Saturday, June 18, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: The Original Wizard is Gone

The man who played the first "Magic-User" in Dungeons & Dragons (and created the class, as I see it), a man by the name of Pete Gaylord, died on the 8th of this month at the age of 73. I heard about this from one of my acquaintances, Michael Monard, at this RPG Site thread. He and another user, going by "chirine ba kal", shared a few stories.

For the rest of us, this one is one to pay attention to:

Yes, he did affect the magic-user class; he basically created it, by being the first one out of the gate. Everybody sat around and said, "all right, if you are 'the wizard', what do wizards do?" Pete modeled himself on Radagast the Brown, and added in things as they became needed in the game.

Pete: "I throw a fireball."
Dave: "You do what?"
Pete: "I throw a fireball. It's what wizards do."
Dave: "Oh. Okay. Roll to see if you hit."

So, yes, some of his spells are still with us today. Fireballs. Staffs. Talking to animals. I'll have a look in the notes that I have; I think there's more in First Fantasy Campaign.

That? That's organic game design. Iterating your way to creating something that other people will want to buy and enjoy, and having fun all the way there as you goof your way to success. I had no idea who Mr. Gaylord was until I saw that obituary, but nonetheless I've felt the impact of his contributions for the whole of my life, and I am grateful for his part in this hobby that I love and adore. Godspeed, Mr. Gaylord, and may you enjoy all the best gaming in Heaven.

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