The Plight of Owen KC Stephens and the Quest to Help Him

A pillar of the tabletop RPG industry has run afoul of some very difficult obstacles, and his colleagues are helping him get on top of the medical bills from it with several projects to defray the cost of care.

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Owen has journaled his experiences thus far on his website (Owen K.C. Stephens; note that he is vigorously forthright so there are squicky parts) but to summarize: after a pulmonary embolism brought him into the hospital, more tests and diagnostics revealed he has stage 2 cancer. This initial week of hospital time ranked up a bill of $7,000 (because America is GREAT about health care) and there are several efforts being made to help Owen avoid crippling debt in addition to his medical woes.

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Not sure who Owen is? For decades now he's had his hands in awesome books from all over the TTRPG industry from Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition and onward) to Star Wars (the d20 version), Pathfinder, Starfinder, and so many more. Shucks he's even got a Wikipedia page: Owen K.C. Stephens - Wikipedia.

Owen KC Stephens Medical Bundle #1: http://bit.ly/3KNMw8f (100+ PDFs)​

5th Edition, 13th Age, Dusk City Outlaws, Eclipse Phase 1st ed, Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder 1st ed, Pathfinder 2nd ed, Savage Worlds, Starfinder, and system agnostic products

Owen KC Stephens Medical Bundle #2: http://bit.ly/3Uu6JTV (80+ PDFs)​

ACE – The Awfully Cheerful Engine, Eclipse Phase, ICONS, Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder 1st ed, Pathfinder 2nd ed, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Shotguns & Sorcery: The Roleplaying Game, Spectaculars Core Game, and Starfinder

Each bundle is $34.95 (a 95% discount).​


These bundles are available until May 15th. This is a great opportunity to do something good for somebody twice over—if you've already got a lot of what's in these bundles, consider buying one as a gift for a friend so yinz can enjoy them together!

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Other Ways to Help Owen That Do Not Involve A Bank Vault Amount of RPGs​

Patreon: Owen also has a (great) Patreon. If you are a tabletop game designer seriously look it over, half of it is wise-industry-old-timer content pointing at you.

Directly: For those inclined to make a direct contribution without getting a 90s hard drive worth of RPGs, he has a Ko-Fi too.

Like A Boss: Owen has influenced a ton of RPG designers and many of them are contributing to a charity book spearheaded by Samurai Sheepdog Games specifically to help him in this current plight. If you are a TTRPG designer, cartographer, or artist and would like to collaborate, check out the press release and contact Hal Greenberg.


Thank you for reading this article, consider getting a bundle (or both!), and please let people know these are available.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


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So sadly true. My mom had great insurance and still ended up with tens of thousands in bills because of a single ambulance ride. Apparently you have to pay the EMTs their full year's salary each time, plus the expensive ambulance jet fuel or whatever they run on.
Yeah there are some really unfortunate and weird rules which allow ambulance services to charge what they want with minimal regulation, and often with limited coverage under any insurance you may hold. If you have no insurance, get ready for another heart attack when the bill comes in....and gods forbid you should be rural or have an accident in the middle of nowhere that requires an ambulance copter.

Sad news about Owen, I'll be donating as soon as I have some spare cash.
 

That sucks. Still remember one time my dad drove me to the emergency room with my hand holding part of my skull in place because "do you have any idea how expensive an ambulance is." Always thought it was cruel but yeahhhh looking back that was gruesomely practical of him.

It's all the middlemen (starting with the companies that make medical equipment or goods like pharmaceuticals). There are a lot of people eager to make a profit on the way between a doctor, tools for care, locations for care, and the patient.
Don't forget the liability insurance the ambulance company likely carries....they probably get sued a lot. Of all those pieces, the lowest paid component is actually the actual EMTs, who are usually underfunded and underpaid.
 

rknop

Adventurer
That sucks. Still remember one time my dad drove me to the emergency room with my hand holding part of my skull in place because "do you have any idea how expensive an ambulance is." Always thought it was cruel but yeahhhh looking back that was gruesomely practical of him.
Yeah, back in the mid 90's I was hit by a car while riding my unicycle (I'm not making this up), and broke my wrist. An ambulance showed up after somebody in a nearby house called 911 to drive me across Pasadena to the hospital. A month later when I got the bill, I was thinking I would have walked if I'd known. I mean, it was my wrist that was broken.

(I was lucky that the student health care services I was with covered most of that cost, but, damn.)
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
Don't forget the liability insurance the ambulance company likely carries....they probably get sued a lot. Of all those pieces, the lowest paid component is actually the actual EMTs, who are usually underfunded and underpaid.
Yooooooooo I knew an EMT guy and if people knew the hours those people are leveraged into working everyone would reject emergency care altogether.
 

Massive props for covering Owen's plight and his accolades. He was also one of the few that came up to TSR through his Dragon magazine articles. He is a good soul he's made good stuff that most readers here have played at one point or another.

At the very least, check out his classic true story of the "Rebel Lieutenant" during a public Star Wars d20 playtest and consider it enough entertainment worth a Ko-Fi donation.

I’ll never tire of hearing that Star Wars story. Both the story itself and the way Owen tells it is just awesome.

Owen himself also seems like a great person and I hope that he’s able to get through all of this.
 

Best of luck for him in his recovery.

Health insurance in America is complicated and the whole freelance contractor aspect of RPG writers makes it even more complicated.

One of the biggest risk of following your dream is your dream doesn't have health insurance.
Everything I’ve heard or read about health care and health insurance in America makes me grateful that I live in Australia where a basic level of health care and hospital services are either free or affordable for all.

The health care system in America just feels like capitalism taken too far.
 

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