Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Gary Gygax Story

This blog entry is a response to a suggested one-day Blog Memorial in remembrance of Gary Gygax, who died a year ago today. Unclebear had the idea. Now here is my humble response.

How Gary Gygax Signed My Gen Con Program

The first time I met Gary Gygax was Gen Con/Origins 88 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mecca Convention Center was only 6-7 miles away from my house so I went on Saturday. My father gave me $20 ($5 to get in on a visitors pass, $15 for spending money) to set me lose. I was walking around the convention hall and saw Gary at a booth. There was no one else around. He may have been resting after a demo or seminar or eating lunch, I don’t know. All I knew was that one of the Fathers of Gaming was sitting there, and I had to meet him.

I walked over and introduced myself. He smiled and offered his hand to me. I shook it, then preceded to ramble on for three to four minutes about my love of roleplaying and D&D. Gary just nodded and listened, probably hearing me say things that he had heard for a thousand times before. I saw some people coming towards him, so I said thank you to Gary for letting a 15-year-old fanboy talk to him. He said your welcome and shook my hand again.

Suddenly, I had the urge to get his signature. But I realized that I had not bought anything at Gen Con that was authored, designed, or inspired by Gary Gygax. Then inspiration struck. I turned around to Gary, with my Gen Con/Origins 1988 program book in my hand.

“Can you sign my program, Mr. Gygax?” I asked. “You’re one of the reasons that all these games are here.”

Gary looked at me funny for a moment, and then he smiled and chuckled. On the first page of the program book he signed Gary Gygax. He handed the program book back to me.

I thanked Gary again, and he thanked me in return. Placing the program in my official Gen Con bag, I began to wander around the Exhibit Hall once again.

So in the vast Mike David Jr. archives is my collection of every Gen Con program from 1988 to 2008. The one with the cover long since fallen off has the signature of Gary Gygax written on the first page. I keep that one on the top of the pile.

And that’s my Gary Gygax story. Rest in peace, Gary.

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