Willis began by designing science fiction wargames for Metagaming Concepts, starting with Godsfire in 1976.:78 He designed the microgames Olympica (1978) and Holy War (1979).:79 Chaosium published Lords of the Middle Sea (1978),:82 and Willis joined Chaosium in 1978.:83 GDW published Bloodtree Rebellion (1979). Willis's relationship with Chaosium proved the most enduring; he would turn to role-playing games. He helped founder Greg Stafford trim and refine the RuneQuest rules into Basic Role-Playing, the rules that would serve as the base for many of Chaosium's RPG lines.:85 He wrote the Call of Cthulhu campaign The Masks of Nyarlathotep (1984) with Larry DiTillio.:86 He was included in the design credits for Worlds of Wonder (1982) and the Ringworld RPG (1984).
With other members of Chaosium, he co-wrote the Ghostbusters RPG for West End Games, which won the H.G. Wells Award for Best Role-playing Rules of 1986. Willis co-designed the fifth edition of Call of Cthulhu with Sandy Petersen, and replaced Keith Herber as line editor of Cthulhu when Herber left Chaosium in 1994.:90 He worked with Petersen again for the sixth edition of Call of Cthulhu. Willis created the game Elric! with Richard Watts as a new Basic Role-Playing version of Stormbringer.:91 After Greg Stafford left Chaosium in 1998, Willis stayed on as editor-in-chief.:94
Willis left Chaosium in late 2008 due to health issues; at the time, he was the longest serving Chaosium employee, with 30 years of experience with the company.:95
On September 11, 2008, the President of Chaosium, Charlie Krank, informed the public that Willis had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Krank later reported that Willis died on January 18, 2013.
- Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
- "Charles S. Roberts/H.G. Wells Award Winners (1986)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- "Chaosium Inc.(Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Fiction Of Robert E. Howard)(Secrets of Japan: Surviving the Mythos in Present-Day Japan)(Call Of Cthulhu, 6th ed.)". Library Bookwatch. May 1, 2005. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Lynn Willis: Rest In Peace
- Harris M. Lentz III. Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2013. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-7864-6953-6.
- Lynn Willis at BoardGameGeek
- Official Chaosium Staff profile of Willis
- Interview with Lynn Willis
- Willis archive at the Wayback Machine (archived October 4, 2007)
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