John Eric Holmes (1930-2010)
In addition to authoring the "Holmes" edition of Dungeons & Dragons, John Eric Holmes was a former associate professor of neurology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, an author and promoter of fantasy role-playing games, a noted fan and enthusiast of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and an American writer of non-fiction, fantasy and science fiction.
His writings have appeared under his full name and under variants such as Eric Holmes and J. Eric Holmes. He wroteucidar.” He was guest of honor at the 1993 ECOF in Willows, California, hosted by Ralph Brown. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.
E. Gary Gygax (1938-2008)
Born Ernest Gary Gygax in Chicago, the only son of a Swiss immigrant, Martin Gygax. He attended the University of Chicago but never took a degree, becoming an insurance underwriter. In the 1960s, he began playing military strategy games but wanted a game with more fantasy elements.
Gygax left the insurance business and became a shoe repairman in order to allow himself time for game development. In 1966, he assisted in the foundation of the International Federation of Wargamers and organized a gaming meet in his basement in 1967 which later became known as Gen Con 0. In 1971, Gygax and Jeff Perren wrote Chainmail, a miniatures wargame; Gygax and Don Kaye founded publishing company Tactical Studies Rules in 1973 and published the first version of "Dungeons & Dragons" in 1974. In 1977, a revised version of "D&D" was created in "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" shortly after the death of Kaye which left Gygax in control of TSR. In 1980, he received the Charles S. Roberts Award for excellence in historical wargaming.
In 1985, corporate in-fighting cost him control of TSR. After leaving the company, he created the role playing games "Dangerous Journeys" and "Lejendary Adventure", as well as the "Greyhawk" series of adventure novels. He suffered two strokes in the spring of 2004, but recovered enough to return to the "Dungeons & Dragons" universe in 2005 to aide in the creation of the "Castles & Crusades" system and the publication of "Castle Zagyg". His health remained fragile, and he was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal aneurysm, though he was still active in the gaming community, hosting forums on gaming websites and a weekly game at his home. Gygax died at age 69 at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Dave Arneson (1947-2009)
David Lance "Dave" Arneson was an American game designer best known for co-developing the first published role-playing game (RPG), Dungeons & Dragons, with Gary Gygax, in the early 1970s. Arneson's early work was fundamental to the development of the genre, developing the concept of the RPG using devices now considered to be archetypical, such as adventuring in "dungeons", using a neutral judge, and having conversations with imaginary characters to develop the storyline.
Arneson discovered wargaming as a teenager in the 1960s, and began combining these games with the concept of role-playing. He was a University of Minnesota student when he met Gygax at the Gen Con gaming convention in the late 1960s. In 1970 Arneson created the game and fictional world that became Blackmoor, writing his own rules and basing the setting on medieval fantasy elements. Arneson showed the game to Gygax the following year, and the pair co-developed a set of rules that became Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax subsequently founded TSR, Inc. to publish the game in 1974. Arneson worked briefly for the company.
Arneson left TSR in 1976. He continued to work as an independent game designer, briefly worked for TSR again in the 1980s, and continued to play games for his entire life. Arneson also did some work in computer programming, and taught computer game design and game rules design at from the 1990s until shortly before his death in 2009.
Bob Bledsaw Sr. (1942-2008)
In 1975, Bob Bledsaw began to run a campaign using the original Dungeons & Dragons rules, after being asked for help by Bill Owen and a group of other friends who had unsuccessfully tried to run the game four times; he started his adventure in a fantasy campaign set in Middle-earth, but moved the campaign to a realm of his own design - The City State of the Invincible Overlord - rather than sacrifice the integrity of Tolkien's world. When Bledsaw was laid off from his job at General Electric in 1975, he decided to form a company to create supplements for D&D players, and with Bill Owen he went to seek permission from TSR. Bledsaw and Owen showed their City-State material to Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and other TSR staff, who told them they could publish supplements to D&D if they wanted to.
With this casual licensing agreement, they created a large map of Bledsaw's City-State, first selling copies of the map and subscriptions to Judges Guild's bimonthly play aids publication. In 1976, with partner Bill Owen he founded The Judges Guild Game Co., which manufactured role-playing games and supplies.
Bledsaw and Owen became full-time employees of Judges Guild in 1977; Owen was also working full time for his family business, so he left Judges Guild in the fall of 1977 and sold his shares to Bledsaw. By spring of 1978, Judges Guild left Bledsaw's living room and moved to a real office. Bledsaw hoped to use his connection with Chuck Anshell - who was friends with one of J.R.R. Tolkien's sons - to acquire a license to Middle-earth, but waited too long out of respect for Tolkien's passing in 1973, and thus Iron Crown Enterprises got the license instead. In 1978 Bledsaw sent Gary Gygax hundreds of pages of notes about campaigns, some of which was incorporated into the original as appendices.