What Gary Did For Me

It’s GM’s Day this week, which has—unsurprisingly—got me thinking about Gary Gygax, and how much I owe him. I’ve been gaming for 35 years, and roleplaying games have been one of the main parts of my life since I discovered them at the age of ten in my grandfather’s cellar. How the world turns.


If Gary hadn’t invented roleplaying games and if my cousin had seen the Basic boxed set on my father’s bookshelf I might never have become a gamer. Gaming has become a central part of my life, and a massive part of who I am. I owe Gary a great debt.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Gary Gygax has had a profound impact on my life. In fact, except for family members, I think he’s had more influence on my life than anyone else.

Gary, along with Dave Arneson, invented roleplaying games. The gaming world would almost certainly be vastly different without that invention. My life would also be totally different—and I doubt it would be better. I’ve blogged previously about What Gaming Has Done For Me, so I don’t want to re-hash that post again, but what I do want to say is:

Your invention made my life better and richer. You helped me find life-long friends and a career I love. Thank you, Gary.

Tonight I raise a glass of my finest Lagavulin in your honour.

What Did Gary Do For You?

What did Gary do for you? Let me know, in the comments below.


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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

5 thoughts on “What Gary Did For Me”

  1. If Gary and Dave had not invented RPGs? Wargaming already existed and I think its popularity would have been bigger than it was these past 50 years and that means that some people that were drawn into the RPG community would have been drawn into the war gaming community. Truth be told I think RPG were an inevitable invention and out growth of war gaming. That if Gary and Dave hadn’t done it than someone else would have.

    In wargaming you have two basic levels of theater: mass battle and skirmish level of conflict. In mass battle you play a general in command of armies, divisions or battalions on the field of play. Play is tactical but strategy can be impactful. In skirmish you play a Lt. through major in command of squads. and play if far more tactical oriented. A game like GASLIGHT has mass battle, skirmish, and RPG and you can port your heroes from one level of play to the next as needed. I think RPGs were an inevitable wrinkle of wargaming. that someone would have thought, Hey instead of playing with 100s of figures representing 1000s of men or 2-4 dozen figures representing 2-4 dozen men lets play a game were we each have one figure representing 1 man.

    If it hadn’t been Gary and Dave it would have been vastly different and later. Maybe Dave and Gary would have come along afterwards and still invented D&D and we’d still have D&D with possibly 1 fewer editions of the game that we have or maybe D&D would have been the GURPS of the gaming industry. But of the inevitability of RPGs that I am certain.

  2. I’ve been gaming for 42 years, beginning with the white box and met Gary for the first time in 1981 and RPGaming became a lifestyle for me. Following a near-crippling injury that took me off the Lyste fields of the SCA, Gary and I started emailing-one another talking about a lot of things , like his mention in the Cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory and then he offered me a job dong Heraldic blazons for his Lejendary Adventures. Doing that project lead me to do more work for D&D 3 and 3.5, ultimately having my own adventure published.

  3. Nice one Creighton.
    I too have been gaming (table top RPG) since the mid 1990’s, but really got into the “scene” even earlier from reading authors like Tolkien & Feist. My first roleplaying exp was with the Steve Jackson & Ian Livingston Fighting Fantasy solo game books, & later the Joe Dever Lone Wolf series before I discovered D&D.
    My first ‘Gary’ stuff was his articles in Dragon magazine, & I still have my AD&D copy of many of his rule books, particularly prized is the Unearthed Arcana, which I still use in my 5th ed D&D game.
    Without a doubt, his contribution to the game is immeasurable, and I too think that my life would be far different without Gary…
    Thanx fir the trip down memory lane.

  4. Gary and D&D for me represented a small rebellion, which later turned into (for lack of a humbler term) enlightenment. I was raised in an environment that did not encourage thinking about things too much. You were meant to take things on faith, accept the explanations given for everything from the nature of reality to politics to how you can affect the world around you.

    Playing D&D provided a virtualized “sandbox” where it was safe to question everything, to explore anything, to try whatever you wanted. It was only a matter of time that I learned to take that sense of freedom away from the gaming table into real life. I’ve never been the same since, and I honestly don’t think anyone else could have taught me that important life lesson. I don’t know if it was Gary’s intent to re-train the minds of his players, but I’m glad he did.

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