The Dark Queen of the West, May’s CotM

Hey everybody, we’re here with GM Rase Cidraen to talk to him about his awesome World of Darkness campaign The Dark Queen of the West this month. Yeah it’s up a little late, but it was totally worth the wait. Check out the interview below!

Dark Queen of the West Banner

First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do both aside from gaming? Alter Ego’s? Wife and kids? Where can we stalk you on the internet?

I have to start by saying that it’s truly an honor to even be on Obsidian Portal. I’ve always had a foot in two different worlds (a third, if you count the world of the fantastical and my second left foot) – I come from a deeply southern family, but have lived most of my life in the Northeast corridor of the United States, spending a good number of years up in Boston. That’s where I fell in love with my wife and my gaming career really took off. Aside from tabletop gaming, I play a good deal of video games, with a side of minor cinephilia and an enthusiasm (but lack of time) for musical composition, image manipulation, and authorial inclinations. If you’re going to stalk me, the best place to do it is right here. I’m active on the forums as much as I can be, but I’ll always take the time out to talk to anyone who sends me a message. Nothing makes me happier than meeting people who enjoy our hobby and helping them out however I can. I’ve had a couple of really successful art-for-words exchanges with some excellent people on the site.

Tell us about The Dark Queen of the West in a nutshell. How did it come to be and how long has the campaign been going on?

The Dark Queen was something that started forming in my head back in High School, but she only really began to take shape a few years ago when a bunch of regulars were sitting around the campfire that is the Forums here, thinking ‘Hey, wouldn’t a campaign of people from the site be just grand?’ And the scientist in me exclaimed, ‘This sounds like a great experiment!’ So back in December of 2010, Gaaran and I decided that I was going to run this World of Darkness story for everyone. Its’ had it’s fits and starts, but she’s still plodding along like an implacable juggernaut, trying to get out of my head. Along the way we’ve had a few casualties to people leaving due to lack of time, and we miss them greatly. (Looking at you, Duskreign! Wish you could come back, buddy! You too Jon!)

Campaign Splash ImageHow regularly do you play, and where do you play? (If you play online, do you use any certain tools to accomplish your gaming such as Google hangouts, roll20, etc.)

We play… well, it’s sort of hard to describe, but it’s more or less constantly. We’re all scattered around the country, so it’s hard to schedule a concrete time for everyone to meet, especially since I’m already in the fantastic Edgerunners . What we’ve built is a fairly relaxed Play by Post story where we play as often as time allows, and it’s worked thus far.

World of Darkness seems like a blast. I’ve always really wanted to try it. How do you like the system and what do you find to be its strong points? Weak ones?

The system itself is really interesting, particularly the flavor – if there’s one downfall that I’ve found, it lacks a certain flexibility that I was hoping, even with the improvised magic system.

Aside from WoD, I’m sure you play other systems too, which ones do you play most?

I have had the most experience with the D&D editions starting from 2E onwards, settling mostly on 3.5e. I have recently fallen in love with GURPS for the sheer flexibility that it offers.

How did you get into tabletop gaming?

I was dragged into tabletop gaming from a group I was playing video games with, and it was further cemented by the Network Administrator for my local public high school, who taught me the old Mage system as well as D&D and martial arts.

Are you new to Obsidian Portal? If so, what brought you to the site?

I’ve been around long enough that some people have started to consider me as part of the furniture. Between myself and co-founder Gaaran, we’ve got a good number of years between us – I started back in 2009, and he’s been around even longer. I was brought to the site by a desire to build a world for players to play in, and I stayed for the community.

Your Wiki is so amazing I almost needed to change my pants, who does all the work?

The work on the world is a labor of love between both Gaaran and I – we have regular meetings to decide what direction to take the site in, and what elements need tweaking and improving. We both love creating art assets of the site, and Gaaran has been able to turn a mean hand of code developing elements like Our Map which I find amazingly useful. His coding is truly what makes the site what it is – it used to be that I could keep up, but now it’s the best I can do to stay on top of the art asset and fluff demand, and plan on adding even more to the News page when the group gets up to more unexplainable hyjinks.

If you had to pick just one thing, what would you say Obsidian Portal helps you with the most? Do your players get involved on the wiki too?

The Portal helps me stay sane when it comes to organization. I’m a disorganized mess in real life, so having a place to store all of my thoughts and remind me of incidental NPCs that my characters and I create is absolutely invaluable. Gaaran is very active, as is my wife, and Bohemond will be once we get to his part in the story.

Adventure LogsWhat would you say the single biggest highlight from your game has been so far?

The best part of the game has been working with the beautiful and talented people of the site (my wife included), but if I had to pick a single moment, I’d be hard pressed between a few. I loved Duskreign’s alternate takes on our sessions, tweaking what would have otherwise been a mundane encounter into something fascinating. I loved Jon’s vampire breaking into his own museum, as well as Westin, James and Marie (Our resident mages and vampire) dealing with a den of vampires in an apartment slum, struggling to come to grips with their respective abilities.

Are you excited about the upcoming changes to Obsidian Portal?

I am so excited about the upcoming changes it’s hard to express – the moment I heard about it, I went and backed the Kickstarter immediately – I have absolute trust in Micah and crew to deliver something amazing – that’s why I Ascended in the first place. This place is something special, and I want to contribute to keeping it that way!

Okay, before we get out of here, give us some of your best GM’ing pearls of wisdom.

I’m hardly one to talk about wisdom, but I’ll do my best to impart some words. The most important thing that I have ever had to remember is that while you might be running the game, it’s not really your story. It might have started from an idea you had, or stole, created or remade, but the moment you put that idea in front of your players? It stops being just yours, but theirs as well. It becomes something amazing – a shared experience among friends, something wild and unpredictable. It’s time to just sit back and enjoy whatever happens, because you’ll have created something alive. Nothing will go as you planned, and that’s okay, because it’ll be more interesting to everyone involved. A meticulously planned story is not as fun as something that surprises and delights everyone involved. My players are constantly surprising me in ways that I never could expect, and I would never want it any other way.

Well that’s it for this month everyone, stay tune for next month when we’ll have another amazing campaign for you all. Have you got someone you’d like to nominate? Shoot me a message or shout it out on the forums!

Award Winning!

Gold ENnie for Best Website 09'-11'

Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
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