Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RIP David L. Arneson (1947-2009)

Correction: Dave Arneson is not dead.

I've just received word that Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away. When I have additional information, I'll post it here, along with a longer post about Dave and his contributions to the hobby.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.


  1. I'm stunned, but not surprised. He was having health issues for some time. You will be missed Dave.

  2. Three pioneering hobbyists lost in only a little more than a year. How depressing.

  3. Damn, age is starting to tell on us all. It is sad, but it is true that those of us that are grognards and feeling the aches and pains coming on slowly have to realize that the really old guard are venerable and vulnerable.

    Another great creator and imaginative mind has passed on.

  4. Rest in peace Mr Arneson, and roll some 20s with Mr Gygax.

  5. What? Dammit! Now I'm never gonna get to hang out with either of them.

    V-word: kesses
    Definition: the individual hairs of an animal's mane

  6. As I said over on my blog, I think the best way to honor a fellow gamer is to run a game in their honor. When I ran a game in honor of Gygax, a dungeon crawl was the natural choice. I'm wondering now what a suitably "Arnesonian" game would be? Probably something freely mixing sf and fantasy tropes I'd think, but I have to admit I'm not as familiar with Dave's stuff as with Gary's. Maybe it's finally time to run "Temple of the Frog"...

  7. Perhaps this isn't the ideal time or place, but I always got the impression he was never quite as beloved by the hobby as Gygax.

    Not sure if that came down to personality, relative abundance of work, "pressing the flesh" at conventions or what...

    It'll be interesting to see how his legacy is played out in terms of online memorials, retrospectives and so forth.

  8. I've heard it said that Mr. Gygax was a more gregarious and outgoing person, as well as more of an aggressive self-promoter.

    Nothing neccessarily wrong with that, of course.

  9. I've heard it said that Mr. Gygax was a more gregarious and outgoing person, as well as more of an aggressive self-promoter.

    Probably didn't hurt that Gygax had a presence at TSR for considerably more years than Arneson--and that that presence coincided with TSR going "big time."

  10. From what I remember talking to Gary about the subject, Arneson wasn't really interested in working on D&D full time. He was a "play it safe" sort of guy.

    I believe the key disagreements between them came from this. Gary quit his lucrative day job to form TSR, and did part time work to help make ends meet. From what I understand, Dave didn't want to be involved much, then changed his mind and demanded royalties once it was successful.

    Also, from what I've seen, Dave never seemed as creatively fecund as Gary. Even barring Gary's status as head of TSR for years, Dave's had opportunities to produce other games. While Gary went on to write novels, modules, went to work deals in Hollywood, and had two major game releases post TSR (Dangerous Journeys and Lejendary Adventures), Dave really hasn't done nearly as much, and I believe kept his main jobs rather than enter the industry full time.

    Even Blackmoor hasn't been updated--he's always let others flesh it out.

  11. Posted before finishing, so while I believe he certainly deserves our respect for helping create the hobby, I don't think the percentage of creativity was equal, and I also think that if it was solely rested in the hands of Dave, we wouldn't have had D&D be a viable business and hobby.

  12. If people don't mind, I'd prefer we put the discussion of Dave, Gary, and TSR to the side for now. There will be plenty of time to talk about that in the days and weeks to come. For now, I'd prefer to focus on the simple fact that one of the founders of our hobby, without none of us would be here today, has met his end. Let's celebrate him and his accomplishments. The rest can come later.


  13. What a sad time the past couple of years have been for this hobby.

    What a great incentive to play the games in tribute and maybe find a way to preserve the past of our little hobby for the future.

    Thanks for the game Mr. A.

  14. Sorry James ... didn't mean to start that sort of sub-thread. Unfortunately, that was always how I knew him (the "other guy") and I was/am curious to see what others ultimately say about his true legacy.

  15. Another sad day. As James said: let's remember Dave for what he gave us. My battered old copy of The First Fantasy Campaign will be an even more treasured artifact now.

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  17. I've said before I have a dream of playing in one of his yearly games.

    Another dream quashed.

  18. I was saddened by the loss ... Dave lived in Gary's shadow, but without him, our gaming world would have been different entirely.
    He was the sidekick that we all need.
    He was the wingman we all want.
    He was the sounding board that we all wish we had.
    He was ... all of these things and more.

    James, It could not bee more appropriate for you to have said,
    "Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei." ... ("Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.") Thank you for including the Requiem.

    Requiescat in pace, Dave.
    Requiescat in pace, Gary.

  19. I'm so sorry to hear that. My condolences to the Anderson family.

    Surely whatever differences there were between Dave and Gary are now overcome - hopefully the two old friends are now at peace again and enjoying their well-desefved rest.