Allen Varney, writer and game designer
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This page last updated: October 19, 2004

I've published almost two million words as a freelance adventure-gaming designer (1986-present). I'm not precisely proud of that, but here's a sampling anyway.


A roleplaying game played through Weblog (blog) entries.

"Anopheles" (aka "Horror World")

A 1990 adventure for the Champions superhero roleplaying game, published in the alternate-worlds supplement Champions in 3-D under the lame title "Horror World." The superheroes visit a modern-day parallel world where Lovecraftian Cthulhoid monsters took over decades ago. Graphic horror in a superheroic mode.

Earthdawn Legends by Allen Varney and Don Webb

A large 1994 adventure collection for FASA's Earthdawn roleplaying game, offering many legends of the name-giver races of Barsaive with accompanying adventure ideas.

The Earthdawn line editor commissioned this supplement from me and my good friend Don Webb, another Austin writer. After reading the first draft, he changed his mind about what he wanted and ordered a stem-to-stern revision, quite the most extensive I've ever endured. From our second draft he took a few small sections, threw them into another product (Legends of Earthdawn Vol. 1), and tossed the rest, incidentally refusing payment for the work he didn't use. Life in the gaming business.

Click on the link above for a menu of chapters. Those with fast connections can suck down the entire 146K Legends document.

"Desire Box"

A comedic one-session Earthdawn adventure set in Haven, outside the ruins of Parlainth. Published in the 1995 Earthdawn scenario collection Parlainth Adventures; posted here by kind permission of the now-defunct FASA Corporation. (47K)

"Shaolin Heartbreak"

A rapid-fire Hong Kong action adventure for Robin Laws's Feng Shui roleplaying game. This modern-day scenario, published in the 1996 supplement Marked for Death, concerns a Cambodian sorcerer, an 18th-Century Chinese warrior woman (or is she a Hong Kong movie star?), and the lovestruck monk who crosses time to save her. It ends in a typhoon!

More Roleplaying Material

  • "Adventure of the Knight Sinister": A 1995 Pyramid mini-adventure for Chaosium's superb Pendragon Arthurian RPG
  • Chronicles of the Mystic Masters: Voluminous 23-installment summary of my unfinished 1989 Champions superhero-magician playtest campaign for Hero Games/Iron Crown's Mystic Masters supplement
  • "Cook's Tour": A brief unpublished adventure (actually a sort of campaign running gag) for the AD&D AL-QADIM Arabian Adventures setting
  • Two Nephandi and a Marauder created for White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension second edition, but left on the cutting-room floor
  • Varuna Ltd.: An organization for Champions and other superhero RPGs. This agency investigates super-villains, but carries a super-villainous secret

Gaming Articles, alphabetized by title/subject

  • "Characters Into Cards": Adapting RPGs as CCGs (Gamer, 1996)
  • Cosmic Encounter: A 1992 review of my favorite game. One of the original Cosmic Encounter designers, Peter Olotka, has joined with his son Adam to launch a fine online version of CE that I recommend highly.
  • "Five Golden Rings": The Legend of the Five Rings trading card game (Gamer, 1997)
  • "Greyhawk Reborn": On TSR's 1998 Greyhawk revival (Gamer, 1998)
  • "Gamer's Library": The classic card, board, and roleplaying games that belong on every new gamer's shelf (1998, unpublished)
  • Licensing card games (Gamer, 1997)
  • "Mana in the Real World": The fascinating origin of Magic's term "mana" (1995, unpublished)
  • "Spooking Them": I wrote this article on creating horror in roleplaying games for issue #31 (November 1997) of the gaming magazine InQuest. I sold all rights to the article, so I can't post it here -- but what the hey, I'll link to this guy who has pirated it on his own Web site. From the main page, click on "RPG Stuff," then "Campaigning," and finally "Creative Campaigning: Spooking Them."
  • Shadowrun card game: A preview with a short introduction to the SR background (Gamer, 1997)
  • "Words of Magic": Origins of the names of many early Magic: The Gathering cards (1997, unpublished)

Essays and Humor

"Roleplaying Reviews" columns from Dragon magazine

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