The History of Dungeons and Dragons: How Gary Gygax Changed Fantasy Gaming Forever

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 9 min.

It’s hard to imagine a world without Dungeons & Dragons. This iconic tabletop game has been enjoyed by millions of people worldwide for decades, and its influence can be seen in everything from video games to Hollywood movies. But many people don’t know that Dungeons & Dragons was created by Gary Gygax, one of the most influential figures in the history of fantasy gaming.

Who Gary Gygax Was and What He Did

Gary Gygax was born in 1938 in Chicago, Illinois. He was a self-proclaimed “wargamer” and loved playing strategy games. His favorite game growing up was chess. When he was 18, he discovered the world of miniatures wargaming. This led to him creating his own game, which he called Chainmail. Chainmail is where the idea for Dungeons & Dragons came from.

Lake Geneva

In 1970, the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-based duo published their rules for gaming in magazines. Then they printed up copies to sell in hobby stores. Gygax was a leader in the local gaming community and had organized the first Gen Con (then called the Lake Geneva Wargames Convention) two years earlier. He also founded the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association, a wargaming club that met in his basement.

Gary Gygax
Gary Gygax Art

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson

In 1972, Gary wrote the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons with his business partner, Dave Arneson. The two had different ideas for the game, which is why there are two different versions of D&D: original D&D (OD&D), which was created by Arneson, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), which was written by Gary Gygax.

Gygax and Kaye

Gygax and Kaye founded Tactical Studies Rules in 1972. This company distributed the initial copies of Dungeons and Dragons. The game was an instant success and quickly became a bestseller.

With Don Kaye, Mike Reese, and Leon Tucker, a military miniatures society was created under Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA). The group met in Gary’s basement at the time.

Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren

In 1974, Gary and Jeff Perren wrote the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This version of the game is more similar to the modern-day game than either OD&D or AD&D. It was also the first time that character races other than humans were introduced, including elves, dwarves, and halflings.

Gary Gygax and Ben Riggs

In 1977, Gary and Ben Riggs wrote the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This was the first time the game was published by TSR, Inc., which would become the most famous publisher of DnD products.

Gary Gygax DnD

James Dallas Egbert III

In 1979, a college student named James Dallas Egbert III disappeared. Some people thought that the game DnD was involved in his disappearance.

Gygax’s version of the game was more complex, and it is the version that is most commonly played today. Dungeons & Dragons have been credited with creating the entire role-playing game genre. It has inspired countless other games, books, movies, and TV shows.

In 1983, Gary was forced out of TSR, the company he had co-founded, by its new owner. He created several other successful games, including the popular role-playing game Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game.

Gary became an influential figure in the gaming community in his later years. He was inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame and the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame.

D&D Rules

One of the things that makes DnD so unique is the fact that there are no set rules. The game is meant to be played however you want, and it can be as simple or as complex as you make it.

There are three main ways to play the game:

  • Theater of the Mind: This is the simplest way to play. All you need is your imagination.
  • Miniatures: This involves using miniature figures to represent the characters and monsters in the game.
  • Live Action Role Playing (LARP): This is where people dress up in costumes and physically act out their characters’ actions.

Rule book

The first thing you need to do is get a copy of the rule book. The rule book contains all the information you need to know about how to play the game. It includes information on character creation, combat, and magic.

Once you have a copy of the rule book, you’ll need to create your character. Characters in DnD are divided into two categories: player characters (PCs) and non-player characters (NPCs). PCs are controlled by the players, while NPCs are controlled by the Dungeon Master (DM).


As of 2005, he is the father of six children. Five are from his first marriage to Mary Jo Gygax. The latest is from his current marriage; he was born in 1986.

Gary Gygax passed away in 2008 at the age of 69. He is survived by his wife and six children. His legacy continues through the millions of people who play Dungeons & Dragons every year. Thanks to Gary Gygax, we have a new world to explore through our imaginations.

How Dungeons & Dragons Came to Be

In the early 1970s, Gary was part of a small group of people who loved playing strategy games. They would get together and play war games that used miniature figures. These were not your average board games—they were very complex and required a lot of time and effort to create.

One day, someone in the group had the idea to set the game in a dungeon, with dragons as the main adversaries. And so, DnD was born. The first edition of the game was published in 1974.

The game quickly gained popularity, mainly through word-of-mouth and fanzines (self-published magazines). People were fascinated by this new way of gaming that allowed them to use their imaginations to create entire worlds.

In 1977, the first official DnD tournament was held at Origins, a gaming convention. The event was so popular that it had to be moved to a bigger venue the following year.

By this time, DnD had become a cultural phenomenon. It was featured in Time and Newsweek magazine articles and on shows like 60 Minutes. Everyone was talking about this new game that allowed you to go on adventures without leaving your living room.

The Impact of Dungeons and Dragons on the Gaming Industry

The game has inspired many other games, books, movies, and TV shows. For example, the popular video game series Diablo was heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons. The Lord of the Rings trilogy would not exist without DnD. And the hit TV show Stranger Things features a group of kids who love playing the game.

Dungeons & Dragons have also had a big impact on popular culture. The term “nerd” was first coined in 1975 to describe people who were fans of DnD and other geeky pursuits.

Today, Dungeons and Dragons are more popular than ever. The game has undergone many changes, but its core principles remain the same. It is a game that allows us to use our imaginations to create entire worlds. And for that, we have Gary to thank.

Some of Gary Gygax’s Most Famous Quotes about D&D:

  • “It is a game of your imagination.”
  • “The point is to create an enjoyable diversion, not a lifestyle.”
  • “Dungeons and Dragons was merely the first gaming system which had detailed rules covering the use of miniatures in combat.”
  • “I have no desire to be a legend or icon.’ I’m just here to design some fun games.”
  • “Without DnD, there would be no Lord of the Rings movies because there would be no Lord of the Rings books – at least not as we know them now. DnD has become an industry and has spawned fantasy literature, art, music, movies, and more. It all started with a guy in Wisconsin who loved strategy games and wanted to share his hobby with the world.”
  • “I realized that there were people all over who were interested in this sort of thing and that it wasn’t just a local phenomenon. I realized that I had tapped into something much bigger than myself.”
  • “I think DnD helped create an industry. It’s been said often, but if DnD hadn’t come along, role-playing games might have taken much longer to catch on.”
  • “I’m often asked how I could have invented Dungeons & Dragons. The answer is simple: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.”
  • “I was trying to create a game that would simulate the adventures I had read about in books like Conan the Barbarian or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. I wanted players to feel like they were part of an epic quest and that their decisions could change the course of history.”
  • “I wanted DnD to be more than just a game. I wanted it to be an experience.”
  • “In DnD, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers – only choices and consequences.”
  • “The point of DnD is not to kill monsters and take their stuff – it’s about stories, camaraderie, and having fun.”
  • “I want people to use their imaginations and have fun. That’s what DnD is all about.”
  • “I didn’t create Dungeons & Dragons to get rich or famous. I did it because I loved playing strategy games and wanted to share my hobby with the world.”
  • “Dungeons n Dragons isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life.”

Gygax’s Legacy is Still Being Felt Today

In 2012, the original copy of the Dungeons n Dragons rulebook sold for $90,000. And in 2014, the Gygax Memorial Fund was created to help preserve his legacy.

The impact of Gary on the world of gaming cannot be overstated. He was a true pioneer, and his work has inspired generations of gamers. Thanks to him, we can all enjoy the wonderful world of fantasy gaming. And for that, we will be forever grateful.

Wizards of the coast, the current owners of Dungeons n Dragons, estimate that over 20 million people play the game.

Some popular culture references to DnD:

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Diablo video game series
  • The TV show Stranger Things
  • The movie The Last Action Hero
  • The book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The webcomic Order of the Stick
  • The podcast The Adventure Zone
  • The TV show Community

The line of accessories for the Dnd game has been expanded to include new items:

Final Thoughts

RPGs have come a long way since the early days of DnD. Gary was a true pioneer in the world of fantasy gaming. His work has inspired generations of gamers and will continue for many years. Thank you, Gary, for everything. We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. May you rest in peace.


How were DnD dice invented?

DnD dice was invented by Gary Gygax, one of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. He needed a way to randomize the results of actions in the game, so he came up with the idea of using dice.

What day is DND day?

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of every August. It commemorated 1974 when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson published the first edition of D&D, which started the tabletop role-playing game industry.

Did D&D inspire video games?

Though no one can say whether Dungeons & Dragons directly inspired the creation of early video games, it’s clear that the popular tabletop game had a significant impact on the development of fantasy gaming as a whole. Creator Gary Gygax is often credited with helping to shape the genre in ways that continue to be influential even today. Thanks to his contributions, gamers could explore imaginary worlds and undertake heroic quests in ways that had never been possible.

Did LOTR inspire D&D?

Some people believe that D&D was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, while others claim that it was the other way around. The truth is that both Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings were influenced by various sources, including mythology, history, and other works of fiction.

When did Gary Gygax create D&D?

Gary created D&D in 1974. He was one of the co-founders of Tactical Studies Rules, which published the game.

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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