One of the first "Shared Universes"

Click to enlarge.

Thieves’ World is one of my proudest achievements. It was the first multi-game product, pleased everyone involved, and is a pretty nice product.

I had met Robert Asprin a couple years earlier at a game or science fiction convention. He told me how his Thieves’ World project had come about because he had played roleplaying games. One day he and a bunch of writers were complaining how difficult it is to make up a new fantasy setting every time they wanted to write a story, and he drew on his roleplaying experience and suggested that everyone collaborate in a setting, with him as the coordinator (Gamemaster) and everyone could contribute. They made some ground rules, (i.e.- no killing each others main characters, etc.) and wrote the first book.

Well, after reading it I thought, “Hey, let’s turn it back into a game then!” I worked with Bob and Lynn Abbey, who were married in those days, and got the license. 

I wanted to keep the whole spirit of cooperation that had inspired the setting and book. Also, I was thinking of the industry and its future. I felt the industry would go on and on, and of course it would change, and I had this sense of history and wanted to record it somehow. 

I knew this could be a fun game product, but also a fantastic example of the “early days” of roleplaying games if I did it right. I wanted it to have all the major systems extant at the time, so later folks could compare them and write a master’s thesis or something, after RPGs took over the world entertainment. 

The industry was small in those days. I knew pretty much everyone involved, and set out to get licenses from all the publishers. I even got ahold of almost all the original authors of the products to contribute. Heck, I even managed to get D&D and AD&D into it, pretty much a miracle in those days.

But it was hard. It cost me. I nearly had a breakdown with all the hassles. Seven companies, nine games, nine game authors, five fiction writers, a bunch of artists, and about 300 egos. 

Thieves’ World was supported by several supplements done by FASA.


  • Best Role-Playing Adventure
  • H.G. Wells Award
  • Strategists Club Award
  • Game Designers’ Guild Select Award