Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Fatal Chink in the Chainmail

Dave Arneson, from Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick

These last couple of days have been touch-and-go for Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson, and it looks like he failed his last saving throw. As crass as that may sound, I think he would not have minded. Were I to be part of the creative genius that helped create an entire universe of roleplaying goodness, it'd certainly be how I'd want to go out. As I did with the passing of Gary Gygax, I roll a twenty sided die for Dave for the last time. It came up an 18.

From Wired:
For the second time in just over a year, the dice are silent in the gaming world. News has reached us that Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, passed away last night at the age of 61.

While not as famous as Gary Gygax, who passed away in March of last year, Arneson was a driving force behind D&D's creation and his contribution to the world of adventure gaming should not be underestimated. It was Arneson's spark that transformed Gygax's game Chainmail into the first edition of D&D, and begat everything that followed.

Arneson had to fight to get credit for his contributions, filing multiple lawsuits (later resolved out-of-court) against Gygax over crediting and royalties. He nonetheless did return to TSR in the mid-'80s to work with Gygax again. Following that, he began a second career as an educator, working in several schools with a particular focus on how to use gaming as an instructional tool.

Arneson suffered a stroke in 2002 and was soon after diagnosed with cancer. He finally lost his battle with cancer last night, surrounded by his family, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gamers everywhere owe him a certain debt of gratitude for his work. He will be sorely missed.


  1. That's a shame. Those guys contributed to many late nights eating junk food and drinking soda. Playing D&D with my pals in high school was the most fun I had in those days... without a girl involved anyway.

  2. I totally agree, in fact one could argue that a large part of the lifestyle I now live is because of what the two of them (and others) created.