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BiographyHistory

Scriptwriter, filmmaker, and author of tie-in fiction and gaming materials for tabletop war simulations and role-playing games.

During the 1990s, Chessell contributed heavily to the world-building, mythology, and character histories of a variety of popular tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), through his contributions to corebooks (base rule books) and sourcebooks (supplementary materials). His work for games publisher Chaosium included the sections on 'Feasts and Festivals' and 'Heraldry' in Lordly Domains (1997), a sourcebook for the Pendragon RPG (based on Malory's Morte D'Arthur, but set in a world that was a pastiche of fifth and sixth-century history, high medieval history, and Arthurian legend); material for Sailing on the Seas of Fate (1996), a nautical sourcebook for the Stormbringer RPG (based on Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone stories); and a story for Serpent Moon: Four Supernatural Stories of Arcane Adventure (1995), a sourcebook for the Nephilim RPG (in which players are powerful and elemental entities adapting to reincarnation in mortal form).

Chessell's most extensive work in RPGs, however, was with American gaming company White Wolf Publishing, publishers of, among other texts, the popular RPGs Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Chessell contributed extensive material to corebooks and sourcebooks for White Wolf's RPG Wraith: The Oblivion, set in a dystopic and heterotopic society in which playable characters are the ghosts of the recently dead. His contributions to this RPG included work for the corebooks Wraith: The Oblivion (second edition, 1998) and Shadow Players Guide (1996) and the sourcebooks Dark Reflections: Spectres (1995) and Dark Kingdom of Jade Adventures (1996).

Most of his work for White Wolf was with the tabletop RPG Werewolf: The Apocalypse, which positioned the various werewolf ('Garou') tribes as environmental warriors fighting both the urban desolation and environmental destruction brought about by humans and the supernatural corrupting forces known collectively as agents of the Wyrm. Chessell contributed content to the sourcebook Axis Mundi: The Book of Spirits (1996), the two corebooks for separatist Garou tribe the Red Talons (1995's Red Talons Tribebook and 1998's Litany of the Tribes Volume 3), and the two corebooks for the Western-themed Werewolf campaign (1997's Werewolf: The Wild West and 1998's Werewolf: The Wild West Companion).

From an Australian perspective, his most intriguing work in the Werewolf universe is his contributions to Rage Across Australia (1994), a sourcebook that extended the essentially European and North American history of the Garou to include the Australian continent. One element that Rage Across Australia contributed to the Werewolf mythos was the extinction of one of the Garou tribes: the Bunyip, an isolated tribe who interbred with Indigenous Australians and thylacines (in, respectively, their human and wolf forms) because of the lack of an indigenous wolf species in Australia. Mistaken for enemies of the Wyrm, they were exterminated by colonising European Garou tribes in what came to be known as the War of Tears, the only instance of genocide in the game's mythos. Chessell's interest in Australian-specific Werewolf mythos also led him to publish 'Apocalypse Here: How to Run a Werewolf Chronicle in Australia' (Australian Realms 20 (Nov./Dec. 1994), pp.33-35).

Chessell began his work as a director in 2001, with short films, including the multi-award-winning The Only Person in the World. He has also worked as a writer and director for Australian television prgrammes, including fantasy adventure The Elephant Princess (2008-2009) and police drama Rush (2010-2011). Most recently, his screenplay The Uncertainty Principle (about a scientist who travels through time only to find that he has a romantic rival in his own future self) was optioned by German/Swiss production company Lailaps Pictures (in early 2011): The Uncertainty Principle was co-written with Rjurik Davidson, another author whose first published works were set in the Warhammer universe and published by the Black Library.

Awards for Works

Sucker 2015 single work film/TV humour

'An 18-year-old Chinese Australian on the cusp of adulthood learns about life and lies from an ageing conman, and about love from his daughter.'

Source: Screen Australia.

2015 shortlisted AWGIE Awards Film Award Feature Film - Adaptation
Offspring 2010 series - publisher film/TV

'Born out of the telemovie of the same name, Offspring is a contemporary drama series about Nina Proudman, a thirtysomething obstetrician and her fabulously messy family. Following the Proudman family's adventures searching for love, fulfillment and balance in the chaos of modern life, Offspring is about the life forces that drive us all: love, sex, babies, food and music. Stylistically fresh and visually exciting, Offspring mixes conventional narrative drama with flashbacks, graphic animation and fantasy sequences, showcasing the vibrant world of Fitzroy, Melbourne, where Nina and the extended Proudman family go about their unpredictable daily lives.'

Source: Australian Television Information Archive.

2014 nominated Logie Awards Most Outstanding Drama Series
2013 nominated Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards Best Television Drama Series Nominated for Season Four
2013 nominated Logie Awards Most Popular Drama Series
2012 nominated Logie Awards Most Popular Drama Series
2012 nominated Logie Awards Most Outstanding Drama Series
2011 nominated Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards Best Television Drama Series For Season Two.
Rush 2008 series - publisher film/TV crime

'... a contemporary action drama series set in a critical incident police unit, providing an insider's view of police under pressure. Our heroes are a mobile squad trained to be smarter, tactically superior and technologically advantaged.'

Source: Australian Television website, www.australiantelevision.net (sighted 08/09/2009)

2011 nominated Logie Awards Most Outstanding Drama Series
2011 nominated Logie Awards Most Popular Drama Series
2010 winner Australian Film Institute Awards Best Television Drama Series
2009 nominated Logie Awards Most Outstanding Drama Series
Last amended 16 Feb 2012 11:01:03
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