Meet the team
Christopher Loizou, is a business executive and part time game designer, owner of the Cursed Empire IP and creator of the Thargos setting.
He lives in France and moved there in 2008 from the UK. Chris has released 10 indie role-playing game books from the Cursed Empire setting, a graphic novel and a related miniatures range over a 10-year period from 2003 through to 2012. Also, he released an Ancient Greek setting game book revolving around the 300 Spartans and their famous battle of Thermopylae.
Chris is a huge fan of the Ray Harryhausen films, and a host of other swords and sandals epics and these shaped his taste very early on in terms of atmosphere and setting. He likes epic adventures and the quirky feel of stop animation whilst being a huge fan of horror, fantasy and sci-fi films from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s. More recently films like Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Oliver Stone’s Alexander, Peter Jacksons LOTR and The Hobbit, Frank Millers 300, the Game of Thrones & Vikings series are all to his taste.
J.R.R Tolkien, Steven Pressfield, Frank Herbert, Raymond E Feist, Michael Moorcock and H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe to name a few, have all inspired Chris to develop his own setting and stories. He is passionate about ancient history revolving around Ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome and the likes of Carthage with Alexander the Great being a particular favourite inspiration and the details of his military campaigns and interpretations of the incredible individual he would have been for his time have been regular reading for Chris. Reading up on the Middle-Ages is also another era Chris enjoys.
Chris was introduced to role-playing games in Monaco when he was 12 when a friend of his recommended, he purchases the D&D red box (this was in French and at the time, Chris did not really speak the language). He was so taken by the fun and the impact on his imagination that he got into regular D&D gaming and ran many campaigns over years, including occasional games of Stormbringer, Runequest and MERP (Middle-Earth Roleplaying) and one-shot Call of Cthulhu & Paranoia games. Chris used to run a home brew game in his mid to late teens that started out as Cult Master, then mutated into F.A.T.E. (Feu Air Terre Eau – the 4 basic elements in French) and finally Cursed Empire. Chris is more Games Master than player, participating as a player in less than 1 in 50 RPG gaming sessions on average. When Chris started his studies at the Tours Business School in France, he had planned to get involved in some business related association but ended-up, much to his delight, in forming with what became some of his closest friends, a gaming association called Stalagmythes. He was the Chairman of the association for the duration of his studies and gaming such as tabletop, paintball, murder mystery nights etc. were very much back on the menu.
It was after years of being told by his Monaco & Tours friends that he should publish the game, he did exactly that in 2003. Cursed Empire has been dormant now since 2012… until now…
Primary 3rd edition contributor and
master playtester MT
(Master of Tales)
Max has been playing ttrpgs since 1977 and writing / running campaigns since 1978. He is an absolute believer in role-playing games as a force for good.
Max has written and GM’d demonstration games at conventions since the early 80s, running games for GDW’s ‘Dangerous Journeys’ as well as demonstrations for CoC, RQ, C&S, Traveller, SLA Industries, D&D, and most recently adding Cypher, Tales from the Loop and Shadows of Esteren.
First contact with Cursed (then ‘Crimson’) Empire was at an early Conception: he was intrigued by the background and game-world but puzzled by the system. Hearing Chris talk about his passion and commitment to the game encouraged further delving. Hooked in by games run by Chris, which were very rules lite, Max got the feeling there was a better way to get what Cursed Empire was really about across to players.
Max has designed four ttrpgs that have been indie-published and is well-versed in matching systems to backgrounds. He’s a believer in keeping things simple, allowing the rules to serve the stories of the game.
Being drawn to games with a dark vibe that never-the-less offer hope to the heroic: Max is a natural fit for Cursed Empire!
Primary 3rd edition Artist
Ryan Verhagen is a 35 year old self taught artist living in the Netherlands. He has have always had a great passion for everything Scifi and Fantasy related.
"Starting at a very young age watching movies, drawing characters from comic books and all types of creatures I quickly learned that creation of the non existing is where my heart truly lies. I have spent countless hours practicing my digital painting skills and now to have been asked to be the lead artist for Cursed Empire is incredible! To be part of this amazing project and work with such great people is very exciting to say the least!
For each piece of artwork, I follow the same process, bringing to life Chris Loizou's vision of Cursed Empire.
Before I start a project, I like to listen to Chris talk about how he imagines his characters, creatures or landscapes. Discussing key points such as the poses, moods, colours and details of each project gives me a much stronger foundation to try to interpret Chris's vision.
Next, I come up with a sketch of a pose or a composition and go through my ideas together with Chris to see if we are in sync whereafter I share the progress so that he can stear me into the right direction, which works amazingly well.
I believe that my enjoyment of this project is clearly visible in my work but most importantly, and I am sure that I can speak for both Chris and myself, is that we hope you enjoy what we have created for you!"
Welcome to Cursed Empire!
Text contributions, Card Game mechanics and Crypt Crawler mechanics
Born in northern Indiana in the wake of the original Star Wars, Bryan grew up with a powerful imagination – something that has since fuelled more than a million published words, countless plotlines, game designs, and more. He grew up with his nose in comic books and roleplaying tomes, often turning the pages with the feet of an action figure or a sword on a little lead (yes, they were once actually lead) D&D miniature. Never stymied by the banality of the world around us, Bryan defined himself through creativity.
From the early age of seven, Bryan can remember always keeping gaming as a big part of his life, and now it is just that. Moving from playtesting and demo-staffing to his first paper publication with Warmachine: Prime in 2003, he has leapt into the gaming industry with both feet. Working on award-winning projects with a number of different companies over the years, he has had input on several fan favourite games such as Iron Kingdoms, Traveller, Shadowrun, and RuneQuest. Bryan has also been fortunate enough to work with such fantastic settings as Conan, Babylon 5, Starship Troopers, and Judge Dredd over the years.
Branching out into professional miniature painting and sculpting, Bryan has done his best to try his hand at every aspect of the industry. Writing, designing, collaborating, marketing, and managing; if it has something to do with the enjoyment of gamers, Bryan has shown that he happily will be a part of it!
Currently a freelancer with retaining gigs all over the world in RPGS, miniature games, novelizations, and multimedia voice actor work, Bryan is always looking to put smiles on gamer faces. He wants to make the world a more enjoyable place for his kids and their generation – one die rolled, miniature moved or page turned at a time.
"It was accidental happenstance – and the placement of a gorgeous Darkun poster – that grabbed me and my friends to Cursed Empire well over a decade ago. Like moths to a flame, we came to sit in on a game and enjoyed ourselves immensely; so much so that I decided to help out with the lore and the fiction work for a few years! I loved telling stories about such a deep and dark fantasy realm.
Fast forward to 2020. A new version of Cursed Empire is coming out? Yes, please! Not only will I be glad to back such a campaign and spread the word for others to do the same – but my portfolio of work has expanded greatly in the interim. Now I can bring more than just some wordsmithing to the table, and I hope Cursed Empire and all of its fans both old and new will benefit from it".
Michael Watson is a UK based Graphic Designer and Illustrator with a specialism in table top game design. Having worked with the likes of Games Workshop, Mythic Games and Plastic Soldier Company and Wayland Games he has experience with all manor of games. “I have always had a love of all things fantasy and science fiction.
Seeing the Lord of the Rings films as a teenager had a big impact on me, as well as reading Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Creating imagery for fantastical table top game settings (ideally with a dark edge) is my way of joining in on the fun of creating those kind or Worlds.”
“I primarily work Digitally and continuously develop my own style of work, taking a lot of inspiration from artists like H.R.Giger, Dave McKean and Paul Bonner.”
“The world of Cursed is exactly the kind of setting I have always wanted to work with. I see my main role within the team as unifying Chris’ immersive lore and detailed game mechanics with Ryans’ striking artwork in a way that does both sides justice, while perhaps adding a little subtle flavour of my own.”
When not working on his personal painting projects, Michael can usually be found either playing D&D, swotting up on science fiction and fantasy lore, playing bass with the Essex band Hellforged, or adding to his pile of unpainted miniatures (which he keeps promising to find time to tackle one of these days…).
Kickstarter backer king, advisor
In the legitimate, sensible, real world, Duncan Wilson is a financial analyst in the maritime industry. However, since a neighbour brought around the red D&D book and asked if he could run a game so that the neighbour could play it, for the last 25+ years he has spent as much time as possible living in and running, as many game worlds as possible, from fantasy, sci-fi, superhero to horror and post-apocalyptic.
His experience of roleplaying systems includes D&D (6 editions so far), Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Storyteller, GURPS, Rolemaster, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Arcanis, 7th Sea, Ars Magica, AGE and is currently running a homebrew SLA Industries game.
His escapism is not limited to roleplaying games, and he also takes an active interest in board/card games as well as the more traditional books/films/graphic novels.
"In 2003, wanting to pass time between morning and evening gaming slots at a convention, I was introduced to CE. As well as the enthusiasm of its creator and the other players at that game, the stand-out feature was the dark fantasy world where all sides of the conflict were playable as PC's with understandable motivations. Not for the last time, the weekend ended with a table-clash as several teams came from their individual scenarios to one multi-sided end conflict. The direct result was spending a great deal of time in conventions over a decade and two continents both running and participating in many Tales on Thargos. I am looking forward to returning to the Black Dragon Darkuns and the Warrior Priests of the Empire with great anticipation. "
Timothy K Toolen
Timothy K Toolen, 43-years old (going on 12), husband, a father, and a digital artist with traditional tendencies, Tim has been playing RPGs since he was 7 years old and miniature wargames since the age of 16.
He's also had a pencil, pen or brush in his hands since the age of 3. Even while spending over 20 years of his life in professional trade show and marketing graphic design, Tim never lost sight of the loves in his life of illustration and painting and personal design, oftentimes sitting back at his computer at home after the day job was over to pursue creative works that kept him fulfilled as an artist.
Having recently taken inspiration from a few very good friends, and the advice of his wife, Tim started Tim Toolen CREATIVE January 2nd of 2020, venturing out on his own in full-time freelance art and design.
Some of his clients include Steamforged Games, AdeptiCon, Anvil Eight Games, and Winged Hussar Publishing, and he couldn't be happier doing what he loves all while being an example to his son to follow your dreams.
Tim is thrilled to have been retained as the lead cartographer for Cursed Empire 3rd Edition.
Additional text contributions
"Role-playing games have been part of my life since I was at school. I go back as far as the D&D basic box sets. My calling, though, was Call of Cthulhu; it was a great vehicle for my horror stories.
My first encounter with Chris and Cursed Empire many years ago at TowerCon in Blackpool (UK). The first thing I learned about Chris is not to ask him about his game unless you genuinely want to hear about it, because he will tell you about it. I had already filled up my schedule, so it was not until Conception the following year that I had my first experience of the game.
I was planning a scenario for Cthulhu: Dark Ages involving a vampire, but I repurposed it. It became my first for CE, “Sanctity of the Earth”. Thargos was a new playground where I could create stories. Chris and Karen arranged some mini-cons, among them the infamous Balti-Cons, which involved a long train journey to Southampton (UK). It was not unusual to run out of pre-written material and for games to be improvised on the spot. Those were the days!
I was part of the team that launched the game in America at Origins in its second edition. We made quite a splash. I ran a late-night game for some bleary-eyed stewards. This led to considerable interest across 'The Pond' and a rename of the book.
I supported the game by offering games at many UK conventions. I am pleased that they will be made available in third edition."
Chaz has been creating with the Cursed Empire team since 2006, providing live soundtracks to selected “Indiecon” sessions demoing the Cursed Empire second edition.
These performances regularly weighed in at over 4 hours of continuous, improvised sound design that perfectly captured and heightened the experience around the table.
This culminated in the independently recorded “Cursed Empire” EP, designed to accompany home sessions of Cursed Empire and provide a small memento of the unique table top role play + live music formula Chris and Chaz hit upon in the late 2000s.
In early 2020, Chaz co-founded the new creative project "Beard the Beast", bringing rich sonic landscapes awash with emotion, scale and progression to the YouTube channel of the same name.
Now, as we return to the realm of Thargos, Beard the Beast will rise to blow your minds and ear drums in a descent back into the madness that is… Cursed Empire.
"When I first met Chris in 2001, I had no previous experience of gaming or any idea of how big the gaming community was. Very early in our relationship Chris had explained that he had created a game originally in French that he would like to translate into English and publish. 'Go for it'! I remember hearing myself say to him.
Two years later (big smile) 1st Edition was published and my introduction to gaming started. I became part of this wonderful world filled with some great people, joining Chris on his Cursed Empire journey. We travelled to many different countries, we attended conventions, ran demos and sold Cursed Empire and I can say we were very successful.
Now living in France, I have my own business 'CREANGLAIS'. I teach English as a second language to adults and children using creative methodology, making learning interesting, fun and memorable.
Using creativity in my day-to-day work and having had experience in the past with website design it was only natural that I offered to help with the new site. I am thrilled to reconnect with some great old friends and am very excited to see what the future will bring."
Card Game layout and playtester
"Hello! My name is Theo and I’m from the little island of Aphrodite! (otherwise known as Cyprus). I was born and raised in the land of kebabs and barbecues and moved to France nearly two years ago.
I am 28 years old and have been a gamer since I was seven years old. What drives my imagination is the love of History, Mythology, Fantasy and Sci-fi genres.
I was first introduced to the world of RPG’s by my uncle Chris. This was in a huge gaming convention in London. There I played Warhammer and my very first game of Cursed Empire. It was there that I found my love and passion for table-top games.
Years later, turning 17 I signed up to Alexander College where I studied for three years to earn my BA in Graphic Design. Some of my hobbies are drawing, gaming, collecting and cooking.
Now being a 1990’s child, means that I grew up during the era of anime. I grew up watching several anime, such as Dragon Ball and Samurai X. Anime inspires my drawing style, which mainly focuses on many different Japanese styled strokes and lines.
Now here in France, it was only recently that I was asked if I could help design the layouts for the Cursed Empire card game. I accepted and boy was it fun! I can’t wait for everyone to start playing this!!"
All roleplaying game references above are copyright of their respective owners.