Carl Sanford Joslyn Petersen better known as Sandy Petersen is one of the most famous American game designers of role-playing games. He is regarded as the main designer for Call of Cthulhu role-playing game in 80’s in Chaosium, Inc. At Chaosium he co-authored the second edition of RuneQuest and a number of other Gloranthan supplements. Furthermore, he authored some RuneQuest supplements for Avalon Hill and Games Workshop. Lately He worked as designer of video games doing levels for Doom, Doom II, Quake or several of the Age of Empire games. Petersen was the Executive Producer for the movie The Whisperer in Darkness. 2013 Petersen had an enormous successful Kickstarter campaign by his company, Green Eye Games, to produce the Cthulhu Wars boardgame and others famous games. It just was announced that Petersen and had returned to Chaosium Inc a months ago.
Born in: USA
Date of birth: 1955
Favorite book: The Call of Cthulhu
Favorite role-playing game: RuneQuest
Favorite boardgame: Cthulhu Wars
Favorite wargame: World in Flames 5th edition
Juegos y Dados – Welcome Sandy, it is an enormous pleasure that you are here with us. Thank you so much for your collaboration. I must tell you that I am a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and I like role-playing games so I love Call of Cthulhu.
Sandy – Thanks!
Juegos y Dados – First of all, I would like explaining something. I am doing a round of interviews of the most famous role-playing designers in Spain also. Would you like know that the question of favourite role-playing game until now is more than 80% in favour of your Call of Cthulhu?
Sandy – Actually I am aware that designers love Call of Cthulhu. I think they like the fact that it is so contrary to normal commercial expectations.
Juegos y Dados – You are a fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s Stories. Could you explain us the story?
Sandy – The basic principle behind his stories is that the unknown around us – the far stars, the distant past, the deep sea, is utterly alien to us, and in some way incomprehensible. That our contact with the Outside is as likely to be terrifying as anything else, and that when we pull back the veil of reality what we see might destroy our minds and lives forever.
Juegos y Dados – How did you begin in the world of role-playing games?
Sandy – With the very first edition of D&D back in 1973!
Juegos y Dados – What was the first roleplaying game that you played?
Sandy – Old D&D. We had to work everything out from scratch!
Juegos y Dados – How did you start to work in Chaosium?
Sandy – By that time I was playing lots of RuneQuest, their main RPG. I contacted their company president with ideas, and they accepted them. Then I wrote Call of Cthulhu for them, which was published. Later, I needed a job to support my family while I was in school, and Chaosium gave me one. That job turns into a full-time occupation.
Juegos y Dados – I suppose that you met some of famous designers of that age. Could you explain any story?
Sandy – I was once on a panel with Gary Gygax, and Ken Rolston, and the audience asked us the question, “what other designers and games do you play for ideas”. Ken and I told them, and then Gary had the balls to flat-out-lie and say, “I never read anyone else’s games so my ideas stay pure.” What a crock! Ken and I just stared at him open-mouthed, amazed at his chutzpah.
Juegos y Dados – What was the first roleplaying game that you created?
Sandy – The Call of Cthulhu.
Juegos y Dados – What can you tell us about supplements for Avalon Hill and Games Workshop?
Sandy – I worked for Chaosium from 1982-1988, doing work on pretty much every single thing Chaosium did in that time period – including Avalon Hill, Games Workshop, etc. I worked on Elfquest, RuneQuest, Ghostbusters, etc. I remember Avalon Hill’s president insisted that our Japanese world supplement had to have the word “ninja” on the cover, because “ninjas were hot”, but then when we put a ninja on the cover, it turned out he didn’t know what a ninja was. We had to tell him that the guy in black was the ninja.
Juegos y Dados – You have the first big role-playing games of Call of Cthulhu. I do the same question that I asked Coleman Charlton with MERP. What do you think about so people with a copy of Call of Cthulhu in their homes?
Sandy – Well I hope they are keeping it as something useful rather than as a pristine treasure.
Juegos y Dados – Have you ever been Call of Cthulhu Master? I would like knowing funny moments in the role-playing stories.
Sandy – I have played Call of Cthulhu as the keeper hundreds, maybe thousands of times. In fact I just did it in Germany not two weeks ago.
Juegos y Dados – Have you designed video games as famous as Doom or Quake? I don’t have words. How was the experience?
Sandy – I worked on Civilization, Doom, Doom 2, Quake, the Age of Empires series, and Halo Wars. Doing computer games is far harder than boardgames – it takes longer, there is a much bigger team to manage, and change is slower.
Juegos y Dados – How did you think in to found you own company?
Sandy – I knew no one would publish a game like Cthulhu Wars. It was too bizarre, too expensive, too unusual. I had to do it myself, or go to the fans for help.
Juegos y Dados – You have different kind of games in Petersen Games. Do you like any kind specially?
Sandy – I like asymmetrical strategy games. Particularly those that are fast moving, with lots of theme.
Juegos y Dados – How often do you play games? Which ones?
Sandy – I have a game night once a week, and usually at least two game playtest nights in addition.
Juegos y Dados – I read recently that you returned to Chaosium few months ago. Could you explain something about this?
Sandy – I didn’t really “return” to Chaosium. I am a stockholder. I exercised my rights to vote out the current management in a meeting of the board of directors, because I did not like the direction the company was going.
Juegos y Dados – Do you think writing any new role-playing game in the future? Could give us any details?
Sandy – Look for some Call of Cthulhu scenarios from ME in the near future (from Chaosium)!
Juegos y Dados – Thank you so much for your time. We are very happy for your collaboration in this interview with Juegos y Dados.
Sandy – You bet, and thank you!