Happy 40th Birthday, Dungeons & Dragons

Thank you Gary Gygax.

You gave a unique gift to the world: the gift of play. There are some of us who truly appreciate it and continue the tradition today. I know people who still play 1st and 2nd edition AD&D. Heck, I still sometimes take out the old red book to play some truly old school D&D. What you did was so simply and so brilliant at the same time. You created rules… entire systems for people to use so we can all take part in a shared fantasy, allowing a community to form.

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Thank you Gary Gygax for that.

Because of you… because of your child Dungeons & Dragons, we have GenCon. We have RPGs. We have many roleplaying games on the many consoles and PCs (yes, they were inspired by D&D). We have complex storytelling on many new games because the writers were all inspired to explore their own dreams and fantasies because of D&D. I can’t imagine a world where Dungeons and Dragons didn’t exist, and you know what? I wouldn’t want to.

Bet you didn’t know that some players for the Indianapolis Colts also played AD&D. A couple of years ago at GenCon, I was going up in an elevator when a couple of gentlemen with… ladies… came on as well. We made small talk and they asked me if I was there for the pre-season game. I told them nah, I was there to roleplay. They told me they used to play 1st edition AD&D when they were in grade school… and that was freaking awesome. Wish I would have gotten their autographs. But they had their…. errr… hands full at the time.

I’ve played quite a few of the worlds AD&D had to offer: Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Mystara (the original campaign world), Dragonlance, and Planescape. Ravenloft was by far my favorite of the bunch. No, Gary didn’t create that wonderful world setting. Ravenloft was about gothic horror. Think of the old-school horror movies. The slow paced… building… all-suffocating dread that threatens to consume everything that was good and holy in the universe. Ravenloft was more than mere horror… yes, it was scary as hell if it is DMed right. But it’s more than that. A character can only be the ultimate hero when faced with the ultimate challenge. They have to confront their fears, have their body and soul’s mettle tested over and over again… torn down and sculptured in the forge of valor until all doubt was removed. The hero was the only one who could stop the evil. Did the hero always win? No. Sometimes evil had plans upon plans so that even if they “lost”, they still ultimately won in some horrific way. But that was fine. I still got to play the hero.

Ravenloft Campaign Setting Boxed Set

Yes, Dungeons and Dragons has been stigmatized and typecast. Lots of people believe we’re wasting time… that we probably play in the basement and do nothing but live in a dream land. That was have no connection with reality. Hell, when I was at GenCon (yes, I keep bringing that up. Sue me), I saw people hurl insults at people who were cosplaying… despite the same cosplayers spending lots of money supporting the local community where those dillholes live, play, and make a living. Why is it when people play sports, fantasy football, and some games… that’s okay. But when people play D&D, they are somehow horrible? I don’t get it.

Probably never will.

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Anyways, happy birthday D&D.

You gave me Thornton Lionheart, Knight of the Sword of the Knights of Solamnia. Est Sularus Oth Mithas (My honor is my life). He knew Takhisis (goddess of evil dragons) marked him for death. Did he fight it? No. He accepted the will of the gods, having faith in a higher power. Who was he to disagree with any deity at all? He still fights today….

You gave me the single greatest AD&D campaign I have ever run, going across the worlds… starting from Mystara, through Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms.. all the way to Planescape and back. It was the world where a Paladin was betrayed by the gods of good, where good realized they made a mistake and corrected it to save existence itself. The Paladin saw that his sacrifices meant nothing, that his faithful service meant nothing to the gods of good, so he moved to remove all gods from the world of Mystara… to let man make his own fate. And he was the antagonist. It was a campaign where the “bad guy” was also the “good guy” at the same time, leaving the heroes at a loss for how to approach the Paladin. They knew he was wrong, but they understood why he was doing it at the same time.

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Gary Gygax. You gave me a gift… something that I can never repay. Thank you for making the world a far better place because you made it that way.

And happy birthday to your baby, Dungeons and Dragons.

May your dice roll forever high
May you always make your saving throws
May you continue to entertain people for decades to come

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