Monday, November 1, 2010

Game Table Interview: GM Marc

GM Marc is one of the many GMs in A.E.G.I.S. who has constantly tried to promote the hobby by running games and providing venues for games. I remember him running games way back when organized open meets were being run in the Greenbelt foodcourt, but have rarely seen him since them.

He works for Level Up Games as a Transition Manager. He used to be a GM and worked with them to try to insert Roleplaying elements into MMORPGs. He currently GMs for a loose group of 20 or so friends that call ourselves “The Dice Project”. They hold RPG sessions and boardgame sessions with various GMs every weekend at varying venues.

What was the first RPG you remember playing?

Star Frontiers, Alpha Dawn, all the way in Grade 5 in 1988. All because I saw a bunch of 6th graders play Robotech, I was too shy to ask to join and I couldn’t find Robotech in Nova Fontana.

What was it about the hobby that made you want to continue playing?

Power. I was the Referee / GM back then and being able to create my own worlds where the players were acting in it was endlessly fascinating. However nowadays I have a more altruistic motive for continuing. I love telling stories. And I like bringing the Awesome out in people. There’s a thrill when you see players roar in triumph as their character does something absolutely amazing.

What was it about the hobby that made you want to run RPGs?

Back then it was all about power and escapism. I was a pretty mean GM. I set scenes up according to a fixed script that I forced my players to run with, or else I’d tantrum. Hahaha. Over the years though, I’ve changed. My focus has shifted from indulging my own fantasies to working with the players to have the whole table entertained. Less Power, More Escapism for everyone!

What 3 novels have most inspired the games you run? Why?

Two Sci-Fi novels and a Fantasy Novel

  • The Crisis of Empire series by David Drake gave me my first taste of military sci-fi, which shaped most of my games.
  • The dystopian epic Chung Kuo: The Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove inspired me to run darker games, where power politics and attitudes towards technology shaped the world.
  • Recently, I’ve been reading The Wheel of Time in Audiobook format. (okay, so maybe it would be listening) and that has definitely influenced my games. (Especially how I’d copy the male reader’s inflections for both male and female characters)

What 3 TV shows have most inspired the games you run? Why?

  • Robotech – Giant Robots and Military SF. It’s the genre I love and this show epitomizes it.
  • Another anime show: Gate Keepers, Its premise of superhero teen secret agents in the 60s was the inspiration for a long running campaign. (And still inspires an ongoing one!)
  • Third show… uh… no other shows really come to mind.

But mostly, my games have been inspired by video games:

  • The Wing Commander series pretty much defined my preferred style of combat and personal interaction. And of course it’s Military SF, my favourite genre.
  • Final Fantasy 7 and Xenogears have also inspired my storytelling style. Because of those games, I was inspired to use “cutscenes” in my sessions.

What 3 movies have most inspired the games you run? Why?

Hrm. Movies. That’s a tough question since I rarely watch movies. I don’t think any three movies really inspired my gaming style. Though the Matrix trilogy comes pretty close. (Hey, those are three movies, right? XD)

What is your favorite published RPG of all time, and why?

Well that would have to be White Wolf’s Exalted. Aside from the whole pseudo-anime theme and an incredibly detailed world that you are encouraged to destroy, warp or alter, Exalted is such a kitchen sink setting for almost anything you can put in fantasy… or even some elements of science fiction. .. now only if the system didn’t suck. It’s a book keeping nightmare. I remember playing a half-hour mass combat encounter… in EIGHT HOURS because of the clunky system. I love the setting but I hate the system.

In terms of system though, I would have to say the FATE system is my favourite system of all time. It’s robust enough to encompass any genre and can be customized to provide unique game experiences. Also it’s an “open source” system so anyone can publish work based on it. There are several implementations, with the popular ones being Spirit of the Century, Diaspora and Starblazer Adventures. My personal favourite implementation is, well, Legends of Anglerre…. But that’s partly because I had a hand in writing that particular implementation of FATE. But seriously, check it out, for me it has the right balance of fluff and crunch. And 80% less book keeping then Exalted’s Storyteller system!

What is your favorite published game supplement or adventure of all time, and why?

As a Military SF junkie, perhaps the supplement that has had the most impact on me is GURPS Space. I based all my high school and parts of my college games using information found in that supplement. It guides you to make decisions about the sci-fi world you’re building and discusses many alternatives. And it also inspired me to learn Calculus. (All throughout high school, I could never compute my own burn trajectory travel times… because you need calculus to do so!) Even when I moved to other systems I’d still use the information in that book. Though now since I’m a FATE junkie, I’d recommend it’s successor in FATE Starblazer Adventures now.

What RPG have you always wanted to play, but never got a chance to?

Bliss Stage – It’s an indie game that’s like Lord of the Flies combined with Neon Genesis Evangelion. The players are all teenagers in a post apocalyptic world that was invaded by aliens that kill adults in their dreams. The kids can fight the aliens in their dreams and when they do so, they use mecha like the Evangelions with weapons and armor made from the character’s relationships with friends and lovers. It’s really awesome stuff.

What upcoming RPG releases are you looking forward to seeing?

  • Tenra Bansho Zero – it’s a Japanese RPG translated into English. Only the second RPG to be done that way. (First is Maid RPG, which yeah, I have a copy of.)
  • Dresden Files RPG – It’s the ultimate FATE implementation for Modern Horror games. You can play pretty much all of the World of Darkness characters with the Dresden Files system. Plus it’s magic system is the best I have seen. Beats the pants off Mage: The Ascension.
  • Legends of Anglerre – The ultimate FATE implementation for Fantasy Games! It can handle anything from gritty to epic power scales and can handle personal and mass combat with very surprising mechanics. And I helped write it.

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