Today we interview Adrian, a GM who plays mostly one-on-one games and is a master of improvisation, enjoying a cinematic approach to gaming.
Please introduce yourself:
Do you have a blog, website or campaign wiki?
How long have you been a GM?
Damnation, its been 10 years.
What are your favourite game(s) to run?
My own universe, White Wolf, D&D, Shadowrun
How did you first get into GMing? Why?
It was at Heroes and Fantasies on Bitters Rd.in San Antonio, Texas. I do remember it. I was going to play Magic the Gathering, but Lo’ was this table, with people stocking it, playing with little figures. Among them was a tall, curly-haired man who would become one of my longest running friends. Their game was interesting, so much that I stayed the whole time. I returned to my home, found that funny book that came with a special edition Pool of Radiance Game my mom got me called the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook. It told me, essentially, that role-playing was that thing I did all the time in my younger life, and showed me how to do it with others. When I came back, I started playing in that group, and when the game fell to pieces, I picked it back up… and broke it some more. But from there I started GMing, nearly exclusively from then on.
How has GMing affected your life over the years?
I consider it to be the second most important thing that saved my writing career. I had written a bit when I was young, even got 50-60 pages into a novel when is was 13, but it fell aside with hormones, school, and good-old obligation confronting me. All the greats that put word to page say “Write everyday, no matter what s7!t it be”. When I solo-play with my wife (she is the number one reason I write, in fact) every day, I am creating stories all the same. When I make game notes, I’m writing a skeleton that can be made flesh later.
Section One: Your GMing Stat Block
What is your usual gaming schedule? (Session frequency, time and length.)
Everyday solo-sessions, usually 6 hours or all day.
Where do you play? Describe your usual game environment (table, room, etc.).
Any and every room in the house. When I group play, it’s usually in the living room or large bedroom.
Do you use published material or create your own? Why?
No published material hardly ever. I have never read any book enough to really remember all the details and rationales it contains. However, I do sniff the books, if you will; I get the themes and structure of the world out of the book, and build my own plot from there.
What non-digital and electronic GM aides do you use (other than books)?
Books! Books from other RPGs, folktale books and any fiction or nonfiction. Google, Elfwood, DeviantArt, and Wiki are fountains of ideas, especially when my own mind is dry and empty.
Minis or no? What do you use for minis, and how do you use them?
No minis. I run on the cheap.
Section Two: Opportunities
What is your biggest GMing stumbling block right now? What could you do to fix that?
Always having ideas to start a new game with (a game’s destiny is dries to concrete in the first few sessions, usually). I can make a stockpile of new ideas.
When was the last time you were a player? What insight about GMing did you pick up?
I have never been a player exclusively for more than a few sessions. In my solo sessions, there is so much idea exchange that those lines between player and storyteller dissolve, anyway.
That being said, I have learned that being a player is like being a writer or a rock star: its time for your idea to get out there and experience the world. The GM, from a player’s view, becomes more like the real world, full of critics, publishers, labels, and audiences. I have learned that a GM has got allow the player to move. So many great characters have been slain by GM’s that were too tight.
Describe your perfect gaming session with you as GM:
Oh it’s so beautiful when it happens.
The game starts, with a player character that’s not complete, but not missing anything important either. She (it’s usually female) is flogged by the universe, but struggles against it, biting back. She learns, she loves, she digs and finds things, she lives a life. Her enemies crumble in her wake, or become friends, or disappear, surrendering in either love or hate. The game never slows, no gaps, no loose ends. It closes like a music box, slowly, playing music as though there’s no end. Then End, roll credits.
Section Three: GMing Style
What are the top qualities you look for or need in a player?
Energy is what I look for. I need a role-player, honest with themselves, unafraid, and untrammelled by rules or role-playing paraphernalia. My wife and my best brother are players just like that.
Describe in a few words each of your players and their playing style.
- My Wife – Fiery persona, loving, moral, a woman who craves peace but is forced to fight, and never relaxes the jaws. Fighter for freedom, hated by all who think they are superior, who breaks the rules to save the children.
- My Brother – “Loose cannon” by his own admission, honour and legerdemain in union. A swashbuckling, thieving, paladining warrior; pariah walking to the great beyond, clutching the thorned rose.
Describe in a few words your group’s playing style.
Usually they follow the plot. That’s what I have observed.
Describe in a few words your GMing style.
Intrigue, combat, enemies who turn leaves and allies who are rotten on the inside. Plots usually revolve around a political aspect and look at social issues within the world. Players come up with a lot of things to add to the game. I like originality, from both my players and myself.
What is your best GMing skill or ability? What advice would you give to a GM wanting to improve in that area?
The ability to adapt and embrace what player throw. A player’s decision hasn’t killed one of my games in 10 years. My advice: See that your players are all adding to the story. Don’t let gamer-types be burdens: use their characters actions to further the plot, even if the players are just acting like themselves in real-life (we ALL do…).
What is your typical session planning process? (i.e. adventures and encounters.)
Planning? Ha! No time for it! However, I do like to think about the next step in the plot about 30 minutes before the session. After that, its by the seat!
What are your favourite online resources for GMing? (Articles, tools, inspiration. Check your bookmarks.
This Blog, Elfwood, Deviant Art, Fantasy-Magazine.com, wiki, Google image search, Goth.net
What tools or aides (digital and non-digital) do you wish would be created or invented to help you GM easier?
A website where Dm’s could post their story ideas, even they don’t pan out, anonymously, with the best ones selected by mods (like mod picks on Elfwood).
After working through these question and getting a 10,000 foot view of your GMing, what is the number #1 thing you’d like to learn about and work on next to become a better GM?
Good GMs are always ready. I need to work on always being ready for the next game. I want to learn how to run fantasy with more originality. I think I will develop my world further, see where it goes.[interview-request]?