Gary Gygax Departs For Ethereal Plane

Legendary game creator dies at 69

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Gygax co-created Dungeons & Dragons, a roleplaying game that likely occupied some time for the geeks you know today. We bid farewell to him.

What follow herein is strictly for the eyes of you, the campaign referee. As the creator and ultimate authority in your respective game, this work is written as one Dungeon Master equal to another. Pronouncements there may be, but they are not from “on high” as respects your game. Dictums are given for the sake of the game only, for if ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is to survive and grow, it must have some degree of uniformity, a familiarity of method and procedure from campaign to campaign within the whole.
-- Opening passage from 1979's AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax D&D Creator/Credit Alan De Smet Gary Gygax D&D Creator
(Photo Credit: Alan De Smet)

News of the passing of Gygax, 69, first emerged on the Internet the other day, in news posted on the Troll Lord Games forum. The Dungeon Master had died, and plenty of gamers experienced a moment of reflection; the forum now has 35 pages of posts in response.

Tributes to him at Wizards of the Coast, current owners of Dungeons & Dragons, and on Dork Tower, Order of the Stick, and Penny Arcade quickly followed. Over its 30 years, the game, and Gygax, influenced plenty of people, myself included.

I met him at a long-ago GenCon in the 80s, after his departure from TSR and subsequent work on a new game system. This was only a few years after I started playing the game in study hall in 8th grade, as the only other person in the class who was willing to give it a try.

He was busy, as any gamer would expect, but he was kind enough to chat to this fanboy for a moment, and to sign a dice bag; said bag has been regrettably lost for years now.

But c’mon, how cool was this? I got to meet the guy who penned the AD&D Players Handbook and Monster Manual and the DM’s Guide. Who gets to do that every day?

Sadly, no one else now. When I called my old friend and fellow gamer, RPG artist Greg Smith, he reminded me that March 4th was the unofficial Gamemasters Day. An odd synchronicity, to be sure.

The game he helped create will soon progress into a 4th edition, the rules of which resemble a bastardization of World of Warcraft and Gurps. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just different, and not the game I know. DnD is a business, one which Wizards has to operate to attract the young audience.

As long as I have my 1979 editions of the three core books, a bag of dice, some character sheets and pencils, and a two liter of something cold and carbonated, the fun of the game will never pass. After all, Gygax lives on in those pages.

Anyone wanna game?

Gary Gygax Departs For Ethereal Plane
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  • Guest

      I first started playing DnD in the early 80’s while in college.  I have continued playing RPG’s since.  Somewhere, Even the Gods pause Their Eternal Game.


  • Guest

    I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Gygax in 1977 when passing through Lake Geneva. I had been playing for over a year and had started while stationed on a Navy cruiser (Worden) in Japan. I remember the TSR store was the front two rooms of what I think was his home. I bought about ten figures and the required dice, The quality of the 20 sided wasn’t so hot and through the years the edges have worn down to what is now a kind of ball with 20 numbers semi-legible on the face (kinda like myself). I still have the figures, since painted, chipped, repainted, and placed in a small glass case in my computer hutch.  My 11 year old wanted to play with them and my first reaction was that "No, these aren’t toys". But then I rethought and decided that yes, they are, and just asked him to be careful.  I hope he lets his son play with them, too, and tells him the story of grand dad meeting the original DM. For as long as a child’s imagination conjures up wizards, oozes, paladins and owlbears, Mr. Gygax is still lurking about, ominously stating: ….you find a secret door…".

    L.D. Holleman, Pearland, Texas

  • Palustius

    I stand apon the hill alone and remember times gone past,

    I wished then with all my heart those times would ever last,

    but real life would oft intrude, the wife the kids and all.

    Tis  next week ‘pon friday night, to wait the beast to fall,

    now at the age 38 I really miss those nights.

    those intense battles, spells and demons that gave a nasty fright.

    I oft remember long gone snippets of fun, laughs and chrs dying.

    how try to save there lives, by even "sorry" lying.

    apon this hill I now stand not gold, nor fame or magic rings.

    but for the man, a great man who gave me all those things.

    i feel now a hot sting a tear, yes tear it is true

    cause i know now his life is through.

    but I know this we the players will forget never

    and Gary gygax our character father is going to live forever…


    GOd bless you Sir,

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