Friday, February 17, 2017

We Are Having The Desired Effect

This came through for Patrick and me via the Satyr Press mailbag...

Hi guys,

I'm of that generation where I could be lifted right out of Stranger Things.  I picked up the red and blue books a few years after they were released, and then specifically remember my joy buying the Greyhawk full color map and actually taping it to our dining room wall.  I'm still surprised my father let the map stay up there all through junior high!

I've gamed ever since then, with only a couple of "dark" years where there was no gaming and did a couple of tours of duty in my 20s in the industry itself (was an editor and writer for Atlas Games and then did a few supplements for the amazingly esoteric Skyrealms of Jorune).  Then I went on to be a business professor and ultimately a consultant.

I'm happily now running a D&D 5e session with a group of mostly newbies ... including one Broadway actor, one improv comedian, a software exec, etc.  Fascinating group.  Probably the best group in terms of diversity I've ever gamed with.

The reason why I want to thank you is that through products like Maze of the Blue Medusa and Deep Carbon Observatory, I've rediscovered what it really means to run a game.  I got lazy over the years.  Grab the fancy, full-color Pathfinder modules, spend a ton of time prepping battles that would take hours, worry about online maps, etc.  I also played narrative game systems ... FATE, Fudge ... but even there I sometimes found myself searching for the easy way out -- fully developed scenarios I could just pop open and run.

The best game-mastering I ever did in my life was running the diceless game Amber back in the 90s.  I had the pleasure of meeting Erick Wujcik and doing a couple of games with him at GenCon, crammed into somebody's hotel room.  It REQUIRED me to make shit up, to listen to the players, to try to always keep things going and stay one step ahead.  

Prepping for some of my recent 5e sessions, culling from your material in various bits here and there but always making it my own, I've got my mojo back.  I'm inventing magic items and crazy curses on the fly, pushing the limit on mixing of genres ... comedy, then horror, then action, rinse/repeat.

So, for helping me get my DM mojo back, MAJOR appreciation.  Good luck with everything.  Wish I had more time to write again, as I'm that inspired.


Mark Frein


shanepatrickward said...

YES! That's what its all about. Great letter.

der eisenhofer said...


Random Wookie said...

Zak I'm currently trying to self publish or just publish my first rpg setting/adventure. And it is completely because of what you and Patrick have created and the enthusiasm you both have for DIY D&D community.

Zak Sabbath said...


DM Critic said...

I've been running Maze as a play-by-post since late September. We spent the first month just running a prologue that I had to write from scratch, and currently I'm practicing coming up with the most awful verses I can think of playing Carnifex. Along the way I've invented mini adventures and quests to keep things interesting, and my players have responded with a lot of good energy.

It demands creativity out of you, and in return it gives you so much to work with.

So yeah, this is me nodding in agreement with the above.

Zach Thomas said...

Gotta say I agree whole heartedly. After spending the first several years as an outsider in the hobby, Kevin Crawford and your blog (and others like it) taught me how to be a dm. Your books are great. Looking forward to the next.

P.S. You and Kevin Crawford teaming up for a book/game? That's something that should absolutely happen... dreams.

Shawn Kilburn said...

I'm running another round of MAZE OF THE BLUE MEDUSA tomorrow with DCC. Should be fun!

Adam said...

I've not run Maze. I have, however, run elements of Vornheim.

That's not the point tho. The point is that this blog got me back into playing RPGs after a 15 year break, and freed me, as a ref, to trust my own imagination.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see what they could come up with together. The random tables alone would be worth the price.

Zach Thomas said...

Agreed. I've been combining the best stuff from here and Kevin Crawfords many books already so having something with both of their styles would be pretty sweet.

Shawn Kilburn said...

It was!

Parvel Shunk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parvel Shunk said...


Random Wookie said...

It was supposed to show my name I don't know why it didn't. Just again a thanks for the work you do and keep it up.
Steven Sims