Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In Memoriam: Loren K. Wiseman

One of the RPG design greats, Loren K. Wiseman, passed away on February 15th.

No, Loren isn't the household name that Gary Gygax was, but he was a very influential RPG designer in his own right. He was a co-founder of Games Design Workshop (GDW), and a co-creator of the SF RPG Traveller. Later, he was a designer on the Steve Jackson Games' interpretation of the Traveller universe, GURPS Traveller.

This is a decade old fan made video promoting
the Traveller RPG. It uses the Pirates of 
the Caribbean theme to great effect.

I've never had the chance to play classic Traveller, but I've designed a campaign for the Mongoose Publishing version of Traveller, and have been waiting for some free time to run a campaign with the mini-Reds. Traveller is one of those RPGs that has a reputation, mainly because the character creation process involved your character having a "career" prior to joining your adventures. And yes, Classic Traveller had the possibility that your character would die during the career phase. (Honest!) Later versions of Traveller have done away with that aspect of character creation, but the Mongoose version does retain the possibility that your character suffers an injury that generates minuses on your character sheet.

As for GDW, it was a very influential wargame publisher and competitor to Avalon Hill and SPI in the late 70s and 80s. I've played a game or two of GDW's arguably most well known title, A House Divided*, and it is a good introduction into the overall strategies that went into the ACW. It is by no means a very deep or "authentic" game --you'll likely want to look at GMT Games' For The People for that-- but it is a fun game that can still be found today.

This is the version I'm most familiar with.
From Rick Byrens, via
Loren was active on the Steve Jackson Games' forums, where I conversed with him once or twice. He always seemed like a nice guy who simply loved making games.

He'll be missed.

*It's a grand strategy game of the American Civil War, now published by Mayfair Games.


  1. I purchased the original Traveller LBB by mail in 1977 and had to frequently check my favorite shops for any new releases. By 1983 my friends and I had moved to other games, but Loren (and Frank and John) had entertained me well during those years.

    He'll be missed.

    1. My first exposure to Traveller came from a friend at a previous job. He loved his Formula One racing, his bike riding, and his Traveller. Sure, he'd played D&D too, but Traveller was his first love. He even gave me a few old copies of the Traveller magazine that he'd subscribe to back in the day.