My theory is that we just don't pay attention to the regular gamer and what he or she has to say about their hobby. I don't remember when or where I first started chatting with Wayne Snyder, but man, this is a guy that just seems to be in it for the fun. He's got it right.
Q: I feel bad for the rest of the gaming world because I own the best piece of art to come out of the DIY gaming scene: the picture you drew for the cover of Devilmount. Can you give us a bit of your background in art? How did you get started and what inspires your work?
I grew up drawing all the time. There was a lot of down time as a kid. Time spent waiting around while my mother took care of something or other. I remember drawing chainsaw armed robots on the back of the church program during Sunday services, using the back of a hymnal as a drawing board. I found my way to D&D the summer I turned 9 and it has been on my mind ever since. Fantasy art has filled my life. As a lad I learned a lot from Wormy comics in the back of Dragon mags. I spent long hours just staring at the illustrations in my game books. There is no separation for me between game and art. If a game doesn’t have engaging art, I won’t play it no matter how great the system is. Back in the 80s you didn’t have 40 reviews of a game available even before it came out. You walked into Walden Books once a month to see what was up and if a new book was on the shelf you took it down and flipped through it. You didn’t really have time to read and understand the core rules. I just looked at the pictures and made my decision based almost solely on the art, same with comics. Early on the 80s TSR art department became my pantheon of saints. I wanted to be Larry Elmore. Later it was Savage Sword of Conan comics and the European artists in Heavy Metal mixed with the grim dark of newly discovered Rogue Trader and Warhammer Fantasy. I took all the art classes available in high school and even took some of them twice and then trucked off to art school after that. But I had no idea what I was doing. I went to a really theory heavy fine arts program and they didn’t have much to say about my bugbears and castles. I was really naïve. I didn’t know enough to transfer to a different school, I just buckled down and made a bunch of conceptual art and graduated in 4 years with a BFA and a professional grade drinking habit and trucked off to the south with no greater aspirations than to sit on a porch and drink all the PBR. I didn’t make much art for a long time. It wasn’t until I found G+ in 2012 that I really started producing again. That cover for Devilmount is one of the first pieces I had made in a really long time. The G+ rpg community is so inspiring, it really moved me to get back on the horse and reclaim a lost skill I really enjoy employing. I still make it my business to know all about fantasy artists and their bodies of work. It’s a hobby unto itself. I usually know more about the person who painted an rpg book cover than I do about the game itself.
Q: You're a fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics. What is it about that particular fantasy rpg that drew you in initially, and what about it keeps you interested in it?
When I first stepped on the G+ scene back in 2012 I didn’t know anything about DCC. I believe it was Edgar Johnson who first posted an invite to the Metal Gods game. His blurb was brilliant and totally heavy metal. It sounded like everything I ever wanted in a game. I realized I had to play in that game. I had never played online and I was a bit worried but that went out the window five minutes in. I played DCC online for six months before I got around to buying the rulebook. The game is intuitive to me after years and years of D&D. DCC has a lot of things going on, but they don’t require constant book reference ruining the immersion and slowing down the action. The most entertaining part of any RPG is the people you play with, the smart, funny, clever fuckers, who make it all go round. DCC gives you room to play. It offers a swift coherent frame work to keep things rolling along, but it is an open field of player driven fun times beyond that. Now it takes a certain clever brand of person to really get on with a system like this. DCC has removed the rewards of power gaming and math hammering, which I’ve seen bloat some other games down, and through that, has created a self-selecting community of true fun seekers. Folks who want to min-max or “win D&D” don’t seem to want to play this game. It isn’t balanced, in fact it’s often completely haywire and that’s why I love it. This play style has aggregated a super creative community (see all the zines) and you’ll rarely meet a player who you wouldn’t love to have back to the table. The amount of awesome new friends I’ve made in the last three years because of DCC is incredible and something I never would have expected to occur in my adult life.
Q: You're part of the triumvirate behind the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad 'zine. What's the hardest part of publishing a gaming 'zine? What's the most rewarding part?
I think the hardest part is laying out each issue, making it fit together coherently, and the business end of it, the production of physical copies and shipping logistics and internet store fronts. But Adam Muszkiewicz is a hero and he does all that unpleasantness for us. So for me the biggest hurdle is everyday life. Just having enough gusto left to draw or even come up with good ideas after a full day of landscaping work is getting harder and harder as age catches up with me. The most rewarding thing is having people enjoy the fruits of our labors. The zine makes people happy, and that makes me happy.
Q: Speaking of metal, I always associate you with crushing riffs. What are the last three albums that blew your mind? How does metal intersect with your love of gaming?