Meguey Baker, co-designer of seminal tabletop RPG Apocalypse World and museum curator, announced late last month that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be undergoing surgery. In response, fans of her work have donated nearly $30,000 alongside volunteering concerted meal preparation.
The news of Baker’s diagnosis broke on August 20th after a charity fundraiser hosted on Meal Train appeared, asking for material support to help Baker, her husband Vincent and their three children in the lead up to, and aftermath of, her breast cancer surgery. Baker was reportedly diagnosed on July 17th when technicians discovered an operable tumor that apparently needed to go quickly - her surgery date was scheduled for August 30th. According to an update from Baker herself on August 30, the procedure was successful, and she is now home safe.
Baker is probably best known for designing and releasing Apocalypse World with her husband Vincent, the 2nd edition of which would establish a massive influence within small press and individual tabletop RPG design that continues to this day. To call a tabletop title “Powered by the Apocalypse” is to tie that work to a long and unbroken train of principles, style and approach first established with Baker’s book about adventuring in a weird, dangerous and passionate wasteland.
The Bakers’ work in the years since becoming something of a household name amongst hobbyist has been just as important: A Thousand and One Nights recontextualizes the famous collection of Arabic fables, Mobile Frame Zero: Firebrands centres mecha pilots in desperate stories of romance, and most recently Under Hollow Hills explores the multifaceted connections and shared folklore that rise out of a travelling circus.
The Meal Train campaign is still accepting donations and will remain active for the time being - recovering from major surgery has left Baker unable to continue her regular work, and the state of health care in the US means even robust coverage may not cover a family or individual from precarity following surgery - especially considering the pervasive and unpredictable nature of cancer.
An update from Baker published September 2nd sums up her current position: “From the beginning of this, all the way back in late July, the most dominant emotion I have felt is gratitude. Grateful for the medical technology and technicians who found the tumor. Grateful for Vincent's steadfast love and support. Grateful for our children and our home. Grateful for all of you who will receive these words. Grateful for the surgeons and all the attendant medical team who are saving my life,” she wrote. “That I get to "do nothing" for a while, and just focus on the quality of the light, the amazing community around me, and how infused with gratitude I am? That feels like something.”
More information about Meal Ticket and the Baker’s campaign can be found here.