Adventure On, Gary Gygax

Today, the geek world lost one of its true founding fathers — Gary Gygax, creator of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. Lloyd Case of ExtremeTech.com has written a wonderful short piece about the man. And I just wanted to share some short thoughts about Mr. Gygax and his affect on the world I live in.

I remember the first time I encountered D&D. I was over my friend John’s house, and I met a friend of his, Sol, who wanted to run a game for us. I think he and John had gamed a bit before then. I didn’t really know anything about it, but I wanted to be friendly, so I decided to learn the rules.

Now, growing up, I was kind of a bookstore/stationary store geek. I loved reading and writing. My parents fed my incessent reading habit with books, and my love of writing and drawing with whatever paper type things came along. I had all kinds of hardcover blank ledger books and blank green-bar computer paper that my parents would bring home from work. And I loved it. Wrote all over it. Kept journals. Drew pictures. It was great. When I saw the Dungeon Master’s Screen — well that was it. I was convinced I was going to love the game. It was covered in artwork of dragons breathing fire and guys in chain mail swinging swords. And the smell…just like a new copy book right out of the stationary store. That new paper smell that geeks who love paper totally get energized by.

DM Screen CoverDM Screen

Sol was an awesome Dungeon Master. And it was really I think that initial experience that sold me on really wanting most to DM for most of my gaming career. John and I rolled up characters. I vaguely remember mine was kind of an old feeble wizard. And we started in the Inn at Hommlet, from T1, one of the more famous modules. I had some kind of altercation with a serving wench there, I vaguely remember. I don’t remember a lot of the details. But I remember Sol just rolled right into character and was just like an actor on stage, talking in different voices and then switching into authoratative DM role when he had to adjudicate a rule. (Adjudicate — that’s a word you only learn in D&D rulebooks!)

I remember at one point, right near the end, we were outside, and there was a dragon in the air that flew into some hills in the distance. And I could actually sort of feel the kind of shiver you only get with the ILM-induced effects and THX surround sound that were many, many years away at that point. I was strip poker online gratisitalian pokerpoker multiplayer onlinebetandwin pokerstrip poker pc gratisvideo poker on line gratisstrip poker online demoonline poker tournamentpoker il giocohollywood pokerasian poker tourpoker online legalepoker gratis,poker games gratis,strip poker online gratispoker online flashstreap poker gratistornei di pokerpoker italianoparty poker com,party poker,primo deposito party pokerpoker sexi gratispoker online bonusstreap poker onlineregole poker omahatexas holdem no limitgiochi poker gratis da scaricarevideo poker onlinebet and win pokergiochi poker texaspoker gamesdownload giochigiocare a poker on lineplay poker on linetexas holdem no limit,texas holdem download,texas holdeminternet pokeril poker onlinepoker 5 drawtornei pokerscommesse onlinecasino poker gratisstrip poker gamegioco poker on line gratistilt pokergioco d azzardo pokertexas holdem gametornei poker livetexas holdem freewarewww pokertornei poker texas holdemstrip poker downloadtorneo pokervideo poker per pc gratis ready to go explore that dragon-cave right then and there, though surely, with 3 hit points or so, I was going to die when the dragon looked at me sternly. The game ended right around then, but I knew I wanted to play again. Here was a game, that had a STORY that you made up as you went along. Really, for me, I was going, “Here’s a game where people can help me create my story and really experience it!” That was just so exciting.

I never played D&D with Sol again, but he inspired me. I got the books. I got the dice. I learned to game. My friends and I had hours and hours of fun playing Dungeons and Dragons. I learned how to tell a good story. I learned how to make it interactive. I learned how to act (a little).

I learned, and this is the most important thing, how to engage people’s emotions in a story. I learned that when writing anything, really when making any kind of art, that was the most important thing. You had to make people feel or they wouldn’t spare you any interest. The evil thief that double-crosses the players has to have been so much their friend that they will be really wounded by the fact that the thief turned on them. (And so that the players’ emotions are involved in the thief and not thinking about what a rotten Dungeon Master you are for tricking them like that.) When people have a stake, when they are emotionally involved in art, in a story, they start to believe. And they can put aside thoughts about how cheesy the plot is, or how much it reminds them of Star Wars.

And I learned all of that from Gary Gygax’s game, which went on to inspire so many things that surround us today. Other paper and pencil games, movies, computer games. All started with Gary.

I salute him. May he rest in peace. May his memory live on.