Or at least that’s what I intend to use it for: Doll Divine
Or at least that’s what I intend to use it for: Doll Divine
Alexander, Lloyd – The Prydain Chronicles
Baum, L. Frank – The Oz Books
Bellairs, John – The Face in the Frost; The House with a Clock in its Wall; The Figure in the Shadows, etc.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice – John Carter Series, Tarzan series, etc.
Carroll, Lewis – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass
Garner, Alan – Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen; The Moon Of Gomrath, etc.
Le Guin, Ursula K. – The Earthsea Trilogy, etc.
Lewis, C.S. – Narnia series, et al.
Barber, Richard – A Companion to World Mythology
Buehr, Walter – Chivalry and the Mailed Knight
Coolidge, Olivia – Greek Myths; The Trojan War; Legends of the North
d’Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin – Norse Gods and Giants; Trolls
Hazeltine, Alice – Hero Tales from Many Lands
Hillyer, Virgil – Young People’s Story of the Ancient World: Prehistory – 500 B.C.
Jacobs, Joseph – English Folk and Fairy Tales
Macauley, David – Castles
McHargue, Georgess – The Beasts of Never: A History of Natural and Unnatural Monsters, Mythical and Magical; The Impossible People
Renault, Mary – The Lion in the Gateway
Sellow, Catherine F. – Adventures with the Giants
Sutcliff, Rosemary – Tristram and Iseult
Williams, Jay – Life in the Middle Ages
Winer, Bart – Life in the Ancient World
Anderson, Poul – Three Hearts and Three Lions; The Broken Sword; The Merman’s Children, etc.
Anthony, Piers – the Xanth series
Brackett, Leigh – The Coming of the Terrans; The Secret of Sinharat; People of the Talisman, etc.
Campbell, J. Ramsey – Demons by Daylight
Davidson, Avram – The Island Under the earth; Ursus of Ultima Thule; The Phoenix in the Mirror, etc.
de Camp, L. Sprague – The Fallible Fiend; The Goblin Tower, etc.
de Camp, L. Sprague and Pratt, Fletcher – The Incomplete Enchanter; Land of Unreason, etc.
Lord Dunsany – Over the Hills and Far Away; Book of Wonder; The King of Elfland’s Daughter, etc.
Eddison, E.R. – The Worm Ouroboros
Eisenstein, Phyllis – Born to Exile; Sorcerer’s Son
Farmer, Phillip Jose – The Gates of Creation; The Maker of Universes; A Private Cosmos, etc.
Finney, Charles G. – The Unholy City; The Circus of Dr. Lao
Heinlein, Robert A. – Glory Road
Howard, Robert E. – Conan; Red Nails; Pigeons from Hell
Lee, Tanith – Night’s Master; The Storm Lord; The Birthgrave, etc.
Leiber, Fritz – Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series
Lovecraft, H.P. – The Doom that Cam to Sarnath; The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath; The Dunwich Horror
Merritt, A.E. – The Moon Pool; Dwellers in the Mirage; The Ship of Ishtar, etc.
Moorcock, Michael – The Stealer of Souls; The Knight of the Swords; Gloriana, etc.
Mundy, Talbot – Tros of Samothrace
Niven, Larry – The Flight of the Horse; The Magic Goes Away
Norton, Andre – Witch World; The Year of the Unicorn; The Crystal Gryphon, etc.
Offut, Andrew – The Iron Lords; Shadows Out of Hell
Pratt, Fletcher – The Blue Star; The Well of the Unicorn
Smith, Clark Ashton – Xiccarph; Lost Worlds; Genius Loci
Stewart, Mary – The Crystal Cave; The Hollow Hills; The Last Enchantment
Stoker, Bram – Dracula
Swann, Thomas Burnett – Cry Silver Bells; The Tournament of the Thorns; Moondust, etc.
Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings
Vance, Jack – The Eyes of the Overworld; Dying Earth; The Dragon Masters, etc.
Wagner, Karl Edward – the Kane series
White, T.H. – The Once and Future King
Zelazny, Roger – Jack of Shadows; Lord of Light; the Chronicles of Amber, etc.
Beagle, Peter S.; Bok, Hannes; Cabell, James Branch; Carter, Lin; Cherryh, C.J.; Delany, Samuel R.; Fox, Gardner; Gaskell, Jane; Green, Roland; Haggard, H. Rider; Jakes, John; Kurtz, Katherine; Lanier, Sterling; McCaffrey, Anne; McKillip, Patricia A.; Moore, C.L.; Myers, John Myers; Peake, Mervyn; Saberhagen, Fred; Walton, Evangeline; Wellman, Manley Wade; Williamson, Jack
Carter, Lin (ed.) – The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories; Flashing Swords
Offut, Andrew (ed.) – Swords Against Darkness
Borges, Jorge Luis – The Book of Imaginary Beings
Bullfinch, Thomas – Bullfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend>
Repost and answer. Or, if you don’t have a blog, answer in the comments. Or be a big rebel and do neither.
1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
SFX!’s “Primary Rule”, which requires that proposed actions make sense according to the genre, but gives the players final say over whether they find their own actions sufficiently plausible to go ahead.
2. When was the last time you GMed?
3. When was the last time you played?
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
A Mission:Impossible or Dortmunder style caper adventure, where the players concoct and carry out a scheme so cunning they could put whiskers on it and call it a weasel. That’s actually my next project after Zap! and Zorch! are released…
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Try to keep a poker-face. Think about what the NPCs are likely to do, or if there’s anything important going on in the environment. Listen to what they’re saying, in case I have to correct their recollections or elaborate on something that they seem to be misinterpreting/jumping to a conclusion about.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Depends on the game; we usually have cheese and crackers or something like that at the Sunday game. Hangout games, maybe some pretzels but usually nothing.
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Yes, but that may partly be because I tend to play at night.
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
Figuring out a way to thwart an enemy spy-camera installation without alerting them that we were on to them.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Always. I don’t try to make the settings too serious any more. I try for a balanced tone, but assume the attempts to lighten things up mean they don’t really want a serious setting. Or maybe they don’t like the way I deliver it.
10. What do you do with goblins?
I hardly ever use goblins. Last time I did they were a bunch of oddballs, more or less out of Labyrinth.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
I’m always looking for stuff. Illustrations from John Carter books and H. P. Lovecraft figure heavily in the feel of the Skyships of Atlantis setting.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
When one of my players, having successfully in character smooth-talked the posse searching for one of the party members turned to that party member and (still completely in character, using her character’s distinctive accent) completely blew it addressing him by his full name and commenting on his lucky escape, realized what she had just done and exclaimed “Oh, shit!” I literally fell out of my chair laughing.
13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
Moldvay’s Basic D&D, to transcribe the recommended reading appendix.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Frazetta, or Gustave Doré
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
No. Creeped out, sometimes, but afraid, never.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
I’m running Stonehell for some kids, and that’s fun, but mostly I run my own adventures.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
Anywhere there are enough comfortable seats and relative quiet. I don’t usually run anything that requires a battle mat or table.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Arduin Grimoire and Risus
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
L. Frank Baum and H.P. Lovecraft.
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
A creative, engaged, and cooperative one; I don’t like players who can’t mesh their agendas with what the other players want out of the game.
21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?
I usually mine the cities I’ve lived in for locales in games.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
Other than the ones I’m working on? I really like character portrait generators, but I’d like some that were more robust as far as poses and body types…. something more like the character costume generator in City of Heroes, but with an easy way to publish to the web. Then the same sort of mix-n-match toolkit for building scenery. Not a full-fledged virtual walkthrough, just something that you could quickly whip up an illustration of a locale that you could share with the players to give a feel for a place.
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
Not really. Once in a while I find myself having to explain what an RPG is to somebody’s relative, but the conversation isn’t usually very long. It’s gotten a lot easier since video games and MMOs have become fairly mainstream.
Kyrinn Eis, who’s currently playing in my Skyships of Atlantis! setting as part of play-testing Zorch! the Fantasy RPG, was asking last night about how you’d run a grittier setting. The default in the SFX! games tends toward a fairly light-hearted tone where the protagonists are never in much actual danger. For example, there are no explicit rules for character death, even for NPCs, just suggestions. The reason for that is that SFX! explicitly asks the GM and players to consider the tone of the game they’re aiming for, instead of letting it be dictated by the rules. In some campaigns you might want it to be impossible for somebody to die “accidentally”, that is just because of an unlucky roll, while in others you might aim to have life be cheap and death or career-ending injury be a genuine risk every time you go into combat. There’s no one right answer.
If you want a grittier tone, or as I believe Kyrinn put it “Success [to be] lubricated by the blood of heroes” there are a number of ways you can approach that with SFX!
The first is to treat Overkill as dead. Or, if you want to be a little less harsh towards PC, as dead for NPCs and Down for the Count for PCs, with a permanent injury Complication if they’re revived by their companions after the battle. That alone will up the casualty count and put a real caution about battle in the hearts of the players.
Next, you can adjust the interpretation of Tired. Tired is largely a condition that characters impose upon themselves by overexerting themselves in taking heroic measures, by using the cliches Supreme Effort or Failure is Not an Option! In Kapow! and Argh! Tired generally represents being physically exhausted, but in a grittier campaign it could easily represent being injured, perhaps seriously, since Tired usually lasts until you’ve had significant down-time or gotten some kind of medical attention (which might mean somebody’s healing magic or a stim-pack from their med-kit). For even grittier, less cinematic play, you could rule out the ability to invoke your character’s Drive to remove the Tired condition; while a staple of comic books and action-oriented movies, being able to use sheer guts and determination to basically ignore a serious injury can run counter to the feeling that the sacrifice that you make in pushing yourself to become “Tired” was a serious one.
Hindered is also open to interpretation in a grittier fashion. Hindered represents any of a myriad of things that can happen to the character that limits her effectiveness until she or an ally takes the effort to counteract it. Most of the time that wouldn’t be an injury, but would represent something like slipping, being off-balance, partially blinded by dirt or blood in your eyes, temporarily trapped under a tapestry or having your ankle grabbed by a clutching hand, being momentarily dazed or disoriented… but it could easily be treated and narrated as the kind of superficial wound that requires being bound with a makeshift bandage or temporary sling. An example might be when John McClane in Die Hard has to run over broken glass in his bare feet; once he’s bound them up, they don’t really degrade his performance for the rest of the movie–certainly not by enough to cause him to mess up any of the spectacular stunts he attempts.
In addition to adjusting the interpretation of the various conditions in the game mechanics, which carries over via the Primary Rule into narration of the types of things that can cause and cure them, Zorch! has a new rule about injury: when you recover from being Out, you have a chance of having suffered a long-term injury. If you were injured, you are Tired and you get a new Complication (in addition to your existing ones) that describes the nature of your injury. You can recover from Tired in the usual ways, but the Complication can only be removed by taking positive steps, such as replacing a crippled limb with a prosthetic (which may itself be a Complication).
These guidelines still won’t make the game full of random insta-death, but SFX! was never intended to be Rolemaster. They do, I think, lead to injury and death that fit in with somewhat grittier genre fiction: death can happen unexpectedly, but injury tends to occur as a result of dramatic do-or-die choices or when the character had a narrow scrape with death.