Saturday was my brother Chip’s birthday and I met him and his wife for breakfast. Chip played in Greyhawk for a while too, and Gary used to call him “the Bugbear.” (You’ll have to get my book when it comes out to find out why…)
As most people know, Gary worked for a time as a cobbler while he developed D&D. He had the contract to provide sandals for a monastery on the south shore of the Lake, and sold them to other folks as well. My brother and I both bought a pair. Well, while at breakfast, Chip hauls out this sandal he’d found in a box. The other one had rotted away decades ago, but this one somehow survived. He gave it to me to “show Gary’s kids, they might get a kick out of seeing their dad’s work.”
For the afternoon, though, I was scheduled for the “Sturmgeschutz & Sorcery” game as co-referee with Terry Kuntz. After a few hours Terry had things under control, so I went back to the Lodge to find the Gygax clan.
I did indeed show them the sandal… probably the last extant example of Gary’s shoemaking art… and they were indeed pleased to see it. Of course, the question was, then what? Well, there was a charity auction Saturday night for Ernie Gygax’s and Jim Ward’s medical expenses. I suggested throwing that sandal into the charity auction; it was a good cause, after all, and I figured “what the heck, we might get thirty or forty bucks for it.” The family was supportive of the idea, so into the auction it went.
Tim Kask auctioned off “the most unusual piece of Gary Gygax memorabilia I’ve ever dealt with,” as he said. When the dust settled and the (virtual) auctioneer’s hammer came down, that single sandal sold in auction for $300. I was dazzled and amazed and gratified that I could help out the auction that much, and my brother’s reaction was the same.
To make it even better, the gentleman who had the winning bid paid his bid and then gave the sandal back to Luke Gygax, saying “Auction it off again next year.” Truly a class act!
One other gaming incident happened that tickled me. Last year at Garycon I ran Ram’s Horn dungeon, and Mike* from the Twin Cities played a 1st level magic user who refused to be useless just because he’d used his spell. *(Sorry, man, I know I wrote your last name down but damn if I can find it.) Well, Paul Stormberg ran multiple sessions using Gary’s original 1st level of Greyhawk. One session included Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, who was also playing a 1st level magic user. I told him about Mike’s exploits of last year and reminded him, “Remember, a first level magic user who’s used his spell is still a guy with a lot of maneuverability and a knife.”
Well, when they ran into an ogre later that night, not only did Jon get behind it to shank it in the kidneys, but he ended up being the only player to actually hit the ogre. So, yeah, a first level magic user stabbed an ogre to death with a dagger.
I have no sympathy for people who bitch that “it’s no fun to play a first level magic user.” There are no bad character classes, there are only bad players.
Saturday evening was spent socializing again. It’s nice to game, but it’s also nice to have some social time. I can’t count everybody I talked to, including a nice long chat with Derek “Geekpreacher” White and Wendy Lord. Alas, Sunday afternoon came all too soon, and time to head back to the Twin Cities by way of Bill Hoyt’s house in Wisconsin. I made it safely back to Minneapolis and back to Huron the next day.
GaryCon VI was absolutely excellent. This is the second year in a row I’ve attended and I’m sorry I didn’t make it earlier. This is an “old school” gaming convention; no rigid distinctions between board games, miniatures, or RPGs… just people there to play. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m already making plans for GaryCon VII.