Posted By Kathleen David on March 4, 2008
I found out through a friend that Ernest Gary Gygax had lost his saving throw verse death (2nd edition rule of course). This news stunned me. I knew through the grapevine that he had been in poor health for a while now. He had some serious medical problems that he seemed to be dealing with for the most part but still considering the number of medical problems that he had been having, it surprises me that I am not writing this sooner.
This is not really about Gary Gygax. I met him a couple of times over the years. I was inarticulate the first time because he was fri’king Gary Gygax. I was better subsequent times that our paths crossed. He loved the fans and listened to so many tales told of things that happened in people’s campaigns and to their characters. I admired his patience with people even when you could tell he was really tired.
This is about what Gary Gygax did for me. The first game I played that he created was Chainmail which was the precursor to D&D. I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons through my high school science fiction club and a party that we threw that some gamers came to by invitation and we all arranged to get together and game. They brought the box set of D&D and ran us through the basic rules. My first character was a pretty generic fighter that got killed about half way through the dungeon. But I had a lot of fun. We agreed to get back together in two weeks and try it again. And we started gaming about every two weeks.
I remember the excitement when we found out about Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. We went to the “Sword of the Phoenix” when the books were released and got a set. Which put a gamer back a pretty penny but the system was a beautiful thing. We passed the books around and learned the new rules and got out our dice to try it. That was the real beginning of my love for role-playing games.
Gaming became a touchstone for me. I can’t tell you how many friends I have made over the table. I can’t tell you how many games or campaigns I have been a part of. Gaming became a part of me and still is.
One of the longer campaigns that I played, I had a ranger who was pretty kicking stats-wise. But he had no luck what so ever or rather my dice hated me for a time. He ended up with a dragon shaped scar on his face and left arm which was critical for an adventure but really knocked the hit points down. Then there was the night that we were talking about homosexuality because of some stuff that had happened on campus that week. So we figured out the statistical probability of being gay and rolled for each of our characters. And all of the sudden I was running a gay ranger. I still have a fondness for that character. Heck, I probably still have his sheets. But that is D&D, you create and play in the world of your creation with the rules as set down in the rule books.
Yes, I made the dice bag that my original dice are still housed in. I branched out from D&D and did some play testing over the years for GuRPs and the original Vampire; The Masquerade way back in the late 80s and early 90s. I have played a lot of different role playing games in my day but it all comes back to D&D for me. That was my first love.
My sympathies are with Gary’s family and extended family.
I got to thank him for giving me such a wonderful creative outlet and for that I am grateful. I think I’m going to see if I know where my dice bag is and, if my brother hasn’t already taken them, get my books from my parent’s house which included the Deities and DemiGods that was recalled along with the original box set and a very old copy of Chainmail. He created something very special that will live on far into the future.