A nice big room with paneled, radiant heated floors, a fireplace, loads of windows, a long wall of bookshelves, and a a videoconferencing rig to play with people around the world. The table could either be a billiards table with a cover to allow tabletop play, or a big Surface screen that people could have their characters, notes, and dice apps running on. Nice comfy chairs.

If you’re gonna dream, dream big.

The Italian Alps or the Amalfi Coast. Preferably on a nice balcony, with a good view, good weather, and a nice couple of bottles of wine.

“How ’bout the South Seas Club, while you’re dreaming..?” — Cliff Secord, The Rocketeer

The reading thing doesn’t tend to surprise me, especially as I’ve gotten older. There are a lot of folks that have cruised through life without reading important pieces of literature, so I don’t tend to be surprised when I ask if they’ve read X and they say no.

Movies, on the other hand, are a modern phenomenon that does surprise when someone hasn’t seen a classic blockbuster. Star WarsBlade Runner? Any iteration of Star Trek? These are so ubiquitous and culturally ingrained that it’s surprising when someone references one of these (or others) but hasn’t seen it. “Game over, man! Game over!” “I love Aliens!” “Never seen it.”

There are classic bits of cinema that I think everyone should have seen, but I rarely expect them to have.


Another strange question with some good answers…

I’m going to go with a three-way tie —

  1. Gaming in the back seat of a car while on a road trip. We just avoided anything that required a die roll.
  2. Gaming in a C-5 on route to a deployment. What else were we gonna do..?
  3. Playing out a scene between two characters that had serious romantic connotations while walking through downtown Philadelphia. The character’s interaction was mirroring that between myself and the female player, so it was ‘meta-flirting”, I suppose.

This is an odd question. What hobbies dovetail into gaming? support gaming? what..?

There are some obvious ones that can dovetail into gaming, especially for the LARPing crowd, where costuming and the like can really enhance your experience. For the tabletop gamer, painting (say, miniatures) and drawing (cartography, characters, etc…) can aid with gaming. Being a cinephile has helped me with adventure creation and running games. But how about things that are less directly tied in?

There’s fencing, or armor making, costuming, all the attendant stuff you see with the Society for Creative Anachronism. SCA folks can really enjoy a good D&D game and bring their knowledge of all things medieval to the table. I like to test drive fancy cars, ride motorcycles, and shoot guns…that all dovetails well into espionage games. I also love to research; I’m a compulsive researcher…that helps with historical games where I want to build verisimilitude.

Nearly any hobby can go well with gaming, I suppose.

This question applies to any storytelling endeavor, I suppose… What makes a good character? For me, there’s a few elements:

1. A good hook or schtick. Sometimes it’s unique, sometimes it’s archetypical (or stereotypical) — the gung-ho pilot, the tomb raider, the cool professional… The schtick should be appropriate to the genre — so the alcoholic spy who is trying to keep it together while undercover is a good one for an espionage game; the fearless archeologist or pilot adventurer is good for a pulp game, the plucky fighter pilot almost always works in space opera.

A good hook is that cool thing your character does. Maybe they’re the bad ass fighter, the nigh invincible fighter jock, the smooth-talking face, the dogged detective…this is the thing that you want to be, or people want to see.

2. The schtick is made better when the character has a weakness that helps drive the story. Walter White had his cancer, but more telling was his arrogance and pride — the real motivation for creating Heisenberg. James Bond is a sucker for a dame and booze. Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes, but he also has daddy issues. Captain America is an honest, good man, but also doesn’t know when to quit and is inflexible in his code of morality and honor. Jessica Jones is a drunk, impulsive, guilt-ridden, and has lost faith in herself thanks to the mental machinations of Killgrave, and they cause her to second guess herself and make truly awful decisions.

Weaknesses, ultimately, are more likely to make the character interesting and memorable, rather than the “cool stuff” they can do. Sure, Superman can do all these incredible things, but it’s his small town morality, his hope and belief in the goodness of people, that is both his strength and weakness. (You can count me firmly in the screw Zack Snyder camp…)

Have a good hook. Have a good weakness or two.

3. Lastly, a good performance. Sure, you can third person it and still have a good character: “…my guy is a sucker for a dame, so even though I know she’s playing him, he wouldn’t…or wouldn’t acknowledge it.” You don’t have to put on your amateur theater hat every night at the table. Putting your thought processes or knowledge aside to do what the character would with what they know or think is key.

Odd question, although it shouldn’t be, considering I game with a set group of folks. You would think we would give gifts — birthday or otherwise. The answer is: whatever we are playing at the moment.

I’ve given copies of SerenityBattlestar GalacticaAtomic Robo,, and others to folks. Most likely, I would give Hollow Earth Expedition to folks if I were gifting this year, as that’s what we’ve been playing, but who knows what the future will hold?