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Remembering Gary Gygax, co-creator of D&D

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Guest, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    An article I wrote for my newspaper column that runs on Thursday. Figured some of you might like to read it.

    By Chris Vicari - Geek Speak Columnist for The Whit

    Originally I had an article lined up about the Game Developers Conference that took place in recent weeks but upon hearing the grave news of Gary Gygax’s death, I knew that he needed to be written about. He deserves center stage because his passing is more important than 50 conferences combined and felt by millions across the world.

    As the co-creator of the world famous Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) tabletop game, Gygax’s contributions to the gaming world are vast, numerous, and immense. Gygax had an unfathomable love for games. Without D&D we wouldn’t know what a role-playing game is, hell, the entire RPG industry wouldn’t have existed either. The term “fantasy world” would be something we would only see in our dreams or read about in books by authors like J.R.R Tolkien. Author of dozens of books and creator of a multitude of games, the industry has lost one of its best and most influential.

    Created in 1974 by Gygax and friend Dave Arneson, D&D allows its players to create unique characters like a human mage or dwarf warrior and have them travel on imaginary adventures to various locales like dungeons, castles and other places based within a fantasy setting. The results of choices characters make in the game and the storyline arc is determined by the Dungeon Master, who basically runs the whole game. The game is also played according to the DM’s interpretation of the game rules. “The essence of a role-playing game is that it is a group, cooperative experience,” said Gygax in an interview in 2006. “There is no winning or losing, but rather the value is in the experience of imagining yourself as a character in whatever genre you’re involved in, whether it’s a fantasy game, the Wild West, secret agents or whatever else. You get to sort of vicariously experience those things.”

    Since its release all those decades ago, D&D has taken the world by storm. According to a recent article by The New York Times, D&D has garnered an estimated $1 billion through books and equipment and over 20 million people have partaken in the D&D experience. D&D is also responsible for countless spin-offs in both the tabletop RPG and computer RPG realms as well. Companies like White Wolf Inc., creator of the famous Vampire: The Masquerade RPG, and Black Isle Studios, responsible for games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate series, pay homage to D&D and Gygax because if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have existed.

    In 1967, Gygax organized a 20-person gaming meet in the basement of his home which later became known as “Gen Con 0” and it is where he met Arneson and Brian Blume, a future partner of his company Tactical Studies Rules. This meeting would eventually become the Gen Con gaming convention, the world’s largest annual hobby-game gathering.

    Gygax died the morning of Tuesday, March 4 at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He was 69 and died due to an abdominal aneurysm. Gygax leaves behind six children, seven grandchildren, countless friends and his wife, Gail Carpenter.

    "I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else."

    Farewell and safe travels Mr. Gygax, we will miss you.
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Saving Throw vs. Death = fail.

  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Roll 2 D20 for divine intervention and my cleric begins to pray for resurection!
    fair thee well Gary!
  4. I was really sad to read this. If you think about it, Gary Gygax through his works has influenced all of us via the gaming industry.

    Gary will be missed.

  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I'll never forget the first time I DM'd for my friends, and mucked it up badly.

    But that didn't stop the spark. Then I discovered Ultima, and well, I think all of us will miss this great influence to the works we love now.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Wow, this is such a tragic loss... Without this man, we probably would not have UO or other MMOs... Mr. Gygax, you will be missed.
  7. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I think its safe to say that Gary Gygax is one the ulimate progenitors of all the games we know and love.

    I am tempted to break out the old OLD first edition box of Dungeons and Dragons and work up a module just because.
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Yeah, i just beat Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer last night. It's a Forgotten Realms game, based off of D&D. I've read at least 60 Forgotten Realms books, and have played/beaten alot of Forgotten Realms/D&D Computer Games. Played some board game that was based off of D&D when i was young, can't remember it's name. Current book i'm reading is "Realms of War".

    So far i've beaten Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter, Icewind Dale 2, Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer.
    I have Pool of Radiance sitting somewhere in my house, just gotta find it and play it. Haven't played any of the expansions for Neverwinter Nights 1 yet.

    Kind of wierd thinking that none of these games/books would exist if Gary and Dave hadn't created D&D.
  9. Gary's influence has yet to be fully realized. He was up there with Tolkien or Robert Howard in this genre.

    Not just gaming but the interactive and participatory story-telling. It was all genius. Even though I enjoy the convenience of online gaming, it is much more satisfying to get together and play a game with people in a room and around a table.

    Safe journeys, merry traveler.

  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I said my peace in the other thread, but since this is the sticky, let me just say there are few people who can be said to have invented a new form of storytelling ... his legacy will live on now and forever in the hearts and dice of every roleplayer and in all the worlds we build.
  11. GarthGrey

    GarthGrey Grand Inquisitor
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend

    Mar 18, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I was first introduced to D&D in 1981 I think by my then best friend. Many late nights and early mornings playing module after module. My friend peaking over his DM screens asking "Is every in the room?" Was it Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell that called us all Devil Worshippers?

    *wonders what the Power Words are for Bigbys Interposing Hand*
  12. From the latest "Moxie" column on Microsoft's MSN Games website:

    A national day of geek mourning

    If the sorrowful buzz on the gaming forums is correct, the RPG world lost one of its greatest icons today: Gary Gygax is dead. You may not have heard of him: his day in the media limelight was thirty years ago. But he was the father of pen-and-paper role-playing games, which are in turn the inspiration for modern computer role-playing games.

    You see, Gary Gygax invented Dungeons & Dragons.

    Thanks to him and his colleagues, would-be adventure seekers could gather their friends and embark on an epic, interactive journey through perilous lands… all this, long before the advent of ubiquitous personal computers, wi-fi, or high-resolution graphics. All you needed was a good imagination, a few guidebooks, and a handful of funny-looking dice. It was a way to step outside yourself for a short while: to be the dashing hero, or the mysterious wizard, or the clever treasure-hunter, instead of the awkward high school student or the mundane office worker. It sparked imagination, inspired creativity, and built both teamwork and friendships.

    Frankly, I’m not sure I’d have survived adolescence – let alone college – without Mr. Gygax’s magnificent game. It was my outlet and my escape, and in traveling through the worlds of shared storytelling, I learned a lot about the very real people around me. Many people in the videogames industry also grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons and its myriad of pen-and-paper successors, and there’s no counting how many digital adventures these classic games have inspired. It’s certainly safe to say that they’ve had a huge impact on our industry, and an even bigger one on our lives.

    If Gary Gygax has indeed passed away, he will be missed: as a person, as an author and game designer, and as a fellow adventurer in the realms of fantasy. I may never have met him, but I feel as if I’ve lost an old friend.

    EDIT: Sadly, this has now been confirmed. Fare thee well, Mr. Gygax, and thank you. From all of us.


    This part of the column ran with a picture of a black 20-sided die; rather appropriate, I thought.

    Personally, I would have loved to have met him, just so I could shake his hand and thank him for all the hours I spent playing D&amp;D, and the friends I made doing it. Too late, of course, but I can still add my own "thank you, Gary" to the multitude who are saying it now. <font color="blue"> </font>
  13. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Gary started a generation - a generation of fantasy roleplay.

    I wish UO was more D&amp;D and less Pokemon, more like the original UO. It would probably be much more successful now. There are many of us that grew up on D&amp;D and roleplaying, and at one time, long ago, UO fit the bill. We couldn't have asked for more! There are enough other games that satisfy the pokemon generation better than UO ever could.

    Why couldn't UO have stayed on the D&amp;D path?
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Played some board game that was based off of D&amp;D when i was young, can't remember it's name.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I'll bet you're talking about Dungeon!

    Tiny R.I.P. markers and little cards with spells, monsters, and treasure on them? I've still got the box with the cheesy seventies artwork somewhere. Ah, memories.

    Here's to Mr. Gygax, the unparalleled master of the random generation table.
  15. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Gary Gygax's co-creation of D&amp;D was probably the very reason I became a game designer. I've played D&amp;D for over 20 years. He was truly one of the legends in our industry.
  16. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Hail: I remember when i had my first Atari2600, and one day in the PX i saw an Matel Intelivision. I don not really need both. But the i saw D&amp;D for the Intelivision, and bought the console and game right away. I still have them.

    It is funny how some people used to say that D&amp;D was Evil, and made people who played it Evil. Ah hahahaha. What a joke..........

    Well i am off the PK some 8 year old and take all her stuff................ :)

  17. <blockquote><hr>

    Gary's influence has yet to be fully realized. He was up there with Tolkien

    [/ QUOTE ]

    He had a different style no doubt, but exactly what I've been thinking. He will be missed.
  18. UncleSham

    UncleSham Certifiable
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend

    Feb 26, 2004
    Likes Received:
    *stands for a moment and holds hat*

    thank you gary for bringing roalplaying to the masses . we'll take it from here.
  19. This is a sad day [​IMG]

    He will be missed by everyone. His legend lives on in many of the games we all play today.
  20. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Farewell to the Dungeon Master
    How D&amp;D creator Gary Gygax changed geekdom forever.
    By Jonathan Rubin
    Posted Thursday, March 6, 2008, at 12:17 PM ET

    Gary Gygax
    Gary Gygax was the salvation and curse of nerds worldwide. The co-founder of the Dungeons &amp; Dragons franchise, who passed away on Tuesday at 69, created a form of fantasy escapism that you could share with others. D&amp;D unified geeks, giving them accoutrements (multisided dice, colored figurines) and a language that bound them together. It was a secret club of sorts, a playground where social outcasts could be themselves and vent over life's frustrations. That wasn't always a good thing—playing Dungeons &amp; Dragons didn't generally lead to activities like going outside or talking to girls. Still, a caffeine-fueled marathon D&amp;D session was a place where your geeky tendencies were something to be celebrated rather than an affliction to be overcome.

    Yes, we all knew, deep inside, that D&amp;D wasn't cool. Being able to say, "I cast a Level 3 lightning bolt at the basilisk while averting my eyes so I don't turn to stone" doesn't have the social pull of "I know a guy who will buy us some alcohol." Even despite the social stigma, millions of people, me included, wouldn't have made it through adolescence without Dungeons &amp; Dragons. A dedicated bookworm, I devoured D&amp;D's rule books. It was more important for me to know how to repel the undead or make a flesh golem than to watch baseball or learn karate. Becoming a dungeon master, the equivalent of a Ph.D. in geekery, gave me a sense of mastery and accomplishment, not to mention my first real leadership experience.

    Gygax thought a gaming experience wasn't complete without a good group of people to play with. He co-founded the International Federation of Wargamers in 1966. A year later, the first meeting of Gen Con—now a huge gaming convention—was held in his basement. In 1974, Gygax and his collaborator Dave Arneson published the Fantasy Game, later renamed Dungeons &amp; Dragons.



    The game Gygax created is easy to describe but difficult to imagine. My D&amp;D pals and I basically sat around a table "role-playing"—i.e., pretending to be people with more interesting lives. Using dice and figurines, we brought to life the fictional characters we'd created on paper. Like life, Dungeons &amp; Dragons doesn't have specific goals. The game never quite ends. Rather, you choose your path, grow, and suffer setbacks. Sometimes you have to start all over. Most of the game takes place in your head, with the dungeon master acting as referee and director. He sets the scene by describing what your character sees or, in the case of a spear thrust into your neck, feels.

    The genius of D&amp;D is the way it parcels out rules and fantasy. The game tethers the imagination just enough to keep you focused on an imaginary world (main goal: slaying nasty things for profit) without putting limits on what you could do inside that world. Dungeons &amp; Dragons is like the greatest Etch A Sketch on earth: It gives you the tools to create whatever you want.

    While D&amp;D certainly encourages creativity, the ingredients Gygax conjured weren't exactly original. The game's stew of swords, sorcery, and mythological beasts was mostly appropriated from pulp writers and fantasy greats like H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien. Gygax's skill in integrating fantasies, however, was unparalleled—the world of D&amp;D may have medieval trappings, but its creatures were unbound by time or place. He took monsters from every culture and folklore, from the Greek Pegasus to the Japanese Kirin dragon to the Egyptian sphinx, and made them coexist in a single aggregate world.

    Gygax was responsible for creating or adapting the game's spells, races, and character classes (cleric, fighter, etc.). Perhaps his essential contribution was to develop a way to translate physical characteristics into numbers. An American Gladiator, for example, might have a "strength" of 18, while a Woody Allen-like character might have a four. In combining math and fantasy, Gygax engineered a ****tail that no geek could resist. It was also his idea to create "levels" and "experience points," allowing a character to become more skilled as you spend more time with the game. This idea made the game impossibly addictive and helped yield $1 billion in worldwide sales (according to the BBC), scores of books, miniature sets, board games, a cartoon show, and a pretty crummy movie.

    D&amp;D fans were often super fans. Many painted their own figurines, went to conventions dressed up as orcs, or spent nights and weekends gaming. As opposed to other geeky addictions, though, this one was social (kind of). While it might have been socially detrimental to be known as the best dungeon master in all of middle school, it's also true that some people just don't fit in very well. D&amp;D can provide a social outlet and a way to kick ass without being afraid of getting your ass kicked. Running a D&amp;D campaign took a lot of paperwork, a lot of organization, and a lot of focus. I spent hours creating creatures, towns, and dungeons that that I didn't always end up using. I liked some of these scenarios so much I turned them into stories, and these experiences were one reason I decided to become a writer.

    While Dungeons &amp; Dragons has been a source of inspiration for innumerable people in the last three decades, none of Gygax's post-D&amp;D projects proved particularly successful. Quarrels with staff led to his departure from his company, Tactical Studies Rules, in 1985. Both he and TSR failed to take the lead in the newest role-playing sensations, most notably video games (some of the D&amp;D games did well, but Gygax's online RPG Lejendary Adventure Online never got off the ground) and collectible card games (TSR was eventually bought by Wizards of the Coast, owner of the mega-successful Magic: The Gathering franchise).

    Some people have blamed Gygax's failings on the fact that he was always more gamer than businessman. He grew unhappy with later versions of D&amp;D, declaring them "rule intensive" and more focused on singular achievements than group cooperation. Perhaps his purist belief in an anything-goes fantasy world became out of fashion in the greedy 1980s and disaffected 1990s. For whatever reason, people grew more interested in turning their characters into godlike beings and got less focused on the intricacies of team play. (Sort of like the NBA.)

    Despite his late-career failings, Gygax's innovations have continued to spread. In creating the greatest nerd hobby of all time, he built the foundation of every future role-playing game. His idea to assign numbers for health, armor, stamina, and magic has also provided the backbone for innumerable video games, including the Final Fantasy series and the blockbuster World of Warcraft. Wherever geeks cluster, whether playing a Pokemon card game or a video game like Oblivion, they're playing by the rules that Gary Gygax laid out. It's fitting that through Gygax's creativity and inspired descendents, the realm of nerddom has found eternal life.
  21. Inspiration to many talented people that work in fantasy related themes to this day ( e.g Leurocian )

    RIP Gary Gygax July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008
  22. Small story:
    1984 the first rules of D&amp;D(the red rules) arrived to Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal.
    Soon most of the young kids were playing it... and it became the main hobby of everyone.
    It was discussed on the bus where the village elders and all others heard the young ones describe their adventures and new magical items with their eyes sparkling...
    Years later this penninsula on the western side of Europe prolly has the biggest % of players per capita.
    I started to play when i was 6... allowing me to explore "brave new worlds" and meet interesting humans and other humanoids... and on our "round table" age isnt a status... equity and respect is the rule...

    Thank you Mr. Gary Gygax for changing my life and our town...

    Hope to see the "temple of elemental evil" on a blockbuster...soon!

  23. CassieDarksong

    CassieDarksong Babbling Loonie
    Stratics Veteran

    Oct 30, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Stratics Central has a thread on his death as well as an article here.

    I encourage everyone to take a moment and post there as well.
  24. Clextor

    Clextor Guest

    Jeez, he created so much. I have to say that the name "Clextor" is from my old D&amp;D days. Now that I think about it, its been 25 or 26 years. Clextor was a mage then, and he is a mage now. He lives because of Gary Gygax.

    If there is a service on one of the shards, I could easily see cross-sharding to hold a candle. If someone knows of a UO service, please post it.

    (Removes wizards hat)
  25. A true legend has gone , may your adventures never end...
  26. Guest

    Guest Guest

    *takes hat off*

    d&amp;d was awesome! dice roll playing at its best!... back in the days when 'us' kids would play like 'kids' and a big imagination!!! awesome times !!!.... damn computers and all.....

  27. Guest

    Guest Guest


    With a "roll of the dice", Gary Gygax took our imaginations from out of just books... and put those imaginations into our own hands &amp; out onto tables around the world for all to share.

    May he rest in peace.
  28. RAEL of LS

    RAEL of LS Guest

    I am sad to hear about Gary Gygax's passing.... He was a huge influence on the worlds we live in today... It is because of him and others, like Richard Garriot, that took those early visions of multiplayer gaming to new levels. Who would have ever imagined in 1974 that a pencil and paper game that required alot of imagination and very little real understanding of it would become so popular on a world wide scale, creating an entirely new industry for anyone from any walk of life to enjoy and participate in together?

    Thier commitment to developing quality, in-depth gameplay through social interaction and challenging thought-provoking activity set the standards for the gaming industry... all developers must challenge themselves to create something better than what has come before them and Gary Gygax's models for creating worlds that others could play in in a shared environment with common goals was the driving force that brought us to where we are now. He set the bar very high and the results can be seen in all games, computer based or not, as we have developed better and better ways to play a game...

    How many lives have been touched by D&amp;D? Would I be sitting here, now, looking at this webpage had it not been for Gygax? Probably not... How many careers and businesses have been spawned by it? An entire industry owes its entire existance to one man's dedication to something he loved... We should all be humbled by the scope of it and give something back...


    RAEL of LS
  29. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I too will miss you Mr. Gary Gygax! You opened my imagination when I was a young lad into the world of Dragons and adventure with D&amp;D! Ultima III became my "compterized version" of D&amp;D way back in the early 1980's and loved every adventure the Ultima universe and the D&amp;D universe that both provided to me. Thank you Mr Gygax!

    Yes I did have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gygax back in the late 1970s at an early GenCon held at the UW Parkside campus. He gave a formal speech on D&amp;D. I will never forget.
  30. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Everyone roll a save vs. heartbreak with a -5 on the die.

    Farewell, EGGman. Alaverthae!
  31. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Goals Gone Wild: Role Playing

    Goals Gone Wild
    Issue #166: Role Playing
    Mar 14, 2008
    Role Playing
    Jim Hill, RightBrain/Co-Founder

    I looked around the table. Everyone had taken their seats, arranged their materials and found the snacks. We had come together at the specified time to accomplish great things. Yup, another kick-off meeting was getting ready to roll. And then, suddenly (and without warning) it hit me. Déjà vu’ - I’d been here, or somewhere similar before.

    What was it that was ringing this particular bell? Table, books, snacks, caffeine, dice. Wait, did I just say dice? Aha! This meeting felt just like one of my weekly Dungeon &amp; Dragons sessions from high school (cue the 80’s music).

    It all became clear. Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons &amp; Dragons had just died and it was in the news and on my mind. And, although I had never made the connection before, it suddenly became clear to me that, indeed, there was a strong link between success and RPGs (that’s role playing games to you non-nerds). And herewith, hangs my tale.

    At THRIVE!, we talk a lot about the ingredients for success; clear goals, solid strategy, and collaboration. A good game of D&amp;D can teach these skills (and maintain your virginity), so pull up a beanbag chair and get ready to roll those polyhedrons. I’ll try not to get too geek-core on you.

    Party Time
    The heart of the D&amp;D system is the adventurer party. A balanced party achieves in-game success more easily, as special skills are required to achieve certain objectives. Mage, Warrior, Cleric and Thief are the archetypes within the game and each has their strengths and weaknesses. You couldn’t raid the storm giant’s castle with all thieves anymore than you can launch a successful business with all accountants (not to say that all thieves are accountants). You’ll need sales, marketing, and a cleric if you want that giant’s gold. It’s true.

    Now, not everyone wants to play a Mage, or be the HR Director, and not everyone is suited to those roles. But here’s the cool part. Our party (business) also needs a Warrior out front battling Trolls (and scheduling press conferences). The point is, no matter your skill set or inclination, there’s a role for you to play as a part of a successful team.

    Know The Rules
    Sure, you can show up and play without any background information, but do your homework and you get much better. Did I obsessivly read the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide? You bet I did. When my party faced off against a dragon I wanted to know the best tactics to use against it. And I could better balance the risk vs. reward. It was just due diligence on my part, don’t you think?

    Show Up
    We played every week, and if you missed a gaming session very bad things happened to your character. Things like:

    Loss of Experience: When you’re not there, the other members of your party still gain experience. Miss too many sessions and you can no longer keep up with your colleagues.

    Missed Clues: New storylines are introduced by the Dungeon Master every week. Miss the details and you miss out on team decision-making that can dramatically affect your chances for advancement.

    Infighting and Politicking: If you’re not there to protect yourself, you can be stabbed in the back and left for dead. Alliances ebb and flow with the opportunities and rewards available.

    Anyone else notice the similarities to real life?

    My meeting wrapped, up, experience was awarded based on accomplishments and the parallels kept on clicking. Thank you, Gary Gygax, for these simple rules for success. The fact that they were secretly bundled into a game about Elves makes it taste all the sweeter.

    Be a good role player. Know the Rules. Show up and play. I raise my Vorpal Sword in salute.