Hawgleg News Archive - 2008 < Back to previous page

Gary Gygax passes away
The godfather of D&D and RPGs dies at 69
March 4, 2008

It is with profound sadness today that we learned Gary Gygax, the godfather of D&D and progenitor of the modern Role Playing Game, died at the age of 69. Details are still coming in, and the grief has yet to settle. From all of us here at Hawgleg Publishing, we express our prayers to Gary's family and friends.

Mike Mitchell: Sailing to the undying lands

When I first read the news at The Miniatures Page, it came as a shock. I was surprised at the rush of emotions I felt. It was the quick rabbit punch to the chest that I feel when someone I care about has died, or when I receive terrible news.  What surprised me was that I never met the man.  But even still, it was as though a part of my childhood died today. His work influenced me so much… Because of Gary, I filled many hours with creative energy. I met great friends (Mike Murphy and I met while playing a great D&D campaign that we still talk about to this day).

I think the most fitting tribute, in words more eloquent than mine, were written at TMP by Ed Gillock.:

"Thanks to him, my mundane middle American childhood was filled with dragons, elves, knights, wizards and quests.  He has set sail on the final voyage to the Undying Lands."

To that, I can add only, amen. Gary Gygax, you will be missed but your legacy will live on every time we sit down with pencil, paper and dice to transport ourselves into the lands of imagination. Without you -- and Dungeons & Dragons -- I never would have met Mike Murphy or Paul Mauer and we never would have created Gutshot.

-- Mike Mitchell
Houston, Texas

PS: For a few more thoughts on how D&D shaped my younger years, here are some musnigs from 2001: http://www.hawgleg.com/ponyExpress01_newsArchive.asp?NewsID=25


Mike Murphy: Recollections from a gamer

In 1979, a 14-year-old boy from Texas went to Baybrook Mall in Houston.

There, inside of KB toys, he wandered around looking at the "Games and Hobbies" section.

Something caught his eye.

It was a flat blue box with fantasy artwork on it, and it was titled "Dungeons & Dragons."

The young boy had never played an RPG before, and curious enough about it, plopped down his fourteen dollars and took it home.

He opened the box, looked at the contents, (funny looking dice), rule books, adventure module B1 "In Search of the Unknown," and sat down to read…

Finally, at 3 am that morning he finally put the books down, closed his sleepy eyes and dreamed of dwarves, elves, dragons, and hordes of treasure.

And he was forever changed.

Today, the gaming world was forever changed; shocked actually, by the announcement of the death of Gary Gygax, (the premier founder of "Dungeons & Dragons").

It came as a sudden shock to me when I read it on TMP.

For those of you that have never played D&D you might say "Who?  Well… He's the Eddie Van Halen of Role Playing Games. He's the Dale Earnheart of fantasy gaming. He's THE legend.

He's the guy that all of us "old school fan boys" looked up towards.

He designed a game that was fun, and yet scary; interesting and yet confusing. Enjoyable, and yet, socially misunderstood.

From the Infamous case of James Dallas Egbert III, to the mentally and socially conflicted son of Pat Pulling (who then decided that D&D was the root cause of teen social ills in the country, and formed a sadly informed, misguided, and delusional crusade against the game), D&D also gained it's notoriety in the early to mid 80s. Through the careful literary and artistical talents of Jack Chick religious tracts, D&D was portrayed as "The Devils Game," and many a geek boy and girl had their beloved books taken away by their parents and some of them actually burned in order to "save their souls."

Strangely enough, the overall majority of D&D players from that time period have been socially well bred, decent people who loved a game which was fun, and grew up, went to school, got married, had kids and taught them how to play D&D.

The hysteria died out when common sense once more prevailed, and through it all, Gary Gygax took abuse, criticism, scorn, and downright hatred at times.

Just for a game.

And that's all it was originally designed to be, … a game.

But it became much more than that.

It became books, it became movies, and it inspired other writers, artists, sculptors, and game designers. In fact the very basic facts of most RPG's nowadays STILL continue to follow the basic fundamental gaming building blocks of D&D.

As of this writing, Wizards of the Coast is working on the soon to be released FOURTH EDITION of this "simple game," which has developed its own social culture, and status, and is now played with pride around the world by players of ALL ages… 2nd and 3rd Generation players now gather around the table to sling dice, kill monsters, and get treasure.

And it was all because of Gary…

In fact, it was because of THIS game, which was created by Gary Gygax, that YOU, dear reader, are reading this. For had it not been for that game, Mike Mitchell and Mike Murphy would've never met that day in an El Paso Apartment and began their friendship and their enduring lifelong "Journey" down "The Pathless Trail…"

I think I speak for all of us here at Hawgleg when I say that myself, Mike Mitchell, Paul Mauer and so many, many other friends of ours will always cherish the memories of the amazing times and wonderful fun we had playing Dungeons & Dragons and how each of us owe Gary Gygax our gratitude for bringing such a "simple little game" into our lives…

And making us all the better for it.

-- Michael T. Murphy
Indianapolis, IN; 46214


Paul Mauer: Mr. Gygax, you will be missed

I'd like to take this opportunity to join with my Hawgleg partners Mike Mitchell and Mike Murphy in expressing our condolences to Gary's family and friends for their loss.

  In life everyone's actions affect others around them and Mr. Gygax's actions were destined to affect more people than he could have possibly ever expected. Unlike most, if not all, of the players I've met, I did not start playing D&D until I was out of high school. I still remember that first game: It was on Thanksgiving Day of 1980.  I had never heard of the game before and I'll admit I was a little skeptical about this "new" kind of game. There was no board, no well defined way to "win" the game and what was with all those funny shaped dice? That one simple game has given me some of the best friends that I have in the world. To this day we still laugh and joke about the adventures we had. So, from myself and all the characters (both in real life and in the game) that I've met along the way I would just like to say "THANK YOU" Gary for creating one of the most wonderful ways to make fond memories and know that you have left behind an enduring legacy that few will be able to match.

-- Paul Mauer
Redmond, Washington

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