Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


HP -1
March 4, 2008 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Gary Gygax has failed his saving throw.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts (400 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite

 
He must have read previews of 4.0e and his heart just gave out. Sad.

.
posted by absalom at 10:16 AM on March 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Aw, man.

.
posted by lumensimus at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2008


More than any other, he helped developed the foundation of my my imagination. Rest well, sir.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by chillmost at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2008


I've never posted on a MeFi obit post before, but:

RIP Gary, I'll be playing 1st edition till the day I die....
posted by starscream at 10:19 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


His name will always be heard in the clattering of dice, wherever nerds congregate.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


.
posted by kowalski at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2008


The gazebo finally got him :(
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2008


.

Thanks for the all the good times, old wizard. My majority female AD&D group in high school was what got me drawing every day, and provided the first girl I ever fell in love with.
posted by Scoo at 10:22 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by eclectist at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by MrVisible at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2008


aw, frak.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2008


/me dons the leather helm of mourning
posted by DU at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2008


FACT : Gary Gygax doesn't care if you don't think Gary Gygax Fact jokes are funny.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2008


Are there any other sources?
posted by Anything at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2008


I am a little surprised how upset I am over this.

So long and thanks for all the troglodytes Gary.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

By strange laundry coincidence, I dressed in all black today. The last time I did that was when I played DnD and other RPGs pretty religiously. So when I looked in the mirror on the way out the door this morning, I thought to myself, "Man, I look like a DnD Nerd today."

So I am surprised and saddened to learn that it was entirely appropriate for me to dress all in black today.

Say what you will about RPGs, but I think they are a particularly American creation, one of the few up there with Jazz and Comic Books, that will be sticking around for some time to come.

It's just a pity that Gary couldn't be around to see more of it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Cassilda at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2008


.

I met my husband online (back in the late 80's, before it was common) because we were both gamers, and some of my oldest and dearest friends are people I gamed with in college. I tried a few systems, but nothing ever had the same appeal as D&D did to me. Sad news.
posted by booksherpa at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2008


Anyone have 5000 gold pieces worth of diamonds?

Oh, and .
posted by JaredSeth at 10:29 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Aw, man. High school would have sucked so much harder without D&D.

.
posted by gaspode at 10:30 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in a box at my mother's house, on a faded sheet of notebook paper twenty years old, Smallheart the Gnome removes his helmet and falls to a knobby knee.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:30 AM on March 4, 2008 [89 favorites]


.
too bad.
btw : the text of your post is real nice.
posted by nicolin at 10:30 AM on March 4, 2008


Sad news indeed. Some of my fondest memories as a socially-challenged adolescent who had a propensity to wear inappropriate garb from lands far, far away in which I'd once lived (I wore my favorite sari in my 5th grade school photo) were of playing D&D with a kind Dungeonmaster who lived down the block and a bunch of other kids my who thought role-playing games were really fun.

.
posted by arnicae at 10:30 AM on March 4, 2008


.

I was introduced to D&D at the age of four. I could barely follow the rules, but was instantly fascinated. D&D and other RPGs gave me hours of fun, mystery, wonder, imagination, and friendship. I've heard that he was a class act in person, and his legacy will live on. Enjoy Valhalla (or the Happy Hunting Grounds, or Elysium, or whatever Good-aligned Outer Plane you end up in), Gary.

Also he was quite funny in that one Futurama. An eternity spent playing D&D with Gygax, Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Nichelle Nichols doesn't sound so bad at all
posted by jtron at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never played any D&D or similar, but a lot of friends did and it provided them with a lifetime's entertainment (seeing as we're now all 40 and most of them still have some sort of tangential interest in the game, still). So good on Mr Gygax.

My favorite description of D&D for outsiders was the one provided by Cecil Adams way back in 1980.
posted by maxwelton at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


For good or ill, that man defined about a quarter of my life. I would mourn him, but for someone who spurred the imaginations of untold millions and literally created RPG, I'd say a raucous wake is in order. Cheers to you old friend. Resquiescat in pace. You done well.
posted by elendil71 at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

I guess he finally found a way to get on that magic rollercoaster ride back to wherever he came from.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on March 4, 2008


Aw, the post and title are cold, but awesome. Chaotic Good or Lawful Evil, not sure which. Thanks for making school a little easier, Gary. And for those damn Beholders that scared the crap out of 10 year-old me.
posted by yerfatma at 10:34 AM on March 4, 2008


The Futurama with Gygax, Gore, Hawking and Nichols is one of the best, too.
posted by DU at 10:36 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:36 AM on March 4, 2008


Being a poor kid, this game gave me the chance to use my imagination for free, and it has made all the difference.

I dedicate my first kill so long ago - a gelatinous cube - to your memory.
posted by Senator at 10:38 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by ChrisR at 10:38 AM on March 4, 2008


On one hand I thank Mr. Gygax for my social life between age 12 and 18.

On the other hand I blame Mr. Gygax for my social life between age 12 and 18.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:38 AM on March 4, 2008 [26 favorites]


There's a seat waiting for him atop Mount Celestia.

Gygax became sort of a cantankerous old coot, and there were a lot of statements that he made that I felt were better ignored by the roleplaying community at large, but he was always our old man telling the kids to get off his lawn.

We'll be holding a wake in Castle Greyhawk this evening. Any of the surviving members of Al Gore's Vice Presidential Action Rangers are invited to attend.

Also: Neeeeeerrrrrrddddddssss!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.

Man, D&D gave me a place to be amazing when I was just a dun little kid from a crappy neighborhood. We had a lot of fun mocking ol' Gary, especially for 2nd Edition, but my imagination owes his imagination a huge debt.

Roll the dice to see if I'm getting drunk!
posted by headspace at 10:40 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


yerfatma - I thought it sounded a little cold, too, but I like to think that's how Gary would have thought of it.

Tonight, I may grab my old dice, go out to my local gaming store and roll a few throws for my dead homies.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:41 AM on March 4, 2008


The text and title of the post are just low-class and tacky. Sure, he created something widely enjoyed by people who are easy to look down on, but he was loved and respected by more people that most of us will be when we go. Plus, it's not even clear that "failed his saving throw" means that he died. Would "Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, has died" have been too mundane? Must people be fashionably sarcastic and dispassionate every goddamn second of every goddamn day?
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:41 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy - are you kidding me? There's not an ounce of sarcasm in my post. That IS how I showed my respect for this man that had a hand in defining who I am.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2008 [14 favorites]


I'm (rolls dice) ...sad... to hear this. RIP, Gary.
posted by boo_radley at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2008 [16 favorites]


oh man.. he was born in 1938, the same age as my parents. I grew up buying everything he wrote as it came out new. I remember when the hardback Players Manual came out, the first of the large format hardbacks, that's when it went from a game to a lifestyle. I bought all his modules, all worth reading even if you never played them, in particular the D and G series. That was D&D for me, Gygax was it. He not only started D&D but arguably the whole RPG industry.
posted by stbalbach at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2008


Here's hoping you don't wind up in the Blood War, berk.
posted by Ryvar at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2008


.

A notice on forbes.com
posted by podwarrior at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2008


From the Wikipedia article: "As of March 13, 2003, Gygax is listed under the entry Dungeons and Dragons in the Oxford English Dictionary."

Can anyone with a recent OED confirm this? 'Cause that's totally excellent.
posted by mkultra at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's my fault Black Leaf died.

Oh, and .
posted by kimota at 10:45 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:45 AM on March 4, 2008


Aw, gee. I remember sneaking the manuals and dice into my house (where opinions on the subject were formed on the basis of Readers Digest type articles).
posted by Wolfdog at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pen and paper RPGs outlive him, but lets face it, it's the same deal as comics - with a core customer base in it's late 30s and close to zero replacement they probably won't be around for much longer.

Computer games are alright, I guess, but when it comes down to it don't have nearly the same creative elements to them and are all about locking you into some corporate vision. That and level grind. The computer mediated stiff seems like it's just about absorbing the pen and paper games into that.

[/gloom]
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2008


Plus, it's not even clear that "failed his saving throw" means that he died.

I never played D&D - my mom wouldn't let me because of that apocryphal kid who went crazy because of it in the early eighties, and plus I would have needed friends to play with - and even I got it. I see it as being less fashionably sarcastic than a warm tribute using the lingo that Gygax helped create.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


In high school (this would have been in the early '80s - I believe the original D&D was published in 1974, so it had been around for nearly a decade by the time we found it during the Regan Era), a friend described his role-playing books and paraphernalia to his mother as follows: Its a shared set of rules for imagining.

Now, some twenty-mumble years on, that same friend is teaching his four year old granddaughter the basics of the game. He plays with his friends, his wife, his children. In a very serious way, the work Gygax authored and inspired has influenced American culture in as profound a way as the work of Lucas, Roddenberry, and other "sci-fi/fantasy" pop-culture leaders whose names are much more of a household word. The seven-million plus World of Warcraft subscribers alone owe Gygax an enormous debt.

.
posted by anastasiav at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2008 [19 favorites]


.

maxwelton, that 1980 date is suspicious. He talks about the CD-ROM edition coming out in 1996. A 16 year lead on a product release sounds excessive.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2008


Damnit :(
posted by kaemaril at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2008


On non-preview, nevermind.
And, .
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by OmieWise at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by norm111 at 10:49 AM on March 4, 2008


Are there any other sources?
posted by Anything at 1:25 PM on March 4
Yes, there are.

.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2008


Damn, damn, damn. Thank you for everything, Gary. Let me be the first to remind you all that driving to Wisconsin and rubbing your dice on his mortal remains will not imbue your dice with luck. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Here's a cute interview with Gygax from 2001.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for ruining my teenage years, Gary. I loved every minute of it.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


My parents really hated D&D and forbade me ever to play it. I think they thought I'd end up killing myself with a stone dagger in a sewer, or something.

So, a la Pollomacho's comment above:

On the one hand, I thank Gary Gygax for providing me with a way to rebel during my adolescence that probably kept me out of a great deal of trouble that I would have encountered by rebelling in other ways.

On the other hand, I blame Gary Gygax for providing me with a way to rebel during my adolescence that probably kept me out of a great deal of fun that I would have encountered by rebelling in other ways.

.
posted by gurple at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2008


I'll dig out my dice tonight.

.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by valis at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by paddysat at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2008


Well, I know that Winston Churchill the Ranger is grieving.
posted by josher71 at 10:53 AM on March 4, 2008


Man. Gygax. Rest in peace.
posted by cortex at 10:53 AM on March 4, 2008


Have fun behind that great DM screen in the sky, old man. I'm going to roll up a kobald bard for you this weekend.
posted by Caduceus at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2008


From the OED:

A proprietary name for: a fantasy role-playing game set in an imaginary world based loosely on medieval myth, in which players' characters undertake (individual) quests at the direction of a player in the role of the Dungeon Master, who dictates the nature of their environment, the obstacles they are to overcome, etc.; abbreviated D & D. Also allusively: a situation or undertaking likened to a game of Dungeons and Dragons, esp. in involving a complex and unpredictable sequence of events, out of the control of the protagonist.
1974 E. G. GYGAX & D. ARENESON (title) Dungeons & Dragons: rules for fantastic medieval wargames campaigns playable with paper and pencil and minature figures. 1979 N.Y. Times 8 Sept. 10/2 An elaborate version of a bizarre intellectual game called Dungeons and Dragons. 1982 London Rev. Bks. 30 Dec. 7/3 Dungeons and Dragons, with its whole spin-off family of Role-Playing Games, is much easier to categorise. 1987 New Yorker 20 Nov. 110/2 His Global Project reads like an elaborate boys' game{em}a revolutionaries' Dungeons and Dragons. 1991 Vanity Fair Dec. 90/1 He was slowly, then rapidly, sucked into a kind of covert-ops version of Dungeons & Dragons, with that memo as his guide and Michael Riconosciuto as his Dungeon Master. 1994 Etc. Montréal 15 Feb. 39/1 At the IFFM, beneath a long black leather coat.., Tarantino sports a goth-rock, dungeons-and-dragons type t-shirt, plus jeans and sneakers. 2001 Toronto Star (Electronic ed.) 9 Apr., Computer cousins to paper-and-pen games like Dungeons and Dragons, role-playing video games involve player-created characters moving through fantasy landscapes.

posted by vacapinta at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I actually have my dice here, the same damn dice I had stashed in my locker back in the day. The d4 is incredibly worn and biased now, which is one reason I keep it around, to illustrate how you test for that. The d20 is a beautiful clear one with black numbers on it that doesn't always roll 20's - that would be silly - but when the chips are down? Yeah.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


i can't even begin to describe how much his books and games -- and the books and games he inspired -- meant to the young lord wolf, one of the world's first blerds. as headspace wrote upthread, my imagination owes a huge debt to his imagination.

.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by webmutant at 10:56 AM on March 4, 2008


(The AP story wasn't out yet when I checked.)

Oddly, I never played D&D itself, but his influence on me through countless other games is immeasurable. Thanks for the good times.

.
posted by Anything at 10:56 AM on March 4, 2008


Here is a interesting article about Gygax from The Believer published September 2006
posted by rabbitsnake at 10:56 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by shmegegge at 10:58 AM on March 4, 2008


Really sad news. I'd always wanted to meet Gary in person and thank him for making the game that I had countless hours of fun with. At least I got the chance to chat with him online a bit.

.
posted by Stuart_R at 10:58 AM on March 4, 2008


I see it as being less fashionably sarcastic than a warm tribute using the lingo that Gygax helped create.

OK, I'm sorry, I misunderstood it. It struck me as a FARKish "LOL nerd icon died!", but I can see how it was meant to be a tribute. Sorry, Cat Pie Hurts.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2008


I know this is going to sound like it's in bad taste, but ... I loot the body.

.
posted by moonbiter at 11:02 AM on March 4, 2008 [18 favorites]


On one hand, I know he lived a long-ish life for someone so dedicated to his vices.

On the other, well, I wish there had been some kind of reward for supplying childhood's best game (Let's Pretend...) with a framework that made it easily translatable for anyone willing to bear the consequences of becoming an RPG nerd in order to have an amazing time with friends using only imagination, paper, pencil, and dice.

And those books. Those crazy, illustration-rich books.

Bless you, Mr. Gygax. Thank you for your efforts and your contribution.

.
posted by batmonkey at 11:02 AM on March 4, 2008


Sad indeed. A friend got me hooked with the Basic D&D rules in the early 80's, and I played all the way through college. Haven't really since then, but I'm hanging on to all the materials in the hope my kids will someday want to adventure. Of course, in reality, they'll probably just think "dad's a huge dork".

.
posted by JohnYaYa at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2008


No hard feelings, DecemberBoy.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2008


/me rolls 1d20 and misses his save vs. sadness
posted by Hugh2d2 at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by elfgirl at 11:06 AM on March 4, 2008


The seven-million plus World of Warcraft subscribers alone owe Gygax an enormous debt.

They probably thing it's based on fucking Tolkien.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on March 4, 2008


My life would be utterly different if this man had never exsisted.

.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:07 AM on March 4, 2008


Damn. He was a huge influence on my childhood, I like to think that my early introduction to RPG's (D&D basic set 1984, I think) is at least in part responsible for my creativity now.
posted by anansi at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


I shall mourn his death as we do any fallen comrade in our party of adventurers:

"Brave Gygax, noble warrior, we shall avenge your fallen form! Say, what've you got on your inventory sheet? I've still got a ring slot free for your Ring of Evasion, and I could totally use your Hat of Disguise as well. Hey guys, party share of his cash - what's 1783 platinum pieces divided by four?"
posted by FatherDagon at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by pedmands at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by danOstuporStar at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2008


.

I'm gutted to hear it, D&D and then other RPGs provided me endless hours of entertainment during the mid-to-late 80s. But his legacy will continue long into the future. I've just started two new campaigns, one with my kids and one with several adults who have never played before. They all love it.

RIP Gary.
posted by gofargogo at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2008


also, wouldn't -1 HP just make him unconscious? haven't played in a while, but i seem to remember -10 HP being the threshold of death
posted by jtron at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2008


Ahh, shit. One of my favorite argument escalations in junior high and high school was, "you're wrong, so completely wrong that we could mail a letter to Gary Gygax and ask him if you're wrong and he'd send back a postcard right away saying nothing but 'YES, YOU'RE WRONG.'" I don't play any more, but it still sucks knowing that that'll never be an option anymore.
posted by COBRA! at 11:12 AM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


*pours out a tankard of mead for his homey Gary Gygax*
posted by papakwanz at 11:13 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, wouldn't -1 HP just make him unconscious? haven't played in a while, but i seem to remember -10 HP being the threshold of death

If you're a 2nd Edition heretic, sure. If you kick it old school with the stapled Basic/Expert/Companion/etc books, -1 was a bad place to be.
posted by COBRA! at 11:15 AM on March 4, 2008


Actually, we wouldn't be THAT much like vultures. 1700 plat is most of the cost of a scroll of True Res, and then we'd spend the rest of the evening figuring out if he died of disease which is curable, or if the disease was just a symptom of Old Age death, which isn't. It all depends on if he was in the Venerable age category yet... either way, best of luck on your next character, Gary. May you drop 18s all the way down.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:15 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by motty at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2008


Thank you for everything, Mr. Gygax. Rest in Peace.
posted by folgers crystals at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2008


I never met Mr. Gygax, but I feel I owe him a ton. Not just for some excellent games, but for influencing the way I think about life. In his guides, he not only wrote about playing the game, but suggested how the game was at least somewhat based on reality. I remember his way of explaining the difference between wisdom and intelligence. He wrote something like "I may have the intelligence to know that smoking is bad for me, but lack the wisdom to quit." I mention this because he made some pretty complex concepts perfectly understandable to my 12 year old brain.

Recently, I was invited to take part in writing a campaign for a non-D&D game system. I'll get paid for this. The only reason I'm remotely qualified for this opportunity was because Gygax's books and dungeon modules got me absolutely hooked on RPGs for the entirety of my teenage years.

It cannot be said of many people that they pioneered something that thousands - maybe millions - of people enjoy and will continue to enjoy for years after their death. It can be said of Mr. Gygax.

RIP, sir, and thank you for introducing me to your worlds.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


They probably thing it's based on fucking Tolkien.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on March 4


Well, but D&D was based on Tolkien (which preceded it) so thats not totally off:

"A careful examination of the games will quickly reveal that the major influences are Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, A. Merritt, and H. P. Lovecraft." - Gary Gygax, 1985
posted by vacapinta at 11:17 AM on March 4, 2008


Jarlsburg Cheshire, my half-elf ranger (who hates elves), says a few prayers to whatever god/goddess it was that he worshiped.
posted by octothorpe at 11:17 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by washburn at 11:17 AM on March 4, 2008


I shall mourn his death as we do any fallen comrade in our party of adventurers:

By pouring out a healthy aportionment of a mug of yon house ale 'pon the doorstop of an Inn whose name will (barring a save against cliche with a -3 penalty) involve ponies or horses or something akin to prancing?

And I feel very strongly about what anastasiav said upthread. It's going to get harder and harder as time goes by to suss out the line between the old-school RPG nerdery that had gotten and still gets HURF DURF DRAGON-READER mockery, and the this-is-what-people-do-for-fun newer state of story-driven videogames and interactive online content and even just mainstream movie/film treatments of fantasy stuff.

Gygax didn't invent collaborative story-telling, but he did manage to lay a tremendously influential framework that has shaped the lives of folks now increasingly responsible for the direction that entertainment and storytelling is taking. A cultural giant that no one has heard of; a great hidden pivot in game playing and everything it touches.
posted by cortex at 11:18 AM on March 4, 2008 [17 favorites]


.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:18 AM on March 4, 2008


Just want to point out that Gygax had a partner when he created D&D... A guy named Dave Arneson.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:20 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.

Thanks to Gary for creating not just a simple game but an entirely new way of telling stories that has changed my life for the better.
posted by Maastrictian at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Shepherd at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2008


I met Gary once a few years ago at a gaming con. He was there as a celebrity guest, and to run a benefit game (you paid a large fee to play a scenario he ran personally, with the fee going to charity). I of course knew the name, but I had never seen him. So during a lull in the con, I sat down at an empty table to wait for my next session, and this bearded, grizzled-looking guy sat down at the same table. We chatted for a while, and not surprisingly we talked about D&D. I told him about a home campaign I was playing in that was totally non-standard (took place in 17th century Europe, had an unholy mixture of 1st and 2nd ed and homebrew rules, had an unusual number of hellbeasts and an elven pope), but a complete blast. He said something like, "Man, that sounds like a whole lotta fun." We shot the shit for awhile longer, until people started drifting over to the table and sitting down, all of them acting quite deferential to this man.

My brain then kicked itself out of neutral and I realized who I had been talking to.

I've heard some less-than-complimentary things said about him in the years I've been gaming, but my brief encounter with him was very enjoyable - he seemed to be happy to be part of something that had created as much pleasure and fun as RPG gaming had.

Of course, he smoked like a chimney the entire time he was there, despite the con's no-smoking policy.
posted by deadcowdan at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2008


Yeah I wouldn't normally post in an obit. thread, but…

.
posted by schwa at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2008


His influence beyond pen and paper RPGs shouldn't be discounted either. Every video game you've ever played that has points to measure vitality, numbers to represent attributes like strength and dexterity, lists of magic spells you can cast, etc. etc. from Rogue to Nethack to Final Fantasy to Dragon Quest/Warrior to Diablo to KOTOR to WoW to Mass Effect and on and on (it would be literally impossible to create a list)? All based on his ideas, although some of it was Dave Arneson's.

As an aside, when I was very young, I thought the term was "roll playing game", as in you "roll" dice. Anyone else make that mistake?
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

It was one of the few things I looked forward to in high school. What a brilliant man.
posted by ignignokt at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2008


Like many others here I owe a large part of who I am to this man. My love of history, language, and myth were encouraged in ways that I can't begin to describe. I still remember reading through one of the appendicies of the 1st edition DMG and learning new Greek and Latin words. I'm still stunned.
posted by khaibit at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

Thanks for all the good times.

Great story, deadcowdan. I bet it took him back to when they were just figuring out how to put the game together.
posted by mwhybark at 11:25 AM on March 4, 2008


vacapinta - Those other guys are kind of important too. And Jack Vance, who is shockingly not mentioned there. I'd argue that the D&D world is far more like that of Vance (or Clark Ashton Smith) than Tolkiens world, which was rather stuffy and preachy.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by ktrey at 11:25 AM on March 4, 2008


No other popular figure has even come close to Gygax for sheer impact on my life. D&D was sort of the center of gravity for my entire social life for just about a decade. I have no doubt that my later ability to handle emergencies well stems in large part from those early 'practice' sessions.

Being swarmed by trolls doesn't sound much like watching an automobile accident, but practicing in slow motion for unexpected things sure seems to have helped. I've always been the first person moving after something bad has happened. In the earliest cases, I believed strongly that it was because I was used to thinking about weird and startling things.

So, thank you, Mr. Gygax: as odd as it may sound, I think your game had some actual life lessons to impart, above and beyond the simple entertainment of whacking pretend bad guys and stealing their stuff. And it was a neat introduction to the major world mythologies and all the wonderful stories of the Greek and Roman gods.

It's interesting that someone above thought Gygax was headed toward Celestia, the plane of Lawful Good... I always figured him for a Chaotic Good type, myself.
posted by Malor at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


No entry found in the online OED for "gygax". Still, though...

A kid at camp introduced me to D&D around age 11. He had (among others) the Monster Manual, which I couldn't stop poring through. I couldn't understand a lot of the technical stuff at first, but the pictures, the exotic names of the monsters, their histories and connections to one another kept me leafing through until a short time later, wouldn't you know it, I could understand what was going on as he rolled all those cool-ass dice.

I spill some of my 2-liter of Mountain Dew and my bag of Cheetos on the ground for him.

.
posted by not_on_display at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2008


Dave Faris pointed out:
"Just want to point out that Gygax had a partner when he created D&D... A guy named Dave Arneson."

True. I doubt anyone here is forgetting that. Or, at least, I assumed so.

And, when Mr. Arneson passes on (may it be a long time from now), he'll get his own special treatment.
posted by batmonkey at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2008


Gygax didn't invent collaborative story-telling, but he did manage to lay a tremendously influential framework that has shaped the lives of folks now increasingly responsible for the direction that entertainment and storytelling is taking. A cultural giant that no one has heard of; a great hidden pivot in game playing and everything it touches.

Goddamn, that was well-said, cortex.
posted by Malor at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by oddman at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2008


Get his stuff.

.
posted by thinman at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, we're all nerds here to one degree or another. Confession time. I know at least one of you will answer in the affirmative:

Ever beat off to Blibdoolpoolp?
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:32 AM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was just going to make this post and I already made the same saving throw joke... ah well. Rest well Mr. Gygax. Also, you had the awesomest name ever. There may be other Gygaxes, but there will never be another Gary Gygax.
posted by GuyZero at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2008


Stay classy, DecemberBoy.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by XMLicious at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2008


If he'd only been evil, we'd have his lich to contend with for eternity. I would have supported that.

.
posted by Hactar at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


.

I met Gary briefly at Gen Con in 99, back when they were in Milwaukee, and he was a truly decent guy to his fans. I'm glad I got to shake his hand and tell him (as an under-washed kid just out of high school) how much I had enjoyed the thing he created. I couldn't imagine high school without flipping through the original Dungeon Masters Guide for nuggets of hidden wisdom. I regret that I never got to play at his table. RIP, Gary.
posted by graymouser at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2008


Oh man. This one's depressing. :(

Rest well, Gary.
posted by kaseijin at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2008


Thanks, Gary, for countless hours of fun and friends and the development of a young imagination.

.
posted by blendor at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2008


Y'know, I just thought of something. Like everybody, I default to thinking of Gygax as an enormously influential guy who most people haven't heard of. but, on the other hand, living in a remote-ass town in rural Nebraska in the 80s, I knew who Gary Gygax was before I'd heard of Lou Reed or Hunter Thompson or Alan Moore or Iggy Pop. I don't know if that really means anything, but it struck me kind of hard.
posted by COBRA! at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Man, D&D got me (gets me) through a lot of tough times. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say Gary Gygax saved my life. RPGs are still my metaphor for life today.

I always thought of D&D as some sort of inherited oral tradition, with Gary being the link to that living past. Like Stuart_R, I honestly wanted to meet the man. For me, Gary Gygax existed in some eternal Dreamtime, a shamanic imagination-saving culture hero that managed to tap into our collective unconscious, forever rattling his dice to show us the way through the dungeon.

Godspeed, Gary Gygax. Much love and thanks for everything.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


There may be other Gygaxes, but there will never be another Gary Gygax.

Reading some of the more "official" obits that are starting to show up AP and Reuters, I was surprised to learn that he had six kids.

So let there be hope for you, young awkward gamer, for yes, you can dedicate your life to something you enjoy, roleplaying games, and still get laid.

And in yet another thing, Gygax shows us the way.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

At summer camp one year, some hippy chick *gave* me the original box set while packing up to leave. And in Junior High, some bastard stole all of my hard earned AD&D books from my locker (*bastard*).
posted by zengargoyle at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2008


. (shaped as a small dodecahedron, 'natch)

He's rollin' twenties in Heaven.
posted by tittergrrl at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2008


Same here, COBRA! Those other guys didn't penetrate and shake the small-town Midwest the way G.G. did. Seriously - punk rock or whatever your favorite form of rebellion was didn't hit home nearly as much as lurid local-newscast tales of children seduced by the 'demonic' influence of D&D, at least where & when I grew up. Gary was a nerd rockstar.

If it weren't for D&D this nerd probably wouldn't have had a social life at all at that age....

.
posted by dragstroke at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2008


I had a DnD dream last night, something I haven't had since I was 14. This is terribly sad news - like everyone else above, he helped shape my imagination and provided me with a portal to new friends, ideas, and hours and hours of entertainment.

Thank you Gary. Thank you thank you thank you.

Fuck.
posted by item at 11:57 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Janta at 11:59 AM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Lord Widebottom at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2008


Smedrick the Half-Elf Palladin, now in retirement for 28 years, doffs his cap and takes a knee.
posted by VicNebulous at 12:02 PM on March 4, 2008


.

And while we're at it: Dumb D&D Monsters.
posted by rusty at 12:04 PM on March 4, 2008


I think the funny thing is that a lot of the way I played, and I assume many of you played, was a method of play GG found detestable. Role playing, character development, etc. had no place in one of Gygax's worlds. Go back and read some descriptions of his campaigns from Dragon magazine, or online. They were always about the loot and, to a lesser degree, fucking over your companions to get a greater share of that loot.

He wanted us off his lawn because he thought we were playing his game "wrong." My understanding is that his idea was that the game was a very traditional sort of game, one with competition and points (err, gold). The idea that it'd be some open ended storytelling system rankled the old man quite a bit.

Though, at the core, he was right: "A DM only rolls the dice because of the noise they make."

Maybe I'll break out that copy of Master of the Game I have on my shelf and try to read it again. (Emphasis on "try." Ye gods.)
posted by absalom at 12:07 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't played in more than ten years (and I'm more than a little embarrassed that I did keep playing well into my 20s) but I've still got a Crown Royal bag full of assorted dice sitting in a box somewhere.

.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 12:08 PM on March 4, 2008


"Collaborative Storytelling". I hate that term. People who used that term to describe D&D do not understand D&D.
posted by schwa at 12:09 PM on March 4, 2008


Just logged in at lunch to say Bookhouse: your comment made me cry. At work. Thanks.

.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 12:11 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by ao4047 at 12:11 PM on March 4, 2008


I really don't have anything to add to this thread that someone hasn't already said more eloquently. I sometimes visit the obit threads with a sense of obligation to note someone's passing, spend a moment, and leave. But Gygax's death truly saddens me, though I never met the man and haven't played in decades the wonderful game he created.

Playing D&D was one of the first real aesthetic and intellectual choices I made as a kid -- one of those choices that define you within your peer group. When I sat down at the table with those kids in fourth grade and picked up a d20 for the first time it was as if I'd made a life-changing choice without even realizing it: I may never be POPULAR, but I'll damn sure be INTERESTING.

Gygax's game enriched my imagination, brightenend my Saturday afternoons, and made me a better creative collaborator.

If the Many Worlds theory holds true, then somewhere in the City-State of the Invincible Overlord a half-elven rogue named Fithian just felt a cold shiver.

.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


You may hate it, schwa, but at least in my estimation it's about as good a two-word summation of the phenomenon as any other. What exactly is your issue with it?
posted by deadcowdan at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2008


absalom - yikes! really? I'd always thought an overemphasis on that kind of thing was universally considered bad in RPGs. Was he really some kind of min-maxing rules lawyer?
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by bra1n at 12:13 PM on March 4, 2008


(Plus it means he'd be no fun to play something like CoC with)
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on March 4, 2008


Seriously - punk rock or whatever your favorite form of rebellion was didn't hit home nearly as much as lurid local-newscast tales of children seduced by the 'demonic' influence of D&D, at least where & when I grew up. Gary was a nerd rockstar.

That is so true. In the 80's in small-town Michigan, D&D made me the geek equivalent to Keith Richards - especially to the Assembly of God kids.

.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:15 PM on March 4, 2008


One last thing that popped into my head: if you ever get the chance to watch the entire run of Freaks and Geeks (and I recommend you make sure you get that chance), the final episode does a perfect job of showing how awesome D&D could be for a certain class of kids. And check the deleted scenes for that episode-- there's some in-game action that just fucking rules.
posted by COBRA! at 12:16 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I went ahead and took out a piece of the excellent documentary Uber Goober: A Film About Gamers that has a nice weigh-in from Gary Gygax. I think this clip shows the warm, intelligent, great guy he was.

http://www.welcometointernet.org/mefi

Same footage, just 320x240 vs. 640x480.

See ya, Gary.
posted by jscott at 12:18 PM on March 4, 2008


.

oddly, I'm in all black today, too. Not my normal mode of dress.... I must have hit something on the psionic table....
posted by dwivian at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2008


D&D let me keep in contact with my smarter, more responsible friends during middle school. In retrospect, it probably kept me out of jail. So, cheers, Gary and thanks from Ranger Cameron.
posted by qldaddy at 12:22 PM on March 4, 2008


Artw: Pen and paper RPGs outlive him, but lets face it, it's the same deal as comics - with a core customer base in it's late 30s and close to zero replacement they probably won't be around for much longer.

Perhaps... but I'd argue that roleplaying games are the purest form of art there is. Marcel Duchamp thought of chess as art, and each chess game as a single work of art. Roleplaying is unique among artforms in that every participant is both creator and audience (though this would also go for improv theater without an audience, of course).

Gygax and Arneson are on my list of people whose wikipedia pages I check regularly to see what they're up to. Fascinating people whose influence on my life and the modern world is hard to quantify. Fittingly I have a roleplaying session tonight. In Nomine, not D&D though.

I sometimes wonder if roleplaying games would have come into existance without Arneson and Gygax or whether they were sui generis. Either way, I'm thankful for their creation. I'm glad Gygax lived.
posted by Kattullus at 12:22 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The one time I met EGG he was brusque and kind of a dick to me. But hell, given how much his work inspired me, I don't hold that against him.

Thanks for all the great times, Mr. Gygax.
posted by illiad at 12:23 PM on March 4, 2008


absalom - yikes! really? I'd always thought an overemphasis on that kind of thing was universally considered bad in RPGs. Was he really some kind of min-maxing rules lawyer?

I recall reading an article from Gygax in Dragon some many years ago, when I was truly discovering the joys of role-playing characters with flaws and odd stats, entitled "In Defense of Roll-Playing" in which he laid out the case for min-maxing, and that it wasn't a bad thing to be only interested in creating a powerful character, rather than an interesting one.

It was tough for me to read, and provoked a realization in my then teen-aged self, that just because someone had a great idea, and created something wonderful around it, it didn't mean that they always had an understanding of, or authority over, how that idea would come to be used and enjoyed. And that sometimes the people who play with that idea further and in different ways than the creator would've on their own. And that, many times, that is a good thing. It made me understand that I could honour someone for what they had done, and still disagree with them and do things differently - and that it was ok.

It seems like a trite insight now, but as a 13 or 14 year old, it was pretty profound.

my next insight needs to apparently be around the over-use of commas.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:24 PM on March 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


.
sad
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:25 PM on March 4, 2008


I can't think of anyone else who had such an influence on the idea of a game as a narrative experience - something that had affected, and will continue to affect, games far beyond mere pen-and-paper RPGs.

Everything I know about university lecturing I credit to my early DMing experiences.

Gygax and Arneson gave all of us nerds an opportunity to socialise, make friends, and find common ground throughout the world.

So sorry to see you go, Gary, and I'll charge a glass in your memory.
posted by Paragon at 12:25 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2008


If I ever went back to my elementary school, I could take you to the exact flight of stairs where one day I walked up to a group of my friends fiddling with dice and some books with dragons on the covers and asked, "What are you guys playing?" The memory is that vivid and formative. I still have my first character sheet.

*Samori the Gnome doffs his Helm of Brilliance*
posted by Cyrano at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2008


.

I first played D&D when I was 8 at summer camp. It was so much fun, it really blew my mind when I discovered it. I played it for years afterwards. The game was a fundamental part of helping me grow my imagination and creativity as a kid. Thanks, Gary!
posted by about_time at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2008


I'll add mine to the voices here who know that, for better or worse, my imagination was directly formed by he and his ilk. The mere idea that my friends and I could do these things; create people, monsters, and worlds, and then interact with them was a powerful concept.

One that we indulged in, on and off, for the better part of my youth (and then some). Some of my favorite memories are of storming castles, looting dungeons, and drinking way too much soda in my friend's basement.
posted by quin at 12:35 PM on March 4, 2008


Artw: No, I wouldn't say that he was a rules lawyer. As a total outsider, I would take it that he viewed it as a game - that is, progression and accumulation were goals, not byproducts.
posted by absalom at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2008


Horrible news. D&D and Hitchhiker's Guide and Monty Python were the basic buildingblocks of my teenage personality. Another personal giant passes. God, when John Cleese and Michael Palin go... I'll be completely lost.

Sorry we had to postpone our monthly game this past weekend. Next time we'll roll some d20's for Gary.

.
posted by papercake at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was on leave with some friends of mine and we were at this vacation type beach. We swam out to this bar/raft sort of deal that I think was only for boaters (bit of a way out).
Bunch of cigarette boats, etc. We got a little boozy, not drunk, you know how it is, summer in the sun, and we drifted in and out of lazy conversation with people and amongst ourselves.

A few of us had miliary tats and we chatted about those and boasted about places we’d been and how hard we were (easy to do when you’re in the best shape of your life, and look it on the beach).

And some of us got to talking about an old dungeon crawl (good way to pass time in the military while hurrying up and waiting) and this couple seemed really hooked into the conversation.
So we told them about the group of slavers we fought (and sold off their slaves), how we destabilized this unholy regime, killed all these bastards and plundered all this gold and platinum and hid it, etc. etc.

We played up all the really interesting elements and the thousand to one shot situations that came off and the hilarious screw ups on easy situations (Dave completely screwed up trying to assassinate the king, accidentally stabbed the queen, then poisoned the whole dinner party - except the king, etc. etc.) and so forth and ha ha ha wasn’t that funny.

All the neat and sometimes bloody and amazingly callous sounding “kill them and loot the bodies” type stuff you remember happening from fun gaming sessions.

Suddenly they didn’t want to talk to us anymore and politely excused themselves, looked a little shakey. We figured it was because we had geeked out a bit. But they kept looking at us and talking to other people who looked at us. And slowly, furtively, more and more people kept getting farther and farther away from us.

After a minute we all kind of realized, and one of us said the obvious - “Hey, you think they knew we were talking about gaming?”

That moment alone - worth so much man.
We still tell that story and laugh ourselves to tears.

In lieu of cutting lyre strings, I’ll smash my dice.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2008 [40 favorites]


:::
posted by aftermarketradio at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2008


7th level clerics are pretty easy to find so I would assume a Raise Dead is eminent.
posted by Senator at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


From one of the links upthread ....

kp: Tell us a story about a great fan-encounter you had.
gg: Well, some few years back, a Deadhead girl mistook me for Gerry Garcia, as a few folks have done, and so after we talked a bit... Oh, sorry! Wrong story.

Back in the early 1980s a young guy came drifting in from Oklahoma. He was broke, needed a job, and TSR had nothing to offer. Seeing as how he seemed a good fellow, I took him in, and as at that time we had a large place, I hired him to assist in maintaining it. He was a great D&D player, so he was included in my semi-weekly campaign. After six months or so time he had enough cash to head back home, and we were sorry to see him leave. About two years ago he emailed me. He's an M.D. now.
posted by forforf at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


*Stands at top of mountain, slings a bloody claw at the sky*

CURSE YOU, OLD AGE!

*Lightning strikes, background*
posted by tehloki at 12:41 PM on March 4, 2008


rusty, that is just the funniest link ever. Oh how I loved D & D in my teenage years. I thnk I was the only girl in my school who played and I'd still be playing it now if I could find a campaign in my city.

.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2008


If I ever went back to my elementary school, I could take you to the exact flight of stairs where one day I walked up to a group of my friends fiddling with dice and some books with dragons on the covers and asked, "What are you guys playing?" The memory is that vivid and formative. I still have my first character sheet.

I have a similarly powerful, burned-into-my-brain memory of my first exposure at age fifteen to Magic: The Gathering—a game that itself is helplessly indebted to what Gygax accomplished.

There's something powerful about discovering a new kind of game; here's a system of thought, a way of approaching problems and of applying reasoning to the world, but instead of being presented as an abstract problem of philosophy or logic, it is wrapped up to a lesser or greater degree in alluring trappings. A game is a way of fooling you into growing, a clever trap that, if you're lucky, opens beneath you and deposits you ass-first in an unexpected, educational place.

It's an amazing thing, what a good game can do for a person, and there's a twisted, awful irony to the general notion that (with certain exceptions—chess, go, poker) games are still so widely considered things for children, things to be set aside by adults.
posted by cortex at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


.
Just found out about this. I am making all of my players this weekend come in with black dice.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 12:46 PM on March 4, 2008


This will Colbert.
posted by juiceCake at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, wow. This made me exclaim in an otherwise mundane and usually quiet office.

.

And now the office will suffer the roll of my dice! Yes, for on my mantle of awesomeness, I still carry a tube of dice -- d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. We're uh, just going to ignore the d100 for this tribute....

d4 - 3, d6 - 5, d8 -1, d10 - 4, d12 - 12, d20 - 13. Ooooh, unlucky 13!

. ! Gary. While there certainly were other fine folks involved in the creation of D&D, your name certainly stood out in this whee teen's mind as he pored over those books for quite a long time. What good stuff!

Go ahead, make a saving throw off using eponysterical against my comment - I've got the dice here to back it up!
posted by cavalier at 12:49 PM on March 4, 2008


Personally, I think it's all a hoax. I think he just put on his aetherial mail and slipped into another plane.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:50 PM on March 4, 2008


This makes my poor little nerd heart sad.
I don't think I've been this sad since Sinatra died.
posted by willmize at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by mumkin at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2008


Has anyone looted his corpse yet? I betcha he has all kinds of awesome stuff.

Also, what the hell? Wasn't there supposed to be someone protecting him and healing him on this raid? *glares at priest and mage* Yeah, you guys. Put away the Nintendo DS and pay attention, we just lost our NPC guide. Dumbasses.
posted by loquacious at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wow, I haven't played D&D since early college days, but this really bums me out.

.
posted by TedW at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2008


Wait, wait, can I try a role for divine intervention?
posted by 445supermag at 1:01 PM on March 4, 2008


also, wouldn't -1 HP just make him unconscious? haven't played in a while, but i seem to remember -10 HP being the threshold of death

If you're a 2nd Edition heretic, sure. If you kick it old school with the stapled Basic/Expert/Companion/etc books, -1 was a bad place to be.


Ah, wouldn't be proper without some sort of rules argument.

.
posted by graventy at 1:03 PM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


I hope some helpful mefite will print off this thread and post it to his family. For a man who wasn't a great scientist or inventor, to have had such a profound effect on so many lives is one hell of a testament. May he rest in peace.
posted by prentiz at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was certainly an addict of the lowest form to a few MUDDs in my day, and addictions are never healthy.

But, interacting with a world where the rules are clearly defined by computer code opened up my intellect in a way that I am not sure is possible otherwise.

Thank you, Sir.
posted by zekinskia at 1:07 PM on March 4, 2008


Haven't played since the 70's but this still makes me sad.

.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:08 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Duncan at 1:12 PM on March 4, 2008


As I sit here worrying over the administration of my 130+ member MMORPG guild I think back to those pen and paper days of 3d6, double aughts, and arguments about flaming oil. Gary Gygax fucked us up for life. Thank you Mr Gygax, and rest in peace.
posted by Ragma at 1:15 PM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is hitting me so much harder than I expected. There's this enormous flood of memories washing through me:

Seeing Gygax's name for the first time when I was 9 in 1982 and spending the next few years engaging in viscous arguments on the correct pronunciation.

Coming home after spending hour upon hour with my friends in the local forest beating the everliving crap out of each other with sticks, acting out our tabletop experiences (none of us had heard of LARPing).

My Mom telling me I had to stay home and clean my room and me whining, "but Moooom! I need to go to Tony's house cuz we're adventuring and my magic-user is going to get to level 8 and I get new spells and it's gonna be so COOL, but it won't be if I have to clean my room". (She let me go just to shut me up).

The moment I realized that I didn't NEED modules anymore and started designing my own campaigns.

Meeting the first gamergirl (tabletop, not these newfangled electro-computer thingamabobs)I had ever met and being utterly confused and smitten.



I'm getting teary, so I'll shut up now.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:17 PM on March 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


from a history of D&D:
Dave Arneson was a very enthusiastic gamer. He was already tweaking and changing things. Many of the rules in D&D came from rules he had created years before. However, it was Gary Gygax who put those ideas in writing, adding some of his own along the way. Gygax became the face of the game, and Arneson wanted more credit. Gygax was not about to give Arneson that wish. Don Kaye died of a stroke in 1975, spelling the end of Tactical Studies Rules. Gygax and Brian Blume dissolved the company and formed a new one, TSR, Inc. The notable person missing from this new company was Arneson, whose disagreement with Gygax had become a full-blown feud. In 1977, the D&D game underwent a revision. In an effort to cut Arneson out of the royalties he was owed as a co-creator of the game, Gygax produced the new edition under the name of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. A series of lawsuits from Arneson followed, and another, more basic and less supported line was formed to appease him. This secondary line was known simply as Dungeons & Dragons, and featured a much simplified version of the game. Basic D&D, as it became known, was supposed to be an introductory platform from which new gamers would jump to the AD&D game. But the two systems were not compatible, and the product lines eventually developed separately, effectively splitting the market. Arneson faded into obscurity in the industry, while Gygax continued producing massive amounts of material for AD&D while delegating D&D to other authors.
I would love to read a well-produced oral history of this era in gaming.
posted by jtron at 1:18 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


After my parents were divorced in 1978, they set up a visitation schedule, as they lived in 2 different states. I was to spend 6 weeks every summer with my dad until age 18. That first summer, I felt awful. There was seemingly nothing to do, and my little brother was too young to be a companion that could help me through it.

Then, one day, my dad takes me around to the place of this new woman he's seeing. On her table is the blue box. While they're in the kitchen, I'm checking out the contents: Dice, rulebook, crayon -- everything you need. It was amazing to me. When my dad came out of the kitchen, he got angry with me because I was going through her stuff, but she said it was just a silly game that she bought for parties, but it hadn't worked out. She let me keep it.

Cut to years later, and I'm at Gen Con in 1983, standing in line to see Gary. When it comes around to my turn to have him sign my DM's guide, I fumble through some words about inspiration and how gaming is "the best thing", and I figure he won't really hear me, sign his name, and move on to the next guy. Something twinkles in his eye at this moment, and he stops writing and says to me: "Oh, really? What do you find the most inspiring?"

He was basically calling me out (not that I realized this at the time). Once again, I tried to push out some words, but my mind was a jumble of half-formed thoughts, not the least of which was that I was the center of attention for everyone behind the table as well as the 10 or so people behind me. Mustering up all the wisdom that 14 years of age benefited me, I worked out: "D&D lets me be in charge. I can make my own rules, and it still works. When I'm playing it, nobody makes fun of me..." and, in the middle of the greatest convention in the world, in front of possibly the only man I could honestly call my hero, I started to cry.

He stopped writing entirely, got me to come around the desk and sit down next to him. He started taking the book for the next guy and signing his name, not looking up at him at all. I calmed down, and he started just talking with me. For the next 30 minutes, I sat with him and he was calmly supportive and just generally a great guy. He wrote down my name and my address on the back of a business card.

About 2 months later, I got some cool collector's items in the mail, return address was E.G.G. I wrote him a letter to thank him, and saw him again years later. He remembered our conversation, and we started talking again. By this time, he was divorced from TSR, so our conversation was all about where he saw the industry going. Much later, as a young adult, I met him when he had just started selling LJ. Once again, he still remembered who I was, and what had happened to me when I first met him.

So, today, I'd like to thank the memory of EGG for creating me as the person I am today. I douse the torch and throw away the 10 foot pole in your honor, sir.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2008 [402 favorites]


I love you guys so much right now.

.
posted by melissa may at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 1:30 PM on March 4, 2008


I sincerely hope that WotC doesn't dedicate their new, shitty 4th edition to him.

But they will.
posted by mr_book at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2008


When gangsters die their friends pour out some beer from a forty for their "homie". I'm guessing the nerd equivalent in this case would be to pour out some kool-ade from a bedazzled plastic goblet?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've only spent a dozen or three hours in the AD&D environment, but the time there was cetainly some of the highest entertainment and camaraderie that I've experienced.
posted by panamax at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2008


Alvy, here is an excellent post on that apocryphal kid who went crazy because of it in the early eighties.

I think my old D&D books are still in my parents' basement; I am going to go dig them up just cuz. I really enjoyed that stupid "game", because it was always more about the imagination than about the dice. I confess that, as DM, I cheated and let people live just so they could get killed by some epic horror or hilarious booby trap I'd created in my sick little 13-year-old mind. Anyway, old wizard, here's hoping you don't become a lich as I will have to smite your ass in that case.
posted by Mister_A at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


mathowie: You enter a large, blue room. There is a door to the left leading to a green room and a door to the right leading to a gray room. The room is full of trolls.

jessmyn: Again with the fucking trolls! I whip out my +1 Banhammer.

cortex: Good thinking. Trolls take double damage from banhammers.

mathowie: The trolls flee into the gray room, as is their trollish custom.

cortex: I search for treasure!

mathowie: It appears that the trolls were guarding a bucket of some sort.

jessmyn: :: Sigh! :: All right, what's in the bucket.

mathowie: :: Rolls on the treasure table. :: It appears to be a bucket of cocks.

jessmyn: That is IT! I've had enough of this! Next week, I get to be Dungeon Moderator!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2008 [124 favorites]


.
posted by herichon at 1:44 PM on March 4, 2008


I don't know about the games you played in, Pollomacho, but I think we'll pour out a shot of Jack, those who smoke will take a hit for Gary, and we'll all devour bags of chips and an entire store-bought chocolate cake in his honor.

(Well, that's how we used to eat when we played. Now that we're all in our 30's and are watching our cholesterol and fat intake not to mention avoiding hangovers because they're deadly with a nine month-old banging around the house, we'll probably raise a frosty beer.)
posted by papercake at 1:45 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by sleep_walker at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2008


thanotopsis, awesome comment. That's one hell of a good memory.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:55 PM on March 4, 2008


I don't know about the games you played in, Pollomacho...

I played, as stated above, religiously between age 12 and 18. At 12 there was little of the gaming you describe in your post. At 18 the D&D gaming generally peetered off for some reason.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2008


Pollomacho, an appropriate beverage for such a libation would be a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

Man, this is making me sad today.
posted by cgc373 at 1:58 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


So is a Mefi Birthday Bash happening again in July? Cuz we should get our dice on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:59 PM on March 4, 2008


MetaFilter: don't become a lich as I will have to smite your ass.
posted by loquacious at 1:59 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

Artw Was he really some kind of min-maxing rules lawyer?

The original game derived from tabletop wargaming. Gygax's preference was for a more adversarial style of gaming, where DM and players would attempt, in a friendly manner, to defeat each other within the rules of the game. Original adventures had little justification beyond "the king sent you" for the characters even to be there; character goals are to kill monsters, gain treasure and increase in power, so that one may kill more powerful monsters, gain better treasure, and increase even more in power. This is a philosophy that heavily influences D&D (and its grandchildren, MMOs) even now. IMO, it's not right or wrong, it's a stylistic preference. It works for some groups, in some settings; it doesn't work for others. YMMV.

In any case, even the purest of purist narrativist role-players owe Gygax a debt; without him, D&D would not exist, and without dissatisfaction with D&D, their own preferential style of gaming would not exist.

never used baby shoes It made me understand that I could honour someone for what they had done, and still disagree with them and do things differently - and that it was ok. It seems like a trite insight now, but as a 13 or 14 year old, it was pretty profound.

That insight is not the least bit trite, and you should be proud of yourself for coming to the realization at such a young age. Many, if not most, people live out their entire lives without it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:00 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


What an incredible man who has left for us such incredible gifts.
We're planning a proper wake this weekend, maybe Tomb, maybe Keep...something proper to smile, laugh, talk and adventure together with. I can't think of another way to best celebrate such a bright life.
(tears on keyboard)
posted by verveonica at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


thanatopsis, that is a wonderful and moving story. I wish there were some level of endorsement past favoriting; if there was, you'd get mine. Thank you.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:02 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

Its a sad day for roleplayers all over the world.
posted by edmcbride at 2:03 PM on March 4, 2008


Gygax's passing has warranted a special edition of Penny Arcade.
posted by sparkletone at 2:04 PM on March 4, 2008


I'm favoriting thanotopsis's story as hard as I can. Not that the rest of y'alls weren't peachy.
posted by cavalier at 2:05 PM on March 4, 2008


On a sort of tangent, this rules min/max'ing makes me realize what I grow bored with so easily in Warcraft -- the constant push for more loot, more treasure, etc.

I guess why I'm one of those types who keeps trying to make the game more special by, you know, kiting bosses to cities.
posted by cavalier at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


cavalier, kiting bosses to cities, and unleashing infernals in the noob training grounds, are among the best things in that game.
posted by Mister_A at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dungeons and Dragons never goes away. Girls will still sense that shit 20 years later.

I get his sword.
posted by dhartung at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by SentientAI at 2:12 PM on March 4, 2008


Two Gnolls about 400 feet away heading over a rise and about to go out of sight, with a captured party member dangling on a pole strung between them. A second group of gnolls was charging down from the rise, setting spears to block any pursuit.

Tesseryn Gladeshadow, the Elven Mage who simply could not evocate for the life of him unslung his bow, nearly falling from the back of his charging mount. An arrow nocked, he drew and fired a hopeless, impossible shot.

Natural 20. Roll to confirm the critical? Natural. Fucking. 20. On 3d8 for damage, two 8s and a 7 pop up. One gnoll drops, and the DM suddenly needs to rewrite the rest of the adventure for that night.

This was about 8 years ago. I'm 32 now, and my group still talks about the shot that Tesseryn made.

Thanks Gary. Thank you so very, very much.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 2:13 PM on March 4, 2008 [20 favorites]


Mr Gary Gygax Sir, thank-you so much for all the hours you gave me as a kid. Really.

RIP.

Countless PC's drop to their knees in utter disbelief and resolute respect for you Sir.

/me wipes a tear and presses on past the next gloomy corner, poking with a 10' pole the whole time.

You made so much happen. We still love you.
posted by deano5678 at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2008


I found out about this weird game from my older brother. I think it was in 1976 - his first year at MIT (and my first year in high school). It just sounded awesome. He played a ranger, and told me about it whenever I bugged him (which was often). At one point, he tried running a game with me and some friends, but it was very brief, since he was going into the Navy right after college. But then, I think my second year in college, I found a few D&D nerds, and fell in with them (followed my brother's footsteps and played a ranger). Played a little more after college.

Thanks for the memories, Gary.


.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by effwerd at 2:22 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by lunit at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by sy at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by juv3nal at 2:34 PM on March 4, 2008


Thanotopsis made me cry. Why you gotta be like that, Thanotopsis?

I popped into this thread for a quick look-see, just cuz, wasn't really sure why. Maybe cuz results from the primaries won't be in for awhile and there are still a few precious moments left for me to imagine how miraculous and inspiring it will be if my favored candidate wins and this seemed like the kind of thread that would not burst the bit of bubble i am still holding onto.

But, WHOA! It's like I'm having all of these recovered memories and I can't believe that I had forgotten how much AD&D meant to me. I remember how much begging it took for me to get each book (Deities and Demigods was my favorite) and how annoyed my mother would get after she would drive me all the way over to that dingy, fluorescent-lighted, gaming store by the Long Island Railroad (don't remember what city) so i could spend painful minutes agonizing over which die to get since i could only get one or which book i could afford with my birthday money. She would be tapping her foot and I would be wrestling with a decision that could change the course of my entire life!

And seeing the pics of the book covers, it all came back to me. Except for the Louis Untermeyer edited Treasury of Poetry my grandmother had given me when i was like five, these were the first books i ever loved. I mean: LOVED. LUH-UH-UH-OVED. I would check on them before i went to bed every night, smoothing their covers with my fingertips, feeling the potential each book held for adventure and escape and connection with other people warming my hand like a small sun. As Annie Potts says of her newly embiggened boobs on Designing Women: "These things are POWER!" and sometimes i would sleep with one of the books under my pillow, and always, before anything else, they were the first things i checked on in the morning when i woke up. Still there? check. Still in great condition? check. Still smell like ink and paper and limitless possibility. OH, yeah.

They comforted me so much more than they should have.

And the books and the dice went everywhere with me, and when i showed the books to other guys (trying not to flinch when they ripped the covers open or turned the pages carelessly or got fingerprints on Elric's face (Ah, Elric...and Thor...they can never know our secret...), acting like i didn't want to snatch it away from them immediately and run to some darkened corner muttering "precious, my precious...), it felt like some of the rareness and strangeness and coolness of the books spilled over onto me. When they said "Damn! Yo, yo, yo...look at this freakin' monster! It's got like, twelve eyes and shit! That's fuckin' WORD, yo," it felt like i was "fuckin' word" too.

i'm wondering if anyone else used their position as 12 year old dungeonmaster as a way to get the sixteen year old guys who played the game to strip down to their underwear and act out, in real time, just what it would be like to be tied up and tortured by some sort of Medusa who never killed anyone, but was really, really fond of the tying people down "spread-eagled" and stuff...
Anyone? Anyone?


Bueller?

I don't think Gary Gygax would have approved. But I thank him anyway. He made it seem possible that there could be a world where the curses of intelligence and creativity were blessings.

Bless him.
posted by mer2113 at 2:36 PM on March 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


Without D&D, I would've had to go into advertising instead of writing online games.

Thanks, Gary.

.
posted by rifflesby at 2:37 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow... for some reason this has made me so sad. I remember only a few months ago going on a kick about Gygax, and seeing what he's been up to in the last years. He's really an inspiration.

I've talked about this with other friends of mine who also grew up on D&D, and for so many of us, writers, artists, film makers, D&D was one of our first experiences making up stories. I look at the stuff I'm still interested in, and there's so much influence from this man and what he created.

Even ideas like levelling are things that can be observed in the real world, and for me, helped give me a framework for looking at reality, not just playing games.

I started playing in 4th grade, and played all the time up through about 8th, and then played a little more after college. I haven't played in years, now, but I know there's an awful lot of Gygax in the back of my mind. My interest in mythology and folktales grew out of reading Deities and Demigods scores of times, and flipping through the Monster Manual or old Dragon Magazines is interesting for what it inspires in the imagination, beyond its application as tools for a game.

Gary Gygax, I salute you! I'd like to think you're in the Happy Hunting Grounds.

.
posted by MythMaker at 2:39 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by DataPacRat at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by codswallop at 2:43 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:44 PM on March 4, 2008


<2>
posted by kid ichorous at 2:46 PM on March 4, 2008


Wow, even my ascii d20s mis-roll.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:48 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by saslett at 2:51 PM on March 4, 2008


Quick, someone put two electrum pieces over his eyes so he can pay Charon.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:52 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you look on pages 16, 22, 35, 63, 112, 115, 123 and use the first and sixteenth word in the Fiend Folio, he actually predicts his own demise.
posted by Senator at 2:53 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by ilovemytoaster at 2:56 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by MikeMc at 2:57 PM on March 4, 2008


[After the Universe is destroyed, everyone floats around in a white void.]
Fry: Where are we?
Al Gore: I don't know. But I can darn sure tell you where we're not. The Universe!
Nichelle Nichols: Eternity with nerds. It's the Pasadena Star Trek convention all over again!
Gary Gygax: Anyone want to play Dungeons and Dragons for the next quadrillion years?



.
posted by crossoverman at 2:57 PM on March 4, 2008


Kudos to what Cortex said, and Smedleyman that is an excellent story.

.
posted by Mintyblonde at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2008


Last week I happened to be in the city, that when I was growing up in a small market town, was the closest to me... and I went past the place that used to sell a few AD&D books (long gone of course) and it gave me just such nice fuzzy glow of nostalgia.

I think my very first MeFi post was about AD&D... can't add much more than that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:03 PM on March 4, 2008


I don't do obit threads either, but ...


.
posted by liet at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2008


I've never owed so much to a man I've never met.

.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 3:09 PM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


.
posted by bshort at 3:09 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by deano5678 at 3:09 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Sailormom at 3:12 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by LMGM at 3:19 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by hjo3 at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2008


Two Gnolls about 400 feet away heading over a rise and about to go out of sight, with a captured party member dangling on a pole strung between them. A second group of gnolls was charging down from the rise, setting spears to block any pursuit.

Tesseryn Gladeshadow, the Elven Mage who simply could not evocate for the life of him unslung his bow, nearly falling from the back of his charging mount. An arrow nocked, he drew and fired a hopeless, impossible shot.

Natural 20. Roll to confirm the critical? Natural. Fucking. 20. On 3d8 for damage, two 8s and a 7 pop up. One gnoll drops, and the DM suddenly needs to rewrite the rest of the adventure for that night.

This was about 8 years ago. I'm 32 now, and my group still talks about the shot that Tesseryn made.

Thanks Gary. Thank you so very, very much.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 2:13 PM on March 4 [3 favorites +] [!]


My clans best and most dedicated party, The Company Of The Box once headed into the challenging Nine Hells for a sortie - Long Story. My 15th level Paladin kept repeatedly rolling EPIC FALLS, 1's, on almost every encounter with those ungodly scum.

That got a bit creepy after a while.
posted by Mintyblonde at 3:26 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in a box at my mother's house, on a faded sheet of notebook paper twenty years old, Smallheart the Gnome removes his helmet and falls to a knobby knee.

I'm a 38 year old computer professional at work, and that comment made me cry.
posted by felix at 3:28 PM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


.
posted by jonp72 at 3:33 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by hugecranium at 3:34 PM on March 4, 2008


I met him briefly at Gen Con last year. He autographed a couple books for me (I only asked him to autograph one, but he offered to sign two), we posed for a picture, I told him the Dungeons Masters Guide was the book that changed my life, and he laughed.

So either Gary Gygax thought I was funny, or Gary Gygax thought I was ridiculous. I don't care. I'm just sad that a man who wrote a book that changed my life is dead.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 3:37 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:38 PM on March 4, 2008


I agree with the anti-Tolkien stuff re. Gygax - I always loved it that his stuff was so much more exciting: darker, pulpier, and avoided preaching at me. If I wanted to be Lawful Evil, well, I just could be and there no annoying little unkillable hobbits bollixing everything up. For the city adventures, I always thought Moorcock's and Fritz Leiber's influence was paramount - Tolkien's cities all sound like dreadful places to find good ales and wenches. Gygax wrote the Barrier Peaks adventure, with the crashed spaceship in a medieval setting, and that blew my mind when I was a kid. Then I read the same idea in Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer and it didn't seem to novel. But Gygax also wrote that the Borderlands module, which *just* *kept* *killing* *me*. I think I re-rolled around five characters to get through that damn thing. As the years have gone on and entire generations have been reared on "Fantasy-Lite", aka Epic Pooh, its subtle pastoralist racism has infected most of the larger fantasy franchises. But Gygax's 1970s and 1980s modules are classic period pieces.

There's still Glorantha...
posted by meehawl at 3:57 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by porpoise at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2008


It's amazing how much influence this man had on my life:

D&D --> MUD --> Magic --> WOW

.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:10 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]



D&D --> MUD --> Magic --> Every other MPORG
posted by deano5678 at 4:15 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never played, but quite a few of my friends and family members did, and reading through this thread made me tear up many, many times. From an outside perspective, it seems like it's all about storytelling, interaction, and community; he created something that brings people together in a profound way. And he did it all with silly names and exaggerated drawings and complicated math. Brilliant.
posted by dizziest at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by schyler523 at 4:35 PM on March 4, 2008


I can't believe I joined so I could post in an obit, but --

Not so long ago, a little boy, annoyed to discover that they had no intention of teaching him how to read in kindergarten, picked up his big brother's 1st edition Player's Handbook and...

.

Thanks, man.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:35 PM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


.

I was introduced to the game by my cousin at the age of seven or eight, and by the time I was ten had become the de-facto DM for our group (that would be 1982).

My early lesson was as I got to middle school age and always wanted the next new module or book to be released. My father had to sit me down and warn me about the dangers of wanting to have everything just to have it. At the time I was convinced I wanted it all because it was important to me. I think my father was right, but I wish I'd had more focus and realized the other things I could give up to keep my collection complete!

As someone who still plays D&D regularly, we will miss you and be forever thankful for opening for us that power in our mind while still so young.
posted by meinvt at 4:36 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by WalterMitty at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2008


I'm planning on starting a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign in the next two weeks, and while it's not by Gary, it owes it's debt to him, and I owe a debt to him for luring me in with D&D nigh on 16 years ago. So while soon I'll be hounding my players in a "grim world of perilous adventure," this weekend (and 9 hells, maybe tongiht,) I'm going to be running a little dungeon action for Gary.


.
posted by Snyder at 4:43 PM on March 4, 2008


It saddens me that he had to hurry up and get buried so he can start spinning when 4th edition comes out in June.
posted by Megafly at 4:48 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someone way upthread linked to the Believer article about Gygax that taught me something I'd never known about Gygax:

Pull out your copy of the original AD&D players' handbook (and don't try to tell me you don't have it, either) and look at the front cover.

See the guy prying the gen out of the idol's head? See his face? Gygax. See the guy helping him? Also Gygax. See the guy cleaning his sword at the bottom of the picture? Yeah, him too.

Turn over the book. See all those guys? All Gygax.

Now, I'm not shocked I never knew they were all Gygax, but how did I NEVER notice, in all my years of owning this book (26? 27? Something like that, anyway) that it was all the same guy?


.
posted by dersins at 5:02 PM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


/pours a bag of polyhedral dice on the ground for his dead homie.
posted by the_bone at 5:06 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by nuala at 5:06 PM on March 4, 2008


I've never gamed when I was a kid. I was too busy hanging out in the practice rooms with my fellow orchestra/band nerds working on competition pieces. That was my obsession during my formative years. But the stories you all are telling are really making me wish I had. I get the feeling it's something I would have loved. But you don't need to be a gamer to understand the immense influence Gygax had on my generation (and the ones following it.) R.I.P., Gary.
posted by LeeJay at 5:06 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Lafe at 5:07 PM on March 4, 2008


"I've" should be "I" obviously.
posted by LeeJay at 5:07 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Mach5 at 5:13 PM on March 4, 2008


I'm planning on starting a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign in the next two weeks

*crosses fingers*
"checks profile*

Tuscon! Damn!
posted by JaredSeth at 5:13 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good thing he went out like any D&D player would have wanted...slayed by a horde of orcs in the mines of Ezkar'naresh. We should be so lucky.
posted by baphomet at 5:16 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Man.

Moonson the Ranger woke from his 20 year sleep and loosed an arrow into the void.

Thanks for giving me friends in jr high, Gary.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:20 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by armage at 5:29 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by griffey at 5:34 PM on March 4, 2008


At > 200 comments, this is more for me than anyone else here. But you made me very happy, Gary. I'm sorry for your passing, and I hope that you had some sense of the joy that you brought to so many people.
posted by bonecrusher at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


He made us all vikings.
posted by rokusan at 5:57 PM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


.

I played some angband today, while reading this thread at work. As it was the descendent of his brainchild, it seemed apropos. The next character I play may have to be named Gygax....
posted by kalimac at 6:09 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by sciatica at 6:15 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:17 PM on March 4, 2008


.

I'm a fairly promiscuous favoriter most of the time, but damn if this thread hasn't caused me to set a new personal record.
posted by JHarris at 6:17 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


thanotopsis - such a great comment - and suddenly I totally remember what it was like to be 14 again. And yes, I had to cry a bit too.

I didn't recognize Gygax's name, but once I started reading I realize how much he's influenced much of how I spend my free time.

On the wikipedia page:

"Another of Gary Gygax's creations was Dragon chess, a three-dimensional fantasy chess variant, published in Dragon Magazine #100 (August 1985). It is played on three 8x12 boards stacked on top of each other - the top board represents the sky, the middle is the ground, and the bottom is the underworld. The pieces are characters and monsters inspired by the Dungeons and Dragons setting: King, Mage, Paladin, Cleric, Dragon, Griffin, Oliphant, Hero, Thief, Elemental, Basilisk, Unicorn, Dwarf, Sylph and Warrior."

Did anyone ever play that? I'm completely fascinated by the idea.
And thank you so much for this thread - this is exactly what I love about MeFi.
Tomorrow I will wear my mismatched D&D dice earrings.
posted by batgrlHG at 6:19 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

I owe Gary Gygax more than I will always readily admit.

You know, I see quite a few citations of how Gygax could be a bit of a jerk. Maybe so.

But I can't help but remember the one and only time I met Julius Schwartz. Schwartz was the DC Comics editor who ushered in the Silver Age, introducing all of us to Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, Ray Palmer as The Atom and Barry Allen as The Flash. But when I met the man at a sci-fi convention a few years back, he was rude, cantankerous and maybe a little hungry. He was looking for the banquet hall and nobody was helping him quick enough and didn't we all realize who he was?!?

But none of that takes away from the fact that Schwartz was an absolute genius whose work changed his field of study and occupation for the better and forever. And that work and those characters will be remembered for far longer and by far more people that this former convention volunteer who had the misfortune to come between Julie and dinner.

Same goes for Gygax, I'm thinking.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:22 PM on March 4, 2008


I finally joined Metafilter today just to submit this but forgot about the one week rule for submissions.

I, for one, will always be grateful to Gary for creating a rich and open world where I could play without leaving the house. I could be a hero, a villain or a rogue. I could be a god or a monster. I could be me.

Most people scoff at the mention of D&D because of the people who play it. We often sit on the sidelines of popular society as the smart, loner kid who always wrote in “that damn journal”. We were more concerned with the effects of Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter than with batting averages or the Final Four. We spent more time with Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound than around the keg and, you know what, we are all the better for it.

Thanks Gary. Save a space at the big gaming table for us. We’ll bring our own dice.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 6:24 PM on March 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry, JaredSeth...I do plan on moving out back east again, someday. Though your post gives me an idea.
posted by Snyder at 6:28 PM on March 4, 2008


Also
cavalier: "I guess why I'm one of those types who keeps trying to make the game more special by, you know, kiting bosses to cities."

Please please please keep doing that!!! Even if the giant thing kills me and I'm the first to die - I will forever love it when that happens. A good day is when monsters are rampaging around a city and everyone is running around totally confused and loving it.

And I'm all very jealous that you folks had friends to play tabletop games with. I owned at least one - that I read all the rules for and tried to play against imaginary friends - but didn't know anyone who'd play that kind of thing with me until I was in college. Having similarly geeky friends in elementary school or high school would have been a cool thing.
posted by batgrlHG at 6:30 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tribute strip from the always fabulous Order of the Stick
posted by anastasiav at 6:34 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


D&D got me friends, good intelligent people with many interests. It taught me to be bold, as I played my barbarian. I made a character I wanted to be, and slowly became more like her. D&D taught me to be good, to hold to my ethics, even when it wasn't in my favor. It taught me to be someone else, to act and to use my imagination.

Thank you. I play every week, D&D, White Wolf, many others. I probably won't ever stop. Even now it helps me make friends and makes me happy.
posted by stoneegg21 at 6:52 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gary Gygax gave me a world for my daydreams.

Right now I imagine him in a keep on the borderlands, readying a crew to plunder the Caves of Chaos of gold and glory. I guess he's there every time anyone starts playing his game. That's how to become immortal.

It's either that, or loaded dice and a friendly DM.

Thanks, Mr. Gygax.
posted by breezeway at 6:55 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by dr. moot at 7:06 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by tranquileye at 7:09 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Shoggoth at 7:09 PM on March 4, 2008


.
He taught me how to dream.
posted by SageLeVoid at 7:14 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It feels so strange to be shedding tears for someone I never had the chance to meet in person, and yet Gary Gygax had such a profound influence on my life.

Because of my involvement with D&D, I formed some of the most important and supportive friendships of my early 20s with my gaming buddies. Because of it, I got two great jobs working as the "gamer girl" at Hobbyworld and Valet D'Coeur in Montreal, which also led to some amazing friendships that still exist to this day.

Because of my involvement with D&D and my artistic/creative streak, I made friends and eventually became a Canadian artistic representative for some of the best D&D artists from TSR and Dragon magazine -- Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, Jeff Easley, Diesel, and Denis Beauvais. For a gamer/artist chick in her mid-20s, making the pilgrimage to the Gencon art show and wearing a TSR badge was an overwhelming honour, exceeded only by several annual visits to the artist studio at TSR in Lake Geneva.

In honour of my D&D heritage, I wore my first costume at Maplecon in 1985; it was my gaming character "Peregrin the Mercenary" and it won "Best Novice". I eventually went on to become a Master level costumer in the International Costumers Guild.

And so, it is with great sadness that Peregrin steps out of a 20 year retirement to string her bow once again, and lets loose one last flaming arrow over the waters of Lake Geneva in memoriam to a man who touched many more hearts than he would ever know...

RIP Gary Gygax.

.
posted by Jade Dragon at 7:23 PM on March 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm a tenth-level Vice President!
posted by Eideteker at 7:24 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Now, I'm not shocked I never knew they were all Gygax, but how did I NEVER notice, in all my years of owning this book (26? 27? Something like that, anyway) that it was all the same guy?"

Holy Crap, that's news to me. I never noticed that until I just read this. Wow. So who's the guy with curly red hair and the purple robed wizard with the long beard (yeah, that's right, I've got serious nerd street cred)

Y'know, I think, and Ive always thought, this stigma nerd/geekdom has is
ill placed.
There's a photo (in some photo history of space exploration I saw) of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Gene Kranz all in civilian dress - pocket protectors, button down shirts, chinos. They're all sort of chortling about something. Styleless hair (Kranz has the Dept. of Defense squared off crewcut you can set your watch to).
Big doofy grins. Horsey teeth sticking out.
Big time nerds. Squares. Geeks.
And they were either the first men on the moon or involved in putting the first men on the moon. And did some of the most dangerous and courageous work in the world (test
pilot, etc. etc.) before that.
But apparently some people would rather fit in at parties. Yeah, good luck
with that. Big future there.
(Social conformity will get you laid. To the moon, not so much).

And it wasn't so long ago people made fun (albeit in hushed tones or from
afar) of folks who liked to lift weights. Freaks or narcissists. God forbid
you take an interest in diet and exercise habits.
(Hell, look at some of the old Jack LaLanne t.v. stuff - the man's
practically groveling, just to make a case for people doing some friggin'
sit ups. Of course, he's a bit of a nut today with the juicer, but such is
marketing.)

I figure if I don't rag on some guy for being into mathematics and
engineering folks won't give me crap for hanging out in the gym (and he
won't send his army of robots to annihilate my neighborhood once he gets
funding).

Not so sure about the hating on Tolkien. Not the same flavor, but same spirit. And the introduction for the American version of LOTR (with apologies to Peter S. Beagle) can almost serve as an epitaph for Gygax -

It was a barren era for fantasy, among other things, but a good time for cherishing slighted treasures and mysterious passwords...they were the years when millions of people grew aware that the industrial society had become paradoxically unlivable, incalculably immoral, and ultimately deadly.

In terms of passwords they were the times when the word progress lost its ancient holiness and escape stopped being comically obscene. Lovers of fantasy want to go there. I myself would, like a shot.

For in the end it is those fantasy worlds and their dwellers that we love, not the creator's considerable gifts in showing it to us. The worlds he charted were there long before him.

He was a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fantasies, but he never invented them either; he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world.

We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.

RIP man. Thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:26 PM on March 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


THAT'S IT. I am soooo getting a group together.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:28 PM on March 4, 2008


Some links for anyone reading down this far: You've never had fun until you've hit a friend who had transformed into an ice elemental with a train that you had sitting in your bag of holding from the time you opened a dimension door (with your dimension doorknob) inside it. I hit him so hard, he flew across the continent. (I'm obviously a hybrid loony/brain role player.)
posted by Eideteker at 7:30 PM on March 4, 2008


In Nomine

I think I looked at that in it's GURPS version.

It's amazing how many games GURPS has eaten up, including old clasics from back in the day such as Traveller and, um, Bunnies and Burrows. I think someones done a homebrew Gamma World.
posted by Artw at 7:46 PM on March 4, 2008


Oh lordy, theres an actual official d20 Gamma World.

In the end d20 and GURPS will just eat everything.
posted by Artw at 7:56 PM on March 4, 2008


d20 can bite my shiny dwarven ass.

*eyes lucky-crit 20. gives it a "no! not you" smile*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:07 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't Dungeons and Dragons basically just d20 now?
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on March 4, 2008


I like to say comic books, rather than school, taught me to read

Gary taught me math, and problem-solving, and a good deal about personal relations. He taught me to write. And he & the comics together taught me myth.

This makes me very sad.


.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:10 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


One of the best games I'd ever DM'ed actually occurred near the middle of an adventure we'd been doing for about 14 months or so. I'd thrown some hard stuff at them, and some good puzzles and they were relaxing at The Hub - the self-proclaimed "centre" of the Astral Plane. They're cocky (in a level 14 sort-of-way) and feeling good, and threatening lower-level NPC's for kicks, you know like you do at that level. They eventually tire of it and leave, and decide to travel to some of the far curtains. Thanks to an expensive, but effective, super-speed spell, they find themselves in front of a strange curtain (which are gateways between realms) that the guide doesn't recognise. The curtain is stained-chrome in colour, and the guys forgot my warning from a few weeks back about screwing around with dimensional gates that don't match any known configuration.
Basically, they go through into the realm of the Great Old Ones. Twenty minutes of gameplay and a couple of dumb mistakes later, they're >this< far from getting FUBAR'ed, and they *know* I'll slay their characters if they're not really lucky. They run like schoolkids and some things start following them.

Then they fail a roll for "not being noticed by Hastur."

They freak.
For real.
Ari and Eric are yelling at each other trying to determine the best course of action, Kev's desperately looking through the rule books trying to find a loophole, telling everyone to shut the hell up so he can think, and Mick's just walking around the room holding his head, going, "Oh man, oh shit, oh man..." They'd gotten themselves so deep into the story that I'd been telling that the Nightgaunts (and what was following) might as well have been coming for them in real life because they were their characters at that point in time.
They got stupendously lucky, and lived, btw.

It's a transcendent moment like that you realise that Imagination is King, and everyone's having the time of their life because of it. Without Mr. Gygax's imagination, we'd just be watching TV or something. So yeah, thanks Gary, and farewell.
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:18 PM on March 4, 2008 [22 favorites]



Robilar commented as they mounted: "It seems that you have a spell for almost every occasion."
Mordenkainen laughed: "And when I don't, I have you!"
They both laughed heartily; and spurring their horses they rode south.
Sweet dreams, Mordenkainen.

.
posted by fleacircus at 8:23 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by ikahime at 8:24 PM on March 4, 2008


Isn't Dungeons and Dragons basically just d20 now?

Yup. Strict d20 systems make me sad.

It's a transcendent moment like that you realise that Imagination is King

That is sweet. I have maybe a dozen memories like that over some 20 years of playing. They're magic to remember. Like your favorite movie, except, well, you were starring in it, kid.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by phaded at 8:50 PM on March 4, 2008


Gary taught me math

Damn. I forgot about that in my original post. I struggled mightily with Algebra in the seventh grade. Some of the negative number stuff never really clicked until I related it to armor class.
posted by Cyrano at 9:07 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by SPrintF at 9:07 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:08 PM on March 4, 2008


Ever beat off to Blibdoolpoolp?

According to wikipedia:
The first edition Monster Manual is also famous for the topless portrayals of its female monsters, such as the succubus and Type V demons, the lamia, the sylph, among others. The casual depiction of female nudity is a hallmark of first edition Dungeons and Dragons art.
Which reminds me..

Dude, succubus!
posted by Chuckles at 9:10 PM on March 4, 2008


For some reason, this hit me surprisingly hard. It's almost impossible to overstate the impact that man had on world culture and a generation of creative people and computer programmers.
posted by empath at 9:15 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm really looking forward to what will surely be a vast number of remembrances and retrospectives from lots of very famous and less famous people about what AD&D meant to them.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on March 4, 2008


Thank you, Gary.

From the first day I ever played, back in the gym in 7th grade in 1979, your creation was a major part of my both my inner and outer life.

You inspired me to study deeply, read widely, write creatively, play imaginatively, socialize with abandon, plan intently, draw and design and create and generally develop a richer enjoyment of worlds both concrete and imaginary.

In my mind, every character -- players and NPCs, heroes and villains -- I've ever created and portrayed, hundreds of them, gather together tonight on the village green to have a feast in your honor, toasting your memory and recounting the exciting, frightening, agonizing, fun and awesome adventures they've been through, all because of the incredible amalgam of your imagination and mine. Archetypal battles, epic quests and simple chores alike are all put on hold so protagonists and antagonists all can celebrate you.

Thank you, Gary, and may you rest in peace, crowned in the glory of all you have done and been for so many.
posted by darkstar at 9:52 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of spooked by the number of people in this thread who said they were wearing all black today despite it not being their "normal mode of dress." I, too, am ordinarily a pretty colorful guy, but today, for reasons I cannot explain, I was rocking a solid black outfit, from head to toe. Creepy.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:00 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


LIke that time a bunch of level 2 characters killed 40 orcs in a single round with a bottle of greek fire oil, a web spell, and a flare arrow ....

... like that time one of the characters didn't speak to the rest of the party for the first two sessions ...

... like that time we had a party of evil/crazy characters who had paranoia complexes and didn't share a common language, so you had no idea what that other guy really said ...

... like that time when the DM got pissed off that we were finding it too easy, and that dire spider suddenly went from being 'large' to being 'gargantuan' and I suddenly lost half my hitpoints ...

... like that time when my level 1 elven wizard was the only survivor of an encounter with a bunch of fire beetles ...

... like all those times we looked up, and it was light outside, and we went 'oops'.

Thank you, Gygax. I'll run a Tomb of Horrors dungeon in your memory.
posted by ysabet at 10:15 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've been playing D&D and D&D derivatives since 8th grade, up through WoW last night. Needless to say, Gary's had a big influence on my life, and will be missed.
posted by blm at 10:17 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are some amazing posts here that have really moved me in reading them. For some smiles, here's a series of Famous Last Words that'll be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in D&D and RPG's. Sure, it goes on for a while, but the spirit is still there. "I go through the door... Wait, I check for traps!"
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:19 PM on March 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought he'd already passed. Condolences.
posted by Busithoth at 10:47 PM on March 4, 2008


Smedleyman, I am printing that and hanging it up on my door.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 10:54 PM on March 4, 2008


Zack, there is no way that that list should be that entertaining. I should force myself not to read the whole page all at once, but I can't.

title page | authors
0001-0250 | 0251-0500
0501-0750 | 0751-1000
1001-1250 | 1251-1500
1501-1707

Mother of god.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:21 PM on March 4, 2008


.
posted by Lex Tangible at 12:34 AM on March 5, 2008


What everyone else said, plus: He reassured me that, in its deepest nature, a world of fears and hopes and heroism could all be math - .
posted by ewkpates at 12:42 AM on March 5, 2008


"He went to that great Module in the sky" -- Tom Scharpling
posted by melorama at 1:31 AM on March 5, 2008


.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:58 AM on March 5, 2008


watch out - ORCS!

.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:10 AM on March 5, 2008


.
posted by Jilder at 4:20 AM on March 5, 2008


Glad to see this thread is still going strong.

There's a local D&D game starting up again in Greenville SC (closest city) and I'm strongly considering the 30 mile drive now.
posted by schwa at 4:40 AM on March 5, 2008


I interviewed Gary in 83 or 84, for my fanzine-so-bad-I-no-longer-speak-its-name, and he was courteous and funny to a teenager who was, frankly, a really bad interviewer with a list of questions he must have answered a thousand times.

Some fifteen years later he and I had a big argument in email about whether my Baron Munchausen RPG was in fact an RPG or some other new form of storytelling game, which I think I won by reminding him that the original release of D&D was described as a wargame.

Gary was my DM in the game of life.
posted by Hogshead at 4:45 AM on March 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still remember when Gary was on the Tom Snyder show in the early 80's. I called all the members of my gaming group on the phone even though it was 1 in the morning.

A great loss.
posted by mfoight at 6:20 AM on March 5, 2008


"I'm kind of spooked by the number of people in this thread who said they were wearing all black today despite it not being their "normal mode of dress." I, too, am ordinarily a pretty colorful guy, but today, for reasons I cannot explain, I was rocking a solid black outfit, from head to toe. Creepy."

I'm wearing all black by coincidence. I've got a flannel shirt on over my black t-shirt though. Does that make it more or less apropos?

From ZR's link:
250. "You racist! They're elves. So what if they're black?"

I had fun with this early in my role-playing career. Since I'm half-black myself, I created (with the same friend I had earlier hit with the train) a pair of half-elven brothers that were black on their human side. And regular half-elves think they're outcasts? Please.
posted by Eideteker at 6:48 AM on March 5, 2008


Good times, great memories. Rest in peace.
posted by Calebos at 6:59 AM on March 5, 2008


A good friend, in an email letting me know about Gygax's death, described him as "the architect of our adolescence."

.
posted by wheat at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2008


I got into D&D sometime in 4th or 5th grade, and played all the way through college. I sucked as a DM, but I loved playing.

When my uncle found out I was playing, he gave me all the manuals that he had (2nd cover...dragon vs. pegasi ftw!), as he, in his early 20s, had recently retired from playing. He had a character that he'd been playing for years which had recently died and it took the wind out of his sails.

I quickly made friends with people who had this and especially this and this and this and this and I spent hours pouring through them. My previous fascinations with dinosaurs and Greek mythology rolled up into one system where I could interact with such things, and more? There is no better present.

I remember impromptu games at a friend's house, or a friend's neighbor's house. We had a steady group from high school through college, playing two long campaigns. I remember how much I loved my chaotic good dwarf fighter; I remember how B loved playing paladins, just so he could constantly detect evil in a 20' radius when he wasn't flirting with barmaids, before falling asleep and we'd have to lug his unconscious body around for the rest of the night; I remember getting knifed in the back by Jackson when he rolled a 1 on a knife throw; I remember going on scavenger hunts for dying dragons and fighting armies of the undead. I have so many great memories of things that never happened.

Thanks for helping bring this to the world, Mr. Gygax. Every bag of holding joke I make, I owe to you.
posted by m0nm0n at 7:24 AM on March 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 7:48 AM on March 5, 2008


My big eye-opening lesson from D&D was that monsters were for slaying, not running away from. Thanks, Gary.
.
posted by whuppy at 7:50 AM on March 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


According to Troll Lord, email to InMemoryOfGaryGygax@gmail.com is the best way to send condolences to the Gygax family.
posted by castironskillet at 7:50 AM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was in the 5th grade when I first encountered D&D, and played off- and on- again all the way through college. I loved it, but it was hard to find players who wanted to stick to a regular gaming schedule. Me and my two best buddies in college decided that we would run a 3-man game and rotate the GM duties so we could have a real campaign. It worked well for the first two sessions, and then the guy who was running the 3rd session never did. Bastard.

A few years later, after graduating and joining the Navy, I was sent home on a shore rotation while my wife underwent treatment for her cancer. After hearing my story (wife has cancer, stuck in a city where we didn't know anyone, etc) the group that gamed at my comic shop let me sit in with them.

It was amazing - we gamed every Sunday, rain or shine, and even on holidays! They had been playing for years together, and I dropped into a fabulously detailed game with plenty of backstory and history and achievements. They introduced me to the the HERO system and Rolemaster. Those guys (pedantic, over-educated nerds just like me) and our games got me through a very tough part of my life.

I made fast friends in that room, and a few of them are still a daily part of my life. For the last five years, I've been the GM for our Rolemaster game (set in a heavily modified Forgotten Realms setting) and my buddy Scott recently starting his homebrewed HERO setting for us, so that I can play again.

My 9 year old son got his first run last Sunday. His elven ranger investigated a report of monsters harassing a farm on the border. He killed his first kobold, and drove the other two off. He's been pestering me ever since to run another session for him. Thanks for all of it, Gary!
posted by Irontom at 8:15 AM on March 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


.
posted by strangememes at 10:05 AM on March 5, 2008


.

Vonnegut last spring, Gygax now...somebody put 24-hour bodyguards on Dave Mustaine before I lose the entirety of my high-school rebellion in less than a year.

I haven't played since Grade 12, but D&D was pretty much high school to me. Every Sunday, six of us would pack into my buddy Chris' filthy basement, consuming massive amounts of popcorn and iced tea and waging war against the trolls and dragons of some made-up, impossible world. I still have my character sheets somewhere: Rothar the Spherical Monk (a morbidly obese dwarf with about a bajillion ranks in Jump), Stavro the Ice Wizard...man, those were the days.

My prom date and first kiss? I met her through D&D.

My abiding loves for mythology, writing and weird words? D&D.

Having friends who'd still talk to me after my SSRI-addled pseudo-goth younger self tried to jump off a parking garage in an attempt to silence all the voices in my head? Yup, D&D.

Thanks for the escape I needed, Mr. Gygax. May you have nothing but natural 20s and +5 loot on the highest layer of Celestia.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:16 AM on March 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is it even worth adding to such a long comment thread?

I bought that original blue box back in the early 80s and my junior high's roleplaying group was the only highlight of a time when life was nothing but bully beatings, humiliation, and no real friends. In that one classroom after school on Wednesdays, I belonged.

Mr. Gygax, I can easy credit you as keeping this young boy from committing suicide all those years ago. And even to this day, I still play (looking forward to 4th edition this summer). thank you thank you thank you. I love nothing more than those weekend hours having grand adventures. My imagination is better because of you. (gosh, I could talk about AD&D's influence on my life all day)

When I meet Orcus, I will scream your name as a battle cry.

.
posted by Dantien at 10:18 AM on March 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I haven't played since I was around 13. But I used to write long extensive module and campaign ideas out on an old typewriter from age 10 to about 16. Pages and pages. I became a better writer by doing this, and it took D&D to spark me to do it.

Plus I have great memories of painting lead figures for hours on end.

Thanks, Gary.

.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:24 AM on March 5, 2008


I've been away traveling on business so I missed this news until now. How awful and sad. A legend, gone forever.

.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:45 AM on March 5, 2008


I grew up in a sleepy suburb about an hour outside of NYC, and my friends and I would often hop on the Metro North train into Manhattan for the day. A trip was not complete without a stop into The Compleat Strategist, which, according to google, is exactly where we left it, and still chugging along, lo these ... ahem ... many, many years later. I think back on the fact that we could have spent our money on more thrilling things than little lead figures and acrylic polyhedron dice... I think back on the hours and hours my friends and I spent focussed on the malevolent soap opera our psychotic DM friend put us through. I also recall all the preachers, teachers, and other finger-wagging moral guides who shook their fingers and said we were in for eternal damnation for playing this "demonic game."

I guess I'll see you in Hell, Gary.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:03 PM on March 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


D&D kick started my imagination which in turn has ensured my life is rich with experience and possibility. Thanks for sharing your dreams and allowing us to share ours.
.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2008


Dave Faris: The Compleat Strategist, which, according to google, is exactly where we left it

Unfortunately, they haven't cleaned since then, either, and the staff still haven't learned basic interpersonal skills. They had a nicer outpost by Columbus Circle, but it closed a while back.
posted by mkultra at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


In junior high I got hold of the rulebooks. I was mostly a video gamer, but read the rulebooks cover to cover because seeing the mechanics of a game system laid bare was completely engrossing, all those beautiful rules interacting with and affecting one another. Then I found used copies of the CoC rulebooks and read those over and over. I never ran or participated in a campaign though.

I laid out dungeons on grid paper with detailed story notes. Pretty soon I started making my own systems, again, never showing them to anybody else. Then I picked up World Builder for my Mac LCIII and discovered I could make it all happen there on the screen, and share adventures with other without actually having to meet them.

Too socially awkward for D&D, oh man. Well, thanks Gary for helping me learn how to turn numbers into experiences, even if I never really did play your game.
posted by Durhey at 12:21 PM on March 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Gary Gygax, Game Pioneer, Dies at 69 (NY Times Obit)
posted by anastasiav at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


My friend Bruce and I, being the jaded 14 year olds that we were, spent most of our French class playing DnD. I think it was a Greyhawk adventure. Yesterday I was complimented on dndonline for being part of a nearly 3 year running game. Then I found out that the father of DnD had died. Thanks, Gary. I may not remember much French but I'm still gaming.
posted by Hugonaut at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2008


This is a delightful, touching, amazing thread.

.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:37 PM on March 5, 2008


He did so much for so many for so little. I wish I could have played in his game once.
posted by clockworkjoe at 2:42 PM on March 5, 2008


Add another MeFite to the ranks of those whose life was shaped largely by role playing games, and AD&D specifically. IMy elven Magic-User casts a Mordenkainen's Moment of Silence spell.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:23 PM on March 5, 2008


This thread has been so touching!

My only D&D experience involved playing Lady Rae ir'Terokin in a third edition game based on Dynasty of all things - "The four-legged infernal chicken almost killed the Warforged!"

Thank you for many drunken Sunday afternoons, Mr. Gygax. It's amazing how many lives you touched.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:01 PM on March 5, 2008


The Onion chimes in.
posted by XMLicious at 12:55 AM on March 6, 2008


.
posted by joedan at 1:22 AM on March 6, 2008


Been playing D&D since 1985, RIP Gary.

.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:10 AM on March 6, 2008


I had my own ratty photocopied version of the Monster Manual, but, lacking the essential tomes, didn't know how to play the game. I just knew I possessed something incredibly awesome. When i saw my first set of gaming dice in 1988, I was entranced. The fact that dice weren't trapped to 6-sides blew my brain, and then I played my first game...

Thank you for teaching me that if it can be imagined, it can be quantified, classified and tested.

Thank you for introducing me to the collective unconscious, the Outer Planes, where all mythologies co-exist. There is no right or wrong answer to the divine questions, just endless possibilities.

Thank you for asking the questions which lead me to question myself and my place in the world, I didn't have the vocabulary to describe my personality until I discovered "Chaotic/Good".

.

thank you for allowing mefi to come together to share these wonderful memories! you lot are making me weep
posted by elphTeq at 5:54 AM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's a collection of D&D comic ads which ran in in the early eighties, mostly drawn by some dude named Willingham. I remember trying to find them all so I could read them in sequence, but only had the first two and last three. Via swell guy Mike Sterling.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2008


Quar Endolari, 8th Level Cleric of Sif, pays his final respects to the ultimate Dungeon Master.
posted by SEO Catfish at 10:43 AM on March 6, 2008


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:52 AM on March 6, 2008


.
posted by BT at 11:09 AM on March 6, 2008


Thank you for asking the questions which lead me to question myself and my place in the world, I didn't have the vocabulary to describe my personality until I discovered "Chaotic/Good".

That's what the American political scene needs, some good old Gygax alignment terminology! We need to switch “liberal” to “chaotic” and “conservative” to “lawful”. But I can't decide if Dick Cheney would really be Lawful Evil or just Neutral Evil.
posted by XMLicious at 3:56 PM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I gotta go get my D20 and rub it on his body before they bury him.

I'll always remember Gygax. I have a signed copy of the Lejendary Adventures LM guide, and it's obvious that the man himself sat down and hand-signed every last copy. I emailed him once, and he sent me an email back, personally responding to my questions about the game... not just some damn form letter.

I think that's what I'll remember most. He actually cared for and loved the game, and didn't just try to cash in.

.
posted by triolus at 4:12 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Mitheral at 9:13 PM on March 6, 2008


xkcd tribute
posted by sveskemus at 4:34 AM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I didn't discover D&D until after college (although I LOVED the short-lived cartoon when I was little kid), when C, my then-boyfriend-now-husband got me playing. We played Advanced 2nd Edition for a few years, mostly with a group that featured a co-worker of ours, two of her teenage sons, and one son friend. For a long time, we played in the Children's museum where three of us worked, after hours!

When C got bored (frustrated?) with DMing, I took over mid-game, and the whole party emerged from the dungeon to find themselves in an entirely different world. :) We played in my little world for a long time.

Then several years later, we picked it up again with a group of friends that C had known since he was a kid. They'd all played in junior high & high school, and had funny stories about games from those days. We play 3rd Edition. It's probably heresy, but I prefer it to 2nd Ed.

We took a break about a year ago, after, um...a big fight at the end of a day-long game, when the minotaur rolled a natural 20 and the guy with the big fighter got pissed. We keep talking about playing "soon" and maybe that should be even sooner, just as a tribute.

I still remember the first character I played, sitting in C's friend's basement apartment, along with the co-worker mentioned above: Joan the Druid. L's character in that game ended up being most famous, though, the evil dwarf Perstorp Zytek, who was named after a plastic factory where C worked for one day and came home with a horrific rash. Perstorp (the dwarf) ended up finding an unending bowl of blood. I still shudder thinking about it. ;)

.
posted by epersonae at 6:23 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it would be safe to say that my social life would not be as rich, and my friends not so numerous, if it were not for Role Playing Games. And I'm not talking fair-weather friends, 'just game' friends (though I have lots of those too). Because of D&D, I met numerous wonderful people who helped me break out of my shell, who stood by my during my divorce, and are there for me when I need them...and let me help them when I can.

D&D is for nerds and geeks? Sure, yeah, I'm a geek. But I have a social life, and I don't think I would have if it weren't for a hobby involving funny dice and sitting around a table imagining at people.

Thank you Gary.
posted by sandraregina at 6:51 AM on March 7, 2008


Steve Jackson on Gygax.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on March 7, 2008


Reading ALL of this brought back some interesting memories for me. I started on the original 3 brown digest sized books and looked forward with excitement to the Blue Book set, in 1977. I think I still have the brown books someplace but the 1977 box is long gone.

Reviewing the publication dates and my experiences, I think I must have had first editions of all the AD&D books too. I remember saving for them and excitedly following projected release dates in The Dragon (which also had previews of other TSR games, and occasional complete ones, such as 'The Monster that Ate Hoboken'). Ah, man.

All that kept up until 1982 for me, six years, I guess. By then it was far more interesting to sneak out at night to go over to a girl's house, something I never would have had the balls to try if not for D&D.

I do still have one or two obsessively painted minifigs - there was even a company, Ta-Hr, in my hometown that produced them for a while. I visited their foundry a couple of times, thinking about learning how to sculpt the little figures. I might still have one or two of the obsessively copied and redrawn at large scale pencil drawings I did of some of the monsters from the Monster Manual, such as the Lich King. I was totally fascinated by much of the illustrative art in the first edition.

I think the use of art in those early editions is directly related to the game's success.

Cortex, it's interesting to me that Magic is your D&D, as I beta tested the game up here in Seattle. During the first game I played with Peter and some of the other founders of WotC, I was really interested in the art they had on the cards, and it seems to me that we discussed the role of the art in the early D&D books. I still have that beta deck, but it is beat, lemme tell ya.
posted by mwhybark at 10:24 PM on March 8, 2008


NY Times Op-ed today:
Today millions of people are slaves to Gary Gygax. They play EverQuest and World of Warcraft, and someone must still be hanging out in Second Life. (That “massively multiplayer” computer traffic, by the way, also helped drive the development of the sort of huge server clouds that power Google.)

But that’s just gaming culture, more pervasive than it was in 1974 when Dungeons & Dragons was created and certainly more profitable — today it’s estimated to be a $40 billion-a-year business — but still a little bit nerdy. Delete the dragon-slaying, though, and you’re left with something much more mainstream: Facebook, a vast, interconnected universe populated by avatars.

Facebook and other social networks ask people to create a character — one based on the user, sure, but still a distinct entity. Your character then builds relationships by connecting to other characters. Like Dungeons & Dragons, this is not a competitive game. There’s no way to win. You just play.
posted by octothorpe at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm... bit of a stretch.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on March 9, 2008


Doubting the technical accuracy of this diagram
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on March 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sam Potts is displaying cavalier disregard for conventional flow-chart semiotics.
posted by cortex at 2:01 PM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I see you made it to the lower left corner, cortex.
posted by vacapinta at 4:52 PM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's my 11-year old's spring break and he & his best friend been looking forward for a month to killing Keraptis (Ka - raptor, ka being the winged spirit of self from Egypt. Etymology mine.)

Through the generations...
posted by dragonsi55 at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


God rest his awesome soul.

.
posted by billypilgrim at 6:28 PM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by JimmyJames at 8:35 PM on March 10, 2008


I had some Hobgoblin Ale tonight. The art is straight-up D&D shit. I will scan the label some time soon.
posted by cortex at 11:15 PM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wired article.
posted by dersins at 10:58 AM on March 11, 2008


The backlash... And with the entire industry continuing to collapse in the face of online gaming, this might be the last chance to see Gygax for what he was—an unrepentant hack, more Michael Bay than Ingmar Bergman.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:11 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh. On a related note, Citizen Kane isn't even in color wtf! And Newton was waaaaay off on quantum physics.
posted by cortex at 1:21 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: mercy doesn't have an experience point value
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought I'd sneak in here, now that most of the traffic's gone and only the Google spiders are watching, to mention that a friend who's senior at Microsoft once reported seeing, among the books on a shelf behind Bill's desk, what was clearly the spine of the 1st-ed AD&D Monster Manual.

You can keep your black polonecks and your what-do-we-do-when-we-run-out-of-cats OSes, I'm sticking with Windows.
posted by Hogshead at 6:46 AM on March 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


AD&D 1st edition inspired me more than anything before or since. I still have DMG, PH, MM, and 1st printing of Deities & Demigods (they're all beat up, but still holding). I also still have S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and bits and pieces of an old milieu I made with several developed adventures. Odd how this doesn't make me feel old, it makes me feel young.

Thanks, Gary (and Dave! the largely unsung and completely cut out) -- you made my life fuller.
posted by owhydididoit at 12:39 AM on March 14, 2008


FearfulSymmetry, while on some levels I agree that D&D/AD&D was a hack from a RPG game design perspective (and still was 2.5 editions later), Gygax deserves a lot of credit for being the first to create a new industry.

What's weird to me is how few of the role-playing games that seem truly well designed get any industry traction. 'Over the Edge', 'Unknown Armies', and 'Chill' all seemed to go nowhere. The only relatively successful games I've enjoyed are 'Call of Cthullu', 'Shadowrun', 'CyberPunk 2020' (although both of those suck if you try and include netrunning), and maybe 'Top Secret'. GURPS always seems like a great idea on paper, but somehow the mechanics of the system seem to interfere with gameplay.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:25 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


'Over the Edge', 'Unknown Armies', and 'Chill' all seemed to go nowhere.

I love Over the Edge. Such a beautifully streamlined system & awesomely weird setting.
posted by juv3nal at 5:45 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just realized that I was unclear when I cited 'Over the Edge', 'Unkown Armies', and 'Chill' as examples of awesomely designed games. By "go nowhere" I meant they didn't get the recognition they deserved.

Also, I hate the overly broad abstraction represented by level based systems. It's like the game designers were to lazy to think about play balance so they impose an arbitrary mechanism to ensure it. In the process they limit the possibilities of their worlds. The myths and epics we remember embrace the concept of sacrifice, but D&D only seems to generate tales that represent grind.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:24 AM on March 16, 2008


.
posted by SemioticRobotic at 7:16 AM on March 17, 2008


I borrowed a freinds copy to flcik through, and 'Unkown Armies' seems like it would be pretty awesome to play. Bit of a tough sell compared with less complex/original RPGs though.
posted by Artw at 9:38 PM on March 21, 2008


As a creative endeavour, Mr Gygax's invented world was deeply unoriginal: he borrowed shamelessly from authors such as Jack Vance, Robert E. Howard and J. R. R. Tolkien. But rather than merely describing these worlds, as their authors had done, his invention—a blend of mathematics, theatre and imagination—allowed his players to live in them. Players built their alter egos by using numbers to represent characteristics such as strength, toughness and intelligence. A “games master” or “dungeon master” would create adventures and provide the opposition—an evil wizard, say, or a manipulative king. A complicated but flexible set of rules allowed players to do almost anything they liked, provided their characters were competent. The crucial element of chance was provided by rolling the game's iconic 20-sided dice.
-The Economist's obituary of Gary Gygax.
posted by Kattullus at 3:17 AM on March 22, 2008


People actually playing Bunnies and Burrows
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wizrds of the Coast has a nice April Fool's Day page today. (link description valid 1 April 2008 only)
posted by dersins at 8:43 AM on April 1, 2008


Gnomes are back! As robots!
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on April 1, 2008


« Older Brilliant bookshelves by color....  |  “Just put your feet up here an... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments