Wednesday, 25 September 2013

12 questions from the Octopi Lord. Q1.

Sometimes a blog questionnaire or challenge goes round that you just can't resist. Have a look at the original premise and maybe have a go yourself. As stated, the questions are very system neutral but fit particularly well with old school RPGs and wargames. I am going to have a crack at the questions one at a time which will hopefully give me a chance to elaborate on them and indulge in the occasional nostalgic journey.

Q1. What is my favourite villain I have ever challenged players with?

This has to be the Riddling Reaver, no doubt about it. Way back when, in 1990 if memory serves, a group of friends and I got together to do some no-frills RPG'ing. The Fighting Fantasy system was expanding beyond gamebooks at that time and was perfect for our needs so after a couple of simple dungeon crawls to get into the swing of things I (as GM) decided to unleash a proper FF adventure on them.

Despite being a tailor-made adventure that required little effort on our parts the eponymous protagonist took on a life of his own as I found myself using the spare grey cells to improvise some extra bedevilment for the adventurers to contend with. The Reaver is already a total butthole, written to be both a challenge and an annoying frustration to the players, but once you get into character with him and start to bring him alive he can really get under the PCs skin.

Before FF and the RR came along I had previously only run WHFRP adventures with all the grim perils and hidden threats I associate with that system. RR taught me to run a different kind of villain entirely, one that not only enjoys his work enormously but who also goes some way to ruining things for the poor PCs by spoiling those little checkpoint moments along the path that let you know you're on the right track. You're not allowed the satisfaction of tracking him down, he defeats you and then tells you where to go to get defeated next.

I got four more years out of the Reaver as I wrote sequel after sequel, leading the players around by the nose before finally allowing them the satisfaction of killing him off. It was a sad necessity that saw the Reaver finally run out of steam really, we reached the end of our GCSEs and moved on. Some went to sixth form or college, some got an apprenticeship and others joined the armed forces. We all split up and lost contact pretty irrevocably, though I occasionally sit back and recall those days when that group of young men were all that stood between the Riddling Reaver and a vulnerable Titan!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I really get what you mean. I happen to have a strong love for villains I GMed for one of my favourite campaigns. It made me give the best I had and the PC's surely did their best to stop him. It was an utter joy tainted with some melancholy to see the PCs finally get him by means I had not expected. These moments are all we're looking for... Everybody gave its best and we surprised each other.

  2. Funny how we often become attached to our characters isn't it? Whether in a RPG or on the tabletop the game is always better if we care about the consequences. I think that's one of the reasons I couldn't transition to the modern way of playing tabletop games, if your opponent sees the game as being more about crunching the numbers than anything else then it's hard to get a narrative going and your heroes are reduced to mere poker chips.

    1. Funny you should mention this because this campaign I enjoyed like no other was using the most simple rules ever (4stats per character and only one chart plus A LOT of imagination work for the GM) and half the players were totally new to roleplaying...
      People just gave all they had and the result was very rewarding.

    2. Sometimes less is more! It's very rewarding to take part in a really good game-story with friends, if only we all had more time! The need for quick 'n' easy gaming fixes and the way Warhammer 8th, Warmachine and D&D 4th are all written allows people to focus on the maths, as if that's the key ingredient to the game. We Oldhammerers know the truth of course. ;)