Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gygax the Great

Today, Gary Gygax passed from this Material Plane. He (with Dave Arneson) created a game which defined who I was throughout high school and college. It colored all my thoughts and influenced who my friends were. For a time in high school, I even defined actions and people by the D&D standards in the AD&D Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the four Suppliments to the original White Box. I created dungeons, plots, villians, and lairs whenever I had a spare moment. And at every opportunity, I played or ran a game for people. I loved the game then. I love the game still.

But the news of today was like a heavy hard hit to the solar plexus. I had just started my last period Physics class. They were doing a lab on Series & Parallel Circuits, looking at how the voltage and current changed in each of those types of circuits. I pulled up the school's website so that I could turn in attendance and I opened email to check on any news items to pass on to the kids. There was a forwarded post from a forum I visit often. It simply read, "RIP Mr. Gygax. We're going to miss you." I was stunned, surprised and then I panicked. I jumped to Google and found the latest news items, I trolled a batch of D&D forums, and I got the story. He passed away this morning at the age of 69. On March 4, GM's Day. Somewhat fitting and appropriate. But I am still stunned at my reaction to the news. It was like learning a close friend had died. It was like losing a member of the family.

I had not had the opportunity to meet him. I wanted to, desperately, just to say "Thank you" for all those wonderful hours of fun. I had wanted to go to GenCon and sit in on a panel with him in it. I wanted him to autograph my old beat-up White Box and my Player's Handbook which has duct tape holding on the cover. But I never will now.

So, I'll say it here. Thank you, Gary. You made high school and college bearable. You gave me a life in which I could succeed at anything I wanted to try. You opened up my imagination and introduced me to so much. Thank you. I pray that I can do for my kids what you have done for me.