Hard Times for Gamer Gurus

Today I learned that my friends Aaron Allston and Dave Arneson have separately had terrible weeks.

Dave co-created Dungeons & Dragons with Gary Gygax, who passed away last year. He has cancer and, it seems, not very long to live. I had the honor of sitting on several panels with Dave over the years, and he’s always been a sharp-witted gentleman, eager to share his knowledge and experiences with anyone curious enough to ask. When he goes, we’ll have lost both of D&D’s creators, and an era will truly have passed.

Despite this, Dave’s family is requesting privacy at this time. Fortunately, after Gary died last year, many people reached out to Dave to let him know how much he and his work meant to us. (John Wick has an absolutely hysterical story about this, but it’s his to tell.)

Aaron had a heart attack last Sunday while touring to support his latest Star Wars novel, and he’s successfully undergone a quadruple heart bypass since. While he’s not home yet, it looks like his long-term prognosis may be good.

Aaron started out in roleplaying game design with Hero Games, who also published my first full-length RPG book: Western Hero.I remember Aaron warmly welcoming me into the cadre of Hero authors many years ago, and we always managed to catch up over the years. I last saw him at Comic-Con last year as we waited for the doors to open on that Wednesday night.

However, Aaron—like many freelancers—has no health insurance, and he’s likely to see a ruinous hospital bill for this. Word is that some of his publishers are already hoping to put together a benefit book or two to get him some much-needed cash. I’ll be sure to post details about that here when I can.

In the meantime, here’s to best wishes for both Dave and Aaron that this week is much better for them than the last.