RPG Monster design is probably one of the most “artistic” parts of RPG design (not including the artwork itself). Creating something that is challenging, unique, fun, and fulfilling is challenging at best, infuriating at worst. While many may take for granted their homebrew monsters are perfectly balanced, there are many who struggle with how to get started.
RPG Monster design, however, is right in the wheelhouse of our guest in this week’s episode – Wolfgang Baur has spent years dreaming up, designing, and developing monsters of literally all types of creatures – picking heavily from world lore and mythology.
Wolfgang Baur was born in a suburb of Chicago, and later attended the University of Illinois and then Cornell University for graduate studies in biochemistry and molecular biology to pursue an academic career in research. When he ran out of funding in 1991, Baur took a temporary job as assistant editor to Barbara Young at Dungeon magazine: “By the time my scholarship was reinstated, I didn’t want to go back… I’d been writing for Dungeon Adventures and Iron Crown, but this was an opportunity to work in a field I loved.”
Baur was involved in many projects at TSR as either designer or editor, including Dungeon and Dragon magazines, the Planescape (Planes of Law, Planes of Chaos), Al-Qadim (Secrets of the Lamp, Assassin Mountain), and Birthright settings (Warlock of the Stonecrowns), editing the Star*Drive setting, Dataware’, and Doom of Daggerdale. Baur also worked for ICE on books such as Treasures of Middle-earth. Baur also worked on the Dark•Matter setting for the Alternity science fiction role-playing game. His roleplaying game titles include Frostburn, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, Book of Roguish Luck, Castle Shadowcrag, and Empire of the Ghouls.
Baur was the “Kobold-in-chief” for Open Design LLC (which changed its name to Kobold Press in 2012), and was editor-in-chief of its quarterly periodical Kobold Quarterly. Open Design published Kobold Quarterly #1 (Summer 2007) before the final print issue of Dragon.:390 Baur stated on July 17, 2008, that the GSL was “absolutely terrible for Kobold Quarterly,” as the periodical would be unable to publish material for both D&D third edition and fourth edition. He won the eighth annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming in 2008. Kobold Quarterly and Open Design won five ENnie Awards in 2009.
Baur is a member of the Alliterates (a group of local and national authors), and serves as a judge for the RPG Superstar competitions, as part of a three-judge panel of respected figures from the field.