Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gary Gygax, dead at 69

Who the hell is Gary Gygax?
Back in 1974, Gary and Dave Arneson created a little game where each player controlled a piece that had different stats for armor, hit points, damage, etc. It was just a small strategy game, came in a small box. I remember playing it once with a friend and not thinking to much about it.

A few years later a friend showed me this really cool book. Gary and Dave had expanded the game so that you actually took on the role of your character. You could be a fighter or thief or magic-user. There were great illustrations and an awesome picture on the cover of a treasure filled room with adventurers plundering. The book was called The Players Handbook and the game was called Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

Soon we were playing AD&D all the time. It was incredible to us because the game offered so much more than just an excuse to use our imagination. There were rules for everything that you did and dice to be rolled. We loved it. We talked about things that happened in the game as if they happened in real life. And always popping up on books and modules and The World of Greyhawk was that name: Gary Gygax.

Now there isn't a role-playing game that doesn't owe him a dept. World of Warcraft is just a different version of AD&D.
When we were moving into this house Bobbi saw a box marked, "role-playing" and wondered if it was something we might want to keep out of the reach of children. Unfortunatly for her, the box didn't contain a french maid's outfit but rather all my old AD&D books. I can't bring myself to get rid of them. I'm reminded of the line from Field of Dreams when James Earl Jones says, "The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces." That's how I feel when I look at those old books.

I'm not really doing Gary justice with this post and if you look back in the Boolog you'll find another post I did about playing AD&D. It's late and I'm tired and don't really have the stamina for a fitting eulogy but I didn't want to take the chance that I might skip it altogether. All those times I read and re-read the Player's Handbook or the Dungeon Master's Guide... all those great memories of my youth laughing with my friends over Scott's kitchen table.... I owe then all to Gary Gygax.

Rest in peace.

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