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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Eleven Questions & Answers: Creator Spotlight: James Mishler

 Q1: When did you begin your RPG hobby, and were you into something adjacent prior to picking up your first RPG?

A1: I started with the Moldvay Basic D&D Set, which I received for Christmas 1982, so it has been 40 years now. I was into all sorts of fantasy as a child; I'd read The Hobbit in 2nd grade, and read all sorts of fantasy as I could get my hands on it. I had posters of dragons and stuff. I'd tried to pick up D&D before that, but my parents didn't like the imagery from Eldritch Wizardry, and so it wasn't until they found the much-more innocent looking Basic set that they got it for me. And then, of course, I was hooked

Q2: What was it like where you were first playing?  Were their negative attitudes connected with D&D and other RPGS in your personal experience?

A2: My parents had no problem with it, and my schools had no problem with it -- there were D&D clubs in middle and high school. But then there was the D&D Panic, which finally made its way to my hometown later in the phase, and our high school club got cancelled because some preacher convinced the principal it was Satanic. Very sad. Other than that, of course, at the time in my youth, D&D was a "nerds-only" activity, with all that entailed for the early to mid-80s.

Q3: Where do you rank, 'The Empire Strikes Back', in the Star Wars film category?

A3: #1. Best fights, best story development, best character development, best "world" development, best all around.

Q4: Which was your fave Indiana Jones movie?

A4: Raiders of the Lost Ark -- the first and still the best. The Last Crusade is a close second, Temple of Doom a distant third, and Crystal Skull... meh.

Q5: Which non-D&D-like RPGs do you enjoy?  Do you wish you could produce more content for that/them?

A5: Not including the various D&D clones and such related games, top of the list would be RuneQuest/Call of Cthulhu, Cryptworld (Pacesetter System in general), Lejendary Adventure, Dangerous Journeys: Mythus, the old Middle-earth Role-Playing System, Lords of Creation, WEG d6 Star Wars... mostly old school stuff. I've not played many of the "modern" games, though I am really enjoying Blades in the Dark.

Q6: Do you prefer Polyhedral dice systems over ones which use d6s exclusively?

A6: It all depends on the system and the genre. I still think the d6 system used by WEG for Star Wars was the BEST possible system for that setting. It really fit the galaxy, so to speak, in a way that the d20 system and the full range of polyhedrals never did. The basic percentile system worked great for FASA Star Trek. I think D&D could work well with just d6s, modeled after Chainmail (the WEG d6 System just would not work for the D&D style), but then, part of the D&D experience is using that full range of polyhedrals. I can't imagine DCC without all the additional intermediate polyhedrals.

Q7: Do you have a fave fantasy TV series (Robin Hood, Atlantis, Magicians, etc.)?

A7: I am a fan of the old classic animated series from the 80s, such as BlackStar, He-Man, Thundercats, etc., as well as modern takes on that style, such as Samurai Jack. Live action fantasy TV often just does not work for me, especially when it is too "self-informed". I enjoyed the old British Robin of Sherwood series (Michael Praed, before Jason Connery). I liked the first season of Once Upon a Time.

Q8: Did you see the Jason Momoa Conan movie?  What did you think of it?

A8: Saw it when it first came out in theaters. Thought Momoa was almost perfect as Conan, but stuck with a crap script. It was obvious that the writers knew nothing about Howard's Conan or the Hyborian world; they changed it to some genericized fantasy setting that did not even make internally consistent sense. An unfortunate misfire.

Q9: Do you also enjoy Sci-Fi or other genres in gaming and media?

A9: Yes, I am a fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek, in all media. Loved the WEG d6 Star Wars; enjoyed the FASA Star Trek RPG. Love Gamma World in most of its incarnations. Played the hell out of Star Frontiers years ago. Played a lot of the original Marvel Super-Heroes RPG from TSR. I like weird fantasy, science-fantasy, and horror genres, when the game works well; I love kitchen-sink campaign concepts, like TORG, though the system for that game just didn't work for me.

Q10: If you could produce RPG material for any game, past, present, or future, which game and what would you produce?

A10: Tops of course would be the Wilderlands, but that would require winning a lottery and buying out the current owners. I'd release the core material as System Neutral with support books for various game systems. I'd also like to see Gary Gygax's Lejendary Adventure get another fair shot, but that is another whole can of worms.

I have my own fantasy RPG in the works, in fits and starts and rebuilds. We'll see how that turns out...

Q11: Do you have any questions for me or Alternate Reality Games?

What is the status on Urutsk? Is it still in the works? Are you still running games?

Thanks for the interview!


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