Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The end of an era....

So today someone came up to me and said, "Have you heard the news?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Yeah," he sighed, "the end of an era."

"To tell you the truth," I said. "I can't quite believe it. I'm a little shook up."

My friend looked at me, surprised. "I didn't know you were that into football. You never struck me as the the type."

"What does football have to do with this?"

"Brett Farve announced his retirement today."

"Fuck Brett Farve," I said. "Gary Gygax is dead."

"Who's that?" they said.

For those of you who don't know your roots, Gary Gygax created D&D. That means he pretty much created roll playing. It's fair to say that Gygax's work has had as much impact on the fantasy genre as anyone. He wasn't just a cornerstone, he was a keystone.

I found out about D&D back in the fifth grade. D&D has always been the refuge of the geeky and unpopular kids. But I was below even that low social strata. I was the kid that wasn't cool enough for the D&D kids to play with.

I checked out a copy of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons from the library and read it all the way through. That was back when AD&D was... well... Advanced.





Monsters and treasure and dungeons. Goblins. These days it all seems cliche, but back then.... it was all wondrous and strange. It wasn't just that someone had given you an world to play in, regular books do that. No, with D&D someone had given me the tools to make my own world, and I realized I liked doing that. I liked it a lot...

Eventually I found people to play D&D with. Some of my best memories from high school are playing D&D with my friends, Steven and Ryan. After all these years, they're the only two high school friends I really keep in contact with.

I remember getting the Master D&D rules for Christmas one year. I was maybe 10 or 12. Remember the black box? I read them at my Grampa's house the next day when we went there for breakfast on Christmas day.




"This game requires no gameboard because the action takes place in your imagination."

I learned what a ballista was, and a mangonel. I used to make maps on grid paper. I designed a huge walled city with elaborate fortifications. I made plans for trying to defeat a Tarasque. Instead of a high school graduation party, I asked my parents if I could go up to our cabin for a week with Steve and Ryan. For that week, pretty much all we did was play D&D.

What was my character's name that weekend? His name was Kvothe.

That early Kvothe really didn't have much in common with the modern version. Except, perhaps, that his wisdom was rather low. I started him at first level, too. You nerdcore folks out there know what I'm talking about. The rest of you can't know what that's like, playing a first level wild mage with three hit points and only two spells a day: both of them Nahal's Reckless Dwoemer. He spent a lot of time unconscious.

When I roll play these days, I use a different system. I know I can't go back. If I tried to play basic D&D again, it wouldn't work out. It would be like trying to hook up with my old high-school crush. But the truth is, you love best what you love first. And I loved D&D before I was cynical, before I knew what a cliche was, and before I understood about death. I can't go back. It wouldn't work.

But still, I wish I could.

One of my favorite comics, Order of the Stick, did a tribute strip to Mr Gygax, you can CHECK IT OUT HERE. It states the case pretty well. Thanks Mr. Gygax. I wouldn't be a writer if not for you... And even if I were, I wouldn't have written this book.

Rather than a moment of silence, why don't those of us who used to play the game share a little D&D story in the comments below.

Later all,

pat

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58 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

Yeah, I was pretty shocked to find out that the old guy passed away. If it weren't for him, there wouldn't have been the nights I spent up with friends till 3 laughing hysterically, killing skeletons and looting dungeons. He will be missed, but I'm sure he's proud to have left a legacy.

March 5, 2008 2:43 AM  
Anonymous Foxfire Tales said...

Like you, Pat, I discovered D&D before I was a teenager. I spent most of my own high school years with pencil and trusty notebook, creating all new ideas and spending hours and hours living on caffeine and the roll of the dice. I still have my very first character, a character that, like your own Kvothe, later became an entirely different protagonist in her own right, and her own story. We never forget our roots. Even now, when my gaming group gets together, we still reminisce about the old days. So many lives would not have been as rich as they were if it weren't for Gary. He won't just be missed, but he'll be remembered with great affection.

March 5, 2008 3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Gary. You created not just a game, but a whole world. A world Im proud to be a citizen of. I hope you realized how much your beatiful mind inspired. Music, books, film...the list goes on and on. To quote Ronnie James Dio, "Were off to the witch, we may never never never come home. But the magic that we'll feel is worth a lifetime."

March 5, 2008 3:49 AM  
Blogger Yehuda said...

Gygax was the Sigmund Frued of RPGs.
Totally fucked in the head, every new system just HAS to go contra to prove how advanced they are, etc etc...
and the field just wouldn't exist without him.

I started Basic D&D when I was 8, for god's sake.... who remembers Expidition to the Barrier Peaks? Powered Armor on a Paladin :-)

March 5, 2008 4:48 AM  
Blogger Michael Natale said...

It was 1982. I was a sophomore in high school. It was a vocational school, the class we were in was a hands on Computer Science.

A guy next to me wearing a winter coat in the middle of July was struggling with creating a program in BASIC. Neither of us had any friends in the class, so both of us were sitting there like a couple lepers, not talking to anyone.

I wrote it for him and somehow figured out how to get it over to his machine just in time for class to end.

Afterward, we started talking and found we had common interests. Somehow D&D came up in the conversation and it sounded cool, so he offered to teach me how to play.

Soon I was going to his house nearly every day after school and on weekends we'd play D&D.

For the next 10 years we played D&D on and off, sometimes late into the night, sometimes overnight and through the weekends.

He met a girl. They dated for a few months and then broke up. When I asked if he minded if I asked her out, he was cool with it.

When the girl and I got married, he stood up at my wedding. I stood up at his as well.

Though my first marriage didnt last, but we did get along long enough to create one of my three beautiful daughters.

None of that would have happened without D&D - it turned out to be a life changing fork in the road for me.

RIP Gary - even the best of us toss roll a 1 on their save from time to time.

March 5, 2008 5:58 AM  
Blogger caranorn said...

I learned of Gary Gygax' passing here on the blog yesterday. It was quite a shock, though I was a bit astonished to find out he was 69.

Unfortunately I never played D&D or AD&D, at least not the way it should be played. I was looking for a group back in high school but never found any. I only read one of his books either. Played none of his wargames...

But he was indeed one of the pillars modern Fantasy is resting on. I'd probably be writing economics manuals or something equally uncreative today if it weren't for Gygax.

Fare travels Gary, maybe we'll meet someday on a different plane.

March 5, 2008 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Kalligenia said...

R.I.P. Gygax.

I still game every week. Maybe not D&D every week, but we go back to it once in a while.

Last year, I played D&D with a group of all girls for the first time. (My usual group is all guys and I'm included as one of them.) It was a simple adventure of rescuing the kidnapped Prince. They used a lot of pink and purple dice. There were chocolate treats to be given out for good roleplaying, and a conversation on the fashion sense of kobolds and orcs. Familiars had fluffy names and when none of us wanted to marry the Prince at the end after rescuing him, the barbarian threw him over her shoulder and walked off with him. I'm still not sure whether to be horrified or laugh at that experience.

March 5, 2008 7:26 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

One of my first dates with my (now-ex) husband was playing D&D with him and his friends. I was sort of the unwelcome girlfriend threatening the group, I fear. Still it was fun. Good memory.

And I guess it's a cliche, I didn't even know it. The character I played the most is the protagonist in the book I've been trying to write for a long time. Not as successfully as some people I know, though. Still, I'm quite fond of her at this point.

May Gygax rest in peace, and super crazy fun heavenly games or something.

March 5, 2008 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Scott Marlowe said...

Gygax's Greyhawk Adventures books were awesome. Gord the Thief was one of my favorite characters as a child, and I loved the books.

I also played D&D, but not as much as I would have liked and, at this point, not in 20+ years. I still have all the original books and such, though, and, of course, my multi-sided dice.

Gary will be missed.

So will Brett.

March 5, 2008 7:46 AM  
OpenID suziko said...

When I was a pre-teen I was intrigued with the idea of D&D. I'd never played it, didn't know anyone who did, and all I knew about it was the bit I had gleaned from the beginning of E.T. and a very bad movie about kids who get so into role playing that they lose touch with reality and kill themselves (or was it each other? I forget). Despite this, I wanted to play and so one day I decided to write up a character sheet. I then made a tiny envelope to "send" it in. In the top right corner I drew a "stamp" which featured lightning bolts and symbols that were obviously inspired by the cover of Led Zeppelin IV. My character sheet goes on to show my ignorance with the rules of D&D. I was a first level player but could "move objects with my mind" and "command animals to do my bidding." *sigh*
When I was in graduate school I finally got a chance to play *real* D&D, with a boyfriend who was/is an avid gamer. I played a druid for about a year, starting her out at level one. Some of my best memories from that time of my life are from those Saturday game nights, of the fun, the camaraderie, the intrigue, the inner-game flirting.
I don't game any more, in part because I'm a busy adult with a five-year old to care for, but also because I feel like I could never recapture the fun of that time.

March 5, 2008 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Patrick, D&D was a hoot. We had some good times ... back in the day. Before playing with you and Steve, I had a character, a fighter. What was fun about him was that he was chaotic-neutral, which made it easy for him to be morally ambivalent. Not bound by laws or guilt, the character did as he pleased. He wasn't evil. Almost, but not quite. I always thought of that character as a guy on the edge who took what he wanted when given the chance.
Later, with you and Steven, the dumb barbarian I played was profoundly more fun. He did reckless things and often got hurt in the process.
And for the record, we didn't spend the WHOLE week at the cabin playing D&D. We did take time out to launch ice balls into the lake with the three-man slingshot. Kind of our own mangonel, now that I think about it.
Gygax was great. His name was on nearly everything TSR produced in those days. The fantasy world has lost a giant. And by that I mean a person of large influence, not a huge creature that lives in a mountain cave and throws stones at unsuspecting passers-by. Just in case there's any confusion.
-Ryan

March 5, 2008 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I listened to a piece on G.G. on NPR. I was one of the few girls that played D&D in the mid-'80s, and you know what? I am 40 now...and I still play D&D.

I am proud he was a fellow Wisconsinite.

Michelle from Hudson

P.S. I will miss Brett too...

March 5, 2008 8:26 AM  
Blogger Jordan R said...

oh man. My level 50 Hero, Chronos, lays down his +3 dancing vorpal sword and stops slaying a Displacer beast for just a moment to mark the passing of a true Hero.

March 5, 2008 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Gehennaheretic said...

D&D isn't my favorite game, but there's no denying its tremendous impact on the gaming world, and on fantasy. Mr. Gygax has a lot to be proud of, and his legacy will endure.

I'm glad to see you post about this. GRRM is all weepy about Favre, and the guy is only retiring. Big deal. People retire all the time.

The father of RPGs has passed, and we won't see his like again.

March 5, 2008 9:20 AM  
Blogger Michael Damian Thomas said...

It was a sad day for me and nearly everybody I know. Gary Gygax created a movement that touched my life. Most of the friendships I made in high school and the last ten years were because of his wacky idea that people might want to use their imaginations when they played a game.

I think that I need to DM a good dungeon crawl in his honor.

March 5, 2008 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never played D&D. Does'nt realy sound that good as a roleplaying game (warhammer roleplay seems much better) but if Kvothe is only here becuase of it I'll have to give it some kind of tribute. Mabye I should play a game of it.

March 5, 2008 10:45 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I never played D&D. My mom said it was evil, so i never even knew what it was until recently. haha

March 5, 2008 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met Gray Gygax briefly at a gaming con in Platteville, WI in the late 80's. He seemed like a nice enough fellow at the time. I never played much D&D, but I do role play quite a bit, I GM most of time, but if a certain author would get off his backside I would get a chance to be a player again. :) D&D was the begining and from it sprang a host of other games and one of my favorite conventions, at least when it was in Milwaukee, Gen Con. So, thanks Mr. Gygax and rest well.

March 5, 2008 12:06 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Our D&D group broke up last year when the other couple we played with divorced and we never got going again. Last Sunday I finally took some of our manuals off our shelves and put them away. But I still left the AD&D materials on display, and there they shall stay.

I am a female player and have played both male and female characters (always from 1st). Our last campaign, we all had female characters, even the male player and it was a scream. Zephyr the air cleric may be the last character I play but I will remember her and all the others and all the fun we've had. Some nights I roll up a character just for fun. Thank you Gary Gygax.

March 5, 2008 12:43 PM  
Blogger Sevren said...

I cannot recall when I first discoverd D&D, though it was probably AD&D, but I still have very fond memories of the adventures I went on. I still remember the name of my first character - and vividly remember the paces I put him through. In fact, that character has stayed with me throughout the years and is currently wandering the world of Elder Scrolls. Thanks for so much more than just these memories Gary - Heaven just got the ultimate DM!

March 5, 2008 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow a non nerd reading this may be suprised that teenaged nerds actualy know what flirting is! This guy sounds awesome, never played D&D but I did roleplay ad it seems I owe a lot of it to him.

March 5, 2008 1:29 PM  
Blogger Althalus said...

Holy Crap!

I started in Middle School, we'd all walk to my friends house after class and play for a few hours (read like 6).

My first character was a level one wizard, heh.

March 5, 2008 1:34 PM  
Blogger Incubus Jax said...

Oh My. Rest In Peace, Gary.

My first experience with D&D was in college, you know, the time and place for everything.

My best friend, Jeremy, was our dungeon master, and he had a devilish wit about him. One particular night we were playing and I had started a new character named Z'bette and his friends called him "Zero".

It was appropriate.

He was a level 1 bard and borderline senile. He had a bag of holding and inside the bag of holding was the bloodied splintered neck of a lute.

See, Z'bette had watched his entire family get murdered but came home too late to stop it. So the murderer and he start to fight and it ends with Z'bette busting his father's lute over the guys head and then stabbing him to death (in the neck) with the splintered end of the head-stock.

So, when certain things happen around him, he has to make a save to keep from losing his mind for a while, if he loses the save he pulls out the bloodied headstock and goes to town on somebody.

It was crazy funny to us at the time.

Z'bette was also a terrible bard. A little kid asked him to tell a story about rabbits so he told him about a rabbit who couldn't hop and had no ears, it was an "earless, hop-less bunny".

Oh and once my friend T.J. forgot to put any points into language, so for the entire game I had to interprete for him... it was great, because we totally took advantage of it!

Ah, good times, good times. ;)

March 5, 2008 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FAVRE...It's Brett Favre! *cries*

March 5, 2008 3:01 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

Did you know that, even with his failing health, he ran a weekly D&D game until this January? What I would have given to be a werewolf-cleric-fly on his wall.

Let's burn our d-12s in honor, because you only use them for Barabarians and great axes.

I'm sure there will be something on Futurama about the Man.

March 5, 2008 3:05 PM  
Blogger Wysen said...

One of my favorite D&D moments, was setting up a puzzle for my players to figure out. Whoever solved this puzzle would get immediatly teleported and all the puzzle pieces would fall to the ground when the person got teleported.

I knew my players would not be paying attention when the first guy put that puzzle together. So when he put in the last piece, I used every bit of force from my lungs and spread the pieces all over the dining room. I said, "Ok Zug has just dissapeared in a flash of light and the puzzle pieces all fall to the floor."

Watching the other 4 guys scrabble around picking up pieces and blame each other for not paying attention to what the first guy did was priceless.

March 5, 2008 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Don't really know what to say. The fondest memories I have of my early adolescence and up through high school revolve around D&D. Had a great group of friends that played it non-stop for a good 7 years or so. I remember fondly the good times and laughter we all had playing it. I don't speak to those fellows much anymore, but D&D will always hold a special place in my heart. I pull out the old manuals to take a peek at them once in a while for a sentimental bit of nostalgia.

I will never forget Caddmus, my 20th level Arch-Wizard of the Greyhawk world. Started at level 1, and played him on and off for several years, until he retired at 20th level, secure in the fact that he was the most ass-kicking invoker the world had ever seen. I vividly remember carefully constructing the wording of my first "Wish" spell...my DM had a sly sense of humor....and I wanted to make sure it was just right. So, I got my blood-red dragon that I wished for....as he was literally covered in blood all the time. Made for some interesting times when my Chaotic Good wizard and his companions would swoop in to help whatever little town was currently in distress...as the sight of my blood-soaked dragon often invoked attack. Good times.

Thanks Gary, for helping me break out of my shell when I was younger, forge great friendships, and carry on the love of fantasy and literature that I have to this day. You will be missed.

--ACH

March 5, 2008 3:10 PM  
Blogger unique_stephen said...

Failed a save or die saving throw.
Should of put more points on constitution mate.

My best friends, the ones I drive hrs to see, the ones who married my wife's best friends. The ones I will know for the rest of my life. The are the ones that loot my body for magic items to raise the gold to raise my sorry dead arse about once a month or so.

D&D was the reason my closest friends met and the glue that bound us for the next 25 years. Without Gary my world would be unrecognisable.

RIP

March 5, 2008 4:56 PM  
Blogger Amber Moonbeam said...

It is so odd, but I keep thinking about him as the Creator... What he gave us was the ability to remake ourselves - as powerful, or charismatic, or sexy, or magical, as we could never be in 'real' life. My first and truest D&D character was Amber, a half-gypsy warrior maid. She was strong and flexible and willing to act before thinking and easy to get along with (all things I am NOT, although she was also bossy and smarter than she looked and very loyal - all things I am). Every game I've played since has had an Amber, from video games where I always use that name for my high scores, to my first level 70 WoW character (although I had to vary the spelling for her).

When we started looking for a house, we wanted to find something on a lake, and drove through this quintessential New England hamlet called - I kid you not - Amber, and said 'wouldn't it be funny if!...' And you guessed it, that's where we found the perfect house. Maybe I'm becoming a little bit more Amber even these many years later.

Thanks, Gary. You will be missed.

March 5, 2008 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Sienged said...

Ah… So many great stories. I hole heartedly agree with not being able to go back to the “ Good Old Days”

But as it was all in our heads Its nice to reminisce of the endless stories Gary has dominoed over the years.

“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a night. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for the rest of his life.” So many of us should think him for feeding our minds but more importantly, for teaching us to imagine. Not that we couldn’t but for so many imagination fades threw the years and D&D helps us hold on to our imagination. Like Kvothe’s mind training.

I too have tried to write a story based on a character from my AD&D experiences.
( Robert Rehcra- Ranger- Worst rolled character I ever used)

He was the only character to start out lvl 1 and he had no bonuses. It was 2v2 and 'me and my teammate' were dumb enough to take on the other two out right. They had a Vampire and A Werewolf. I’ll skip the details but Robert Rehcra was the only character to survive the ordeal. He survived three other short campaigns in which no one else did. By the end Betrayal was rampant. Almost ever time we played one of my other friends tried to kill him. One time, my three friends each with two characters one lvl below Rehhcra turned on me and said they were going to kill me. I laughed and said I might die but I had four magic arrows that would kill instantly and who ever attacked me first would die. At thirteen it was a great bluff. They never attacked Rehcra after that.

My three best friends and I use to play every Sunday with an old hippy DM. He was great. But after he quite it just never felt the same.

It’s strange how people quite playing D&D or never start because of it being nerdy and childish, If any thing that is why to play it. Everyone needs to feel giddy like a child once in a while. Everyone needs to let their nerd free, amongst friends, every now and then.

Thank you Gary Gygax
may god bless you and see your family through this hard time

March 5, 2008 7:44 PM  
Anonymous MatthewScottBaker said...

First let me say how refreshing it is to see so many female players making posts. I am a guy and played D&D for many years, but very rarely had the pleasure of RPGing with anyone of the female persuasion. Met a few guy players that probably SHOULD have been females, but that's another subject. Anyway, my helmet is off to you ladies...

As for Gary Gygax...wow. He was an icon, a true visionary in the gaming world. He took a tremendous step up from board-games and taught us how to use our minds to see things play out instead of cards or gameboards. His imagination was immeasurable, as was obvious from the creatures and worlds he created for us. Just going through the Monstrous Compendium was enough to make you shake your head and say "Damn!"

Thanks, Gary, for giving millions of geeky kids like myself an outlet for our frustrations and a way to make friends. In your worlds we could conquer all of the fears and insecurities we carried with us during the day; we used broadswords and battle-axes to fight back lonliness and depression.

Some of my favorite memories were of me and my friends making up new things for the game. For example, when I was Dungeon Mastering for our group, I once had them run-across an elf possessed with a horny, sex-obssessed demon. The elf starting off by trying to subtley manuever all of the characters into bed (even the men) and finally got so "pent-up" that he tried to mount them in the middle of a battle. Another fond memory was using Dragon magazine's April Fool's-edition creatures (such as blink wooly-mammoths and were-hares) to overtake the group.

Good times...all thanks to Gary. God Bless you, Gary. And thanks for helping me through some tough younger-years.

March 5, 2008 8:12 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

Do not know if you knew this Pat or anyone else out there for that matter, but another great author in fantasy genre who owes a debt of gratitude to Gary G. is Raymond E. Feist; all his books are either dedicated or have mentioned in acknowledgement the "old friday nighters", a group of fantasy roleplayers, whose gameworld and adventures inspired his books of Midkemia. Just thought you would like to know you are not alone. Gary G. will be missed.

March 5, 2008 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quick memory: When I was like 14 or so, I finally made up my first D&D adventure- which turned out to be pretty hard to do. The background, the outdoor area around the dungeon, the dungeon itself, wandering monsters. I had tried before but just never finished. This time I did and in some ways it was the first really difficult thing I had ever seen through.

We played it, people were having a good time, and they got to the final encounter- a spell-casting shadow with a bunch of skeletons. I had done a good job planning out the enounters so they were balanced, but my friend Chuck just had an incredible streak of luck during the last showdown. In fact, it wasn't a showdown at all, it was a SLAUGHTER. We're talking multiple natural 20s, tying two or three times for initiative before finally winning, there were even skill checks that he got with a 1 or 2.

My final encounter was falling apart on the edge of a dwarven ax, and I considered giving the bad guy a few more hit points to draw it out, but I realized that my job was to make sure they had a good time, and everybody was having such a great time watching this incredible string of luck that I just let it go.

And honestly, that's one of the few memories of those days that we all still remember.

March 5, 2008 10:18 PM  
OpenID lovesmasher said...

Pat, we'll need to recruit you for when Champions Online launches next year!

Also, "roll playing" is an insulting term for people who roll dice instead of 'role play'. Just a heads up!

March 6, 2008 1:48 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

So, I only have one D&D story, and it kind of sucks, but I'll share it anyway. :-D

Freshman year of high school, I was dating a guy who was obsessed with D&D. His dad always had him and his other friends over to play on Friday nights. (Other friends that included my friend Jessie, but not me, the girlfriend, but I'm totally over it) I was kinda wishy-washy then, totally passive aggressive, "Oh, nooo, I don't MIND that you're hanging out with your dad and some other girls and you won't let me come. That's cool. Yup."

The one time I convinced him to let me play, he didn't explain anything about anything, made my character for me, and all his dad let me do was hold the torch. *unamused*

It totally wasn't meant to be.

March 6, 2008 2:29 AM  
Blogger Camilla said...

I just started playing D&D last weekend but have spent many hours talking with my fiance about it. Most recently he has come up with the idea of a vampire Tarasque. Ah, if not for D&D, we would not have the intelligent conversations we have today and our relationship probably would not be nearly as strong. Perhaps a D&D wedding is in order...

March 6, 2008 5:11 AM  
Blogger caranorn said...

Just a comment concerning Rocky's note. Ray Feist and his Friday Nighters were of course not playing D&D. Rather they were inspired by D&D to create their own rules system and the world of Midkemia (again, Ray was just one of that group)...

The direct descendants of the Friday Nighters can be found here. http://www.midkemia.com/

But in the end many authors were inspired directly or indirectly by Gary Gygax' work.

March 6, 2008 6:32 AM  
OpenID muneraven said...

All through college and even in graduate school I used D&D as a refuge from academia and the elitist literary attitudes one finds in that space. I loved literature, but I also loved speculative fiction, gaming, and comic books.

I learned a lot about writing by getting an MFA in writing. But sometimes I think I learned almost as much about writing by playing role-playing games. And even with my fetish for pretty dice, D&D was a lot cheaper than college, lol.

March 6, 2008 8:56 AM  
Blogger Baron said...

Gygax dead! Say it ain't so. He was a hero to me and my D&D nerd friends. My brother introduced me to the game one summer, and we played it every day. He was a late sleeper and I used to pace around the house all morning waiting for him to wake up so we could play. Then he got too cool and refused to play anymore, so I start playing with my middle school friends. We would have huge games on a friend's dining room table. I was DM, knew about 70% of the rules, and would make up the rest. Whenever I was questioned, I would cite to the DM's guide that the DM's word was law, no matter what the books said. Then I would let them find some +3 magic sword that talked, and my rule breaking was forgiven.

I picked up the game again in college, and four of us would play the game all night long. I often say today that I wish I had the time to waste that I did back when I was in college, but that's just code for wishing that I still could play D&D every day. Maybe when I retire . . . Bless you GG, without you, childhood (and college) would not have been the same.

March 6, 2008 11:39 AM  
OpenID bluharlequin said...

I'd been waiting for you to chime in on this Pat.

I think it's safe to say that my interest in board games or fantasy fiction (to say nothing of tabletop RPGs!) would not be the same without Mr. Gygax. The sheer volume of time I spent playing AD&D between the ages of 8 and 16 boggles the mind. My 17 years-long and counting Shadowrun campaign would not exist but for him either.

And of course, the entire plot structure of my novel is based on an idea for a new AD&D race that my brother created sometime around 1982.

(What I wouldn't give to replay the Bloodstone Wars campaign...)

Thanks for the good times, Gary. Thanks for being the Dungeon Master for all of us.

-Paul

March 6, 2008 4:45 PM  
Blogger CoreyP said...

I never played D&D; yet I grew up reading fantasy books. I was in the 7th grade and I walked into the school library and stumbled upon the Dragonlance trilogy. The artwork on the covers drew me in and I checked them all out at once. It took me almost a year to actually pick one up to read(I had to go buy them by then), because the artwork was all I needed then. They were actually the first books that I read for the enjoyment of reading. I haven't turned back. That moment spawned a passion for reading in me that will last a lifetime. That is all because of Gary. Thank you Gary, you will be missed.

March 6, 2008 7:36 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Another related Comic.

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/ultimate_game.png

March 7, 2008 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps now would be a reasonable time to play Stephen Lynch's song "D&D." I was watching various versions of it on youtube about an hour ago, then came over to Pat's blog and saw the news. The song pretty much describes a couple of years of my high school life, but it is for mature audiences only. This version is good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyxnEKTjhj0
and this version contains different lyrics sung by Stephen's brother: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RePL0iLe9I&feature=related

I hope they bring some laughter to a somber moment.

March 8, 2008 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Gareth said...

Hey Pat,
You reminded me of my Wild Mage who was loads of fun however he didnt last long, got up a few levels went into a cavern and when a nasty showed up he launched a fireball, not being to high wasnt that worried about it until the Wild Mage rules kicked in and created a stupidly high level spell that hit the creature and rebounded frying everyone in the area. Big oops some of the guys had characters that they'd been playing for a while and lost em. I wasnt very popular for that for some reason.

Another load of fun I had was playing a halfling twin with a friend of mine (who played the other.) Always dressed as priests the two multiclassed and were thieves, whilst one would try something the other would distract the rest of the party leading them in some sort of religious action when it worked there was a mighty "Praise the godz" in our best evangelical voices. Although a couple of times if someone left us miffed, we let them walk into traps. LOL Ah the fun, Gygax you will be missed.

March 8, 2008 6:30 AM  
Blogger yellowdog granny said...

oh man..do i remember d&d...my son and his friends were so into it..i bought them all the books...he's 42 and still has them all...so when gygax died he was really bummed out...sad...


sad about farve too...burnt out..he's just a kid..how can he be burnt out?...oh well....

March 8, 2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous -Adrian S. said...

Anonymous again (the guy with the lucky streak story)- I've got one more:

That same group played through the module "The Secret of Bone HIll" and Chuck's other character (elf thief/magic-user) got this odd staff of lightning thing. Not the standard wand of lighting, but unique and cool and with ony a handfull of charges. The charges get burned through pretty fast. Chuck saves the last three for one more "ball lighting" thing.

Time passes, like a year, and during some cruical moment he pulls out the staff (which everyone else had forgotten about) and fires off a two-charge spark storm thing. Huzzah!

Time passes, like we're now only playing during the holiday break from college. They come across a ring of wishes, Chuck pulls out the staff from the bag of holding it's been rattling around with its one charge since the Reagan administration, and wishes to have it fully-charged.

Boo-yah!

March 9, 2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger Vettriano222 said...

I think it'd stun quite a few people if someone went rounds with the fantasy and science fiction authors today and asked how many of them had been influenced by D&D.

Gygax was, as you said, a keystone. Perhaps as much as Tolkien, in a sense. Because while JRRT might have 'discovered' the genre, it was Gygax who took the discovery and put world- and fantasy-building into the hands of every nerdy tween and teen who wanted to escape the mundane reality or just create an experience with friends.

The friends I keep in touch with from high school and college are mostly the people I gamed with, too. For me, it was 2nd Ed AD&D, particularly the Planescape setting. I've played other systems (and one of those college friends actually just gave me a copy of the Heroes rules), but whenever I think about breaking out the eighty-odd gaming books I have, it's still the old, heavily modified 2nd Ed 'scape setting I want to use. 3rd Edition was after my time, and I hate to say it, but the changes made seemed to dumb the game down more than anything else. Yeah, they added some stuff that looked pretty cool, but I'd already sort of found a spit-and-bailing-wire method of doing that with 2nd.

March 9, 2008 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Steve H. said...

I don't get to game as often as I used to, unfortunately. But I remember getting that red box Basic Set for my 13th birthday and being hooked. Moving into the Advanced game took no time at all and many a school lunch was spent adventuring with my mates....well, until the school decided that dice were considered gambling and prohibited them. Bastards!

I've moved into 3rd Edition, and 3.5, and I groan at the horror that is 4th Edition. I'm now content to look backwards and cling to Advanced. The original. sure, it has its faults, but that's where house rules come in, right?

Love the D&D game and the friends it brings.

March 10, 2008 7:37 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I know I can't go back. If I tried to play basic D&D again, it wouldn't work out. It would be like trying to hook up with my old high-school crush. But the truth is, you love best what you love first. And I loved D&D before I was cynical, before I knew what a cliche was, and before I understood about death. I can't go back. It wouldn't work.

It almost sounds like Kvothe talking about Denna, and that more than anything else brings to life in my mind how formative Gary's work was for you. Cue horrible, horrible Pat/Gary fanfic... now. Oh God, my retinas are burning. The terrible searing pain!

Gary's death is sad, but one thing I did learn from playing his early adventures is that you cannot become obsessed with one death (or several, what do you mean no saving throw?) and forget to live yourself.

March 10, 2008 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Llyralei said...

I had almost the exact same conversation with my friend, and I was you. xD; She was so depressed about Brett Favre or whoever and I was so down about Gary Gygax.

I used to play D&D like ten years ago when I was still in single digits with my father before he left. :[ Now I'm in my school's D&D club. We had an official day of mourning for him. It was sad...

March 10, 2008 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, i'm supposed to be posting this on the 'italian cover' entry, but Pat you would probably miss it, so...
Here it is: i'm italian, and was really looking forward to the italian distribution of the book after all these marvellous reviews here on amazon and on various sff sites and blogs, but now you can put your soul at rest, because i will never NEVER buy it! That cover is awful, and from what i hear it has nothing to do with the story either.
I will have to do with the upcoming mass market u.s. version, which is a lot cheaper by the way, with the european friendly eur/usd exchange rate.
Really, if i were you, i would get in touch with the italian publishers and 'warmly invite' them to amend things, for future books at least.
Kind regards from venice (italy), and please forgive my ramblings :) (and my bad grammar too),
ugo

March 10, 2008 2:25 PM  
Blogger mq said...

http://xkcd.com/393/

March 10, 2008 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can remember playing till 5 in the mourning with everyone then trying to stay awake for school the next day... xome of the best days of my life, i;ll miss you Garry

March 12, 2008 5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought all my D&D stuff at the original store up in Lake Geneva, where my grandparents lived.

I DM'ed for years with all different groups, creating a huge world that covered eight different pieces of paper and incorporated parts of all my favorite books. We created civilizations, and played so much that our characters had several generations of additional characters as the originals grew old and died.

Death comes for us all, but it is the fun and meaning we create before then that matters. Gary helped set the stage for that for millions.

He will be missed -- and thanks for this forum Patrick to discuss it. I've loved reading everyone's thoughts.

March 13, 2008 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I remember spending the better part of one of my summers in gradeschool playing D&D at my friend's house. I played with my friend and their brother who was 4 years older, at an age when this was a nearly unimaginable age difference. We started out playing strictly by the rules (I remember my first character creation, having the bad luck of rolling a dauntingly high saving throw for multiple threats), but gradually shifted to a more free-form game that evolved as we grew as players. I remember when my friend's brother got a book about Greyhawk, and seeing the incredibly badass artwork. D&D was certainly a foundation of my love of fantasy and storytelling. I also in grade school stumbled across a D&D-style choose-your-own-adventure book. It had the same dynamic story property, but the decisions were often made based on dice rolls, and the outcomes had the potential of being much more dire than the typical CYOA fare. I recently got the Annotated Chronicles and Legends for Christmas and can't wait to read through them. Long live D&D, in our hearts and minds as well as our games and stories.

May 2, 2009 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Ella said...

I feel like a random lurker...posting on a blog that's a year old.

Gary Gygax made me comfortable with my nerdyness. My boyfriend introduced me to D&D about a year ago, and through it I've been able to meet like-minded people. I'm also got enough confidence to insist that everyone I know should try it. None have...but they sort of agree that it sounds sort of awesome.

Oh, and I'm the only girl in my group. Makes for lovely invincibility when they encounter Succubus, or at least bonuses on my saves.

The DM doesn't really know our minds very well. He keeps asking whether we want the game censored. Hah! Let's see...collection of 16-18 year old guys (optional girl included) wanting game with no innuendo and only briefly described succubus in there. Not happening...

I also get to invoke Rule 0. Heh heh heh

July 16, 2009 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Wil from Portland said...

Wow, an ending of an era truly, while my D&D days were limited(5-7th grade) until the lure of girls and sports took me...it was a powerful influence. I've always been a lover of fantasy books but without Deities & Demigods, I don't know when I would have found the likes of Michael Moorcock's "Elric" series. I think without that I might have lost my love of fantasy books before it really truly started. So I roll this 20 sided dice in your honor Mr. Gygax, you will be missed!

January 29, 2010 8:03 PM  
Blogger David said...

What a hero that man is. He produced something that is almost without limit or boundary. A true magician ... XX

April 3, 2010 5:05 AM  

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