The grilling

It turned out to be a week for interviews. At long last, I may be conducting this “presence on social media” thing correctly, because people I don’t know, working from venues I haven’t encountered, have been getting in touch.

The interviewer in this case is Nick Kozos, who is armed with a considerable list of inquiries from role-players situated (apparently) all around Greece. They required enough critique-in-return in order for me to answer at all that I had no opportunity to “interview back,” as I am very interested in the culture and history of play there. We promised to follow up so I can get there next time.

You’ll see a few familiar topics and responses. Real-world political issues pertaining to my move to Sweden are no surprise, I’m sure. If you wonder why I tend to be so pointed and specific about it, that’s an immigrant thing: everyone is so sure they “know” why you arrived in the destination country that one tends to stake out one’s actual position quickly. In regard to role-playing, I lose no opportunity to hold forth on my views on the economics and consequences of crowdfunding as we know it.

A lot of the questions are very good, very specific. I was able to articulate several points only because I was being asked something well – this is kind of an important point, that you can’t interview yourself (at least I can’t) and therefore can produce “what I want to say” only when asked the right way.

Nick knows a lot of my work, especially Sorcerer, and he was ready with tabs on the quotes he wanted to hold me to, although you can see us confuse one another about Shahida – the community there was under the impression that it had only been published in Italian, and I thought he was more familiar with the game’s content than he was, so I don’t think I effectively answered what was being asked. It was nice to run into someone who really knows the game The Riddle of Steel and therefore can engage with some history and ideas associated with it.

We agreed or were mutually enthused about a lot of things … but not everything. Pay attention to a few responses that I shelved for later: mine when he uses the “GNS is obsolete” trope, his when I speak nicely about D&D 4th edition, and his when I criticize the naive arrogance of the term “OSR.” (I happened to coin the image of the “asshat dance” in a conversation about that a few days before and have decided to adopt it toward that specific feature going forward.) I’ll be following up on all of these with him.

I never know what to do with “what’s your favorite” questions. I realized long, long ago, as a kid I suppose, that I have no idea what that word even means. I think my favorite color is orange, but is that true, or just something I learned to say when very young to satisfy people? And as far as applying it to anything else, it’s just Peanuts-special adult-talk to me.

I’m similarly baffled by inquiries about the latest games published or the things about to be published. It seems to me there are people who are paid actual money to pay attention to that and to have opinions about it, and since I’m not one of them, I don’t bother. I used to struggle to answer but now I simply tell the truth and say that I’ll find out what I think of those in a few years.

Given the breadth of the interview questions, I think most of my answers were necessarily introductory. I’d like to know which ones strike you as the most interesting paths to continue upon, as dedicated topics of their own.

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5 responses to “The grilling”

  1. Points of Interest

    Great interview I thought. Kudos to all involved. 

    A few points stood as interest to me.

    More about The Riddle of Steel, which I always admired as a design. I honestly though it would gain a widespread following. Maybe it did and just not in my circle. Some actual play of TROS would be a delight.

    I do think that the OSR as a fundamentalist folk religion is a PhD paper waiting to happen for someone. My own reactions to it can be summed up as: Nostalgia for the new car smell that we got the first time we played D&D (or insert your own game). How about some OSR Rolemaster you heathens? (There is now a game called  Against the Darkmaster, which is more MERPS than pure RM.) 

    But my biggest takeaway is that all the talk about Rock n Roll and Uriah Heep had me dragging out the barebones design of my prog rock A Time for Wizards design. Heavily inspired by Ralph Bakshi's Wizards and Black Sabbath's The Wizard. And now Uriah Heep's songs as well. 

    Why are there not more games about cosmic drug use and classic rock bass players? That is to say, why isn't there more weird and fucked up shit that inspires the rolling of dice?

    • Whoa now! You’re talking to

      Whoa now! You're talking to the author of Cosmic Zap!

      "Baby, are you experienced?"

  2. The Second Conversation?

    Ron, did you end up having a second conversation/interview with Nick?  As you both acknowledged during this interview, there was lots left for you two to discuss.

    I came to this post looking for discussion about The Riddle of Steel.

    I was interested to hear something about your experiences of American politics, the crisis of which is now obvious and inescapable (even for those of us outside of the U.S.).

    To answer your question, I'd like to hear more about the Greek RPG scene, and play culture, and all the unpublished Greek RPGs that are hidden in laptops and backpacks.

    • I didn’t receive any follow

      I didn't receive any follow-up, unfortunately. Which also means I don't have much of an answer to your question, as more connections didn't develop. 

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