During the second era of TSR — the one that started after Gary Gygax had been forced out of the company he’d founded — Jim Ward served as the vice president of the company. He’d been there almost since the very start, having written Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, one of the first D&D supplements. He later wrote Deities & Demigods, with Rob Kuntz.
Under Jim’s watch, the company published many great games, most notably Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. He was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame in 1989. His own best-known titles include Metamorphosis Alpha, the original Dragonball Z collectible card game, and the legendary Gamma World, which Wizards of the Coast just published in a new edition.
Jim’s been a freelance game designer and consultant for much of the time since he left TSR, except for a stint as the president of Fast Forward Entertainment. He’s made a good go of it, but the last few years have not been good to him, mostly because of his deteriorating health. For a long time, Jim and his local doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on, only that it was bad. Recently, though, he had some luck at the Mayo Clinic, where they diagnosed him with a neurological disorder for which they seem to have a treatment that should hopefully make his condition manageable if serious.
Of course, this has put a serious dent in Jim’s life. He and his wife have decent health insurance, but the co-pays are substantial. Also, he’s not been able to be nearly as productive as normal during this time, and freelancers only get paid when they work.
A group of Jim’s friends — led by Tim Kask, the founding editor of Dragon Magazine — have formed an fund for helping out Jim. It’s called Friends of Starship Warden, and it’s already up and running. If you can chip in a few bucks for a guy who helped form the tabletop gaming hobby and brought us all a lot of fun over the years, please do.