Gary Gygax, D&D creator, rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw

One of my favorite episodes of the TV show Futurama has the lead character, Fry, wondering what would happen if he had never gone into the future. A machine shows him that it would have caused a rift in the time and he is abducted and introduced to the “Vice Presidential Action Rangers”, led by Al Gore, whose task is to protect the space-time continuum. Fry soon causes the universe to collapse into a space-time rift. The scenario ends with the characters playing Dungeons and Dragons gary_gygax.jpg for the next quadrillion years with Al Gore playing a role of Vice President rather than a typical role in D&D.

Dungeons and Dragons creator, Gary Gygax, made an appearance during show alongside Al Gore. This is something of an inside joke since Gore’s wife, Tipper Gore, hates Dungeons & Dragons and has been publicly critical of it.

The groundbreaking role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons spread to high schools and college campuses across the nation starting in 1974.Initially players were isolated in communities of socially awkward young men listening to heavy-metal music and pretending to be goblins. Today they have grown to include millions of different people, of all ages and sexes and musical tastes, connected by the Internet and pretending to be everything from gnomes to glamorous models.

The game has helped many people get over being shy or awkward and given them the ability to become doctors, lawyers, police or any other job they might have stayed away from.

It is Ernest Gary Gygax, the father of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, whose has taken his Final Taxi as the age of 69.

Born July 27, 1938, in Chicago was taught to play cards at the age of five, and chess a year later, by his mother. Gygax grew up reading science fiction and fantasy works by Ray Bradbury, Robert E Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian) , and H.P. Lovecraft. After dropping out of the University of Minnesota, he became an insurance underwriter. In his spare time, he helped found the International Federation of Wargamers, a group of gamers scattered around the Midwest. There he met Dave Arneson and the two developed a game where the gamers played roles. The result was a game heavily influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. They called it Dungeons & Dragons. Among the game’s signature items was a die with 20 sides.

The game was marketed mainly by word of mouth as D&D sold its first thousand units in less than a year and then jumped dramatically. Gygax co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with Don Kaye in 1974 and in 1977 he developed a more complex version of the game that was released with a thick rule book.

The game became the focus of controversy in 1979 when a Michigan State University student went missing in steam tunnels below the school’s campus and was rumored to have been playing D&D. Role-playing games were denounced by Christian groups, and a “60 Minutes” report seemed to link D&D to a pair of suicides. Gygax received threats and hired a bodyguard, but the publicity only increased sales.

Gary Gygax was a producer and writer for the Marvel Productions, Ltd. cartoon series Dungeons & Dragons, which aired on CBS in 1983-84. He also still hosted a weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January.

Among the tributes of his career was when fans named a species of bacteria for him: Arthronema gygaxiana.

One Response

  1. Nice obituary. Thanks.

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