This saddens my geek attuned heart greatly. D&D and The Lord of the Rings were how I cut my teeth to the wonderful world of fantasy. They started the fire in my imagination that has fuelled everything I’ve done since. I remember with great joy the fun I had playing in my friend Brian’s basement back in grade five using only the the old red and blue boxes where lf and Dwarf were classes and not races. I remember too the fun Shane, Brock, Colin, Rob, Daniel and myself used to all have in my basement exploring the vast worlds of Greyhawk, Krynn and the Forgotten Realms. I remember talking with Dale, Eric, Trevor, Ashley and Corby in junior high about the worlds beyond D&D. Of Conan and Gamma World, of Top Secret and Marvel Super Heroes. I remember us exploring these worlds together and expanding our imaginations to greater heights.
I remember my introduction to other games beyond D&D and the TSR umbrella. To GURPS games of unparallelled sophistication with Trevor, Allan, Dale, Rob and Shane. Of late night Vampire sessions that we continue to talk about to this day (“No. I do not know where the sword is currently.”). Of Shadowrunning through futuristic Seattle with Rick, Steve, Calvin, Adam, Brian and Jon. And finally to my introduction to Live Action Roleplaying with far too many people to mention.
I remember too the stigma of being a gamer geek. Growing up through junior high and high school with the “geek” and “nerd” label firmly stamped on my back that assured that few girls would talk to me and fewer still would understand the fire that fueled my imagination. The same badge that “concerned” (read close-minded) parents used to label the game as sinful or blasphemous. It’s a badge I now wear proudly and I wouldn’t have traded it in for the world. The ostracization were a small price to pay for the imaginative outlet it allowed. Okay sure, it would’ve been nice to have had a girlfriend or at least have a girl talk to me now and then, but that’s beside the point. I’ve more than made up for that shortcoming in the years since.
Hell, if it wasn’t for D&D and Gary, I wouldn’t have ever owned my own comic & games store. He did so much for me without ever meeting me. I owe him a great debt. I intend to pay it forward.
*raises a pint*
To Gary. May you live long in our hearts and minds. May you find many new lives to touch in your next adventure and may the dice always come up 20 for you from now on.
The nerdcore are out in force after this news. Here’s an Order of the Stick comic in tribute to Gary.