Dungeons and Dragons co-creator dies at 61

St. Paul (MN) – One of the two co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) died in hospice care in St. Paul last week after a two-year battle with Cancer. Dave Arneson was 61 and is survived by his daughter, Malia Weinhagen and two grand-children.

Arneson and co-creator Gary Gygax, who passed away in March, 2008, created DnD in 1974 as a board game with unusual shaped dice. The game allows fictional, mythical characters to be created which then carry out a fantasy mission. A Dungeon Master plays host to the game, whereby he/she tells the story and decides how the game unfolds. The players are involved deeply in the fantasy nature of the game, listening to their surroundings, and then making decisions about how to respond.

According to Weinhagen, “The biggest thing about my dad’s world is he wanted people to have fun in life. I think we get distracted by the everyday things you have to do in life and we forget to enjoy life and have fun. But my dad never did. He just wanted people to have fun.” And many people would spend entire evenings or weekends having fun playing the game.

DnD quickly became a major geek past-time as the ability of its characters to explore a fantasy world limited in detail only by their own mind’s vision was very appealing. No two games were ever the same, and even what the characters looked like, how they moved, what the wore, etc., evolved over time as the game’s intricacies were embraced.

DnD is generally regarded as the first fantasy role-playing game, or at least the most major game which ultimately sparked the entire market — though Arneson was working on a game before DnD, called Blackmoor. DnD was first published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR), and is currently published by Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast.

Hasbro issued a statement which reads, “[Arneson] developed many of the fundamental ideas of role-playing: that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess”.

Arneson owned a game-publishing company and computer game company, and he also taught classes in game design. In 1984, he was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame.

A memorial service is planned for April 20 between 4pm and 8pm at Bradshaw Funeral Home in St. Paul, Minnesota.

See the original AP article republished on Yahoo News.