On the way to the excellent Wizards & Wookies discussion last night, I re-read parts of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, and was struck by this passage in particular :
And then there was Jim Ward, another of my idols, a fact I hadn’t realized until I met him. A former TSR employee, novelist, and game designer, Ward had written my favorite D&D spin-off game, Gamma World, a mutation of his Metamorphosis Alpha, the first-ever science fiction RPG. No longer in print, Gamma World was a similar RPG, but set in a postapocalyptic world full of mutant humanoids, messianic cults, and irradiated ruins. A dark but ideal antidote to the Reagan-era arms-race dread I had experienced as a teenager. “That gamers are portrayed as nerds drives me nuts,” Ward offered me without any prompting. “It irritates me when people do that to my hobby.”
This section of the book, recounting author Ethan Gilsdorf’s visit to the Lake Geneva Gaming Convention, resonated with me because it so accurately captured the emotions and experiences I’ve had at LGGC’s successor, Gary Con. Unfortunately, it also reminded me of some bad news I’ve been meaning to share. Tim Kask writes:
Jim Ward, author or co-author of [many awesome things in addition to those mentioned above] and just all around nice guy and creative madman, is ill. Very ill. He has had to cancel appearances at several cons to which he was invited since last spring. He has been diagnosed, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, with a serious neurological disorder. The gaming world came close to saying goodbye to yet another of the pioneers of RPGing several months ago. The experts say that Jim’s condition is treatable and manageable, but will remain very serious forever. Jim is very, very slowly recovering; every day is a new skirmmish with the disorder. He still suffers from acute bouts of dizziness and a pervasive lassitude due to bodily energy issues.
While this is sadly in the category of Things that Suck But What Can You Do, Tim goes on to present something you can do:
While Jim and his family are fortunate to have some health insurance, the co-pays are mounting at an alarming rate, having hit five digits some while ago and showing no signs of abating any time soon. While we can’t make Jim well, perhaps we can alleviate some of his financial worries and remove some of the burden from his family. I hope you can help my friend of 35 years in his most low-down time.
When I learned of Jim’s illness, I picked up the Metamorphosis Alpha adventure The House on the Hill and the four issues of the MA magazine MAJOR at RPG. now, and also volunteered to donate material to the fundraising book Craig J. Brain has proposed. I’m glad that there’s now a way to contribute more directly and immediately, and if you’re a fan of Jim’s work I hope you’ll join me in making a PayPal donation to defray his medical expenses.