Ken Rolston

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Ken Rolston
OccupationComputer game and pen and paper role-playing game designer

Ken Rolston is an American computer game and role-playing game designer best known for his work with West End Games and on the computer game series The Elder Scrolls. In February 2007, he elected to join the staff of computer games company Big Huge Games to create a new role-playing game.[1]

Rolston has a master's degree from New York University and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He has been a professional games designer since 1982.

Tabletop role-playing games[edit]

Ken Rolston spent twelve years as an award-winning designer of tabletop role-playing games. His credits include games and supplements for Paranoia, RuneQuest, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and Dungeons & Dragons.[1][2][3][4]

Rolston was a Basic Role-Playing writer for Chaosium.[5]: 187  Rolston had also done work for Chaosium's Stormbringer and Superworld lines.[6] When Rolston was a new hire at West End Games in 1983, he became the fourth creator on Paranoia and was responsible for turning Greg Costikyan's dry rules into a highly atmospheric game, the results of which were published at GenCon in 1984.[7] Rolston wrote a complete manuscript for a magic system for Games Workshop to use in their Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG, but they rejected it; Rolston's manuscript circulated on the internet for years.[8] Rolston left West End Games when Scott Palter decided to move the company from New York to rural Honesdale, Pennsylvania in 1988.[9] Chaosium stopped writing material for RuneQuest at Avalon Hill in 1989, but RuneQuest returned in 1992 with Rolston as editor.[10] Rolston's first publication as part of the "RuneQuest Renaissance" was Tales of the Reaching Moon contributor Michael O'Brien's Sun County (1992).[6] In 1994, Avalon Hill dropped Rolston from their regular staff, relegating him to freelancer status; his last two manuscripts, Strangers in Prax and Lords of Terror saw print that year, but afterward, Rolston moved on to work for a multimedia company.[6]

Ken also was winner of the H. G. Wells Award for Best Role-playing Game, Paranoia, 1985,[11] and served as role-playing director for West End Games, Games Workshop, and Avalon Hill Game Company.

In 2016, Rolston joined Mongoose Games to assist in editing their newest edition of Paranoia, which was Kickstarted in 2014, in order to "hit all the right notes for both veteran players and newbies alike."[12]

Video game industry[edit]

Rolston was the lead designer for Bethesda's role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, its expansions and was also lead designer for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. He was lead designer for two Big Huge Games projects, both of which were canceled in 2009.[13]

Rolston went on to be the lead creative visionary for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a single player RPG designed by Big Huge Games, a Baltimore subsidiary of 38 Studios.[citation needed] The game was created for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC platforms and is set in the world of Amalur.[citation needed] An MMORPG codenamed "Project Copernicus", was being developed by Big Huge Games parent studio 38 Studios,[citation needed] until the company ceased operations in May 2012.[citation needed] The game would have been set in the world of Amalur and was planned to feature inter connectivity with future Amalur projects.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

Year Title Type Role(s)
1987 Paranoia, 2nd edition Tabletop role-playing game Writer
1989 Something Rotten in Kislev for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Tabletop role-playing game
1991 Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Shot Novel
1997 An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire Video game Design and Dialogue
1998 The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard Additional Writing
2000 Sea Dogs Additional design and writing
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Lead designer
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean Additional design and writing
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Lead designer
2012 Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Executive design director
2017 The Long Dark Designer-in-residence


  1. ^ a b "Veteran Designer Ken Rolston Joins BHG". Archived from the original on 22 February 2007.: 13 February 2007 press release
  2. ^ "RPG Legend Ken Rolston Retires". Joystiq. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Oblivion's Ken Rolston Speaks". H Consumer. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Masters of Narrative Design 6: Ken Rolston". Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  5. ^ Appelcline, Shannon (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  6. ^ a b c Appelcline 2011, p. 179.
  7. ^ Appelcline 2011, p. 187.
  8. ^ Appelcline 2011, p. 49.
  9. ^ Appelcline 2011, p. 49191.
  10. ^ Appelcline 2011, p. 91.
  11. ^ "THQ Signs Oblivion Designer for a 'Big Huge' RPG". Gamedaily. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Update 43: Design/Development Diary · Paranoia RPG".
  13. ^ "What Were Big Huge Games Working On (And Have They Found A Buyer)?".: Status update

External links[edit]