About Jake

My name is Jake Thornton and I am a professional game designer, writer and editor who has been working in the game industry since the 80s.

Depending on your personal vintage, you may know me from my Fugitive Games days and projects such as The Fugitive magazine and Battle of the Halji. Perhaps more likely is remembering me from my days as the Editor of Games Workshop’s well-known White Dwarf magazine. More recently my series of Dwarf King’s Hold games for Mantic has been attracting a lot of positive attention, as has my collection of Greek mythology games (published by Foundry) called Tribes of Legend.

Over the years I’ve worked on many other game related projects and jobs, including design work for Warhammer 6th edition, managing Blood Bowl, Necromunda and Mordheim and designing and publishing standalone board games such as Lost Patrol. Of course, this published output is only the very small tip of a very large iceberg of unpublished game designs, more of which you will see shortly.

I currently provide a freelance game design and consultancy service to a number of companies including Mantic Games and Foundry as well as others who shall have to remain nameless until their projects go live. My work includes board games, tabletop games, computer games and RPGs.

This is the second incarnation of this site and the severalth year I’ve been using the name Quirkworthy (so you may find it on gaming forums, BGG, and so on). It’s a site for me to talk to the gaming public about games I’m working on, games I’m playing and just gaming in general.

54 Responses to About Jake

  1. Mike says:

    Autobiography???

    Hello Jake. You’re bit of a celebrity in the world of tabletop wargaming. You see back in the 90s you edited White Dwarf magazine when it was at its very best, you were involved in a lot of the leading game design projects, you wrote the brilliant Orc and Goblin army book (the year 2000 edition) and you mingled with the leading figures of the hobby: Andy Chambers, Ian Pickstock, Adrian Wood, Jervis Johnson, John Blanch, Robin Dews, Mike McVey, the lot. I wonder if you ever considered writing a mini autobiography about those crucial and interesting years at GW/White Dwarf? I’m sure you’d get many readers.

    PS – I’ve just come across your website, really like what I’ve seen so far. Excellent.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hi Mike, and thanks for the complements.

      An Autobiography! What a notion! Perhaps one day, but I think it’s a bit early to do such an account now, even a mini one, and even if my memory was good enough. Whilst the current crop of pop stars can have their ghost writers turn out an “autobiography” at 20 years old, I doubt there’s the interest for GW in the 90s. Even if there was you’d really want someone like Rick to write it. I’ll mention it to him when I next see him and see what he thinks. One difficulty I can foresee is that the industry is so small that all the real scandals can’t be told without offending people you meet and work with. Perhaps people have to die first.

      That sounded melodramatic!

  2. Carl Brown says:

    Hey Jake!

    I’ve been following the current incarnation of your blog for quite a while (it’s a good read) and thought I’d drop in and say hello. I used to work in the studio back in the 90s – we crossed spiked shoulder pads on the BB field a few times.

    Ping me an email if you get a chance.
    :)

  3. tornquistd says:

    I enjoyed that reply a lot! :D

    If someone wanted to hire you how would they proceed?

  4. And if you hear this ping from Jake´s direction ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1c_pF5qoc ) you better pack and run ;) !

  5. I see no evidence of any transgressions.

    Hm, thats sounds like our Bundespräsident at the moment. ;)

    But It could also be from a certain Hoover or MacArthur….

  6. tornquistd says:

    My favorite moving line is:
    “I would like to hear more about this wet bone”

  7. GraemePaul says:

    I just stumbled across your patch of the internet via the warseer dreadfleet thread. Nice to see your still around Jake and doing something you enjoy for a living.

    I remember White Dwarf between Robin Dews and Paul Sawyer’s tenure (Andy Chambers looking like a Space Wolf and Jervis Johnson like Roy Orbison). It was a good hobby Magazine back then.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks GP. We did try :)

      This blog is, in some ways, a sort of extended editorial, and so is the spiritual successor of my time on White Dwarf. Of course, the library of games has evolved, but many of the core ideas and ideals have remained the same.

      I hope you enjoy this blog as much as you did the old WDs.

  8. Pingback: QUIRKWORTHY, “Tis the Season” | Under the Mountain

  9. Monkey's Blood says:

    Hmmm… Tribes of Legend, eh? Not heard of that one. I’m a sucker for Greek Myths n’ that too. Damn you, Thornton. You’ve already got me dragged into Dreadball, this could be another kick in the wallet! :)

  10. MythicKhan says:

    Hi Jake,

    Just to say I’ve been really impressed so far with DreadBall. I invested in the kickstarter at Jack level (+ a Forge Father team) and I’m looking forward to the stuff arriving. I would’ve gone striker, but what with operating on a student budget I think my wallet is more vocal than most :P

    I just had two questions that I wanted to ask, and thought this place was as good as any!

    1) I don’t want to appear odd or rude here, it’s just my personal opinion, but I was just wondering if there was going to be a consideration to balance out those coaches that buy cheerleaders and those that won’t? I don’t go in for scantily clad female models, I find them slightly disturbing and mildly offensive to women in general (and real cheerleaders for that matter), and my corporation team, the New Krioltan Ironsides, will not be hiring them (although they do have women on the roster itself). Basically, will my team be competitive if it doesn’t hire cheerleaders? Or perhaps I should just roll with it and have some equivalent for the Ironsides (like a big screen video that plays when they score, using the cheerleading rules…)

    2) There wasn’t much info on the kickstarter, so how do the Asterians play? If you don’t mind me asking!

    Many thanks and all the best,

    Khan

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hi Khan,

      1) cheerleaders are nubile young ladies in the real world, and so it’s hardly surprising that this is what you can expect in the future (if it ain’t broke…). However, if you do think it’s broke as a concept, then there is no reason why you couldn’t get, say, a few robot models and give them pompoms so you could use them as cheerleaders ;)

      I’ve worked out the cheerleader rules, but not finalised their cost. If it’s a fixed cost then anyone choosing not to take them will be at a disadvantage at some point in the ramping up form new team to league veteran. That’s unavoidable. The two conceptual alternatives I can think of of immediately which would balance this better are having the cost be relative to the team ranking, but that’s a bit arbitrary and nothing else works that way. Alternatively, and this is the way I am leaning, just make them cheap sop everyone can get them without much sweat. This latter solution to the balance issue doesn’t deal directly with your issue of how it balances without them, but I was imagining cheerleaders to be fairly universal and wasn’t wanting to put a major barrier in the way of fielding them.

      As I said above, regardless of the models which Mantic make for them (and I am encouraging them to make as wide a variety as possible), you can always field replacements if you prefer them with the same game effect.

      2) Don’t really know yet. I’ve been concentrating on the Season 2 teams first, and the Asterians are Ultimate. Something fast and throwy I’d expect, looking at them, but that alone is not really that interesting (and is also true of the Judwan), so they ned a bit more pondering. On the other hand, after the tentacles and teleporters, perhaps another relatively sane team would be a good idea.

      • MythicKhan says:

        Many thanks for the reply Jake, I’ve been really impressed with the way in which Mantic and yourself have been talking to the public about the game! I think I’ll try and come up with alternative cheerleaders for most of my teams, the Ironsides are the easy ones because Krioltan has always been themed on the Cromwellian Protectorate, so I suppose I could have preachers harangue the crowd for every score (which on New Krioltan actually works lol!)

        Now to design cheerleaders for my other teams….

        Another thing is, when do I get a Firefly themed Rebel MVP for the ‘Barrow Browncoats’? :P

  11. Ben says:

    Hi Jake,

    i’m very excited about the coming release of your new dread ball game. I’m also getting one Striker-deal with a friend of mine.
    There is just one thing i’m concerned about: It’s the starplayer “number 88″. For german customers this might be an issue, because “88” is a popular code among right-wing extremists for “Heil Hitler” (hail to Hitler). Since this phrase is forbidden in Germany to show or express in public, they use 88 (H is 8th letter in alphabet). So its not uncommon to see Skinheads or the like with T-Shirts or Jackets with a big “88” on it. Maybe its still possible to change the name? I’m sure there are other “mysterious numbers” you could use. I think in germany everybody who knows a bit about skinheads knows this code. So i will always feel uncomfortable to say “my number 88 is doing this or that”. I hope you will seriously consider to do something about this.
    By theway: i’m seconding Khan, that the cheerleading concept is not inclusive for many female customers.

    Thanks and good luck for your coming release, Ben

    P.S.: i also used the contact-form on mantic-hp, though i think an answer on one of the both ways would be sufficient.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hmmm, I’d not heard of that before.

      I’ll have a word with Mantic. personally I’m not sure we should be pandering to thugs and extremists, but the question may be moot anyway.

  12. Mark says:

    Hi Jake!
    Only just stumbled upon your blog and it’s really good to see you’re still involved with the development side of gaming. Your tenure as editor of WD was my first introduction to gaming and I still pore over old issues, especially the one with the ‘Witch Hunt’ battle between Adrian Wood and yourself – that Eldar army was wonderfully painted! Really looking forward to reading through your blog and seeing what you’ve been up to!

    Hope the 2011 resolution to paint more figures is going well, it sounds like we both have the same perfectionist tendencies when it comes to painting! Thankfully I very, very rarely play anything anymore, but I imagine it must be a bit of a bind for yourself!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Mark. Unfortunately real life intervened and I’m still getting nowhere with my painting. Am in the process of clearing the debris that’s built up on what was supposed to be a painting area so that I can try again to find some time. I’ll be sure to post things up here when I finally get going again.

  13. Hello Jake!
    I had a general game industry question and didn’t know where to ask, so I thought I’d drop it here.

    What is the fascination with the d6? It seems like a d10 would give more room for varied results with the added bonus that it resonates well with our inate base 10 math preference… fingers, toes, crazy ex-girlfriends, so many things come in 10’s. By varied results I’ll try to explain what I mean through an example.

    If I have three types of models on a game board and I want different levels of difficulty with a d6 I could say roll model1 needs to roll a 4+, model2 needs to roll a 5+, and model3 needs a 6+.

    With a d10 it would seem like you could adjust the spread with more finesse. Example:
    Model1 needs to roll a 6+, model2 needs to roll a 7+, and model3 needs to roll a 9+.

    I’m sure I’ve made this more confusing instead of less. I’m just curious if there is a good reason not to use a d10 as I’m working on a game myself. I’d not be too worried about competition, I doubt my game will be seen past my dining room table. It’s just something to play with the kids whilst I reminisce about the good old days (but with an extra 4 results on the dice).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      This page is as good as any at the moment. It sort of hoovers up all manner of disjointed oddments :)

      D6s have a number of advantages over D10s.

      1) they are inexpensive. Much cheaper than D10s. Obviously a commercial consideration.
      2) Everyone is familiar with them. For some markets the unfamiliarity can be off-putting.
      3) By and large they are unnecessary.

      The first two points are simple enough and may or may not be relevant. It’s the third one which needs some commentary.

      If you were only allowed to use a single dice roll and that had to give you the result, then D10s obviously chop the possibilities into more slices than D6s. However, there are two obvious answers to this. If this is how you must use dice, then clearly a D12 would be better than a D10 for exactly the same reason, and a D20 better than that, and a D30 better still, and what about a D100? Why stop at a D10? And yes, all of those are available as single dice.

      The second, far more important point, is that in reality you are not restricted to a single roll of a dice to resolve anything. This is the real reason why D10s are unnecessary.

      If you roll 2D6 and add the results together you get a bell curve of probabilities where the chances of getting each number varies, and this allows you far more interesting possibilities for random selections and variable results.

      You can allow people to add things to dice rolls, you can roll several dice and pick the best (or the worst), you can compare my roll against yours (making the relative difference the important thing, not the absolute number), you can include special effects on specific numbers, eg a roll of a 6 counts as a success and roll again to add to the total. There are a myriad mechanical tricks to manipulate dice rolls, stats and game values which go far beyond the simple number of sides a single polyhedron can land on – and that’s assuming that you’re not adding counters, cards or other game rules to complicate the matter and allow other things to influence the roll or the outcome.

      Almost always, what you want to model is more subtle and complex than simply randomising between a large number of exactly equal possibilities. This being true, a single dice roll is rarely the best approach, and so using a larger polyhedron is simply unnecessary. With D6s being ubiquitous it’s hard to see what real benefits accrue from changing to anything else.

      The one, final caveat I will offer is for the system of rules which uses the whole set of polyhedra and goes up or down sizes of dice to show increased or decreased ability. This is a specific and unusual case, and works very well. It is, however, a very specialised and slightly fiddly exception.

  14. First off, thank you for the reply and detailed response. It really is appreciated.

    I’d gone into this thought process thinking that I wanted to minimize modifiers for the sake of speed and simplicity. But as I fleshed some of this out yesterday after posting, I found that I had to add a myriad of modifiers anyway. So, I see your point especially about using modifiers. I think I’ll definitely try a system with d6 as well a one with d10. Since I’m just starting I’ve not play-tested anything… it may turn out to be awful regardless of dice! But if all else fails, I’ll just bust out the first edition Space Hulk and teach the kids to play that. It got really interesting once the expansions came out and the White Dwarf rules for other forces were printed!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You could ignore dice altogether and use cards instead :)

      • Ha! I don’t mind cards as an addendum to a game, but I’m not sure about an all cards game. There is something more action-y about tossing some dice around. That said, I did go in for the Relic Knights KS recently and it’s diceless. But, honestly, the minis were the big draw for me and the game, if good, will simply be a bonus.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Slapping cards down can be “action-y” as well, but it’s your game. Just throwing a few options about. The nice thing about cards is that you can really mess about with the odds to your heart’s content. For example, if you were using cards for movement, you could start with a normal card deck, remove the face cards and, say, take out the 1, 2, 6, 7 and half of the 9 and 10. Or whatever you like. You can tailor the available values far more than you can with dice, and with much simpler mechanics.

          You then have all manner of options for how players get cards in the first place. Do they draw from a common deck, from their own deck, or start with a fixed hand that recycles (and how does the recycle trigger?). Are all cards playable by all sides? In all circumstances? Are there combos that do different things?

          Loads of possibilities.

          You might have guessed that I like cards :)

  15. Perhaps if the cards made a nice rattling sound when I slapped them down?

    Seriously though, I do appreciate your thoughts on all this. The outside input is helping my creative juices flow a little more freely. I keep thinking my ideas are drifting towards an old game which saw humans in massive armor fighting four armed aliens in derelict space ships…. only I’d be using d10. Maybe I’m subconciously trying to re-invent the wheel?

    The problem with you, Jake, is you make a good case for the things you like. You even make cards sound like a good idea!

    Regardless, all this goes on hold during the holidays… I’ll have a shiny new Dreadball game to sort out by then!

  16. Rhys Knight says:

    Hi Jake,
    I have just obtained a copy of “Battle of the Halji” in a job lot that I bought of a customer !! – its in pretty good condition, considering its 25 years old !

  17. MythicKhan says:

    Hi Jake, didn’t know where to put this, but I’ve been developing the following sponsorship rules for DreadBall and wondered what you thought? They are still alpha version, and I have no idea if the values are right! Season 2 is great by the way, I love the new ‘injuries if you want them’ system; and the new skills are very nice.

    Without further ado, here they are:

    Sponsorship Deal Rules – Alpha Version

    – DreadBall is an active game even when the players aren’t on the pitch. Teams employ more support staff for PR and Marketing than they ever hire players. Its no good your Striker scoring a 4-point in the dying seconds of the match if you don’t have a team there to capture the moment and line it up for future merchandise as a holo-print or as an excellent product advertisement.

    – The following rules allow teams to cut sponsorship deals with major companies in the Corporation. Whilst they all have names, please feel free to design your own name and logo for the sponsor to fit into your own team’s backstory!

    -Note that the Coach is required by the deal to state the name of the sponsor when the relevant actions are taken (each, saying “MaxiArmour – for maximum protection”, when rolling an armour check). Failure to arrange this marketing will cost a coach 1mc, and it is the opposing coach’s duty to operate as media hawk. (The opposing coach must announce it just like a Foul, only noticed failures count).

    – The sponsorship deals listed must be signed in the post-match sequence after the team has won a game. (No sponsor would sign on with a loser.)

    -A sponsorship deal may be cancelled by a coach for a flat cost of 3mc.

    SDN – Sphere DreadBall Network

    SDN is the top producer of exclusive DreadBall coverage across the Co-Prosperity Sphere, and as a result, has a vested interest in encouraging the game. DGB and SDN often partner to run info-mercials and campaigns to get more people involved in the galaxy’s greatest sport, and it makes sense for teams to sign lucrative deals with SDN for those all important game moments.

    Rules: The deal lasts for one game, and rewards extra special moves and stunning achievements. For every doubled strike the team will receive an extra 1mc as SDN purchases the coverage rights to air at a later date. If a team fails to achieve at least one doubled strike, the sponsorship deal will cost the team 6mc.

    MaxiArmour Industries

    MaxiArmour is an up-and-coming producer of DreadBall armour, muscling in on a market still dominated by the Trontek Brand. Signing a deal with MaxiArmour will see a team kitted out in the best the corporation has to offer. This can afford a team extra protection, for a certain cost. Of course MaxiArmour will not be pleased if a player ends up dead whilst wearing their armour.

    Rules: For the initial cost of 9mc the team can sign a deal with MaxiArmour. This gives one extra dice on all armour checks. The deal costs 2mc to maintain. If a player is killed whilst this deal is active, MaxiArmour will cut sponsorship of the team for failing to take corporate interests seriously.

    Rejuvenol

    Rejuvenol is the latest pharmaceutical from the health giant Aceso Corp. Marketed as the next best thing for healing injuries, Aceso Corp will sign major deals with teams to use Rejuvenol on their players. Aceso Corp also rewards violent slams, as what better way to encourage more teams to take out a deal!

    Rules: For an initial cost of 9mc, and a 2mc maintanence fee, a team may have Rejuvenol medics standing by on the pitch. Every player injured by to the value of 3 will instead be injured to the value of 2. For every enemy player sent off for three or more turns, the team earns 1mc. Failure to cause sufficient injury to the opposing team will see the deal cut for no further reward.

    B&L Marketing

    B&L Marketing is one of the largest general merchandisers in the Sphere, to sign a deal with B&L is a great way to increase the visibility of souvenirs, mascots, action figurines and all the other tat sold to fans at a team’s game. B&L offer special rewards for teams that win the MVP award at a match, and definitely wants those teams that are big hits with the fans.

    Rules: For an initial cost of 9mc a team may sign a deal with B&L. This deal also has a 2mc maintenace fee. For every ‘cheer’ a team earns during a match, they gain 1mc. For every MVP award they earn a further 2mc. B&L are even more keen to sponsor winners than other companies. Every lost match will increase the maintenance fee of the sponsorship by a factor of two (one lost match, 4mc, next lost match, 8mc, etc.)

    More companies could be made I’m sure!

    Best,

    Khan

  18. diggah says:

    Hey Jake,

    Glad to see the degree didn’t separate you from gaming (and well away from Climax) I’ve lost your email address. If you wouldn’t mind dropping me an email I’d like to have a catch-up.
    All the best buddy.

    Ben Price

  19. Sam says:

    Hi Jake,

    Can’t tell you how happy I am to have you looking after Deadzone. I keep resurrecting Necromunda campaigns every few years and they just run out of steam for the lack of slick rules and crunchy strategic decisions. What you did with Dreadball is according to specifications :)

    I have a testing group who worked on Malifaux 2nd Edition for six months and they are burnt out on that ruleset…..but they are methodical, have never leaked and will get their teeth into Deadzone with enthusiasm (they just bounced out of Infinity due to complexity which seems about right).

    If you would like to use us, please get in touch on sjrounsevell-at-gmail.com.

    Cheers,
    Sam

  20. Andy O'Leary says:

    Hi Jake,

    It’s been a long time since Hereford, glad to see you’re doing well. I was just looking for reviews on Dreadfleet and found yours (didn’t realise you’d written it till I’d read half the replies) then followed the link to your web site, I’ll have to have a good read through.

    Andy (one time blacksmith)

  21. Mark Pygas says:

    Hi Jake,

    My name is Mark Pygas and I’m the community manager of http://smaash.me/. Smaash is an exciting new social media platform currently in open beta. Unlike other social media platforms, Smaash is built specifically towards saving and sharing board and card gaming moments. You can easily add friends and then use our suite of tools and features to update them on your play sessions. Whether you’re having a monolithic session of Axis and Allies or simply want to update them on the situation in Asia during a game of Pandemic. Share text and image updates on the most epic moments of your game in a timeline, just like this one; http://smaash.me/play/p/10

    As an influencer in the board and card gaming space, we’d like to invite you and your community to try out the Smaash beta. With the Smaash team being a small but dedicated group, partaking in the beta and providing feedback will undoubtedly shape the future of the project. You can easily and quickly signup for an account on our homepage; http://smaash.me/

    Feel free to send feedback and discuss our features via the contact button on the site or our FaceBook and Twitter. If you have any questions or queries, I can be easily reached at mark@smaash.me

    Also, feel free to also reach out to us on social media;

    https://twitter.com/smaashme

    https://www.facebook.com/smaashme?fref=ts

    Best wishes,

    Mark Pygas

  22. James Hart says:

    Hi jake. I think your game god of battles is an absolutely amazing gamd and is the best wargame ive played ever. I am wondering if u could come up with a statline and points cost for a bone dragon as i would really love to buy a model for one and have a use for it in god of battles

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You flatterer, you ;)

      A bone dragon does indeed make sense in the background. To make it a points cost that would be usable in a battle, it’d probably have to be an undead fire drake rather than an undead great dragon. Let me have a think about it. Did you have any specific model in mind?

  23. Lawrence says:

    Hi Jake. Your site was mentioned in a query on another forum site I regularly frequent. My query regarded locating a decent games developer (or budding one at least) for a project I’ve been considering for some time now. The idea keeps popping up into my conscious mind (sorry but my mind is a bit of wasteland at the moment), and I figure now is as good a time to make enquiries. Do you know of any decent games developing interested in developing an idea beyond random-rolling-tumbleweed-in-the-mind?
    Sadly my fond memories of gaming precedes GW (big fan and follower of Donald Featherstone and all his works – RIP) so I know not of you or your prior involvement. I guess forthrightness is a trait I still carry. Apologies in advance. Lawrence

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