Ernie Gygax

These items are from the collection of Ernest "Ernie" Gary Gygax, Jr. These items were acquired during the last 37 years of Ernie's amateur and professional involvement with wargames, roleplaying games, strategy games, and board games, many years of that time spent as an employee of TSR, the company that founded the roleplaying game industry.

As the eldest son of Gary Gygax, co-creator of D&D, Ernie served as one of the very few original playtesters for Chainmail (1971) and Dungeons and Dragons (1972). Ernie helped to shape both games by his ambitious and relentless play. Having Gary Gygax as his dad didn't hurt either!

Ernie's many famous characters have become the stuff of D&D, AD&D, and Greyhawk legend. Who out there in D&D fandom does not know the name Tenser? Or Serten or Erac's Cousin from the Rogues Gallery? Indeed, who among hundreds of thousands of players who's characters trod the rutted roads of the Village of Hommlet do not know of Burne? Of course there is even his alter ego, "Ernie the Barbarian", that tells the legend of his exploits on and off the gaming table.

Ernie played in Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor Castle adventure accompanied by Gary Gygax and Terry and Rob Kuntz. This Chainmail-variant game would lay the conceptual groundwork for a new game to be written by Gary Gygax in 1972. This new game would combine the considerable fantasy and Medieval content of Chainmail with Dave Arneson's concept of dungeon adventures to create an entirely new and dynamic game we now know as Dungeons & Dragons.

As an avid playtester of the new game, Ernie, in 1973, guided Tenser to be only the second character ever to complete Greyhawk Castle. Ernie also managed a number of other near-mythological feats with his characters including being one of the very first characters to enter the ruins of Greyhawk Castle, walk through the doors of the Inn of the Welcome Wench in the Village of Hommlet, enter the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil, visit the Isle of the Ape, adventure on the planet Mars, ala Edgar Rice Burroughs, visit the planet of the Dirdir ala Jack Vance, and of course free and gain the eternal "gratitude" of the terrible Demon Prince, Fraz-Urb'luu!

Not to be overlooked is Ernie's own D&D campaign, as he served as a DM for many of the Greyhawk regulars. As with his father's Greyhawk castle dungeons and Rob Kuntz's dungeons of El Raja Key, Ernie served up his own dungeon for the regular players as well as the many customers of the Dungeon Hobby Shop. One of the more famous characters to arise from these games was Arrarat, Tim Jiardini's fallen ranger, made legend by his entry into the Rogues Gallery! Literally, hundreds of players entered the Dungeon Hobby Shop Dungeon. Ernie tells tale of one night with 22 players in the shop that gamed until he had to open the store the next morning at 10 o'clock! All delving the six deadly levels of the Dungeon Hobby Shop Dungeon at once. In the end only three survivors would escape the dungeon, all having made it to third level with several magic items each! The rest of the crew shouted encouragement and cheered them on their success. Such are the tales of the rousing adventures that took place in the Dungeon Hobby Shop Dungeon!

Ernie, of course, also worked as an employee at TSR, the company that brought us Dungeons & Dragons, as well as many other products that served as the landscape of our youth. Properly, the first product Ernie ever worked on was hand pasting the labels on the 1st print woodgrain boxes for the Dungeons & Dragons set in 1974! Later he would contribute to the production of several TSR products, playtesting and developing them. One of his earliest credits being the Monster & Treasure Assortments and one of his last being the Sagard the Barbarian adventure books, developed with Flint Dille. Like many of the early TSR employees, Ernie worked in the stock room, receiving and filling orders. Ernie then worked in the Dungeon Hobby Shop with Tom Wham and Terry Kuntz and eventually took over management. He eventually managed both the Dungeon Hobby Shop and the Mail Order Hobby Shop.

Ernie soon earned the position of Vice President in Consumer Service at TSR, dividing his time between managing the Dungeon Hobby Shop, Mail Order Hobby Shop, GenCon, and the RPGA.

Then, following in his father's footsteps, Ernie flew out to California to become Vice President of the Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corporation, which brought us the incredibly popular Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon and endeavored to get a big budget Dungeons & Dragons Movie produced.

Being the son of Gary Gygax, just about the coolest dad in the entire world, Ernie has had the unique opportunity to stand at the threshold of a whole new hobby and industry, being integral to their development. An amazing legacy indeed!

Copyright © 1994-2010, [Paul J. Stormberg]. All rights reserved.