Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It's your turn! An interview with Pits & Perils Designer James George

1.       How did you get your start roleplaying?  What system did you use?

I started playing in 1978.  It was OD&D, judging by the books the DM used, although I think I spotted some Judges Guild stuff as well.  Back then, players only needed to know what was on their character sheet, so I was an enthusiastic player more than anything else.  Long story short, we moved and I lost touch.  No more D&D until 1980, when I found the Holmes Basic set at K-Mart and (not too subtly) asked to get it for Christmas.  Robyn played some 2nd Edition D&D in the early 90s (as an indulgence to me), but started really getting into it in 2002, around the same time I started feeling the itch to return to the hobby.  

2.       Tell me about Pits & Perils, what was the genesis of the game?

I'd been away from the hobby for over a decade.  Career and family rightly took precedence, and the military was pretty demanding.  But by 2002, things had settled down and I began to feel the itch.  Robyn had discovered Morrowind and few other computer RPG's, so she was game (so to speak) as well.  Unfortunately, we had no rules and nothing but the Monopoly dice in the kitchen drawer.  No problem.  I knew how the games worked and put myself into developing an original system that was simpler and would emphasize our personal interactions.  The rest developed over time, and Robyn, my principle player, had a HUGE hand in how it evolved. 

Anyway, we tried to formalize the kind of negotiation and on-the-spot rulings typical of these games and make them a part of the rules.  P&P is a game where the referee can say: The dwarf and fighter have the ogre pinned down, so the elf can fire their bow at +2.  And there's specific provisions in the rules to allow for this and to give it some sort of objective underpinning while HIGHLY encouraging house rules.    

3.       What was the first adventure you published?

The RuinedAbbey of Saint Tabitha, which was actually a pivotal episode in our campaign.  Nargh converted and is now a saint!  If you've played the adventure or just read it, you'll know what this means! 

4.       What is your favouite OSR clone?

White Box.  I don't know, it just captures the feeling of OD&D + Holmes Basic.

5.       What are you currently playing?

Pits & Perils (it's a game we designed for our own enjoyment), White Box, and One DiceSupers.  Oh, and too much Mount & Blade: Warband and Fallout 4!

6.       What is your favouite published module other than yours?

The Keep onthe Borderlands.  It's just THE essential starter adventure and campaign toolkit.

7.       If you could campaign in any world which would it be?

Blackmoor with Arneson running or Greyhawk with Gygax at the helm.  Hey, you asked...

8.       What are the plans for the future of Old House Rules?

We're working on an expansion to Blood of Pangea called Opherian Scrolls, which is based more on Lieber and Moorcock: the OTHER swords and sorcery tradition.  There's also a (small) combat companion booklet and a hardcover collection of the Blood of Pangea rulebooks (much like the collected Pits & Perils) with an exclusive cosmic horror supplement.  We're basically trying to finalize out existing titles and get them into hardcover.

9.       When you get a chance to play a character, what type of PC’s do you like to play?

Atypical fighters with something other than strength as their strongest ability.  There's actually MORE room to be flexible and creative.  Robyn does elven thieves.  Very well, I might add (she's scary). 

10.   What are you most excited about in the RPG scene currently?

The ability for people to correspond online (and in real time) and share their creations.  It's everything the early gaming scene aspired to be and more.  Oh, and the DIY ethos of the hobby absolutely THRIVES here.

11.   Any funny gaming stories you would like to share?

This one time, at Band Camp.  No, maybe something else.  Ok, there was this AD&D adventure in 1988 where a friend's thief stole from my character and I avenged myself with a clever Ventriloquism spell when we were taken before the throne of the Elf Queen.  The details aren't safe for work or particularly wholesome.  He didn't like it, but I had a blast.  As I recall, he had to roll up a new character!  And the moral is...   

12.   Buck Rogers or Duck Dogers?

Duck Dodgers.  Yeah, absolutely.  Robyn agrees...

13.   Favourite gaming beverage and snack?

Diet Pepsi and Cool Ranch Doritos for me, Ice Mountain and a veggie tray for Robyn.  She'll live to be 100.  Me?  Not so much!

Note:  Shane needs to find out what the heck Ice Mountain is!!! 

14.   Where can we find you on the web?

There's our official page at and our home on google+ (just search for us by name).  We love hearing from folks, so oldehouserules AT yahoo DOT com is always open.  

Thanks again, and many thanks!  Stay warm up there...

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