AMA Russ Morrissey (Morrus) (EN World, EN Publishing, ENnies, WOIN)

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm no Keith Baker or Wolfgang Baur, but I figured I could set another example of how to do an AMA right here on EN World, so here I am. Ask Me Anything!

Remember, anybody can start an AMA here. Just go right ahead and start it!

For those who don't know, I'm Russ Morrissey, better known as Morrus. I run EN World, and am responsible for exciting things like the ENnies, EN Publishing, my own What's O.L.D. is N.E.W. roleplaying game system, EN5ider and TRAILseeker, and more. I've been doing this since 1999, which makes it 16 years now that I've been posting rumours and news scoops about roleplaying games, and selling PDFs of awesome adventure paths. I also have a cold.

I'll let this run for a couple of days and pop in when I get chance.

I'm happy to answer most questions, but I won't deal with tech/site support or customery/producty support type stuff here. I do that all day every day, right here on this forum, so if you need that stuff, it's easy enough to get pretty much all the rest of the time! I'm also not the go-to expert for ZEITGEIST, so you may be better asking Ryan Nock in the ENP forum for that stuff!
 

bedir than

Adventurer
With WOIN, why did you decide to go with a broad do everything game rather than something narrow and specific?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
With WOIN, why did you decide to go with a broad do everything game rather than something narrow and specific?
Actually, it isn't a broad, do everything game. There are many things I'm sure it really can't do, and I wouldn't want to try -- high powered supers, for example, or very narrative gaming. Or even super high fantasy gaming like D&D. What I originally wanted to do was emulate two specific genres very well - my two favourite RPG genres, being medieval fantasy, and futuristic sci-fi. Tolkein and Trek. The third game, N.O.W., came later; and that's written by somebody else, Mike Myler, who is far more of an expert on that genre than I am. I guess, with the three, you do get a sense of a reasonably broad range of possibilities, especially when you start mixing and matching them, but the intention isn't to be GURPS, FATE, or Savage Worlds. It's much more focused on doing a couple of things as well as I can.

Now, if third parties were to take that and find other things to do with it, that's fine with me. They can likely bring stuff to it that I can't!
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Why do you guys call chinese food "curry"?
Uh... we don't. We call Indian food "curry", on account of it being curry. We call Chinese food "Chinese food".

I assume by "you guys" you mean "astonishingly handsome people"?
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
We don't. We call Indian food "curry", on account of it being curry. We call Chinese food "Chinese food".
Well that would explain what confused me about this.


What was the inspiration to get EN World up and going? Were you up to RPG scoopery/design before that?
 

bedir than

Adventurer
As a fan of lower fantasy settings that has to reskin a lot of DnD for his homebrew I'm kind of enthralled now. Thanks for the response.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What was the inspiration to get EN World up and going? Were you up to RPG scoopery/design before that?
16 years ago when I was ... yikes.... in my early 20s. Wait, I'm not in my early 20s any more? What the hell? That wasn't the deal!

Anyway, Eric Noah ran his Eric' Noah's Unofficial D&D 3rd Edition News site. It was awesome. I have it archived at that link. Eric and I became friends, and at the same time I create EN World for the creation of homebrew 3E game settings. To that I ended up adding a reviews database and d20/OGL news reporting. Back then, nobody else was doing that stuff -- now everybody is! It was an exciting time - pre social media, the OGL was new and people were doing awesome things with it (they still are, but we're used to it now).

Anyhow, Eric emailed me one day to tell me he was closing his site. I was devastated, to be honest. I loved that place, its forums, his news scoops, the community. But then, after we talked it over for a while, we both agreed it would be a real shame to close the community (and, again, it wasn't like there were a billion RPG forums back then, or Facebook, or Twitter) so we figured I should take it over. Which I did. And now it turns out I'm, like, 40 and have been doing this for most of my adult life.

So I've been doing this 16 years now. The site's grown, shrunk, crashed, been rebuilt more than once, been hacked, been popular, been unpopular, but we're still here. The community has evolved, and the faces change, but having made so many friends through this job, I can't imagine doing anything else. To be honest, I doubt I could do anything else now. It's too late!
 
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What games are you playing in or running these days? What do you like in a game - by which I mean both a rules system and a particular ongoing story?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What games are you playing in or running these days? What do you like in a game - by which I mean both a rules system and a particular ongoing story?
I've just finished running a 5E campaign, and I'm also playing in a Pathinder Kingmaker campaign.

My tastes fluctuate a lot. I flit between sci-fi and medieval fantasy; right now I think the former is in ascendance, but it changes! As far as rules go - it depends on what I'm doing with them. For a one-shot, a convention game, etc. I like an easy rules-lite system; for an ongoing camapaign, I like my rules to be heavier and for a strong sense of character advancement. In terms of game flavour, unless it's a licensed system for a specific property, I like fairly neutral sounding terminology - in D&D terms, a class name like "fighter" is good, and a class name like "astralzoom shadeassassin" is bad. I guess I like the class name to do what it says on the tin, and if I have to ask what it is, I don't like it. That's probably just me, though!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
How much gaming do you tend to do each week, Morrus?
I'm in two groups. Assuming all goes according to plan, both have one season each week (though things rarely work as scheduled!) The D&D group tends to be a few hours on Saturday afternoons, while the Pathfinder group is 2-3 hours on a Thursday night.
 

Paraxis

Visitor
You have done this for a long time and through going to conventions, running the ENnies, and in general being around people in the industry you must have some real good memories of time spent gaming or talking games with a few giants in the industry, can you tell us about a couple of those times?

I know Gary Gygax was a poster here and did a couple AMA type things, did you ever get to just hang out with him?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
You have done this for a long time and through going to conventions, running the ENnies, and in general being around people in the industry you must have some real good memories of time spent gaming or talking games with a few giants in the industry, can you tell us about a couple of those times?

I know Gary Gygax was a poster here and did a couple AMA type things, did you ever get to just hang out with him?
I can tell you about the time I FAILED to game with Gary Gygax! A few years back, Gary ran a game for the EN World moderators. It was on Wednesday night at Gen Con. As has happened every single year I've ever been, flight delays and immigration made me completely miss what was happening on Wednesday night (that's included a WotC D&D press dinner when 4E was announced, an event with Trapdoor Tech last year, and, og course, a friggin' game with Gary Gygax!)

All I have to remind me of it are the gloating jeers of the likes of [MENTION=2]Piratecat[/MENTION], [MENTION=158]Henry[/MENTION], [MENTION=99]Rel[/MENTION], etc. Damn them. But no, I never got to actually game with him.
 

tgmoore

Explorer
My tastes fluctuate a lot. I flit between sci-fi and medieval fantasy; right now I think the former is in ascendance, but it changes!!
Sci-Fi RPGs have always been poor cousin to the traditional and original fantasy rpgs. Could you elaborate on why you think sci-fi rpgs are ascending in popularity? Any specific ones to check out?
 

neobolts

Explorer
(Some burning questions about this site's history...I've been around since the pre-3e launch days, but didn't follow the inner workings as closely.)

1)When Eric decided to step back, how did the transition work? What was the switch like from the old Eric Noah website?
2)Have you been running the site since then, or did you come on board later?
3)Does it ever feel weird that you ended up at the helm of website, award show, and publishing company with a naming scheme based on someone else's initials?
4)How did you (or others) come up with the plan to drop the full name but keep the initials?
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Are you currently playing in any of the ENWorld PbP threads?
If not, have you ever?
If yes to any of the above, what was your favorite PbP thread that you were ever a part?
If you ever had time to run a PbP game, which setting would you DM and what scenario would you create?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Sci-Fi RPGs have always been poor cousin to the traditional and original fantasy rpgs. Could you elaborate on why you think sci-fi rpgs are ascending in popularity? Any specific ones to check out?
Honestly, I don't know why. Maybe it's just as simple as that the first and biggest name in RPGs happened to be fantasy? The two biggest RPGs in the world are both flavours of D&D, although one doesn't use that name.

There's a lot of great sci-fi games in the tier below those two. And licensed stuff, too, like FFG's Star Wars. Warhammer 40K and its cousins are big. I wonder if Traveller had come first, whether the situation would be different?

Or, in short, I don't know! Sci-fi popularity comes in waves in movies too -- it's ascending right now. Interestingly, sci-fi has traditionally done better in the movies/TV than fantasy, although LotR, GoT, etc. took a sledgehammer to that!
 

Donny Rhye

Visitor
1st I'd like to say Maybe you should fly to Gen Con on Tuesdays. What would you like the website doing in the next 10 years? Have you played any memorable Forgotten Realms Adventures? What are the top 3 things you are watching on British television at the moment?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
1)When Eric decided to step back, how did the transition work? What was the switch like from the old Eric Noah website?
It was very easy. It took a couple of days, and involved a database move for the forums, IIRC, but it didn't break. Eric simply left a message on his old site directing people to the new location.

I don't know that we could do that so easily now. Back then we were talking a database a fraction of the size it is now. 16 years is a lot of growth!

2)Have you been running the site since then, or did you come on board later?
Yeah, I created EN World myself when Eric's site still existed.

3)Does it ever feel weird that you ended up at the helm of website, award show, and publishing company with a naming scheme based on someone else's initials?
Not weird, because I'm so used to it. I wonder if it's ever weird for Eric.

4)How did you (or others) come up with the plan to drop the full name but keep the initials?
The etymology makes sense in a way -- it was for a hosted shared setting (the first of oh so many....) made by some members of Eric's forum. That setting eventually got a name (Daemonforge) but in the meantime the site needed a name. "The E.N. World" was supposed to be a placeholder.

The only thing about it that's not ideal is that it's not great for search engines and the like. It doesn't have "RPG News" in the URL or anything. You don't hear it and know immediately what it does. It's not an optimised name, but it's hard to imagine it being called anything else now.
 

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