Phil Masters' Role-Playing Games Writing History

(You can buy some of my work online at Steve Jackson Games' online store, or on DriveThruRPG.)

Very old stuff... The Original Fiend Folio To start with -- for systematic, if maybe erratically updated, overviews of my writing history, you might see something like RPG.Net. But if you really want to know about my record... Actually, I've been writing RPG stuff semi-professionally for longer than I care to think. Would you believe White Dwarf #20? Or a bunch of monsters in the original Fiend Folio? (Some of which have since reappeared in more recent D20-system monster books. With or without credit to me, in various cases. Not that I get bitter, of course.) Heck, UK Roleplayers have even put me in their Hall of Fame, at which I can only blush prettily.

Kingdom of Champions Champions Presents #1 Hero Almanac #2 Champions Universe But anyway, my first book, Kingdom of Champions, was published by Hero Games in 1990. (Incidentally, the errata notes for that are around here.) I still have fond memories of Allen Varney's review. After a couple more projects -- a third of the first Champions Presents, some stuff in the original Champions Universe and the second Hero System Almanac -- I moved on.

(Incidentally, the links for those books above go to the Hero Games site. For those who prefer it, old Hero products can also be acquired in PDF form from DriveThruRPG.)

GURPS Discworld - Cover (click for large image) Thaumatology Cover (click for large image) Steve Jackson Games showed an interest in my work, and a book or two blossomed into a long-standing working relationship, which I've detailed in a whole separate page. (All the cover images were starting to swamp this one.)

Clanbook Perky Clanbook Mopey Talking of Steve Jackson Games... I've contributed stuff to numerous RPG magazines over the years -- too numerous to list here. (These days, my short pieces make most of their occasional appearances in the electronic pages of Steve Jackson's admirable Pyramid.) And on the subject of periodicals, I'm vain enough to boast about having being invited to write material for the magnificent Dork Tower by John Kovalic. ("Clanbook Perky" and "Clanbook Mopey".) So I hereby do.

The Dying of the Light - Cover Sands of Time - Early Unused Cover Back in the 1990s, I did a bit of work for Hogshead, a British company that used to have the license for Games Workshop's Warhammer RPG. This included a chapter and some editing on their first all-new scenario book, The Dying of the Light. (Note that Hogshead subsequently changed hands, and ended up publishing completely different games. For that matter, the Warhammer RPG is now being published by someone else, in a new edition.) Furthermore, back then in the mid-'90s, I wrote a Champions scenario book called The Sands of Time, which, following a history too tortuous to be discussed before the eyes of servants or children, didn't get published despite three or four different companies having the chance at times. (The cover art there came from one of the times when it almost appeared.) That one seemed to be seriously jinxed, and I didn't think it would ever happen - but see below.

Castles and Covenants - Cover The Swashbuckler's Handbook - Cover The Artisan's Handbook - Cover

At one stage, I also worked on White Wolf's Mage: the Sorcerers' Crusade line. For example, I wrote about half of Castles and Covenants. Somehow, the cabal rosters for the Order of Reason chantries that I contributed to that got lost in the shuffle -- so I've posted them on the 'Web. And then, for the same game, there was The Artisans' Handbook,of which I wrote the entirety. (Well, to be pedantic, a few paragraphs got added in editing. They usually do.) And the follow-up to that was The Swashbuckler's Handbook, by myself and Phil Brucato, of which I must admit to being immoderately proud. A couple of appendices got cut from that for reasons of length, so I've placed them on line, too. Unfortunately, the Sorcerers' Crusade line is now defunct.

Cugel's Compendium - Cover Tales of Mythic Europe - Cover Faerie Stories - Cover

Oh, and I've done some stuff for the wondrous Dying Earth RPG from Pelgrane Press -- specifically, about a third of Cugel's Compendium of Indispensable Advantages -- while the end of 2003 saw the publication of my first work for Atlas Games -- an Ars Magica adventure book named Faerie Stories, written in collaboration with Neil Taylor. My next contribution to that line took a few years, I'm afraid, but May 2009 saw the appearance of Tales of Mythic Europe, to which I contributed a chapter.

Dreaming Cities Cover Gatecrashing Cover

And I had a chapter in the late lamented Guardians of Order's Dreaming Cities. More recently, along with my continuing work for Steve Jackson Games, I contributed to Gatecrashing, a supplement for Posthuman Studios' Eclipse Phase RPG. This is available in electronic or printed form; if you opt for the former, you can buy either the book alone or the "hack pack" with added extras from DriveThruRPG.

Sands of Time - Published Cover Sinbad the Sailor from Osprey Books The Small Folk - Cover by Steve Stiv The Wars of Atlantis from Osprey Books

Moving on -- The Sands of Time, the afore-mentioned "jinxed" Champions project from the '90s, DID finally appear, courtesy of Blackwyrm Games... who promptly went rather quiet on me. It turned out that they'd hit some troubles; the jinx had evidently struck again. They subsequently reorganised and came back to life (and even started paying me), at least for a while, and I do at least have some illustrated, paper copies on my shelf, I suppose. Meanwhile, Osprey Publishing commissioned me to write a Sinbad the Sailor book for their "Myths and Legends" line, which appeared in September 2014, and while it's not strictly speaking an RPG supplement, I think it could have a place in roleplayers' libraries. Likewise, another book of mine, The Wars of Atlantis, part of their "Osprey Adventures" line, appeared in July 2015. But in the meantime, I'd self-published The Small Folk, adapting the material I wrote for Guardians of Order years ago (which reverted to me when they went bust) to use the Open Gaming License "Free FATE" rules system. That's now even available in paper, print-on-demand form!

And as of mid-2023, I'm waiting on publication of a project, Boundary of the Darkness, for Pelgrane Press's Trail of Cthulhu, which is being edited and will hopefully appear fairly soon, and on another large-ish book, HARP Steampunk, for Iron Crown Enterprises, which should be in a similar state. So this career of sorts continues to stutter along, occasionally amusingly for me. If only RPG companies could stop dying on me...

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