Robin Laws

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Robin Laws
RobinLaws2012Ennies.JPG
Laws at the 2012 ENnies
Born Robin D. Laws
(1964-10-14) October 14, 1964 (age 52)
Orillia, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Writer, game designer, author
Nationality Canadian
Genre Role-playing games

Robin D. Laws (born October 14, 1964 in Orillia, Ontario, Canada)[1] is a Canadian writer and game designer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of a number of novels and role-playing games as well as an anthologist.

Career[edit]

Robin D. Laws has been a professional game designer and an author since the early 1990s.

Game designer[edit]

Robin D. Laws has been playing role-playing games since he was a teenager and has worked as a game designer since the early 1990s.[2] John Nephew of Atlas Games convinced Jonathan Tweet to publish a game he had been writing about in Alarums & Excursions; Laws talked with Tweet about the game in A&E and contributed to the final product as well, the result of which was Over the Edge (1992).[3]:253 Daedalus Games began when Laws approached Jose Garcia in 1993 with an idea for a Hong Kong Action Cinema RPG; while Garcia liked the idea, his first priority was his own setting, Nexus: The Infinite City which was published in 1994 with Garcia as the main designer and developer, and Laws, Bruce Baugh, and Rob Heinsoo as additional authors.[3]:256 Daedalus Games was incorporated as Daedalus Entertainment in preparation for publishing in the Hong Kong action setting Laws had designed, but beginning with a collectible-card game to take advantage of that then-booming market.;[3]:256 Laws therefore designed the collectible card game Shadowfist (1995).[4] Daedalus Entertainment subsequently published Laws' role-playing game Feng Shui (1996), which used a variant of the Nexus game system, and began to publish supplements.[3]:256[4] However, Daedalus filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1997; when the company sold off a few of its properties a few years later, Laws re-acquired "Feng Shui".[3]:256 Nephew told Laws that he would be happy to bring Feng Shui back into print, so when Laws was able to free up the rights he brought it to Atlas Games, in a deal announced on March 22, 1999.[3]:256

Meanwhile, Laws was active throughout the 1990s as a free-lance writer for games including GURPS, Underground, Talislanta, Earthdawn, and Vampire: The Dark Ages, and later for supplements to the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons.[citation needed] In 1998, Greg Stafford approached Laws to create a new game based on his world of Glorantha, which became known as Hero Wars, published in 2000 as the first fully professional product for Issaries, and later expanded and re-published in 2003 as HeroQuest.[3]:361 A second edition was published in 2009;[3]:354 Laws was then able to provide additional scaffolding for players to construct setting-appropriate narratives with the rules provided. At the same time, Laws was engaged in some more experimental RPG design. Hogshead Publishing published his Pantheon and Other Roleplaying Games (2000) as one of the company's "New Style" RPGs.,[3]:306 while Atlas Games contracted Laws to write the Rune (2001) role-playing game, based on the computer game Rune.[3]:257[4] Laws determined that for Rune, "the game would need to have a big point of difference to distinguish it from the many other fantasy games available"; in this case, the game would allow players to swap roles with the Game Master (GM): "You can win! And when you're not the GM, it's not boring because the GM can win!"[4]

Pelgrane Press revealed on January 20, 2000 that Laws would be the core author of their upcoming roleplaying game based on the Jack Vance stories in the Dying Earth setting.[3]:383 Laws was the senior designer for The Dying Earth Roleplaying Game.[4] As Pelgrane Press expanded; they launched the GUMSHOE system, designed by Laws based on the claim that investigative gaming had been introduced to RPGs under the mistaken assumption that acquring cluses should be treated as a contingent reward; the new system ensured that players would learn the clues needed in order to proceed with their investigations.[5] Laws' The Esoterrorists (2006) was the first release with this system, supported by his sourcebook The Esoterror Factbook (2006); the next year, Pelgrane released Laws' Fear Itself (2007).[3]:384 Laws has also contributed supplements to Ken Hite's Trail of Cthulhu line,[3]:385 notably the aleatoric Armitage Files resource and the Dreamhounds of Paris campaign frame, in which players take on the roles of actual surrealist artists as they confront horror in the Dreamlands. Laws also designed Mutant City Blues (2009) and Ashen Stars (2011) as investigative games in superhero and space opera genres.[3]:385 His RPG Skulduggery (2010) extrapolated the treatment of conflict, especially intrapersonal conflict, from the Dying Earth setting to a variety of other contexts, and the Gaean Reach RPG (2012) cross-fertilized Dying Earth and GUMSHOE rules in Vance's Science Fiction setting.

In 2012, Laws also ran a Kickstarter for his game Hillfolk, featuring his new Dramasystem. The goal was $3,000, but raised over $93,000,[6] and it went on to win the 2014 Diana Jones award.[citation needed]. After another successful Kickstarter by Atlas Games, Laws released a second edition of Feng Shui twenty years after its original release, removing obstructive rules and marking a "critical shift" in the game's background. Laws has since published the specialized Cthulhu Confidential (2017), offering a modified GUMSHOE system for roleplaying with one player and the GM, and has begun work on the Yellow Sign RPG, also for Pelgrane Press.

Author[edit]

Robin D. Laws' published his first novel Pierced Heart in 1996, set in the world of Over the Edge;[7] it was released as an e-book in 2014.[8] His subsequent novels included the original The Rough and the Smooth as well as novels set in the game settings of Warhammer RPG, City of Heroes and Pathfinder.[citation needed] Laws also had stories published in Synister Creative's pulp magazine, and in the fiction anthology The Book of All Flesh for the All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG: "The first is a light-hearted adventure, and the other is really, really dark".[4] Laws wrote Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering (2002) for Steve Jackson Games.[citation needed] and edited 40 Years of Gen Con (2007), a collection of interviews and photographs, published by Atlas.[3]:260 Laws also wrote Hamlet's Hit Points (2010), published by small press company Gameplaywright,[3]:260 and is currently working on a second volume applying the same approach to narrative structure with a focus on fiction and screenplay writing.[9] Laws is also the editor of the Stone Skin Press fiction imprint from Pelgrane Press.[3]:385

In other media, he contributed to the King of Dragon Pass computer game and wrote for Marvel's Iron Man with Mike Grell in 2003. He writes an irregular advice column for role-players called See Page XX, and releases a weekly podcast with Ken Hite for Pelgrane Press, Ken and Robin talk about stuff.

Conventions[edit]

Robin Laws is frequently invited to be a guest speaker at conventions around the world, having made appearances at Gen Con Australia[10] and Ropecon[11][12] in Finland.

Laws attends Gen Con Indy and the Toronto International Film Festival every year. He has stated that he often cannot attend Fan Expo Canada because that convention often takes place too soon after Gen Con and too soon before TIFF, but he likes to attend it whenever he can. He was Fan Expo's gaming guest of honor in 2005 and 2010.[13]

Since 2010, Laws has been a regular guest at Dragonmeet in London as a guest of Pelgrane Press.[citation needed]

Works[edit]

A partial list of works by Robin D Laws:

Role-playing games and related supplements[edit]

Ashen Stars

Cthulhu Confidential

For Deadlands: Hell on Earth

  • Monsters, Muties and Misfits (et al.)

For Dungeons and Dragons:

For the Earthdawn RPG:

  • Throal: The Dwarf Kingdom
  • Infected
  • Horrors
  • Denizens of Earthdawn (Volume 2)
  • The Theran Empire
  • Parlainth Adventures (et al.)

The Esoterrorists

  • The Esoterror Factbook

Fear Itself

Feng Shui: Action Movie Roleplaying

  • Four Bastards
  • Burning Shaolin

For the Firefly Role-Playing Game:

Gaean Reach RPG

For the Glorantha setting (Greg Stafford)

For GURPS:

  • Fantasy 2: Adventures in the Mad Lands

Hillfolk

Jack Vance's The Dying Earth Roleplaying Game

  • Kaiin Player's Guide
  • Turjan's Tome of Beauty and Horror (with Ian Thompson)
  • Cugel's Compendium of Indispensable Advantages (et al.)
  • The Excellent Prismatic Spray 2-5 (et al.)

Mutant City Blues

  • Hard Helix

Nexus: The Infinite City (et al.)

OG: Unearthed Edition

For Over the Edge:

  • Unauthorized Broadcast
  • Weather the Cuckoo Likes
  • Wildest Dreams
  • Over the Edge, 2nd Edition (with Jonathan Tweet)

Pandemonium!: Adventures in Tabloid World (Contributor)

  • Stranger Than Truth: Further Adventures in Tabloid World (Contributor)

Pantheon and Other Roleplaying Games

Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering (ISBN 1-55634-629-8)

Rune

Shadowfist Players' Guide (Volume 1) (with Rob Heinsoo)

Star Trek RPG (et al.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation RPG (et al.)

  • Raiders, Renegades, & Rogues (et al.)

For Talislanta:

  • Sub-men Rising

For Trail of Cthulhu

  • The Armitage Files
  • Out of Space Scenario: Repairer of Reputations
  • Stunning Eldritch Tales
  • Dreamhounds of Paris

For the Underground RPG:

  • Ways and Means

For Vampire: The Dark Ages:

  • House of Tremere

For Vampire: the Masquerade:

  • Blood Magic: Secrets of Thaumaturgy

For Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

  • Heart of Chaos (Doomstones Campaign Volume 3)

Novels[edit]

  • Pierced Heart
  • The Rough and the Smooth
  • Honour of the Grave
  • Sacred Flesh
  • Liar's Peak
  • Freedom Phalanx
  • Pathfinder Tales: The Worldwound Gambit
  • Pathfinder Tales: Blood of the City

References[edit]

  1. ^ André Jarosch. "Interview with Robin D. Laws". ShattenSeiten der RuneQuest GesellSchaft. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  2. ^ ""Hillfolk"-Kickstarter: An interview with Robin D. Laws - obskures.de" (in German). 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ryan, Michael G. (January 2002). "Profiles: Robin D. Laws". Dragon. Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast (#291): 18. 
  5. ^ "Dying Earth News, June 2006". Retrieved May 17, 2017. 
  6. ^ "HillFolk Kickstarter". Retrieved Dec 4, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Pierced Heart". Goodreads. Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  8. ^ Laws, Robin D. (2013-09-27). Pierced Heart. Atlas Games. 
  9. ^ "Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, March 31, 2017". Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  10. ^ robin_d_laws (robin_d_laws) wrote, 2008-05-30 09:20:00 (2008-05-30). "robin_d_laws: Gen Con Australia". Robin-d-laws.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  11. ^ "Robin D. Laws". Robin-d-laws.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  12. ^ "Ropecon 2007". Ropecon.fi. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  13. ^ Interview on the DiceCast podcast

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mike Grell
Iron Man writer
2003
(with Mike Grell in early 2003)
Succeeded by
John Jackson Miller