Save Versus Death
Obviously, nerds everywhere are aware that Gary Gygax is now dead. Normally, I’d let the universe do it’s thing and fail to comment about this. However, he was a nerd known only by other nerds, so his death does not carry the same weight with the world as even the shortest lived football player.
Despite the fact that I never actually met the man, he, out of all individuals, had possibly the greatest impact on my life and personality (with the obvious exception of my parents).
It is a near impossible to task to describe how much Dungeons and Dragons changed the course of the mighty river that is my life. I have played that game – or one of its various descendants – since I was ten years old. I was given the Red Box for Easter the year I was in fourth grade, and for the twenty-five years after I have slain goblins and rolled Bend Bars/Break Doors/Lift Gates.
The idea that I could not only tell a story that involved other people but actually be a part of that story was life changing. Instead of reading something like The Hobbit, I could be a part of it. An actor in a play.
Always a smaller child, the Game took the place in my life that would normally have been reserved for sports such as baseball or football. I was never good at those. However, I understood stories; I understood statistics; I understood fantasy and imagination. At one point in my life I had compiled a mental index of every rule in the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Player’s Handbook. I knew where everything was. Pages of esoteric tables fluttered through my brain, instantly recallable.
As I got older, the actual system of the game became. . . quaint. A relic. Other games came and went. Gygax’s D&D became “old and busted”, replaced by the “new hotness” of GURPS or Vampire or Warhammer. But these things – the new hotness – they were carried forward by Gygax’s Bigby’s Grasping Hand, and share common DNA.
It is from Gygax that I was given the love of game design, and why I make my own games. Why I provide places for gamers to gather. Why I still, even to this day, play games with 20-sided dice (a thing he pretty much invented).
The fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons is being published soon. They call it version four, but it is really version seven (Chainmail being number one, the White Box being number two, the “Basic” rules being version three, and then the four “Advanced” rulesets). I sincerely hope that the publishers include the proper dedications.
So. I’m going to pour a potion of healing on the curb for him.