James Lowder
Born (1963-01-02) January 2, 1963 (age 59)
Quincy, Massachusetts
GenreDark fantasy, Horror
Notable worksPrince of Lies
Knight of the Black Rose
Hobby Games: The 100 Best
Notable awardsOrigins Award: 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009 Best Fiction; 2008 Best Non-fiction
ENnie Award: 2008 Best Regalia

James Daniel Lowder (born January 2, 1963 in Quincy, Massachusetts) is an American author and editor, working regularly within the fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror genres, and on tabletop role-playing games and critical works exploring popular culture.

Early life and education

Lowder graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in 1981 and was inducted into the high school's hall of fame in 1991.[1] While at Whitman-Hanson, he wrote and edited for the school newspaper and yearbook, and did the same for two summers at Project Contemporary Competitiveness at Bridgewater State University.[2] In 1985 he graduated from Marquette University with an honors BA in English and History.[3] While at Marquette, he edited and wrote for the Marquette Journal, the school's literary magazine.[4] After Marquette, he took graduate classes in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he also taught writing, film, and fantasy literature courses.[5] Lowder completed a Masters in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1999.[3]


Novels and short fiction

His earliest novels were part of the Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft shared universe book lines, but beginning in the late 1990s he turned his attention more often to creator-owned projects.[6] His novels include Prince of Lies, The Ring of Winter, and Spectre of the Black Rose (the latter with Voronica Whitney-Robinson), and his short fiction has appeared in such anthologies such as Shadows Over Baker Street, Truth Until Paradox, and Historical Hauntings.[7] Some of his short stories have been cited in the honorable mention list of the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. He was an Origins Award finalist in the Best Short Fiction category for his 2003 novella, "The Night Chicago Died", a story that featured the debut of his mystery man character, The Corpse. His novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Prose editing

As an editor, Lowder directed several best-selling book lines for TSR, Inc. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, and Dark Sun.[8] In 1999, Peter Corless brought Lowder in to oversee the Pendragon fiction line for Green Knight Publishing; Lowder continued to reprint older Athurian works and also produced the original short story collections The Doom of Camelot (2000) and Legends of the Pendragon (2002) and the original novel Exiled from Camelot (2001).[9]: 357  He served as executive editor for Green Knight Publishing's line of Arthurian fiction[10] — the Pendragon fiction series — and as a consulting editor for CDS Books on their City of Heroes novels. Lowder has edited more than a dozen anthologies, with subjects ranging from King Arthur to superheroes to zombies. He has won several Origins Awards and an ENnie Award, and been shortlisted for an International Horror Guild Award for these projects. Though some of these anthologies have been published in connection with role-playing game product lines, they often contain only creator-copyrighted stories. This makes them unusual, as game publishers frequently insist on work for hire contracts for such projects.[11]

Lowder edited a set of zombie anthologies based on the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game, beginning with The Book of All Flesh (2001); these were the first fiction books from Eden Studios.[9]: 341  His final short story collection for the series was The Book of Final Flesh (2003).[9]: 343  Lowder edited a 2003 anthology of short stories based on the Silver Age Sentinels game from Guardians of Order.[9]: 337  He also worked on Astounding Hero Tales (2007) for Hero Games and Worlds of their Own (2008) for Paizo Publishing.[9]: 358  Lowder produced Hobby Games: The 100 Best (2007) and Family Games: The 100 Best (2010) for Green Ronin Publishing.[9]: 377 

In May, 2017, Chaosium appointed Lowder executive editor of their fiction line.[12] Chaosium President Rick Meints commented on the hire: “James embodies that magic combination of wisdom and enthusiasm. Knowing his craft inside and out, he brings his advocacy and integrity to the table at every turn. Having him relaunch our fiction line is a ‘the stars are right’ moment.” Lowder had previously served as a consultant for Chaosium, helping the company and freelancers resolve payment and contract problems with past fiction projects.[13]

Game design and editing

Lowder has designed, edited, or consulted on books for the first, second, third, and fifth editions of Dungeons & Dragons. He served as editor for the Carl Sargent B-series modules King's Festival and Queen's Harvest,[14] edited and developed the Greyhawk module Puppets,[15] and edited and wrote content for the early Forgotten Realms sourcebook Hall of Heroes.[16] His other contributions to the Forgotten Realms RPG include design for Curse of the Azure Bonds[17] and Inside Ravens Bluff, The Living City,[18] project coordination on the three Avatar Trilogy modules, and design on The Jungles of Chult, which tied to his Realms novel The Ring of Winter. Lowder later consulted on the fifth edition product Tomb of Annihilation[19] on the use of Artus Cimber, Aramag the dragon turtle, Ras Nsi, the city of Mezro, and other specific elements he had created for his earlier Realms fiction.

Lowder's other contributions to D&D include articles in Polyhedron and Dragon, entries in the first two volumes of the second edition Monstrous Compendium,[20][21] as well as the Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix; development work on Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space,[22] and the darklord Stezen D'Polarno for the Ravenloft sourcebook Darklords.[23] Lowder and Bruce Nesmith designed a two-round tournament featuring D'Polarno for Gen Con 1991, with Lowder creating a three-round Ravenloft tournament featuring D'Polarno, "The Return of Stezen D'Polarno (Or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Necromancer)" as the RPGA Grandmasters Event for Gen Con the following year.[24] Lowder's other contributions to the Ravenloft RPG center around the domain of Sithicus, with sections in both the White Wolf/Arthaus releases Heroes of Light[25] and Gazetteer Volume IV.[26]

He has also designed or edited material for Pendragon, Prince Valiant: The Story-Telling Game, Marvel Super Heroes, GURPS, Deadlands, Mage: The Ascension, and Feng Shui.[27] For the horror RPG Call of Cthulhu, Lowder contributed the Vanguard Club to the d20 Gamemaster's Pack[28] and did early development and writing on the award-winning Pulp Cthulhu.[29] Beginning in 2017, Lowder designed a linked trilogy of Call of Cthulhu scenarios tied to his Corpse prose fiction and comics cycle, running them as gamemaster at such conventions as Gen Con and Gamehole Con, sometimes for charities such as Worldbuilders.[30]

Since joining Chaosium as executive editor, Lowder has worked extensively on licensing for all of the company's role-playing game lines, helping to oversee both the licensing of Chaosium books to partner companies and securing licenses from other IP holders for Chaosium's use.[31]

Comic books and other works

Lowder also works in comic books. He has penned scripts for several companies, including Image, DC, Devil's Due, and Desperado.[32] A Ravenloft comic by Lowder was in the works before DC decided to end its relationship with TSR.[9]: 21  His short work "Lost Loves", from the Moonstone Monsters: Demons anthology, was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in 2004 for Best Illustrated Narrative. He contributed as a writer and consulting editor to the Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons comic book series, published by Devil's Due.[33] He became the editor for the monthly series Hack/Slash with issue #25 and continued with the series when it moved from Devil's Due to Image.[34] His pulp hero serial "The Corpse: Orphans of the Air" ran as an occasional back-up in Hack/Slash, starting in 2011.

Lowder's critical essays and film, book, and comics reviews have appeared in such publications as Amazing Stories and Polyhedron, the latter of which featured his long-running video review column "Into the Dark" from 1991 to 1994. His essay "Scream for Your Life" appeared in the 2005 anthology King Kong is Back!, edited by David Brin, while "Infinite Mutation, Eternal Stasis" appeared in The Unauthorized X-Men, edited by Len Wein, both from BenBella Books. He penned the entry on shared worlds for The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders.

In the media

Beginning in 2010, Lowder contributed to an annual "Games to Gift" holiday segment for the show "Lake Effect" on WUWM, Milwaukee Public Radio.[35] He appeared as himself in episode 302 ("Man Beasts") on the television series Weird or What?, discussing the history of werewolf lore and the Beast of Bray Road.[36] Lowder also served as a puppeteer for the low budget zombie puppet musical Misfit Heights (2012).[36]

Notable works


Short Fiction

Comic Book Scripts

Anthologies (as editor)

Awards and honors


  1. ^ "Writing Your Own Destiny". Hanson Town Crier. 2008-10-31. Archived from the original on 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  2. ^ "Writing Your Own Destiny". Hanson Town Crier. 2008-10-31. Archived from the original on 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  3. ^ a b "The Screaming Tower". jameslowder.com. 2010-01-01. Archived from the original on 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  4. ^ McElroy, Matt (2006-10-02). "James Lowder interview". Flames Rising. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  5. ^ "The Screaming Tower". jameslowder.com. 2010-01-01. Archived from the original on 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  6. ^ McElroy, Matt (2006-10-02). "James Lowder interview". Flames Rising. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  7. ^ "James Lowder". Archived from the original on February 24, 2009.
  8. ^ "James Lowder". Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  10. ^ Appelcline, Shannon (2006-10-03). "A Brief History of Game #5: Green Knight Publishing". RPGnet. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  11. ^ Tupper, Peter (2004-02-04). "Writing for Role-Playing Games". writersweekly.com. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  12. ^ O'Brien, Michael (2017-05-05). "Chaosium appoints James Lowder as new Executive Editor of Fiction". Chaosium. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  13. ^ O'Brien, Michael (2017-05-05). "Chaosium appoints James Lowder as new Executive Editor of Fiction". Chaosium. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  14. ^ Rolston, Ken (July 1991). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#171): 82–83.
  15. ^ "WG11: Puppets". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  16. ^ "FR7: Hall of Heroes". d20 RPG Game Index. RPGnet. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  17. ^ "FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  18. ^ "Inside Ravens Bluff, The Living City". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  19. ^ "Tomb of Annihilation". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  20. ^ "Monstrous Compendium (Volume One)". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  21. ^ "Monstrous Compendium (Volume Two)". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  22. ^ "Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  23. ^ "Darklords". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  24. ^ "The Return of Stezen D'Polarno". Fraternity of Shadows. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  25. ^ "Heroes of Light". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  26. ^ "Gazetteer Volume IV". RPGGeek. 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  27. ^ "James Lowder". BoardGameGeek. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  28. ^ "d20 Call of Cthulhu Gamemaster's Pack". BoardGameGeek. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  29. ^ "Pulp Cthulhu". BoardGameGeek. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  30. ^ "Play Call of Cthulhu for a Worthy Cause at Gen Con". Chaosium. 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  31. ^ O'Brien, Michael (30 November 2019). "Chaosium Announces Rivers of London Roleplaying Game". Chaosium press release. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  32. ^ "James Lowder". Comicvine. 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  33. ^ "New 'Dungeons & Dragons' Series From Devil's Due Getting Lowder". geeksofdoom.com. 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  34. ^ "HACK/SLASH Moves to Image, Leaves Devil's Due Behind". newsarama.com. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  35. ^ "James Lowder". WUWM. 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  36. ^ a b "James Lowder (II)". IMDb. 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  37. ^ "IHG Award Recipients". International Horror Guild. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  38. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2003)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  39. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2004)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  40. ^ "Past Stoker Nominees and Winners". Horror Writers of America. Archived from the original on 2013-04-29. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  41. ^ a b "Origins Awards 2008 winners announced". OgreCave. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  42. ^ "The 2007 ENnie Awards". ENWorld. Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  43. ^ "The 2008 ENnie Awards". ENWorld. Archived from the original on 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  44. ^ "Origins Awards 2009". Critical Hits. Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  45. ^ "The 2009 ENnie Awards". ENWorld. Archived from the original on 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  46. ^ "List of Origins Awards Nominees". GAMA.org. Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  47. ^ "The 2010 ENnie Awards". ENWorld. Archived from the original on 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  48. ^ "The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Announces 37th Annual Origins Awards Nominees". GAMA.org. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  49. ^ "Industry Insider Featured Presenters for Gen Con 50". Gen Con. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  50. ^ "Ennie Award Winners". SF Site. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  51. ^ "The 2017 Dragon Awards are a far-ranging sci-fi and fantasy reading list". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-08-25.