Obituary: Origins Award-Winning “Traveller” Game Designer Loren Wiseman

Game designer, publisher and editor Loren Keith Wiseman passed away on February 15, 2017. According to family members, he was found in his home and the cause of death is reported to be from heart failure. Mr. Wiseman is best known for his work in creating the Traveller science fiction role-playing game. His career in the tabletop gaming industry dates back to 1973 and continued until his death. He was 65.

A photo of Loren Wiseman from his Wikipedia page

Original “black box” deluxe set for Traveller scifi RPG circa 1977

Games Designers Workshop and Traveller

Mr. Wiseman co-founded Games Designers’ Workshop (GDW) on June 22, 1973 with Frank Chadwick, Rich Banner and Marc Miller in Normal, Illinois. At the time, the concept of a role-playing game was just starting to take form. The company focused on historical-themed card and board games until 1977 when it published Traveller, one of the first science fiction RPGs. TSR had published Dungeons and Dragons only three years earlier and this new field of gaming was undiscovered country. GDW bridged the gap between miniatures gamers, role-players and board wargamers.

Origins Award-winning module for Twilight: 2000 game.

For over a decade, Traveller was the “go-to” ruleset for people wanting to role-play science fiction settings. In addition to using GDW’s own setting, many gamers ran home-brewed Star Trek and Star Wars adventures for their weekly dining room table gaming sessions. Mr. Wiseman being credited with setting a lot of the early “feel” of the game. Traveller is considered the forerunner to many of today’s SciFi RPGs.

Loren Wiseman with actress Virginia Hey at a convention in a photo dated January 11, 2011.

He served as editor of GDW’s publications supporting Traveller for 77 issues. In addition, Mr. Wiseman became line editor for the WWIII-themed Twilight 2000 RPG following its publication in 1984. His adventure module Twilight: 2000 Going Home won an Origins Award in 1986 as “One of the Best Games of the Year.”

Post-GDW career

Following GDW’s dissolution in 1996, Mr. Wiseman was brought on as art director and line editor at Steve Jackson Games (SJG) where he created the new version of Traveller using SJG’s GURPS ruleset in 1998. He continued to contribute to the product line with his writing and editing. He was inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame in 2003.

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