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Gary Gygax, 1938-2008: Rest in peace, Dungeon Master

Co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons died Tuesday at the age of 69, after suffering from heart problems.

Gary Gygax at Gen Con 2007 Alan De Smet

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and one of the fathers of tabletop role-playing games, died on Tuesday at the age of 69. He had suffered from heart problems.

The news was first announced on the message board of Troll Lord Games, the publisher of Gygax's most recent works. It has since been directly confirmed by the company, which will post an announcement on its Web site later Tuesday.

Gygax was best known for helping create Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. He also pioneered tabletop role-playing games. The first D&D rulebooks were released in 1974 by TSR, and since then have produced three full-fledged sequels, numerous revisions and updates, and dozens upon dozens of additional rulebooks, settings, and campaigns. While Gygax hadn't had much direct involvement with D&D for many years, he developed and contributed to many role-playing games, including Troll Lord Games' Gary Gygax's Fantasy Worlds.

If not for his contributions, video games and geek culture would probably look much different than it does today. Beyond jokes about "d20s" and "saving throws," D&D's systems and mythos have spawned many excellent games, including Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment.

Dungeons & Dragons continues to develop. Since TSR was purchased by Wizards of the Coast, the game has seen even more expansions and updates. The company released Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition in 2000, and Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 is scheduled to ship in June. Though he didn't actively produce the latest editions of the game, neither they nor the countless video games, books, and other media that carry the D&D name would have been possible without him.