Bill Heron: Gaming in Edinburgh and other RPG stuff

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About Bill Heron

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).

Bill, like many others, is contemplating writing a novel. He’s got the basic plot-line worked out but keeps getting more ideas.

Game Design

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 supplement: Fragment 1: The Way of Tree Sword, & Flame. This was Bill Heron’s first 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.

Bill is heavily involved with Modiphius Entertainment’s Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulhu product lines. He was a writer on the Dark Symmetry Campaign, Mutant & Heretics, Dark Eden Setting, and Dark Eden Campaign books. Bill also compiled the timeline and was involved in indexing, proofing, and captioning the current line. He continues to develop the setting through both Modiphius and the Cartel Tactical Centre fanzine.

He began preliminary work on his own RPG, using the FATE system, entitled Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom. Although he 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 was something of an adventure. The project is currently on hold.

Bill has also appeared on Hazard Gaming’s “Penny Red” podcast, as part of their “Inside the Roleplayer’s Studio” series. Bill Heron was interviewed about his part in the Nova Games PBM partnership,  for Issue 2 of the new PBM magazine  Suspense and Decision. He has also been interviewed by Standard Life regarding a Collector’s Corner article on tabletop gaming. He has also been interviewed by Edinburgh College for an article on RPGs (awaiting publication).

As a Modiphius Silvershield, Bill can often be found running one of their games at conventions. He has run demo games of Achtung! Cthulhu, Mutant: Year 0, and The Mutant Chronicles (including a playtest of Red Scar Publishing’s forthcoming module, The Purging of the Crucible). Last year Bill attended Dragonmeet and UK Games Expo, and plans to revisit them again this year, as well as Edinburgh’s Conpulsion next year.

Skill Set

As well as being highly experienced in IT, Bill has developed other skills. Not only has he picked up significant design skills, he has also grown familiar with text and print layout,  as well as desktop publishing through use of Adobe Pagemaker and InDesign. In addition to being quite conversant with web technologies and design, Bill is also learning proof-reading to a professional standard. He is also highly organised and often completes his work to a high standard in advance of any deadline.

Credits – Bill Heron

  • 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

The Secret Fire RPG

The Secret Fire RPG (Developer).

way of tree shadow and flame

Fragment 1: The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame (Contributing Developer).


  • Work on the Modiphius Publishing 3rd Edition RPG line: error logging/checking, proofreading, writing, and indexing. Bill Heron was a writer for the Dark Symmetry Campaign, Mutants & Heretics, and has just finished writing for the Dark Eden Setting and Campaign books.

Dark Symmetry

Dark Symmetry Campaign

Mutant & Heretics

Mutant & Heretics

Bill Heron’s Gaming Background

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! He recently backed Kickstarter campaigns for Deadzone (Mantic Games) and Robotech RPG Tactics (Palladium). 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.

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 AD&D 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 home-brew 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.

Several 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!

Games Bill plays:

As you can see from the Games & Settings link on the menu, there’s quite a few games Bill has been involved inn running over the years. As a player, he’s probably actually played in more systems than he can remember.

As well as the Modiphius games mentioned above:

  • Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I’ve created a number of settings over the years for the D&D game. While I’m not a fan of 4e, I’ve played every edition.
    • Against the Odds (4e). I occasionally think about running this setting again, but I don’t seem to have the time. It didn’t translate well to 4e D&D.
    • Ashes of Freedom (3.5) is one of my favourite settings and one that my players have enjoyed immensely. It has become my default “go to” setting for RPGs. I also ran a drop-in D&D 4e game called Watch Upon the Border set there. The Mandragora and Volkrania have their origins in AD&D (2nd edition). I’ve run the Temple of Elemental Evil.
    • The New World setting (3.5) was ORC Edinburgh‘s collaborative attempt at a Shared Campaign. Although it stalled due to DM commitments, it has since seen a lot of use as a setting!
    • Tyranny of Dragons. I tryed running this 5th ed game.
  • The Dark Edinburgh setting. My thematically loosely-linked horror games set in Edinburgh, mainly focussed on Call of Cthulhu and Cthulhutech. Ideas for it also featured in the Dresden Files RPG. Here’s how they fit together.
    • Dresden Files RPG. I played Alex Tregardo. He’s an Emissary of Power for the Dragon Adonnax. I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files books, not just the RPG.
    • Call of Cthulhu RPG including my own setting Arunstoun. I also did some mash-up rules for Brian Lumley’s eBranch and Necroscope series for CoC.
    • Cthulhutech RPG, featuring my Through the Looking Glass setting. Set in the Edinburgh of 2085.
  • Warhammer 40,000 RPGs. In the Rogue Trader wh40k RPG, my character was Diogenes Valexos (aka Basilisk). He’s the Navigator of the Tranquility. In Black Crusade, I played Belial, (aka Nemo Inconnu) a Heretek. I also ran a Dark Heresy and Only War mash-up called Fires of Perdition. It’s set on the world of Crucible with the player characters as Arbites.
  • Star Wars RPG. Mainly the West End Games version. It’s always fun to run this simple game from West End Games (provided your players don’t take it too seriously).Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I ran the epic Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP 1e).

If you would like to contact Bill Heron, please use the form below.