Welcome to Roadworthy! This is a chance to show off a Road Crew Judge and allow them to share their experience and wisdom. We provide these profiles to help provide insight into their personality and style, and maybe give up-and-coming Judges some advice on improving their game.
We’re traveling deep into the heart of Texas to meet a transplant from Wisconsin who discovered DCC RPG during the pandemic. His name might be Matt Robertson, but people call him Judge GrapeApe!
Roadworthy: GrapeApe (Matt Robertson)
What’s your name, where do you live (and game), and what should Goodman Games fans know about you?
Hello, my name is Matt Robertson. I live in Pflugerville, Texas right outside of Austin. I will game just about anywhere but over the pandemic, you can find me at various online conventions and on the DungeonCrawlers Discord server.
I have been married to my beautiful wife Tracey for the past 23 years and we have two children (now adults), Josh and Ashley. I served in the U.S. Army as a medic in the 4/42 Field Artillery which is how I got stuck living on the sun here in Texas and pulled out from my wonderful, frozen tundra of Wisconsin. I love the Green Bay Packers, movies, video games, the color purple, and meatballs. I use the handle GrapeApe because that is the first cartoon I ever remember watching.
How did you first discover DCC?
When the pandemic hit I had recently gotten back into gaming with 5e, and then GaryCon 2020 moved to an online format. I jumped at the chance to participate and signed up for The Madhouse Meet (Alex Kurowski), Outlive-Outsmart-Outkill (Thomas Colley), The House of the Red Doors (James Pozenel Jr.), and The Desk in Room 8-10 (Tim Snider) having no idea what DCC or MCC was. The scenarios sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I was instantly enamored by how easy it was to learn and play, the imagination of the settings, the craziness of the outcomes, and the outstanding art. But what really hooked me was the funnel, I loved the challenge of trying to survive deadly circumstances using only my wits, a shovel, and a pig named Hen Wen.
As of “right now,” how many Road Crew games have you run this year?
This year I have run 27 online Road Crew games and have 3 more games listed for Empire of Cyclops Con and 2 more for RPG Alliance Con. So far I have managed to get at least 6 of each of the Road Crew swag stickers for each month and am salivating to find out what is in store for next year. I know many fans want a return of the belt buckle but I’m hoping there might be a baseball cap in there somewhere, I need a DCC cap!
How did the quarantine/lockdown change your gaming life?
I had never gamed online once until the lockdown and suddenly I was connected with a huge network of gamers all across the world. I have played games with and made friendships with people in Kazakhstan, Australia, England, and many other countries, as well as all over the United States, people I might have never met under different circumstances.
One thing that was a huge concern to my family was that my daughter is a Type-1 diabetic and with all the unknown factors surrounding Covid, we didn’t want to take any chances as far as any risks to her health were concerned. We bunkered down in the house and I was suddenly not working in the public school system anymore as a substitute teacher. With all that extra time I was able to create monsters and magic, think of devious and deadly traps, and write my first published module A Conspiracy of Ravens.
What’s your favorite Road Crew game experience so far?
Gathertown has to be one of my fav highlights in gaming. It feels as close to an actual con setting as you can get without actually being there and the Easter Eggs and interactivity of the map were great.
As a Judge, one of the best moments was at the end of the Well of the Worm when the wizard spellburned their Str, Agi, and Sta down to 1’s to cast sleep, which put the bad guys AND his companions into a magical forever sleep. The wizard couldn’t move and even if they could, didn’t have the strength to climb out and were out of food. Although eggs might be on the menu, we left it open to return to in 100 years when their companions awoke to see if somehow the wizard survived.
What advice would you give to other Road Crew judges?
Well since you have probably already heard all of the great advice out there by now I’ll try to give you something to help your creativity. A great technique I have developed when naming cities or new locations is whenever I find a name I like, I write it down or text it to my son to remember for later (he is completely used to getting all kinds of strange ideas and inspirations by now). Then I’ll take that name and switch out one, two, or all the vowels with different vowels. To me, this makes it still familiar but also unique, like instead of Kenosha try Kineshu, Konoshi, or Kenashe. There ya go, coming up with names for places shouldn’t be a problem anymore!
And one more thing, something I try to do (and still fail at) is when I describe the setting I really try to incorporate the smells and sounds of an area so it gives off a feeling that the players can relate to that they may have experienced before, to immerse them into the adventure. Don’t hesitate to add your own touches to any written material to exercise your personal creativity and give it your sense of flare. Yet another reason why I love Goodman Games products, in my opinion: they are there for you to build on and for each of us to create something individual and unique but still in the same realm of gaming.