Dom: Hi, Jeff. Can you tell us a bit about yourself ?
Jeff : Sure. I'm 39, and I live with my wife in Austin, Texas. I've been a gamer since original D&D. I got my first work in the industry from TSR; in those days, I lived about half an hour south of Lake Geneva, WI and was a regular at the old Dungeon Hobby Shop. I suppose you asked for this interview because of my art in various Space Opera books, but I'm also a game designer. I co-authored Villains & Vigilantes (FGU's superhero RPG), and my latest game is WarChest, a customizable board game using collectible pewter miniatures from Lance & Laser Models, Inc.
Dom : What are your hobbies besides Rpg’s ?
Jeff : Hmm, let me see. Board games? I guess gaming is pretty much my life. I'm also very active in the Atheist Community of Austin, a non-profit social organization by and for atheists. I host the ACA's weekly live public access television call-in show.
Dom : How did you discover Rpg’s?
Jeff : Through my oldest brother. He was a long-time military board game player, and then his gaming group started getting into miniatures games, and eventually discovered the original D&D. David told me about it, and I was immediately hooked.
Dom : Do you still have the time to play? What are your favorite games?
Jeff : I'm in two weekly gaming groups. One is mostly a RPG group, the other is mostly board games. I have to admit that I don't much care for any RPG systems other than my own... I have an unpublished "universal" system that I use for superheroes, and an electronically published fantasy game called Quicksilver.
My favorite board game (other than WarChest) is WizWar by Tom Jolly.
Dom : Did you played Space Opera and/or did you like the game?
Jeff : I've only played it a little. I thought it was fine.
Dom : Can you tell us how you met Scot Bizar?
Jeff : Jack Herman and I had just written Villains & Vigilantes together, and were looking for a publisher. We were pretty nervous about it, because nobody else had done a superhero game before and we were afraid the idea would be considered too outlandish. GenCon was at the Playboy resort in Lake Geneva that year. We went around the exhibit hall, and noticed that FGU had just released a game called "Bunnies and Burrows", loosely based on the novel "Watership Down". We thought, "anybody who will publish a RPG about being an intelligent rabbit will publish ANYTHING", so we approached Scott immediately.
Dom : Did you met the authors of Space Opera? Ed. Simbalist, Phil Mc Gregor or Mark Ratner?
Jeff : I met Mark Ratner once or twice at conventions. I may have met the others, but if so it was a long time ago.
Dom : You were, with Gene Day, one of the main illustrators for Space Opera. Do you know what became Gene?
Jeff : I have no idea. He worked with FGU before I got there, and I never even met him.
Dom : How did you worked to make illustrations for a supplement. Did you get a synopsis or did you met the author?
Jeff : I was given a copy of the complete manuscript, and (if I recall correctly) Scott would ask me for a certain number of illustrations. I was given total freedom to decide what specific pictures to draw.
Dom : You are yourself a game designer, why did you never issue an extension for Space Opera?
Jeff : I was too busy editing Villains & Vigilantes adventures, and illustrating just about everything that FGU published for a while.
Dom : You have created in the past "Vilains & Vigilantes", can you tell us a bit about it?
Jeff : Jack Herman and I were friends in high school, playing D&D and other RPGs together. And we were both fans of superhero comic books. One day we got into an argument about which of our favorite superheros would win in a fight, so we wrote up rules for their powers and gave them stats (loosely based on the Empire of the Petal Throne rules, which were loosely based on D&D), and we played out the fight as a RPG battle. Once we'd realized that a superhero RPG would be workable, we wrote up a complete set of powers and our own underlying game mechanics.
Dom : What are your professional projects at the moment and for the years to come?
Jeff : Right now my main focus is WarChest: mainly I'm attending a lot of conventions in order to promote it. Soon I plan on self-publishing an expanded version of my fantasy RPG "Quicksilver". My game company is called UNIgames.
Dom : After all these years, are you surprised by the continuing popularity of Space Opera?
Jeff : No, I'm not. I've had the pleasure of seeing how loyal the fans of my own games have been, and Space Opera has its own fans who will never let it die.
Dom : Thanks again Jeff for having taken the time to answer our questions.
Jeff : You're welcome! Adieu!
Austin, USA, 28/12/00