When I first fell in love with Dungeons & Dragons as a teen, that name was magical to me. It conjured images of a powerful wizard, gifting arcane knowledge to gamers everywhere with a constant flow of new dungeons, monsters, and rules. I knew he was just a man, of course, but in those days I had never seen a photo and most of what I read by him were super crunchy articles in Dragon magazine, nothing personal.
About a decade later, having been shacked up for a few years in a monogamous relationship with GURPS — my second gaming love — a new exotic name began popping up, first as a freelance editor and question guru and then as the GURPS Line Editor…
I believe Sean Punch took his online handle from a recurring character in his games, but it always made me picture a powerful Cimmerian god, three mighty stone d6s in hand, granting the mortals new gaming goodies as the whim struck him.
But Kromm slowly grew well beyond that distant caricature. I would never claim to know the man, but I feel like we, the GURPS community, “know” him. At this point, we’ve been reading his forum posts for well over a decade, and his canon writings for longer. He shares thoughts on his blog, engages in social media. I’ve seen pictures of him, and his lovely wife, and his wonderful friends. I’ve watched video interviews of him chatting and joking with GURPS fans. I know he’s a physicist, and loves to dance, and mix drinks, and play wild RPGs with his friends. It is definitely not a bad thing to see an example of a man with such a full life who just happens to be a gamer.
In addition to co-authoring the revamped and improved Fourth Edition, he has written two of the best GURPS series ever — Power-Ups and Action — which expand the Basic Set into an even more “narrative” style of play (Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys is my favorite GURPS book in years). When I was working on “How to Be a GURPS GM,” he was always supportive and treated me like any other writer, not the noob I was. 🙂 I really appreciated that.
Also on that project, I was provided a spreadsheet of every single forum post Kromm had ever made to that time – 8,422! As I pored over them for days and days, two things became evident. First, he never posted a rule error that I recall. Not once. (Though I attribute this more to his being such a professional that he takes time to check sources on anything he isn’t 100% sure of before posting, and probably not because he is a rogue AI loose in the Internet. Still… you never know).
Second, he was never anything but completely kind, helpful, and non-snarky. Ignored insults, veiled or otherwise, and answered the same questions over and over (and over) patiently and without condescension, a rare feat indeed!
What I’m basically saying is, Kromm is much more than a great gamer. He is also a great all-around guy, one we’re lucky enough to have as the shepherd of our favorite game system. I raise my dice in recognition of the many thousands of hours of fun his passion for GURPS and games has brought to us all.
Happy Birthday and Bonne Fête, Kromm! May it be an incredible celebration.
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