Well, since we’re doing catch-up posts, it’s time to get around to transferring my Bluesky responses to this annual prompt list over here to the blog!
I added the prompts into the image’s alt text for screenreaders and other accessibility devices but just in case (truthfully I’m not sure what they do and do not catch), I’ll use the full text of each prompt as I copy-paste the responses from Bluesky – and while I am at it, it’s a good time to expand on each post, too, since character limits sometimes reduced my ability to fully discuss the topic at hand; find expanded thoughts below in italicized text.
1) FIRST RPG played (this year)
Extremely shameful “Pass”.
2) First RPG GAMEMASTER
Howard, an older kid from my tiny town of 82. He went off to college and left all his game books to me. I owe him such a debt; I doubt he had any idea the impact that made on me. I’ve written about Howard here and there on this blog. He was the smartest and most literate person in a place where that was looked down upon. He and I talked about science and dorky stuff on the school bus even though he was many years older than me just by virtue of being the only two interested in it in such a small community; we’d roll dice once in awhile and he’d point out the cool stuff in the books he had on teetering shelves against wood-paneled walls. He went off to become a grown-up and meet girls and be a cool college guy in a city many hours away from our microscopic village and I guess he figured he couldn’t take it all with him and it’d cramp his style anyway, so a couple weeks into summer after his graduation from grade 12, he flagged me down while I was riding my bike past the cemetery by his house and told me to get my mom to drive our station wagon over to his solitary farmhouse a couple miles outside of town. When I did, he greeted us in the driveway with a dozen or more milk crates filled with fantasy novels, D&D and Traveller and Palladium books, and so on.
3) First RPG BOUGHT (this year)
Jason Sholtis’ Odious Uplands, put out by Hydra Cooperative. Sequel to Operation Unfathomable and worth the wait. Definitely check it out! I maintain that Operation Unfathomable is one of the best books on my shelf and an immediate pull for anything under the surface of the world. His art is incredible, the game is eminently playable as-is or is equally great for picking apart for encounters and inspiration. Odious Uplands is much the same, and worth the wait. It’s an amazing companion and I truly believe that if we could plop these two back in 1984 we’d debate their merits on 2023 Twitter alongside GDQ and Slave Pits of the Undercity.
4) Most RECENT game bought
Tomb Robbers on the Crystal Frontier by Gus L. There’s something captivating about the colors and art that complement it well. Awesome and evocative. So much of Gus L’s work belongs on a greatest hits list somewhere; I really need to sit down and read this next to Hated Pretender and see how they stack up in my own list of favorites – but regardless I really enjoyed this book and I’d like to get it to the table. It feels like it would be right at home plunked into a UVG game with very few changes and I suppose that makes sense since Luka credits a Gus L work with inspiring his own adventures. Long ago I had a little bookmarked/linked up pile of game materials to make a really cool LotFP micro-setting by combining this and that and reskinning this other thing so if a party could survive more than one thing they’d have a really cool thematic world; for obvious reasons I dumped that post into a trash can and never got to run the amalgam I’d concocted but thinking on it now I feel like a really cool batch of materials including this book by Gus L could be used to fill out and create a grand version of the UVG.
5) OLDEST game you’ve played
Original D&D. The OG as far as I am concerned!
6) Favourite game you NEVER get to play
Interesting question. I guess Traveller or Gamma World, but it’s mostly my own fault I suppose. I could find my way into a game (or run one). But so many games could fit this spot, especially some amazing small press stuff. It’s really just time, because the internet is such a great thing for games.
7) SMARTEST RPG you’ve played
Another interesting one with a few definitions for “smart”. If it’s the game’s mechanics it might be too big a debate for this! If it’s targeting and execution, I think DCC has a strong claim to it. If it’s the cleverness and depth I think maybe GURPS wins. If it’s player actions/campaign then I think it’d have to be a VtM campaign we played as teenagers which at the time filled us with speculation and shock and required flowcharts we willingly made to unravel plots and mysteries and relationships – a credit to an otherwise mercurial and weird GM. The term “smart” is really hard to navigate here.
8) Favourite CHARACTER
Mine? Too tough to be sure, but probably a Traveller character who was a Navy gunner. Canon character? Maybe Alias from the Azure Bonds series/Hall of Heroes?
9) Favourite DICE
10) Favourite tie-in FICTION
I loved the Forgotten Realms books as a kid. I was gifted a massive number as a kid, crates upon crates of books, and I read them ravenously. Obviously some are bigger hits than others. Moonshae, Finders Stone, early Drizzt, Canticle series all grabbed me. I’m sure this is true of many!
11) WEIRDEST game you’ve played
I think in practice the weirdest thing Ive played was kitchen sink GURPS where anything from any splatbook was fair game for player and GM alike.
12) Old game you STILL play
Y’all already know: Traveller and B/X baybee!
13) Most memorable character DEMISE
Because Ive played so many games where life is very cheap, I think my character deaths have become too numerous to sort through. I also have a weird memory to begin with. Pass.
14) Favourite CONVENTION purchase
A bunch of stuff from Dirk Leichty. Scooped some OG Blood Ship stuff a year or two before the Omnibus KS. Dirk is so unbelievably skilled and imaginative and his vision for complex artistic designs is really fascinating. I am so glad I got to meet him and purchase the original softcovers – especially since one had his self-printed ruleset thrown in as an unexpected surprise. Absolute legend!
15) Favourite Con MODULE / ONE-SHOT
Wow, a tough one. I haven’t played con games so it’s purely an academic choice but I find it tough to imagine a better game for conventions than the incredible DCC RPG and basically any funnel. So much amazing material for that game. But again, this is theory based on enjoying DCC funnels.
16) Game you WISH you owned
If we mean a very specific physical object I’d be hard-pressed not to choose an original printing of D&D. But honestly I can’t be trusted with it; it should be Indiana Jonesed into a museum and Id wanna play with it. Otherwise I’d probably pick bygone small press stuff I missed on KS.
17) FUNNIEST game you’ve played
Honestly? All of them. I’ve almost always played games where we’re laughing the whole time. There’s been brief instances of VtM or whatever where laughter was not the flavor but everything else Ive enjoyed with friends has been jovial.
But… If i had to pick one? Paranoia.
18) Favourite game SYSTEM
My favorite is probably B/X D&D even though that’s a very pedestrian answer. 😅 Close runners up are classic Traveller or MongTrav 1e, and GURPS 3e and 4e.
19) Favourite PUBLISHED adventure
Strictly an adventure module? Sailors on the Starless Sea is really, really hard to beat. There’s lots of amazing supplements out there. This is such a hard question. Like creep/scale factors in too, or how much work you have to put in – all could change the answer.
But Sailors is so, so great.
Addendum: If you read this post in time, go immediately to this link and buy the DCC RPG megabundle on Humble Bundle; it’s like $1000 worth of every DCC RPG PDF out there for like $25; it’s an unbeatable value. If you don’t make it in time for that – go here to buy Sailors on the Starless Sea in PDF or go here to buy Sailors on the Starless Sea in hard copy.
20) Will still play in TWENTY years time
B/X D&D, DCC, and classic Traveller. Probably until I have ascended to the great possum dumpster in the sky!
21) Favourite LICENSED RPG
Oh, it’s WEG Star Wars. I am not a huge Star Wars nerd personally but these (and the Thrawn novels, and the Rogue Squadron PC/N64 game) were my sweet spot and made me way more enthusiastic.
I could actually talk a lot about My Opinions on Star Wars for a guy who isn’t a Star Wars fan tbh…
Okay, rapid-fire, here’s My Opinions On Star Wars From A Guy Who Isn’t A Star Wars Fan:
I am sick of Jedi. The coolest stuff in Star Wars is all the other stuff and factions without magic powers. Rogue Squadron, Thrawn, bounty hunters, crime syndicates. The Star Wars brand could sustain a much broader swath of stories than they’re currently doing: give me a romantic comedy; give me a serious crime show like Breaking Bad or whatever based on a Hutt crime family or something; give me a harrowing Band of Brothers that shows the absolute horror of war and the value of brotherhood in science fiction land.
22) Best SECONDHAND RPG purchase
A tough one, since so many of my games are old, ergo used.
Ive lucked into some Midkemia, Arduin, and Judge’s Guild stuff that makes me smile. But Ive bought B/X like 4 times now & each time it has generated a ton of fun.
My current Moldvay Basic book was purchased from my pal Jason, to boot! There’s some sort of symmetry that one of the artists for perhaps the original definitive B/X retroclone’s cover variants sold me a copy of Basic, but I’m not poetic enough to distill it into something pithy. It is, nonetheless, cool as heck.
23) COOLEST looking RPG product / book
As an ostentatious (I say kindly!) object: the Invisible Sun box set.
For presentation, maybe like Mork Borg’s Leporello or Putrescence Regnant. Just cool.
As far as just like, wanting to bathe in the art, Luka Rejec’s UVG (especially the Special Edition) is genuinely one of my most beloved things.
As an addendum to the above: I don’t own the Invisible Sun box set; the question didn’t specify I had to but I thought I’d play fair and admit that up front!
24) COMPLEX / SIMPLE RPG you play
I don’t think I play a single truly complex game anymore.
D&D 5E would be the heaviest-lift game I play. While it’s not remotely lightweight, Ive got so many years of D&D under my belt it isn’t a conscious effort to play. But it does have many moving pieces.
Simplest would be Knave or Cairn.
Knave with Temple of the Serpent Kings is maybe the easiest way to guide a brand-new player to old-school stuff. Like you can take any willing and enthused person and sit them down with dice and those two products and they’ll be up and dying like a champ in no time.
25) UNPLAYED RPG you own
Dont do this to me!? Why would anyone ask this?! What kind of monster…
Anyway… If we count D&D-derived retroclones I probably have a dozen variants I havent used but that should hardly count!
If we mean just systems, first to spring to mind is Zzarchov’s Neoclassical Geek Revival (1E).
(Please do not force me to confront the number of supplements I have.)
Addendum: I wanted to link NGR 1E, which I own in like four cover/art variants despite never having played because I wanted to support great artists whose work I appreciate and some of whom I can call friend, but it looks like DTRPG no longer lists 1E. So here’s 2E for the curious out there, but I want to state that I haven’t played it either, and don’t own it.
26) Favourite CHARACTER SHEET
James V. West’s OSR character sheets are cool as heck. They’re one of the best parts of Black Pudding!
As far as like, the included “official” sheets with games, I tend to dislike character sheets that are in game books and just handwrite them on looseleaf paper or printer paper. I grew up poor and photocopies used to cost a dime or even a quarter! Each! We didn’t have fillable forms and stuff in the early 90s either. This is how we did everything! Imagine drawing all the little bubbles for your World of Darkness characters! (Okay, yes, there was shorthand).
27) Game you’d like a new EDITION of…
Dangerous territory. I have so much distrust for remakes/new versions/sequels at this point in my life and I think most people in nerd spaces understand why. 😅
If pressed I’d say it’s completely ridiculous that we haven’t had a 5E Gamma World yet and it’s high time we did. For real, though! We somehow got a 4E-based Gamma World complete with booster packs and randomized rules and we can’t get a single big Gamma World book from WotC despite 5E being a massive success? It boggles the mind.
28) SCARIEST game you’ve played
I don’t think a game has ever scared me per se. The Jenga tower in Dread definitely successfully created a sense of tension that kept us on edge, though!
29) Most memorable ENCOUNTER
So many. Once fought off Communist guerrillas on dinosaurs wielding RPG-7s by firing plasma guns and magic spells at them through the jungle from our magic carpet in a game of GURPS that the GM heavily employed Technomancer and a couple other splatbooks for. They thought we were EIC mercenaries!
For clarity: East India Company.
(The timeline was extremy wonky and a sort of dieselpunk fascist East India Company held sway over much of Earth and also the Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque solar system. We got portaled into this universe via Infinite Worlds shenanigans.)
30) OBSCURE RPG you’ve played
That’s a tough one. A lot of stuff that was very common at tables back in the day (TMNT, Rifts, Marvel Supers, T&T, and so on) would be obscure today by current gamer standards.
Assuming we mean systems specifically, maybe oWoD Wraith or Demon? No one really cared for either even then.
31) FAVOURITE RPG of all time
Moldvay Basic D&D. The balances between simplicity and granularity, method and random chance, game and imagination is really the sweet spot for me. It was the perfect synthesis of the art and stories of the era. It grabbed me – a kid who loved knights, Zelda, Castle LEGO – and never let go.
That’s the whole RPGaDay 2023! I did these over on Bluesky originally, and I have been slowly increasing my attention there and decreasing my attention paid to the burning car wreck that is Twitter. Honestly it has been so much more relaxed and pleasant there with all the returning familiar faces so I think I’ll continue to do more of the prompt events over there rather than Twitter going forward. Anyway, with this transplant of data complete, I can work on some other new blog posts that aren’t related to prompts for a little while – see you then!