Wednesday, March 05, 2008

R.I.P. Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax died yesterday. He was 69 years old. He was the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons back in the 70s. I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in 1979 when I was 14 and I liked it. I thought it was an original concept. Greg Wegst and Joel Carlton, two of my Pawnee Lane neighbors, were fans of the concept too. Greg served as the first dungeon master. We purchased game booklets, graph paper and special dice at the hobby store on Johnson Drive and conducted forays into the dungeon at my dining room table.

D&D fans brag of marathon games that last for many sessions. I never became a serious D&D gamer. Our interest was casual. We played it for a couple of hours at a time like any other game. Greg wasn't always available and I invested in the accessories. I also remember receiving a D&D adventure booklet as a birthday gift. That must have been 1980. I described the D&D concept in a vivid exchange with my summer camp counselor that year, and he said, "We'll have to play Dungeons & Dragons next year," when I boarded the camp bus for home. Neither of us went back to camp. Oh wasted youth! Or perhaps more accurately, oh wasted opportunity to waste more youth!

I left D&D behind when I got back from camp, but I kept an eye on developments. Many new adventures and supplemental manuals were released like the monster guide (who could forget the gelatinous cube?) and the dungeon master's guide. My little brother played it for a time and so the eight and ten-sided dice found a new home with him.

Dad purchased a PC in 1986 and I bought The Bard's Tale soon after, not an official D&D product, but a worthy RPG. I spent more than a few weekends slaying zombies and orcs with Markus' FrostHorn while Mom did my laundry. Whoa! I was a nerd. But let me say in the strongest possible terms that I never purchased, painted, or collected the figurines. I was too busy bird-doggin' chicks in my sports car. Whew! There's a saving throw.

Cast dis-believe! Okay, so it wasn't a sports car, it was a Japanese pick-up truck, and I never had a tiny velvet drawstring pouch for my dice either.

There's a free flash-based D&D style dungeon adventure called Monster's Den that I recommend for new players and experienced gamers alike. You'll find it, along with many other free games, at Seize this opportunity to slay Storm Drakes, Guardians, and Vampires, especially if you've got somebody to do your laundry.

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