A Great Disturbance in the Nerd Force

Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.

The thing I liked most about Gygax’s fantasy stuff was that it was so obviously not based on wishy-washy English pastoralism in the Tolkien vein, but was always darker and edgier and unabashedly pulpy, in the spirit of Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock, Robert Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. *Especially* Leiber and Vance. Of course, since Gygax’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, a couple of generations of fans reared on Tolkienism have infected D&D with Tolkienistic tropes, but Gygax’s original D&D world, Greyhawk, is a crucially interesting reflection of both timeless fantasy archetypes and 1970s/1980s anti-establishmentarianism… and a kick-arse adventure playground of endless orc-infested dungeons and elf-infested forests in a classic vein. Gygax’s Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is one of the best mindfuck roleplaying scenarios I’ve ever been killed within.

There’s still Glorantha, which has also remained relatively Tolkien-Free.

1 Response

  1. Dez says:

    No disrespect to the man but do you think it was the Risk people that got to him? Cross pollination of the board games….

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