The origins of Mischief, Inc. go back to the 1980s when a small, tight group of friends and role-playing gamers came up with a name for a fictional company under which they would someday publish their endeavors.
Today Mischief, Inc. is the realization of that dream. We are publishers of adventure modules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons®. Our plan is to provide new, quality adventure products for all fans of Old School gaming.
President and CEO
For me, my love of role playing games started in 7th grade (1979) when my best friend at the time, Michael, told me about a game he got for his birthday called Dungeons & Dragons. It was likely a 6th printing of the Holmes Basic Set and included B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. I went over to his house and we sat at his kitchen table writing up a few characters that I was to play for months of fun exploring the Caves of Chaos.
When in the spring of 1980 I spoke to another friend, Adam, on the front steps of his parents’ house across the street from my own home in Dormont, Pennsylvania about this incredible game, detailing the exploits of my characters, he abruptly excused himself and went into the house. Several minutes later he emerged with his own copy of the Holmes Basic Set that he had received for Christmas, but had never played. I took over the role of Dungeon Master and with a couple of other friends, and the older of my two younger sisters, we began what would become a lifelong hobby for me.
Our characters in those days were very derivative with names like Gwydion (my paladin based on the character in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain), Aragorn, or something silly like Rangaar the Ranger (loosely making fun of Thundaar the Barbarian), or simply “Jane” because Adam liked the song by Jefferson Starship. We had hours of fun, and frequent weekend “all-nighters” playing until we were all slap happy from lack of sleep.
By the time I was in 9th grade (1981) I had a thriving little group of role players and we’d moved on to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons . It was around this time that a couple of friends, Tim and Chris (brothers), introduced me to a friend of theirs and their AD&D group’s Dungeon Master, Bob Pennington. I remember the first time I played with their group in the dining room of the brother’s apartment near our Middle School. Bob was using the City State of the Invincible Overlord from Judges Guild as his setting and I think the adventure he was running was homemade (I’d only done published TSR adventures to that point). We quickly became friends and our two groups merged with some of the less dedicated members of both original groups leaving to pursue other interests.
For many years through High School and College, I played many other role playing games. FASA’s Star Trek, West End Games’ Star Wars, Chaosium’s Stormbringer, and Call of Cthulhu, and many others. Over time, though, a pattern began to emerge. I always ended up back with Dungeons & Dragons. By the time I entered my twenties, D&D was the main game once again, with a little Champions and Traveller for a change of pace.
Through the years I have played almost every version of Dungeons & Dragons. Aside from the Holmes Basic I began with I also played a little Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and AD&D 2nd Edition. In 2000 we switched to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, and to v3.5 in 2003. We played and enjoyed 4th Edition D&D from 2008 until 2014, and now we are finding 5th Edition enjoyable.
Over the last few years I have had what began as a nostalgic urge to recapture the fun of my youth, and began re-exploring the older editions of D&D from my past. What I have found is that those editions hold up very well, and are just as fun to play as the newer editions. It was with this truth in mind that I decided to gather, in published form, all of the adventures we as Dungeon Masters have written over the last 35 years or so.
I chose a name for our company that goes all the way back to the 1980s when Bob, with the incomparable computing skills of Chris, created a database to house our Champions characters called The Stronghold Files. At that time Chris began using Mischief, Inc. as a pseudo-company name for all of his computer and gaming endeavors, and the name quickly caught on with the rest of us.
In addition to table top role playing games, I love computer games (mostly the role playing, real-time strategy, and adventure genres), and I am an avid bicyclist. I also consider myself an amateur Tolkien scholar. I am a huge fan of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. Most of all, though, I enjoy spending time with my amazing wife Nicole, our beautiful daughter Mackenna, and our sweet pup Zoe.
I have written A1 A Forgotten Evil, and completed a re-write of F1 The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying. I am currently working on a re-write of B1 The Inheritance and writing F2 Barrow of the Orc King, and F3 The Last Thane of Hammerhand.
Karen grew up obsessed with magic, dragons, and unicorns. Any book in the library within the fantasy section – Children or Adult and everything in between – was fair game for her full attention. Illustrating flimsy cardboard-backed books containing individual short stories she authored led to creating simple pop-up art featuring scaled beasts and castles as a pre-teen. More stories and characters of her creation have been lost than remembered. During a far-too-long stint of employment at a corporate healthcare system, Karen met Alex and they realized one another to be fans of fantasy and fiction adventures. It was not until several years later that Alex invited Karen to provide illustration for the start-up gaming collective that would become Mischief, Inc. Despite her limited interaction with the RPG world, Karen is a real-life member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) – the organization responsible for the international events recalling the true era which inspired the tales and creatures of the Dungeons & Dragons universe. In addition to her work with Mischief, Inc., Karen is a licensed massage therapist, certified Medical Qigong Therapist, Certified Tea Master, experienced project manager and event planner, and a belly-dancer. She is proud to be a part of Mischief, Inc. and the greatness untold which awaits this motley crew!
Karen’s work for Mischief, Inc. appears in A1 A Forgotten Evil, B1 The Inheritance and F1 The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying.
I started playing Basic Dungeons & Dragons and first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons back in 1980 when I was about 10 years old. My older brother introduced me to it (he was the DM), and right around this same time, I read The Hobbit for the first time. The two mixed together to influence my imagination for the next 30 years. Around this same time, I also started drawing. Naturally, D&D lent itself to my drawing, providing endless subject matter. Like many Old School revivalists, the original artists fueled my interest in the game, but also provided inspiration for my own art. I try to model my own work after David A Trampier, Jeff Dee, Bill Willingham, James Roslof, David C. Sutherland III, Erol Otus, and many more. The writing of those early adventure modules fired the imagination as well. Even the typos and the editorializing of Gary Gygax in the 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide charmed me. I took a break from Dungeons & Dragons for many years, but in the last few years, I have heard the siren call of 1st Edition, and rededicated myself to my art. I have hearkened to this call, and I am now excited to provided new content for my Old School brethren. I am also interested in bringing the “old school feel” to newer editions of Dungeons & Dragons – let’s make magic!
My work for Mischief, Inc. appears in A1 A Forgotten Evil, F1 The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying and I am currently designing M1 Haunted Mines of Veikur.
System Conversion Manager
Bill Volk lives in Pittsburgh, designs signs, and writes and draws comics. He started playing Dungeons & Dragons with 3rd edition in 2002, and he has written 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventures for the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, including Palace of the Crowned Skull and The Tournament at Scornubel. Currently he’s helping to create 5th Edition adaptations of Mischief Inc.’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventures.
Bill has completed preliminary conversions on A1 A Forgotten Evil and F1 The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying, he is currently designing R1 The Legacy of Rakoss the Undying.