I like game design and writing for game systems because it more directly engages the often-isolated writer with an audience--the game players who will be reading and using the mechanics and material being created. Thinking ahead to how the players might want to use the rules, or what questions they might have about the material--and then polishing the game to answer those questions before they're asked; it might even be more fun than playing games. Maybe.

Follow the links below to see some highlights and samples of my work--though of course the best way to find out what you think is to play the game yourself. For a full listing of everything I've worked on, check out my c.v.

(Smith & Tinker, 2008-present)
Nanovor. It's a computer game. It's a handheld game. It's a cartoon. It's novels and books. It's toys. It's all of those things and more, which made it a fantastic challenge on a creative level and an enormous puzzle to keep coordinated.

Smith & Tinker is still rolling out all things Nanovor, so I can't say much yet--but you should definitely come over and join us in the fun! Send a friend request to "Seth" and we can battle our swarms!

(WizKids Games, 2005-2008)
As a lifelong comic book fan who still visits the local comic shop each week, becoming lead designer for HeroClix was quite probably the best thing short of writing comics myself. Working with comic creators and comic companies, delving into comic libraries to do research, helping our artists make figures of characters from the popular to the obscure, debating and discussing the game and comics with fans, and of course working on the dials, maps, and rules--I had a thousand reasons to look forward to going into work each day.

Among the HeroClix products I've worked (okay, okay--it was as much fun as work!) on are the Armor Wars, Sinister, Danger Room, Supernova, Marvel 2099, Mutations and Monsters, Avengers, and Fantastic Four expansions for Marvel HeroClix, the Icons, Giants, Green Lantern Corps, Legion of Super Heroes, Collateral Damage, Crisis, Justice League, and Arkham Asylum expansions for DC HeroClix, the Hellboy and the BPRD Collector's Set for IndyClix (cross-compatible with WizKids' HorrorClix game) and the Invincible Collector's Set for Image HeroClix. I also got to design some really cool larger figures, like Starro, Fin Fang Foom, Galactus, and the Spectre.

(Sovereign Press, 2006)
The world of Dragonlance has been one of my fantasy favorites since its earliest days, so it was a great honor to be asked by Margaret Weis to explore and expand the alternate Krynns shown in the Legends trilogy. I still remember sitting in the back seat of the car, reading the books for the first time during a family vacation, wanting to know more about the time of the Kingpriest, and the apocalyptic end of the world visited by Tasslehoff and Caramon. Little did I know that two decades later I would be the one to answer my own questions...

Here are some of the those answers in one of the sections I wrote for the book, describing the alternate Krynn of the Kingpriest Ascendent (250KB PDF.)

(Blizzard Entertainment / Sword & Sorcery, 2003-2005)
It was just the Warcraft Roleplaying Game when we started writing and designing, expanding the world laid out in Blizzard's RTS games into a pen-and-paper RPG. Then we started getting notes and materials from their internal designers and discovered that some of our work was being folded into their newest project--an MMORPG called the World of Warcraft...

I contributed to nearly every book in the line from its launch in 2003 through its relaunch as the World of Warcraft Roleplaying Game two years later. Some of my favorite bits (along with the fiction I wrote): a section on Warcraft campaign types, a selection of the Warcraft-flavored equipment I created, a historical and cultural introduction to Azeroth, the cosmology of the Warcraft universe, and the Dark Apothecary prestige class.

Though the Kodosbreath clan never showed up into the MMO, at least the Shady Rest Inn made the leap into digital form...even if it did burn down in the process.

(WizKids Games, 2004-2005)
I joined WizKids Games in 2004 to take over as lead designer of Mage Knight, the game that launched the modern collectible miniatures game format. Not only did I get to drive the world's continuity through writing fiction, I also got to create characters that then became game pieces (including redesigning the Shyft race, with some of the results shown at the left.) I'd worked on pen-and-paper games and electronic games, but leading the team working on a game involving figures, cards, tokens, books, and online content was a whole new monster and an incredible experience.

Mage Knight: Omens was the first expansion I designed, followed by the giant Mage Knight: Apocalypse Dragon piece. Finally, with the rest of the Mage Knight team, I worked on Mage Knight: Nexus as the line drew to a close after five years of releases.

(Human Head Studios, 2006)
I was at Human Head Studios when 3DRealms tapped the company to ressurrect their concept for a science fiction action game and bring it to life on a next-gen console using a cutting-edge engine. I was only at the company for the first half of the titles's long development at Human Head, but I'm still happy to have played a part in developing the underlying structure and design of the game.

(Human Head Studios, 2004)
Following three Rune titles on four platforms and in five languages, our team at Human Head set aside Viking warriors to journey into the Old West. Dead Man's Hand is a Western first-person shooter with a twist, bringing back arcade-flavored FPS action with its unique trick shot and scoring system.

If you have yet to play the game on Xbox or PC, you can at least get a taste of what we were trying to do with the manual (3.3MB PDF) I wrote for the game, or by checking out the extensive interview I did with IGN in January 2004.

(Corsair Publishing, 2000)
It was a ten-year road from idea to finished product for Sketch!, concieved in a late-night conversation with my good friend Brian Schomburg, born on a road trip to New Jersey, and raised with the help of friends in Madison and beyond. Launched at GenCon 2000, it found critical acclaim, a small but hardcore following, and a few award nominations. Someday I might have kids, but until then Sketch! will be one of my favorite children.

Check out a few sample pages.

(Human Head Studios, 2003)
Origins Award Winner, Best Roleplaying Supplement

A planehopping school of wizardry, the Redhurst Academy of Magic was created to be a playground of creative possibility. That alone would have made it a fun project. But what made working on the book particularly enjoyable was its central conceit -- that the sourcebook would take the form of the same book that would be handed out to students in the world it was describing. Spiced up by a traitor among the school's residents writing notes in the margins, it was a project where wordcount became a limit and not a goal.

Here are a couple of characters I designed for the book, as well as my original sketch (47K JPEG) of the school's layout.

(Sovereign Press, 2003)
A 70,000 word sourcebook detailing the two thousand year-old culture and history of two warring nations, Kingdoms of the Sword and Stars involved the creation of d20 material of every sort from weapons and prestige classes to magic items and spells.

I enjoyed the challenge of taking the threads of material about the Kingdom of Dunkarga and the Kaliphate of Karnu laid out in the Weis and Hickman novels and the existing Sov Stone RPG material and sewing it together into a more detailed tapestry of my own creation, a process of writing timelines, regional clan histories, and even inventing a language. Fun!

(Take a look at Larry Elmore's fantastic cover art for the book.)

(Corsair Publishing / Fast Forward Entertainment, 2000 - 2005)
I wrote for nearly every issue of Campaign Magazine, acting as a bit of a utility-hitter for the magazine. I wrote everything from shorter pieces to complete game settings. Among my favorite pieces for the magazine are the Cult Leader prestige class (#2), the Totem Warrior prestige class (#6) and the character collection/article "Fallen Heroes" (#5).

(Human Head Studios, 2001)
Human Head Studios had completed the majority of their design work on the PC version of their game Rune before I was called in to work on the game's manual and dialogue. But while doing the writing I became involved in the game's testing process and eventually ended up as the game's de facto lead tester, helping find and fix the innumerable gameplay issues that pop up in the late stages of development.

I joined Human Head full-time at the beginning of 2001 just in time to help design the new game modes and characters for the expansion pack Rune: Halls of Valhalla. Later that year I assisted in the design and production work on Rune: Viking Warlord, the "director's cut" of Rune for the Playstation 2.