. We get out to survey the area and prepare for an ambush, while placing C4 to clear away the tree blocking our path. Sure enough, that’s when the enemy strikes.
They lob grenades at us, we take cover. This is where our game of “high or low” comes in. The DM (Dad, in this case) rolls percentiles after the dodge/strike roll is matched and the player in question gets to guess if they rolled high or low; if they’re correct, it’s in their favor, if not, well…
Worst luck #1: Ian, a player we used to run with, meets the strike/dodge roll of a thrown grenade, but fails the high low spectacularly.
Best luck: Ian says “Man, I bet it was a 34!”, lamenting his bad luck. Dad looks at him in astonishment and reveals that it was, in fact, a 34. Dad declares that Ian’s character miraculously saves versus the grenade, catching it and passing it off in another randomly determined direction like he were playing a game of hot potato.
Worst luck #2: The grenade is randomly lobbed under our vehicle, where my character had taken cover. It explodes next to my character as I’m scrambling to get away and I take massive amounts of damage and am unable to fight any longer.
Luckily, I had transformed into a Mega Damage race, so I didn’t die. But still. We were out a vehicle and Ian nearly killed me saving his own ass.
This is also when we installed a new house rule: if you guess incorrectly on “high or low”, you have a one time opportunity to guess the exact number rolled, if you do, then you miraculously succeed. A sort of divine intervention, if you will.
The Dungeon Rat
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