Erick Wujcik

This website is dedicated to Erick Wujcik, game designer, writer, artist, originator of ideas, thinker and kind soul. Friend to countless people and an inspiration to thousands upon thousands more.

He is one of my dearest friends, so it is with a heavy heart that I report Erick Wujcik, age 56, is dying of cancer.

Until a few weeks ago, Erick was healthy and doing fine. He was enjoying his work at Totally Games, a videogame company, when he thought he had come down with the flu. When he couldn’t shake it, he went to the doctors. The prognosis was unexpected, to say the least. Pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver. There was no advance warning. It was a shock. Erick presses forward with the willful exuberance he has exhibited all his life.

We thought about letting people know after Christmas, but Erick’s time is, all too quickly, running out.

We thought it would be wonderful to give the millions of people who have loved the man and enjoyed his games, the opportunity to express their appreciation for him and his work. I have no doubt your comments and remembrances will put a smile on Erick’s face and help his spirit soar.

While this is sad news that weighs heavily on our hearts, we’d like this website, and the comments posted on it, to be a celebration of Erick’s wonderful life.

Just as you did when Palladium announced its Crisis of Treachery, let Erick know how much you have enjoyed his games and ideas. How Ninja Turtles (or Amber or whatever) turned you on to gaming or opened up your mind to new possibilities, and similar commentaries, thoughts and regards. I know your kind words and warm remembrances will put a smile on his face and warm his soul.

We’ve chosen to go with a blog style. Post as often as you’d like. Share your recollections about encounters with Erick, the first time you heard him speak or met him at a convention, what he and his work have meant to you, funny convention stories, and whatever else feels right.

The Erick I know

I’ve often said two things about Erick Wujcik, 1) that he is a true game designing genius, and 2) that he is a true Bohemian.

The game design genius. I’ve known a great many people who have claimed to be a genius at game design or covet the title, but Erick really is a genius, at least when it comes to game design. He mastered the art of storytelling and understands the dynamics of game design better than anyone I’ve ever met. Erick has created more great games that have never been completed and published than most game designers dream about.

That drives me and others a little crazy, because Erick’s quick mind leaps from one great idea to the next with the exuberance of a child lunging from one present to the next on Christmas Day. Like that child, he is enthralled with his new toy – new idea – until something else catches his attention. Unfortunately, that sometimes means his great ideas are left unfinished, but boy, are they exciting, and I’ve had the privilege of hearing many of them.

That’s the other aspect of Erick’s genius, his enthusiasm and hunger for new ideas, and desire to stretch the boundaries of convention, is contagious. He can get you (certainly me) excited and going with an idea faster than anyone I know. To Erick, there are no limits or boundaries. “Why not” and “what if” and “how about” are essential parts of Erick’s vocabulary. If you float an idea or notion of any merit, he seizes it and starts to postulate on its premise and potential. “That’s cool, but what if . . .”

I cannot tell you how often Erick and I would feed on each other, throwing out ideas and building on suggestions and excitement until we both collapsed laughing and exhausted. Sometimes those idea sessions (often impromptu) went nowhere other than fun, playful mental exercises. Other times they’d lead to new perceptions, new realms of possibility, and published works or a personal epiphany.

Erick helped me fine-tune parts of the Palladium role-playing game universal game system way back when. Not at some office (heck, we were both working out of our homes), but at a laundromat on Michigan Avenue in southwest Detroit. I was second guessing myself and frustrated. Erick had to wash his clothes. So we met at a place near my house and chatted about character creation, the elements that made them fun, which attributes were necessary, were eight too many, etc., while waiting for his clothes to wash and folding his shirts. The people around us must have thought we were crazy. So did my ex-wife when Erick would “drop by for an hour” at 8:00 P.M. to talk about a new idea or something he read, and at midnight he and I would be still be going strong, excitedly talking about . . . god only knows till the wee hours of the morning. Awesome. By then we would have moved well beyond the original reason he stopped by. I love talking to Erick about anything and everything. From game and story ideas or new concepts, to the application of psychology or technology or theology, to personal thoughts, fears, dreams and aspirations.

Erick the Bohemian. I call Erick a true Bohemian, because I don’t think I know anybody who enjoys life more deeply than Erick. He loves meeting new people, visiting new places, exploring new ideas, tasting new food, and taking in everything and everyone around him. Furthermore, his personal circumstances are always secondary to his enjoyment of his surroundings and the people in them. Erick’s sense of wonder is endless. We’re similar in that regard, as we both love new ideas and quickly see the endless possibilities they represent. But Erick simply immerses himself in them and floats along just enjoying wherever they may take him. He’s not necessarily looking to figure out how to apply them or exploit them, at least not at that moment of discovery, he’s simply adrift in them and soaking in all they have to offer.

Money, fame and recognition are nice, and Erick isn’t going to turn any of them away, but they aren’t necessities. Rich or poor, Erick has never changed. Maybe he enjoys a little more luxury, but it’s the experience of interacting with people, the exchange of ideas and sheer pleasure of experiencing something new that brings Erick joy. That, and creating and inspiring others to push the envelope and imagine beyond the known limits.

Gosh, there are so many stories I could tell, but I’ll stop here, for now. While I’m smiling, ear to ear, in the warmth of my friendship.

On behalf of Erick Wujcik and his many friends and admirers,

– Kevin Siembieda – December 22, 2007

Publisher and owner of Palladium Books® Inc., game designer, writer, artist and lucky son of gun for having Erick Wujcik as one of my dearest friends for nearly 30 years. Your light will live on, Erick, in your published works and in the hearts and minds of the multitude of people whose souls you have touched and made better for it. Love ya.

Comments (461)

  • Hello Erick,

    Forgive me for writing so late in the day as it were, but what do you say to a man who has influenced your life so profoundly? I’ve thought about what I would say hoping to share with you all that you’ve contributed to my life. From the hours of enjoyment exploring worlds I created in my own mind and the worlds created in the minds of others with you and the maps you created as our guides. To the career path I’ve finally chosen to undertake in pursuing my dream to show those worlds to others through word, and film. How do you thank a man who’s given you a place of refuge through the most trying years of your youth, and even the briefest respites in moments of loss?
    I was given my first copy of Ninjas & Super spies for my thirteenth birthday in 1990 it was a gift from my mother (I asked for it she went to the store and picked it up) The cover is long gone some of the pages have come lose and fallen out despite my trying to keep them together. I’ve even bought a second copy for the time when I’m forced to retire that one and still, it’s my favorite.
    You’ve made my friends and I laugh, you’ve made us cry (well that one really wasn’t YOUR fault but he put days into making that character)
    Thank you for all you’ve done for all of us who were lucky enough to enjoy your work on behalf of myself and all those who have not found the words

  • Zelazny’s Amber novels are my favorite series, so when I was in middle school and I came across an ad in Dragon magazine for an Amber RPG, I ordered the game right away. It was wonderful to finally see portraits of all my favorite characters, and the game revealed so many facets of the Amber universe that I’d never considered before even after dozens of rereadings. I wrote you the only fan letter I ever wrote in my life, and I used to run home every day from school to check my mailbox and see if Shadow Knight had arrived. I’ve reread Amber DRPG and Shadow Knight countless times, and in over a dozen years seldom a day has gone by that I haven’t spent at least a few moments thumbing through them. I haven’t actually played Amber since high school, but I still study your books so thoroughly because they’re just such terrific companions to the Amber series and also such great meditations on the art of storytelling. I’m now a professional author, and I feel that the lessons I learned from you via the Amber RPG played a significant role in my development as a writer. For this and for all the hours of pleasure that I’ve gotten from you work, I can never thank you enough.

  • What Erick Wujcik says to me . . .

    I spoke with Erick Wujcik on Monday for quite a while. He sounded great. If you didn’t know better, you’d never know there was anything wrong. In fact, he told me how he drove himself to the dentist office to get his teeth checked and cleaned. An action that surprised many of the people around him.

    No, Erick is not enjoying some miraculous recovery. The cancer is killing him. He just refuses to lie down and die.

    How unreal it must be, to know you are slowing dying. Yet while your body is suffering and failing, your mind is sharp, your dreams and desires still bubbling within, and the world around you still spins.

    So why go to see the dental hygienist and get your teeth cleaned? Because Erick is not done living and it brings such joy to my heart to see that. God, I love you, Erick.

    That’s right Erick, go see the dental hygienist. Do NOT stop living for a minute. You are an inspiration to me, my friend, and, I hope, to everyone around you.

    Senator Ted Kennedy being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor has spawned talk about him and cancer all over the airwaves. That news and my experiences with Erick made me stop and think about love, life and how uncertain our lives really are.

    Our lives can change in a heartbeat or end in a blink. We never know when, where or how our lives may change – good or bad, expected or unexpected.

    Change can be jarring, difficult and often unwanted. It may be scary or painful, but it can also be exciting, liberating and offer a world of new opportunity. Like most everything else in life, ultimately, change is what we make it.

    I’m not just talking about death and dying but all kind of change. Several weeks ago I broke up with my sweetheart, Kathy Simmons, and moved into my own apartment. It is a big change. I’d like to think it’s the right thing for both of us. However, it sure wasn’t easy. Even though it was my choice, the transition has been sad and sobering. I’m glad to say Kathy is staying on at Palladium (she does a great job) and we hope to stay friends, but the change in our relationship has been profound and difficult.

    That’s why we need to live our lives to the fullest and without regret. To live as if there may be no tomorrow, because that tomorrow we imagine might never come, or it may bring unexpected change. That’s not an endorsement to be wild, stupid, cruel, selfish or hedonistic. Just the opposite. We need to live well. To express our love, dreams and feelings to the people who matter most to us. To show a little kindness and consideration even to strangers. To thank the checkout clerk for ringing up and bagging your purchase. To greet someone with a smile and to show our appreciation and respect for others.

    As beautiful as a sunrise may be, it pales when compared to the beautiful smile of a loving parent, the glee of a son or daughter, the approving nod from a caring friend, or the gentle caress of a loved one. It is people who fill our lives with beauty and wonderment. Oh sure, rainbows, sunsets, music, artwork and countless other things can touch our souls and warm our hearts, but nothing – NOTHING – touches us as deeply as the love, acceptance, and camaraderie of another human being. It’s what makes us tick.

    Consequently, relationships with people like Erick Wujcik, Kathy Simmons, Alex Marciniszyn, and countless others have brought great warmth, joy, beautiful and meaning into my life. We’ve shared our lives, fears and dreams with each other. We’ve touched each other’s soul, and it has helped to give our own dreams wings, to show us how to live and love better, and helped to discover new things about ourselves and the world around us. Our lives are that much brighter and better because of that friendship, openness and honesty.

    When the Crisis of Treachery happened, the foul deeds of one man were set right by an outpouring from thousands. THOUSANDS of people who cared. THOUSANDS of fans and friends who stopped what they were doing to buy a print or some product, and/or to send us their words of love, hope and encouragement in a letter or an email or posting online. Thousands responded in the hope of making a difference, and they did. It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever experienced.

    You want to see the face of God? All you need to do is take a look at the face of that special someone . . . your friend, your lover, your spouse, your parent, your sibling, your child . . . or anyone who gives a damn about you, and He’s right there looking back at you.

    Oh sure, there are hardships, disappointment, sorrow, pain and loss. Life can be hard. Love that once blossomed may fade away. Friends can drift apart, and the lives of people you hold dear may end much too soon (and isn’t it always too soon when you love somebody, even if they are 99 years old?).

    Like I said, life is uncertain and ever-changing. But it can also be wondrous, thrilling, and full of magic. If you let it, life can be beautiful beyond imagination. It can be filled with one miracle after another, and overflowing with love, warmth and satisfaction.

    Live life well. Without regret or words left unspoken. Strive to be true to others and don’t forget to be true to yourself. Unleash your talents. Add to the joy, not the dung heap. Try to make the world a better place even if it’s only with a smile or a kind word to someone else. You’d be surprised at how much a gentle hug, a smile, a few kinds words, sincere encouragement, or the simplest act of kindness can mean to someone. It’s a gift. A gift we can all give to others, and it’s a gift that pays dividends to make our own life richer.

    My Mom, Dad, Erick Wujcik, Kathy Simmons, Alex, Wayne, and a multitude of other people, from family and friends to casual acquaintances, have enriched my life in countless ways. This magic was done by caring and touching my life in so many little ways.

    Erick Wujcik is an example of the wonder and joy living well can bring! Erick is dying, but he’s sure as heck not dead. He is living his life as he always has: to the fullest. A life filled with appreciation for people, ideas and beauty. A life filled with love, goodness, friendship, sharing, and a sense of wonder. Even now, Erick has time and kind words for other people. Even now, he cares about his friends, loved ones and the act of living. He hasn’t curled up into a ball, given up, or lost himself to the darkness of despair. No, he welcomes and drinks in every word and simple pleasure that comes his way. He embraces friendship, love, and life. That’s why Erick feels joy and calm in his final days. That’s why he went to the dental hygienist, because he’s alive and living, and plans to keep doing so until Fate decrees otherwise. That’s why Erick has defied every single estimate placed on him by doctors and experts for his inevitable demise. That’s why Erick Wujcik continues to defy the odds, outlast the prognosis, and continues to enjoy life with a smile on his face and a song (or would that be a game idea?) in his heart.

    Even now Erick is softly, subtly, telling us “no regrets, be happy, love and be loved. Live life well with sincerity, openness and honesty. Leave no words left unsaid. Find the humor, kindness, compassion and joy people have to offer. Live life to the fullest, and live it to the very, very end.”

    Kevin Siembieda
    Publisher, Writer, Artist and Beloved Friend

    © Copyright May 21, 2008 Palladium Books Inc. All rights reserved.
    Rifts®, The Rifter®, RECON®, Splicers®, Palladium Books®, Phase World®, The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game®, Megaverse®, Nightbane®, The Mechanoids®, The Mechanoid Invasion®, Coalition Wars® and After the Bomb® are Registered Trademarks of Palladium Books Inc. Heroes Unlimited, Beyond the Supernatural, and other published book titles, names, slogans and likenesses are trademarks of Palladium Books Inc., and Kevin Siembieda.

  • Thanks for your help. You and Kevin were a great help when I needed somebody to step in. Had no idea how much pain I was in. You are an example of what humans should strive to be.

    Peace and love



    “…I’m opening a show off broadway about my mother in October, i’m doing this to raise awareness to the destruction cancer and bereavement can have on families…

    My mother was an amazing women and I wish i could spend my whole life honoring her…”



    -Norm “Harlequin Black”

  • I first met Erick in November, 2000, at the Chicagoland CONclave, but had e-mail contact with him even prior to that.

    I got to play in his “Quantum Time” experimental RPG session as well as one of his Amber scenarios. It was a fantastic weekend of gaming and gave me a chance to sit back with him for a few hours and talk about his gaming philosophy and where the Amber franchise might or might not go in the future. Watching his Game Mastering style first hand allowed me to finally understand how ADRP is supposed to be played. Erick even signed my copy of the ADRP rulebook, but with a couple dots and a line (which looks nothing like a signature).

    Over the years I have continued to communicate with him through e-mail and on message boards. Last July I started my own Amber message board and am proud to say that Erick was one of the first to join and that he even posted a few times.

    While I didn’t get to know him as well as I would have liked, each time I exchanged correspondence he always said he remembered that weekend in Chicago. While he may just have said that to make me feel good (I’m sure he met hundreds of gamers over the years) I know that for me that November in Chicago is one that I will remember forever.

    Thank you Erick. You will be missed but your legacy remains.

  • I just realized on my way to my bus stop last night that I was at that moment carrying my stuff in one of the Phage Press bags that Erick gave us, gratis, at a GenCon many years ago. Thanks again, Erick: we’ve gotten your money’s worth out of them.

  • Erick will be missed. he was a friend… a good friend. he helped me become a great game master.i will miss our chats at GenCon. and the Amber Game. Erick is walking the Pattern. God Bless, everyone… Palladium books will miss him too. he was an of a kind… a true friend… who, one day at GenCon milwaukee in 1990 he sat down at my Robotech: Sentinels game and played until the caffiene lost its effect!


    Just want to thank everyone who has posted comments and visited this site.
    Erick was my only sibling. Two years older. I now realize I was his original gaming partner.. Growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s, our relationship was all play and fantasy and he would constantly prod me to play more. We played every board game imaginable and set up vast cities in his room using every toy he had including his Lionel train set, Erector set, and flying helicopter.

    As Children, we were always together and traveled extensively with our parents.
    As adults our travels extended in opposite directions and we spent little time together.
    But through this website and the many sites that I have discovered from “googling” Erick, I have been able to follow his life and learn so much more about him and the people that he touched.
    I had no idea how famous Erick was!!!
    Thank you!!

  • Kevin’s TMNT game introduced me to roleplaying games as a kid.

    I didn’t know of D and D other than the cartoon or what roleplaying was, but I soon got hooked to his game and dragged my friends into playing too.

    Amber the game also made me aware of the Amber series of books which I’m just starting to read now, and as I started to look up the game out of sake of nostalgia I find out the guy who got me into all this stuff has passed away.

    I don’t know why, but life always takes away the best people and never the worst.

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