“Professional alternative model, actress, latex aficionado, dork, avid RPG gamer, bookworm, crazy cat lady, music lover, soup maker, polyhedral dice addict.” — that’s how Caroline Pierce’s twitter introduction reads, and I think it covers most bases!
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Caroline several times over the years, and I was very happy when she agreed to an interview for my little blog.
How did I find out about her role-playing hobby, you ask? Let me tell you: when she came into my lounge (see the image below, although I have moved since), she immediately said: “Wow, that’s a lot of miniatures!” The term “miniatures” is quite specific, so that caught my attention, as I didn’t think people outside the hobby would reach for that first, and so we got talking.
Unfortunately, I’ve not gotten to game with Caroline yet, though several things we shot involved RPGs as framing devices or setups.
All photos on this page are © Frank Reding.
Without further ado:
Let’s open with a classic. How did you get into roleplaying? What entity or experience sunk its claws into you and dragged you kicking and screaming—or perhaps excitedly—into the hobby?
I don’t entirely remember. I’ve always had an active imagination, a love for the fantasy genre, enjoyed story telling and role playing (meaning acting and performing) in general, so when the news of the “evil” D&D hit the news in the early 80s it struck a chord with me and I knew I NEEDED that game, not knowing much more than that. I still have my D&D red box from 1986 or so. I didn’t get to actually play a game until I was a teenager.
How often do you play, and what are you currently playing?
I’m lucky enough to belong to two regular game groups in my home town.
One game group is a bi-weekly game dedicated to Shadowrun 3e. I’ve been with that group for 8 years now, and it’s still as fun as ever. In the time I’ve been with them, we’re on our 7th team I think? Some character groups lasted longer than others, and some we played out so we retired those characters and started fresh.
My other game group is weekly and it varies what we play, depending on who’s around to GM. I’ve been with them for 18 years or so. Right now we’re playing Deadlands Hell on Earth (original system, not d20), but we’ve run the gamut of games from Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Faded Suns, Conan, Arduin, and on and on….
Occasionally when I travel my timing is right so I get to game with friends or acquaintances local to where I’m at.
Are you more often the player or the games mistress? Which do you prefer?
I am always a player, never a GM. I travel a lot so I’m not in town enough to run anything more than a one shot or a short game.
I really want to run the re-release of the Orient Express set for Call of Cthulhu, but that’s a long game and my schedule hasn’t allowed for it.
What kind of player are you? Quiet, calculating, bashful, direct? Do you find yourself returning to a particular concept or class when you roll up a new character?
I’m a calculated player for the most part, the type that makes notes to remind of questions to ask when I’m playing the Face in Shadowrun or what spells I need to cast in WHFRPG. I’m not a rules lawyer, far from it, I’m a “I’m here to hang out with my friends and have fun telling stories” kind of player. Sometimes I have moments of inspiration and come up with great ideas, other times I’m brain dead and can’t think of anything for a scenario.
I’m also the kind of player that is perfectly happy to random roll for my character. Random roll race, class, etc. I just want to play, I don’t care what it is.
That said, I do have a penchant for thieves/rogue types.
What is it about rogues characters that attracts you? Is there a hidden rapscallion side to you that you like to play out? Or is more about the sneaking?
I think it’s because it lets me be a mix of a utility character and a damage character. They tend to be well rounded in abilities, and offer game play that can be very class specific, like sneaking and backstabbing.
What game can’t you wait to play again? Was it something about the game itself that hooked you—rules or setting, perhaps—or was it more the people you played with?
I adore the game system for Deadlands! Using playing cards and poker chips is such a fun system, and I love the setting. I’ve played Weird West more than Wasted West. My weekly game group is currently playing it and I look forward to it every week!
I also love Call of Cthulhu. I adore Lovecraft and the whole idea of the mind-bending reality of the game and the mythos of the Elder Gods. I’ve mostly played in the 1920’s setting, but played a few games of Atomic Age and Modern Age. I would love to try the other eras.
I would love to try playing Paranoia again sometime when I’m not mentally and physically exhausted from a grueling travel schedule, haha!
You told me some time ago that the goddess Titivilla was your contribution to Zak Smith’s Vornheim. What’s the story behind that, how did that come to be? And what is she about?
Ha! Yes, that is my contribution. I used to play D&D with that group when I went to LA (I don’t travel there much lately so sadly it’s been a long time since I’ve had that pleasure).
Most of the players in that group had characters like half tieflings and magic users and thieves… so I made a very generic human fighter named Smashy. She needed a deity to follow so I made up Titivilla. Quite honestly it’s my juvenile sense of humor making a name that contained the word “tit” in it. I don’t recollect what she represented, probably protecting women or something, since the entire party was women. I found my character sheets for her but not my notes on Titivilla.
When we last filmed together we used roleplaying games as the framing device for our story. Do you think there are other crossovers with RPGs waiting to be explored?
I’m sure there are. RPG story elements work in photos and videos of many genres!
Roleplaying has had a huge resurgence in recent years, not least due to “actual plays”, i.e. streaming of live games, having become such a phenomenon. Think about your Critical Roles, your Sirens of the Realms, and of course your own I Hit It With My Axe. What’s your take on this? Why do you think they’re so popular, especially with newer generations?
I’m happy to hear it has! I don’t really pay all that much attention to what the trends are. Over the years I’ve met more and more people that are involved in RPG games (both playing and part of the creation) but I attributed that to simply being active in my hobby and the awesomeness of the internet connecting people and bringing them together.
I suppose the resurgence may very well be to the prevalence of videos games, and the desire for gamers to play fun things, but wanting to connect with people in a way that video games don’t do. I’m in no way bashing video games, I quite enjoy the camaraderie of MMOs, but my favorite way to socialize is playing an RPG.
Have you encountered any games you’d love to try but for whatever reason haven’t been able to yet?
Oooh, just about every game that I haven’t gotten to play of course!
I play tested Numenara, but haven’t gotten to play an actual game of it outside that, which I’d love to do.
My friend Kevin Kulp wrote an RPG called Timewatch that I haven’t had a chance to play yet.
Tell me about the Numenera playtest. As far as I’m aware there wasn’t a public playtest for it—how did you come by that?
I think I saw the call for play testers through the Kickstarter updates. I applied for it, the game group got accepted, we signed NDAs and got sent the files for the play test materials.
You and your companions are in an inn. The inn is on fire. Because of the dragon. What do you do?
HA! Depends on the game group. One of my game groups… well, the one guy will take the distraction of the fire and dragon to kill the guy in the inn he’s been wanting to off, the other guy will go loot the cash box, another guy will start saving people and act heroic but not because he means well but because he sees opportunity to be rewarded, and I’m probably saving the animals in the barn (because I’m still so ME when I play haha!)
The other game group, the cleric starts ushering people to safety, the paladin heads out to fight the dragon despite probably not being equipped to deal with it, the ranger does that insane dice rolls she does and kills the damned thing in one fell swoop with a crit that shouldn’t be possible (she did that to a dragon in Pathfinder), the fighter realizes he’s better suited for putting out the fire than fighting so he does that, and I’m the sneaky thief that’s liberating peoples’ valuables that they left behind and then going to save the animals in the barn haha!
That’s it for this interview, and thank you again to Caroline! If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to hunt down some answers. I hope to have more interviews coming up in the future!