Thirty years ago, a young kid - just out of college, starting a new career in a new city, lonely - wandered into a local gaming store. Shopping through the various wargames, trying to find something he might enjoy by himself, he stumbled across a little red box.
Glancing through the booklets, he felt confused. "What kind of game is this," he thought. He boxed it back up, and looked around some more, but in the back of his mind, a voice whispered, "This one is different. This one will stay with you."
Thirty years later, I realize whose voice that was.
Thanks for all the opportunities to take my imagination out for a walk.
Thank you, Gary, for that little blue box of joy, and for the first adventures I ever played: The Keep on the Borderlands, getting TPKed in the Tomb of Horrors, and all the cool loot from Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. I know you're DMing a hell of game somewhere in Elysium or the Astral Plane!
This hits hard. What awful news. I'm saddened I never got to meet him in person. I did, however, get to converse with him here on these very message boards (and even managed to flame him before I was tipped as to who "Col_Pladoh" really was...hoo boy was my face red) and a few other internet haunts. I'm glad I got to thank him for what he gave us, and even more glad to find him to be a vital, active poster who still had plenty to talk about. I was tickled that he actually read a couple of books I recommended - The Peshawar Lancers (which he seemed to think was kind of meh) and The Wizard (by Gene Wolfe, which he felt deserved a spot on an updated version of the "recommended reading" list in the 1e DMG). His passing leaves a void in the gaming community and industry.
I remember the first time I voyaged to the Keep on the Borderlands back in 1984, its been the first of my many voyages to other worlds opened by him. Gaming was always my refuge when the world got tough whether just working or while in graduate school. It taught me history, mythology, and quite a bit of mathematics. And its all due to Gary. Bye, you've been quite a influence on my life.
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news -- as I'm sure were most of the people here.
I'm glad that I had the chance to thank Gary in one of this Q&A threads here for creating the game that helped me get through high school. I was an incredibly introverted, shy, awkward kid, and playing D&D was instrumental in overcoming that shyness and being comfortable on social situations.
I'm in late on this, but better late than never. Besides, I can't say any more than what scores of others have said before me in this thread. It's a little punch in the gut. It's a feeling of loss, and of celebration of someone who really lived his life as full as he possibly could.
I'd only met him a couple of times, gamed with him once, and talked with him numerous times on the 'net, but I feel like I've lost the irascible but loving grandpa of the family, the one who taught me to play poker in the clubhouse against mom's wishes.
Lo, there do I see Gary.
Lo, there do I see My father the cleric, and my friend Tim the Thief.
Lo, there do I see The line of my people Back to the beginning.
'Lo, they do call to me, They bid me take my place among them.
At the Table of Valhalla Where the Gamer May live forever.