I was told once that you’re not getting old until the people you looked up to as a child start dying.
Yesterday, Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, passed away at the age of 69.
Like many of my writing friends, I spent a big chunk of my childhood making characters, battling imaginary monsters, and rolling funny-looking dice. I spent a lot of time as Dungeon Master as well, creating several adventures and characters that sometimes never even made it to the gaming table. In short, Gygax is at least partially responsible for exercising the creative side of my brain and turning me into the storyteller I am today.
I was sitting in a meeting with my boss when I got the news. John had posted a note to Twitter about it, and his Tweet rolled across my cell phone as a text message. One moment I was discussing our technology budget for next year’s Apple purchase, the next I felt myself go pale and I lost track of what I was saying. I recovered and told the boss it was nothing, but the moment I got back to my office I hit Google News and got the full scoop.
Rest in peace, Mr. Gygax, and thank you for the years of entertainment and creativity you provided.
News of Gygax’s passing prompted me to recall another name from my gaming days, Eric Wujcik. My friends and I were never quite sure how to pronounce the guy’s name, but we sure played the hell out of games he had written. I looked him up and discovered he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. He’s still with us and undergoing chemotherapy, but the cancer has already spread to his liver.
Talk about your one-two punch. I didn’t feel at all old until I learned about Gygax and Wujcik and recalled what I was told about childhood heroes. I haven’t had the opportunity to play an RPG game for years, but suddenly I feel like a part of my youth died.
I need to find my dice.