Interview with the Chatty DM from Critical Hits

First off, let me thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for Fumbl. I truly appreciate you taking the time to talk with us, especially with your busy schedule. And Congratulations on your second
year at Critical Hits!

Could you please tell us about yourself: what you do, age, hobbies
Outside gaming, so on?I’m a 39 y.o. French Canadian Montrealer I’m a self-employed consultant in the field of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Quality Assurance. I’m a voracious reader (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult and graphic novels of all kinds). I love movies, biking and eating in good restaurants.

How did you initially get into playing RPGs?
One day when I was 9 or 10, a friend showed me this game he had played at his cousins over the weekend. He then made up a game based on his experience. He’d took 2 sheets of paper, gave one to me and a d6. He told me: Write the name of your adventurer on that paper and write “Sword” and “Shield”. He drew a corridor on the second sheet, then a room and drew a monster in it (he was quite the artist) and said: Okay, there’s a monster here, he says you can’t pass, what do you do? And thus I started playing RPGs. For the record, our rules were awesome: Whenever we fought a monster, we rolled the d6. On a 1 the character died on a 6, the monster died. We roleplayed all results in between.

What was the first gaming system you played in? Can you remember anything about your First Character?
Oh yes, we were playing a bastardized version of AD&D 1e (didn’t we all?) and I was playing a Gnome Illusionist! Because illusionist spells rocked in my mind. I eventually changed my mind. 🙂

Do you get to play in a campaign, how often do you play? When you do,what system do you normally play?

I have not played in a campaign for a long time. I’ve been a GM for more than 95% of my games of the last 3 decades. The last 3 campaings I played were D&D 3.5, Star Wars Saga Edition and d20 WoD/Modern

What is your favourite character you have played, could you tell us something about them?

My absolute favourite characters I’ve played were, predictably, NPCs. One was a Halfling priest of the god of food. He was huge, always happy and used a half-eaten turkey leg for a holy symbol. Getting healed by him always left you with grease stains on your tunic.

Do you have any funny gaming moments?
A ton, after 30 years you collect them. One of my fondest memories was this story.

AD&D’s Queen of the Demonweb Pits, the characters enter a room with this huge mirror in the back that just happens to be a very powerful magnet. As the cleric in full late enters, he gets pulled into the room and crashes into the magnet while dozens of gnolls come out from each side of it. The party’s Magic User, seeing so many Gnolls filling the room retreats and casts “Wall of Iron”. When he said that, I paused for a few seconds, looked at the Magic user, and said: “As the wall materializes in the room, cutting off the gnolls from reaching you, you notice it start wobbling. Before you can do anything, the wall flies through the room, knocks down several gnolls and CRUSHES the poor cleric stuck on the MAGNET! I still laugh when I think about that story… I was 15. 

Do you have any gaming superstitions?
Not much… I do kinda like to believe that dice can “run out of juice” but I don’t have a lot of gaming superstitions. I do like to arrange my dice by size though. But that’s not crazy right?

Considering all of the items you’ve published throughout the years, what is the one thing you’re most proud of?

That’s a trick questions for me since I barely started. I’d say two of them: My “When Madness Seeps Through” adventur

e that I wrote for the Goodman Games anthology “From Here to There”. That was my first official gaming publication and I managed to complete it while in in the grip of a severe depression. I channeled my energies to completing the project and it probably helped me recover. The second one was my 1st Dungeon/Dragon magazine articles about level 0 characters for D&D 4e. I’m happy that WotC let me express my crazy ideas for the rules I made and the adventure I wanted to write. They left me a lot of creative liberty and I’m extremely grateful for that.

What’s a typical day in the life of a Chatty DM in terms of preparing your own role playing campaign?
In the last two years I’ve moved campaign preparation to the gaming table. I will make “world making” sessions with the players by asking them questions and using their answers to generate allies, ennemies, places and situations. I then build the first scenes of the campaign with these elements and build the campaign from there. It saves me a BUNCH of time and the scenes are always engaging to the players

What’s the secret to being a good GM outside of following the official DMG’s?
The one secret I can share is this: You aren’t as bad as you think you are, you aren’t as good as you think you are. People show up week after week to play with YOU as the GM, it means a lot. Empower yourself with that. Yet, don’t become complacent and overconfident of your GMing style. Always be ready to become a better GM by listening to and observing your players. Read GMing blogs and forums. Talk to others and try to make the next session a little bit more awesome by trying something you’ve never tried. Try making funny voices, try a non-linear game, ask your players to create the next scene… go wild. The GMing experience is limitless in it’s application, spend your life perfecting this noble art.

What do you think of the changes the way the RPG industry is currently
changing, and heading towards more digital products?

I’ve started running whole session with nothing but index cards, pencils, dice and my iPad. I’m ALL for RPGs making it to the digital age. Books are absolutely great for references (Adventure design)

What’s next for you?
I’ve been hired to be the Development Assistant for the next Marvel RPG event book: Civil War. I can’t wait to tackle that one.