Women in Tabletop Gaming Month: Lynne Hardy, assistant editor for Call of Cthulhu
Serious ones first:
1. What is your background?
I originally trained as a biomedical research scientist. My B.Sc was in Biochemistry, and I followed that up with a Ph.D in Human Molecular Genetics (both at Newcastle University). After a few years as a researcher, including a stint in Toronto, I became a college lecturer, as well as giving talks on and teaching various embroidery techniques all over the Northeast of England. Finally, about six years ago now, I became a full-time freelance games writer, designer, and editor (having done freelance work part-time since my Ph.D days).
2. How long have you been gaming? What attracted you to it in the first place, and how were you introduced to it?
I’d been aware of gaming’s existence since ET: The Extra-Terrestrial and the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, and the idea of collaborative story-telling intrigued me. But, I didn’t know of any gaming groups at my school. (It later turned out that the lads I’d done all my A-level subjects with had a group, but hadn’t asked me to join because they didn’t know if it was my “thing” or not.) I actually began gaming thanks to wearing an American football shirt to the Fresher’s Party at my hall of residence. Some members of the University team spotted it and we got talking; turned out, they were also gamers and they did invite me to join them. As all bar one of them was a GM—and they got me into that almost from the word “Go!”—I got to play a huge variety of games, including RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Rolemaster, Spacemaster, Shadowrun, AD&D—even MERP, once!
3. How did you get into the gaming industry?
I loved running Talislanta, and when Wizards of the Coast took it over, I sent them some sample scenarios. They rang me, invited me to Euro Gen Con down at Camber Sands, and the rest, as they say, is history! (Not that I ever had anything published by them directly, but I did for Nightfall Games.)
4. What was the first gaming product you worked on, and in what capacity?
If we’re not including the couple of Gloranthan freeform write-ups I did that ended up in various collections, then that would be the scenario ideas I contributed under my maiden name to Tales of Terror for The Unspeakable Oath.
5. What was the last gaming product you worked on, and in what capacity?
I’m working on multiple projects at the moment—some writing (including Children of Fear for Call of Cthulhu), some editing (for Chaosium and Green Ronin’s Blue Rose). There are a couple of other projects that are complete but haven’t been announced yet (or are teetering on the edge), so I’d best not say anything about them!
6. What has been the most challenging gaming product you’ve worked on, and why? (Alternatively, this could be the gaming product you’ve learned the most from working on)
That would have to be the Achtung! Cthulhu Kickstarter project for Modiphius. That was a lot of books to shepherd into the world for someone who, up until that point, had only worked as a writer and done a few little bits of editing. (And who was, originally, hired to be the researcher for someone else). My Dad also died suddenly and unexpectedly just as the files for the first two books came in for editing, so having to deal with sorting out his estate at the same time made it something of a fraught experience all round. Thankfully, I had my core team of Michal Cross, Dave Blewer, and Dim Martin there to support me so, in the end, it was a very rewarding project, but it wasn’t always easy at the time.
7. What has been the most enjoyable/rewarding gaming product you’ve worked on, and why?
Gosh, there have been a few. As both a playtester and a writer, I had immense fun working on Dying Earth (Pelgrane Press)—the setting a style of play just suited our group’s idiom down to the ground. Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks, my steampunk pulp adventure game, has opened so many doors for me professionally, as well as giving me the opportunity to introduce new people to gaming who might not otherwise have got involved. And Scritch Scratch, Chaosium’s Free RPG Day release this year, was also a pleasure to work on—I’ve had a huge amount of fun testing it over the last couple of years at various conventions. It’s also a great honor to have your work chosen for something like that.
And now for some more frivolous ones:
8. Just how large is your dice and/or stationary collection?
Horrifically so. There are bags and boxes of dice all over the house, in every size, shape, and color. And as for fountain pens and notebooks…
9. What is your favourite gaming snack?
We used to eat a lot of Marks and Spencer’s Percy Pigs when gaming, but they changed them and they’re not as nice now. So Haribo—preferably Tangfastics—or Pringles (especially the nacho ones), depending on whether or not I’m in a sweet or salty mood.
10. What’s the most unusual/exotic location you’ve gamed in? Or that one of your games has been played in?
We did a live Vampire game at Camber Sands many years ago between a children’s playground and the holiday camp’s laundrette—hardly exotic, but very atmospheric. (And cold, which is what you get for running a gaming convention on the southeast coast of England in November.) The most definitely exotic though has to be Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks, which a lovely group informed me they’d played over the internet with their friend while he was backpacking in Kathmandu!