But all this evokes an episode from my roleplaying game past. In this case, oddly enough, all this focus on ancient Roman history reminded me of my interview for an editorial position at West End Games way back in the spring of 1993.
Ever since I dove into roleplaying games in 1982 I’d wanted to write for them. The module contests in Dragon Magazine at the time demonstrated to me that was possible on some remote level. My later discovery of West End’s Star Wars Roleplaying Game renewed my interest in the hobby while I was in college, merged my fan adoration of Star Wars with gaming, and gave me a somewhat more concrete aspiration. Shortly after graduating college with a creative writing degree I even sent West End a resume and sample of my short fiction writing, a short story about Egypt in the 19th century of which I was particularly proud. But an editor returned it with a stern note saying they didn’t accept unsolicited pitches or manuscripts for the TORG game (The Nile Empire was a pulp Egypt-themed realm in that setting)...apparently the cover letter and resume remained overlooked as indicators of my intention seeking writing or editorial work.Web and Starship, and Bug-Eyed Monsters standing out in my mind even today (and I certainly didn’t own any at the time). So after my initial disappointment sending the company my resume, I hunkered down at my full-time reporter job at the local weekly newspaper, regularly ran several game campaigns with my friends (including Star Wars, Space 1889, and Cyberpunk), and developed adventures to try selling to the only hobby periodical accepting them at the time, Game Designers’ Workshop’s Challenge Magazine. I still bought West End Star Wars supplements as the mood hit me and, with my like-minded friends, bought into the new Star Wars novels by Timothy Zahn when they released. I worked overtime as a reporter, often covering meetings and writing articles well into the early morning hours of they day we published. Eventually I got the position of editor, which further pushed my hours into the 50-60 per week range. Yet during this time I finally managed to get a scenario published in Challenge Magazine #64, “The Limping Lady.” Nothing special, just an adventure I used to kick off campaigns, but my first published roleplaying game work.
With almost a year’s work as a professional editor plus a relevant publication credit, I figured I’d contact West End again to see what kind of freelance or full-time employment I might find. I buffed up my resume, drafted a cover letter, and included copies of both “The Limping Lady” and some of my newspaper work. I didn’t have high hopes; if I heard back at all, I expected a polite “Thanks, we’re not interested at this time.” So I was elated when I heard back from the company’s editorial director, and further excited to hear that, coincidentally, at that very moment they were seeking an editor to start a quarterly journal supporting the Star Wars Roleplaying Game with source material, adventures, and “game-related fiction” (short fiction with game stats to satisfy the bending of licensing restrictions). We corresponded by mail and talked by phone about the particulars, resulting in an interview meeting one Saturday morning in the spring of 1993.
[Patient readers might wonder what this has to do with the Roman Empire, but I’m slowly getting there in my own ponderous way....]nondescript, sprawling building that served as West End’s offices and warehouse, unmarked by any sign indicating its true purpose.
|West End Games|
owner Scott Palter