Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with the Herald - Mike

Ok folks for my second interview, I thought I would introduce to you a pirate of the Aerdie Sea, scurvy sea dog wanted in the Lendore Isles, for trafficking of black powder. Wanted by the Sea Baron for that little matter that needs to be cleared up about the Sea Baron's daughter and her wedding night, I present to you "Mortellan" Scourge of the four oceans and master cartoonist in his spare time. With the introductions done here's what my friend Mike has to say.

Section One: Information
What is your name?
Mike “mortellan” Bridges

Where are you from?
The Land of Lincoln, Illinois.

How old are you?
I’m coming up on the big 4 - 0 in September.

What do you do for a living?
I’ve been in the hotel industry for almost 14 years.

What are your hobbies or interests?
Other than gaming? I’m your typical sci-fi/fantasy reader, my favorite book being the Hobbit. I’m also an avid reader of Marvel comics, especially The Mighty Thor. A born artist, I’ve drawn comic strips since grade school among dabbling in other disciplines. I’m a huge sports buff (mainly NFL, MLB and NHL). I run a fantasy hockey league that has been going on for nearly 20 years!

Do you have a blog or website?
My current blog is Greyhawkery
I also have a semi-retired gaming webcomic: WOG Comic

When and what was the first roleplaying game you played?
I started RPGs around 1981 with the Basic D&D set. I remember this because I wasn’t quite 10 yet and I was happy to get the rules. I still kept the box to this day. After that AD&D and the World of Greyhawk boxed set wasn’t far behind.

Do you prefer to be a Player, Game Master or Both?
I definitely prefer to be the Game Master. Having creative control over a story and watching people experience it is what keeps my imagination going. I’m not as focused if I’m not running the show.

What are your favourite roleplaying game(s) to run?
I prefer running D&D (Greyhawk setting specifically), Mutants and Masterminds and Shadowrun.

Has playing roleplaying games had an impact on your life?
I like to think I’m better educated because of RPGs and I have many, many lifelong friends made through gaming.

Section Two: You the Player
When last have you been a player in a roleplaying game and what character did you play?
We switch games so frequently. I’m currently playing in a Hero system game and my character is a masked vigilante called “The Adjuster.” His day job is an insurance adjuster.

Do you prefer to play in a small or large group when playing roleplaying games?
I prefer larger groups when I play because I can blend into the background. I run games so much that when I do play, I don’t want to hog the spotlight.

How often do you get to be a player in a roleplaying game?
I’ve been lucky to have a group of guys that I game with on Mondays and another on Wednesdays. So quite often.

What do you think is your biggest weakness is as a Player right now?
I’m not sure it’s a weakness per se, but I don’t really care about character building mechanics. I don’t plan ahead, which for some might be irritating. I’d also just as soon play a pre-generated character if it’s a system I’m not familiar with.

What could you do to improve your game as a Player?
Try to really learn the rules for different RPGs.

Describe your perfect session as a player in a roleplaying game:
The perfect session for me is 99% roleplay with little or no dice used. I can just sit back, watch and laugh along. I’ve achieved it a couple times as a DM before.

How would you describe the group that you currently play in?
It’s a mix of old school gamers, new gamers and fans of RPGs I never started out with. We cover pretty much all the genres that way.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a player?
The first time I played a female character in Shadowrun. People were weirded out by that at first (even though as a GM you could play several female NPCs in the course of a day) but I kept making female characters to bring some diversity to our all male parties. Now years later, most everyone has played a female character and it’s pretty uncommon NOT to find at least one or more in our groups.

What do you do as a player to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Sleep. Eat. Nap. Doodle on character sheet. Drink a lot of caffeine. And go!

Where and how long do your roleplaying sessions last?
One night of the week we game at a friend’s house, the other game group is at a comic shop. Our sessions last about 4 hours or less.

Section Three: You the Game Master
When last have you been a Game Master in a roleplaying game and what adventure did you run?
I am currently running a Greyhawk campaign (Sea Princes) which is thematically a high seas swashbuckling adventure. I write all my own material for it, though I did lead in with the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.

Do you prefer to referee a small or large group when running a roleplaying games?
I’ve played in games from 1 on 1 up to nearly a dozen people. My sweet spot for GMing is five people. Anymore than that and you lose time that could go to character development.

How often do you get to be a Game Master in a roleplaying game?
Less than I used to, which is to say all the time. As I get older and lazier I’m glad that I don’t GM that much. I got too much else going on.

What do you think is your biggest weakness as a Game Master right now?
My biggest weakness is I don’t embrace gaming technology as much as others, and I rail against technology in general (cell phones) at the game table as a distraction.

What could you do to improve your game as a Game Master?
I’ve not had the opportunity to GM for women. I’d like to see what insights they’d bring out in my game.

Describe your perfect session as a Game Master in a roleplaying game:
Same as playing. Little or no dice/book involvement. Lately though, I’d take no cell phones as the perfect session.

How would you describe the group that you currently GM to?
Same as the group I play with. We all know each other fairly well so it’s easy to cater to their interests and exploit their failings.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a Game Master?
There is no one moment, but any time I hear my players talk about a campaign years after we last played it, that’s a good moment. You know you made a lasting impression on players when they still react with hate when they hear a villain’s name mentioned or they reminisce about certain characters as clearly as if you read about them in a novel.

What do you do as a Game Master to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Write notes in a steno notebook at work. Scour the internet for references. Bookmark some creatures in the Monster Manual. Sketch out a map on the battlemat. Pick out some counters to use.

Do you use published material or create your own?
I prefer to cannibalize published material to make my own. However over the course of my life I’ve probably ran published mods more often than not to save time. Those fatigue me though.

Have you had any of your own material published?
Not professionally. I have had plenty of Greyhawk material published on the fansite Canonfire! however.

What gaming aids do you use when you play roleplaying games?
I like to use cardboard counters, minis and wet erase battle mats.I use minis mainly in my super hero campaigns. I use maps mainly in my fantasy games.

Do you make your own maps or props for your gaming sessions?
I have been known to make my own maps, but the Greyhawk setting has plenty to choose from. Prop wise I like floor plans made out in advance to save time.

Do you have any advice that you would care to share with new upcoming Players and Game Masters alike?
Don’t take the game too seriously. Don’t waste too much time looking up rules during the game. Don’t use screens unless you need to fudge dice rolls a lot.

Thanks Mike that was a great read. Watch this space for next weeks interview for more insight from a fellow hawker.


  1. So, you snagged Mort! Excellent!

    A very nice interview. Look forward to seeing and reading more of them.

  2. I not quite sure why but Mort reminds me of Tenser. Great interview glad to see him get an interview before his 4th decade.



  3. Thanks guys. I feel I need to mention something left out of the interview.


    Carry on...

  4. A fun interview, Rory :D


  5. OMG! The ULL-master never mentioned Ull in the interview! :O


    Aw, well, we forgive you, Mort. We'll "chalk it up" to nervousness. You know, facing Greyhawk's MANY fans and all that. ;)


  6. Mike is one of my oldest and dearest friends - I've known him since preschool and played D&D with him since the 7th grade. He's a DM without peer and a friend I can always rely on. Thanks old buddy.

  7. With sterling words from a friend of old, I would raise my glass to you Mike. Salute!