Thursday, July 29, 2021

Interview: Rick Meints (Part II)

Part I of the interview can be found here.

7. How did you become involved with Tales of the Reaching Moon?

On a whim, in January of 1994 I decided to go to RQ Con 1 in Baltimore. I had just read about this convention in Tales 10, but initially hadn't planned on attending. I didn’t know anyone who was attending and I hadn’t played RuneQuest in years. Then, just a few days before the convention I bought a plane ticket and off I went. While there I met Nick Brooke, who was an active contributor to Tales. He offered to show me around London if I was ever in the UK and, as luck would have it, work brought me to London later that year. I contacted Nick, we had dinner, and he started to introduce me to his friends that worked on Tales, including David Hall and Dan Barker. One of the best decisions I ever made, for both my personal and professional life, was to move to the UK in 1995. I was quickly welcomed into a wonderfully creative and energetic circle of friends collectively known as the Reaching Moon Megacorp. It allowed all of us to contribute our talents to a number of projects including Tales of the Reaching Moon, the Convulsion convention, and a number of independent projects such as Tarsh War, the Rough Guide to Glamour, and even my Meints Index to Glorantha. One of the best parts of the group was its social side. Throughout the seven years I lived in the UK we would meet after work at the Round Table pub in London near Leicester Square almost every Wednesday night. Over pints (make mine a Guinness) we would bring along and discuss the latest Gloranthan projects we were working on. I volunteered to do the layout for Tales 14 (part of my day job was writing computer manuals) and kept doing that until Tales 20, which was the magazine's last. A part of me really misses that era. We attended a lot of European conventions together, and I met my wife through this group of friends. Nick, David, and I attended each other's weddings. What's even better is that we're all still friends, and several of the Tales crew are involved with Chaosium now. 

8. What was the path that took you from working for the Reaching Moon Megacorp to your present one as president of Chaosium?

In the late 90s the Reaching Moon Megacorp was losing steam. A number of us were recently married and starting families. Running conventions and publishing Tales felt too much like work and many on the team scaled back their involvement. With each passing issue of Tales I took on more responsibility with getting the magazine printed and shipped. I enjoyed that side of the business. Moon Design Publications was founded in 1999 because the Megacorp didn't want to take on reprinting RuneQuest material. That deal was struck specifically with Greg Stafford. We started spending more and more time doing business with Greg, and we treated him professionally. We paid him on time. We produced quality products. Greg often consulted us on business matters, especially his own business problems. After the Gloranthan Classics reprint project was wrapped up, we then became the licensed publisher for HeroQuest, and Greg largely retired from publishing to focus on his writing and other interests. He saw what we could do as a company. Having been friends with Greg since the mid-90s we often talked about regular life as well. He knew what my day job was like, which was basically being the Managing Director of a small IT company. One day in 2015 Greg and I were chatting on the phone and he semi-joked "I'd love to find someone like you to run Chaosium, but I don't think you'd ever take the job." I surprised him with "actually, maybe I would". After discussing it with my wife I took the leap, and "ran off to join the circus". It's hard to believe that was a little over six years ago. In some ways, I had been auditioning for the job for over 15 years.

9. How long after you took over Chaosium did you conceive of the idea of the RuneQuest Classic project? What was the original impetus of it and what did you learn from it?

I wanted to reprint the RuneQuest 2nd ed. rules back when we did the Glorantha Classics, but the rights were too fragmented. Chaosium owned the copyright on the text, Avalon Hill/Hasbro owned the Trademark, and Greg owned the "Glorantha" part of it. Greg got the RQ trademark back in 2005 and then licensed it to Mongoose until about 2012. We purchased all of Greg's Glorantha IP and the RQ trademark in 2013. It wasn't until Moon Design got a majority interest in Chaosium in 2015 that we had the final piece of the rights needed to reprint the RQ2 rules. Three of the four volumes of the Glorantha Classics were out-of-print by 2015. The first volume had been printed on old film technology in 1999, so it would have to be redone, plus we had mixed in 3rd edition material into other volumes, so we decided to start fresh and just redo each original RQ2 book individually. The Kickstarter helped breathe more interest back into the RuneQuest RPG. It also raised a lot of money for Moon Design, the profits of which we invested in Chaosium, giving it the funds needed to print the 7th edition books. 

10. Did the success of this project show that there was genuine interest in older editions of your RPGs, thereby laying the groundwork for Call of Cthulhu Classic? Might you consider other similar reprints of classic Chaosium games in the future?

The RuneQuest Classics project did show us that reprinting older RQ material can be lucrative and Kickstarter let us know how many to print without having to guess. I've been an RPG collector for about 40 years now and I have watched the trends in the RPG collectables market for both personal and business reasons. I've also been an auctioneer over 30 times at RPG conventions, and one thing I learned is that older material is sought after, and while some will pay collector prices, many more would happily pay for older items if the price was more reasonable. At Chaosium we have our email which is our main main avenue for all manner of customer inquiries. One fairly common question we get at least every few days, if not every day, is "do you have any copies of old product X lurking in the warehouse" or "do you have any plans to reprint X because I would love to get a copy". Believe it or not, I actually review all of the customer service emails we get, and the team knows to forward ones like those to me to answer directly. Those emails are a big part of why we got Beyond the Mountains of Madness reprinted. That, and I saw people moan about not wanting to pay $200 to get a used copy of it on eBay. As for more such classic reprints of other Chaosium games, the short answer is yes. We're looking at Pendragon in particular, and a few other older licensed properties. Between print on demand, regular print runs, and such we have more options to keep things available than we used to, and why wouldn't we. Some might be cleaned up scans, like Wyrms Footnotes, while others might be fully OCR'd and have their layout redone. It all depends on how big of a demand we see.

11. Are there any upcoming Chaosium projects that might appeal to fans of the company's older material?

There are a number of products that we have in the works that would appeal to fans of our older material. Jason Durall is heading up the development team that is turning the late '70s Chaosium wargame Lords of the Middle Sea into an RPG. It will expand our BRP game universe into another post-apocalyptic future earth setting. The playtests have been going well and we hope to get it into layout soon. Another couple of titles I need to mention are Gaslight and Dreamlands for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. Both of those settings are getting the full color treatment and should also be going into final manuscript form soon. Each of those would also feature a boxed Starter set as your entry point into those realms of the Mythos. As for RuneQuest, the Sartar Campaign pack is also being developed. It builds on material originally written for the Sartar pack we were developing back in the early 80s, around the time when Griffin Mountain and Borderlands came out. Lastly, I need to mention we also have other older titles we will be making available again via POD. We want to get titles similar to Beyond the Mountains of Madness available again, even if we can't update them any time soon. As for which titles, we want to not over promise and under deliver. We will release them as and when we can.

12. Finally, a question I like to ask most people I interview: what RPGs are you playing/refereeing these days?

While I play a lot of one-shot pick-up games at cons and similar, I haven't been able to find the time for a regular weekly or bi-weekly campaign. That said, it is awesome that I work for a company where my colleagues tell me that I need to play more games. My last Heroquest campaign from a few months ago was set just before the Dragonrise, during the start of the Hero Wars. In most situations I prefer to play rather than GM. I have great respect for all the GMs that devote the time to prepare sessions for their players. As for me, I'm generally too much of a last minute person who lives by the motto "If it wasn't for the last minute, I'd have no time at all". I am slowly writing a few things that I hope to GM some day. One is an RQ scenario set in the Upland Marsh, and the other is a 1920s scenario set in the Great Lakes region of the US. I want to play more 7th Sea, but I've been spoiled by only having played the game with John Wick as my GM.


  1. Fascinating. Thanks for posting this interview.

  2. Rick Meints instantly became one of my rpg heroes years ago when I bought the Griffin Mountain reprint he did back in the 2000s. Not only the book gave me access to that classic campaign and resulted in many hours of fun, but he was super nice to interact with by email when I had a few glitches with the shipping. Chaosium is doing great with him at the helm. Speaking of material of interest for fans of older editions it is seldom noted that the compatibility between RQ2 and RQG goes both ways. All the scenario material put out for the new edition can be used with RQ2 with little effort (just ignore the Pendragonesque runes &passions). Books like Smoking Ruin and Pegasus Plateau contain quite a bit of usable material.

  3. I'm actually really excited about the Lords of the Middle Sea RPG. I have fond (albeit probably delusional) memories of the boardgame and a nostalgic fondness for older post-apoc stuff like Gamma World, Thundarr, and Kamandi, so it's really my jam.

    Now if someone will get off their duff and do an RPG for either Minaria (from TSR's Divine Right) or the Valley of the Sword (from SPI's Swords & Sorcery) I'd really be happy. Or maybe a Traveller variant setting based on the Bloodtree Rebellion game's setting?

  4. MIG was one of my favorite RQ products just for the fun factor. Sadly I had to let go of all my original Chaosium/AH/JG RQ and the moon design reprints products about 15 years ago.

    So despite my hard feelings towards NuChaosium for how the KS was handled, I'm definitely thankful to Mr. Meints (et. al.) for the RQ classic products return.