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A Gygaxian Follow-up
November 3, 2013 5:17 AM   Subscribe

5 years ago, Gary Gygax died, and I left a comment here on Metafilter memorializing his life, and how he helped me when I was very young.

Friday night, I got to tell my story to his son, Ernie Gygax Jr. Ernie was DMing me through his original TSR Hobby Shop Dungeon. Last night, I also got a chance to talk one-on-one with Frank Mentzer, who, outside of Gail Gygax, was probably Gary's best friend and the last person to see Gary alive. Ernie was happy to hear about his dad, and signed my Player's Handbook right next to his dad's signature. Frank similarly signed my book, and we both got a little choked up talking about Gary for a bit, there.

All of this came about because of a new con here in Madison. There's a synchronicity here, as Mentzer and (a) Gygax had signed that same book 30 years and 2 months ago.
posted by thanotopsis to MetaFilter-Related at 5:17 AM (28 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

That is pretty damn cool.
posted by ColdChef at 5:23 AM on November 3, 2013


Nice! Gygax's death was before I arrived on the blue, but looking back on your comment later, I was struck by this:

Cut to years later, and I'm at Gen Con in 1983, standing in line to see Gary. When it comes around to my turn to have him sign my DM's guide,

I was in the same line that day in 1983, for the same purpose. Funny old world.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:49 AM on November 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


That was such a moving comment; I'm really glad I read it.
posted by heyho at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2013


This is one my favorite stories on metafilter. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:07 AM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's a very nice story.
posted by discopolo at 7:28 AM on November 3, 2013


I got to love that comment all over again, thanks for sharing the ongoing story with us thanatopsis.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:39 AM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, I hadn't seen that comment before; thank you for sharing this. I love this:

Mustering up all the wisdom that 14 years of age benefited me, I worked out: "D&D lets me be in charge. I can make my own rules, and it still works. When I'm playing it, nobody makes fun of me..." and, in the middle of the greatest convention in the world, in front of possibly the only man I could honestly call my hero, I started to cry.
posted by lalex at 8:07 AM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's a story worth remembering. Thanks.

(And: thanks to the memory of GG, who sounds like one of the good ones.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:01 AM on November 3, 2013


I completely forgot about that amazing story and am glad to have read it again.

On second read, this mundane part that's outside of the EGG-being-a-great-human stuff jumps out at me:

but she said it [the blue box] was just a silly game that she bought for parties, but it hadn't worked out.

It kind of blows my mind that back then, a package stamped with dorky fantasy imagery was something a casual shopper would pick up for parties on a whim. People perceive dragons and wizards much differently now.
posted by ignignokt at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> People perceive dragons and wizards much differently now.

That's really interesting, and to me, the implications of that are pretty clear: It's solely because of the association with nerds that fantasy stuff is considered lame. Sci-fi too, I reckon, and by extension, more or less anything space-related...
posted by blue t-shirt at 3:59 PM on November 3, 2013


> It kind of blows my mind that back then, a package stamped with dorky fantasy imagery was something a casual shopper would pick up for parties on a whim.

I think it was probably because, in the late 70s, gaming (and the accompanying fantasy artwork) was considered to be firmly in the niche of pot-smoking college students. So, I could see someone with a bag of "grass" (it was the 70s) picking up something like that to entertain at a party.
posted by thanotopsis at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aha. Now that you mention it, Led Zeppelin, et al were also into wizards and Tolkien around that time. I guess the "nerd ghettoing" of fantasy and role-playing games happened in the '80s.

Coincidentally, by the time the nineties rolled around, many of my D&D-playing high school friends were stoners.
posted by ignignokt at 5:48 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I hear kids these days are taking elfies at funerals so maybe the pendulum is swinging back.
posted by bleep-blop at 9:05 PM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it was probably because, in the late 70s, gaming (and the accompanying fantasy artwork) was considered to be firmly in the niche of pot-smoking college students.

And then in the early 80s, it got hijacked by Satan worshipers, according to mainstream media, Jack Chick, and my mother.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:14 PM on November 3, 2013


I missed this story the first time around, I'm glad I caught it this time. He sounds like a great guy.
posted by greenish at 4:00 AM on November 4, 2013


The problem that I found growing up, what with the popularity of D&D and all, is that it was really hard to find an actual group of Satan-worshippers. Everytime I thought I'd uncovered a coven, turns out they were all lawful good paladins!

Luckily that all changed when I joined the Republican Party. Vote #1 Satan.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:06 AM on November 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hear kids these days are taking elfies at funerals


Those elfies are the residents of the funeral home and should be returned to their homes, not taken out into the wild by untrained civilians with no idea how to bear the responsibility of their well-being.
posted by tilde at 5:13 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I hear kids these days are taking elfies at funerals so maybe the pendulum is swinging back.

Taking elfies is all fine and good, but when you post them on the internet, you are just making a fool of your elf.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:48 AM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought elf-posting was banned here. Another example of the inconsistent, chaotic evil nature of the mods.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:05 AM on November 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was also glad to read that comment again, and surprised I hadn't favorited it the first time, because I find small acts of compassion so moving as to be almost unbearable. I really think they are the only thing that keeps the world spinning.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:48 AM on November 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


But the problem is that if there is too much compassion, the world will start spinning faster and faster and we will all fly off into deepest, darkest space. And then Atlas won't be the only one "shrugging". Wait this comment doesn't make any fucking sense
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:17 AM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am now favoriting Bunny Ultramod's comment because that was exactly my reaction as well, down to being surprised I hadn't previously favorited it. I'm actually getting a tad choked up thinking about it just remembering reading it yesterday.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:18 AM on November 4, 2013


Jeeze, me too. I feel like I have let people down with my extraordinarily lax favoriting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:33 AM on November 4, 2013


I think that thread was the time I felt most at-one with the rest of MetaFilter. Great story. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:50 AM on November 4, 2013


I had never seen that comment until today so thanks for a great read!
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:04 PM on November 4, 2013


A few weeks ago I was a swarm of nanobots who helped a squid with unconvincing plastic surgery shove a grenade in one of the many uteruses in a sentient wall of meat.

Thanks Gary. We still appreciate you.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:52 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is odd because I was just looking at White Plume Mountain. Jezz, I keep my first DM guide next to my signed Jaques Pepin. Great comment.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 AM on November 5, 2013


I spent Sunday killing goblins and dire rats via the internet with a great group of friends, because I finally admitted to myself a year or so ago that this is a life long hobby for me. And that the role it played for me as an awkward, socially inept adolescent was perhaps more important than I knew at the time.

Thanks Gary. And thanks thanotopis for sharing that comment, it resonates with me.
posted by nubs at 11:04 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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