Thursday, March 06, 2008

Where were you when Gygax died?...

No, this isn’t another blog about sleep.

The Internet(s) in the past few days have been filled with eulogizations of the once so famous Gary Gygax, who recently took critical damage and ran out of hit points as it were. With a name like that, he’d either be the foremost geek of all time or rocker beyond par. Fortunately for us, he chose geekdom. (And wouldn’t that make a great slogan: I CHOOSE GEEKDOM!)

For those who don’t know – and how could you NOT? – Gygax was just about single-handedly responsible for Dungeons & Dragons and, by extension, just about every fantasy role playing game imaginable.

Let us pause in remembrance…

(Anyway, I had some work to do.)

I wasn’t going to say anything about him but then I got to thinking… how could I not? After all, I owe that guy in a big way for hours, days, months – hell, years if you look at it cumulatively – of bitchen entertainment.

This all started (he said as the organ cued up a flashback) back in the 1980’s, when I believe it was Tim Murphy who brought to our little group of friends the first AD&D book (if you don’t know, don’t ask). I believe it was the Player’s Handbook but it might have been the Monster Manual (volume 1). We collected a whole library over the years. I still have most of them in storage – waiting for that next game!

So, what happened? Sean Mullin, Sean Roberson, Tim, and I (and sometimes others) would gather around, usually as Mullin’s house, and play. Mullin, Tim, and I took turns at DM’ing (again, don’t ask) so we could all play. Actually, it was because we all believed ourselves to be FAR SUPERIOR to the others at DM’ing, but that’s a different story.

Actually, DM’ing was my favorite part. I’d write up whole novellas of background material and pre-scripted events… mostly to compensate for the fact that I could not draw to save my life. My dungeons were usually drawn on graph paper, so I could trace the lines. But who else put Rocky and Bullwinkle into their adventures? That was part of the beauty of D&D, though, the freedom it granted to creative dopes like me.

Later, after Murphy and Mullin disappeared to the wilds of wherever, Roberson wanted to keep playing. We’d recruit anyone we could get – I even tried to get Rosa to play if you can believe that – just to get our D&D fix. But, sadly, those days were fading with the 80’s. By the 90’s, we had computers – Commodore 64’s! From that to my Amiga to my PCs, I have since played nearly twenty years of computer RPGs.

In fact, Vicky can blame Gygax for my current, recent, long-time obsession with WoW – you’re hating all these acronyms, aren’t you? But if Gygax hadn’t invented D&D, we might not have games like World of Warcraft. We might be stuck playing RISK!

One more thing. When I was a kid, I’d tell my mom I was heading off to Sean’s to play D&D and she’d give me that lecture so many of us geeks heard. She warned me against satan worshipping and the evil influences of, you know, pretending! We should all keep in mind the stupid shit our parents told us when we were kids so we can take those crackpots who tells us that video games MAKE CHILDREN KILL with a big, fat, fucking grain of salt.

A grain the size of a d20. (I thought I’d make it through this without a single dice joke. I guess I was wrong.)

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