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RevolutionSF Remembers Gary Gygax : Just Passing Through
©
March 04, 2008

Freshman year of college. I know next to no one. This freak with long hair and a leather jacket with the word THINK painted on the back sits down in my first class next to me. After a while I speak to him, and we hit it off. He invites me to a friends place to play D & D.

There, I meet some other people who are not important to the story, including a future girlfriend. About a year later, this redhead walks in with one of the other girls in the group. We roll new characters, the long haired freak (Joe, whom I am still good friends with) and myself roll up a pair of brothers, dwarf brothers.

The new girl, Sara, who was playing a female Elf Priestess asks, "why are you two laughing"? My style of play tends towards the chaotic, and Joe's is chaotic. We end up on a ship, and get boarded by pirates. Sara and the rest of the group get captured, Joe and I decide to "liberate" the pirate ship by destroying it.

This is 2nd edition, and dwarves don't like water or elves. We were below ships when the pirates attacked. We pop up, bust out a long chain, and Joe starts dwarf tossing me at the pirate ship's mast, I hit the mast, break it and most of my bones and land on the deck of the pirate ship. Or, I would have, but I am a HEAVY dwarf, and busted through the deck, right into the hold where our party was being held.(the amount of 19's and 20's rolled has never been equaled)

I crash right next to Sara's character. She is staring at me both in the game and in real life in horror that we managed to totally destroy everything in a matter of 15 rounds. My character looks up at her, face mashed into pulp, bones jutting out, and says, "Hey beautiful, how about laying on some hands?" and promptly collapses.

Sara says she still remembers that that was the moment she wanted to go out with me. Ten years later, we are married for five of it, and have a lovely baby girl, who we are already turning into a geek.

Thank you, Gary Gygax, for everything. You will be missed. -- Mike Bullen

* * *

As a friend of mine pointed out, how better to remember Gary Gygax than with a Jack Chick tract? The answer, it appears, is MST3K commentary on that Chick tract. -- RevolutionSF books editor Peggy Hailey

* * *

"Be careful around the Hall of Characters That Died Without A Saving Throw."

From the webcomic Order of the Stick (link thanks to KaosDevice).

* * *

My introduction to Dungeons & Dragons came shortly after entry into the fifth grade, in a new school, in a town I'd been in less than a year.

I'd managed to spend the last few months of 4th grade laying low and slowly cultivating friendships, but grades 5 to 8 were at the El Portal Middle School in Escalon, California. A whole new world of people, and lots of them much bigger than I was. The few friends I'd made in 4th grade all shared common interests (Star Wars, Star Wars action figures, an abiding love of fantasy and role-playing, the kind where you run around pretending your finger's a gun barrel while playing cops & robbers). I felt I was being thrown to the wolves.

Those new friends were at El Portal with me, but for whatever reason didn't decide to take Macrame as their last period elective. Why I ever did, I couldn't tell you, but it probably had something to with my mom. I excelled at macrame, and because I often finished my work ahead of schedule, I was able to wander a bit during class.

It was in this wandering that I found an adjacent classroom where, during their free period, some seventh and eighth graders were having fun with miniature monster figures and dice and secretive whispers and laughter. I'm very glad I took macrame as an elective that year.

Through some miracle of Charisma or good timing (or because the elder classmen needed a stooge to pick on), I was allowed to join in the game, taking up the role of a Dwarf Warrior. I recall the twists and turns and terrible creatures we fought -- once happening upon an entire room filled with hundreds of kobolds!

And I recall the DM's great joy at making my little warrior drink a love potion and become helplessly enamored with the one female in our group. Embarrassing for a shy kid, utter horror for a shy kid with no concept of interpersonal relations between the sexes!

That game opened my eyes to a new kind of gameplay, though the love potion put a steel cap on my confidence with the opposite sex for many years. I spent a lot of time making maps of dungeons and star freighters. I quickly became addicted to mapmaking with this graph paper, which I can find no more of.

Later, when my role-playing became more a collecting habit (Star Frontiers, Traveller, Gamma World, D&D modules galore . . . ) than a playing one, I learned that module the DM took us through, Dungeon Module B1: In Search of the Unknown ) -- contained none of what I recall being led through in the fifth grade. Those hundreds of kobolds? They came out of a 10'x10' room.

Such is the magic of D&D. With a little help, the DM imagines a world for the players to live in, if only for a short time. The DM isn't confined to the strict linear module. He can amend, manipulate, and enrich the world for the players, making the mundane intricate and enlightening, causing the cuddly to become horrific. It's all about imagination.

Gary Gygax gave us some guidelines to play with our imaginations, and our friends. We are forever in his debt. -- Lloyd Allen Woodall


More memories of Gary Gygax:

Sparking Synapses

Gygax Interview: Sex, Drugs, and D&D

Dice Rolls and Gold!

Imaginations and Intellects


 
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