Dungeons & Dragons – Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and the Birth of D&D

Gary Gygax, the late father of Dungeons & Dragons, was born on July 27, 1938, and to celebrate his birthday, D&D Beyond has published a retrospective article that tells us about the origins of the beloved tabletop RPG and the creative relationship between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Here’s something to get you started:

“Inspiration for all the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerors [sic] and dauntless swordsmen.”

—E. Gary Gygax, 1979, AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 224

Happy Birthday, Gary Gygax! To many, Gygax is the father of roleplaying games. Many wargamers came before him, and many joined him on this effort, but Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s joint creation of Dungeons & Dragons gave birth to the RPG genre.

On this day, we celebrate the birth of the founder of our hobby, and look back at the story of its creation. Where did D&D come from? What inspired Gygax and Arneson to create this game that has become not just a hobby but a lifestyle for so many people? Could they have possibly anticipated the success of the fifth edition of their game, or that it would ever become a mainstream sensation that attracts not just Hollywood actors, but millions upon millions of normal people like you and me to play this game, and even broadcast their gameplay online for others’ enjoyment?

This is the story of the creation of D&D. It is the story of telling stories. And it is the story of creating storytellers.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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