I'm a writer, game designer, editor, graphic artist, font-doodler and electronic publisher, known for my work for Guardians of Order, Avalon Hill, Last Unicorn, Hero Games, Steve Jackson Games and other houses publishing adventure roleplaying games (RPGs). Many also know me as the author of comic/satiric games, or for standalone gaming articles like the Big List of RPG Plots, or as the creator of Sparks paper miniatures.
I've written books for several games and systems, including LUG's Star Trek family of RPGs, SJG's GURPS, Derek Pearcy's In Nomine and Guardians of Order's Big Eyes, Small Mouth. I've also written for White Wolf, West End Games, Flying Buffalo, Wizards of the Coast and others. I've done work for several magazines, including: Autoduel Quarterly, White Wolf, Roleplayer, Shadis, Dragon and Star Wars Gamer. I served a brief stint as Editor of Pyramid magazine, for which I received an Origins nomination.*
I was a writing consultant on the 5th Ed Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, which sounds like a nonsense-job because it sort of was (but hey, it paid). I used to be part of the Tales From the Floating Vagabond team (before the game vanished, the editor was fired and the department shut down), and I'm a contributor to the CityBook series from Flying Buffalo (as of CityBook VII: King's River Bridge). I served as Associate Editor in charge of Wargame and Flight Sim Reviews at a CD-ROM magazine called Interactive Entertainment (where I also wrote for IE's sister magazine, Strategy Plus). During my run as an SJ Games staffer, I was responsible for projects like the Silicon Valley Tarot and the second edition of Murphy's Rules. My graphics and production work includes logos for Pyramid, floorplan designs for In Nomine, and maps and graphic embellishment for a BESM worldbook I wrote.
These days I focus my energies on projects for Cumberland Games & Diversions, where things like Fly From Evil, Uresia: Grave of Heaven, Encounter Critical, Risus: The Anything RPG, the Cumberland Fontworks** and the All-Systems Library keep me busier than I've ever been. I still keep a toe in the gaming industry doing short projects and graphics, but Cumberland affords me so much creative freedom it takes a very special project or person to drag me back to the confines and compromises of industry-style design.
I was born on July 15th, 1971, son of Sam & Donna Ross (that's where I get the "S" in "S. John"). Growing up the son of a U.S. Marine meant living all over the States, and in Japan (I currently reside in Fort Collins, Colorado with Sandra Ross, my wife and best-pal and snuggle-partner of many years). I'm a cook, iconoclast, and general layabout. I love my friends dearly, and Sandra even more dearly, and I suppose I'm defined mostly by that, and my chow.
I enjoy hearing from my fans, and from game-writing newcomers seeking my advice. If you have any questions or comments regarding The Blue Room or anything else I do, click here for contact info. There's also a FAQ page covering a few of the most common queries I get.
* This sounds nice, but considering how few gaming magazines there were at the time***, the nomination was basically a "gimme," shared with Scott Haring.****
** I make TrueType & OpenType fonts as a diverting sideline, and they (through no fault of my own) appear worldwide on billboards, posters, TV screens, t-shirts and packaging. Cumberland font-users include Pixar, Aardman Animations, Anheuser-Busch (and Miller/Coors), Penguin/Puffin, the Chicago Review Press, Dorling-Kindserly, the Beatles Revolution Bar in Las Vegas, the Forum in London, the Texas Lottery Comission (and the Idaho Lottery), Mattel (the Barbie "Rebelde" line), Wendy's, Comedy Central (both South Park and Colbert Report), other TV stuff (Parks & Recreation, Graceland, more), Wizard magazine, 2000 A.D., Twix, Office Depot, Outback Steakhouse, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Bath & Body Works, Kroger supermarkets, Axe fragrance products, the Minnesota Vikings, Tilly's clothing stores, at least one of the Brothers Hildebrandt (Greg, specifically), banks, musicians, restaurants, other toy companies (Tech Deck, etc.), schools, filmmakers (including at least one schlocky horror film and a documentary about Romero, so I'm not sure what to make of that), churches, t-shirt makers, clothing boutiques, at least one knife-maker, at least one vineyard, at least two roller-derby teams, one of the biggest biscotti companies in the world (Grancereale, of Italy), Disney Italy, probably other stuff in Italy, and more. Some of the users are even licensed to be so ... (but only some) ...
*** More than there are now, but still not a lot ...
**** Depending how you slice it, I've maybe won an award or two, more or less, as well (Risus 1.5 won Best Free RPG at RPGnet in 2001, for example, and I wrote the funny parts of Pulp Hero, which took a Silver Ennie for "Best Writing" in 2006) but I find the Pyramid thing more interesting for a lot of reasons.