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R.I.P. E. Gary Gygax, 1938-2008

March 04, 2008 @ 23:58 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

imageE. Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game that basically started that gaming genre, died Tuesday morning at the age of 69. (articles in The Guardian and The Globe and Mail)

He and Dave Arneson created the game in 1974 and introduced its players to monsters that they fought by rolling various polyhedral dice using various types of characters.

Since then, the game has evolved quite a bit, but it still bears a strong resemblance to the original game.  One of the biggest changes has to be to the mechanics governing the rolls the players make.  No longer does one need an advanced degree in mathematics to determine whether one has scored a hit during a round of combat.  Monsters have come and gone over the years, but you can still come across crits that were in the very first Monster Manual.

My first exposure to D&D was probably 25 or so years ago in the form of a Basic Dungeon & Dragons set, then an Advanced D&D set and the Expert D&D rules.  The box came with a set of brownish polyhedral dice and a black crayon to colour the numbers in so they were easier to read.  I still have the dice and I think the original books are still at my parents’ place.  I still have some of the first edition books, including original copies of the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio books, in addition to a Player’s Handbook and a Dungeon Master’s Guide.  Though I didn’t play for several years, I’ve been playing with a group of friends about once a week for the last decade or so.

Though Gygax hasn’t been that involved in the game the last couple of years, he’s still considered by most to be one of the most influential people in the role-playing game world.  He even had a cameo in an episode of Futurama.

A webcomic I follow, The Order Of The Stick, has a strip dedicated to E. Gary Gygax, and I’m sure the other D&D and RPG-themed webcomics will have similar tributes to him.

Thank you, Gary.

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