Thursday, May 3, 2012
Introducing: Judge John
Hey folks, just a reminder: you've got until May 20th to get your submissions in for the dxContent mini/module mini/map contest.
Speaking of which, its time to introduce our next judge John Reyst.
John is the man behind the two-time Ennie winning www.d20pfsrd.com. He also developed d20modernpf.com and d20herosrd.com (did I miss any?!). John and I played in each others campaigns for many years. I know John appreciates a good map when he sees one, so he was a shoe-in for the judging. Of all the GM's I know John has great stamina when it comes to keeping a campaign going year after year.
I think John "burnt out" once as a DM, but we fed him a sandwich and he was good for another six years.
Its under these kind of DM's that you really get to develop a character (Brother Roth began as humble acolyte and rose all the way to Arch-something or other, and I"ll never forget the Romey Wanderbuck who began life as a young halfling scoundrel and ended up an aged local legend and business tycoon.
Below are John's responses to my "get to know the judge" questions.
dxContent: As a game master and/or player, what level of importance do you place on maps and why?
John: As a GM, maps are absolutely required, at least in terms of high-level maps of encounter areas or the world setting as a whole. For specific, actual combat encounters, I almost always design them on graph paper and assume they’ll be necessary. The players I most often play with enjoy the tactical side of roleplaying games as much as the actual role playing aspects so when things get tense excitement visibly builds when we shift to the battlemat and start placing our mini’s where they’re supposed to be.
As a player, I’m like most of the rest of the players I play with regularly I think, in that I do enjoy the tactical and strategic “chess-like” aspects of seeing and moving mini’s around on a battlemat in an encounter. Using a battlement in any sort of combat encounter that is remotely involved, or in which the outcome may have a serious long term effect (such as possible character death or “losing” (not successfully accomplishing) some major goal, almost demands the use of battlemats. I don’t want to have arguments with other players or the GM as to where my PC is, or how far it is to the bad guy etc. Using a battlemat removes all of that. If, however, the encounter is less important, or unlikely to have any real long-term ramifications, the use of minis and the battlemat can be skipped. The GM can simply describe what happens in a narrative fashion, or it can be played out casually, still using most of the combat rules, but simply describing where things are and the effects of actions, instead of worrying about exact and precise placement of figures. As a player, in terms of maps in regards to maps of the setting or the world, I find them immensely helpful in immersing myself in the setting. Even if my PC wouldn’t know what countries lie on the farthest corners of the world, I as a player enjoy knowing that there really are things out there for me to explore, and things that the GM has invested at least some effort into.
dxContent: How many years have you played RPG games?
John: About 32 years.
dxContent: How many years have you played 3.5 / Pathfinder?
John: I’ve played the 3.x generation since it was released in or around the year 2000 and have continued playing since then.
dxContent: Minis are a "must" for your style of RPG play - Yes or No?
John: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In larger or more complex encounters I enjoy the tactical nature of seeing and moving figures about on a battlemat. I enjoy the strategic aspect of the game in that sense. In smaller or more impromptu encounters I don’t always “need” mini’s. Only if there is likelihood of a lot of questions of character and enemy placement do I prefer mini’s.
dxContent: Your game master notes (or player notes if you don't gm) are best described as...?
John: Chaotic initially, jumbled, and often stream of thought. Then during play they’re fairly non-existent but I try to do a “brain-dump” after a session, to try to make note of the things I noticed were problems, things the players did that I need to follow up on, or to determine how the world reacts to the players actions etc.
dxContent: Do you prefer ready-made modules or home-spun material or a mix?
John: 99.9% home brew. I strongly dislike the “rair-roady” nature of published adventures. I prefer a campaign world without invisible walls that confine me into a predetermined set of actions.
dxContent: As a gm (or player if you don’t GM) do you prefer published campaign settings or home-grown settings?
John: As a GM, home brew 100%. As a player, either is fine so long as the world is consistent and engaging.
dxContent: Favorite role to play in a RPG (stealth, magic, melee-master, etc)?
John: All of the above. I’ve played and enjoyed just about every role and expect I’ll continue doing the same.
dxContent: Would you rather play, game master or do both?
John: I find that GMing engages me more, not just from an amount of effort required point of view but also from a “how actively engaged am I in the world” point of view. Meaning, when I am laying in bed at night trying to fall asleep, I’m not stuck thinking about what my character did or will do in the next session. What constantly goes through my mind are ideas for campaign settings, people, races, religions, that sort of thing.