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Information
Description Edit | History

Charlie Krank (born 1957 in San Francisco) is a game designer who has been the President of Chaosium where he has edited Runequest books and edited Wyrm's Footnotes magazine. He has also worked on Call of Cathulhu products and contributed to many other Chaosium games, working in most phases of the company's operation. He became president of Chaosium after Greg Stafford left to begin his new publishing company Issaries, Inc. and remained so until mid-2015.

He started playing Dungeons & Dragons as early as 1975. Some of the board games that he likes to play include History of the World, Age of Renaissance, Vinci, and Samurai & Katana.

Interview

From Chaosium page:

I was born 1957 in San Francisco. My father was a doctor in the army, and a psychiatrist. My mother was a nurse for the Veteran's Administration Hospital detox ward. When young I spent quite some time sneaking looks in my father's medical diseases and deformities books. I am married for 30+ years to Treesa McLean, a midwife, childbirth educator, and birth doula. We have two grown children, Brian and Meghan, off on their own in the world.

I really can't remember a time when I didn't play some form of game or other, though I first played Dungeons & Dragons in 1975 and was immediately stricken by and attracted to the storytelling nature of the game. I played the game constantly, sometimes daily, for three years.

At this time I attended Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, initially studying psychology and later transferring to the design department. The first years in design were devoted to basic technical skills: ruling straight lines, painting flat surfaces, layout, type use, page design, and so forth. I told my kids that I went to a university to learn to cut and paste.

I decided to leave school (i.e. dropout) and go work for a game company—but had no real plan and had not contacted any company before moving to California. I figured that if I were to leave school, I wanted to move to the area in which I wanted to live and then find a job; easier than the other way around.

Within a week of arriving in California, I had applied for and received a job working at Gambit, a retail game store on Market Street in San Francisco. The buyer at Gambit was Tadashi Ehara, also then the business manager for Chaosium. When Tadashi heard that I had played some Chaosium games (White Bear & Red Moon) before moving to California, and that I had some graphics skills, he asked if I would like to play-test games for Chaosium. Of course I accepted. Shortly thereafter I was given various graphics tasks. I volunteered my services for about two years, and in October 1980 began receiving a regular paycheck. Much of my time was involved with editing and laying out books for the RuneQuest line of products, and I also assumed editorship of Wyrm's Footnotes magazine. This was back in the days before desk-top publishing. We used an IBM mag-card composer (a high-falutin' selectric typewriter) with dozens of typing balls in various point sizes and fonts, using a ribbon tape that gave a good, clean impression. Illustrations were sized using a stat camera and heads were created using adhesive lettering.

In 1981 we released Call of Cthulhu following that up with Shadows of Yog-Sothoth and a subsequent line of adventures, source material, fiction, and a host of other products that have garnered Chaosium and the Call of Cthulhu line more than 70 awards for best game and best design.

In 1996 we released the Mythos collectable card game, selling 22 million cards before the game was even completed. For a year we enjoyed the best cash-flow that we have ever experienced. Then, came the collapse of the card market and Chaosium was hit hard. We anticipated a fall-off in sales, but were unprepared for the magnitude and the speed of the decline. We lost many good employees, sold some game lines to keep ourselves afloat, and refocused the company on those thing which we do best and which had built the foundations of the company. Greg Stafford left Chaosium to begin new ventures, at which time I became President (mainly because I was willing to try to solve our monstrous debt problem.)

I have been involved in some form in many, but not quite all, of the titles that Chaosium has released. I have worked in all phases of the company's operation, from game design, game development, editorial and writing, sales and marketing, advertising, art assignments, map drawing, cover layout, project conception and execution, bookkeeping, accounts payable and receivable-in short, I will do whatever is required to get the next book to the printer.

I still roleplay regularly, most often with kids. I am a big believer in playing these games with the young. They are willing to accept the fantasy world without reservation, and do not yet manipulate the rules for their characters' benefit. It is a social, creative activity which incidentally provides me a wonderful platform to make editorial comments on their character's actions, and on their appropriateness or lack thereof.

Now I find myself in the curious position of being the president of the game company at which I have worked for 35+ years. We recently have enjoyed some successful projects and the future is looking brighter. We have some great books on the horizon and a sense that our fans are looking forward to some of these releases with great anticipation.

Personally, I look forward to many more years of publishing.

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