Robin Laws

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Robin Laws
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.


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 games since he was a teenager and has worked as a 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; Garcia liked the idea, but Nexus: The Infinite City was his first priority, and was published in 1994 with Garcia as the main designer and developer, with Laws, Bruce Baugh, and Rob Heinsoo as additional authors.[3]:256 Daedalus Games was incorporated as Daedalus Entertainment in preparation for publishing the Hong Kong action game Laws had intended, but as a collectible-card game to take advantage of the CCG market.[3]:256 Laws thus designed the collectible card game Shadowfist (1995).[4] Daedalus Entertainment published the role-playing game Feng Shui (1996), designed by Laws using a variant of the Nexus game system; Laws also designed supplements for Feng Shui.[3]:256[4] Daedalus filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1997, and when the company sold off a few of its properties a few years later, Feng Shui went to Laws.[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; Atlas announced on March 22, 1999, that they had picked up Feng Shui.[3]:256

Greg Stafford approached Laws in 1998 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.[3]:361 Pelgrane Press signed a contract with Laws on November 1, 1999, and 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, and wrote a sourcebook for the setting titled White-Walled Kaiin.[4] Laws designed Pantheon and Other Roleplaying Games (2000) for Hogshead Publishing as one of the company's "New Style" RPGs.[3]:306 Atlas 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] Laws' Glorantha game was subsequently republished as HeroQuest (2003).[citation needed]

Meanwhile, Pelgrane Press expanded; they launched the GUMSHOE system, designed by Laws based on the claim that investigative gaming had been introduced to RPGs in a wrongheaded manner since the beginning.[citation needed] Laws' The Esoterrorists (2006), was the first release, 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 GUMSHOE line.[3]:385 Trail of Cthulhu has been the most commercially successful GUMSHOE line.[citation needed] Laws also wrote Mutant City Blues (2009) and Ashen Stars (2011) for GUMSHOE.[3]:385 Laws' HeroQuest second edition was published in 2009.[3]:354 His RPG Skulduggery (2010) extrapolated the treatment of conflict, especially intrapersonal conflict, from the Dying Earth setting to a variety of other contexts.[citation needed] In 2012, Laws ran a Kickstarter for his game Hillfolk, featuring his new Dramasystem. The goal was $3,000, but raised over $93,000,[5] and it went on to win the 2014 Diana Jones award.[citation needed]


Pierced Heart was Robin D. Laws' first published novel, originally published in 1996,[6] and released as an e-book in 2014.[7] 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] Laws edited 40 Years of Gen Con (2007), a collection of interviews and photographs, published by Atlas.[3]:260 Laws wrote Hamlet's Hit Points (2010), published by small press company Gameplaywright.[3]:260 Laws is also the editor for the Stone Skin Press fiction imprint from Pelgrane Press.[3]:385

Laws is also known for design work on Dungeons & Dragons supplements such as Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells and Dungeon Master's Guide II. He has also authored or contributed to dozens of supplements for other RPGs, contributed to the King of Dragon Pass computer game, and written several novels, among them The Rough and the Smooth. He writes an irregular advice column for role-players called See Page XX.


Robin Laws is frequently invited to be a guest speaker at conventions around the world, having made appearances at Gen Con Australia[8] and Ropecon[9][10] 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.[11]

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


A partial list of works by Robin D Laws:

Role-playing games and related supplements[edit]

Ashen Stars

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)


  • Fantasy 2: Adventures in the Mad Lands


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)


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

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


  • 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


  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 -" (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. ^ "HillFolk Kickstarter". Retrieved Dec 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Pierced Heart". Goodreads. Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  7. ^ Laws, Robin D. (2013-09-27). Pierced Heart. Atlas Games. 
  8. ^ robin_d_laws (robin_d_laws) wrote, 2008-05-30 09:20:00 (2008-05-30). "robin_d_laws: Gen Con Australia". Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  9. ^ "Robin D. Laws". Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  10. ^ "Ropecon 2007". Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  11. ^ Interview on the DiceCast podcast

External links[edit]

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