Favorite RPG writer.
A no-brainer. Aaron Allston. He was my first RPG hero. He was from Texas. He ran, by all accounts, the most awesome Champions campaign ever. He wrote the article in Champions II that taught me how superhero games work. He wrote Strike Force and Lands of Mystery, two of the greatest genre guides in RPG history. He was the first person to document "blue-booking." Hell, his name is on the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.
That alone would be enough. But Aaron was also a kind, generous soul. I first met him on a shuttle bus at Origins in 1984 and talked Champions with him on the ride to the convention center. He was unpretentious and funny and wanted to know as much about our home game as we wanted to know about what he was working on. I next ran into him at a convention in Austin, where he noticed I was standing on the outskirts of a conversation pit and invited me over to join in whatever folks were talking about. We ended up talking for about three hours on stuff all over the geek spectrum.
Later, when I got online, I got to know him even better via the old Red October BBS. It was there that I was exposed to his wit and wisdom. He was happy to share what he knew with other aspiring writers. At this point, he was trying to move out of RPG writing and had just sold his first short story to Dragon Magazine. Over the next few years, I saw him sell novels, first to TSR, then to a "real" publisher. But even as he became more successful, he was still Aaron: funny, kind, and fiendishly creative.
One of my favorite gaming brags is that I actually GMed Champions for him. I was living in San Antonio and having real problems scaring up a game. A friend in Austin was a former member of the Strike Force campaign who couldn't play with them anymore due to having a s small child. I offered to drive up once or twice a month to run a game for him, if he could find some players. Twenty four hours before the first session, he informed me that Aaron was among them. Thanks, buddy!
I went in somewhat terrified. For no reason. Aaron was Aaron, and as a player, he was just as delightful as always. He did have a tendency to overplan, which drove my wife crazy, but in a reasonably entertaining way.
As he found success with his novels, his gaming output understandably dropped off. But he still kept his hand in, and I was always happy to buy whatever had his name on it, with no regrets or disappointment.
The last time I saw him was about a month before he passed away, at Chupacabracon in Austin. On the Sunday morning of the con, I was making a final pass through the dealers room before heading home and caught him at his table with no one else around. I came up to say hi, and got in about thirty minutes of visiting. We talked about the state of Star Wars fiction post-Disney, gaming in general, my son the gamer (which got the biggest smile from him), and I solicited some advice on running "School Holiday," an old Champions adventure he wrote for Space Gamer Magazine (in fact, the adventure that got me interested in Champions in the first place) I was planning to run at OwlCon in a few weeks. He was tickled I was going to run the old thing and made me promise to let him know how it turned out.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance. Exhausted after the con, I put off writing it until the following weekend. Sadly, that Friday night, Aaron passed away.
I miss him.