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Early D&D designer and co-author of Deities & Demigods James M. Ward has passed away

Ward sat at Gary Gygax’s Greyhawk table and created sci-fi and fantasy tabletop RPGs at TSR for 20 years.

Photo of tabletop designer James M. Ward
Image credit: James M. Ward/Gofundme

James M. Ward, a tabletop designer at TSR during its earliest years who created Metamorphosis Alpha and co-authored Deities & Demigods, has reportedly died at 72.

Ward played early versions of what would eventually become Dungeons & Dragons at co-creator Gary Gygax’s table, making him one of the first people to playtest and shape the nascent RPG phenomenon. He would later be immortalised in the Forgotten Realms and other settings as the wizard Drawmij.

Ward later worked at TSR for 20 years, until the mid-90s, and during that time co-authored Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes and later Deities & Demigods for the first edition and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, respectively. He also designed Metamorphosis Alpha, one of the earliest science fiction RPGs, and Greyhawk Adventures before leaving the company in 1996.

Comparing the different editions of Dungeons & DragonsWatch on YouTube

nducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame in 1989, Ward is best remembered in the industry for his work shaping Dungeons & Dragons during its first spike of popularity while also expanding TSR’s genre horizons with titles such as the post-apocalyptic Gamma World, which is co-created with Gary jaquet.

Ward’s post-TSR era saw him design the Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game with Score Entertainment before aiding in the creations of the Tomb Raider, Wheel of Time and Babylon 5 CCGs during the same era. He then co-founded d20 RPG company Fast Forward Entertainment with Timothy Brown, Lester Smith, John Danovich, and Sean Everett. He authored the Sete-Ka's Dream Quest adventure gamebook in 2006, which was published by Margaret Weis Productions.

Ward joined Troll Lord Games as a writer and editor in the late 2000s, helping to publish supplements before helming the studio’s Castles & Crusades magazine, The Crusader Journal. Ward later bookended his career in D&D by writing for Gygax Magazine beginning in 2013 and creating a final adventure for Metamorphosis Alpha, They All Died at the International Space Station. He co-authored GiantLands, the first and only RPG product from the troubled TSR offshoot, Wonderfilled.

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Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.