My friend, Erick Wujcik, died on Saturday of pancreatic cancer. He had just turned 57. His companion of nearly thirty years, the wonderful Kate Kozora, was by his side.
I think I can say without fear of contradiction that he was a creative genius. He was the sort of person who has about a dozen brilliant ideas each day. His problem was deciding which of them to act on, if any. Most of them, by necessity, fell by the wayside.
His personality was engaging, humorous, informed, and generous. Talking to him was an enormous pleasure, and he was willing to talk on any subject at all.
His professional life was devoted to the gaming industry, particularly roleplaying games. He was a co-founder of Palladium Games, and created, or worked on, such games as Palladium Fantasy RPG, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG, After the Bomb RPG and sourcebooks for it, Ninjas & Superspies, Mystic China, Rifts, China One and Two, Revised RECON, and Wolfen Empire. He worked on Paranoia and Robotech.
In recent years he worked teaching game design at Hong Kong Polytech, and worked for Ubisoft in Shanghai as the lead designer for Return to Krondor. Of late he's been working for Totally Games north of San Francisco.
He wrote and designed Amber Diceless Roleplaying, the astoundingly faithful game based on the works of Roger Zelazny. It was in connection with this project that I first met him, probably around 1990.
Probably his best work in the field was never published--- there were campaigns that went on for decades and that were legendary among his friends. As we never lived in the same city, I participated only in the occasional offshoot of his major campaigns, each of them memorable, each of them unique.
During our friendship, we kept in touch through phone calls and emails. We sent each other books and videos. Erick and his steady Kate were my guides in Hong Kong a few years ago.
Erick always wanted to turn my Metropolitan novels into an MMORPG. Entranced by the vast wads of cash that would fall into my lap when this occurred, I did my best to encourage him in this dream. It turned out to be one of the projects that never quite came about, mainly I think because money was never one of Erick's chief motivations. He wanted to enjoy himself. He wanted to entertain his friends. He wanted to work on the projects that interested him at that moment. I'm sure he wouldn't have objected if a million dollars landed in his bank account, but seeking money was far down his list of priorities.
He was diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancer around Thanksgiving. The liver cancer was far more advanced, and he underwent chemotherapy in order to push back the liver cancer and give himself a few more months in order to take Kate to a few places she'd always wanted to visit. He took her to Hong Kong, her favorite city, and to Shanghai.
During his illness he remained remarkably cheerful. I was able to see him on a visit to the Bay Area in December, and though easily tired he was still clearly the same Erick, still curious and generous and full of life. When I got depressed, it was Erick who cheered me up and not the other way around.
He died last Saturday at home. There will be a memorial service this coming weekend, but I'm stuck on a mountaintop teaching and won't be able to go.
Farewell, Erick. You were one of the most creative and interesting and delightful people that I ever know. Go with joy.
Labels: Erick Wujcik