Thursday, April 22, 2021

Who wrote the Fiend Folio? The Turnbull Epilogue

Just a final note on the editor of the Tome of Creatures Malevolent and Benign. From

Don Turnbull (? - August 5, 2003) was a game designer, writer, and computer programmer who was once the head of TSR in the United Kingdom. He was also the founder of Albion magazine, the editor of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio, an editor of the Games Workshop Ltd. magazine White Dwarf, the designer of Schweinfurt, and the developer for Kingmaker. He is also credited with starting the first postal Diplomacy game in the United Kingdom in his magazine Albion. He died of cancer in 2003.


  • In 1974, inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Charles S. Roberts Awards at Origins I.
  • In 2004, he posthumously won the Kathy Byrne Caruso Award for Lifetime Achievement for founding the United Kingdom Postal Hobby.

Turnbull is also co-author of the class U series of AD&D modules, U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, U2 Danger at Dunwater, and U3 The Final Enemy.

I had not heard Turnbull's name mentioned in connection with Kingmaker before. It's a classic multiplayer game of the War of the Roses that won the Charles S. Roberts Award for best game in the early seventies and was still flagship event at my local convention up into the 2000-aughts. I played in the event several times and always did terribly. I have been unable to find much out about Schweinfurt except that it was a wargame. Along the way to investigating that, I found another game credit for Turnbull for something called Cranwell House, but no further details.

You can find scans of some early issues of Turnbull's Diplomacy zine, Albion, here. I think the importance of the Diplomacy scene to the early development of the rpg hobby isn't highlighted enough. Diplomacy is a mechanically simple game that relies heavily on player negotiation and skullduggery. That created a pool of players who were used to talking themselves into and out of trouble. Furthermore, those cats were organized, with zines and clubs and postal games. The same local convention I mentioned above had a Diplomacy tournament as part of the festivities well into the 1990s. 

Speaking of organized, when I looked up the Kathy Byrne Caruso Award to discover it was given by a central committee organizing international Diplomacy play. Here are the qualifications to get the award:

The qualifications for the Kathy Byrne Caruso Lifetime Achievement Award are that the awardee must have been: (1) Active in the Diplomacy Hobby in at least Three Separate Decades; (2) Multidimensional in their Contributions to the Hobby (e.g. writing, playing, publishing); (3) Taking Retirement or Semi-Retirement from the Diplomacy Hobby; and (4) One of the Hobby’s Unique Personalities Worthy of Being Remembered as Long as THE Game Continues to be Played.  

 I love how every game fandom thinks of its game as THE Game.

RIP Don Turnbull.


  1. I wrote a bit about Turnbull last year that you or other reading this may find interesting, see Turnbull on the Zenopus Sample Dungeon as "Coherent" Dungeon Design

  2. Anonymous11:58 PM

    A wonderful series of Blog entries!

    Imagine that he Turnbull was already a Hall of Famer when D&D just got off the ground.

    - Settembrini

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