Dom : Hi, Bob. Can you tell us a bit about yourself ?
Bob : Well you already seem to have the "official" biography already up on your web site. There's no really much to add to it save shifting emphasis on various aspects of my activities and that sort of shifting goes on all the time, making any account outdated almost as soon as its published,
Dom : What are your hobbies besides Rpg's ?
Bob: These days most of my "spare" tie goes into "living history" with La Belle Compagnie, tabletop miniature gaming, or reading about dinosaurs.
Dom : How did you discover Rpg's?
Bob: I was introduced to D&D by a friend way back in college. That was when D&D was three small books that came in a small box. In the first games I ran I had to use customized decks of cards for random number generation as there were no polyhedral dice to had.
Dom : Do you still have the time to play, and what are your favorite games?
Bob: I really don;t play RPGs any more. As to favorites, I think the gamemaster and the group are far more important than the rules. I've played bad games with good rules and vice versa. So the games that stick in my memory are not necessary associated with published rules.
Dom : Can you tell us how you met Scott Bizar and how you came to work for FGU?
Bob: That requires dredging up some memories that seem to be fading into the mists of time. If I recall correctly about the time Aftermath! was being put together for a company called Phoenix games, Phoenix was having trouble. Paul Hume and I got the word that Scott at FGU was interested in picking it up, so we went up to New York to talk things over with him and cut a deal. It was somewhat later that I went on board at FGU as Art Director.
Dom : You designed the covers of the Star Atlases and you made also the deck plans of the Seldon's Compendium of Starcraft 1 & 2. Did you met Ed. Simbalist for this project? How did you worked together?
Bob: I seem to recall being introduced to Ed a convention once, Briefly. We never really got a chance to talk. As to the Seldon's books. The stats for the ships came in to FGU and Scott handed them to me and said "draw deck plans. I ran the numbers through the rules, found some discrepancies, and asked how to fix them. Scott said to fudge it. So I did the deck plans and tried to make them match as well as I could and still be interesting, both as a playing environment and as a visual image.
Dom : Did you met the other authors of Space Opera, Phil Mc Gregor or Mark Ratner? Or the staff that worked on the other supplements (ie: Steven Richardson, the author of the "Fasolt in Peril" adventure for which you draw the cover)? Do you have still some contacts with other authors or people at FGU?
Bob: I met Mark and some of the others at conventions but I don't really have contact with any of them. FGU was "staffed" by freelance authors from all over the world. Getting together wasn't really in the cards. And all of this was pre-email, so "chatting" wasn't easy or cheap either.
Dom : Did you have some material for Space Opera that was never published? If so, could SO fans hope to see them one day?
Bob: The closest thing to unpublished Space opera material I have is some master figures that were to follow up the first release of the 15mm figure line that FGU briefly sold.
Dom : I always wonder why you made, in 1982, the cover of the SO box which looks very closely to Gene Day's version. Can you explain this mystery?
Bob: It was a technical issue as I recall. There needed to be a new printing and the original artwork was unavailable, so a new painting needed to be made. Scott liked Gene's piece and I wanted to follow it closely as an homage.
Dom : Besides SO supplements, you made two other FGU's rpg flagships (Bushido and Aftermath!) and the classic "Shadowrun" of FASA (not to mention the novels set in the BattleTech and Shadowrun universes) . How did you come to be such a prolific author ? As a designer, where does your inspiration come from?
Bob: Actually I tend to think of myself as a slow writer who doesn't get much out since I spend too much time fussing with it. Inspiration, as always, comes from anywhere and everywhere. That's all one can really say about it in general. Specific inspirations can be pointed at for specific things, but even then it's not always clear. Humans are really good at processing things through their subconscious minds and losing track of where the sources were.
Dom : What are your professional projects at the moment and for the years to come?
Bob: Let's see . . . A new MechWarrior book just came out (Initiation to War) but mostly these days I am sculpting. I've got a little sideline of personal figures called Parroom Station Miniatures underway to feed my current obsession with Victorian Science Fiction/Steampunk gaming. As to the future, who knows? Always in motion is the future.
Dom : After all these years, are you surprised by the continuing popularity of Space Opera?
Bob: A little, given the general trend in Rpgs toward less complicated mechanics. But see answer to next question.
Dom : Do you get a lot of messages from fans around the world, particularly concerning Space Opera?
Bob: If Space opera is what you enjoy, keep playing it. It's the game the players make with their stories and interactions that's the point, not the rules or supplements published (or nor published) by the manufacturers. Play games, have fun!
Dom : Have you seen the web site? What would you like to find there?
Bob: Yes I cruised through it. Looks like you're doing a good job but, as disconnected from Space Opera as I am these days, I don't feel qualified to suggest anything.
Dom : Finally, what message would you like to give to all the Space Opera fans?
Bob: As I said above: play games, have fun!
Dom : Thanks again Bob for having taken the time to answer our questions.