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The Meeple Guild - Gygax made role playing fun and popular

Role playing games are a segment of tabletop gaming many enjoy.

You are probably wondering – unless you are a rather avid board game player – what a ‘meeple’ is.

Well it’s one of those created words of our world, meaning a small figure used as a playing piece in certain board games, having a stylized human form.

It just seemed like a good word to use for our little group as reviewing games evolved over the years – we’ve been at it for more than a decade – or more than 500 games – since it is produced weekly.

The guild is a loosely connected group of game players who recognized we might have to grow older but we could still be young in our hobbies.

The result is a couple of game rooms filled with board games – we never seem to sell any – role playing games, and literally boxes of dice and hundreds of gaming miniatures.

In  the weeks ahead we’ll share our thoughts on some new games, some old favourites, touch base with game designers and champion players around the world, and hopefully inspire readers to rise up from their televisions, put their cellphones on mute and play some board games with friends.


YORKTON - Unless you are an avid gamer, and in particular a role play gamer, you might not be familiar with the name Gary Gygax.

But, if you love role playing, you probably marked Gary Gygax Day (July 27), with at least a mental nod to the man widely credited with launching the entire RPG genre of gaming. 

Gygax was an American game designer and author best known for co-creating the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons

 (D&D) with Dave Arneson. D&D and its subsequent incarnations was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). It has been published by Wizards of the Coast (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 1997. 

It is likely even non-gamers have heard of Dungeons & Dragons. 

It has been decried by some groups, often religious ones, as being a game that promotes Satanism. 

It has also found its way into several television shows over the years, in particular the hugely popular Big Bang Theory and its spin-off Young Sheldon. 

So what is D&D that it has become so popular – it is into a fifth edition – and yet controversial too? 

Well the game is just about anything you want it to be, since players are role playing characters they have created. 

You might be a stalwart human paladin with a penchant for doing good. 

Or, you might be a Halfling (think Hobbit) thief who picks pockets and pilfers treasure. 

Or you might be a Dwarf cleric who is stout in battle, but has the healing touch too. 

The game today allows a rather diverse range of fantasy races and from there your path can be quite varied in terms of skill, and how you play, from lawful good never crossing the line of the law, to characters with more dastardly views on life. 

The fun is in the creation of the character and then in playing that character in the game. 

And what makes games so interesting is that each is ultimately unique, as game play is controlled by a ‘Dungeon Master’ who describes rooms with locked doors, the people in a tavern you visit, the undead creatures that attack you in a dungeon. 

While there are prepared ‘game modules’ a DM may follow, once you get the hang of D&D you are always adding your own twists to keep it fun. 

And Gygax did more than D&D of note for role players. 

He founded The Dragon, a magazine based around the new game. 

If you have played D&D and the follow up Advanced Dungeons & Dragon you have probably bought many Dragon magazines, read them cover-to-cover and then stored them away for future reference. It was one of the best monthly purchases you could make. 

Certainly D&D has been a mainstay of this gaming group since we first gathered, likely our initial reason for all being at the table at the same time. 

Of course as in most things, when some comes up with a good idea, and D&D was a very good idea, others soon follow the footsteps. 

In the case of role playing games there are now dozens if not hundreds that exist today, largely thanks to Gygax getting things started. 

Over the years we’ve tried others, Shadowrun being perhaps the best, but also GURPs, Cold Steel Reign etc., and while each offers its own atmosphere, we tend to gravitate back to the familiar of D&D. 

Thank you Gary Gygax for the many hours of gaming fun your vivid imagination helped facilitate. You deserve to be fondly remembered each July 27.