D&D General D&D Luminary Jim 'Drawmij' Ward Passes

Legendary TSR alumni passes away at age 72.

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James M. Ward, writer of Metamorphosis Alpha, co-writer of Deities & Demigods, author of Greyhawk Adventures, and veteran of TSR, has passed away at the age of 72.

Ward was one of the first players in Gary Gygax's early Dungeon & Dragons games in the 1970s--the wizard Drawmij is 'Jim Ward' spelt backwards--and worked for TSR until the mid-1990s. He co-founded Fast Forward Entertainment in the early 2000s. Ward also worked with Troll Lord Games for several supplements.

Jim wrote a column right here at EN World, dealing into various aspects of D&D's genesis and development, and the early days of TSR in the 1970s and 1980s. Amongst the many things he shared with us is a wonderful article where he introduced himself (as if he needed to!) to EN World. I can't think of a better person to summarise Jim's career than the man himself.

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

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Muddyboots

Explorer
Years ago I sent Jim an email out of the blue. He kindly responded and invited further correspondence. Since then we swapped dozens of emails. We realized that we had met in the early 80's. The TTRPG a world today is huge now, back then it wasn’t. I’m so glad for my experiences with Jim Ward. I already miss him!
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Tim Kask's post on FB:

No more “Pie Games” at GaryCon

For more years than I can easily count, I have held one game that I chose at random to be “The Pie Game”. The lucky players and I would then enjoy a cherry pie together. The pie each year was provided to me by Jim Ward, who passed away earlier today, the 18th.

I believe I first met Jim when Gary ushered him into my office to introduce him to me as something like “… a new author I want you to work with”. He was probably wearing a short-sleeved white shirt with a tie; he taught English at one of the schools in the county.

Prior to this, I knew the name from his brilliant game, Metamorphosis Alpha (hereinafter referred to as MA), which I had had the privilege to playtest at Gary’s table.

Jim did not, to my knowledge or recollection, work full-time for TSR when I did. If he did, there may have been a slight overlap at the other building. It doesn’t matter; we hit it off right away. His name started appearing in the Thanks for Eldritch Wizardry, and then he did Gods, Demigods, and Heroes with Rob Kuntz, but still part-time, I think. His output was staggering and his work ethic unchallenged.

I do not ever recall Jim shouting, not even in some of the more heated meetings we sometimes had amongst the partners at Eldritch Enterprises.

He was so mild-mannered that some folks wondered if it was all an act; it was not. Sometimes he could be quite calmly and sneakily persuasive.

His game tables are the stuff of legend, mostly undeserved. He has a wildly exaggerated reputation of being a “TPK master”. He always maintained that he did not kill players; he let the players kill themselves. I didn’t buy it until I sat in on a few of his games-in-progress. Granted, Jim knew every bit of cheese to hide the trap. He would put large panels of pretty flashing lights and buttons, knowing that cheese was irresistible; someone always pushed the wrong buttons and got themselves ejected into deep space; someone always managed to place the party in to a “cosmic trash disposer” and got them vaporized, and then air-locked the mist into deep space. All with the most frustratingly-bland look on his face. I sat in one where the party died of radiation when they could have just walked away. He looked at me and said “See? I didn’t kill them, they killed themselves.” He was right.

Jim and I stayed in touch, outside of the conventions we both attended.

I was terribly upset to see Jim get enmeshed in recent years in the trash fires set by LaNasa and his minions. I believe Jim may have been a touch naïve and fell for LaNasa’s honeyed tongue. All Jim ever really wanted to do was make games. He tried to defend his creation.

He was the glue that held TSR together for so long, until the harridan took over. He floated to a couple of other small companies pursuing his dream of making games. That’s how he came to be one of the four supposed-partners at Eldritch Ent. If Jim had had his way, and the others of us capable, he would have had us publishing something every month.

I will miss Jim, a lot. I considered him the last of “the original gang” at TSR that I was a part of. Suddenly, I feel very lonely.
 


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