Well, the month is almost done and the time has come to Mention everyone who’s important to me when it comes to tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs).
The Greatest TTRPG Designer I Never Met
Let’s start with someone I’ve admired for the longest time: Greg Stafford. Some people have said that he was the greatest TTRPG designer of all time—and, to a degree, I agree. Out of the initial batch of TTRPG designers in the late 70s, early 80s, I can’t think of someone that was better at their job than Greg was.
Greg created Chaosium, one of the earliest and most important TTRPG companies, publisher of Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, and Stormbringer, among other games. He created the world of Glorantha, perhaps the most detailed fantasy world ever.
But his greatest contributions to TTRPGs are his games. The Basic Role-Playing system (BRP), Pendragon, Prince Valiant, Ghostbusters, and Ringworld. Writing one of these games would have made him a greatly influential designer; he wrote them all.
To this day, there’s an unwritten rule in TTRPG design: whatever innovation you can think of, Greg already did it. Hero points that let you alter the result of a roll? Yup, he did it. A system focused on opposed forces within a character, with a risk of corruption? Done and done. The importance of having at least a 50/50 chance at success with any action? Of course he implemented it.
So, it isn’t an exaggeration to say, in my opinion, that Greg Stafford was probably the best designer I never met.
Now, let me tell you about the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with.
Those I’ve Been Lucky Enough To Work With
The first one on my list is Mark Diaz Truman. He was the first person who believed in me as a TTRPG designer, who liked my ideas and, most importantly, who took a chance with them. Not only that, Mark “taught me the ropes”. He was my first developer and my first publisher, and the first person who recommended me to someone else.
Then I met one of my heroes: John Wick (the TTRPG designer, not Keanu Reeves’ character). That’s when I worked on various books of 7th Sea (2nd Edition) and I got to work and meet with a lot of new wonderful people: James Mendez Hodes, Shoshana Kessock, and Anastasia Kotsoglou.
And then I got to meet and work with Elizabeth “Liz” Chaipraditkul. Liz is one of my favorite people in the world and I credit her for being my first true editor. She pushed me beyond my limits and, as a result, I’ve produced some of my best work while working with her. And as if that weren’t good enough, her games are GREAT. Her Afterlife: Wandering Souls has to be my favorite “ghost/dead people” TTRPG.
I also worked with Danielle Lauzon as my developer on a couple of books for the 7th Sea (2nd Edition) line, and I have only the best of memories of that time. She’s an enthusiastic and encouraging person who gives you the space you need to develop your ideas, both metaphorically and word-count wise. Marissa Kelly invited me to be a part of my favorite supplement I’ve worked on: The Book of Rooms for Bluebeard’s Bride (alongside Sarah Doom and Liz Chaipraditkul), and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity she gave me, the guidance she provided me with, and the respect for my dark ideas.
I then got to work on my first “solo project”, so to speak, for Evil Hat Productions. Everybody involved in it ranks highly in my heart: Mike Olson, who was my mentor and rules advisor; Joshua Yearsley, who was the first to contact me and later on was the editor. Sean Nittner was the project manager, and helped and accompanied me through all the ups and downs of a first major project. Brian Patterson was the brilliant art director and Fred Hicks, Evil Hat’s head honcho, did the layout and gave the book its final look.
To this day I still work with some of the same people here mentioned in other projects, and they’ve proven to be nothing but passionate, dedicated and, most of all, humane to a fault.
In more recent times I’ve had the chance to work with other people in a different capacity. Kate Bullock was my mentor during the IGDN Sponsorship last year, and I’ve come to appreciate her as a great person and a marvelous TTRPG designer in her own right.
I got to meet with other (legendary) people from the TTRPG world during the month the sponsorship lasted. Camdon Wright taught me A LOT about D&D and playtesting. Shanna Germain helped me think about my TTRPG writing in terms beyond just expressing myself, and how to be aware of how others perceive what you write. Tim Hutchings recentered my ideas and gave me tons of useful advice about how to take care of my own voice. Jason Morningstar offered the counsel and advice I sorely needed about how to adapt historical material effectively to a TTRPG. Avery Alder brought her great ideas and helped me to highlight even more the importance of community in my TTRPGs.
I know I’m missing somebody else I’ve had the pleasure and luck to meet and work with throughout the years but, for the life of me, no other names come to mind right now. I ask forgiveness if I forgot anybody, and I recommend that you check these wonderful people’s TTRPGs and other works of art.
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