In 1981, when I was about 10 years old, my friend Bert came over to the house with a "game". It was a box full of rulebooks, dice, and a "module". What kind of weird game was this? Where's the board?
"Read it. Then you make a character, then we can play."
I like to read, so why not?
That was the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set, and it just got better from there.
The man who made all of this possible passed away Tuesday, March 3, 2008. Ernest Gary Gygax (officially the co-creator, but c'mon now- no offense Dave), the guy who invented Dungeons and Dragons, died.
This brings up bittersweet memories. Sadness over his death, because he brought something to the world that made the world a bigger, brighter place. And good memories, because of all the times I played with my friends. We would draw detailed maps, craft wicked puzzles, and create the most unoriginal characters ever imagined. When Hercules the fighter died at 100th level, his son Hercules II leapt up to take up the mantle of Strongest Guy In The Party. Whole worlds were made, and then taken over, merely for the enjoyment and amusement of my imaginary characters. But it was all right. They ruled fairly, but with an iron fist if needed. And when playing on paper became too much, we would hoof it out to the empty field near the house, uproot some giant willows, and proceed to beat the snot out of each other (while avoiding the giant hole we dug for the never-completed bomb shelter) until we were tired enough to go back inside. When it snowed, it was humans versus the orcs for giant snowball fights, even if the other kids didn't realize they were humans or orcs when they joined us. And every book published was a reason to save up our money until we could run down to the model train store and buy it.
Then, as I got older and moved, I met new friends to explore new worlds with. We played often, enjoying ourselves on weekends instead of watching TV or sleeping. When we got old enough to drive, we would go to movies and such, but when all of the normal hanging out was over, it was off to slay ogres and sneak into castles. We met different people with different playing styles, some of which matched ours while some didn't. We played other role playing and board games, but always seem to, in the end, compare them to the granddaddy of them all, D&D.
As more demands were made on our time, and we grew older and started having families, we played less often. The games were more complex, and rules seemed more important, until it almost wasn't worth the effort to get together. Why should we, when there was.....online gaming!?! Ultima Online, where you could see your character, be your character, and travel the world fighting monsters and *gasp* EACH OTHER! This was hardly ever allowed with friends, and highly discouraged even then. But, you don't know these people....so let's kill them!!
Now, I hear that D&D is preparing for the release of the 4th edition. I don't have time to play anymore, what with the kids and all, but I surely do miss it. I'll buy the latest version to keep up with the rules, and be prepared on the off-chance that a bandit camp needs infiltrating or a princess needs rescuing, and I am called out of semi-retirement to aid in the adventure. But, until then, I have my memories of epic quests, grand battles, and ruthless mages to keep my imagination fueled up and ready to go.
Thank you, Gary.
Rest In Peace.