Allen Varney

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Allen Varney
Allen Varney in 2006
Allen Varney in 2006
Born1958 (age 64–65)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
GenreRole-playing games
SpouseBeth Fischi[1]

Allen Varney (born 1958)[1] is an American writer and game designer. Varney has produced numerous books, role-playing game supplements, technical manuals, articles, reviews, columns, and stories, as well as the fantasy novel Cast of Fate (TSR, 1996). Since the 1990s, he has worked primarily in computer games.

Early life[edit]

Varney was born in St. Louis, Missouri and was raised by his mother, Marcelene Varney. He graduated from Reno High School in 1976 and has a dual B.A. in English and history from the University of Nevada, Reno.[1]

Gaming career[edit]

Roleplaying games[edit]

Varney designed the game Necromancer (1983), which was published by Steve Jackson Games.[2]: 103  Varney wrote Son of Toon (1986), the third supplement to the Toon RPG.[2]: 104  From 1984 to 1986 he worked as Assistant Editor at Steve Jackson Games[1] (with Warren Spector, then Editor-in-Chief) editing Space Gamer magazine.

Warren Spector and Varney wrote the supplement Send in the Clones (1985) for the Paranoia role-playing game from West End Games.[2]: 189  In 1986, he left Steve Jackson Games to freelance.[1] From this time onward, he wrote a large body of game supplements for companies like TSR, Inc., FASA Corporation, West End Games, and White Wolf.

Varney did work for TSR from 1987 to 1992, including the "Blood Brethren" trilogy (Nightwail, Nightrage, Nightstorm) and Five Coins for a Kingdom, Wildspace for Spelljammer, Veiled Alliance for Dark Sun, and several gamebooks, the Ariya, Binsada, and Talinie realm packs for Birthright. He also edited modules for the Ravenloft, Planescape, and Forgotten Realms settings, and was a game reviewer and news columnist for Dragon magazine.

Varney wrote the AD&D Gamebook The Vanishing City in 1987, and the Endless Quest gamebook Galactic Challenge for Amazing Engine in 1995.

Varney served as the line editor for a new version of the roleplaying game Paranoia, published in 2004 by Mongoose Publishing.[2]: 398  He wrote the new rules and packaged the game's support line with the help of his "Traitor Recycling Studio" until 2006 when Mongoose put the game line on hold.[2]: 398 

Most recently, Varney has operated the Bundle of Holding site, distributing bundles of licensed but DRM-free role-playing game files in a series of time-limited offers.

Computer games[edit]

Enspire Learning produces a computer version of Varney's multiplayer business ethics and leadership simulation, the Executive Challenge.[1][3] Executive Challenge was covered in The Wall Street Journal.[4]

Varney has long been involved in the game design and documentation for companies such as Origin Systems,[5] Interplay, Prodigy, Acclaim Entertainment, Looking Glass Technologies, MicroProse, and Sony Online Entertainment. He wrote character dialogue for Star Wars Galaxies,[1] and worked again with Warren Spector on Epic Mickey.[6]

Varney also writes for The Escapist.[7]

Card games[edit]

In 1993, Varney designed an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. This was not published, but the design concepts later surfaced in the web-based Vanguard format of the game,[8] with Varney credited for the original concept.

Personal life[edit]

Varney has participated in the Texas Juggling Society at the University of Texas since 1985.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Brandy Dela Vega (August 2, 2004). "Childhood fantasies become profitable career". Reno Gazette-Journal. p. 1E.
  2. ^ a b c d e Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  3. ^ "The Wall Street Journal covered the Executive Challenge in its May 10, 2004 issue". Archived from the original on September 24, 2008.
  4. ^ Varney, Allen (2007). "The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 107–109. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
  5. ^ Omar L. Gallaga (November 28, 2010). "Game guru's Disney title a tale of 2 pasts". Austin American-Statesman. p. A1.
  6. ^ Brian Gaar (November 28, 2010). "Redrawing Mickey". Austin American-Statesman. p. E1.
  7. ^ James Egan (May 5, 2009). "Potential avenues for MMO companies to deal with griefers". Massively. Archived from the original on August 9, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  8. ^ "Magic Online Vanguard : Wizards of the Coast". 2006-04-06. Archived from the original on May 1, 2005. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  9. ^ Julie Ardery (July 31, 2000). "Join the club". Austin American-Statesman. p. E1.

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