About Bill Heron
Bill Heron, wannabe RPG Designer
Bill Heron been playing RPGs for a long time, although these days he GMs far more than plays. He’s heavily involved in Edinburgh’s Open Roleplaying Community (ORC Edinburgh) and runs the website there as well. The pages on this web site contain resources for tabletop RPG gamers, such as settings, monsters, house rules, new magic, rules and other material, as well as background on the Mandragora setting (including rules for creating a Mandragora PC for D&D). Most of the material can also be found in the wiki area of the site.
Despite a long history with RPGs, Bill has only recently become involved in their design. In 2011, involvement in a playtest for George Strayton’s The Secret Fire RPG (then known as Legends & Labyrinths, and winner at the 2012 Innovative Game Design Award at I-CON 31) lead to him joining the development team at Secret Fire Games. Bill also worked on the forthcoming supplement: Fragment 1: The Way of Tree Sword, & Flame. This was Bill Heron’s first proper piece of freelance work and Bill worked alongside games designers such as: George Strayton, Logan Bonner, Tony Reyes, Thomas Reid, Bill Smith, Ptolemy Slocum, Ron Corn, Ed Greenwood, Mike Curtis, John Adamus, Steve Winter, and Jim Ward.
He’s also begun preliminary work on his own RPG, using the FATE system, entitled Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom, although he’s only recently started work upon it. Although he’s had some experience with self-publishing before as part of Nova Games some time ago (also producing the New World Explorer’s Guide at ORC), this will be a bit of an adventure, and he has been blogging about it.
- Nova Games Play-By-Mail company, founder & partner.
- 2 halves – play-by-mail football simulation, graphic design and layout.
- Mandragora: Shadows Linger play-by-mail RPG. Game design, layout and graphic design.
- Mandragora: Ties of Blood play-by-mail RPG (unreleased).
- Glory to the Lance play-by-mail RPG. Graphic design and layout.
- Milenya Chronicles PBM RPG. Designer.
- Open Roleplaying Community
- Site administrator for website (2009-present).
- New World Setting. Co-creator, graphic design and layout.
- Secret Fire Games.
- In production.
- Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom RPG, Designer and layout.
Bill is resident in Edinburgh. He’s interested in most kinds of games, psychology, ancient Roman history, writing, and sci-fi and fantasy. Bill Heron played a wide variety of tabletop role-playing, board, and war-games, from Dungeons and Dragons to Warhammer 40,000. He rarely war-games these days as it costs way too much and has nowhere to keep the miniatures! Other areas of interest include media technology – receiving an HND qualification from Stevenson College in Audio-Visual technology, and his”official” resume can be requested by using the contact form below.
Bill Heron’s first experiences with RPG can be described as follows:
My very first gaming experience was with the Fighting Fantasy game-book called Starship Traveller, a Christmas present. After that I was hooked, and blew most of my pocket money on them. I moved into other game-book series: Golden Dragon, the Sorcery! series, and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf books. I also dabbled in the Choose Your own Adventure series, my favourite being Horror at High Ridge, a surprisingly dark entry in the series.
In the back of the books, references to a roleplaying game called Dungeons and Dragons were often made, sometimes in the author’s biography too. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I was introduced to RPGs. At the time, the teaching unions were frequently on strike, meaning no out-of-school activities. I noticed that at one point that there had been a Dungeons & Dragons club.
A year later, the strike resolved, the D&D club started on Mondays straight after school. It only lasted an hour but it was the best we could get. The first game I ever played in was Traveller, and after that I was hooked. I became acquainted with a number of gaming magazines: Warlock, White Dwarf (which my local newsagent kept for me), and the Adventurer. 2000AD also released a gaming magazine called Diceman, where you played a comic book hero such as Judge Dredd in an RPG/Choose-your-adventure-style-storyline. In Diceman were a number of adverts for small metal figurines called miniatures from Grenadier.
A number of my classmates also collected miniatures, and I asked where I could get them. I wound up visiting a long-gone shop called Gamesmaster on Edinburgh’s Forrest Road. My first purchase was a Nazgul on Winged Beast, a £5 investment that seemed like a lot. Like a complete newbie I thought could do a great job of painting it with enamels. What a mess. Years later I did repaint them both! I still have a number of the Grenadier 25mm miniatures. They are actually very good quality – I’ve still got Orcus, some Barbarians, and a Tsin Dragon.
The first proper game I got was as a birthday present – it was Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Suddenly, I had a whole new game to play… and I wasn’t the only one. A number of the Monday gamers had heard of it, and suddenly we were playing battles between space marines and Orks. I was in 3rd year at this time and I was pretty much free to do what I wanted. Virgin had an RPG/miniatures section, where I bought more miniatures and games like Dungeonquest, which I still own. I was playing during the holidays in a Dragonlance campaign. Another games shop called Macs Models also opened and they had a LOT of stuff.
The year after, everything changed. This was when the gaming boom kicked off. There were loads of companies, loads of games, and now less time to play. Ordinary and Standard grade exams meant actual study. I wasn’t happy at school and life wasn’t much fun. Gaming was pretty much an escape. I was still playing Dragonlance and WH40k, but by now was also playing Warhammer FRPG, Middle Earth RolePlaying (MERP) and Call of Cthulhu. These were mostly played at friends’ houses.
When Games Workshop opened their shop in the Royal Mile on a chilly November morning, my friends and I made our pilgrimage – we were all still at school and it was when we queued for hours with money-off coupons clutched in our sweaty little paws. I bought Adeptus Titanticus and Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. At this time, we were also playing Space Hulk, Talisman and Space Marine/Adeptus Titanicus when we weren’t RPGing, as well as playing Warhammer 40,000 (or wh40k) .
I left school and began my wilderness years as it were. I still gamed, picking up AD&D, Werewolf and West End Games Star Wars RPG, selling a lot of my miniatures – in fact, nearly my entire gaming collection. I also played the Palladium RPG, Rifts, various homebrew games and the original Dungeons and Dragons. I also played Pendragon which I have never grown fond of. Mac’s Models closed, Virgin dropped its RPG section and gaming went into decline. It was getting harder for my old group to get together. We had jobs. Or university and college. Weekly games became monthly ones – folk couldn’t always make it. This lasted nearly 10 years – much of my collection was sold off on eBay.
About three or four years ago, I heard of the Ottakar’s Roleplaying Club (as ORC was called back then) and the Black Lion gaming shop. I never seemed to have the time to go, being a lazy git. The release of Dungeon & Dragons 3rd edition rekindled gaming interests along with the Harry Potter franchise, Eragon books, World of Warcraft etc. – both the fantasy genre and being a gamer were cool again!
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