Hawgleg News Archive - 2001 < Back to previous page

Mike Murphy - Biography
Feb. 12, 2001

Mike Murphy
Co-founder, Designer of original game concept
Michael T. Murphy found himself flung into the never-ending world of gaming by his attraction to the SF Classic Starship Troopers. First reading this book in 1978, he has made it a point to read it once a year since then. It was this book and its title that made his young, impressionable mind snap like a twig one day when he saw a box on a toy store shelf that said Starship Troopers, A Bookcase Game by Avalon Hill

Timmy the Zap's infamous chitThat was his first board wargame -- which he still owns today -- and from there this innocent pastime grew to become his main hobby. During the 1980s he finished high school began to move away from board wargaming, especially after a very, very, bad experience with "Timmy the Zap" in SPI's Time Tripper.  He migrated to the classic RPG Dungeons & Dragons™, joined the United States Army.  Boot Camp behind him, he finally started GMing in late 1983 while stationed in Kentucky. John Vanella, one of the players from his initial group, won the first CHAOSCON '83 D&D tournament.

Mike's military service took him to Germany where he DMed a cash prize Ravenloft Tournament D&D Game in 1985 (the only one that was played in Europe). His return back to the states saw him continue in RPGs, with his collection of games and miniatures quickly growing. He's proud of placing Second in Novice Class Warhammer Fantasy Miniatures in 1986 at the Houston Fantasy Faire, and is also a bit proud for causing a ruckus at NANCON later that same year with his open challenge of the fairness and qualifications of the Tournament GM for a Twilight 2000 Tournament ("It's interesting to see that the ONLY female player in the tournament, who spent half her time rubbing the GM's leg, won the game!").

In the late 1980s, a chance telephone call to a number on a flyer at a game store led to the meeting of Mike Murphy and Mike Mitchell.  And the seas boiled, and the earth split, and the sky turned black as sackcloth... and their lives would never again be the same.

It was a D&D campaign that spawned this friendship. The campaign is still talked about to this day (sometimes in hushed whispers of awe, disbelief... and worried concern). But even though the game itself has passed into the shadowed mists of Ravenloft, the friendship has endured and become even more powerful than Lord Strahd.

During the '90s, Mike went through the normal patterns of marriage, divorce, leaving the Army, changing jobs, and moving -- all the wonderful things that supposedly make life worth living. His gaming habits began to change once again as he moved from Texas to Las Vegas and found himself drawn more and more into miniature wargaming

Currently, in miniatures, he can field:

  • a US Armored Cavalry Squadron
  • a Unit of Neu Schwabian Space Marines
  • half the Army of Northern Virginia (and its Yankee counterparts)
  • a whole slew of US, VC, and NVA Vietnam War troops, and his beloved cowboys...

The idea for Gutshot™ came about one night after a few beers at the local watering hole with his fellow gamers. Kvetching over another Guinness, he began to bemoan the fact that there were no Western Rules out there that he liked.

"Well, Murph," said game store Owner Joe Sudek, "If you can't find a set of rules that you like, make your own."

Murph got very quiet the rest of the night as the seed took root in the beer-soaked soil of his mind.
He stumbled home and by the time the early morning sun had dappled the hills of Nevada, he had outlined the basics of this game that would become Gutshot™.  He promptly recruited some players to test out the draft rules, and to his immense gratification, they were enjoyed by all. Feeling giddy, he sent them to Mike (who was in Houston enjoying a life of newlywedded bliss) to find out what he thought of these endeavors.  He liked them, a company was born, and the rest -- as they say -- is history.

In his spare(?) time, he attends college courses, works, tries to sleep, is fascinated by the Cthulhu mythos, listens to Art Bell, tries to find a woman who can put up with him and not strangle him in his sleep, and keeps telling himself that he's going to actually finish the shrine he's begun to build around his Velvet Elvis painting. 

Contact Mike Murphy at: mmurphyl@hawgleg.com 

Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, and all that stuff used to be trademarked by TSR.  Now they belong to Wizards of the Coast.  The use of these terms here is not authorized and is not intended to infringe on their trademarks or copyrights.
Starship Troopers and Time Tripper game rights were previously owned by Avalon Hill and SPI, respectively, and still might be.  We don't know for certain who owns them now, but their use here is not authorized and is not intended to infringe on their trademarks or copyrights.


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