Obituary - James Mathe of RPG Shop, RPGNow, Minion Games Has Passed

Terribly sad news that James Mathe, founder of RPGNow, Minion Games, and so much more, passed away over the weekend at the age of 52. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

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James was a pioneer, and was massively influential in our hobby. Not only has he produced a multitude of board games, he brought the first major PDF store to the industry in the form of RPGNow, which later merged with DriveThruRPG to become OneBookShelf. He frequently offered advice to others in the industry, and was well known for the help he gave to others. He was involved in almost every corner of the industry, from online conventions to brick-and-mortar game stores, Kickstarter advice, and various online franchises, and was a mentor and friend to many.
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Well, that was fun
Staff member
I remember when he opened RPGNow, and when EN Publishing's first product - Wild Spellcraft - launched on there in the first months of its opening. More recently, I purchased a domain from him that he was no longer using. From all my dealings with him over the last 20 years or so, I remember that he loved to haggle - he was a good businessman. The very definition of an entrepreneur.


I patronized the local game stores he owned (and still do, under their different ownerships) before he sold them a couple of years back. I can't say I knew him well beyond some regular customer-clerk small talk, but he was certainly a prominent presence in the game scene here, and will be missed by many in the community he fostered for many years.


Condolences to his family and friends. He is a giant in the industry, even if his name is not a household one among the gamers.


Too soon

I talked IT shop with James throughout the years and purchased physical products and a lot of PDFs through his platform.

Gone far too soon.

Condolences to his family and everyone who knew him.


Truly shocking this news. James Mathe was active on his online pages just days before this sudden news and the loss of this pioneer of the digital online RPG shop.

Chuck Whelon

First Post
I worked with James a lot around the time he founded Minion Games. This was after the RPG-Now/Drive-Thru Merger. James also had two brick-and-mortar Game Universe stores in Wisconsin. James had seen my Pewfell webcomics up on DriveThruComics, and he wanted to use some of the art for a comp of a game he was working on called "Those Pesky Humans". I ended up illustrating the whole project, and it's still one of the things I am most proud of in my career. As it happened I had already been working on a board game of my own, which I talked James into publishing as “Legitimacy: The Game of Royal Bastards”.

James was an excellent businessman. He understood that rather than just making one game, he needed to create and sustain a product pipeline. So aside from Pesky & Legitimacy, James also published two card games that had been doing well on OneBookshelf: ”Nile” and “Sturgeon”. Once those were printed, James immediately set to work on another batch of games from other designers, giving sustained work to myself and other illustrators.

I travelled with James to Essen Spiel that year, and helped him man a Minion Games booth at the show. We shared a room, and I got to know him quite well. He was a dedicated family man, husband and father. Not long after that, “Manhattan Project” hit big for Minion and we moved in different directions, but stayed in touch over the years.

Those first games Minion put out were pre-Kickstarter, but James soon discovered the platform, and became a leading pioneer of Kickstarting boardgames. He wrote articles and started blogs on the subject and mentored many aspiring board game creators through the board game Developer/Publisher “speed dating” events that he created and ran. He really did a lot for a lot of people. I was lucky to know him, and it was great to do business with him. I will miss you buddy.


Although I didn't know of him, his work in the channel of RPG games puts him high in my mind in this industry. He died at a young age. My condolences to his family. I hope he has found a good group to game with...

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