Game designer Rob Heinsoo
Rob Heinsoo (born 1964) is an American tabletop game designer. He has been designing and contributing to professional role-playing games, card games, and board games since 1994. Heinsoo was the lead designer on 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons (2008), and is co-designer of the 13th Age roleplaying game along with Jonathan Tweet. He has also designed and contributed to roleplaying, miniatures and card games, and a computer game.
Heinsoo began playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 at age 10, using the original edition. His interest in games informed his interest in science fiction and fantasy, and vice versa. Heinsoo was hired by Jose Garcia for Daedalus Games to work on the RPG Nexus.:256 Chaosium hired Heinsoo in 1996 to manage their Glorantha licenses.:359 He was laid off by Chaosium in 1997.:361
Heinsoo joined Wizards of the Coast as a member of the "D&D Worlds" team, with his main focus being the third-edition version of Forgotten Realms.:289 With Wizards of the Coast, Heinsoo was involved with a number of Dungeons & Dragons game products. Other Forgotten Realms works include the sourcebook Monsters of Faerûn. He also helped write the third edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, which reached the top 50 of the non-fiction bestsellers in Canada in 2002 and won an Origins Award for best roleplaying supplement of 2001. He is the designer of Three-Dragon Ante, a unique card game.
While at Wizards of the Coast, he also led and contributed to various miniatures gaming projects. Heinsoo enjoyed playtesting the Chainmail game and soon became a member of the Chainmail team, and contributed to the Chainmail column in Dragon magazine writing about tactics and rules.:289–290 Subsequent to the release of the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game, he took over as lead designer on that project. He was also one of three designers of Dreamblade, for which he was nominated for an Origins Award in 2007.
Early in 2005, Bill Slavicsek organized a team to work on some early designs for a fourth edition of D&D, which was headed up by Heinsoo and also contained Andy Collins and James Wyatt, with Heinsoo leading the teams working on the design and development in 2005 and 2006.:297 The Player's Handbook for this edition was nominated for an Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Game in 2009. His teammates referred to his role on the 4th Edition team as the "mad genius." His book Monster Manual 2, co-written with Chris Sims, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller in 2009. Heinsoo was laid off by Wizards in 2009.:301
After Wizards, Heinsoo designed the 13th Age RPG, which brings cinematic storytelling from indie RPGs to d20 gaming. He designed 13th Age with Jonathan Tweet, the lead designer of 3rd Edition D&D. Heinsoo and Tweet are close friends who have played tabletop games together for years.
Rob Heinsoo also contributes to Alarums and Excursions.
Tabletop roleplaying games
- Nexus: The Infinite City (1994) (Lead Editor, Writer)
- Back for Seconds (1996) (Co-Editor)
- Marked for Death (1996) (Co-Editor)
- Feng Shui: Hong Kong Action Movie Roleplay (1996) (Co-Editor)
3rd Edition D&D
4th Edition D&D
- Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition (2008) (Lead Designer)
- Player's Handbook (2008) (Lead Designer)
- D&D Essentials: Rules Compendium (2010) (Lead Designer)
- The Plane Above (August 2010) (Lead Designer)
- Underdark (2010) (Lead Designer)
- Primal Power (September 2009) (Designer)
- Adventurer’s Vault 2 (2009) (Lead Designer)
- Monster Manual 2 (2009) (Lead Designer)
- Divine Power (2009) (Lead Designer)
- Forgotten Realm’s Player’s Guide (2008) (Lead Designer)
- Martial Power (2008) (Lead Designer)
- 13th Age
- 13 True Ways
Card games and board games
- Surviving On the Edge (1995) (Co-Author)
- Shadowfist (1995) (Lead Playtester, Editor)
- Netherworld (1996) (Developer, Additional Design)
- Shadowfist Player’s Guide (1996) (Author)
- Flashpoint (1997) (Co-designer, Art Direction)
- Legend of the Five Rings Gold Edition (2000) (Story Lead)
- Football Champions (2001–2004) (Designer, seven sets)
- Three-Dragon Ante (2005) (Designer)
- Inn-Fighting (2007) (Designer)
- Castle Ravenloft (2010) (Additional Design)
- Three-Dragon Ante: Emperor’s Gambit (2010) (Designer)
- Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mount Skullzfyre (2012) (Game Design)
- Night Eternal (2013) (Game Design)
- Chainmail (2002) (Co-Designer)
- Sets 1-4 (2002–2003) (Co-Designer, Developer)
- D&D Miniatures Sets 1-9, Harbinger, Dragoneye, Archfiends, Giants of Legend, Aberrations, Deathknell, Angelfire, Underdark, Wardrums (2003–2006) (Designer)
- Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures (2003) (Lead Designer)
- Dreamblade (2006) (Co-designer)
- King of Dragon Pass (1999) (Lead Q&A, Additional Design, Manual)
- "Rob Heinsoo" game credits on Pen & Paper.
- Interview, Guys Lit Wire.
- Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
- (September 2002). "Bestsellers Lists", Books in Canada 31 (6): 11.
- 2001 Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design
- "Rob’s definitely the mad genius of the group, particularly when it comes to mechanical design." Kobold Quarterly, Summer 2008, page 32.
- (May 29, 2009). "Wall Street Journal Best-Sellers", Connecticut Post.
- "13th Age: The New Tabletop Game From The Lead Designers Of 3rd And 4th Edition Dungeons And Dragons". Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Wizards of the Coast
- Rob's Livejournal blog
- "Rob Heinsoo". Pen & Paper. Archived from the original on Aug 1, 2005. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Gamespy Interview
- Critical Hits interview
- Guys Lit Wire interview
- 13th Age – My D & D Next: An interview with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Lee Moyer, Obskures, December 17, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Forbes interview about 13th Age (with Jonathan Tweet)