David Cook (game designer)

David Cook (game designer)
David Cook
Born East Lansing, Michigan[1]
Nationality American
Other names David "Zeb" Cook[1]
Occupation Game designer
Spouse Helen

David "Zeb" Cook is an American game designer best known for his work at TSR, Inc., where he was employed for over fifteen years.


Early life

Cook was born in East Lansing, Michigan, and grew up on a farm in Iowa where his father worked as a farmer and a college professor. In junior high school, Cook playing wargames such as Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg and Afrika Korps. “I was primarily a wargamer, but there wasn’t any role-playing available then,” although in college, he was introduced to the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game through the University of Iowa gaming club.[1]

Cook earned his B.A. in English (with a Theater minor) in 1977. He married his high school sweetheart, Helen, with whom he had one son, Ian. Cook became a high school teacher in Milligan, Nebraska, where his students gave him his nickname of "Zeb"; the name derives from his signature, which is dominated by a stroke resembling a 'Z', as well as his resemblance to the James Arness character Zeb Macahan in the TV series How the West Was Won.[1]


Cook responded to an ad in Dragon magazine for a game designer position at TSR. After completing the designer test that the company then used, and writing a sample module section, Cook became the third full-time game designer hired by TSR. He later became Senior Designer. “Game designing is hard work,” he says, “but everything worth doing is hard work. The important thing is to do it well, and to have fun while you’re doing it.” Cook created role-playing games, modules, family board games, card games, rulebooks, and party mystery games.[1]

He created the Partyzone mystery game line, and The Spy Ring scenario, the first Partyzone game, was named one of the Top 100 Games of 1985 by Games Magazine. Other notable works for TSR include the Conan the Barbarian, The Adventures of Indiana Jones, and Star Frontiers role-playing games, and the Sirocco and Escape from New York games. Cook also wrote several influential early adventure modules for D&D and AD&D, such as A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City, X1: The Isle of Dread, and X4: Master of the Desert Nomads and X5: Temple of Death (the 'Desert Nomads' series). Other module work included CM4: Earthshaker!, AC5: Dragon Tiles II, AC2: D&D Game Combat Shield, B6: The Veiled Society, CB1: Conan Unchained!, M1: Blizzard Pass for D&D and AD&D, and Top Secret module TS005: Orient Express and Boot Hill module BH2: Lost Conquistador Mine.[1]

Cook, with Jim Ward, Steve Winter, and Mike Breault, co-wrote the adventure scenario that was adapted into the game Pool of Radiance.[2] Cook is particularly known for being the lead designer on the 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and the Planescape campaign setting.[3] One reviewer described that work as "the finest game world ever produced for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons".[4] He was the primary author of the original Oriental Adventures, ostensibly under the guidance and direction of Gary Gygax,[1] which amongst other things introduced the concept of non-weapon proficiencies into AD&D,[5] and designed the far eastern setting, Kara-Tur.[6]

Cook left TSR in 1994 to work in the field of electronic media. He was the lead designer on City of Villains computer game for Cryptic Studios.[3] After he left Cryptic, he joined Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment as the lead systems designer for the video game Stargate Worlds.[7] In 2001 he was inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "TSR Profiles". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR, Inc.) (#104): 63. December 1985. 
  2. ^ The Dragon editors (September 1989). "The Envelope, Please!". Dragon (149): 20–21. 
  3. ^ a b Allen 'Delsyn' Rausch (2005-08-22). "City of Villains A Chat with Zeb Cook (PC)". GameSpy. http://uk.pc.gamespy.com/pc/city-of-villians/644153p1.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  4. ^ Scott Haring; Andrew Hartsock (August 1994). "Pyramid Pick: Planescape". Pyramid (Steve Jackson Games) #8. http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/login/article.html?id=803. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  5. ^ * David Cook, "Oriental opens new vistas", Dragon 104:20-21, Dec 1985.
  6. ^ Shepherd, Ashley (February 1986). "Open Box: Dungeon Modules". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (74): 9–10. ISSN 0265-8712. 
  7. ^ Jeff Woleslagle; Phil Comeau (2006-05-11). "Stargate Worlds Q&A with David "Zeb" Cook From Cities to Worlds". TenTonHammer.com. http://www.tentonhammer.com/index.php?q=node/194. 
  8. ^ Damon White (2003-06-28). "Winners of Origins Game Awards". GamingReport.com. http://www.gamingreport.com/article.php?sid=9113. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 

External links

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