John Wick (wickedthought) wrote,
John Wick

My Dave Arneson Story

Last GenCon, I threw out my back.

Fortunately, there was a doctor in the house. I mean it. There was really a doctor in the house. I got myself some major pain killers and was able to make my way down to the local pharmacy--via taxi cab--and get some real major pain pills. Needless to say, the next day, I was a happy camper.

So happy, in fact, I don't recall most of the day. Pain pills--and other related medicines--have a powerful affect on me. (It's the reason I've stayed away from most drugs.) So, when I tell you what happened next, I'm going off independent accounts. I don't quite remember it happening this way, but other people do, so here's what they told me.

I was talking to some friends of mine when I saw Dave. Now, I met Dave only once before--in my aforementioned Origins Awards experience--when I told him, "Without Dave, there'd be no John Wick," and Dave chuckled and said, "I'm not sure I want responsibility for that."

This was a big time for Dave. He'd been away from the industry a long time and had only just returned. He was also giving away an award: for best electronic RPG. He tried out a couple of his jokes on me and I got to experience his wit first hand. I gave him my humble feedback, and to my eternal chagrin, he used one of my suggestions when he got on stage. When he returned I shook his hand and told him, "Thanks for using that." He said, "If it works, use it."

A few minutes later, The Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil won for Best Adventure. The WotC exec who accepted the award and said, "This represents everything Gary's given to our industry. So, thanks to Gary for inventing roleplaying."

He said that while I was sitting next to Dave Arneson. I did not see Dave at the post-ceremony party later that night. In fact, I never saw him again until the GenCon last year.

And when I saw Dave, he was being assisted by the podcasters who were assisting. Dave was having trouble getting around and they were helping him. Because they're cool like that.

I said hello to Dave and was very chatty. I'm all kinds of chatty when I'm doped up. In the midst of talking to Dave, some woman shushed me. She shushed me. I turned around and she told me, "We're having a moment of silence for Gary Gygax!"

That's when I lost my temper and shouted at her, "Fuck Gary Gygax! He's dead and Dave Arneson is right here and you probably don't even know who he is, you plump bitch!"

I said this during the "Moment of Silence" they had for Gary Gygax at GenCon. You know, the one they were recording. I never got to hear it or if they even posted it. I suspect if my very loud and projected voice got recorded, it probably got edited out.

I turned back to Dave and shook his hand. "Thanks for everything, Dave," I said. He laughed and we both went on our ways.

At least, that's how it was told to me by the people who saw it. I like to think it happened that way.

And that's my eulogy for Dave. Without him, I'd be... fuck, I don't know what I'd be.

For better or for worse, I am who I am because of Dave Arneson. There will be no moment of silence for him on The Colbert Report. He never showed up on Futurama.  And most gamers don't know who he was.

This GenCon, I'm going to fix that.

Tags: game design
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