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Remembering Lynn Willis, ten years after his passing

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 18th Jan 2023

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Lynn Willis, Chaosium's third employee and a vitally important member of the team for much of the company's first four decades.

Lynn began in gaming as a board game designer, and entered Chaosium in 1978 with the board game Lords of the Middle Sea. He went on to become one of the longest-serving members of the Chaosium team, co-authoring or contributing to such revered titles as Basic Roleplaying, the second and third editions of RuneQuest, the original Masks of Nyarlathotep (with Larry DiTillio), Worlds of Wonder, Ringworld, Elric, and the fifth and sixth editions of Call of Cthulhu.

With Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen, Lynn also co-wrote the Ghostbusters RPG for West End Games, pioneering the d6 dice pool mechanic seen today in such games as Star Wars.

Lynn was editor-in-chief for the whole company when he retired due to ill health in 2008. He passed away on the 18th of January 2013. In the tribute posted at the time of his passing, Greg Stafford and Charlie Krank said, "He loved his work and brought all his abilities to the job. He was incredibly smart, astonishingly widely read, detail oriented, and capable. He is largely responsible for the high quality, playability, and popularity of the leading horror RPG in our field."

Lynn Willis's creative legacy lives on in the many well-known games he contributed to, and with the forthcoming Lords of the Middle Sea - The RPG which is inspired by his board war game. In the roleplaying game the player characters take on the roles of explorers, traders, adventurers, or others seeking to survive and thrive in an Earth barely recovering from world-wide collapse, nuclear war, and environmental catastrophe. 

"As a sort of futuristic proto-Steampunk – before Steampunk proper existed as a genre – Lords of the Middle Sea was Chaosium's second original IP, after Greg Stafford's Glorantha. It's a pleasure to be bringing Lynn Willis's original creation back for a new gaming audience", said Chaosium president Rick Meints.

ART
top: Lynne Willis as depicted in Chaosium's CCG Mythos, by Roger Raupp.
bottom: cover art for Lords of the Middle Sea: The Roleplaying Game, by Ossi Hiekkala.