Scott Bennie, a veteran roleplaying designer with credits across tabletop titles including Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Champions and more, has passed away.
Bennie started his tabletop career in 1981 with the publication of a bounty hunter NPC for Dungeons & Dragons in the game’s official monthly magazine Dragon. He would go on to create a number of monsters and adventures for Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, freelancing for publisher TSR through the 1980s and early 1990s.
Bennie was also known for his work on Hero Games’ superhero RPG Champions, also first published in 1981. He authored a number of adventures and sourcebooks for the game, including the long-running Gestalt campaign set in the Gestalt-Earth setting. A number of decades later, Bennie’s character Thundrax became a familiar face among the community in Champions’ MMO PC game, Champions Online.
Writing eulogies is one of those undesirable tasks that I nonetheless must do because the people who have left an indelible mark upon us and our community must be remembered well for their contributions.— Jesse Heinig (@JesseHeinig) March 30, 2022
Robert "Scott" Bennie was the second writer I met in the game industry.
In the nineties, Bennie shifted into the world of video games, working on a number of PC titles as producer and designer at Interplay Productions throughout the decade. Among his many credits are multiple adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek, as well as work on the original Fallout - including coming up with the name of the post-apocalyptic RPG’s fan-favourite canine companion Dogmeat.
“The Star Trek series was where I thought I clicked as a designer,” Bennie said of his career highlights in a 2017 interview with Steemit. (Thanks, PC Gamer.) “LOTR was huge as my first work, and Castles was a huge seller, but Star Trek: The 25th Anniversary was the first work I was truly happy with. And beyond that, there was Starfleet Command and Fallout; two classic titles I was proud to be associated with.”
Bennie returned to freelance work on tabletop RPGs in the early 2000s, including contributions to several supplements for the World of Warcraft RPG and 2002’s The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game, for which Bennie co-wrote the Two Towers sourcebook. His last credits as a writer were in 2008, as Bennie returned to a career in education following his attempts to find a teaching job in the late 1980s.
Bennie reportedly passed away from complications from pneumonia. He was 61.
Following the news, a number of tabletop and video game developers paid tribute to Bennie’s work, including former Interplay colleagues, game designers and members of the Champions community:
My friend and former coworker, the game designer Scott Bennie, has died from complications from pneumonia. His Champions work was groundbreaking. I hope he knew the esteem in which people held him.— Colin McComb (@ColinMcComb) March 29, 2022
I’m sad to hear of the passing of my old friend Scott Bennie, who I met through the wonderful, tight-knit community of Hero Games designers back in the early 1990s. He was a sharp man, full of neat ideas, and bumping into him at a convention was always a highlight of that week.— Matt Forbeck (@mforbeck) March 29, 2022
I was saddened to hear that Scott Bennie died today. He was a brilliant writer who worked with us at Interplay on some true classics like Star Trek: Judgment Rites and Starfleet Academy. RIP.https://t.co/fkCSVYDdFI— Brian Fargo (@BrianFargo) March 30, 2022
The entire Champions and Cryptic family is saddened to hear about the passing of Scott Bennie, aka Thundrax, a long time designer for the pen and paper Champions game and a avid player of CO. Rest in peace, Scott, we'll miss you terribly. pic.twitter.com/wACrE3k3qI— Champions Online (@ChampionsFFA) March 29, 2022