Ernest Gary Gygax, July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008
If you’ve ever had a single good time playing a role-playing game, you owe this man some thanks. He pretty much invented the genre. Thanks for everything, Gary. You made my life a lot more enjoyable than you could ever know, and you never even met me.
Got any good stories about your role-playing experiences? Any good D&D tales to tell? I want to hear ’em. Click the pic and let’s send the good Mr. Gygax off, Irish wake style.
March 4th, 2008 at 10:19 pm
Damn…I had no idea until I logged on the computer tonight. It sounds cheesy but Gary Gygax was really a pioneer and an amazing guy. I used to read his columns in old Dragon magazines. Due to him, and the many that followed, I have had some wild adventures D&D style! LOL I look back and realize that I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on role playing. Thanks Gary! (I think)
One role playing memory I have was during my first D&D adventure. I played a Grey Elf thief/mage named Silanthara. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but I loved it! I think I got him up to 7/7 level before an altercation in our party resulted in his death. He was my first and one of my favorite characters.
If you don’t play role playing games it’s hard to “get it”. But they have been a creative and social outlet that I have enjoyed for most of my adult life (I didn’t start playing until college).
Here’s to Gary and an afterlife of all natural 20’s! -Mark
March 5th, 2008 at 11:32 am
My very first role-playing experience was with Dungeons & Dragons. I was sixteen years old and invited to a gaming session by one of my fellow band geeks. After a good hour of sifting through the various books I decided to create a Knight of the Crown from the Dragonlance source book. While I don’t remember his name or what occurred that fateful evening, I do remember feeling excited about participating in something I truly enjoyed. I’ve been a gamer ever since.
Most of my gaming memories are related to events that happened as a result of getting together to play rather than the game itself. For instance, I remember traveling to Lexington for a game of D&D in DanN’s Datsun station wagon, a vehicle so old and rusted that to this day, the only thing I believe holding it together was DanN’s willpower. I knew it was going to be a fun evening when we turned off the car and 10 seconds later (like clockwork) the engine backfired setting off every car alarm in the neighborhood.
I remember Jeff Smith consistently rolling die and picking them before anyone could see the result (in some cases before they even appeared to stop rolling) and say he succeeded; playing until 2 and 3 in the morning, then sitting outside by the cars discussing what just happened during the game for another hour or two; a friend paying an outrageous amount of money for a pizza delivery guy to come down his street only to scream at everyone else to “NOT QUESTION HIS JUDGEMENT!”; DanN winging a session of Shadowrun at Pizza Hut for me and Jeff with absolutely no books; said individual who wished us not to question his judgment consistently finding a reason for his character to get in a fight with mine; waking my mom up at three in the morning because we’re laughing so hard at ourselves.
For these and so many other memories, you have my sincerest thanks Gary. Without you, these memories would probably not exist. You pioneered an industry that has touched so many and you will be sorely missed.
Thanks again for introducing me to a world of late night power-gaming sessions, dateless Friday nights, and ensuring I didn’t get laid till college. I wouldn’t trade any of it.
Usually I’m not a big fan of death reports delivered in a mocking manner, especially when they’re reporting the death of someone I consider important. However, this little gem from Topless Robot is only mocking on the surface. Read by someone who knows their way around a Dungeon Master’s Guide, this is an obvious tribute from a fan. Enjoy.
Gary Gygax Fails His Saving Throw
Posted at 2:01 PM Mar 04, 2008
Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax died this morning in his home at the age of 69.
He leaves behind a wife and Treasure Type H, which includes 1000 + 1d6 x 100 gold pieces, one magic sword, three scrolls, and a map of the dungeon below Dragonstorm castle, where the evil wizard Morfinkrull is rumored to reside. Thanks, Gary, for making us all nerdier than before. May hippogriffs and red dragons speed you to heaven on their wings.
The role-playing gamers’ comic The Order of the Stick has published a very fitting tribute to Gary Gygax. The Order of the Stick is a comedic satire of RPGs, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, and is one of the 10 most widely-read webcomics in the world. Click the pic below to enlarge OOTS’s goodbye to the gaming legend.
Order of the Stick creator Rich Burlew had this to say about Gary’s death:
I never got the chance to actually meet Gary Gygax. Despite both of us being in the same convention center several Augusts in a row, I never managed to figure out where he would be and how I could get myself in front of him so that I could tell him how much his creation has meant to me and my life. I’m sure he got that all the time, actually, but it wouldn’t have deterred me.
Knowing that I won’t ever get that chance now is hard. For those of you who have not heard, Mr. Gygax died today. I’ve decided that since I have a character hanging around in the afterlife anyway, I would let him say the things that I no longer have the opportunity to express (at least not on this side of -10 hit points).
I don’t know if he even knew The Order of the Stick existed, much less how he felt about it if he did. But it doesn’t matter if he thought it was derivative slop, ultimately, because when you help create something as big as D&D, you’re changing the world in a billion tiny ways that are out of your control—including inspiring a graphic designer to start drawing a bunch of silly stick figures on ridiculous adventures. For all my mocking of the current rules (a point on which I strongly suspect Mr. Gygax had many things to say), OOTS is still a loving tribute to a game that hasn’t just changed my life, personally, but has given us all a new way to tell stories going forward into the new century.
Wherever he is, I hope he rolls good stats on his next incarnation.
DanM, I don’t know why your comment was held for moderation, but I’ve cleared it.
Amazing. You said everything I’ve been feeling and trying to put into words. Spectacular, man. You hit the nail square on the head. Every time I hear someone making fun of Dungeons & Dragons, I think the same thing: “If you only knew…” Sure, RPGs and D&D specifically have been labeled with a geeks-only badge, but if those people had seen how fun it could be to watch the fate of an imaginary life hang in the balance of a die roll in the wee hours of the morning… well, it’s just like you said, I wouldn’t trade any of it.
The webcomic reminded me of something – the “Sphere of Annihilation inside the statue’s mouth.” Remember that bullshit? For anyone out there that doesn’t know, the “Sphere of Annihilation inside the statue’s mouth” is a really famous dirty-ass fucking trick that Gary Gygax played on us. Probably one of the most well-known traps in all of role-playing history. A dirty trick that has killed THOUSANDS of characters. I readily admit I fell for it. It’s one of those things that newer gamers probably will never experience, but it was even more effective a mindfuck than the end of Doom II when the walls come down and you’re surrounded by a thousand pissed off demons. At least in Doom II you didn’t have a choice. That fucking sphere was set up so that you had to decide to fall for it. Killed by your own curiosity; its the quintessential top of your lungs “Jesus Christ, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” moments in role-playing. Well played, Gary, you low down son of a bitch. I admit it; you got me, man. You totally fucking got me.
Frog Boy Says:
March 6th, 2008 at 1:55 pm
Where is a Level 7 Cleric when you need one? Peace, Frog Boy
NICE!! And from a non-gamer, even. Well played, sir! You get 15,000 XP and a draw from The Deck Of Many Things. Huzzah!
Without Gary Gygax we would never have had the following, which is my single favorite piece of RPG humor ever. Illuminate thy soul, sinner.
Chris’s Note: Q and DanM posted these comments elsewhere. I’m reposting them here to just so we have all the Gygax info in one spot. Thanks, Q and DanM for the early posts. And yes, the order they actually posted is reversed. It just makes more sense that the setup precedes the jokes. Comedy works better that way.
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) — Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.
He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.
Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys, and eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.
Gygax always enjoyed hearing from the game’s legion of devoted fans, many of whom would stop by the family’s home in Lake Geneva, about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee, his wife said. Despite his declining health, he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January, she said.
“It really meant a lot to him to hear from people from over the years about how he helped them become a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, what he gave them,” Gygax said. “He really enjoyed that.”
Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rules. The quintessential geek pastime, it spawned a wealth of copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that’s still growing in popularity.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Besides his wife, Gygax is survived by six children and seven grandchildren.
And from Q:
Shamelessly horked from woot!:
D&D Co-Creator Gary Gygax Has Passed Away, Tuesday, March 4, 2008.
1. “Quick! Someone cast Raise Dead!”
2. “Don’t worry – he’s just playtesting the Astral Plane for the next edition.”
3. “He’s gone the way of Star Frontiers.”
4. “Analysts warn of a free-fall in Mountain Dew futures.”
5. “In the next town, you meet a stranger named Barry Bygax.”
6. “Now who will lead our young people to Satan?”
7. “With his last breath, he cursed the name of Marlon Wayans.”
8. “I wonder how they’ll divide up his XP.”
9. “Pallbearers, make a Bend Bars/Lift Gates roll.”
10. “At least he didn’t live to see Disney’s Greyhawk On Ice.”
11. “Lorraine Williams is behind this somehow, I just know it.”
12. “The worlds of adventure gaming, fantasy fandom, and van painting will never be the same.”
13. “When I heard, I cried 2d10 tears.”
14. “Is there anything in the will about electrum?”
15. “Heart condition? Wow, I always thought it’d be owlbears that got him.”
16. “Suddenly, nobody in Heaven wants to hang out with Marilyn Monroe on Friday night.”
March 6th, 2008 at 6:17 pm
I tell ya if it wasn’t for D&D I never would have met any of you. Ahhhhh just remember sitting in Blanding 3 playing eating Papa John’s pizza….good times….good times.
If you’ve heard of Gary Gygax, you’ve probably heard of Steve Jackson. They’re the two most famous names in role-playing. Steve Jackson invented GURPS (the Generic Universal Role-Playing System), which runs a close second to Dungeons & Dragons as the most ubiquitous role-playing game ever made. Actually, its a derivative and expansion of the original D&D rules set. Jackson is a hell of a guy and runs a hell of a company. This is what he had to say about Gary Gygax’s death in Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator newsletter:
Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and a gaming icon for more than 30 years, died yesterday after repeated strokes and heart problems. He was 69.
Like the rest of my generation, I was introduced to roleplaying via Dungeons & Dragons because there wasn’t anything else back then. My first, very lame, Dungeons & Dragons game was in college. Shortly after I became a (semi)professional and joined the Metagaming group, we started a D&D campaign, with Robert Taylor as the GM, and it was excellent. Decades later, I can still say that my biggest-ever thrill in roleplaying was when my first character got chainmail. No longer would I face certain death if I met an orc.
If not for Dungeons & Dragons, “adventure game” would still mean “cardboard chits on a hexmap.” Which I love dearly, but would it ever have gotten out of the garage? And that’s the least of it. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson didn’t just remake a hobby. They impacted all of Western culture. Fantasy fiction would still be a backwater had not D&D built an audience and a new generation of writers. Lord Of The Rings would be something taught in college English classes, not a blockbuster movie trilogy. And consider: The direct lineal descendant of D&D is Worlds of Warcraft, which is, all by itself, what? A billion-dollar business now?
For the last few years, roleplayers have celebrated March 4 as “GM’s Day.” And now it’s the day when the best-known GM of all time put down his dice. Going forward, this should also be a particular date on which we recall Gary and his contributions.– Steve Jackson
SPREADING THE NERD
How Dungeons & Dragons creator Gygax created the modern nerd – E. Gary Gygax didn’t just make a game, he laid the foundations for our geek-heavy culture.
Eulogizing E. Gary Gygax, “the Father of Dungeons & Dragons,” is a lot different than coming up with postmortem praise for, say, a great playwright or a titan of literature – Gygax’s accomplishment makes him more like the person who first conceived staged drama, or the guy who came up with the idea for books. Before D&D there was nothing like D&D; its advent created nerddom as we know it, and changed culture forever.
The antecedents of D&D were heroic fantasy literature on the one hand and tabletop war-gaming on the other. Both were proto-nerdy pursuits, and had been around for centuries by the time Gygax and collaborator Dave Arneson published their first set of role-playing rules in 1974. The singular genius of D&D was in bringing the two together, creating a statistical framework for simulating the fantastic worlds of Tolkien, Malory, and Robert E. Howard.
Overnight, fantasies of knights, wizards and rogues went from products you consumed (or maybe even created) in the privacy of your own head, to something you played – unique experiences generated with other people according to ground rules everybody (usually) agreed on: role-playing games were born.
Dungeons & Dragons was perfectly timed, and perfectly of its time. The leading edge of Generation X had turned teen, and D&D offered an escape – and a social life – to the bookworms, brainiacs, daydreamers and malaise-ridden misfits who opted out of punk. As the ’80s drew near, the game Gygax had thought might sell 50,000 copies to a niche market had become an underground craze. The world’s disparate geeks had unified into a subculture with its own language, iconography, rituals and fetish objects – and the modern Nerd was born.
I came to D&D at about 10 years old, discovering a 1977-edition Basic Set in the closet of my parents’ guest bedroom. I still don’t know how it got there, but I was instantly hooked. That boxful of booklets, hundreds of pages of the closest-set type I’d ever read outside of cereal-box ingredients, broken up with thrilling (and, honestly, titillating) line art of monstrosity and derring-do, was my first introduction to fantasy literature.
The mass media discovered Dungeons & Dragons right about that same time, in the same way it discovers everything – in as scary a way as possible. Straight-A students driven mad by “satanic” game! Black masses, evil rituals! Brainwashed college freaks play at wizards and warriors in subterranean steam tunnels! A young Tom Hanks made his starring debut in Mazes and Monsters, the Reefer Madness of role-playing games. I lost my first gaming buddies, two brothers, to the panic of their Christian parents, who burned their Monster Manuals and Dungeon Master’s Guides and doused the ashes with holy water.
As is usual with think-about-the-children panics, the scare had the opposite effect on me; I couldn’t wait to get to college, where all this real hardcore D&D was going down. I bided my time playing computer RPGs – spawn of Gygax, all – and daydreamed dangerous steam-tunnel journeys. More than a doorway into myth, magic and fantasy, Gygax’s rules, sourcebooks and published adventures offered me, and millions of others like me, a doorway into community.
When I finally joined the gamers club, the industry Gygax spawned was at its peak, and the club’s shelves sagged under the weight of hundreds of games in dozens of genres. There were no clandestine underground orgies, just a tiny club office packed with the kind of community fantasy role-playing had drawn to itself in every town: number-crunchy engineers and computer programmers, grad students, shell-shocked veterans of high-school ostracism, airy-fairy junior pagans, Goths, fantasy addicts, army reservists, artists, improv actors, borderline autistics and plain old dorks. We weren’t always playing D&D – honestly, those of us in the avant-garde of “collaborative storytelling” were sort of embarrassed by it – but this improbable society of misfits would have been unimaginable before Gygax’s game.
No piece of mass-cultural shorthand evokes nerddom like the phrase “Dungeons & Dragons player,” because D&D in effect created the modern nerd by offering misfits of countless, often antithetical, persuasions a big tent – a big, dorky tent – under which to gather and build their identity. It comes as no surprise that creators as disparate as Moby and Mike Myers were players. Nerds are the architects of our world – scientists, programmers, engineers, doctors, writers, artists – and many or most of them grew up, and continue to grow up, sharing real and fantasy lives alike in a subculture that couldn’t have existed until Gary Gygax made it possible.
We comprise the biggest, brightest adventuring party ever assembled, and this week we raise our flagons in memory of the man who first whispered to us of the treasures underground.
Darren Zenko has written about game culture for nine years.
From Daily Revolver:
“RIP Gary Gygax – For us old time D&D players, Gary is a legend and will be missed greatly. I still have a closet full of old Dungeons & Dragons hardbound books, modules and other material with the name Gary Gygax plastered right on the front cover because he was more than the co-creator, he was the spirit, heart and head cheerleader for a game that was (and still is) greatly misunderstood by most people.”
From Penny Arcade:
“Gygax always struck me as a tremendously sinister name: no mortal name, this. This was the sort of name one earned in the service of horned devils and more primordial shapes of evil, a boon for the loyal servant, placed like a black crown on the bowed head.
The first time I ever played Dungeons & Dragons, I was six years old – books with great red demons on the cover that dared us to claim their riches, subtitled by this alien name Gygax. My mother was furious when she found my uncles had exposed me to those subterranean burrows, spilling over with rubies, and tourmalines, and the wealth of old kings even songs no longer remember. As a young man, I began hiding the books I bought inside my bed, which had a vast hollow space I had hidden in as a child. These books were soon discovered, and blamed for everything from recent colds to the dissolution of my parents’ marriage. I took the wrong lesson, I’m afraid: I didn’t learn to fear them. What I learned was that books, some books, were swollen with power – and this power projected into the physical realm. Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes.
I owe a tremendous debt to his legacy. I couldn’t even calculate how deep.”
From The Cimmerian:
“One of the seminal influences in fantasy in the twentieth century has left us for Valhalla. Gygax was a giant, a man whose enthusiasm and sense of adult play took a weird cerebral offshoot of board and strategy games and turned it into an accessible, endlessly stimulating, life-changing mythology for the Star Wars/Lancer Conan/”Frodo Lives!” generation of the 1970s and 80s. Those of us who risked life, limb, and reputation carrying our Player’s Handbooks and Monster Manuals cover-out through the hallways of Catholic school owe to him a large part of our imagination and happiness during those years…
It’s not out of line to say that Gygax was the [William F. Buckley] of fantasy, a guy who never ran for president or fought a world war, but whose vision and philosophy made a movement out of vast groups of scattered and disheartened peoples, one gamer — one author — one visionary at a time. ‘The material is herein,’ Gygax wrote in his Introduction to the first edition of The Dungeon Master’s Guide, ‘but only you can construct the masterpiece from it.’ Ever enticing, ever encouraging, ever dreaming the boldest and bravest dreams. That is the legacy of Gary Gygax, and it lives in the hearts of millions of people around the world.”
From The Doncast:
I think the secret to the success of this new form is that it wasn’t new at all. That tiny unconscious moment of silence shared by those around the table was the same exact moment shared by those around fires in caves and savannas tens of thousands of years ago. It is The Beginning of the Story. The genius of D&D was the leap from reading or even telling the story to playing the story. It created a framework for the spontaneous, simultaneous creation of a work of fiction by a group of people.”
From AOL News:
By Justin Paulette
“Somewhere in the clutter of my study, tucked away safely within a stack of papers, is a ‘character sheet’ upon which are scrawled the words:
‘My character died at the hands of Gary Gygax!’
It is a trophy of honor… Gary knew that we had all assembled that morning simply to be in his presence, and he rewarded us fittingly – killing all of our characters in variously spectacular (and humiliating) ways. It was grand…”
“I was 13 years old the day I almost died, pin-cushioned in the back by a swarm of arrows fired by my own trusted comrades. Much as I would have loved to curse them for their treachery, I had only my own stupid impetuosity to blame.
My very first act as a battle-ax-wielding dwarf in my first-ever game of Dungeons & Dragons had been to charge headlong into a band of goblins. Meanwhile, my friends — a raucous crew of elves, wizards and humans — cocked their crossbows and let fly. The Dungeon Master, a. k. a. my high school buddy Jimmy Felman, rolled the dice and shook his head. While I lay in a pool of my own blood, struck from behind, the goblins got away…”
“Imagine a mournful horn echoing across thousands of fantasy worlds: E. Gary Gygax, the co-creator of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, died Wednesday morning. He was 69…
Stephen Chenault, owner of Troll Lord Games, was a close friend of Gary Gygax. He talks to Melissa Block about Gygax and the beloved game he helped create.”
From The New York Times:
By ADAM ROGERS
“GARY GYGAX died last week and the universe did not collapse. This surprises me a little bit, because he built it.
I’m not talking about the cosmological, Big Bang part. Everyone who reads blogs knows that a flying spaghetti monster made all that. But Mr. Gygax co-created the game Dungeons & Dragons, and on that foundation of role-playing and polyhedral dice he constructed the social and intellectual structure of our world.”
“I don’t think I’ve really grokked it yet,” said Mike Mearls, the lead developer of the upcoming 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. “He was like the cool uncle that every gamer had. He shaped an entire generation of gamers.”
Wired chose the celebratory, Irish wake route to mark Gygax’s passing, and in his honor held a contest to see who could come up with the best remake of the Wired logo, Dungeons & Dragons style. I think that would have suited Gary just fine. Some of the entries were damn good, and even prompted Wizards Of The Coast & Hasbro to send contestants some free D&D swag, which also would have pleased the Dungeon Master. Here are a few of the winning entries. Click the pics to go to the main page and see more.
Gary Gygax left TSR in 1985 and created a number of other sword and sorcery type games, none of which ever hit it nearly as big as Dungeons & Dragons. One of the last publishing houses he was associated with, and one whom he created arguably the most important new rules set for D&D, is Troll Lord Games. It was there in 2004 that Gygax helped create Castles & Crusades, a game many consider to be the game that 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition D&D all should have been.
While I never minded the complexity of AD&D 2nd Edition simply because I was so familiar with it, I have to admit that, from the point of view of an outsider, it is rules heavy. 3rd Edition was just as bad, despite the bullshit that d20 lovers sling about how compact it is. It’s no more compact than 2nd Edition was, its just unwieldy in entirely new and confusing ways. And 4th Edition, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to preview it, seems to be geared completely toward running the game with miniatures, which is no surprise because Dungeons & Dragons is now indirectly owned by Hasbro, a toy company which could conceivably make millions selling – you guessed it – miniatures. From what I’ve seen, 4th Edition is essentially a very complex board game.
Castles & Crusades, on the other hand, is a variant of the Dungeons & Dragons rules set that cleaned up and eliminated much of the junk introduced over the years, resulting in a player friendly rules system called the SIEGE Engine. Keep in mind I haven’t played it yet, but the SIEGE Engine sounds pretty fantastic; sort of a blend of all the things that made each version of D&D work, and the elimination of everything else. It takes the quick, rules-light game mechanics of Gygax and Arneson’s original D&D and incorporates the 3rd Edition d20 die mechanic, making for a stripped down new version of D&D like the world had not seen since the 1970s. Its bare bones, making it ripe for alteration by veteran gamers like us Sci-Fi Guys. To quote the Troll Lord blog: “Castles and Crusades was designed to be fooled with. We have long encouraged players to add, subtract and amend rules to fit their needs and desires.” Oh, yeah, baby!
Best of all, and this is a HUGE selling point for me, every rule you’ll ever need to play is in one book priced at $19.99. D&D 3rd Edition was unnecessarily stretched out over two books that would set you back at least $30 each. For many years people have joked that the overly rules-laden Dungeons & Dragons has turned into the lawyers’ version of medieval combat, and they were starting to get lawyers’ fees as well. Castles & Crusades, on the other hand, is quick, dirty, cheap, and made for fast fun with a group of friends. No feats, no attacks of opportunity, no searching through 12 different books to find out what ridiculously specialized rules your character has to follow. Just old school d10 initiative, attack, be attacked, and have fun, fun, fun. And Gygax helped bring it to life. Now that sounds like my kind of D&D.
You want to know the best part of it all? Gygax had a ton of books still in the works, and sometime next year we’re going to get a lot of old-school Castles & Crusades adventures and fantasy worlds dreamed up by the man himself. I’m looking forward to 2009 to see what Gary left behind for us. Click on the Castles & Crusades logo up above to check out some of the books currently available.
When Gary Gygax died, Troll Lord Games was alerted by the Gygax family and broke the news on their bulletin board, and the responses are honestly touching. Its weird to say, but the way people gathered on a site meant to discuss game rules and mystical creatures and expressed their very sincere, very humane sorrow and give condolences is deeply moving. I’m not going to lie to you; when I first read, in their own words, how his death impacted so many people, I started to tear up a bit. And I’m not given to cry very easily.
This decidedly lays to rest the notion that D&D players are, as a whole, misfits with no social skills. I can’t think of any celebrity in my lifetime, with the possible exception of Princess Diana, for whom I have seen upon their death such an outpouring of love, appreciation and well wishes. I think the most touching of all, and the one that still gets me watery-eyed, is the message from a heartbroken fan who simply said: “no…”
It really speaks to the fact that, just by creating a game, Gary Gygax created a very real, very lasting part of our culture, nothing like which had ever existed before. I’m very proud to count myself as a part of it. And its easy to see how many lives he touched when you realize that the comments on this announcement have filled 55 pages in only 20 days, and they’re still going. This is really something that any D&D fan needs to see, if for no other reason than to get a sense of how vast the role playing community Gygax fathered really is. Click the Troll Lord logo to check it out, and drop a note to say goodbye if the feeling takes you. Really, its just phenomenal.
April 24, 2003, “Games Day” charity event, Portsmouth, NH. Gary was the Dungeon Master of a Dungeons & Dragons adventure run with the rules from the original “white box” D&D. “Games Day” was held to benefit Childhood Cancer Lifeline of New Hampshire.
I think that this is how Gary would most like to be remembered; a guy who loves games, playing his most famous creation, laughing and having fun and inspiring others to do the same. Thanks for everything, Gary. You were an inspiration to me, and I mean that quite literally. This site and the television show would likely not exist had you not set pen to paper and shown us all how a little fun and make-believe can make imaginative children into better, more thoughtful adults, like-minded strangers into lifelong friends, and funny shaped dice with too many sides and lots of little numbers on papers into universes of such abundantly positive memories that I honestly find it hard to put it all into words. Joyful, wonderful memories which will last my whole lifetime. You made our lives a lot brighter than you could ever possibly have known. I may have been the one flying, but you’re the one who provided the wings, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you so very, very much for all the good times.
From Eye-Level Entertainment:
“We’ll pause for a moment this week to remember in passing the gaming icon, Gary Gygax, one of the developers of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. In creating D&D, Mr. Gygax started the role-playing game industry and cleared a broad path for a dizzying array of games and pop-culture to follow. Hats off to a one-of-a-kind innovator.”
“Most recently, I have been attending GenCon with my current gaming group, my high school friend, as well as both my Brother In Laws, and my 8 yr old Nephew. For us GenCon has been more than just a gaming convention, it is a time to bring friends and family together, and a time for us to instill the love of gaming and the sense of adventure into our children.
None of this would have been possible if not for the work and imagination of Gary Gygax.”
“In honor of Gary’s life, my group played Tomb of Horrors today using 1st edition rules. Obviously everyone died (except the cleric*), and everyone had a blast (even the two players who’ve only used 3e). I haven’t had such a good time behind the DM screen since I was twelve years old.
When all was said and done, the group unanimously voted to shelve our 3.5 campaign (which is currently between adventures) in favor of a new 1st edition campaign. I nearly wept with joy. I’ve been an ardent supporter of 4e, but it’s looking like I won’t be buying the books just yet.
So screw you, 4e! The Village of Hommlet awaits!
*Oh yeah, the cleric. This was amazing. The group had been whittled down to 3: The gnomish fighter/illusionist, the elven magic user/thief, and the cleric. They had decided to camp in the Chapel of Evil to regain spells. The cleric announces that he has a few cures left and the others line up to be healed. The (secretly Lawful Evil) cleric casts Cause Serious Wounds on the gnome, killing him outright. The elf figures out what’s happening too late, and the cleric bashes her head in with a +3 mace. The cleric whistles his way out of the Tomb of Horrors carrying everyone’s stuff.
Somewhere in the Outer Plains, I think Gary was smiling.”
From Blizzard Entertainment:
“Blizzard Entertainment would like to dedicate the patch in memory of Gary Gygax. His work on D&D was an inspiration to us in many ways and helped spark our passion for creating games of our own. As avid D&D players and fellow game developers, we were all saddened by the news of his passing; we feel we’ve lost a true adventuring companion. Thanks for everything and farewell, Gary. You will be missed.”
From The New York Times:
“Deep in the woods, a lonely boy with thick glasses grew up without siblings, without television and without the Internet. But he had books, and in the tomes of a new sort of game called Dungeons & Dragons he discovered a fantastic world of sorcerers, maidens and trolls. He discovered loyalty and betrayal, cowardice and courage. In those books he realized that his mind had the power to transport him beyond barriers of class and religion, race and income. In those books, he realized he could be anyone.
Over the 34 years since Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created Dungeons & Dragons, there have been plenty of those boys. I was one of them.
So when Mr. Gygax, the intellectual and spiritual father of all modern role-playing games, died on Tuesday at 69 after multiple extended illnesses, it prompted a reconsideration of the power of the imagination he unleashed, a power that continues to resonate and swell around the globe.”
From CNET News:
“For many of us who grew up before PCs became ubiquitous and long before it was cool to be a geek, Gygax’s creation meant Friday nights spent playing games with your friends, not wishing you were someone else. Instead of finding creative ways to break the law, we were busy rolling 20-sided dice and doing battle with Orcs and other evil beasts.
It was a fantastical world for adolescents. Gygax managed to mix The Lord of the Rings and mythology with comic book adventures…”
“As an agnostic, I’m only certain of one type of afterlife: What you leave for others to experience. By this measure, E. Gary Gygax is pretty well assured immortality, and as others will derive joy from what he made, I guess that puts him in the, what? Neutral Good pantheon?…
So here’s how I will pay tribute to E. Gary Gygax: by doing what he did. By playing a fantasy game and sharing the joy it brings me and making stuff up and looking at everything as a possible adventure, a tale not yet told, by happily using anagrams and generally being master of the fun dungeon.”
From Jeff’s Gameblog:
· Play some OD&D or 1st edition AD&D, or one of the other games Gary created.
· Adapt one of his modules to whatever fantasy system you are using nowadays. B2 The Keep on the Borderlands is a particularly good choice for “serious” role-players, if you focus on all the intrigues surrounding the various factions of humanoids in the Caves of Chaos.
· Name your next pet Gary, Gygax, or Mordenkainen. (I am not taking any responsibility if you name your next kid Gygax or Mordenkainen. You’re on your own on that one.)
· Build that Dragonchess set you’ve been meaning to construct ever since you read about it in issue #100 of Dragon.
· Players: Specialize in an oddball polearm, swear “by Gygax’s beard”, play a cleric of Zagig
.· DMs: drop the Ring of Gaxx into your setting, sprinkle some scrolls of Mordenkainen-brand spells about your dungeon, use a rust monster or a bulette.
· Write that module or game or whatever that you’ve been meaning to get around to. Submit it for publication or publish it yourself.
· Keep a sharp eye out for the next weird little game that might become a breakout hit, spawning cartoons, films, comic books, novels and countless imitators.
· Tell the hobgoblins “It’s okay, Gary sent us!”
· Crack open your 1st edition DMG and just luxuriate in the unmistakeable Gygax prose.
· Send a letter or e-mail to another game designer thanking them before it’s too late.
· Introduce someone else to the fun that is this crazy little hobby.
· Game like there’s no tomorrow.”
From The LAist:
“My first ever high school DnD scenario was special. A friend named Heidi convinced her “friend”, Brandon Lee from Palos Verdes, to run a game for us. Yes, my first Dungeon Master was Bruce Lee’s son. And yes girls, he was cute but not up to “Crow” level cute, and yes, he had a lot of patience to be hosting a newbie group of nerds at his palatial manse. This was a one time favor thing, but it got our virgin feet wet enough to soon be holding our own game at friend’s houses complete with hard bound books and modules written or compiled by Mr. Gygax and Co…”
From The Lair Of The Evil DM:
“By now everyone I’m sure has heard of the passing of Gary Gygax. One of the best suggestions so far for a fitting tribute is GaryCon. Basically GaryCon is about gaming.
This weekend take some time and play a game. Run a game for your kids, play a game with your buddies, teach someone new about gaming – any gaming… It doesn’t matter – just sling the dice, deal the cards, move the tokens. Interact, have fun, laugh and remember Gary and all he gave us.”
From Lemuria Press:
The galley proofs for Gary Gygax’s novel, The Samarkand Solution, are sitting on my desk right now, ready for the final check-off before we send the book to the printer. Sitting above my desk, packed into little cardboard sleeves, are dozens of copies of Dragon, the original RPG magazine for which Gygax served as publisher in its earliest days. Until recently, I served as publisher of that magazine, and it always made me proud to know I was following in Gary Gygax’s august footsteps.
Gary died this morning in his sleep, bringing to an end a decades-spanning career that created an industry and brought joy to millions of people. The game he created with Dave Arneson—Dungeons & Dragons—has had a more profound influence upon my life than any other factor save my family, and his passing has affected me deeply…
When a friend passes away, it is easy to be sad, to think about what might have been had he lived another year, another ten years. But my friends, I am here to tell you that Gary Gygax knew what a difference he had made in all of our lives, and he was proud to have made it.
Not bad for a life’s work.
From Ars Technica:
“Like many in the professional gaming industry, some of my earliest gaming memories involve late nights around a beat-up table in the garage, listening to a Dungeon Master spin fanciful tales of heroism and terror, the sound of dice echoing off the walls. Dungeons and Dragons, in all its many incarnations, is a modern update on the oral tradition: people to this day are gathering to tell each other stories filled with their dreams and fears, and the best quests are retold and passed down from game to game.
The world is filled with gamers, both young and old, filled with imaginations ready to ignite. Gygax simply dropped a match, and the gaming industry was made richer and fuller for it. Real life is going to be much more boring and tame without our most respected Dungeon Master. Gary Gygax, you will be missed.”
From One Man’s Voice:
When I was in sixth grade my good best friend, Will Grey, showed me a small, flat, red box with the words “DUNGEONS & DRAGONS” emblazoned across the top and said, “Do you want to play?” I’d only heard about D&D through the vitriol of the mass media as knuckleheads like Patricia Pulling and Jack Chick campaigned non-stop about the evils of a game that does nothing more than encourage friendship, creative thinking, and a great deal of Mountain Dew-swilling. Naturally, being nearly 13 and about to hit that wonderful rebelliousness of my teen years, I looked at the box and said, “Okay!” knowing that somewhere to the east of me in a 20 by 20 room with two exits my mother realized what I was doing and shook her head disapprovingly…“