Richard Halliwell (game designer)

Richard Halliwell (29 March 1959 – 3 May 2021)[1] was a British game designer who worked at Games Workshop (GW) during their seminal period in the 1980s, creating many of the games that would become central to GW's success.

Richard Halliwell
Born(1959-03-29)March 29, 1959
Died3 May 2021(2021-05-03) (aged 62)
OccupationGame designer


Early gamesEdit

As teenagers living in Lincoln, England in the 1970s, Richard Halliwell and his school friend Rick Priestley liked to play tabletop miniatures wargames. In 1979, while still in school, they decided to create a set of rules for a fantasy miniatures wargame they called Reaper.[2][3] Halliwell and Priestley found a small company, Tabletop Games, that was willing to publish their small booklet but had no sales outlet. They contacted Bryan Ansell of Asgard Miniatures in Nottingham; he put them in touch with the Nottingham Model Soldier Shop, who agreed to sell Reaper.[3]

With one rulebook for sale, Halliwell and Priestley collaborated on a second effort, a science fiction miniatures wargame titled Combat 3000, also published by Tabletop, that used 15mm/25mm "space marine" miniatures from Asgard.

About this time, Bryan Ansell, with financial backing from Games Workshop, left Asgard Miniatures to form Citadel Miniatures in Newark. Halliwell got a job there, but found that he also liked to travel abroad frequently, and soon stepped back from fulltime employment, preferring to do odd jobs and freelance work for Citadel, usually as a mould maker.[4] During this time, he and Ansell collaborated on the rules for a science fiction wargame called Imperial Commander that featured a titanic struggle between two vast forces. It was again published by Tabletop Games.[5]


By 1982, Bryan Ansell wanted to create a set of rules for miniatures wargames that would drive sales of Citadel's miniatures.[2][6][7] Halliwell, as a freelance employee, had plenty of time on his hands, and was given the task of writing the rules.[7][8] He came up with the idea of an overarching fantasy campaign set on a continent called Lustria.[9] Like his previous game, Imperial Commander, this would feature a never-ending war between titanic forces. Once Halliwell was finished with the rules, Rick Priestley and Tony Ackland developed the product, and it was released by sister company Games Workshop in 1983 as Warhammer.[10] On the development process, Priestley said, "It was actually my colleague Richard Halliwell who was originally commissioned to write it. I developed it with him, because we often worked on things together".[8] Mechanics of the game were derived from their earlier game Reaper.[11]

Halliwell was on the development team of the second edition of Warhammer in 1984, as well as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in 1986,[12]: 47  and the third edition of Warhammer in 1987. Halliwell and Priestley also collaborated to produce Ravening Hordes: The Official Warhammer Battle Army Lists in 1987.

Other GW gamesEdit

In 1987, Halliwell stepped away from the Warhammer universe to develop several other projects. GW had produced Judge Dredd: The Role-Playing Game in 1985, a dystopian post-apocalyptic role-playing game based on the Judge Dredd comics. In 1987, Halliwell designed a tongue-in-cheek combat game called Block Mania that was set in the Judge Dredd universe, in which residents of two city blocks must cause as much harm as possible to each other before the Judges arrive to restore order.[13][14] He followed this with Mega-Mania, a four-player expansion, and Slaughter Margin, a Judge Dredd adventure scenario. He also helped design Citi-Block, a Judge Dredd supplement.[15] After the 2020 rerelease of Block Mania and Mega-Mania, the UK print magazine Tabletop Gaming highlighted that "Richard Halliwell knew his source material well, ensuring it’s all thematically bang-on, and satisfying to die-hard Dredd fans. But it feels more like a curious relic, a collector's piece, than something which seriously deserves to take tabletop time away from newer, player-friendlier games".[16]

In 1988, Halliwell worked with Marc Gascoigne to design Dark Future, a Mad Max-like combat board game featuring a violent car race across North America.[15][17][18] PCGamesN highlighted that "Dark Future drew on the marvellous design instincts of Richard Halliwell, then just a year away from publishing Space Hulk and introducing the word 'overwatch' to the sci-fi gaming lexicon".[19]

In 1989–1990, Halliwell reached the height of his game design career, winning two Origins Awards in two years. In 1989, he was the "sole designer credited on the first" edition of Space Hulk, a tense and suspenseful tactical science fiction miniatures game in which the evil Genestealer aliens have taken over a derelict ship drifting in space, and the heroic Space Marines must board the ship to accomplish a given goal.[18] At the 1990 Origins Awards, Space Hulk was named Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame of 1989.[20]

The following year, Halliwell collaborated with Matt Forbeck and Jervis Johnson to produce two Space Hulk expansions, Deathwing, and Genestealer. At the 1991 Origins Awards, Genestealer won Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame of 1990.[21] The following year, Halliwell helped design Space Hulk Campaigns, a set of new scenarios for his Space Hulk game.[17]

Life after Game WorkshopEdit

Following his successes, Halliwell left GW and stepped away from game design.

Graeme Davis posted on Twitter on May 3, 2021, that Richard Halliwell had died.[22][18]


  1. ^ "Richard Halliwell, Co-Designer of Warhammer, Passes". 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  2. ^ a b Hyde, Henry (2013). The Wargaming Compendium. Barnsley, South Yorkshire. ISBN 978-1-78383-069-5. OCLC 867929190. Rick Priestley had written a set of fantasy wargames rules called Reaper in the late 70s, when he and coauthor Richard Halliwell were still at school. The Reaper rules were aimed at fighting fantasy battles, but also allowed for individual miniatures to skirmish under certain circumstances. [...] By the early 1980s, however, under the guidance of Bryan Ansell, who now had control of both Games Workshop and Citadel Miniatures [...], a new rules system was created by Priestley and Halliwell that was to have enormous consequences not just for the company, but for the wargaming hobby as a whole.
  3. ^ a b "Unsung Heroes of Gaming – Rick Priestley". Cigar Box Battle. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  4. ^ Maliszewski, James (2020-11-13). "Interview: Rick Priestley (Part II)". GROGNARDIA (Interview). Retrieved 2021-05-09. [Rick Priestley said:] Richard Halliwell and myself had written and published rules together before, and Bryan had published his own rules too. One of the reasons Bryan recruited me was to produce these kinds of publications. Bryan came up with a basic brief for what he wanted – stressing that it had to be a game youngsters could play using ordinary dice, that it had to have rules for everything we made, and it had to have a token 'role-playing' element because at that time role-playing was extremely hot. Richard Halliwell was given a commission to develop and write it – Richard (Hal) wasn’t working for Citadel at the time but freelancing as a mould maker. That meant he had spare time to devote to developing the game.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Imperial Commander". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  6. ^ Livingstone, Ian (2019). Board Games in 100 Moves. James Wallis. New York, New York. p. 127. ISBN 978-1-4654-9871-7. OCLC 1156364349.
  7. ^ a b "Behind the Board Games: Rick Priestley". Beasts of War. 2019-08-01. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  8. ^ a b "The making of Warhammer 40,000: Rick Priestley on the birth of the sci-fi miniatures behemoth". Tabletop Gaming. 2019-09-02. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  9. ^ "Ha fallecido Richard Halliwell, creador de Space Hulk". La Voz de Horus (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  10. ^ Maliszewski, James (2020-11-13). "Interview: Rick Priestley (Part II)". Grognardia. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  11. ^ Priestley, Rick; Lambshead, John (2016). Tabletop Wargames: A Designers and Writers Handbook. Pen and Sword Military. OCLC 1127387703. Richard Halliwell and Rick Priestley derived Warhammer's 'roll to hit' and 'roll to effect' combat system from their earlier fantasy wargame Reaper. This used a D100 decimal dice system still common in role-playing mechanics (D100 where D stands for 'dice' and 100 for the spread of results).
  12. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  13. ^ Lejoyeux, Pierre (December 1987). "Têtes d'Affiches". Casus Belli (in French). No. 42. p. 18.
  14. ^ Arrant, Chris (November 25, 2020). "'80s Judge Dredd board game Block Mania returns". Newsarama. Retrieved 2021-05-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ a b Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 51. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
  16. ^ "Block Mania Review". Tabletop Gaming. 2021-03-17. Retrieved 2021-05-07. This feature originally appeared in Issue 53 of Tabletop Gaming.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ a b "Designer: Richard Halliwell". Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  18. ^ a b c Griepp, Milton (2021-05-04). "R.I.P. Richard Halliwell". ICv2. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  19. ^ Peel, Jeremy (October 17, 2016). "Making it in Unreal: Warhammer turns Mad Max turn-based in Dark Future: Blood Red States". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2021-05-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ 1989 Origins Awards Winners
  21. ^ "Origins Award Winners (1990)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  22. ^ Davis, Graeme (May 3, 2021). "Richard Halliwell is no longer with us. One of #Warhammer's creators, plus #SpaceHulk, #DarkFuture, and more. To say Hal was a personality is an understatement. I think of him as the British games industry's very own Crazy Diamond. Shine on, Hal". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-05-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)