Wednesday, August 17, 2016


What fictional character would best fit in your group?

It's terribly trite, but any of the main characters from "Big Bang Theory" would probably do fine with my Tuesday Nighters. As it is, the group contains two Physics Ph.D.s, a Chemistry Ph.D., and an Engineer.  Plus a couple of IT guys and some stray English majors.  It's a pretty brainy, nerdy set.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#RPGADAY Day Fifteen

What historical character would you like in your group? For what game?

Putting aside "Little Wars" with H. G. Wells (it was the first wargame rules I ever read), which could be fun, I'm thinking something like The One Ring with Christopher Lee. I don't know how much of it would be game and how much of it would be Tolkien discussion group, but I suspect it would be delightful.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#RPGADAY Day Fifteen

Your best source for inspiration for RPG's?

The internet. I'm an idea sponge, it's my blessing and my curse. All it takes is a link to a video, a random piece of art, or a book/TV/movie recommendation, and I'm down the rabbit hole.

Unfortunately, I rarely maintain sufficient focus to see things through, so my attention is constantly bouncing from one cool thing to the next.  The good news I retain a lot of it, so I can pull out something useful pretty much whenever I need it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

#RPGADAY Day Fourteen

Your dream team of people you used to game with?

Interesting question. I don't know about a "dream team," but there are folks I gamed with in the past I'd love to sit down at the same table with again.

Chris Hall was one of my early Champions GMs, as well as a player in some of my games back in the early 80s. We lost touch for the better part of thirty years and have only recently reconnected. He doesn't play games anymore, which is a pity.

Charlie Russell was a regular in my San Antonio games and always fun to have around. We've lost touch altogether, which truly sucks, because I think he'd dig Feng Shui.

Kyle Bennick was one of the first gamers I met when I moved to Houston. He's still in the area, though in Houston terms, "in the area" means he lives about sixty miles away. He's also got two young twins, so I don't think he's doing much gaming anymore.

Mason Hart used to be part of my Tuesday crew, and our gaming styles were pretty sympatico (especially compared to the tactically heavy approach that predominates in that group). When his second kiddo was born, he dropped out of the Tuesday crew, though he still plays with another group.

I miss playing regularly with my wife, Jane. Over the last ten years, she developed significant anxiety regarding math, which seriously impacts her ability to enjoy RPGs. We've come up with a few work-arounds, but it's not where her interests are now, and I understand.

Last, I've got say Aaron Allston. Because he'd still be around. :(

#RPGADAY Day Thirteen (Late)

What Makes a Successful Campaign?

First and foremost, I can't be GMing it. Seriously, I haven't had a game go past three or four sessions in more years than I care to admit. Now, to be fair, I'm not wholly to blame. My last few attempts have fallen afoul of work schedules, holidays, and an unplanned hospitalization. But after a while, it starts to weigh on a person.

So, with that in mind, I do have an understanding of what it takes to make a campaign work, even if I haven't succeeded in a while:

GM Dedication: This should be obvious. If the GM is unfocused, or uncommitted, the game is going to fail. Maybe not immediately, but sooner than later.

Player Buy-In: The player's have to be on-board as well. For the campaign premise, for the rules system, for making time to play, and for spending hours in the company of the other players.

A Regular Schedule: Every game I know that works long-term has a schedule the players and GM abide by. It's a part of their routine, not something they squeeze into their busy schedules. This is an aspect of dedication and buy-in, but it's worth calling out separately.

Rituals:  My Tuesday group meets for dinner at 5:45 (having hashed out the location earlier), eats until 6:45, then drives over to our venue (Rice University) and play until 10 PM. Meeting and eating helps us get the socializing and cutting up out of the way, but it also provides a nice secondary bit of continuity with the group.

Communication: Do I really need to say more about this? Nah. Communicate, nerds!

Friday, August 12, 2016


What Game Is Your Group Most Likely To Play Next, and Why?

Define next. Define group.

I'm on an extended (and completely amicable) break from my Tuesday night crew. Part is due to other obligations, but most of it is their heavy investment in Pathfinder. Currently the "A Game" is the final stages of "Rise of the Runelords," a campaign I played in for a considerable time, while the "B Game" a different adventure path, something having to do with winter. I played in a few sessions of that one, which was kind of when my exhaustion with Pathfinder really became apparent.

For the time being, Pathfinder is the only thing on the menu. There's discussion of other games (and I've mentioned a few I'd be willing to run), but until "Runelords" is done, there's not going to be serious discussion of anything else.

My Sunday group is on hiatus due to our DM having other commitments on his time. I offered to run something at my place (probably D&D 5e), though I haven't gotten sufficient buy-in from the players to put anything on the schedule. If I do go that way, I'd hope to use 5e to facilitate an old-school play approach, something my 5e folks don't have a lot of exposure to. I'm thinking about converting the dungeon out of the Holmes Basic box as a starting point.

In the meantime, I'm most likely to play FFG's "Rebel Assault" with my son this weekend. I bought it a few weeks ago and need to figure out how it's played.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

#RPGADAY Day Eleven

Which gamer that you have played with has most affected the way that you play?

I'm gonna cheat here, because I only played with this person twice, but his impact on my gaming was incalculable.  That person would be Aaron Allston.  I was lucky enough to GM a couple of Champions games he played in back in '92.  We had fun, and he was a blast to have at the table.  

Of course, his impact on me came from his work as a game designer. His Strike Force is still the Gold Standard for showing how to run a supers game.  Of course, his influence extends beyond Champions. He wrote "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" for D&D's Mystara, one of my favorite adventure settings. His "Dungeon Master's Design Kit" is a brilliant (and underrated) step-by-step guide to creating adventures and campaigns. He also compiled the D&D Rules Compendium, no mean feat.

So, a bit of a cheat, but an honest one.

Honorable Mention goes to HERO guy, L. Douglas Garrett, who ran the "Justice, Inc." game that showed me how to run games in a cinematic fashion.