Special Guest 2012

Bill Underwood Biography


Bill Underwood was born in Kansas City in 1959, which makes him fifty-two years old.  Except for a one year stint in
Africa at the ripe age of six, he has spent all of his life in Kansas and Missouri.  He recieved his B.A. in English with an
emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Kansas in 1981 and set his sights on the lofty goal of becoming
a science fiction writer.  As fate would have it, fantasy and RPG won the day.  During his time at the university, he
wrote Beasts, Men, and Gods and self published 500 copies.  This was before word processors.   He laboriously cut
and pasted the final product into its first rendition with tape, scisors, and a good ole photostat machine or a duplex


After he graduated he moved back to Kansas City and formed a game company called Imagination Unlimited in 1981
with some friends.  His protracted term working for a video game company called Le Mans Family Fun Center made
him realise he needed to go back to the University.  So, in 1983 (what a brave new world) he returned to the
University of Kansas and began working on a Masters Degree in computer science.  This was when Imagination
Unlimited published its first module, Ice Tower of the Frozen Wind.  This was Beasts, Men, and Gods’ first scenario.
Later, in that same year of 1983, this module was featured at Johnson County Community College’s Fool Con V.

Sadly, Bill made the poor decision to sell the company’s assets to a friend of his who lived in Oregon.  His break was complete and he never heard from
his friend or of Imagination Unlimited again.  In fact, the last he had heard was that the company had folded not long after he sold it to his friend.  

About this “Revised 2nd Edition” Beasts, Men, and Gods (BMG)

“I’m afraid that we need some History here. I’ll try to keep it brief.” ~Bill Underwood.  Of course, prompt and to the point aren’t actually
in his vocabulary.

I wrote Beasts, Men & Gods while I was in college (1977 – 1980). I printed 500 copies, formed a company with a friend of mine, Tom
DeGisi, and we called ourselves “Imagination Unlimited, LTD”. Somewhat to my surprise, the copies sold out. We printed a “2nd
edition” of 1000 more, and produced some related products. We had a BMG module, we printed “blank hex paper” (remember that
this was the olden days before computers and ink jet printers), I was a guest at a few conventions, and things looked pretty promising.

Unfortunately, along the way I found out that I wasn’t much of a businessman. I scribbled on napkins and threw stuff in shoe boxes.
Long story short? The company did not survive.

Now fast forward thirty years (!) or so. Personal computers happen, the Internet happens and, every so often, I encounter someone
that has actually seen a copy of BMG, or maybe they’ve even played it a few times “with a friend of a friend”, typically using 2nd or
3rd generation photocopies. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the many kind words. People say nice things in spite of the game’s

Over the years, I’ve received different electronic versions of BMG. About 15 years ago a friend gave me a TeX version that had some
rule variations. A few years ago, I heard from Patrick Moore. He’d scanned in the entire book and cleaned up the tables. He sent me
a Publisher formatted version. Marty Fitzgerald sent me a Word formatted version of the rules that he’d typed in by hand! I thought
about publishing again, but never gave it serious thought. This was an old game. People were playing these “d20” RPGs now. Folks
had “newfangled” ideas about what I was still calling “FRP”.*