Lake City, Utah
Family: I live
with my wonderful girlfriend, Alysia, and in lieu of kids (yet!) we
have a neurotic beagle named Charlie. I'm an only child, and my parents
divorced when I was younger -- my Mom and Stepdad live in Florida, and
my Dad and Stepmom live in northern Vermont. Most of the rest of my
family lives in England, Scotland and Michigan.
I grew up with cats, but became allergic to them a few years ago. My
favorite was Rusty, who I had for 17 years. He used to throw up several
times a week, often in the middle of the night, and it got to the point
where I could wake up, pick him up, deposit him just outside my room --
on the hardwood floor -- and be back in bed and on my way to sleep
before he'd gotten out his first "hhrhrhk."
Now my girlfriend and I
have a beagle, Charlie, who is afraid of rain. And sneezing. And in our
new house, something random that we can't figure out, which may be the
furnace. He's a very cool dog, though, and I wouldn't trade him for
I went to Stuyvesant HS in New York City, and then moved to Michigan to
go to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Instead of a major, I
essentially had three minors: English, art history and film theory,
with Asian studies in all three.
Apart from gaming, I love to write -- I'm a part-time freelance writer,
and I also write a regular blog for GMs, Treasure Tables. I read a lot,
too, both comics and books, and I'm a huge movie person. I also spend a
fair amount of time on the computer -- so pretty much, if it's
sedentary and geeks do it, I'm probably into it.
test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living,
in your parents' basement? Nope. I have gamed in plenty
of basements though -- and my current gaming area is set up in my
basement. I grew up in an apartment in New York City, so the basement
wasn't really an option there.
your favorite word? Zinfandel, as in the wine. I have no
except that it sounds nifty -- it'd be a great name for a magic sword.
languages do you speak? Just English. I've studied
French, German and Japanese, and I remember a total of maybe twenty
words from all three of them. I absolutely loathe learning languages,
is probably a character flaw of some sort.
your favorite time of year, and why? My least favorite
Summer, because it's too hot. I like Spring, Fall and Winter about
but for different reasons -- with a gun to my head, I'd pick Fall.
Halloween, turning leaves, crisp air -- Fall rocks.
your most prized physical possession? Defining "prized"
as "the thing I'd miss most," I'd have to go with my computer. Picking
something based on sentimental reasons would be much too hard -- like a
lot of geeks, nostalgia is a powerful force for me.
your favorite toy as a child? GI Joe figures,
hands-down. I had oodles of these, and my friends and I used to stage
elaborate battles with them -- which later turned into free-form
wargames in the gaming sense, around the time that I became interested
your favorite section of the newspaper? On the rare
occasions that I read the newspaper, I prefer the New York Times on two
particular days of the week: Tuesday, for the Science Times section,
and Thursday, for the Circuits section. I get my news from NPR on my
commute, as well as online, so I don't see much point to reading the
have a useless talent that no one else that you know can do?
When I was 8, I taught myself to wiggle my ears. Not only can I wiggle
them together, I can do either one independently as well. Nothing gets
the ladies like a good ear wiggle.
three things you can't live without? (Besides food, water, shelter, and
air) If my girlfriend, my family and my friends aren't
also givens, then those are my three! If they are givens, though, then
it would be books, gaming and the internet. My books and my computer
are the two things I set up first when I move somewhere new, and I
don't feel quite right unless I'm involved in an ongoing game.
could be one superhero, which hero would you be? Too
Man. His superpower is that...um...he can build really fancy coffee
machines, I think.
Or maybe he just has a really fancy coffee machine, I can't remember
you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut, and then
marine biologist. Sadly, I hate math and chemistry, so I'll have to
watching big shark movies and hoping space tourism becomes affordable
your favorite mode of transportation? My car. I grew up
in New York
City, so I didn't have a car or even learn to drive until I was 25.
It's not a badass
or anything, but it does have a HASTUR license plate (which I love).
about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played.
My all-time favorite PC was Hwang-se Li, a 900 year-old martial arts
master that I played in a Mage chronicle back in college. I often enjoy
playing oddball characters, and Hwang was the only non-mage in a party
He was modeled on the
B-movie archetype of the wizened kung fu master who can survive on a
grain of rice a day -- and kick your butt six ways to Sunday, despite
his apparent frailty. Hwang was a curious soul, which tended to get him
into trouble, and even though he was only 4 feet tall his attitude was
at least 6'5".
The best part was that
in a year-long game, the rest of the players never found out that Hwang
wasn't a mage -- I got to reveal that after the chronicle ended, which
was a lot of fun.
your favorite RPGs? I have two: D&D and Call of
Cthulhu. I've been into medieval history and fantasy since I was a
little kid, so D&D has always been a pretty natural fit for me.
When the rules were less coherent (2nd Edition, for example), I had fun
making them better -- or making up my own.
H.P. Lovecraft, on whose
work Call of Cthulhu is based, is one of my favorite authors, and I
love the way that CoC turns traditional gaming elements on their heads.
I especially enjoy one-shots, since I look at dying or going insane
before the end of the scenario as being one of the primary goals!
your first RPG session like? My first formal gaming
experience was an OD&D session run by a friend of mine. We were
both about 10, and I was the only player. If memory serves, we were on
vacation with our parents and we played on the beach, which was pretty
I'd been doing some
almost-gaming for a year or so before that, picking equipment from the
lists in my copy of Avalon Hill's (terrible) RPG Lords of Creation and
doing collaborative storytelling with friends. I'm pretty sure that's
one reason that I love to improvise as a GM -- because I got my start
in gaming doing just that, before I knew what gaming actually was.
your WORST RPG session like? This exchange came from a
Game of Thrones event at GenCon Indy 2004, and I think it speaks for
DM (and I
use the term very loosely...): "Okay, so these two pens
are the edges of the path, and the cliff is on that side. You guys are
these dice, here, and the bandits are these dice, here."
Friend of the DM:
"I jump onto the side of the cliff above us, draw my daggers, and
ninja-kick one bandit as I slit the other one's throat."
DM: "Cool. See,
in Game of Thrones we have this awesome feat where you can use
Intelligence instead of Strength to do that. Both of the bandits are
dead, that was awesome."
My friend: "I
move up to the next bandit and stab him with my spear."
DM: "You can't
My friend: "Why
DM: "Because the
path isn't wide enough for you to get past this guy in front of you."
My friend: "There's
like an inch of extra space between him and that pen."
DM: "No, it's
not wide enough."
"I kick down the door and
start stabbing the peasants!"
is your all-time favorite person to game with? I'm not
sure how I would even begin to answer this one -- all of my friends are
great to game with, but in different ways. This is like the Sophie's
Choice of gaming questions!
Do you have anything
gaming-related to plug? Absolutely! I'm a freelance
writer for the RPG industry, and you can view my published work online
I also write a weblog for GMs called Treasure Tables, which I hope
you'll check out. (http://www.treasuretables.org).
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