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Gamers Mourn The Death Of Dungeons & Dragon’s Co-Creator

April 10, 2009

The co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game and a pioneer of role-playing entertainment, Dave Arneson, died at the age of 61 after a two-year battle with cancer, the AFP reported.

His family said that he died peacefully in hospice care in St. Paul on Tuesday.

Gary Gygax, who co-created Dungeons & Dragons with Arneson in 1974, passed away a little over a year ago.

The two, together, created a tabletop role-playing game of medieval characters and mythical creatures, known for its oddly shaped dice, which became a hit with teenagers.

Arneson’s daughter, Malia Weinhagen of Maplewood, said the biggest thing about Arneson’s world was that he wanted people to have fun in life

“I think we get distracted by the everyday things you have to do in life and we forget to enjoy life and have fun. But my dad never did,” she said.

Considered the ultimate in quintessential geek pastime, Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rulebooks and manuals.

“D&D,” as it is often called, spawned copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that thrive today.

Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. that produces Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement that Arneson was the developer of many of the fundamental ideas of role-playing: “that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess.”

The company said that a game Arneson was developing before D&D, called Blackmoor, was the first-ever role-playing campaign and the prototype for all role-playing game campaigns since.

Arneson and Gygax met in 1969 at a convention and found they were both dedicated tabletop wargamers who recreated historical battles with painted miniature armies and fleets.

The duos first collaboration, along with Mike Carr, was a set of rules for sailing-ship battles called “Don’t Give Up the Ship!”

Over the years Arneson would go on to publish other role-playing games and even started his own game-publishing company and computer game company.
He also taught classes in game design and in 1984 was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame.

Arneson had recently began teaching game design at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., where he taught students to make a solid set of rules for their games.

Weinhagen said her father believed that if you have a good foundation and a good set of rules, people would play the game again.

A public memorial service For Arneson is planned for April 20, from 4 to 8 p.m., at Bradshaw Funeral Home in St. Paul.

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