Oct 192016

contemplating-the-mountainChris Stevens recently asked me if I’d like to write something regularly for his site, the STUFFER SHACK. He didn’t have anything specific in mind, so I gave it some long thought, and this is what I came up with.

Thing is, folks frequently ask me what I am up to; what I am working on; what I am enjoying; and what it’s like to be a full-time creative in the RPG industry. I figure this might be an interesting way to share those answers on a regular basis. Along the way, I hope to share some insight about creating RPG materials, world building, game design, and where to get inspiration for the creative efforts that go into this strange, wonderful avocation.


The recent announcement that Red Dead Redemption is getting a sequel has the computer game world abuzz, which is good news for all fans of the genre. That it coincides nicely with the 20th Anniversary Deadlands release, naturally. With all that, it added something special to my recent viewing of the new iteration of Magnificent 7A fantastic, fun film, regardless of how one might feel about sequels and remakes and touching classics, with Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington leading a no-weak-links cast. Magnificent 7 (2016) now joins two other masterful, fun Westerns in my list of “Top Three Modern Westerns Great for Gaming Inspiration” – Tombstone and Silverado. If I ever run a straight Western adventure, rest assured these three movies will be key inspirations, and I’ll ask my players to watch at least one of them to understand what I look for in heroes of the genre.

Thanksgaming and the Big Epic Game

Just over a week ago, I ran the biggest Big Epic Game of my career – and I am a GM known for running such insane events. I did so in part because I had three dear friends – Shaintar fans all – coming in from Northern California and wanting to play. This coincided specifically with the Denver area’s Gamers Giving event, Thanksgaming 2016, which was held this time for a very dear friend and his family as his daughter battles leukemia.

We had a huge gathering at my home Friday night, where well over a dozen folks played out strategic moves and made plans for the huge battle to happen on Sunday. That Sunday, we gathered at a local brewery – who kindly gave us space to use and wi-fi to hog – and over 20 folks gathered in the space while many more logged in from all over to participate in the Battle of Camondel. If you want to see what such a thing looks like, check the link and explore.

It took a lot out of me, and there are many things I wish I’d done differently, but it was truly a massive, epic gaming experience.

Colossal Clash

Recently, I found the boxed set of the Colossal Clash game my dear (long missed) friend, Lee Ballew designed and (along with his talented wife, Sooz) crafted. We’ve been playing the heck out of it, and I’ve been rejuvenated in many ways by its simple-yet-involved game play and its quirky-cute humor and fun.


Recently, as part of our regular Monday Night Savages gaming group, my friend Ben Keeler was running a short-run mini-campaign of the classic Paranoia. He’s a master of the setting and its many quirks, and I dove in with a vengeance, as I’d been teased/challenged by many to step and play something outside of my “comfort zone.”

You see, I am well known among those who game with me for pretty much always playing “the hero” in some form or fashion. It’s what I truly enjoy, but recently I’ve come to understand that it’s also what I need. Playing a raging, insane coward in Ben’s game drained me to my limits, and it was especially difficult dealing with fellow players (one in particular) who truly reveled in the back-stabbing PvP nature of the game.

It’s no fault of anyone involved, but I just couldn’t handle it. The world is dark and treacherous enough, and I’ve been feeling the times especially hard in my spirit. Paranoia was just not a place I needed to visit, but the time I spent in Alpha Complex brought home a lot of inner demons and a need for some personal insight seeking.

Savaging Your Favorite Rifts Idea

Most folks know my name these days due to the Savage Rifts project. I am still working diligently to knock out the last of the Kickstarter items, the most recent being the Savaging Your Favorite Rifts Idea document. Less a “conversion guide” than an approach to what I prefer to call “translation,” it nonetheless gives Savage Worlds fans some special insight into creating things for the system.


Another great deck-building board game I’ve loved over the years is Thunderstone. Thanks to friends at Alderac, I have almost everything for both the original and the Advanced series, and it turns out they combine really, really well! I dug it all back out recently, and my friends have enjoyed discovering it at my table. I just wish the online version that was once available on Facebook was still available somewhere.

One of the reasons I love Thunderstone is that it gives me the fun of a dungeon delve without ever having to play through one as a PC in a roleplaying sense. I’ve always despised dungeons for RPGs, but I do appreciate them as an interesting conceit for gaming otherwise.

The Mountains

There’s something, somewhere that is near enough to you that you can get into a car, or maybe on a bus, or otherwise travel to it. Something worth seeing, worth being in the presence of – something that can take your breath away, or make you think, or just put you into a different space than the ones you spend each and every day within.

Go there. Be there. Be renewed. It’s important, and it will make gaming – and everything else – better.


~ Big Irish

(Please Note – There are some links above that go to DriveThruRPG, and those links employ my Affiliate ID. I do receive a percentage of sales made from using those links to go to the site. Thank you for helping me buy kibble for my dog.)

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Sean Patrick Fannon

Sean Patrick Fannon (aka "Big Irish" or SPF) - Brand Manager and Lead Writer/Designer for the Savage Rifts product line for Pinnacle Entertainment - has been professionally involved in tabletop RPGs, computer games, and entertainment for over a quarter-century. His dozens of projects have included Hero Games' Champions product line; both West End's and Fantasy Flight's Star Wars RPGs; various World of Darkness books; and the Savage Worlds Epic High Fantasy setting, Shaintar. He was the Events Coordinator for GAMA (helping run both Origins and GTS), and chronicled the entire roleplaying game hobby and industry in The Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer's Bible, which sold over 10,000 copies. He worked for DriveThruRPG & RPGNow as the Marketing and Communications Director; during that period, he helped coordinate massive charity and relief efforts for folks like Doctors Without Borders and Feeding America, leveraging the RPG community's generosity. He continues that tradition as a member of the Board of Directors for the RPG Creators Relief Fund. Sean now focuses on his own gaming company, Evil Beagle Games ("Bad Dog. Good Games"), as well as his work for Pinnacle Entertainment Group. He's working directly with Pinnacle and Palladium Books to create an entire line of books to bring the classic Rifts setting to Savage Worlds fans, which he says is his most challenging design project ever. He's also working with Len Pimentel of Lakeside Games on a new version of the Prowlers & Paragons superhero game system, and has two settings - Modern Gods and Unending War - planned for later release for P&P.

  One Response to “Life of a Big Irish Gamer: Beginnings”

  1. Welcome, Sean!

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