Dungeons & Dragons Geekdom
Tragically, Gary Gygax, the man who is generally considered to be the founder of Dungeons and Dragons, has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Normally, when famous people pass on, I like to write a post giving my condolences to their family and friends. Granted, they’ll probably never read it, but, it’s the thought that counts.
In this case, I feel like I should say a little more, because I spent countless hours geeking out, enjoying myself playing Gary Gygax’s creation. That always sounds dorky to say, but I figure if Michelle Malkin and Vin Diesel indulged, too, how bad can it really be?
I got started playing in my early teens when my mother ran across a bunch of D&D stuff cheap at a yard sale and bought it for me. I immediately took to it like a fish to water, bought new books, and really got into playing.
That came to horrify my mother, because in those days, it seemed like every few weeks you’d read about some wack job taking a sword to his neighbors because he played D&D for so long that he began to believe that they were Drow who planned to poison him when he slept so they could steal his magic +3 hairdryer.
Still, I kept playing, but the problem with D&D was always that the game was only as good as the people you were playing with. You play with a bunch of annoying goofs and it sucks. You play with interesting people with great personalities, and the game is a lot of fun.
The best group I ever played with was in Charlotte, after college. We’d actually have all night D&D marathons, get a few hours sleep, load up on Mountain Dew and Doritos and do it again the whole next day — and make no mistake about it, I was not just a casual player, I was a total and utter D&D junky — ehr, let me clarify. I wasn’t into the costume play or the Renaissance Fair stuff. You know, “Let’s all dress up like wood elves and pretend to fight Goblins in the basement,” — no thank you — but I practically had the manuals memorized and even ran some campaigns.
Eventually, the game lost its magic for me and I stopped playing. You might think that was because I finally grew up, but if that were true, I wouldn’t still be playing PS2 every so often and watching cartoons.
Was it fun? Oh yeah, it was, but more importantly, playing with all those dice ended up giving me a freaky feel for statistics that really comes in handy when I’m trying to decipher poll results. In other words, I now use the skills I developed trying to figure out if I could make my saving throw against turning to stone after looking at a Medusa to figure out whether congressional districts are going to stay blue or turn red in the next election. What can I say? It works really well.
Creating a popular game isn’t exactly inventing the steam engine, but there’s something to be said for coming up with a product that brought so many people together to socialize and have a great time. So, for all the good times I, and everyone else had, playing D&D, may the Good Lord give Gary Gygax a couple of extra saving throws against…ehr, being charmed by harps? Falling off of clouds? I have no idea what he’d need the saving throws for, but still, it’s the thought that counts…