Farewell, Action Ranger

gygax Around midday the news broke that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away at the age of 69. Despite leaving TSR before many gaming nerds ever laid eyes on a d20, Gygax holds a special place in the hearts of nerds everywhere. In many ways he remained a representative of DnD and gamers, even making an appearance on Futurama as one of the ultimate crew of nerds, Al Gore's Vice Presidential Action Rangers. That role was well deserved; news reports state that Gygax was hosting weekly DnD sessions as recently as January. That's what I call love of the game.

RIP, Gary. Save me a seat at the table.


PLee said...

Not to speak ill of the dead, but I always got the impression that I wouldn't actually enjoy Gygax that much as a GM.

Jeeg, do you go all the way back to 1st Edition AD&D? The whole thing was still so strange and wargamey, and half of the book just seemed to be arbitrary restrictions...you can't have two rangers in the same party! Gnomes cannot be druids! Wizards can never learn to use a sword!

And thirty kinds of polearms. Oy.

CT said...

My connection to D&D and RPGs is not as deep as what the both of you have. I had heard of it, but never really explored it until my college years. Over the following years, I dabbled to varying degrees in D&D and other RPGs.

Personally, I think RPGs get a bad rap. There's nothing quite like it. With paper, pencil and probability, a few people sit around a table and concoct epic adventures and tales of heroism. Really, it's amazing that people do this. This isn't something done only by guys who live in their mom's basement and have no girlfriends. Sure, those guys do it, too. But real people interact with other real people and actively participate in story-telling together.

In this day and age of limited human interaction and vegging out in front of the TV, isn't it odd that the "socially inept" may actually turn out to have claim on one of the most socially healthy activities?

I don't play anymore and haven't for quite some time, but I think back fondly to the days of overloading on Little Debbie's snack cakes and Mountain Dew and hanging with my nerd buddies. And I was able to do that thanks to the creation of Gary Gygax.

Jeeg said...

No, I do not go back 1st Edition or non-Advanced D&D. My RPG history starts with AD&D 2nd Edition. As poorly crafted as many of those 2nd Edition rules now seem in retrospect, I still feel a certain nostalgia for it. A few years back, my friend and CT's watch buddy, Kenny, gave me a copy of D&D 1st Edition. Unfortunately, I've never gotten around to getting a group together to test play it and see how strange it is.

I agree with you CT. On talk radio tonight Gygax's passing was being discussed, though mostly as a pretense for making fun of nerds. RPGs definitely get a bum rap, especially considering things like fantasy football are equally nerdy and perhaps more asocial.

PLee said...

I dabbled in AD&D 1st Edition, although my real bread-n-butter was the classic Marvel Superheroes RPG.

Old school AD&D really smelled like some weird dude's basement. Lots of charts, a cosmology that threw everything Gygax had ever read into the hopper, huge amounts of stuff imported from historical wargaming, and no attention to narrative or character development or effective storytelling.

It was effectively Gary's set of house rules. You just couldn't run a game with all those rules as written. So people had to come up with their own sets of house rules.