Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Player Character, Dead at 69

I just read on BoingBoing Gadgets that Gary Gygax has passed away. Boooooo, Mortality. Boooooo, Circle of Life.

Since everyone thinks it's totally hilarious and awesome when I post a story in the comments of someone else's blog and then change it slightly and repost it here, here is something I had put up on Daily Monster last Wednesday that talks about Gygax a bit.

This is (easily, obviously) more about my feelings about things I was obsessed with as a kid being updated and discarded than it is about Gygax, but if I had known he was going to die (which, to be clear: not totally hilarious and awesome), maybe I would have made him more victorious..?

Player Character Hater

Gary Gygax, author of the original Monster Manual from 1977, is at a Waldenbooks poking around the wasteland that is the “Humor/Games” section and sees a new edition of the Monster Manual has come out. He left the company in ’85 but this book is one of his children, and he can’t resist cracking it open and taking a peek.

Immediately, he regrets it: gone is the classic art by the Davids (La Force, Sutherland and Trampier), and with them the nonchalantly topless demon chicks. But worse: actual monsters are missing: favorites like Mustard Jelly and Rot Grub are nowhere to be seen. Sorry, fans of the Cave Moray; you’re out of luck. Apologies, Boalisk fans. Brown Pudding, we hardly knew ye (you too, Lurker Above).

And these are the monsters that players cared about. What about the ones he designed that no one ever really understood? Panicking, he flips back to the table of contents to see if the Axebeak, the 160th monster he created, is here. It is not. A prehistoric, ostrich-like creature with a beak the shape (duh) of an axe, an Axebeak has (had?) an AC of 6 (i.e., similar to light chain mail). Two claw attacks per turn with 1-3 hp of damage, and don’t forget the beak (another 2-8 hp)! No treasure, but most Axebeaks had 1d4 eggs worth 50-80 gp each. This information will be in his brain forever, and now it’s useless.

He drops the new edition in disgust. If this life has taught him anything, it’s that as you get older, you face more monsters, not fewer: heart attacks, a stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm. Maybe this is some kind of punishment for the pit trap at the entrance of the Kobold Lair in module B2 (The Keep on the Borderlands). Hasn’t he paid karmically for that yet? SORRY, FIRST LEVEL PLAYER CHARACTERS BUT YOU LEARNED TO BE MORE CAREFUL AROUND KEEPS, DIDN'T YOU? He turns to leave the store. As he exits, he tells a clerk, “You will not get any of my gp today!”

But then he turns around. It is not the clerk's fault. Gygax apologizes. It is hard to be Alignment: Neutral-Good in today’s world, especially at a freaking Waldenbooks, but he will do what he can.


Molly said...

Oh, the cave moray. Fare the well.

Did you read the profile of Gary Gygax in the Believer many moons ago?


Patrick M~ said...


I let my unjustified ambivalence about The Believer trick me into not reading it, but I just did and it's really good!