Gary Gygax

Mar. 5th, 2008 08:34 pm
[personal profile] forsyth
Gary Gygax is dead.

I heard about it yesterday, but didn't know what to write. And I'm still not entirely sure. Without Gary Gygax, there's no D&D, and without D&D, I wouldn't be here. I'd probably be somewhere, but not here.

Most of the people reading this I've met through one RP or another, online. I wouldn't have met most of you without the influence of D&D and thereby gaming in general. Most of my friends through school I met because we were gamers, though there were few enough times we actually played D&D, and I never went to cons.

I have the old AD&D books at home, picked up over years of visits to used bookstores through my childhood. There's a milk crate full of D&D adventures I found one happy time at a thrift shop. I think that was where I first ran into D&D. There was this box full of booklets with maps, traps, monsters, treasure, and other things that set my mind racing. I couldn't even have been ten at the time. And one day, treasure of treasures, my dad found an old copy of the first box set three book original Dungeons & Dragons in the basement, one he'd had himself. Including those crappy plastic dice with unpainted numbers. Who'd known my dad had been cool once?

As kids, my brother and I played D&D with my aunt watching over us, when we couldn't stand staying in the hospital room where our grandmother lay dying.

It's really an inextricable part of my childhood, even when I didn't have anybody to play with. But I had the books. The treasures. The heroes. The monsters. The illustrations of monsters with (gasp) boobs.

That's all because of something Gary Gygax started. And then the other games that came forth from that. He gave all of that to all of us. Yes, even the Johnny-come-lately computer gamers. No D&D, no WoW.

I had only one encounter with Gary Gygax, directly. Last millenium, 1997 or 1998, there was an online convention. I don't remember the name, but the PWL (PlanesWalker's League, an old magic online league) had a virtual booth there, and I was an op by then, so I was at the con. And the star guest was one Mr. Gary Gygax. ANd I made an ass of myself, or at least thought I did. I don't remember the question, but I asked something about original D&D and LotR, and what other inspirations he'd had, or something like that. I don't even remember his answer, because a little later on, one of the other PWL folks messaged me saying my question had hurt Mr. Gygax.

In retrospect, I don't think she knew that. And I'm sure he got that kind of question all the time, but I was still young then, and I felt awful. I didn't stick around to see the rest of the interview. That was my closest brush with him. I guess I'll never find out if he got offended, or even cared or remembered that encounter now. But I never got to give him the kind of fanboy thanks that today's Order of the Stick did. And that's too bad.

Goodbye, Gary. So long and thanks for all the dice.
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