Sunday, April 11, 2021

My Brief Run-In with Dave Arneson


Just another hot & sweaty munchkin
Although I've been a big volunteer for a game company squaring-away the "big" convention tournaments, I've only attended GenCon two or three times. I've always been much more a Origins fan.....far more "bang for my buck" and GenCon is just too much, well for me......"too much".

Regardless, I have attended a few times and most importantly for the purposes of today's post, I attended in 2008. I managed to be able to stay after the con closed and helped KenzerCo tear down their booth, something I was able to do quite a few times at Origins. The lead-in pic is from the Steve Jackson Games guys letting me try on the Munchkin head.....despite several extremely poignant warnings and attempts to dissuade me from doing so. It was as hot, sweaty, and post-con nasty as you'd expect a big mascot head to be.....but also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.

That wasn't the only once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during that convention.

Now I'm not sure how many Tavern patrons are aware, but last week (April 7th) was the anniversary of the passing of Dave Arneson. We all seem to remember Gary Gygax's passing, but we have his children running a memorial game convention every year that helps all of us remember.....

Dave Arneson Dice

Anyway, GenCon 2008 was Dave Arneson's last GenCon with us and I briefly got to meet him at the KenzerCo booth. He was being pushed around in a wheelchair and it just seemed he knew it was his last big con. That seems sad, it did in the moment, but at the same time I have to give the man credit 'cause he was (literally) rolling with it. He was going around giving other game designers/artists these little baggies with d20's and a note in them. I was gifted one of these and they were two Gamescience d20's and the note was on a Westin Hotel sticky notepad:
Rubbed in the hair of a live game designer

"Rubbed in the hair of a live game designer
-Dave Arneson"

I've never rolled the dice and being a KoDT/HackMaster fan, the whole "fame rub" on a game designer (there is a long story arc about this in the comic) makes this a special memento in a couple of ways.

Now while I have seen The Secrets of Blackmoor, but I personally don't think I quite "get" Arneson's full contribution to this hobby we all share. I know there are some books I probably should pick up someday that might help, but I already have a few "history" books on the early days of this hobby I haven't gotten around to reading yet as it is.

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