#RPGaDay Day 31: Best advice?


Day 31: The best advice you were ever
given for your game of choice?

This is it — the final question for RPGaDay 2016. It’s been a fascinating experience and I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s responses as much as I’ve enjoyed answering this year’s selection of questions. Thanks to Runeslinger and everyone at RPG Brigade for keeping Autocratik’s vision alive.

Now, on to answering what the best advice I’ve received is.

You know, I’ve been a DM for so long, 38 years this Christmas, that I’m not sure I received any advice beyond those early words handed down from on high. I took them to heart as a twelve year old boy and I believe they ring just as true today.

“…as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.” — Gary Gygax

This quote has served me well, because it has instilled in me a sense of purpose and direction in my campaigns. They are living worlds, populated by npcs with their own hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They have lives every bit as relevant as those of the player characters. This allows the players to submerge themselves into the world and strips away the game aspect. It becomes an alternate life for them for those few hours each month that they enter it. It is the ultimate escape.

And that’s it for this year… now it’s back to working on Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game. That Magic System’s not going to create itself… or is it?


#RPGaDay Day 30: Your ultimate game room?


Day 30: Describe the ideal game room if the budget were unlimited.

This is probably an easy question for most gamers because they spend so much time fantasizing about it.

My game room would be a recreation of a medieval pub, with a fireplace, full bar, a couple of small round tables here and there, but with a huge custom built banquet table dominating the center of the room.


The walls would be adorned with weapons, shields, tapestries, and banners.

There would skulls and mounted trophy heads and suits of armour.

And there’d be a hidden closet full of manuals and board games and minis and what have you.

And a dart board. There has to be a dart board.

That custom table has to have a ginormous LED monitor tucked inside it and be totally integrated to a computer that I access via the built-in DM Screen, from which I can, when situations call for it, run a virtual tabletop for maps. I’d also want to be able to control mood music and special effects, but without ruining the verisimilitude.

And there needs to be another table, just as large, overwhelmed by a magnificent recreation of a slice of the world we adventure in.

Something akin to this:


Now all I have to do is win the lottery while I’m still young enough to enjoy it.

#RPGaDay Day 29: If you could game anywhere, where would you choose?


Day 29: If you could host a game anywhere on Earth,
where would you choose?

There are a lot of locations that would be spectacular.

Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, and Holyrood Palace spring to mind, all places I’ve had the pleasure to visit.

Carey Mansion, stand-in for Dark Shadows’ Collinwood, would be another.

I could go on and on, picking different locations that would perfectly fit a particular game… and I haven’t even touched on local haunts and old gaming places I’d be up to revisiting for old time’s sake.

But if I get just one pick, it really has to be this one:


Rosslyn Chapel

My wife and I got to visit Rosslyn Chapel in March of 2001, before the Da Vinci Code craze, and we had pretty much the run of the place.

It is as atmospheric a place as you could ever hope for, with amazing acoustics and medieval imagery to inspire anything from Dungeons & Dragons to Call of Cthulhu to the Song of Ice & Fire… or even a little something we’re calling Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game.

Yeah, not really that hard of a choice, come to think of it, but I could easily make a list of a hundred places I’d love to game in, either again or for the first time…

The best part of a good RPG is, it’s imaginary… you can do it anywhere because it’s really all inside your head.

#RPGaDay Day 28: The thing you’d be surprised a friend hasn’t read or seen?


Day 28: The thing you’d be most surprised
a friend hasn’t read or seen?

There is one movie that probably is quoted at our gaming table more than any other, and I would argue outside of our table as well. I dare say rarely a day, and certainly never a week, goes by that one of several lines from this film is heard.

Oddly enough, there is still one guy at our table who still hasn’t seen it despite almost four years of hounding.


I’m talking about Tombstone.

Tombstone was an instant classic, and Val Kilmer’s portrayal of the infamous Doc Holliday something special.

The movie is highly quotable, especially in game situations, and Kilmer’s Holliday in particular.

It came as a shock to learn our friend hadn’t seen the movie. It’s been even more of a shock that he still hasn’t.

#RPGaDay Day 27: Most unusual gaming circumstance or location?


Day 27: Most unusual circumstance or
location in which you’ve gamed?

After 38 years of gaming, you can well imagine I’ve played in some crazy places and under some, let’s say interesting situations: I’ve played D&D in caves and the deep woods, Call of Cthulhu in an old abandoned house and in more than one graveyard, Marvel Super-Heroes along the waterfront, and more than a few games under the influence of various this and thats. Our current gaming site is in a haunted Odd Fellows Lodge, so yeah, we know a thing or two about unusual locations and circumstances…


But I think one of my favorites was when we played our 2013 Reunion Game at Ali-Caters in Marion.

Shaun arranged for us to borrow the building for that game in January, three and a half years back. Walking in, we entered a ball room, complete with a disco ball and surreal lighting. Beyond that was a rustic bar, fully stocked, with round pub tables. It really was an ideal setting.

It was an exciting game. I’d not gamed with Shaun, Mike, and Steve since the mid-80s, Brent since the early 90s, and with Doug and Joe it had been about 6 years or so.

This really was a reunion and it was as magical a time as I’ve ever had in an RPG session.

Best part is, it’s become a monthly, if not bi-weekly, part of our lives ever since.

#RPGaDay 2016 Day 26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?


Day 26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

When I think of hobbies related to RPGs, the first thing that comes to mind is something that is not a hobby of mine, but I have some good friends who are shoulders deep into it — painting miniatures.


I never had the patience for it myself, but I love a well painted mini.

The image on the left was painted by my near lifelong friend Shaun Keenan who has been slapping acrylics of pewter for nearly forty years.

I’d say he has a knack for it.

These 25-28mm lumps of lead are really brought to life by the stroke of a brush and I am sorely tempted to dive into it, but I’ve so many irons in the fire I just don’t see any way to manage another hobby.

I have too many as is.

I have tackled crafting terrain pieces and dungeons on occasion, utilizing cardboard, styrofoam, and odds and end bits I pick up at yard sales. There’s a couple of hobbies rolled into that.

I’m also a bit of an artist and I love to draw maps, whether they be for world, city, or encounters. Sometimes I draw by hand on posterboard, or on paper to be scanned into the computer and dressed up in Photoshop. That’s probably the hobby that comes in secondary to my main compulsion…

What hobby ranks number one with me that goes well with RPGs? Spinning yarns. Whether it’s yapping my jaw or scribbling words on paper, I love to tell tales and there is no better way to do so than through the shared storytelling that RPGs afford.

#RPGaDay 2016 Day 25: What makes for a good character?


Day 25: What makes for a good character?

Bad stats make for good characters.

It is the flaws built into these characters that lead to the best roleplaying moments.

Sure, when we were kids we longed for 18s across the board, but even that wasn’t enough. That 18 on Strength needed a 00 to go along with it.

But as I grew older I came to understand that it was the bard with the low wisdom stat, the wizard with the poor agility, or the frail rogue with a constitution in the basement that made for the most memorable moments, that when addressed via backstory made these and those like them, characters with personality.


It made them heroes in spite of their shortcomings as opposed to super-heroes devoid of adversity.