On the second Sunday of each month, Save vs. Me highlights a different Player by sharing their stories and thoughts on tabletop gaming. This month, we hop across the pond for an interview with Raymond A.K.A. @R042!
Who are you? Introduce yourself!
I’m Raymond Webster (@R042 online), from the UK. I run an anime/sci-fi/miniatures and roleplaying/short fiction blog, and am generally interested in as many different things as possible.
How long have you gamed and how did you get into gaming?
I started playing tabletop miniatures games in 1999 or so, with a demo game in a Games Workshop store leading me to buy some miniatures. For RPGs, I first had a go at the D&D 4th edition launch event, while I was at university.
As Games Workshop is a UK company, how big of an influence would you say they currently have on the tabletop scene in the UK? I feel like it’s been a bit on the decline here in US recently.
I’d certainly say GW are losing their dominant market position; when I started the hobby they were the only option on the high street (and really the only miniatures game people could name, save the historicals scene which was quite specialist).
However, of late the popular opinion at the clubs I game at is that they have priced themselves out of the market, increasing prices and offering a product that increasingly compares unfavourably to ever-more-visible competitors.
The growth of gaming shop/clubs like Wayland Games to build local communities, and the general increased visibility of other companies like Privateer Press, Fantasy Flight, Corvus Belli etcetera have shown that there are other miniatures companies offering equivalent or better-quality models, and more actively supported and balanced games.
What was your first game?
D&D 4th edition, a demo game run by the manager of my local games store. For miniatures stuff, 3rd edition Warhammer 40,000.
Do you have a favorite game or favorite genre of game? If so, what about it appeals to you?
Probably the RPG I’ve had most fun running is Savage Worlds, because it’s an incredibly versatile and easy to learn system for one off adventures. For the same reason I like things like Fiasco and Fate, they’re easy to explain and play quickly.
What games have you not tried, but would like to?
I really want to run an indie RPG called VeloCITY, based on Mirror’s Edge and Jet Set Radio (the anime fan in me thinks it cries out for a game based on Eureka 7). When it comes to actually playing games I particularly want to try Exalted and Ryuutama.
Ryuutama looks like fun! Did you happen to back the recent Kickstarter for that game?
I certainly backed the kickstarter; the game was brought to my attention by someone fluent in Japanese reviewing the original, and so when I saw a kickstarter for a translation I decided to back it.
What was your first character?
The first non-pregenned character I made was for a Call of Cthulhu one-off adventure. Bryson Figgs, Professor of English at Miskatonic University, spectacularly mediocre at fencing, pistol-shooting and teaching but very good at being somewhere else when bad things happened. He survived the adventure despite setting his massive Charles Darwin-esque beard on fire with a signal flare.
What do you use for inspiration for your characters?
Usually whatever I’ve been reading or watching last, then spun into what I would have written if I was trying to write that character. I usually GM more than play, and my players tend to like pastiche-y games, so for my last campaign (a giant robot war story) I ended up using Metal Gear Rising and Mobile Suit Gundam as massive inspirations.
Given your love of both anime and tabletop, are you hoping Seventh Seas licenses some Japanese tabletop RPGs?
I’m not exactly an expert on what games exist or are likely to be licensed; Ryuutama interests me, and I wouldn’t mind reading Double Cross but the others I know by reputation (Giant Allege, Meikyuu Kingdom and various series-licensed RPGs) don’t particularly appeal. I’m sure there are some out there that might appeal though.
Do you have a favorite kind of character to play? (Could be race, class, archtype, personality, etc.)
I really like trying to make optimistic, JRPG-esque heroes given most of the groups I play in favour stern, Batman-y characters. Inspirational speeches, being overprepared for everything but not knowing anything, that sort of thing. They tend to be polearm-using Elf Warriors.
For villains, when GMing, I like to make either theatrical figureheads with a catchphrase and signature weapon, or unassuming, ordinary looking people who turn out to be incredibly dangerous – an example is my last campaign’s endboss, Renendra Dagger, who looked to the players like a slight businesswoman but was actually a powerful android.
So you do run/GM games, then?
Much more than playing them.
Do you run pre-made adventures or create your own material as you go?
I always try to make my own stories and settings, because I love creative writing.
What do you use for inspiration for your campaigns?
Similarly to making characters, I’ll take something I liked and think about how I would have done it from the ground up. I tend to draw inspiration for fantasy games from the Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls series.
What would you say to people who are curious about gaming but have never tried it?
The best starting-point isn’t necessarily the big-name expensive games, and almost certainly isn’t a premade campaign. A lot of the free systems you can download, or the cheap independent ones, are much better icebreakers and entry points. I’d definitely recommend getting some friends together and trying Fiasco – because everyone can tell a tall tale about a crime going bad if they’ve seen a film like Fargo.
Anything else you’d like to say about gaming that we haven’t covered?
It’s a great hobby, I find, because it lets everyone try and be creative. One of the things I love when running a game is when the players intentionally make “bad” decisions because it’s characterful. Returning to my sci-fi campaign for an example, one of the players would continually have his character fall for obvious traps because it was precisely what the archetype he was aiming for would do.
Promote yourself and/or your stuff! Tell us where we can find you online, please?
I’m on Twitter at @R042, Tumblr at r042.tumblr.com and maintain a fairly active blog (1-2 updates a week most of the time, real work permitting) at ideaswithoutend.wordpress.com