Memories of Gary Gygax
I only ever interacted with Gary Gygax once, directly. It was before I had anything professionally published, before there was any chance he knew me as anyone but another guy at Gen Con. My first Gen Con in fact, sometime in the 90s. He was in or near the Wizards of the Coast area, running a table of wide-eyed fans in a short D&D adventure. I don’t know if it was 1st or 2nd edition, I don’t know if it was a contest, or a reward, or ticketed event, or what.
What I know is I stood and watched, as wide-eyed as the rest, for about half an hour. When one of the other players died and actually got up and walked away (everyone else stayed at the table once killed), Gygax looked at me and asked “Would you like to play?”
I know I didn’t manage to speak. I think I nodded.
And so I was given a character sheet, and got to play in a game run by Gary Gygax. I didn’t last long. The very next encounter was an attack on our camp by a pack of red-eyed dire wolves. Gary’s description of them was genuinely chilling. I had a fighter of some kind, and rushed out to meet them.
No PCs backed me up, instead staying near the campfire. Gary’s wolves tore me apart.
He gave me a big smile, told me it was a heroic death, then asked the next person standing around if they’d like to play, indicating my seat. I thanked him, gave the new guy a big smile, and handed him the d20 I had. I know I said “Good luck.”
Gary chuckled. It was awesome.