Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Fantasy's Widow: The Fight Over The Legacy Of Dungeons & Dragons

Recommended Posts



Gail Gygax and I were sitting in the living room of a lace-trimmed, flower-filled bed and breakfast in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when she told me about the time she discovered what she believed was a plot to kill her.

It was a fall day in 2013, and it had been five years since her husband Gary, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, had died. Since then, Gail had gotten help around the house from a neighbor, Brian Terry. A stocky, 62-year-old bartender, Terry came around to do things that needed doing, like mowing the lawn or helping her pack and ship the antiques she finds around Lake Geneva and sells online. That day, Terry was crossing Gail’s picket-fenced lawn when his feet caught a barely-visible string of fishing line, set a foot above the ground, wrapped several times around two sticks stuck deep in the dirt. Both of them agreed it was a trap.

“My home has been invaded,” Gail Gygax wrote last year in a widely-circulated Facebook post. “There was a trip wire by my back step to kill me and I know what is missing from our home.”

In December of last year, Gail Gygax contacted Kotaku through her agent. She wanted to tell us about all of the many dangers—both physical and psychological—she says she’s been dealing with since the death of her husband Gary Gygax, who is widely considered to be the father of the tabletop role-playing game, in 2008. Break-ins. Death threats. Estranged children. Visitations from her late husband’s spirit. Predatory businesspeople. And lawsuits—five of them in total, with one brought by Hollywood producer Tom DeSanto for $30 million. Eleven years after the death of Gary Gygax, there are still battles over who will control his legacy—the rights to his name, his biography, his memorial, his intellectual property, and the future of countless other priceless artifacts, among them Gary Gygax’s original dungeon, the maps to an 11-level magical castle where he prototyped a fantasy role-playing game that 8 million people play every year.


A fascinating, but sad article.    The creations of Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson (I firmly consider Dave Arneson as one of the original creators of D&D along with Mr. Gygax)  fascinated and inspired me as a teenager as they continue to do for millions of others. 

For those interested in a more detailed story on how Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson created D&D there are plenty of books out there, but I recommend the excellent book Playing at the World by Jon Peterson.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...