Empire of Imagination

Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons

I recently got a chance to read Empire of Imagination which is the Gary Gygax Biography – which I would be surprised if you were here AND had not yet heard of this book. I had not paid that much attention to the turmoil at TSR at the time as there really wasn’t that much news readily available to your average high school nerd in AZ about it anyway. I did know that Gary Gygax was no longer involved in creating 2nd Edition D&D when it came out which made me shy away from the system. Not to mention that it felt like I just had saved up enough money to buy used copies of both the Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures books. There was plenty of new material for my friends and I to explore without having to buy these new rule books!

The book is a quick read and finished up the last half of it this weekend. It recounts his life and important events using a fictional narrative based on facts and research. It was surprisingly informative and gave me a lot of history some that I suppose that I should know by now and other that I would have never found out without reading this book. I can’t help shake the feeling that this knowledge has left me a disillusioned with the early days of TSR and Gary Gygax. Knowing how things turned out for Gary made it difficult to root for him as the underdog in the story as you already know their isn’t a chance that he is going to win. This is a must read for anyone who is a serious D&D geek or needs to have something special up their sleeve for the next Nerds That Drink Trivia Night, but for many others I think they will find it tragic.

Call of Cthulhu 1920s

Fatal Experiments Cthulhu 1920s

It was the summer after high school and my friends wanted to play Call of Cthulhu. I had read of few H.P. Lovecraft’s books which seemed to make me the Cthulhu expert of the group and thus I was elected to be the GM. I picked up the box set used at the local comic book shop and Fatal Experiments which was a bundle of adventures.┬áThe last sentence of the Lovecraft quote on the back of the book from the short story Herbert West: Re-animator (a favorite movie of ours!) set the tone for what kind of game we were getting ourselves into.

“The wonder and diabolism of the his experiments fascinated me utterly…. His views hinged on the the essential mechanistic nature of life and concerned mean for operating the organic machinery of mankind by calculated chemical action after the failure of natural processes…. My friend believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life…. He usually finished his experiments with a revolver.

I haven’t played much Cthulhu since that summer, but I still have my box set and hope someday that I get another chance to play. In the meantime I have 5 “new” Call of the Cthulhu 1920s books that I recently picked up from a comic book store that was getting rid of their role playing game stock. These books are new, but they have been sitting on dusty shelves for close to 30 years so they do have some wear, dings, and even stains. Regardless 4 of the 5 are in excellent condition for soft cover books of that age and one unfortunately the glue of binding gave out and it has a split. All of the are up on my eBay store. Mansion of Madness, Terror Australis, Cthulhu Casebook, The Great Old Ones, and the one that I used to terrify my friends with Fatal Experiments.