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Ward joined TSR during Dungeons & Dragons' first boom, and worked on several add-ons for the TTRPG, plus his own science-fantasy game, Metamorphosis Alpha.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Photograph of game designer James M. Ward.
Image via GoFundMe.

Jim Ward, a longtime game designer for the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, passed away on March 18 at 72 years old.

Born May 23, 1951, Ward began his game career in 1976 with his and Rob Kuntz's Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes rulebook for TSR. That same year, he created Metamorphosis Alpha, TSR's fourth role-playing game ever and its first science-fantasy RPG.

At TSR, Ward worked on various modules and supplements. This was at the same time D&D was in its first popularity boom, and the Ruins of Adventure supplement he co-made with David Cook, Steve Winter, and Mike Breault was adapted into the 1988 Pool of Radiance video game.

He'd also work his way up the executive ranks, becoming its creative services VP before exiting in 1996 from disagreements with fellow higher-ups.

For his work at the time, Ward was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame in 1989.

After leaving TSR, Ward designed a collectible card game for Dragon Ball Z by the late Akira Toriyama. He'd later help make similar games for Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Core Design's Tomb Raider, and the TV series Babylon 5.

Eventually, he'd go to co-found his own company, Fast Forward Entertainment, with the likes of fellow role-playing designers like Timothy Brown and Lester W. Smith. He'd later join Troll Games as a writer for game supplements like Castles & Crusades.

"I appreciate everything Jim did to help me out when I was working for Gary Gygax many years ago," wrote Hyperborea writer Jeffrey Talanian. "He was so kind, generous, and patient with me. [...] A pleasure to be around. A sad day, indeed."

"James leaves behind a legacy that transcends the bounds of time and space, continuing to inspire future generations of writers, gamers, and dreamers," reads his Facebook eulogy. "His spirit will forever dwell in the worlds he brought to life and the hearts of those who knew him.

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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