Thursday, April 9, 2009

In Memory of Dave Arneson

I'm going to suspend finishing the City's Shadows Alphabet in light of Dave Arneson's passing. I will leave this post here at the top of the page for the rest of the week and through the weekend. We'll return to the Shadows Alphabet on Monday.

When the incorrect news began to spread Tuesday that Dave had passed, I sat down to think long and hard about how I wanted to honor his memory. I considered doing a lengthy post here where I would talk about how Dave had influenced me and of the deep respect that I had for him not only as a game designer but as a man. I ultimately rejected that idea because so many similar posts were appearing and mine would just be another easily lost among the masses.

I then remembered that I had in my notes from my first attempt at a megadungeon a sub-level that was largely influenced by Dave’s Temple of the Frog. I thought that it would be quite an appropriate tribute to his life to dust that sub-level off, polish it up, and dedicate it to him. I was mid way through those preparations when the word began to spread that Dave’s death had been misreported. Although that was a relief to hear, having lost loved ones to cancer, I knew his reprieve might be very short lived.

Knowing this, I continued to work on the sub-level, entitled The Fane of St. Toad, with the hopes that I could turn it from a piece honoring his memory to one that celebrated his life.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to do that. I was still in the process of readying the Fane when the confirmation that Dave had passed away on Tuesday night came.

I chose to keep working on the Fane throughout the rest of the day because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what else to do. Despite knowing Dave only indirectly through his presence on the OD&D Discussion board, his passing has struck me deeper than I had expected. By finishing the Fane I hoped to achieve some sense of equilibrium between the sadness at his loss and the celebration of his life. Last night, I put the final touches on the Fane and I do feel as if I’ve created something, however insufficient, to honor Dave. I think I’ll set it down and, barring any grave errors, step away from it for good now. It’s a poor substitute for Dave himself, but it’s the only thing in my power to provide.

I won’t dare presume what Dave might have thought of the Fane but I do hope you all might find some enjoyment and perhaps even some solace in it. I want to especially thank both Gabor Lux and Jeff Rients who each allowed me to use one of their creation in the Fane. I hope they’ll agree I treated their babies well. So with that, here it is:

The Fane of St. Toad – Dedicated to the memory of Dave Arneson


Vanadorn said...

I heard about Dave Arneson and then the retractions concerning it.

I have had both an equal respect and admiration for both Gygax and Arneson and to have both of them now gone from our lives and the hobby is a blow to all.

I have come back to this hobby and have no interest in ever departing it again. I am thankful to have this in my life and have been enriched in ways I never would have imagined.

As for the old school/original personages who helped me define the hobby, there is only Erol Otis, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, and Larry Elmore remaining.

Enjoy your games everyone and think about those who came before.



Chris said...

"Yea shall I dwell in the bowels of the Great Winged Toad and I shall be happy."

"...and the croaking - ye gods, the croaking!"


Not to be presumptuous, but I'm sure Mr Arneson would have got a chuckle or two out of this. Best tribute you could have made Mike.

wv: resslisc - the endlessly repeated croaking mantra of the frog cultists.

David Larkins said...

Thanks so much for this. I've posted that the best way to salute Mr. Arneson's memory is to run a game in his honor, and this is the perfect vehicle to do just that.

Michael Curtis said...

I wish I could claim Toadbringer but the true genius of that belongs to Gabor Lux. When I saw Frogbringer in Fight On! I knew I'd have to include it somewhere.

I just consider Toadbringer to be a poor man's Mournblade.

Thanks for the kind words. I hope Dave would have gotten a kick out of it.

Michael Curtis said...

I've posted that the best way to salute Mr. Arneson's memory is to run a game in his honor, and this is the perfect vehicle to do just that.

I had hoped that maybe some people might use the Fane in his memory but I'd expect a run through the Temple of the Toad or any of the DA modules might be more appropriate. The Fane is more of me saying "Thank You" to Dave than any suggested playing material.

jdh417 said...

I was able to read this over the weekend. Bravo. You really outdid yourself on the setting and ambiance. I hope get to run some players through it sometime soon. I'll let you know if I do.

Thank you.

Mr. Scratch said...

"...and the croaking - ye gods, the croaking!"You, sir, are nothing short of genius.

Michael Curtis said...

I hope get to run some players through it sometime soon. I'll let you know if I do.Please do! I'm always interested to hear how things from my noodle play out in "real life."

Michael Curtis said...

"...and the croaking - ye gods, the croaking!" You, sir, are nothing short of genius.The funny thing about that line was it was written in my original DM Only notes long before I made the level public. I'd written that in for my own entertainment, never expecting that anyone but myself would read it. Sometimes you have to amuse yourself first but I'm glad that folks enjoyed that bit.

kesher said...

I just read the adventure, and I agree, it's great! Very atmospheric. If any of the poor schmucks playing in my campaign ever ever make it past first level (let alone 3rd or 4th!), I don't doubt they'll be making a pilgrimage to a certain batrachian Fane... :)

Also, it really was the perfect kind of tribute. I'm hoping to run Castle Blackmoor later this month, since playing will mean more than any words I could come up with.

AndreasDavour said...

I am sure Dave would have felt flattered. A very moody piece. I loved it when I read it.

Better yet! I converted it and ran it for my weekly T&T group! I posted my play report on my blog if you want to read how it went.

David Nett said...

I'm just starting my first campaign in years, and I've incorporated the Fane into the introductory section, with a few plot-drivers woven in. I hope you (and Dave) will be happy to know my guys are about halfway through, and thoroughly creeped out by what they are finding. And they've barely stepped down into the dungeon level! I've never seen them proceed so cautiously (though that might be partially because it has been a while since they've played, too).

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the great material. Very playable, and a lot of fun.

Creator, GOLD
the Web Series that does Double Damage

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting/creating the interesting module 'The Fane of Saint Toad'. I am actually planning on running it with a 1e group in a basement next wknd in Seattle, WA. I am adding some brainwashed Trogs to the mix..Thanks again, Scott