I first read his Zatanna Saturday posts (I mean, really, who doesn't like Zatanna?), his Black Rose five-parter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, a mash-up of TSR's Ravenloft and Green Ronin's Blue Rose settings) and then his various system conversions of the characters Willow & Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show.
Timothy also has written a number of other books, on a subject that he often writes about on his blog, witches. They are Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch and Warlock sourcebook for Castles & Crusades, The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games, and Eldritch Witchery, a sourcebook for Spellcraft & Swordplay.
Timothy was kind enough to come into the Otyugh studio and answer some of my questions:
Otyugh Talk: What was the most memorable critique you had on your work and how did you learn from it?
Timothy Brannan: During the playtests of Ghosts of Albion I was working on a new magic system. I had reworked it and added a bunch of what I thought were cool features. Turned out that my "cool features" not only bogged down the game, but had a neat little loophole in them that let my party of playtesters destroy all my big bads in the first act. The advise I got then was "keep it simple". Turns out this was the best advice/critique ever.
Simple rules are easier to abstract and then they get out of the way. I know old school gamers love their tables. Forget that, give me a unified mechanic, a few target numbers and a rule of thumb and I can run a game without having to pause to look a rule up.
[Ed. Hokey Smokes! I'm sure that was a surprise!]
OT: A shy player is at your table and you are the GM. What do you do to get that player comfortable and involved in the game?
TB: I have run into this situation at cons before. Of course I first need to figure out if the shy person wants to be more involved. Most do, but some enjoy sitting back and being part of the story. As the GM I try to find things that this player's character is perfectly suited for. Maybe they have something in their background, or they have the only skill that can help. I prefer to find a role-playing based solution rather than a game mechanics one. They may have the right skill, but one bad roll can make things worse. So focus what they can contribute on their own.
There really is nothing like the feeling of seeing a shy person come out of their shell with a look of "yes, I can do this!" on their face. In any case people don't get to stay shy in my games. I like seeing a lot of role-playing.
OT. There are unsubstantiated rumors circulating that Gary Gygax almost used Otyughs & Rock-Cut Architecture as the title for Dungeons & Dragons. Do you think we'd have more architects and Otyughs in gaming today if he had used that name?
TB: Where are you getting your rumors? ;) I would have to say no to be honest. The reason the game was so popular in the early days was because "Dungeons & Dragons" rolls off the tongue so easily. But if he had gone with that name Architect would be a class (favored by Dwarves and Gnomes I am sure) and we would have more choices than just Otyugh and Neo-Otyugh. They could have been what the Mind Flayers are now. Except grosser.
Now Otyughs & Oubliettes has a certain ring to it...
[Ed. Hmmm, yes, an Oubliette would work .... or Otyughs & Obelisks....]
Timothy also said "Thanks for the note! I always enjoyed Asshat Paladins! I had hoped to do more with Edith, I liked the idea of a Harpy Witch." [Ed. Yes, Edith was quite the hit with the players and has made several appearances in my games. I hope you do get that opportunity.]
There it is: Interview #4 in the can. Statics have shown that 50% of Otyugh Talk interviews are with people named Timothy, so expect more Tim-Talk in the future! (No, not really. The next few are not named Tim, sorry to disappoint but thems the breaks).