Joe Dever - a life remembered
Darren Pearce recalls veteran RPG writer
Joe Dever was a guest of UK Games Expo in 2015. In November we learnt the sad news that he had died. We asked fellow RPG writer Darren Pearce to write about his life.These are Darren's words:
I grew up around fantasy and science fiction, I was lucky in that regard. My parents introduced me to worlds beyond worlds, other realities and the joy of stories when I was very young. They put me on a path that would intersect with a man who became great friend of mine, a master storyteller, an excellent world-builder and an all-round paragon of the creative works industry I belong to: writing.
I encountered Joe Dever’s work through his Lone Wolf Choose Your Own Adventure Books. I’d long been a fan of Fighting Fantasy by this time, and when I saw these books — they changed the way I approached this kind of interactive fiction — they gave me a singular character I could call my own and wove a spell that still continues strong to this day.
Never in a thousand years did I think I’d actually end up working alongside the man who was a hero to me, or become his friend and never did I think I’d meet him face to face. Every step of the way from my first tentative Signs and Portents Lone Wolf writeup of Port Bax, to my last Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook supplement — Joe Dever was there for me, encouraging me, pointing me the right way, answering endless questions about his world and putting his own finishing touches on everything I’d written to make sure that it meshed with his ideas perfectly.
I loved that, and I loved Joe Dever for his tireless creation regarding Magnamund.
He opened the door to people as well, he introduced me to such wonderful folks as Vincent Lazzari and August Hahn — he was a facilitator of many a great email conversation with Vincent when we worked on the Magnamund Bestiary together and allowed me to create the concept of Clockwork Constructs for Magnamund — he had that much faith in what I wrote. I met many of his fans through him, guys like Olivier Manso who have a genuine fire when they talk about Lone Wolf.
He told me stories about how he could go to Italy and visit the tiniest place, the smallest cafe and he’d catch people taking clandestine photos of him, they knew who he was, even in that remote place. Of course, being Joe, he’d invite them to take a proper photograph.
That was Joe all over. A kind guy, a true gentleman and an exemplar when it came to dealing with his friends and fans. I admit, I’m in tears as I write this, because frankly no words can do justice to this man and his legacy, a man who always had time for me and always had time for his fans. I met him face to face in 2015 at the UK Games Expo and we laughed that it’d been a long time coming, but finally got to meet.
I saw him interact with his fanbase on a level that very few creators actually do, he remained civil and generous even when encountering some of the most outlandish fans of his work. I had many a long chat about Lone Wolf with him there, his passion for it, and his encouragement of my work across the properties that I write for galvanised me to greater heights as a writer.
I was lucky enough to see him again one last time this year, UK Games Expo 2016 where I sat on a great RP panel with him. He supported my comments and helped me through it, since it was my first panel. After he said that he was impressed, I handled it like a pro. We talked again at great length about his plans and projects for Lone Wolf, how the Realm of Sommerlund was different to the seed I’d written for the Multiplayer Gamebook — he never once made me feel like my work was invalid — that was the kind of guy Joe was.
The man may have passed on, but his legacy is strong and Lone Wolf is in safe hands I feel. I give my heartfelt condolences to Joe’s family and friends, to all those fans across the world who loved the man and love his world. Joe was just as beloved by the UK Games Expo team who asked me to write this, so it is with great honour that I say:
His torch burns bright, and we need to keep that flame going.
For Sommerlund, for Joe and for the Kai.
Darren W. Pearce