Aaron Allston worked in the hobby game industry for almost twenty-five years. He wrote all or part of forty-five well-received products, including books for AD&D, D&D, Champions, Car Wars, Dying Earth, GURPS, Justice, Inc., and Rolemaster. His editorial credits include stints at the helm of the magazines Adventurers Club, Space Gamer, and Fantasy Gamer.
Aaron also penned several bestselling novels, most notably several successful Star Wars books, and worked in the computer game field. Under his editorship, Space Gamer magazine won the H.G. Wells Award for Best Professional Role-Playing Magazine in 1982. Savage Empire, a computer game which he co-wrote, was named Best PC Fantasy RPG by Game Player magazine in 1990.
JOLLY R. BLACKBURN
Jolly R. Blackburn quit his “real job” in 1990 to publish the small press gaming magazine, Shadis. The magazine won three Origins Awards for Best Professional Gaming Magazine before ceasing publication in 1998.
Somewhere along the line, Jolly found the time to create a crudely drawn comic called Knights of the Dinner Table as filler. As Jolly puts it, the comic started as a “creative burp” that didn’t get a lot of thought. “It was supposed to be a one time thing,” he says.
As it turns out, that strip proved more popular than the magazine itself, so Jolly sold the magazine and published the strip as a monthly comic book. It didn’t take much to convince Jolly that being part of a team was much better than struggling alone, so he jumped on board with Kenzer & Company.
Since teaming up with Kenzer, Jolly and his humble Knights achieved feats far beyond anything he ever imagined, including three Origins Awards for Best Professional Gaming Magazine. KotDT appears in many different languages around the world. Aside from his work on KotDT, Jolly contributed to numerous Kingdoms of Kalamar and HackMaster products.
For thirty years, Rodger MacGowan earned a name as one of the most prominent artists in boardgaming. His creations consistently raised the bar for artwork in the hobby game
field and set high standards of quality by which future products will
Rodger honed his skills working with Redmond Simonsen of SPI. His art graces the covers and components of more than two hundred board games, from Avalon Hill's Squad Leader and its supplements, to titles published by Yaquinto, Hobby Japan, Game Designers’ Workshop, and Strategy & Tactics magazine. Rodger founded Fire & Movement magazine in 1976 and now publishes C3i magazine.
He is currently art director and one of the partners at GMT Games, responsible for the component design for many of GMT’s products, as well as the cover art and packaging.
Most people know Dennis Mize for his impressive body of work as a sculptor at Ral Partha. His designs netted many Origins Awards and a vast amount of industry respect.
He also created many impressive and award-winning sculptures for Dark Sword Miniatures, Reaper, and Paizo Publishing. Both Caldwell Masterworks and Visions in Fantasy, two of the Dark Sword lines he worked on, earned Origins Award nominations this year.
Dennis constantly honed his craft throughout his career, explaining his philosophy this way: “If you can look at a miniature you sculpted two years ago and not be able to sculpt it better now, then you ain’t trying hard enough to get better at what you do.”
Dennis left an impressive legacy of outstanding pewter miniatures and is sorely missed by those who had the privilege of knowing and working with him over the years. Dennis passed away in March 2006 yet his works stand as a testament to his professionalism and artistry.
Mike Pondsmith is the founder of R. Talsorian Games, a talented designer, and a hobby game industry innovator.
“Maximum Mike”, as many industry insiders call him, either invented or popularized many different genres of role-playing, including cyberpunk (Cyberpunk 2020), steampunk (Castle Falkenstein), and anime (Mekton).
Under Mike’s leadership, R. Talsorian was also one of the first publishers to embrace desktop publishing. Very few creators made Mike’s broad impact on the role-playing field. Both fans and fellow industry professionals eagerly await each new hobby game project Mike undertakes.
STAR FLEET BATTLES (Amarillo Design Bureau)
First published in 1979, Star Fleet Battles is second only to Dungeons & Dragons as the longest continuously published gaming property.
Star Fleet Battles literally defined the genre of spaceship combat games in the early 1980s, and was the first game that combined a major license with “high re-playability.” Throughout that time, it remained popular with players, too.
In the early 1990s, the Origins Star Fleet Battles tournament often boasted more participants than any other gaming event. It even outdrew the Magic: the Gathering events for attendees for 1993 and 1994.
Star Fleet Battles went through five editions and spawned three computer games based on its game model, with a fourth currently in the works. In 2005, Star Fleet Battles was distilled down to its most basic elements and relaunched as Federation Commander, which continues selling strongly and drawing new fans into this supremely enjoyable game franchise.