“Dave Arneson, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game and a pioneer of role-playing entertainment, died after a two-year battle with cancer, his family said Thursday. He was 61.”
I had the good fortune to meet Dave Arneson 13 years ago, at a book signing in Roseville, Minnesota. The large Barnes & Noble there was holding its first, and I believe only, SF/F day, which featured science fiction and fantasy authors including Gordon R. Dickson, David Feintuch, and Dave Arneson. It’s probably just as well that B&N no longer holds the event, considering that a significant percentage of the authors who were there are no longer with us. Dave was a friendly and humble man who was more than happy to discuss game mechanisms and the history of gaming with anyone who happened to be interested.
I had recently located and bought a boxed set of the three original brown books, so at lunchtime, I took the opportunity to run home and grab them. Mr. Arneson was obviously delighted to sign them; it was clear that while he bore no great bitterness towards Gary Gygax, he did feel as if most D&D fans were unaware of his primary role in the creation of what was not so much a game as an entire gaming genre. Arneson will neither be the first nor the last creator to be eclipsed by a more business-savvy partner, but it behooves those of us who are creators to recognize the man and salute his foundational contribution to fantasy and science fiction gaming as we know it today.