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Vale Darren Watts (1969-2022)

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 2nd Jan 2023

Darren Watts

The team at Chaosium is saddened by news of the passing of our hobby game industry friend and colleague Darren Watts. 

Darren’s most visible fame in tabletop publishing came from his work on the Champions superhero role-playing game. Along with Steven Long and other investors, he founded DOJ (“Defenders of Justice”) in 2001 to purchase the rights to Champions and the rest of the Hero System game line. Darren served as president of the revitalized Hero Games for a decade. In that time, the company released many popular and critically acclaimed titles, including books Darren designed or co-designed such as Galactic Champions, Millennium City, and Lucha Libre Hero. Since leaving Hero in 2011, Darren designed or wrote for the Star Trek and Doctor Who RPGs, as well as Darren Watts’s Golden Age Champions in 2017; We Rate Dogs: The Card Game, published by Chronicle Books in 2019; and two recent Ghost Show Press film essay collections, Transgressive Horror and Subversive Sci-Fi

Darren also worked behind the scenes for many publishers, including Chaosium, where he provided recent editorial support on our 7th Sea novels and the latest edition of Phyllis Ann Karr’s The Arthurian Companion

Darren’s most lasting impact on the tabletop community may come from the hours and effort he devoted to supporting smaller publishers and independent creators, helping them craft better games and find their audience through his work with Indie Press Revolution, local gaming conventions, the Metatopia Game Design Festival, and the First Exposure Playtest Hall at Gen Con. Darren was known in industry circles as a community builder with a strong desire to improve the quality of the games we all publish and play, but also the social conditions that underpin their creation. He always made time to listen to both industry newcomers and old friends, and to offer encouragement, advice where requested, or a witty remark certain to recenter a grim discussion on to more hopeful, or at least more amusing, possibilities. 

Our condolences go out to Darren’s wife Diane and their families, and to his friends and fans around the world. The hobby and the world are diminished by his passing. 

James Lowder
1 January 2023