The Gary Gygax Memorial Convention
Gary Con IV
The Gary Gygax Memorial Convention is, to use the words of Luke Gygax, "a meeting of family, friends and fellow gamers held to honor Gary Gygax, the Father of Role Playing Games."
Recently The Collector's Trove, Gary Con, and several VIP’s of gaming announced a new series of events at Gary Con that pay special attention to the early days of wargaming prior to the introduction of Dungeons & Dragons. The special events are gathered under the aegis:
Legends of Wargaming
This series of events attempts to bring Gary Con attendees the classic board and miniature wargames that were a staple during the early days of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA), International Federation of Wargaming (IFW), Castle & Crusade Society, and Gen Con. Each event exhibits a history of the game and its significance to the hobby of wargaming and even role-playing games. Also displayed are various memorabilia and photos and original rules, figures, and accessories used during play. When possible, the events involve individuals who played, refereed, and authored the games during this golden age of wargaming. This is your chance to experience what it was like to play these games at the earliest Gen Cons and in Gary Gygax’s and Dave Arneson’s own basements! The games are taught and refereed so interest is all that is required by players. Even if not signed up to play, attendees are welcome to stop by to view the displays, ask questions, and watch the fun of classic wargaming!
The newest addition to the growing Legends of Wargaming warchest - a 6 foot by 10 foot, folding sand table made of maple and bunted with the Castle & Crusade Society banner. The banner bears the heraldry of many early Society members, such as Gary Gygax, Jeff Perren, Rob Kuntz, Dave Arneson, and John Bobek.
These two Gary Con attendees take time to view the Legends of Wargaming display of The Siege of Bodenburg. A game designed in 1965 and one of Gary Gygax's early influences in creating Chainmail and, ultimately, Dungeons & Dragons.
The display, as with other Legends of Wargaming events, provides a history of the game, it's creator, Henry Bodenstedt, and its influence on modern gaming. It also showcases memorobilia, photographs, and even orginal letters and manuscripts.
Bill Cousino, husband of Gary Gygax's daughter, Elise, shows up in swim trunks, after hearing there would be sand at the convention! Uh, Bill, the only beach on that sand table is for the Normandy landings during the D-Day game!
Among the Legends of Wargaming events this year, were:
Test your tactical skills in this exciting miniatures game that is the roots of the original Dungeons and Dragons game. This classic Chainmail scenario, originally designed by Gary Gygax, was played on the first ever, Gary Con Sand Table! That’s right, a six foot by ten foot sand table just like the one Gary had in the basement of his home at 330 Center St. in Lake Geneva. The same size sand table that was used by the LGTSA to playtest Chainmail and Tractics. The Battle for the Brown Hills was first played by members of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association and the Castles and Crusades Society in 1971. This game will feature 40mm Elastolin figures by Hausser and dimestore conversions of vintage plastic figures for fantasy creatures – just like Gary used in the early 1970’s before the advent of fantasy gaming miniatures.
Step up to the lists and see how you fare in the second annual, Gary Con jousting tournament! A dedicated gaming table will be set up with beautiful Schleich figures and self guided instructions to play. Face off with one of your friends or make a new one and challenge him to a tilt! Ultimately, one lucky Con attendee will face off against the best of the Black Knight’s (IFW, LGTSA, Castle & Crusade Society members, ex-TSR employees, original Greyhawk Campaign players, and Gygax family members).
In the inaugural year of this event (2011) there were nearly one hundred participants in the tournament. The final joust pitted con attendee and Red Knight, Sir Dave Jepson against Sir Jon Pickens, a long-time TSR employee and reputed Black Knight! The final tilt was intense with both knights feeling the heat of competition in a close match. In the end the victor and Tournament Champion was Sir Jon!
This year again, nearly 100 Con attendees participated in the jousting tournament.
Dawn Patrol: Fight in the Skies
Come play Dawn Patrol with the game's original author. Mike Carr created Fight in the Skies in 1968 and this game would later become TSR's Dawn Patrol. In this World War I aerial combat game, you play a pilot on either the Allied or Axis side and engage in a dogfight versus the enemy.
Find a teammate and get ready for a real throwback event - the EIGHT HOURS OF LE MANS. In this classic game, you and a co-driver take turns behind the wheel at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe in France, taking individual shifts and trading off just like in the real race. This event runs for one-third the time of its real-life counterpart, but don't worry, you'll feel what it's like to compete in the world's most grueling endurance race - and that's what makes this game so much fun.
This is the game played by Gary Gygax in 1968 at Gen Con I. It was this game that inspired him to form the Castle & Crusade society and later write Chainmail and D&D. The game uses a set of rules created by Henry Bodenstedt for use with gorgeous 40mm Elastolin castle and miniatures. A fantastic and fun game with gaming history and nostalgia too!
Along with these well attended offerings from previous years two new events were added this year to Legends of Wargaming (both by two of TSR’s earliest employees): Mike Carr ran a game of Don’t Give Up The Ship! and Dave Megarry lead players as they explored the classic Dungeon! boardgame.
This is one of the classic miniature wargames of the early 1970’s. Co-authored by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and Mike Carr, this Age of Sail, ship to ship combat game recaptures the excitement of the time period and such works of fiction as the Master and Commander and Horatio Hornblower novels. The event was taught and refereed by co-author Mike Carr as he recreated the experience of many such games run at early Gen Cons.
This is the fantastic board game that is an ancestor of Dungeons & Dragons. Designed by Dave Megarry, this game represents Dungeons & Dragons in its purest form – the dungeon delve!
In addition to these two new events The Collector’s Trove also sponsored the first ever Gary Con sand table! That’s right, a six foot by ten foot sand table just like the one Gary had in the basement of his home at 330 Center St. in Lake Geneva. The same size sand table that was used by the LGTSA to playtest Chainmail and Tractics! Two events were played on the sand table this year: The Battle for the Brown Hills (mentioned above) and Patton at Metz.
Patton at Metz
This event was a micro-armor battle run by Tim Kask, one of the earliest TSR employees, editor of Dragon and Adventurer Magazines, and long time wargamer. Using a set of micro-armor rules from the early 1970’s Tim refereed as two sides clashed above the town of Metz. The battle ended just before a fatal trap was to be sprung and victors came out lucky.
In 2013, The Collector’s Trove hopes to bring a game of Tractics to the sand table. Tractics, co-authored by Mike Reese, Leon Tucker, and Gary Gygax, is the miniature wargame of mechanized armor warfare. This event will use a WWII armor scenario originally played at Gen Con IV to premier the rules set in August 1971 and will be run by the game’s co-author Mike Reese! WWII armor games were a particular favorite of Gary’s and you will soon have a chance to find out why!
Finally, The Collector’s Trove sponsors three non-Legends of Wargaming events in it’s annual trip to Lake Geneva’s Gary Con: The Lost Crypts of the Fire Opal, The Battle for the Moathouse, and The Haunted Keep.
The Lost Crypts of the Fire Opal is the fully fleshed out version of an unfinished module by Gary Gygax. Will you be able to find the fabled Fire Opal in the ruins of a lost monastery and live to tell about it?
The Battle for the Moathouse revisits the famed ruins some 9 years earlier before it fell to the forces of good. A lesser battle in the struggle against the rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil, but still of great importance to those subjugated by its vile Black Lord, a cleric of evil damnation. You and your team of three players control either the forces of weal or the forces of darkness.
The inaugural year of this event was at Lake Geneva Gaming Convention in 2007 and the players of that event included none-other than: Gary Gygax, Jeff Perren, Ernie Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Bill Hoyer, John Bobek, and Jim Lurvey. It would be the last time they would ever get to play together with the passing of Gary and Jeff. A truly historic event.
The Haunted Keep is an introductory adventure using the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules. This event is suitable for all age groups and welcomes players 8 years old or older to come and explore the Haunted Keep. Pregenerated characters will be provided, so just bring a writing instrument and your dice!