Those of you who know who E. Gary Gygax is have surely already heard, and those who don’t know wouldn’t care, that he died the other day. Gygax is forever linked to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons as one of the co-creators (the most famous and recognized of them). I owe a lot to the works that arose from D&D.
The majority of my friends and our activities were D&D (or some other role-playing game) based throughout my pre-teen and teen years. I met one of my best friends because we both played the game, and while we haven’t played the game in years, we’re still friends. I’m not sure what we would have done in high school if we weren’t playing D&D.
You could say my comics reading goes back to D&D as the first comic I (or rather one of my parents for me) bought was Dragonlance #2 from DC Comics, based on a D&D product. I quickly moved on to X-Men and then to indies, but that, probably really bad, fantasy comic was what first directed my attention at comics.
I’d hazard that my interest in rules (constraint) in relation to narrative goes back to D&D. What is D&D but rule-based collaborative narration? Structures and rules have stuck with me. Even my first (sad) attempts at writing were fantasy stories based on my D&D characters (thankfully I moved away from that before I got out of elementary school).
I haven’t played D&D in a few years, keeping a group together and all the time for preparation was just more than I wanted to deal with, but I still have a few books and polyhedron dice in the closet. I’ve moved on to other activities, but I owe a lot to that game and, thus, to Gygax. I don’t know what he was like as a person, but I hope he knew what an effect he had on so many people (dorky/geeky as we are).