Mourning of the Nerds

4 03 2008

Back in the depths of time, a young proto-nerd took his dangerous first steps into the terrifying cauldron known as High School. He was, fortunately, unaware of the horrors which High Schools (in the US, anyway) typically inflict upon those who are markedly different from the “norm”. Nerds in particular often face enormous difficulties in High School.

This particular proto-nerd had the great fortune to fall in with a group of people who had just discovered a new pastime. This pastime had just been introduced (this being the mid-1970s), and was called a “role-playing game”. This tiny band of proto-nerds were quickly entranced by this new pastime, and their shared hobby (defined as something to get goofy about to avoid going crazy over things in general) helped them ignore the usual perils common to teenagers in the US.

The pastime in question was a game called Dungeons and Dragons, and it had been created by a man named Gary Gygax. Thanks to Gary’s creation, myself and millions of other nerds learned (among many other, more esoteric things) the power that comes from shared experiences. Creating (and sometimes destroying) worlds which fellow hobbyists could share helped build and maintain a sense of wonder and an appreciation for history, literature, art, and mathematics- for me, at least.

Throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s, my friends and I explored fictional catacombs, fought dread creatures from other dimensions, looted tombs, built cities, and developed our own personalities while pretending to be someone (or something) else. In addition to giving us nerds something to do on weekends, Dungeons and Dragons helped sustain my relationships with my friends from High School- up to and including today.

Nerds  Nerds II

Despite the widespread condemnation of the game by hysterical fundamentalists, Gary Gygax’ creation continued to excite wonder and joy among its players for more than three decades.

Sadly, Gary Gygax failed his last saving throw today. He died at the age of 69. In his memory, I will now perform a Critical Morale Failure check on myself.

Let’s see. I suppose I could be classified as a semi-intelligent monster … loyalty base adjustment for length of service … penalty for leader slain … roll d20 … I need a 16 … crap!

Run awa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay!

Farewell, Gary. The world is a much poorer place without you. To quote another of your fans, “Thank you for giving the world something totally worthless but incredibly meaningful.”

Current status: Bummed

Current music: The Memory of Trees by Enya

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8 responses

4 03 2008
Layman Pong

69. That’s a short run.
What of? Anybody know?

D and D was an excellent education in medieval and renaissance technology and sociology, as well as mythology, weaponry. Not to mention friendship.

Man I loved hanging with you guys:
one of the things in my life I have not the slightest shred of regret over,
that I’d do again no questions,
that was a life-changer for the better.

5 03 2008
archvillain

Layman Pong- We probably ought to write a book: Everything I Need to Know I Learned From D&D.

IIRC, I once tried to write a college-level textbook on the game, covering all of the topics introduced to the players. The outline alone was six pages, so I dropped the idea.

7 03 2008
prairieflounder

Did you really have to put that picture up?
-pf

7 03 2008
archvillain

prairieflounder- Which picture?

The older picture was by request. I tossed in the newer one for reference.

(:Þ)

7 03 2008
Layman Pong

What the devil are you saying, pf?
That’s the sexiest damn picture you’ve ever seen.

31 10 2012
Ron Adams (@Tohuw)

What a great and fitting memorial. I actually found it whilst searching for a suitable picture of 70s-era D&D players. I intend to use (and attribute) a picture in this post for an upcoming blog entry (you should receiving a pingback from it as well).

If you’d rather I didn’t, or are dissatisfied with the attribution, let me know and I’ll amend it in as near realtime as possible. Thank you, Sir.

31 10 2012
Blurring the Lines | Tohuw.Net

[…] Pictured: a high-efficiency I/O exchange the most elegant of gaming AIs would envy.(found on archvillain’s blog) […]

7 01 2013
A Portrait of Young (and Older) Geeks Playing D&D « 2 Warps to Neptune

[…] are both from a nice Gary Gygax tribute at A Dark and Sinister Force for Good. The first shot shows the lads back in the day—late ’70s, it looks like. Check out that […]

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