For those of my friends that aren’t into all things geeky, let me start off by saying that today is the birthday of a man that is responsible for a lot of my teen years being spent huddled over dice and a notebook. Gary Gygax would have celebrated his 74th birthday today, but he passed on to that final RPG in the sky back in 2008.
He is considered the father of role-playing games and, especially, Dungeons & Dragons. I first heard about the game when I was a sixth grader and taking a Saturday Science class at the local college. Upon overhearing a college student talking about this game and describing a raid on some orcs, I thought to myself, “this is THE game I’ve been longing for!” I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard stories of the great witch hunts back in the late seventies and early eighties and the folks that wanted to burn heavy metal albums and anything that looked satanic. Fortunately, my parents didn’t watch the news much or take that sort of nonsense seriously. Plus, Mom usually trusted me in my choices, even though that purchase of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ made her question it. And the craziest of all things was the fact that I bought both items at Wal-mart back in the day before they got the wild idea of selling censored music or banning such games! If it weren’t for this game, I wouldn’t have met the guys that I did when I was in school. It was how we bonded. Many a night spent making characters, staying up all weekend long for marathon sessions, and even cool costumes! Yep, Clif’s mom was a great seamstress and made everyone a cloak or something! Yeah, we didn’t have girlfriends but who cared. This was more fun than the angst of youth and peer pressure!
I eventually went into the Navy and while stationed in Great Lakes, Illinois, in 1988 I got a chance to go to GenCon XX in Milwaukee. It was the first time that I had ever been to something of this sort. Big culture shock to a boy from the woods of North Louisiana. But, I got to meet Gary and Dave Arneson (October 1, 1947 – April 7, 2009), Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Erol Otus (who did the image in this post), and Keith Parkinson. Gamers and artists and I was in hog heaven.
Sadly, I quit gaming as my stay in the military progressed. Even after I got out and got into DJing I still didn’t go back and to this day I don’t know why. I take that back. I do know why. I got into music and that became my passion. Long story, short, I quit DJing in 2004 and lost the fire. Cold soot, no sparks, no embers. Nothing.
During a bout of unemployment in 2009, I saw where an acquaintance from my DJing days was going to a con and doing a little cos-play. Normally, she would leave on a Wednesday, but this being Saturday morning, I figured it had to be close. I looked it up and decided to go to All-Con and I’ve been hooked ever since. In fact, it’s because of these events that I put together my website, A Galaxy Called Dallas.
I’ve been lucky enough to find folks to play with but no where near as much as I would like. But I do when I can and I meet new people and create new stories to tell. Again, it would not be if not for Gary Gygax. Happy Birthday, Gary!
A special thank you to my friends of days long passed who helped me create great stories to tell over a flagon of ale and to the new ones who I’ve yet to travel with. Clif, Stephen, Rickie, Jay, John John, and Todd.
And thank you to Traci Baker of CrimsonVision.net and All-Con.org!