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Masque of the Red Death

The following is an excerpt from an interview on the Monte Cook site. Monte Cook interview William W Connors, the author of many 2nd edition Ravenloft products. The whole interview is found here.


Although you worked with TSR/Wizards for a long time, when you think back, what's the most memorable period?

William Connors

 I think it would be hard to pick a time working for TSR (at least, in its Lake Geneva [Wisconsin] incarnation) that wasn't memorable. That was a top-notch staff of creative, intelligent people with a great attitude and a real affection for each other. If I had to single out a situation that was most exciting, I guess I'd say it was the time I spent working with [editor] Andria Hayday and [designer] Bruce Nesmith in the early days of Ravenloft. The three of us worked well together and I was truly honored to be associated with them. Bruce was very much a mentor to me, sharing his greater experience and really helping me learn how to design better and better games. Andria was amazingly dedicated to the line and worked very hard to make sure every product was as good as it could be. To this day, I think her Ravenloft was the best one published in the line. In the end, I came to be called "Mr. Ravenloft," but it was Bruce and Andria who created all that was special about that setting. I was just lucky enough to go along for the ride.


What products are you most proud of still today, and what was the process like to work on them?

William Connors

I think the two products I had the most fun working on were Masque of the Red Death and Dragonlance: Fifth Age. In both cases, I think this was the result of the people I was fortunate enough to work with on those projects.

On Masque, I worked with the talented and eagle-eyed [editor] Anne Brown to create an AD&D campaign set in the 1890s. It was a direct spin-off of the Ravenloft line (although we never said it in print, the Red Death was one of Ravenloft's Dark Powers -- exiled for violations of their mysterious code of conduct). I put more effort and research into that product than anything else I've ever written -- and loved every minute of it.


Sadly, both Masque of the Red Death and Dragonlance: Fifth Age met a good deal of critical acclaim and a resounding thud in sales. As I am unable to accept any blame for such things myself, I fault poor marketing at TSR for their failures. Certainly, everything I did on the lines was brilliant. Honest.


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