Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dave Arneson

On this day in 1947, David L. Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, was born.

Mr. Arneson's role in the early days of the hobby is sometimes overlooked by people who know better, myself included. The dungeon as focus of play was born in his Blackmoor campaign, making possible the game we now recognize as D&D. At the very least, it's safe to say that, without Mr. Arneson, fantasy gaming might have been very different than it is today.

I'd like to extend my personal felicitations to him on the occasion of his 61st birthday and wish him health, happiness, and long life. He is one of the founders of our shared hobby; it's only right that he should be honored, not only on this day but throughout the year.

Happy Birthday, Dave!


  1. His contribution to gaming was not lost on me, without him there would not have been a role-playing industry - hell, even the video game industry would be vary different! It was the individualistic nature of role-playing that made D&D so popular to non-wargamers. He was playing role-playing engagements well before he found Chainmail - using rock, paper, scissors to resolve combat situations no less!

    Of course I cant discount the efforts of Gary Gygax, as Gary provided a good abstract system to help resolve combat situations, to which they both added to eachother's efforts, giving form to Dungeon & Dragons. They are both like a "structure/freeform" Yin-Yang dynamic that that was combined into a single yet malleable form - called role-playing games!

    I might be over thinking things a bit, but that how I see it. Well that my 2cp.

  2. Does anyone know if Dave still plays? Is he accessible? Does he attend conventions?

  3. Dave still plays when he is able to get a group together, as I understand it. He's quite accessible, attending conventions when possible. He's also a regular poster over at the OD&D forums, popping in to dispense wisdom about the early days of the hobby.

  4. I saw Dave at The Source Comics and Games this spring at a book signing after D&D Day. He's battling cancer and his health is not great. He was nice enough to answer questions for more than an hour, despite feeling tired. He'd flown up from his home in Florida and was weary from treatment and traveling. (He used to live in St. Paul).

    I'd met him a year earlier, and thought him to be quite distracted and aloof. It turns out he wasn't either at all--but he'd been not in great health for sometime. In fact he's a very generous, down-to-earth guy with an extremely urbane and wry sense of humor!

    If you get a chance to meet him, take it, he's got quite a unique insight on gaming (board, RPG, video games, etc.) and life in general. I don't think he'll be coming back to Minnesota anytime soon. The fellas at the Source said he likely won't be with us much longer.