Rest in Peace: Loren Wiseman

Loren was a co-worker during my brief time at GDW and before I joined the game publisher, I only had a passing recollection of his name via the numerous products I had purchased (Traveller and 2300 AD). After I moved back to Central Illinois, I became more familiar with him as an editor, developer and designer. Overall, Loren was like an odd uncle. When I mean odd, it was more along the lines of unusual. He didn’t drive. His tastes in music were out of step for his generation (in my opinion). Modern humor seem to evade him; I’d think he probably loved The Onion, good satire transcends generations. Yet Loren was genuine in his ways, not a pretentious jerk trying to be different. I think he just belonged in the earlier decades of America.

As for GDW stuff. I learned a handful of things from him. Namely what the earlier years of the industry were like. I loved his D&D stories and how he saw Star Wars multiple times as research for Traveller. Loren taught me a couple gaming cheats too, namely mapmaking and how to mine history for cool names and campaign ideas. Lastly, he once made an interesting argument against D&D’s character levels I’ve continued to contemplate. He said, “Levels solve a problem that doesn’t exist.” To this day, I would only agree with him when it comes to superhero games, maybe horror but the WOTC staffers found a way to make it work credibly through d20.

After GDW ended badly for me, I do recall Loren bore me no ill will personally and I did feel the same. I think I saw him a couple more times until I left for good to the warmer climate and prospects in Austin. He allegedly moved here in 1997 or 1998 to work on Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS Traveller. We had a one-day reunion in the Fall of 1998 to catch up and he needed a ride to buy some necessities. I feel pretty awful that I never really stayed in touch. Austin was probably pretty alien to Loren for a while and I think he wasn’t really comfortable with his feelings to say he was lonely. Just my personal theory. Sadly, I was still annoyed over the recent past involving GDW and I was pre-occupied getting my life together for what would become Austin Volume Two.

I truly hope he managed to make Austin his home and find happiness like I did.

Thanks for being that uncle Loren along with your contributions to RPGs.

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