Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dear Gary,

When I was a kid, I looked up to you. I never told you that. Maybe it's because I pretty much grew out of my childhood heroes (except for Zorro, of course).

Pretensions of maturity and resentfulness get in the way of a lot. Yeah, once I learned that there were options, I grew to resent a lot of the advice you'd given me over the years. I felt betrayed. You told me that it was impossible to have a successful campaign without accurate time-keeping... but then I went and played in games where time was hand-waved... and it was OK! You told me to roll 3d6 six times, in order... but I enjoyed playing the characters that I generated with other methods more.

Did you lie to me?

I felt like you did.

It took me awhile to realize that you were making this up as you went along. No, your rules weren't perfect... they were too early to have been perfected. You even softened up on some of them along the way in response to the innovations of other, but I'd moved on and wasn't really paying attention.

Your rules weren't perfect, but they were first (or as close to it as to make no difference), and all of those that came after you built upon the foundation you'd laid. As much as those who came after you might resent some of your contributions, they probably wouldn't be making roleplaying games at all if you hadn't come along.

I've never been one of those people who refuses to speak ill of the dead. I think that it is important to remember people accurately. We all make mistakes, and none of us are perfect. Death doesn't change that. You're still the guy behind Cyborg Commando.

I saw you in person for the first time this past August, at Gen Con. I thought about coming up and meeting you, but I didn't. What could I say? You wouldn't remember me anyway.

I could have said, "Thank you."

Thank you for creating Dungeons & Dragons. Playing the game you created gave me much joy when I was younger. Playing games that would not exist but for your creation, have given me much joy since then.

Thank you,

Stuart

1 comment:

Jeff Rients said...

Nicely put.

Re: Cyborg Commando. A couple years ago over at Dragonsfoot Frank Mentzer personally accepted the lion's share of responsibility for that one. Though the looooong section explaining the benefits of the d10x dice mechanic is clearly Gygaxian in verbiage.