Remembering Robert (Bobby) Nunes—”Bobby Factor”

This post is from SDHistCon founder Harold Buchanan.

Remembering Robert (Bobby) Nunes – “Bobby Factor”

San Leandro, California

April 26, 1967 – March 17, 2024

“It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Quenta Silmarillion”

The historical gaming community lost a passionate leader and friend on March 17th, 2024, when Bobby Nunes crossed over after a long battle with cancer. Bobby’s infectious enthusiasm and passion left a lasting impression on everyone he touched, and his absence will be deeply felt.

While we knew Bobby had been sick and suspected how serious the illness might be, we are all shocked and saddened by the news. As a proud member of the SDHist team, Bobby wasn’t just a leader who energized the organization through a period of significant growth; he was also a source of constant encouragement and camaraderie.

While covering only a small part of a life that touched so many, I thought it would be informative and therapeutic to write a memorial piece about Bobby’s dedication to SDHist and the lasting impact he had on the historical gaming hobby he loved.

“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Aragorn’s last words to Arwen.

I first crossed paths with Bobby, aka “Bobby Factor”, on Twitter. His sharp wit and passion for wargames were unmistakable. His attention to detail in graphics struck me immediately, as he put together a hilarious graphic of Liberty or Death with Volko Ruhnke’s pic on the Cornplanter Leader marker and mine as the British General—Harold Lord Buchanan.

With a photo sporting a lavish artificial mustache, Bobby’s Twitter bio read like a quirky resume: “Historical board/wargamer. Official #SDHistCon ZoomBomber. Internationally renowned Level 5 Fizzbin grandmaster. MMA zealot. Likes very small rocks. And gravy.”

Our paths physically crossed at Pacificon in October of 2018. We played a game of Polis together – one of his favorites. We played a game of Liberty or Death and he fought through an early Flashpoint: South China Sea prototype. He showed me the ropes of the Pacificon process, including walking me through the flea market and queuing up 30 minutes early for a shot at a bargain.

Pacificon was his home convention, and he shared it with me like he was showing off his classic car. I was struck by his kind heart, interest in teaching and helping however he could, and his upbeat positive attitude. He’s one of those people that you just love to be around—and it hit you in the face when you met him for the first time.

We stayed in touch through social media, building rapport with a continuous trading of quips. His wit was sharp and it reached far. He sported intellectual sophistication anchored in depth in Tolkien and Herbert—and quoted them frequently.

The pandemic hit shortly thereafter and social media was a safe place to interact with hobbyists. I recorded a series of podcasts with about 30 people in the hobby to see how they were passing the time and Bobby was one of the 30.

His thoughtful approach to solo gaming was helpful and his love for all things Hollandspiele showed through and through. After hearing about Bobby’s passing, that podcast was the first place I went to hear his voice. I’m so happy there is a recording of his voice and big brain engaged.

SDHist started to develop into a more formal organization during this time. We grew from a once-a-year face-to-face convention to a twice-yearly online convention. The change meant more people were involved; more technology and graphics skills were necessary.

I invited Bobby to a meeting one night, and that’s all it took. He stepped up and immediately became a leader. In a small organization like ours, you are measured by what you do and not by what you say or promise, and he was prolific. We were all lucky to be the beneficiary of Bobby, dedicated to a cause he believed in and a hobby he loved. The graphics for the promotional materials as well as the event itself were breathtaking.

The energy he invested was extraordinary. The organization continued to grow in number of events and its purpose. Bobby played a key role as we went through the big questions of what is the mission of SDHist. The organization has Bobby’s fingerprints all over it and we hope they will always be visible. From November 2021, here is a wrap up show from one of the online conventions with Bobby and other famous con attendees.

We had so much fun behind the scenes at the online SDHistCon. The crew from SDHistCon would sit in the green room (between fires) and chat with whomever dropped in. Bobby always kept us smiling and was always thinking about what he could do to add energy and enjoyment for the convention patrons.

Perhaps my favorite skit was when Bobby would find the link to the panels on the No Enemies Here show hosted by Dan Pancaldi and drop in. Enjoy this clip—starting at 48:50—of Bobby Zoom-bombing Pancaldi’s panel for French-speaking designers at SDHistCon.

In June 2022, Bobby created some breakthrough graphics for the SDHist Levy and Campaign Fest.

Here’s Bobby in an interview with his hero Dan Pancaldi to discuss upcoming SDHist conventions.

By the way, Bobby loved Pancaldi. And Calandale. And Ardwulf. And any number of industry contributors with big, “complex” personalities. The more “complex”, the more he loved them. While I was often impatient and intolerant, Bobby was the counterbalance. He was always patient, forgiving and kind. That big heart was always showing through.

We intended to meet at ConSim World Expo in Tempe Arizona to play games for a week in the Summer of 2021, but the pandemic had a vote and we made a different plan. Bobby came to San Diego and spent a week at my house, a ‘sleepover playdate,’ as my wife called it . Our intent was to play Combat Commander until we could command no more.

Bobby was charming as always, winning my wife and dog Coco over in short order—both were enamored with our house guest. We had a great week of Combat Commander and also set up a few visits outdoors with other local San Diego gamers.

In April 2022 we met at the GMT Games Weekend at the Warehouse. Our intention was to play Nevsky; to fundamentally figure it out for the first time. We spent much of our time trying to focus then breaking into laughing fits.

People would walk up and ask about the new series by Bobby’s hero Volko Ruhnke. Bobby would reply with a thoughtful and witty distraction about provender and boats and the curious would walk off, satisfied.

The truth was neither of us had done the work studying the rules. We had no idea how to play, and only got through a fraction of a turn. The game became the backdrop for a weekend of laughing and storytelling.

Another highlight of the Weekend at the Warehouse was when Bobby suggested we take some pics of us playing Nevsky. He retired to his car only to return with a pretty serious medieval arms cache. We recruited a few interested parties and took some brilliant photos. Never a dull moment.

I left the warehouse a day early and Bobby had the treat of playing all day Sunday with designer John Butterfield—a bucket list item for Bobby. He talked about the experience of gaming with John Butterfield for months.

Our gaming group kicked off a number of RPG adventures with different GMs and systems. Again, much of this was invigorated by Bobby and his play style. We were playing The One Ring system. I would just sit back and watch him play these roles. I’ve never seen anyone roleplay like this—he committed 150%; it was a wonder to behold! It completely changed how I view roleplaying, as I realized I had been “phoning it in” for 40 years.

The One Ring sessions went on for nearly two years—until the second edition was announced. The sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classic drew us in for a year. We even kicked off a massive Traveler campaign where once again Bobby stole the show.

Bobby loved the Dune series and all things Frank Herbert. He actually had a Dune themed tattoo. He would proudly tell the story of designing his own House Atreides logo on a piece of paper and handing it to the tattoo artist—who thought it was a chicken. After application, it did look more like a chicken than the Atreides Hawk. But Bobby loved that tattoo, and he loved telling that story.

“There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace—those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move toward death.”

— Frank Herbert, Dune

Bobby was proud of his Portuguese heritage and once told me he dated exclusively Portuguese women—I was never sure if he was joking or telling the truth. While we were looking for a venue for our post pandemic SD Hist Con, Bobby lobbed a call in to the San Diego Portuguese Center. It turned out to be the perfect venue and one we are returning to this year. I’m sad that Bobby never got the chance to enjoy the space: our hosts would have loved him.

At one point during the pandemic, we discussed the lack of historical gaming periodicals that actually contemplate the social and cultural issues surrounding the hobby we loved so much.
Six months later we published our online eZineConflicts of Interest.

Many of us contributed to the development of Conflicts of Interest, and I don’t want to diminish that. But, my recollection of the process was that this was a Bobby Nunes labor of love. This project was made for Bobby. His creativity, wit, graphics skill and energy made him the perfect Editor.

At one point in the process we all made our contributions and turned them over to Bobby. As we waited for white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney, Bobby remained silent. A month later, we received a masterpiece.

And it wasn’t just his editorial organization. Bobby doubled the content with a series of incredible articles and fillers that made this issue a work of art. I noted that each article had an interesting photo of the author. Volko Ruhnke later confided in me that he exchanged instructions and photos with Bobby numerous times before Bobby accepted the photo we now call “Volko in the Hamptons.”

Bobby and I bumped into each other a few times during this process. Not knowing what to expect or when to expect it, I continued to ask for target dates. Little did I know I was working with Michelangelo. The answer I received over and over—and rightfully so— was as if Michelangelo were painting for Pope Julius II in “The Agony and the Ecstasy”:

“Pope Julius II: When will you make an end?
Michelangelo: When I am finished!”

We had a laugh that I was looking for Michael Dell rather than Michelangelo. I thank god that we got Michelangelo.

That issue of Conflicts of Interest (July 2022) had an incredible impact on SDHist, and I would argue our hobby. One that only Bobby could have served up. We all feared we might have burned Bobby out—and the fear was driven by the sheer mastery of the work. Can we live in a world where we won’t see this feat repeated?

In August of 2022, after the publication of Conflicts of Interest’s inaugural issue, Bobby and I agreed to meet at Consim World Expo in Tempe Arizona and play some monster games. We joined with friends and played games big and small.

We played with friends Bruce and Michael for nearly a week. Then we played with SDHist friends that had traveled from afar. We had a great time and played games from dawn to dusk. It is one of my favorite gaming memories. Bobby knew he was sick at the time, but I never detected any weakness.


Shortly after returning from ConSimWorld Expo, we initiated discussions on what a second issue of Conflicts of Interest eZine might look like. I got a call from Bobby. He told me he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and was going to take some time off work.

He asked permission to run with the next edition of Conflicts of Interest during his break. Of course, I told him, we would love to have any time he had to spare. We did not know how the next few years fighting cancer would disable the energetic Michelangelo.

Bobby left us for wargamer heaven on March 17, 2024 after a nearly two-year battle with cancer. He goes on to meet his beloved cat Goodie (The Goodie preceded his departure by a few years) and leaves behind his loving life partner Claudia and his mother Rosemarie.

Bobby left his mark on many of us and on the hobby he loved. He will be missed. But I look forward to sitting across the table from him some day in the future in the great game room in the sky, helping to plot his next caper.

“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”
Antonio Porchia, Voices

Please leave tributes to our friend Bobby in the comments below.

17 Replies to “Remembering Robert (Bobby) Nunes—”Bobby Factor””

  1. Bobby did so much for this hobby on many fronts, but I particularly appreciated the incredible things he accomplished with the Conflicts of Interest zine. That really showed what can be possible with written historical gaming content. Thank you, Bobby, for that, and for all you brought to SDHist and the wider hobby.

  2. Bobby was just the nicest, most welcoming person. Talking to him at various virtual SDHistCons was always a treat, and he always made me feel like part of a community. We’ll miss him deeply.

  3. Bobby’s warmth, energy and enthusiasm was so contagious. I spent my birthday in Tempe at CSW amidst a very rough 2022 with depression, family health and other issues. He really galvanized our little band and lifted me out the doldrums. I was quite grateful for it. Knowing only now that he was sick really speaks to the kind of person he was: generous, outgoing, and an uplifting spirit. I will miss Bobby telling the story of that ridiculous tattoo. Rest in peace, my friend.

  4. This is terrible news. I had the pleasure of meeting Bobby at CSW in 2022 for the first time IRL, and he was just such a joy to be around and game with. His story about his tattoo will forever go down as one of the best stories ever told. He told me the next time I saw him that he would teach me a hex and counter game. I will miss him dearly.

  5. Bobby and I met when we learned Triumph & Tragedy with Terry Coleman. We spent 6 hours laughing and joking only interrupted by a Togos run. We spent the rest of that Con and every other Bay Area Convention finding each other and spending some good time over food and laughs. We shortly added Harold into our group of laughs and wargames. This was the Santa Bearded Harold era. Shortly after we had a convention that Harold couldn’t make it and we took a hilarious picture with recent Wargame gems and sent it off to Harold. This was the reverence and love we had for each other in our little community.
    In many of these conventions Bobby got to meet my boys ages 9 & 7 the first time. He loved seeing them play Battle Cry and got to play The Grizzled with them. I thoroughly loved seeing my boys interact with Bobby and how he encouraged their young minds.
    Bobby was the most jovial man I have ever known, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know him and game with him.
    Rest easy my friend, the Just boys will miss you

  6. Bobby will be missed As the guy who Ran Pacificon wargames for the last 25 plus years. Who couldn’t be touched. By his enthusiasm. Fighting my own terminal cancer battle. He will be missed

  7. Thanks for the wonderful tribute.

    I didn’t know Bobby as a war gamer. We interacted a lot on social media likely due to shared sense of humor and a love of Fizbin.

  8. I was in that One Ring RPG campaign with Bobby and Harold (and some of the Traveler campaign).Bobby and I never stopped rebound laughing throughout. His wit and courage in saying something so off the wall that you couldn’t help but cry laughing was infectious. I will miss him. It hurts my heart that he has died young. Rest in peace.

  9. I was a friend of Bobby’s.

    A, t Pacificon 2019, when my body was broken, and Shaitan whispered lies in my ear, that I didn’t really belong in the hobby, to share the company of such learned and esteemed people, Bobby welcomed me into the tribe. We drank and laughed and played, and foresaw a Golden Path where we would do the same many times in the future.

    But it was only one of many possible futures.

    After the pandemic, we met again at a local restaurant, for we were also neighbors. Again we drank and laughed.

    I welcomed him in our home for a night of Pax Pamir, and drinking and laughing. The Golden Path then seemed assured.

    But it was only one of many possible futures, and I never saw him again.

    I was a friend of Bobby’s.

  10. As all the stories, photos, and editorial flare showcased above demonstrate, Bobby used his formidable creative talent to amplify the fun of everything for all of us. I feel like our whole world is smiling less without him.

  11. Bobby was always such a happy and positive force to be around. His lush elf wig he wore whilst we played a few sessions of The One Ring RPG online was incredible. He is sorely missed.

  12. What a character. Sharp of wit. Generous with his time and his boundless good humour. I have so many fond memories both in person and online. The world is a lessor place without him.

    Cheer to Bobby.

  13. What a beautiful tribute. Bobby will be missed. He was an absolute exemplar of why we love historical gaming and how much fun you can have in play. He made the hobby better and I wish I could have spent more time with him before he left. Rest in peace.

  14. I only knew him from Pacificon and all I can say is I’m shedding tears. He will be missed tremendously and I hope is he has a table for me set up so we can game together. My thoughts are with his family and friends. F cancer

  15. I’m so grateful for all the time I got to spend with Bobby. Almost all of it was virtual, during the online era of SDHistCon that Harold describes so well above. I only had the pleasure of meeting him in-person once (pictured in the first photo on this page) and it was a joyous occasion – filled with laughter and instant camaraderie despite the fact that none of us had met in person before. Bobby was always a joy to spend time with and he contributed so much talent, energy, and FUN to the projects he was involved in. He will be greatly missed by so many.

  16. I first met Bobby over zoom, early during the pandemic. Even over the internet, on a small laptop screen, he was radiant in his love, which is what I felt in all my interactions with him. A zoom meeting without Bobby was always dimmer than one with his wit and smile in attendance. I finally got to meet him in person when he visited Harold for a week, and it was a pleasure to see my friend in the flesh! I will miss him dearly, and the gaming community is poorer for his absence, but I will remember him, and try to be more like him in my interactions with others, welcoming and laughing and loving.

Comments are closed.