Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Death of Gary Gygax

Many people have been affected by the death of Gary Gygax, creator of the original Dungeons & Dragons game in the '70s. It was the top C'NET story and made the New York Times as well. I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like if not for him. D&D was pretty much the center of my universe.

Biblioblogger Chris Heard discusses role-playing and faith, which brings back some odious memories of fundamentalists in the '80s who were blasting D&D for promoting Satanic worship and ruining youth. Chris notes that Gygax was actually a Christian (though he didn't like broadcasting the fact), and that some aspects of the game have biblical influence. That's true, but there's far more pagan influence, and that's how Gygax wanted it. Deities, gods, and goddesses from almost every pantheon (Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Chinese, etc.) can be worshiped in the D&D world, but monotheism is rarely to be found.

A creative someone has suggested a fitting tribute to Gygax: starting a fund to raise a mausoleum based on the layout of the infamous Tomb of Horrors. Wouldn't that be just awesome?

Speaking of The Tomb of Horrors, I was glad to see it place so high on Dungeon's 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time. The equally impossible sequel, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, makes the cut as well. That tomb was responsible for more misery and death among players (and malicious delight to DMs like me) than any other adventure, and inspired me whenever I needed to create my own sadistic dungeons. Other favorites on the list include The Keep on the Borderlands (the beginner's adventure we cut our teeth on back in the '80s), White Plume Mountain (the quest for a hammer, sword, and trident), Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (robots and laser guns come to D&D), Castle Amber (trapped in a castle of mad wizards), and The Queen of Spiders (tackling a demon-queen on her home plane in the Abyss). What a trip down memory lane. It makes me want to get out my dice and start playing again.

And in fact many veteran role-players (who don't have much time for D&D anymore) are setting aside the time to play a game in honor of Gygax. I'd like to do this too.

Rest in peace, Gary. You brought fun and imagination into a comparatively dull world.


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