Friday, April 14, 2017

Mike Evans - DIY RPG Publisher, Blogger, Game Writer and Designer

Between this blog, my long overdue zine, SkullF*#K, and a few outstanding projects, I've been carrying around an embarrassing and weighty sack of unfulfilled promises. Well, I've emptied that sack, I've rooted through it and I'm starting to tackle it all starting with this blog. Sooo...Welcome to Season 2 of Appendix N Happy Meal!

I think the first time I communicated with Mike Evans was just prior to an outdoor weekend game event that I wound up missing anyhow. I was following along with posts and comments about preparations for the event when I ran across an item that sounded interesting. I had never heard of the thing Mike mentioned in his post, but I thought I knew what it was. So since I didn't have access to a tent, I wound up asking Mike if he had an extra one of those banana hammocks so that I could sleep in one...We kinda bonded a bit after that. Honestly, how could you not bond with a guy after asking if you could hang his thong in a tree so you could curl up in it for the night?

Evans is a super familiar face within the G+ OSR and DCC RPG communities. Besides being one of the friendliest guys I know online, the DIY RPG guy is also one of the most prolific. Check out his blog, Wrath of Zombies. You'll find boatloads of material about his various projects including Death is the New Pink, Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, the upcoming High Noon: A Gritty Whitebox Western, and his mammoth and successful Hubris project among others. He's also editing Gathox Vertical Slum by David Lewis Johnson. Mike and I communicate a couple times a week and I'm always blown away over Mike's relentless diligence in plugging away on his projects.

Mike's work is original as hell, flavored with a bucket of brutal and topped off with a thick, fat glaze of 'in your face'. So go grab a plate and the biggest spoon you can find and dig in!
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Death Is The New Peacock. Young Mike moments before getting his eyes pecked out.

Favorite Toys of Childhood

Remember your TOP FAVORITE TOYS of all time. What is it about any of these toys that you most identified with? What made this so special? How did you play with these toy? Shared or Solo play?

Mike Evans: I always had a weird mish-mash of toys when I played.  I combined GI Joe’s, Thundercats, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, He-Man, Rocklords (yeah because rock people are so interesting), Battle Beasts, Army Ants, you name it. They all had sides they were on and there were all out wars.  If I had to choose one that was the most prevalent, it’d be GI Joe’s for the win.

My friends and I would play with toys at the same time, but we’d play separately.  I was never a huge fan of playing together during toy time.  I saw way too many fights with between friends who did it to enjoy it…  The whole, “No!  Skeletor TOTALLY beats Optimus Prime” argument always frustrated me- then watching the friends fight, argue and cry.  No thanks.

Favorite Films or TV

What were your favorite movies and television shows of your youth? How old were you when you loved these shows? Why did you identify with these shows and do you think these movies and programs had an influence on the adult you?

Mike Evans: Star Wars trilogy had a profound impact on my life.  Next would be Ghostbusters.  Finally I would say Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Influence? Absolutely.  Star Wars is so near and dear to my heart, it’s crazy.  I get choked up just hearing the music from when Han is being lowered down into the Carbonite machine.  Ghostbusters was just so cool!  These dudes with lightning packs blasting away at ghosts!  And also there was just something so awesome about Bill Murray in that movie.  Even as a kid, I wanted to be like Peter Vankmen!  I think Bill Murray’s humor in that movie oozed into my consciousness.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was really magical for me.  I was 8 when it came out and I watched it eight times in theaters.  I drove my parents nuts with that one.  I remember thinking how amazing it would be to live in a world where cartoons and humans coexisted; hell, I still do!  Cartoons like the old Disney shorts and Looney Tunes were very influential in my early childhood, and this movie solidified that.  I often am cartoony/animated human being, much to my wife’s dismay.

Creating Games

Think About Playtime:  Did you create games or imaginary worlds as a child? Please give a description of an important original game or play world that you enjoyed.

Mike: I usually created my own games and worlds.  One of my favorites was the Forgotten Forest- and the FEW times I did shared toy play, I’d piss my friends off because they couldn’t figure out how to beat the powers of the forest, which was you forget everything that happened when you leave place.  That actually went on to inspire The Weeping Forest of Forgotten Memories in my Hubris setting.  

Play Community

As a child how did you feel about how you fit in with the rest of the world or community or friends? Like, were you very social or did you prefer spending time alone? Your environment, was it rural or urban? Were siblings a big part of your playtime? Did adults interact with you in game play, and if so was it structured play (sports, scouting, clubs, etc.) or free form?

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Mike: I grew up in cities most of my life, until 15- then I moved to Whitefish, MT and had to grow accustomed to a more lowkey-style of living.  It wasn’t until MT that I started playing tabletop games, so that’s a major boon there.  

I’m an only child and grew up pretty fucking spoiled, to be honest.  I was really bossy and in charge when I was a kid.  When I was 10 years old we were playing guns (we make-believing we were in Aliens) and a new kid started playing with us.  He was about 14 and a “cool kid.”  I started my normal bossy spoiled brat shit, and he called me out on it, saying that he didn’t like playing with me because I was bossy.  That really had an impact on me.  No one had ever really called me out on that before and I made a choice from that point on, to be nicer, not bossy, and actually listen to people.  
When I was a teenager I did track and field.  I liked running, but I hate competitive anything… just not my jam.  I did theater for a couple of years until I grew bored with the drama that came along with working with actors.

Childhood Playtime's Impact On Adult Gaming

Do you have any thoughts about aspects of your childhood play time that influenced your passion for RPGs? Have you ever intentionally incorporated memories of childhood playtime into game work you have created/written as an adult?

Mike: Oh absolutely.  I touched on that a bit with the Weeping Forest of Forgotten Memories in Hubris.  I grew up loving Star Trek, Star Wars, and all the gonzo weird fantasy cartoons (i.e., Thundercats, He-man, Thundarr, Pirates of Dark Water, etc.) and always played make-believe in those worlds.  All that seems to, at some point, bleed back into my interests with RPGs and what I want to run and write.  

Lost in Space Media Cache

You are adrift aboard an intergalactic cruiser. You are the last surviving member of your crew. You no longer remember you're mission or destination. Your ship sent out a distress signal, but you lost contact with your home planet months ago. Your chances of being rescued are nil. The ship is well stocked with everything necessary for your physical survival. You have no fear of starvation and there are no security threats. On board with you are two AI bots programmed for average human intelligence. You were allowed 10 items of any type of entertainment of your choosing (movies, recordings, books, videos, games, comics). The ship is capable of playing everything you brought, regardless of format. What choices do you hope you packed away so that you avoid dying of boredom?

The Original Star Wars trilogy
Thundarr the Complete Series
Complete Big Bang Theory Seasons 1-10
Complete works of Robert E. Howard
Complete Harry Potter Collection
The Black Hack Rules
Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure (hate to plug myself, but I wrote the book for how I want to run things)
Dungeon Crawl Classics ruleset
Louis Armstrong Complete boxset
The Complete Nirvana Boxset

Mike's blog, Wrathofzombie's Blog:


  1. Jesus, I thought I was reading an interview of a clone of me.

    This does not bode well.

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