Steve Perrin 1946-2021

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Steve and Luise Perrin in Society for Creative Anachronism regalia, 1986

A lot of gaming legends have died in recent years, and I’m sure more will leave us soon – the hobby is getting old, as are its founders. Steve’s death hits hardest, though, as his rules have had the greatest impact on my gaming life by far. In 1983, long before I rediscovered my love for Classic D&D games in the 21st century, a young teenage me discovered RuneQuest 2 by “Steve Perrin & Friends (the Games Workshop edition). Here was a game which answered all my demands for a cleaner, more realistic RPG. Though the baked-in world of Glorantha was soon abandoned, over the years I have run and played in innumerable settings using Steve’s rules with a minimum of painful conversion. I recently attempted to list them all: Blade Runner, Time Tunnel, Mythago Wood (R. Holdstock) leading to 4th Age Middle Earth, post-Civil War Wild West, Karl May Wild West, A Plague of Demons (K. Laumer) featuring cyborg Eddie the Head, the Spinward Marches, a near-future STL solar system setting with the Cold War going strong, the World of Greyhawk, the B/X Known World (pre-Mystara), Fantasy Domitian Rome, the 30 Years War, WWII (German special forces undercover in England), between-the-wars Biggles, Call of Cthulhu (with full-on RQ rules), a fantasy Mythos campaign (which we had to stop because it creeped us out), Blake’s 7 … I think that’s it, mostly, but I’m sure there are many I’m missing.

Finding out about the Perrin Conventions made me understand there was more to Steve than his Chaosium work, but it was only recently, after reading the early issues of Alarums & Excursions (now available in PDF from Lee Gold) that I realised how active and influential he was in the early days of the hobby. He really was one of the greats, though he stayed out of the limelight.

WoW has become my favourite set of rules.

I communicated with him by email after discovering his SPQR project. For years I pestered him to get on with it, but he never did. However, our “talks” were always interesting and informative. He had a lot to say on the topic of RPG writing, both in terms of writing the rules as well as writing the rules. He was very clear that you needed both a good set of rules, and a clear rulebook to present them to its users. And he was a nice guy, straightforward yet polite, with no hangups or hidden agendas. It was a pleasure to deal with him.

I will miss him.