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Darren Watts In Hospital

Steve Long

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Darien Watts. Don't think of this as a passing of life, but a beginning of an Isikai anime. (Most "other world" anime these days kill the hero off in the "real" world so there is no hope or worry about going home when the story ends.)


Darien will be missed.

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39 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

What to say? What to say? How do I offer the comfort so many people need in a time like this?


We just make sure his family knows that Darren mattered to us. It's up to them to tell us if they want something more.

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21 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

EDIT: BTW I posted news of Darren's passing on the forums for Champions Online. I thought they should know about one of the major creators of the world they play in.


Thank you very much for doing that, LL. It hadn't even occurred to me, and in any event it's been maaaany years since CO recognized any of my log-in information.

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The first time I met Darren Watts, I was in the middle of a game at Gen Con. He gave me his DOJ business card and wanted to talk to me after. He respected my work on fanzines such as Haymaker, Rogues Gallery, and The Clobberin' Times. He and Steven S. Long later offered me a job writing and editing at Hero Games. The timing wasn't right for me, sadly, but I did get to manage/edit the in-house magazine Digital Hero for its full run. 


We always had a blast together, hanging out at the booth, running or playing games together, or otherwise just shooting the breeze. I usually acted as the GM Assistant in Darren's "Build & Brawl" Champions games, in which players started with a blank character sheet and dozens of books spread around the table, with Darren and I as rules experts to help players get going. I was surprised at how many first-timers we'd get, and they'd always come up with great ideas:

  • a first-time player made a superhero who would push her opponents into a different dimension with no way back
  • the planet Earth, who apparently had a secret ID, and would occasionally fight other superbeings
  • a brain in a jar who wore a domino mask to protect his secret identity as another brain in a different jar


I helped run the special Champions 30th anniversary game along with Rod Currie, in which Foxbat had somehow changed the timeline and made himself an honest-to-gosh superhero, admired by millions (Foxbat and His Amazing Friends). Darren, Steven, and Jason Walters were the VIP players, along with several lucky other gamers, who went back in time to prevent him from kidnapping Steve Peterson, George MacDonald, Raymond Greer, and Bruce Harlick and forcing them to change his character origin in the original source material.


For the past three years, I've loved listening to his Explain This, Comics Guys podcast, where he'd take us all on a behind-the-scenes tour of the early days of the comic book industry. Every episode I'd learn a dozen things that I didn't know, despite being a lifelong nerd myself. 


Darren's passing will leave a hole in the industry and in my circle of friends. Darren was a hero.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Posted this on Facebook but I'll share it here too.


knew Darren Watts for just over 20 years. I first met him in person in line for a burger at the convention center food court the night before Origins 2002. At the time, I was regularly GMing Hero System games at Gen Con (and sometimes Origins). That night, he invited me to join him and Steve Long at their table and from that point on, I felt like I was part of the HERO family.


But that was Darren. He had a knack for making people feel welcome, in a way that felt geniune not schmoozy. Hanging out with Darren (and the rest of the Hero folk) becam a cherished part of my convention-going experiences. When he and Diane moved from San Franccisco to New York and Darren got involved with the Double Exposure conventions in NJ, I started attending those cons regualrly. In fact, since I have an aunt who lives in Manhattan, it was not uncommon for me to fly in a couple of days before a Double Exposure con to spend time with my aunt, wander New York City, grab a Tuesday night dinner with Darren before guest starring his current campaign, and then meeting up with him to take the train out to Morristown for the con.


I always enjoyed my chats with Darren.And we always seemed to find something to talk about: RPGs and HERO System in particular, the game industry, baseball, comic books, Jeopardy!, movies, musical theater, various TV shows, and more. And every once in a while, those chats would become deeper and more serious. He introduced me to Scoresheet Baseball, a sophisticated fantasy baseball simulation and to Learned League, an ongoing trivia league featuring many Jeopardy! champs and other top trivia players. And while I have never become a fan of Lucha wrestling or Lucha movies, I gained an appreciation for the genre, thanks to Darren.


Darren also played a role in getting my game Last Word Standing published. I was having trouble finding a publisher for the game and Darren was doing some consulting work for Chronicle Books' game division. He asked me if I wanted him to talk to Chronicle about the game, I said yes, and they ended up publishing it.


In short, Darren Watts had a large impact on my life and his passing has left a huge hole in it. It's hard to believe that there will be no great meals togetherat Chef Fredy's Table, no more drinking Rum Swizzles together at the Hyatt bar, no more texting Darren if I want more info on a player that the Jays have just acquired, no more listening to Darren expound on comic book history on the Explain This, Comics Guys podcast, and most disturbingly, no more Darren.


I don't think Darren believed in an afterlife and neither do I, but right now, I kind of hope that we are both wrong. Good-bye, Darren. My life was definitely better for having known you.


EDIT: Corrected Origins 2022 to Origins 2002.


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I can't explain how sad that makes me feel.  Its like a double blow to lose a gaming guy whose work I enjoyed, and to lose that podcast, which was something I looked forward to so eagerly.  Like Mattingly says, I learned so much every episode, it was like folding back a part of the world I never even thought to ask about.

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