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Fun Facts

2000 Fun Fact: Before my start date, I asked my manager (Rich Baker) what I'd be working on. There were tentative plans to do a book on the Zhentarim. So I did research... and discovered a ton of M/M fanfic on the internet: "Zhentarim Boys." Didn't read, so can't recommend.


2000 Fun Fact: My actual first project was Monsters of Faerûn with Rob Heinsoo, who started about 2 weeks after me. The draegloth in that book was inspired by the scene in R. A. Salvatore’s Homeland where priestesses of Lolth summon a glabrezu.


2000 Fun Fact: I started working on Monsters of Faerûn while the 3e MM was still being finished up. So I learned at the feet of Monster Master Skip Williams, and chimed in a lot on last-minute MM tweaks.


2000 Fun Fact: My first campaign with people at work was Dave Noonan’s Sumberton campaign. My character, Fik, was a city kid who grew up with the wrong crowd but kept a heart of gold. After 3 levels of rogue, he multiclassed into paladin.


2000 Fun Fact: I playtested Into the Dragon's Lair with Cholgard the Bardarian, a bard 5/barbarian 5. The phrase "because I can" comes to mind . . .


2000 Fun Fact: After Gen Con, I carried six 3e Player's Handbooks home to Ithaca and introduced my old gaming friends to the brand-new D&D.


2000 Fun Fact: At Gen Con, I was unveiled as a member of the story team for the Legend of the Five Rings TCG. I never actually worked on the TCG; I wrote Oriental Adventures instead. Rob Heinsoo ended up doing all the TCG work.



2001 Fun Fact: A couple of years ago I did a quick-and-dirty 5e conversion for Speaker in Dreams.


2001 Fun Fact: The Knight of the Chalice prestige class in Defenders of the Faith was inspired by my “Night” campaign setting, a world where demons took over. (See


2001 Fun Fact: The tiefling on the cover of Defenders of the Faith is Daros Hellseeker, who appeared in The Speaker in Dreams.


2001 Fun Fact: Oriental Adventures is dedicated to my father, a professor of Thai history; Knight Biggerstaff, a retired professor who taught a course on Chinese history at my high school; and Paula Richman, who taught my college courses on Hindu & Buddhist religion at Oberlin.


2001 Fun Fact: Using Rokugan as the default setting for Oriental Adventures was a brand-based decision that ultimately satisfied no one (?), but I did as much as possible to include material from outside that setting, including nods to Kara-Tur.


2001 Fun Fact: For my own OA campaign, I set my adventures in the yuan-ti-infested ruins of Angkor Wat in a setting I called Mahasarpa.


2001 Fun Fact: This was my primary resource for my Mahasarpa campaign. Lots of adaptable maps!

Ancient Angkor by Michael Freeman


2001 Fun Fact: I am often proudest of the weird little things I slip into D&D books, like this paragraph in Oriental Adventures.


2001 Fun Facts: By the time I started at Wizards, I had been out of ministry for 4 years, but everybody knew I had been a small-town local pastor before I started working on D&D. So there were a lot of jokes about typecasting when I worked on books like Defenders of the Faith.


2001 Fun Fact: Since I was “FR Monster Boy” after working on Monsters of Faerûn, I also wrote the monsters section of the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.


2001 Fun Facts: I was involved in a few phone conversations with Troy Denning, who wrote the Return of the Archwizards trilogy, as we worked on the 3e FRCS. I SUPER enjoyed working with him in person a dozen or so years later, on The Sundering.


2001 Fun Fact: I played Sanaril, a LN cleric of Wee Jas, in Ed Stark’s Forghul campaign. We went to high level in that game... maybe 18th?


2001 Fun Fact: Oriental Adventures was the first time I worked with art director Dawn Murin, whom I STILL work with on a regular basis. She was my partner in crime for all the MTG art books, too.


2001 Fun Fact: Part of OA that comes from neither Rokugan nor Kara-Tur is the vanara race, my nod to Hanuman and in particular his portrayal in Thai art.

2001 Fun Fact: One of the last things I did before sending the manuscript for OA to the editor was to search for “marital arts.” I have seen published classes proficient in “marital weapons” (not in WotC products).


2001 Fun Fact: Being as focused on monsters as I was in those first years, I identified pretty hard with the Shadowlands rather than any of the Rokugan clans. The Shadowlands banner hanging at my desk later gave L5R fans like Kelly Digges, Alli Medwin, and Tom LaPille pause.


2001 Fun Fact: I put the tasloi in OA in homage to Dwellers of the Forbidden City, my favorite classic adventure.


2001 Fun Fact: I expanded the Shadowlands Taint system from OA in 2005’s Heroes of Horror. Matthew Mercer adapted those rules on the DM’s Guild.



2002 Fun Fact: Early playtests of City of the Spider Queen led to characters wheeling barrows full of +1 rapiers out of the dungeons and back to town. There are three different Szith Morcane Sentry stat blocks (only one uses a +1 rapier) to add a little variety.


2002 Fun Fact: City of the Spider Queen includes stat blocks for 18 named drow NPCs and 19 generic drow, not counting all the drow ghosts, vampires, revenants, keening spirits, half-dragons, wererats, and silveraiths.


2002 Fun Fact: Here's the distribution of drow NPC stat blocks (named and generic) in City of the Spider Queen, by challenge rating.

2002 Fun Fact: The 5e Monster Manual and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes include 10 different stat blocks for drow. But add in the various NPCs—especially higher-level spellcasters in Volo's Guide—and you can cover a LOT of the drow in CotSQ.


2002 Fun Fact: Deities & Demigods is another place where I worked some of my own idiosyncrasies into the book, especially in the chapter on Other Religions. The monotheistic faith of Taiia and the dualistic religion of the Light come from my campaign world of Aquela.


2002 Fun Fact: Dennari is a dwarf earth-mother goddess; in my Roman-empire campaign she was the god of the oppressed Egyptian dwarves, but popular among provincial humans as well. Liberation theology + historical mystery cult ideas + fantasy dwarves!


2002 Fun Fact: Deities & Demigods continues the "typecasting?" theme from 2001, but it seriously did put my college religion degree to good use. Humanities education FTW.


2002 Fun Facts: Seriously, the 1st edition Deities & Demigods was a big part of the reason I am who I am. It sparked my interest in historical religion (for all its flaws as a historical source), leading to my religion degree . . . and eventually my becoming Christian. So working on the 3rd edition version was awesome . . . even if nobody had any use for god stat blocks.


2002 Fun Facts: Writing City of the Spider Queen meant that I got to be in on the planning of the War of the Spider Queen novel series as well. The idea was for the adventure to be based on the same precipitating event as the novels, but follow a different story line. So while the heroes of the novels (including a draegloth!) venture into the Abyss to uncover the reason for Lolth's silence, the heroes of the adventure have to deal with drow activity in Faerûn that is the result of Lolth's silence.


2002 Fun Fact: Writing the epic-level adventure "The Storm Lord's Keep" for Dungeon 93 had me researching the size of thunderclouds and how long it takes to fall a mile. I was just thinking the other day about converting that adventure to 5e and running it . . .



2003 Fun Fact: While I was working on Fiend Folio, my wife told me about a terrible nightmare she'd had. I wrote her nightmare into a monster in the book, the soul tick.


2003 Fun Fact: My high-school friend David Silbey is a military historian. I had him read over my "Incursion" article in Dragon 309 to make sure that my description of a githyanki alien invasion made any amount of sense. Thanks, David!


2003 Fun Fact: I designed monsters for the Miniatures Handbook, including the kruthik. It was a rare opportunity to start with art and design stats to match, when the vast majority of design happens the other way around.


2003 Fun Fact: I came in late to the Arms & Equipment Guide to fill a shortfall, and I would have had a hard time telling you what I did if I hadn't gone back and dug up my files. The intelligent magic items and major artifacts in the book were mine, as well as a whole boatload of more-or-less random items (thurible of retribution, anyone?). Also tables of weapons by culture and tech level.


2003 Fun Fact: The Book of Exalted Deeds was a pretty weird concept—how to follow Vile Darkness in the "mature line" . . . in a book about extreme good? There are some things in there I'm quite proud of, as well as things I might never live down.


2003 Fun Fact: I'm glad that the idea of a character sworn to poverty or nonviolence exists in D&D canon, even if the mechanics are wack. I'm glad there's a counter-narrative to the murder hobo idea.


2003 Fun Fact: Fiend Folio asked each author to make a "new gith" monster—something that might carve out a new place in D&D cosmology as the gith races did in the 1st edition Fiend Folio. The submissions included the ethergaunt, kaorti, maug, nerra . . . and shadar-kai.


2003 Fun Fact: Goals for the Fiend Folio included supporting Deities & Demigods with monsters from myth, expanding options for the Improved Familiar feat, filling in the upper Hit Die range for demons and devils, expanding options for the planar ally and planar binding spells, including a selection of good monsters from the original Fiend Folio, presenting a variety of creature types, and presenting interesting non-monster entries (like the prestige classes for fiends).


2003 Fun Fact

Quote Tweet

Rainbow Falafel @coyotedancer · Sep 19, 2019

When Fiend Folio popped out in 2003, there were screams of rage over "Senmurv"; it was called a stupid, made-up monster and "furry invasion". I pointed out that it was mythological; people don't recognize a mythological creature even if it bit their butt. 



2003 Fun Fact: I thought maybe I had posted about the senmurv-chihuahua story before, but I can't find it. Ed Stark (Design Manager) called me to his desk and pretended to scold me for not being specific about what kind of dog the senmurv should resemble. So if you think the as-printed senmurv looks ridiculous, you shoulda seen the chihuahua version (which the artist did as a joke).



2004 Fun Fact: The design of the Eberron Campaign Setting is a milestone in my career—an amazing experience of collaborative design, with Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, and I doing most of the actual writing while a whole slew of other people contributed ideas and direction.


2004 Fun Fact: I’ve told this story before, but on day 2 of Keith Baker’s visit to Wizards working on Eberron, I was like, “You look really familiar.” We had played D&D together years before, when my high-school friend was dating his sister.


2004 Fun Fact that is also a 1991 Fun Fact: Here’s my journal entry for the adventure Keith ran. I played Wyredd, a paladin with the berserker kit.


2004 Fun Fact: While we were doing the worldbuilding for Eberron, a vignette took shape in my head that eventually became this scene in In the Claws of the Tiger, where Janik meets the Speaker of the Flame.

2004 Fun Fact: Map drawing is not my strong suit in adventure design. For “The Queen with Burning Eyes” in Dungeon 113, I sold it as a feature that you could make the maps using tiles from the D&D Miniatures game.


2004 Fun Fact: Since the release of the new Eberron setting book, I’ve been thinking about launching a new Eberron campaign using “The Queen with Burning Eyes” as a starting point, same as I did my first Eberron campaign.


2004 Fun Fact: If you call Wizards’ corporate HQ and get put on hold, I believe to this day you will hear music from the CD included in Sharn: City of Towers. (It turns out this is not true.)


2004 Fun Fact: I submitted six proposals to the setting search that resulted in Eberron. One of them is the setting I’m using for my home game now, though it’s changed a lot from its original incarnation.


2004 Fun Fact: I can’t hear the music from the Sharn CD without having flashbacks to Origins 2004, when we had it playing on loop in our booth as I stood there talking to people about Eberron.



2005 Fun Fact: Magic of Incarnum came out in 2005.


2005 Fun Fact: For a couple of years, I'd been saying that we should do something entirely new—not just publish prestige classes and revisit titles from past editions. Finally, I was challenged to propose such a product, and Magic of Incarnum was the (questionable) result.


2005 Fun Fact: My first published fiction was a pair of short stories released on the D&D web site to support Magic of Incarnum and Heroes of Horror…


2005 Fun Fact: I remember working on Heroes of Horror at the courthouse, when I was called for jury duty.


2005 Fun Fact that is really a 2003 Fun Fact: I remember working on Magic of Incarnum when I was in Melbourne for Spring Revel Down Under, rather than, you know, seeing Melbourne.


2005 Fun Fact: Those two short stories, in retrospect, were actually really important to me. I'd been making my living as a writer for years by that time (including tech writing before coming to Wizards), but I don't think I had finished a fictional narrative since high school. Five published novels and nineteen short stories later . . .


2005 Fun Fact: My first published writing for D&D was tied to the Masque of the Red Death setting, and I got to nod to those roots in both d20 Past and Heroes of Horror.


2005 Fun Fact: I started thinking about d20 Past, and then my timeline updated to show me this image preview. True.

2005 Fun Fact: I wrote (and ostensibly taught) a class on D&D for "Barnes & Noble University," a free online learning thing. I was terrible at keeping up with online discussions. Still am. 


2006 Fun Fact: Player's Guide to Eberron seems straightforward but was surprisingly ambitious: I used InDesign to write the manuscript (and work with freelancer turnovers), so we could design the content around the page spreads.


2006 Fun Fact: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft continues the trend of my favorite things being off the beaten path—the stuff I added to Barovia outside the village and the castle is some of my favorites.


2006 Fun Fact: The three fanes in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft were inspired by the idea of walking the faneways in Gregory Keyes's Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series.


2006 Fun Fact (?): I started taking antidepressants in 2006.


2006 Fun Fact: My published output slowed considerably here, because I was working on 4th edition.


2006 Fun Fact: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft almost went to press with an editor's comment in the text. I noticed because I grabbed the PDF to run part of the adventure at a special event, and managed to both remove the comment and address the editor's concern!


2006 Fun Fact: More of the little weirdness I love in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: Suggestions for using it as a d20 Modern adventure!?!?!!



2007 Not-So-Fun Fact: My father died while I was writing Storm Dragon (in 2006). My eldest brother and I were on our way from the airport when he passed. We missed him by maybe an hour.

I was already past my deadline, so I wrote through my grief . . . and wrote my grief.


2007 Fun Fact: Going back through Storm Dragon to find those quotes made me want to read the trilogy again. Maybe there’s something to this whole writer thing . . .


2007 Fun Fact: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave was a really unusual project, in that it put a whole bunch of in-house designers on a single project, forcing us to improve our collaboration skills. ;)


2007 Fun Fact: The character of Rienne in Storm Dragon was inspired 100% by this miniature, Earth Shugenja from the Underdark expansion. She’s a swordsage, using the rules in Book of Nine Swords.

2007 Fun Fact: Gaven d’Lyrandar, the hero of the story (ha I typed storm), is a duskblade, from the 3e Player’s Handbook 2. It’s pretty funny to me how these characters took root in the late-3e milieu and somehow had to continue in two more books released in early 4e days.


2007 Fun Fact: The changeling who appears in both In the Claws of the Tiger and the Draconic Prophecies trilogy is named Aunn. Every name they adopt has an AU in the first name and a double N in the last name.


2007 Fun Fact: I remember getting to chapter 27 and trying to decide what to do with pronouns once Aunn adopted a female identity. Had I been writing the character today, I would not have taken so long to settle on just changing pronouns.


2007 Fun Fact: Lorwyn came out in 2007, which might have been the first time I got Magic cards (preconstructed decks) from the employee store. I didn’t start playing in earnest until Zendikar, though. (More on that on Wednesday.)



2008 Fun Fact: The 4th edition core rulebooks came out in 2008.


2008 Fun Fact: My writing schedule for Dragon Forge was ridiculous. Halfway to my deadline, I was only 1/3 of the way through the book. Then I set a goal of writing 1,000 words a day, and the only week I didn't hit 7,000 words was the week we moved to a new house!


2008 Fun Fact: In Dragon Forge I realized my dark secret: that the changeling Aunn is the real hero of all four of my Eberron books.


2008 Fun Fact: I wrote a Dummies book!??!!?!? (Dungeon Master 4th Edition for Dummies, which was a revision to the 3rd edition version by Bill Slavicsek and Rich Baker)


2008 Fun Fact: Weird career highlight: working with John Rogers, who wrote the Feywild section of the 4th edition Manual of the Planes during the Hollywood writers' strike.


2008 Fun Fact: Writing Pyramid of Shadows, Mike Mearls and I were inspired by adventures like Dwellers of the Forbidden City, with monster factions in the dungeon that might be able to be played off against each other.


2008 Fun Fact: I also wrote an ode to Dwellers of the Forbidden City in the 4e DMG. I used that adventure for my 4e play testing, and ran it for a short-lived 5e campaign in 2016.


2009 Fun Fact: The first chapter of the 4e DMG2 was basically me asking Robin Laws to translate indie-game storytelling sensibilities into D&D. I'm a better DM now because of it!


2009 Fun Fact: The 4e PH2 was probably the ordeal that cemented my friendship with Jeremy Crawford. In some ways, working on that book was a lot like working on Magic creative: taking bare-bones mechanics and wrapping them in a layer of in-world fantasy.


2009 Fun Fact: Dragon War ends with the same words that open Storm Dragon: "a distant rumble of thunder."


2009 Fun Fact: I love the flavor of the invoker class in the PH2. You can see the DNA of the Book of Exalted Deeds (the Words of Creation) in here . . . and in Dragon War, for that matter.


2009 Fun Fact: When Zendikar released in the fall of 2009, enough people on the D&D team started playing that I finally started playing (and collecting!) Magic in earnest. It helped that my daughter was 12 and ready to learn as well. 2010-11 Mirrodin/New Phyrexia lost me, though.



2010 Fun Fact: I loved writing the backgrounds in PH Races: Dragonborn—twenty story snippets that can help root a character in the history and culture of the dragonborn.


2010 Fun Fact: I also loved writing the quests in that book—ways to define your character by where they're going rather than where they've been.


2010 Fun Fact: I have a theory that a lot of the nostalgia people feel about the "red box" is actually about the magenta box with the red book inside—the Basic Set that included B2, Keep on the Borderlands. But I dutifully recreated the actual Red Box for the Essentials starter.


2010 Fun Fact: I'm particularly proud of the implementation of the choose-your-own-adventure character-creation in the 4e Red Box, and I think it would be fun to recreate it for 5e. Decide what class of character to play based on how you react to a narrative situation!


2010 Fun Fact: I'm also proud of the poster map in the Red Box. It's made to be modular—you can rearrange the four quarters of the map into different configurations. I assembled the map from dungeon tiles in my living room.


2010 Fun Fact: I'm pretty proud of "The Gates of Madness" as a piece of fiction. Its chapters were serialized in the back pages of high-profile novels released throughout the year, but also made available as a compiled ebook. (I found the PDF here:…)


2010 Fun Fact: While searching for the file, I found this review: "It's not a great novella, but it's reasonably good enough to properly set the stage and make me feel some genuine impatience for the last book to come out so I can go ahead and read the series." After that glowing praise, how can you not go read it? (Review from…)


2010 Fun Fact: In the 4e Red Box, 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. (You go there if you want to do something that the choose-your-own-adventure can't account for.)



2011 Fun Fact: I love Madness at Gardmore Abbey. My vision was a superadventure like I described in the 4e DMG (in my paean to the Forbidden City)—a living, changing environment you might enter several times on different quests. Steve Townshend and Creighton Broadhurst brought it to life.


2011 Fun Fact: The Deck of Many Things is a key element in Gardmore Abbey—among other things, creating a randomizing element like the card-reading in Ravenloft.


2011 Fun Fact: Oath of Vigilance was a weird experience—writing the middle novel of a trilogy?!!!? But I'm pretty happy with it.


2011 Fun Fact: My favorite part of Oath of Vigilance is the pseudodragon channeling W.S. Gilbert (H.M.S. Pinafore):

2011 Fun Fact: I wrote "Learning to Dream" (the bonus-content short story included in the ebook omnibus of the Draconic Prophecies trilogy) entirely on my iPad, in a plain-text editor, without an external keyboard . . . pretty much to prove that I could. (I was tired of the "it's for consumption not creation" assumption that pervaded many early iPad reviews.)


2011 Fun Fact: "Learning to Dream" begins with Cart (the warforged) tickling the back of his human lover, Ashara. That's something I do for my wife just about every night.


2011 Fun Fact: "Learning to Dream" is basically my "warforged aren't robots!" manifesto. See also this passage in Dragon War.


2011 Less-Fun Fact: 2011 is the first time I started seriously looking at jobs at other companies.


2011 Fun Fact: I appeared on American's Got Talent (as part of the Illumni Men's Chorale) in 2011.…/America-s-Got-Talent-Illumni-Men-s-C……...


2011 Fun Fact: Oath of Vigilance was my last published novel, which means it's been nine years since I had a novel published. I have written two others that might see the light of day . . . someday.



2012 Fun Fact: Most of my work was behind the scenes with novels at this point, but I did a lot of work on the "year of the drow"—the 4e Menzoberranzan book and related adventures for D&D Encounters.


2012 Fun Fact: I probably remember my role on the Menzoberranzan book being bigger than it was, because I did a LOT of work with Kim Mohan in the managing edit phase to put final polish on it.


2012 Fun Fact: I created the structure of the "War of Everlasting Darkness" Encounters season in an effort to mimic a 5e and/or older-edition adventure feel, with shorter, easier encounters letting you get more done in a night of play.



2013 Fun Fact: My top achievement as head of novels was working with six great authors to make The Sundering happen. For all the craziness before and after, I'm proud that those six novels exist.


2013 Fun Fact: Also proud of the poem, "The Prophecy of the Sundering," which I basically wrote to make sense of the titles of the novels. The wacky metrical and grammatical structure of the poem also appeals to me.


2013 Fun Fact: The structure of Legacy of the Crystal Shard is sort of shamelessly narrative? Like, "move on to act two when the PCs have dealt with two of these three threats, and escalate the third one." I really like it conceptually.


2013 Fun Fact: What an ambitious task, publishing edition-independent adventures with the stat blocks/encounter definitions as separate downloads for different editions! In some ways a testimony to what has remained constant in D&D over the years...


2013 Fun Fact: Here's a list that appears in my draft file for the Prophecy of the Sundering—"un-x-ing words."

I don't know why I ended up with "despairing" in the first stanza when the other five all have "un-x-ing" words.


2013 Fun Fact: I was still working on D&D (had FR maps spread out all over my desk!) but starting to get pretty serious about Magic...


2013 Fun Fact: I wrote a novel—an exploration of grief and regret through the lens of a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth. Last year, I started a fifth draft thinking I would finally (with WotC’s permission) try to get an agent, then decided I didn’t really like it anymore.



2014 Fun Fact: What a year! In June, with my work on the Player's Handbook finished and the DMG nearly so, I moved to the Magic team. I regret the amount of work Jeremy Crawford and Chris Perkins had to do on the DMG after I left, but my happiness increased substantially.


2014 Fun Fact: The table of personality traits for the Noble background includes a near-quotation of Jane Austen, though Mr. Darcy's "good opinion" became "favor" in editing.


2014 Fun Fact: I'm particularly proud of the way I used Tika Waylan and Artemis Entreri as contrasting examples of human fighters in chapter 4 of the PH, highlighting how it's the details beyond class and race that really make a character.


2014 Fun Fact: The class descriptions in the PH reflect a lot of effort to spark character ideas. Lots of questions to make you think about possibilities you might not have considered.


2014 Fun Fact: I like the way I was able to draw on D&D novels—old and new—to illustrate aspects of races . . . and the flavor of planes. Finding a good example for humans was a challenge! But reading about them through drow eyes was the answer. And I only quoted myself once!


2014 Fun Fact: If I were doing PH chapter 4 over again, there are bonds and flaws I'd probably move to the other category.


2014 Fun Fact: Writing the flaws tables in chapter 4 of the PH, I used these categories to spark ideas: Lust or gluttony, pride or envy, greed or sloth, wrath or enemy, secret weakness or shame, secret misdeed or forbidden lore.


2014 Fun Fact: For bonds, I used these: Who—me; Who—family or colleagues; Who—benefactor or romance; Place; Possession; Goal.


2014 Fun Fact: I made spreadsheets to help me track ideals, bonds, and flaws. I use spreadsheets a LOT. Few of them make heavy use of numbers.


2014 Fun Fact: I feel like there are other Austen and/or Gilbert quotes hiding in those tables in chapter 4, but I can't remember or find them. The urchin's ideals do reference the Magnificat...


2014 Fun Fact: As you can probably tell, I feel a great deal of pride for those tables. Whenever I hear someone quote them back to me—they've made them their own, part of the character they're playing—I'm just delighted.


2014 Fun Fact: I don't think writing them in first person was my idea, so I don't mind saying I think that's brilliant. It makes them so much more a natural way to incorporate them into your character. Especially when the voice is part of the trait ("I... speak... slowly...").


2014 Fun Fact: Before I officially made the transition to Magic, I started working on two things: the Zendikar art book, and Liliana's story for Origins. Unraveling the threads of Liliana's story was a significant research project!


2014 Fun Fact: Once I actually made the transition to Magic, I also took over as creative lead for SOI/EMN and wrote one heck of a world guide (which I later adapted for the Innistrad art book).


2014 Fun Fact: I was an expert witness on the history of the D&D IP once. That's probably all I should say . . . .


2014 Fun Fact: I must have had Jane Austen on the brain, because this is also when I started tinkering with the ideas that would eventually grow into the novel I'm still working on, which is like Jane Austen plus changelings. 

I did in fact have Jane Austen on the brain: I met Margaret Dunlap and binge-watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.



2015 Fun Fact: There are two lines of thinking about names. There's the concept of a true name—a sound that somehow encompasses a person's essence. And there's the "what's in a name?" idea, that a name is irrelevant to the essence of a person or thing.

There is undeniable power in being able to choose your name. It matters what people call us. This quote, attributed to Confucius, is I think the one that inspired the title of "The Truth of Names": "If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things."


2015 Fun Fact: After all these years and books and stories, if I'm remembered for nothing but "The Truth of Names," I think that will be enough.


2015 Fun Fact: Besides "The Truth of Names," I wrote six other Magic stories in 2015—for FRF, ORI, and BFZ. That scratched my fiction-writing itch pretty well, and I did not have a serious novel project going.


2015 Fun Fact: I like "Stirring from Slumber" a lot as a meditation on what it might be like to be an unaging Planeswalker on a never-ending plane-wide guard duty for thousands of years. Nahiri "waking up" to life at the end makes me really happy . . .

. . . and it makes the SOI/EMN story really sad.


2015 Fun Fact: Writing Tasigur ("Doom of the Golden Fang") was fun. He's just an awful person who gets more or less exactly what he deserves.


2015 Fun Fact: I became an Episcopalian in 2015, after almost 30 years as a Methodist. I described it as a bit like when you run into an ex, and suddenly you're hitting it off again, and you wonder whether it's the old fire or maybe you can just be friends now . . .


2015 Fun Fact: I also adopted a dog and a teenager in 2015...


2015 Fun Fact: My first set as creative text lead was Commander 2015. When I realized that Ambition's Cost and Ancient Craving were both in the set and had identical FT, I wrote new FT for one of them, which I was very proud of at the time.

The waters of wisdom are as dust in the mouth of one who thirsts for power.



2016 Fun Fact: The culture and religion of Zendikar's humans was not very extensively detailed before I wrote the art book. I extrapolated a lot from existing cards, about things like the Kargan tribes, the religion of Kabira, and what's a luminarch.


2016 Fun Fact: The Zendikar art book was one of my first projects after moving from the D&D team, and I very much approached it as if I were writing a D&D campaign setting book. And then I put all the rules in Plane Shift: Zendikar.


2016 Fun Fact: Talk of D&D rules for Magic things has been around longer than I've been at Wizards. At one point in the early 2000s I thought I was going to end up working on a Monsters of Dominaria. But eventually the conventional wisdom was that never the brands would meet...
So when brand guy Adam Colby and I walked around the 4th floor asking about doing Plane Shift: Zendikar, we were a little surprised that we couldn't find anyone to say no.


2016 Fun Fact: I wrote the central scene of "Oath of the Gatewatch" as a sort of proof-of-concept for what that "oath" might look like. There was some marketing desire for a set of words players could recite at the prerelease. Our compromise was having the Planeswalkers, remaining as much in character as possible, follow a sort of formula as they promised to keep watch. "I will keep watch" sure paid off when we got to Signature Spellbook: Gideon, three years later!

2016 Fun Fact: Regarding "The Lunarch Inquisition," I remember high praise from Doug Beyer: that I had managed to make ecclesiastical politics interesting! (More typecasting!)


2016 Fun Fact: The near-simultaneous release of Shadows over Innistrad and Curse of Strahd was a happy coincidence. I couldn't resist taking advantage of it in Plane Shift: Innistrad. I don't know that Strefan Maurer will ever be as scary as Strahd von Zarovich, but I like it.


2016 Fun Fact: When VIZ sent me to SDCC to sign the Innistrad art book, I slid a copy of Odric, Master Tactician into my badge holder in lieu of an actual cosplay, which I would have rocked... (This picture doesn't really show how long my hair was at the time.)

2016 Fun Fact: Once D&D was no longer my job, I found more joy in playing it than I had for a while. Jeremy Crawford started his campaign that just ended last November, I ran Curse of (Inni)Strahd as a lunchtime game, and I ran Dwellers of the Forbidden City at home.


2016 Fun Fact: This is the year that I started asking whether I might consider seeking holy orders in the Episcopal Church someday. The answer at the time seemed to be no, but I definitely started ramping up my church involvement afterward.

2016 Fun Fact: That's the year I stood up in a company all-hands meeting and said, "I'm very good at channeling rage into word count." Note to HR people everywhere—don't equate employee happiness and productivity, at least when you're talking to employees.


2017 Fun Fact: My daughter helped with Plane Shift: Amonkhet, primarily by designing the cleric domains.

2017 Fun Fact: My last Magic story, "Trust," is about faith.


2017 Fun Fact: The flavor text on Worship in Gideon's Signature Spellbook is also a nod in the direction of "Trust." It was important for me to assert that what he experienced in that story was not a lie, despite the outcome of the Amonkhet story.

Even after all that befell Amonkhet, Gideon never believed that his trust in Oketra was misplaced.

2017 Fun Fact: "Puppets" was weird to write—and intentionally jarring to read—because it has Liliana making zombies . . . on Kaladesh, a world that was otherwise blessedly free from necromancers.


2017 Fun Fact: With Cynthia Sheppard, I was creative lead for Ixalan. In case my hand in it wasn't obvious, look no further than the fact that three of the four factions have detailed religious systems.


2017 Fun Fact: I was super happy to get a map for Ixalan! Not something that Magic worldbuilding typically spends time on, but obviously important for D&D players.

2017 Fun Fact: Talking about Ixalan at PAX (or was it Hascon?), I got to use the phrase "modalistic monarchianism." It's a heretical understanding of the Christian Trinity, but the orthodox teaching of Ixalan's Sun Empire.

2017 Fun Fact: On the naming of dinosaurs in fantasy settings, a treatise:

I have a pet peeve about what we call dinosaurs. In developing Eberron, I made the argument that the real-world scientific names by which we know dinosaurs are out of place in a fantasy world.

Just like we don't call a robin in a fantasy world a Turdus (or T. migratorius), it's weird to call something a Stegosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus rex. 

(Weird exception: the dragons in the AD&D Monster Manual had ridiculous Latin names like Draco Conflagratio Horribilis.)

Thus, the 3e Eberron Campaign Setting book ended up with this table, showing Common and Draconic names for various kinds of real-world dinosaurs.

My first pass on names for Dinosaur cards in XLN went in a similar direction, but met significant resistance from the rest of the Magic team. I finally yielded and came up with names that *sound* like dinosaur names without actually *being* dinosaur names.

That part was important to me, because we intentionally took liberties with scientific accuracy, and I wanted plausible deniability. Yes, I know oviraptors probably didn't actually steal the eggs of other dinosaurs. But the creature on the card Nest Robber isn't an oviraptor! It's a nest robber, and they absolutely do steal eggs from other dinosaurs' nests. Maybe real-world sauropods didn't have feathers, but whiptails and altisaurs absolutely do.

Anyway, it's a compromise where I'm actually quite happy with the results.

(On the other hand, I'm not sure what to call a Turdus migratorius in a fantasy setting, because "robin" can refer to many different birds, and "American robin" is clearly wrong. How does your world differentiate between the Loxodonta and Elephas genera of elephants?)

All the dinosaurs in Ixalan block.

DMs, please throw a carnage tyrant at your players for me.

2017 Fun Fact: I ran a one-shot Kaladesh adventure for the Worldbuilders charity dinner, with the characters trying to steal the Key to the City (which, according to my notes, is a sort of universal lockpick combined with a cloak of elvenkind).

(My apologies to the players in that game. I told them I'd send them my notes, but I never got them cleaned up enough to share.)


2017 Fun Fact: I thought this approach in Plane Shift: Kaladesh was super clever. (Using art captions to illustrate how standard D&D magic items might take wildly different forms on Kaladesh.)

2017 Fun Fact: One day I barged into a conference room at WotC because I saw Matthew Mercer inside and I wanted to meet him. At the very moment, my daughter (who introduced me to Critical Role) was home running a one-shot set on Tal'dorei.


2018 Fun Fact: I started writing the Plane Shift series partly in order to keep my hand in D&D work after moving to the Magic team, so it was pretty awesome to get to work on a full-fledged D&D book again with Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica—full circle!

2018 Fun Fact: This Azorius ideal was originally a W.S. Gilbert quote: "The law is the true embodiment of everything that's excellent" (Trial by Jury) => "Legislation. The law embodies excellence in its precision and detail."


2018 Fun Fact: I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's endlessly amused by the characteristics tables for the Gruul, each of which includes one entry that is an incoherent scream with a parenthetical "translation." But if I were the only one, it would be enough.

2018 Fun Fact: The Gruul entry amused me a lot. There's also "I was, in fact, raised by maaka" (a variation on the PH outlander's "raised by wolves") and "I'm not actually all that angry," both of which still make me smile.

2018 Fun Fact: Chapter 4 of the Guildmaster's Guide went through a lot of permutations until I finally sat down with Chris Perkins to talk about what DMs really need to make an adventure quickly. The "Quick Build" sidebar on page 124 is basically what we came up with.


2018 Fun Fact: I mentioned a couple weeks ago that map-making is not my strong suit in adventure design. It was great to be able to give Dyson Logos a general brief, a lot of art references for each guild, and free rein to make maps that are useful, portable adventure sites.


2018 Fun Fact: I don't know how often anyone really needs to pick a guild at random or how much trouble it is to turn to the Random Guilds table on page 7, but I'm still super happy to have an oversized d10 with the guild symbols on the faces. (Pro Tip: You can also use it for the "Non-[Guild] Contacts" tables for each guild.)

I wish I could find the prototype I made with stickers.


2018 Fun Fact: My daughter has a credit in Plane Shift: Dominaria as well, I think primarily for the Cabalist Characteristics for Belzenlok's cultists.

2018 Fun Fact: You can see the influence of the Ravnica book in Plane Shift: Dominaria. Each faction in the Plane Shift basically has a "make a character from this faction" like GGR chapter 2 (minus renown) and a "make an adventure with this faction" like chapter 4 (minus maps).


2018 Fun Fact: This year I finally sat down and got a real start on my Jane Austen-inspired fantasy novel. I'm still (ostensibly) working on the second draft.


2018 Fun Fact: Core Set 2019 was another close and fun collaboration with Cynthia Sheppard. I did the concepting and led the creative text team. I really like that set as a broad look at the diverse Multiverse.


2018 Fun Fact: I ran a lunchtime Ravnica game for a while. I kept a box of RTR-block cards handy to use for random inspiration.

2018 Fun Fact: I did two pages of tables about art objects and magic item origins inspired by XLN's Treasure tokens for Plane Shift: Ixalan??!?! (Yes, I did.)

2018 Fun Fact: "Aclazotz was partially inspired by the classic D&D adventure The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, which appears in updated form in Tales from the Yawning Portal." Yeah. Partially.

2018 Fun Fact: The appendix of Plane Shift: Ixalan is an extended musing on what the colors of Magic mean in D&D terms, born out of stuff I wrote down as I was trying to find my way on the Magic team after I moved from D&D. Some of it nearly ended up in the Ravnica book, but Jeremy Crawford and I eventually decided that the Guildmaster's Guide would be better off without explicit reference to mana colors.


2018 Fun Fact: I definitely concepted cards in Core Set 2019 to help make sure that the Dominaria art book would have enough good illustrations of things like merfolk and viashino.

2018 Fun Fact: Visual allusions to Disney's Fantasia in James's art concepts. We watched that movie a lot when my daughter was little. (One of these is from 2017.)

2018 Fun Fact: If you read the Goals entry for each guild in the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica carefully, you will clearly see discussion of the guild's color identity—just without using those words.

2018 Fun Fact: I have a weird soft spot for D&D's crabfolk (which I named yurians in 3e's Fiend Folio), which I attribute to Willie Walsh's adventure "Back to the Beach" in Dungeon issues 50 (1994). So it was a kick to do homarid stats in Plane Shift: Dominaria!!

I also wrote crabfolk up as a playable race for AD&D 2nd edition in "Heroes of the Sea" (Dragon 250, August 1998).



2019 Fun Fact: I wrote the flavor text for the cards in Signature Spellbook: Gideon. I'm particularly proud of this one, simple as it is.


2019 Fun Fact: Two of my favorite bits of flavor text in one pack in the #m20 prerelease! 👏🏻👏🏻 to @inkwell_looter for Goblin Smuggler!


2019 Fun Fact: Hey, @matthewmercer⁩, don’t tell anyone, but this flavor text is for you. 😉


2019 Fun Fact: This card was almost called Warlock of the Fang. I really want a Great Serpent warlock patron now.


2019 Fun Fact: One of many pieces of flavor text in this set that just tickles me. (Definitely inspired by RTR Inspiration.) 
["Paradox? Eh, we'll worry about that yesterday."
—Edorin, the Timesmith]


2019 Fun Fact: Another of my favorite pieces of flavor text from #mtgc19: 
"Our stories define our reality."—Ugin
It's possible I have used those same words in a sermon before.


2019 Fun Fact: And probably my favorite card name. I'm ... not at all sorry.