Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Gary Invictus, the Great Escape...

So last week or so, there was some debate about what Gary Gygax might have thought about the latest edition of D&D. Who knows? But it wasn't lost on me how both sides of the metaphorical (and all-too political) divide claimed Gary for their own and fancied either a kindly, tolerant acceptance or utter disdain (although the latter might have been hyperbolic rambling), which suggests the man's ultimate transcendence...

Gary very sadly left us in 2008. But he lived long enough to change the world, make legions of friends, and share his wisdom. There were decades of articles and interviews galore, including threads on many forums, all of which offered glimpses into the man. But he left us before Twitter and today's toxic political environment, so we'll never know who he'd have supported in our contentious elections. Ditto for the (numerous) hot-button issues endlessly debated online. People try to infer this or that, but it's a clumsy stretch. 

I'm realistic. He was an older man from a previous time, and I somehow doubt his views would consistently align with contemporary mores*. Gary would have run afoul of one faction or another, and the tribes would predictably close ranks faster than you can say sheeple, overshadowing both the man and his work. I'm thankful this never happened in his lifetime, especially given the (absurd) politicization of the current hobby.

By leaving when he did, Gary put his game ahead of himself; and this is as it should be, especially for a hobby explicitly laid in the able hands of its far-flung adherents. No man, not even the pastime's progenitor, should claim the final word. Moreover, by avoiding today's sometimes vulgar (and never particularly humble) online debates, Gary became a universal figure in which everyone can see at least some reflection of their values. In a time of ugly divisions, it's nice when something can unite us in positive and enjoyable ways...

*He had libertarian leanings to be certain; but no one's a monolith or mere stereotype.


  1. I, too, have noticed that Gary has had words placed in his mouth all too many times. The simple truth is that in Gary's final years, he published for Lejendary Adventure and for Castles & Crusades. I wouldn't want to go beyond those facts as some have done: "Gary didn't TRULY like LA and/or C&C that much. In his heart of hearts he instead TRULY favorite system!"

  2. I too am glad he passed before his star would have been faded by our insistent social media world that demands you stake a claim somewhere on the political spectrum.

  3. Wise words.
    But the debate on whether 5E is good or not is political? Really?

  4. It makes me a little sad that we celebrate someone not having to be drawn and quartered by the peculiarities of our times. But it's certainly true.

    I recently watched Aziz Ansari's "Nightclub Comedian" on Netflix and I'm still thinking about something he said, calling out pretty much everyone's discontent as the result of being "stuck in algorithms" and living in the comments section which seems really unfortun....oh, wait. ;)

  5. Hit the nail on the head here. Gary had his share of unfortunate toxic episodes, but they were confined to gaming conventions and remarks in articles he wrote for (sometimes obscure) gaming magazines. One has only to look at the drama surrounding Frank Mentzer to imagine how things could have ended differently with Gary.

  6. The argument feels like the Grant/Lee argument, if I'm getting to political.
    Historians looked at Lee with some level of respect, while bashing Grant. The biggest reason. For this was because Lee was dead before Grant became President, if he would have lived on, the to e for Lee would be much different (adding to the more racists charges of Lee) this is all from what I remembermy historyteachers in college put it.

    In a non serious way, Gary is not getting the heat that his contemporary, Ken St.Andre is getting for his opinions (particularly on Covid19 and racism, which landed him in hot water.) But I have this feel Gary would have had the same thoughts a out Covid19 at least. (Given what happened in past pandemics not the Spanish Flu.)

    That's kind of my thoughts. Though I feel Gary would question some of the things they are doing to his settings.

  7. @JPG: If you dig through some of the Q&A forum threads he did, you'll find he already said quite a bit.