Dave Arneson, co-creator of D&D

posted 2009-04-10 12:06:02 by grendel

Dave Arneson, co-creator of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, passed away on Tuesday evening, April 7th, after waging one final battle against cancer.

In 1969, when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax first met at GenCon, both were dedicated tabletop wargamers, refighting historical battles with painted miniature armies and fleets. Their first collaboration (along with Mike Carr) was a set of rules for sailing-ship battles called Don't Give Up the Ship!

By the early 1970s, Dave's far-ranging interests led him to a unique concept in wargaming -- a wargame where each model represented just one hero instead of many soldiers in an army. That idea in itself wasn't new; "skirmish-style" games had been around for years. What was new were the ideas that the same heroes could be played in a series of games, learning and becoming more powerful with each battle; that their battles could be part of larger adventures set in the types of fantastic worlds popular in sword-&-sorcery fiction; and, most importantly, that playing just one hero at a time was more exciting than controlling a whole army if that hero had a personality. In other words … roleplaying.

Dave could have used any set of rules to wage his early roleplaying campaigns, which were set in his world of Blackmoor. For a time at least, he settled on Chainmail, written by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren. It was a fortunate choice, because it brought him back into collaboration with Gary. They swapped ideas and articles, notes and charts, until eventually, the manuscript took on the shape that would become Dungeons & Dragons as published in 1974. Elements of Dave's earliest campaign -- the very first roleplaying campaign -- were published a year later in the Blackmoor supplement to D&D. Blackmoor contained yet another innovation -- the first published D&D adventure, Temple of the Frog.

In later years, Dave published other RPGs (Adventures in Fantasy), started his own game-publishing company (Adventure Games) and computer game company (4D Interactive Systems, Inc.), taught classes in game design, and lectured on educational roleplaying. Whether you're a lifelong D&D player or a newcomer to RPGs, a traditional paper-and-pencil gamer or an online roleplayer, we all owe a great debt of thanks to Dave Arneson and his groundbreaking Blackmoor game.