Interview: Matt Jackson

Today, we sit down to chat with Matt Jackson, one of the RPG writers for the site Dice of Life:

lighthouseIFP: Tell us how the Dice of Life site got started. How did you get involved with them?

MJ: A few friends and I realized that as we got older we had lots of the same problems with gaming: finding time to play, responsibilities that conflicted with gaming, and everything that resolves around real life that we did not have to worry about 20 years ago in high school.

IFP: How did the 1PageAdventures series start?

MJ: I saw a post on Chgowiz’s blog about one-page dungeons and, as I was not playing any sort of dungeon game, I thought I could do it and expand it to include scenarios that would work for other places besides dungeons. I loved the simplicity of the designs that others had made and I felt it would work perfect for Risus, since it is all about fun, loose-and-simple gaming.

IFP: How did you get started in role-playing games? What do you like about them?

MJ: I received the old Red Box D&D set for my birthday around 1982 or something. Playing with my friends let me be creative and explore the vastness of the possibilities enabled by your imagination. Gaming really feeds that inner artist in me and helps me focus on work when I need to because I have let my imagination run wild the night before in a game. I guess I have an inner creative demon that needs to ‘sow his oats’ now and then.

IFP: How did you get started on creating rpg scenarios?

From the get-go, I always found myself in the GM’s chair among my friends. I do not mind as I have a very active and creative imagination and good feedback really feeds my ego. When others tell me they like something I have done, it just makes me push myself harder to work up something better. So, naturally, it was easy for me to sit in the chair and be creative, that I seemed to be good at it and the players enjoyed it, just made it easier for me to continue to sit there.

IFP: What are your favourite rpg games?

MJ: I have recently moved to more indie and ‘story game’-style games as they really help feed that inner demon. And so, the majority of games I have been playing are indie games such as InSpectres, Risus, Fiasco, The Pool, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, and we have a slew of other indie games lined up to play in the future. I would say Risus is my all time favorite game, even though I have only played it a handful of times, the ideas and theories behind it are what fuels my gaming these days. If I had to pick one game that I have had the most fun playing, it would be InSpectres, the game is simply amazing with the right people and a complete blast to play.

IFP: Tell us about your other projects. Do you have a favourite?

MJ: I guess I am too inspired by Lovecraft because I really want to do a long-running campaign using Risus where the players are normal, every-day-joes fighting against an unseen, dark evil that is trying sneak back into our world after a thousand years in the abyss. I have done probably half-a-dozen jumpstarts to this effect and just never followed through with it.

IFP: Why did you choose the Innsmouth Lighthouse as your subject? Where did you get the idea?

MJ: I was deployed to Iraq at the time and had a few days with nothing to do and had been wandering around the net and discovered that many of Lovecraft’s works are available online for free. I had downloaded the story, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, and really enjoyed reading it again (I had read it years before). The idea of a town of people that had gone all fishy over these half-fish people just sort of clicked with me. I had done a few of the 1PageAdventures and, with the constricting area of the map, I needed someplace that I could fit inside that area…somehow, a lighthouse fell into place perfectly…and it was not the normal, old-fashioned, and over-used dungeon! Perfect!

IFP: Do you have plans to do any more Lovecraft/Mythos scenarios in the future?

MJ: Heck, yes! Lovecraft filled his worlds with so many adventure seeds, especially for the story-based, and high-drama, games that I play now. Been looking at “The Dunwich Horror” recently, I think there is a 1PageAdventure in there somewhere.

IFP: What do you want people to get out of your 1PageAdventures scenarios?

MJ: Fun. Period. I love when people contact me telling me they used something I created and how it added to the fun they had playing their game.

IFP: How did you become interested in Lovecraft and Mythos?

MJ: The one thing my mother gave me was a love of reading. I remember going to the library at a very young age (Thanks, Mom!). Having been playing D&D, I of course jumped into fantasy, but I quickly discovered that most fantasy is not to my liking and I moved on to other styles of writing. Not sure how I landed on Lovecraft, but I do remember a friend running the role-playing game called Call of Cthulhu, so odds are that is how I was introduced to it.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster or other character, which one would you be?

MJ: Hmmm, wow, that is a hard one. I really don’t know…..

IFP: What is your favourite Lovecraft//Mythos story?

MJ: “Pickman’s Model”. The twist at the end does it for me every time. Though after doing this project, I really have a deep love for “The Shadow over Innsmouth”; it would be an awesome game and a great movie.

IFP: What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?

MJ: I made a campaign file for use with MapTools (a virtual tabletop for use in playing games over the internet) called Descent into Dallas Station. It was a standard ripoff of the Aliens movie, but I had an awesome time making the map (probably one of the best I have ever made) and running some friends through the game. I killed many a marine and hundreds of aliens were killed in the making of this, but man, was it a blast.

Links: http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2866&start=0

http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?t=2514

IFP: What is your dream project?

MJ: My dream project would be to have the time to dedicate to really sitting down and work on a campaign and game with my friends Bryan and Brennen. Both are similar enough, but different enough from me that it creates a very good dynamic for creativity to flow. We have each worked here and there together but never on a larger scale…and then, real life always seems to get in the way and prevent us from really sitting down and being creative on a massive scale.

IFP: Tell us about your upcoming projects.

MJ: Well, as for other projects right now, I am toying around with a game system I want to finish up and play-test, more of a hack or mash of a few of my other favourite systems. I am also playing around with a fantasy Risus setting to be run as a campaign and I am hoping soon to begin work on more 1PageAdventures and release them.

Bio: M.S. Jackson has been playing and running games for over twenty-five years as well as serving in the US Army. He currently lives in middle America with his wife and two daughters, two dogs and two cats. He is constantly exploring his creativity for more exciting adventures to share with the rest of the world. http://snikle.wordpress.com is his blog.

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IFPInterview: Matt Jackson