Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jean Rabe: From RPGA to USA Today

If you played AD&D in the late 80s and early 90s, and especially if you played RPGA (Role Playing Game Association, the Pathfinder Society of its day) events, you may never have met Jean Rabe, but she certainly had an impact on the Organized Play of the day. I used to run into Rabe fairly often at Midwestern gaming conventions but hadn’t seen much of her for more than a decade. During the past couple of years, though, I have seen her at a few more cons and wanted to find out what she has been doing the past 20 years.

Rabe’s association with the gaming industry started in Evansville, Indiana, back in the late 80s where she helped run the Glathricon gaming convention. At one of the conventions, Rabe struck up a friendship with the Guest of Honor, Penny (Petticord) Williams, who worked as the RPGA Network Coordinator. When Williams decided to leave TSR and the position in 1987, she contacted Rabe to let her know the position had opened. Rabe, tired of covering murder, theft, and assaults in her job as a newspaper reporter in Evansville, applied, interviewed for and got the job within 48 hours.

Rabe spent the next 7 years working full time for TSR, first as the head of the RPGA, making certain events got processed in a timely manner and editing the organization’s magazine, Polyhedron (yes, this was an era when all magazines were printed on PAPER and sent out via the MAIL), then as a full time designer and editor, working on the Child’s Play and Vale of the Mage AD&D modules, among others.

Wanting to pursue her own writing, Rabe left TSR in 1994 for a freelance career, though she continued to work in the gaming and fantasy genre, editing the official BattleTech magazine MechForce Quarterly for FASA  and writing several novels for TSR, including the Dragons of a New Age trilogy, which focused on the next major event to take place in the Dragonlance series. She also wrote three short stories set in the Star Wars universe, which appeared in West End Games’ Star Wars Adventure Journal and three Endless Quest books, all in the late 1990s.

Moving beyond gaming related novels (though she works actively in that field; WOTC published Goblin Nation, the three-volume Storytellers series in 2009, and she just finished the novella “Maiden Voyage" for Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch and Warlock , a Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades compatible supplement, scheduled to appear later this year), Rabe wrote and edited mainly in the fantasy field, writing The Finest trilogy, the Rogue Angel series and Fenzig’s Fortune. However, she also has the murder mystery Submerged (as Jordan Grey) and a number of collaborations with authors such as Andre Norton, Stephen  D. Sullivan, and F. Lee Baily (yes, that F. Lee Baily). Just this year, The Cauldron will see print, written with Gene DeWeese.

Though she hasn’t written a gaming module in decades, Rabe still loves roleplaying and is active in the Pathfinder Society, though as a player, not a coordinator, but she does have outlines of another gaming related novel in the works. With 30+ novels under her belt, including a couple that made USA Today’s bestseller list and a handful of awards for her writing, “all in all, I’m happy. I think I’ve had some amazing opportunities and have a basically awesome life”.

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