Some people light a candle or two in the house of imagination; Gary Gygax fired an immense bonfire, and one which has sparked countless other fires as well.
I know I’m not the only one who called up old gamer friends yesterday to mourn the passing of an age. Even if you haven’t played the game in a dog’s age, or a couple of dog’s ages, if you’ve gamed, you’ve been influenced by Gygax. And I don’t mean just pencil and paper gaming — the mindset behind D&D permeated electronic fantasy games and the newer online worlds. I haven’t used D&D mechanics for years (mostly because I, as the game master, can’t keep all those numbers and charts straight) — but D&D was the first role-playing game I ever played. Like countless others, if I hadn’t played THAT one, and if it had never existed, I would never have played the others. Countless hours of entertainment and inspiration can be traced back to the game Gygax helped create.
Lest we forget, Gygax also introduced gamersÃ‚Â to fantasy literature. Those of you who had that first hardback Dungeon Master’s Guide may well remember the suggested reading list, mentioning such names as Howard and Leiber and Moorcock and Vance and so on. I remember heading to the library with that list. Gygax led me to Fritz Leiber’s Swords Against Death, which has remained one of my all-time favorite fantasy collections. I was talking with Black Gate‘s Ryan Harvey just last night, and he told me that list had introduced him to one of his very favorite writers, Clark Ashton Smith.
I never had the opportunity to meet the man, but his friends and family are in my thoughts. E. Gary GygaxÃ‚Â was an opener of the ways. He will be missed.
Howard Andrew Jones