RIP, D&D Co-Creator Dave Arneson

It has been sad times for proto-gaming of late. We lost Gary Gygax a mere 13 months ago, and, unbelievably, his Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson has now passed away too. The great man died on Tuesday, aged just 61.

With the creation of D&D in 1974, Arneson and Gygax left a profound legacy to videogaming – from the earliest cRPGs through to today’s MMOs, and doubtlessly for as long as the form continues to exist. While some bad blood between him and Gygax meant he sadly parted ways with D&D a while back and didn’t always enjoy an equivalent legendary status as a result, today’s gaming landscape would be dramatically different were it not for his early work. Thank you, sir.

Read on for a statement from Mr Arneson’s family.

(From an email originally sent to RPG site Grognardia).

Shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, April 7th, Dave Arneson passed away. He was comfortable and with family at the time and his passing was peaceful.

The Arneson family would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few days, and for the support the entire community has shown Dave over the years.

We are in the process of making final arrangements and will provide additional details as we work them out. We will continue to receive cards and letters in Dave’s honor. We are planning to hold a public visitation so that anyone wishing to say their goodbye in person has the opportunity to do so.

Cards and letters can continue to be sent:
Dave Arneson
1043 Grand Avenue
Box #257
St. Paul, MN


  1. James G says:

    I’ve never played any P’n’P D&D myself, or any P’n’P RPG come to that, but I have immensely enjoyed the influence it has had over computer gaming, direct and indirect.

  2. Nutkins Victory Otter says:

    He’s up there somewhere, wobble-boarding…

  3. Fumarole says:

    I loved Temple of the Frog, but that may have been my pubescent mind absorbing the bikini armor on the cover. RIP Mr. Arneson.

  4. Xercies says:

    I love DnD even though I didn’t play it for that long. And through good and bad its made a large impact on not just RPGs, a lot of the mechanics are in other things as well. So I think his passing is a sad one.

  5. Novotny says:

    I was a Tunnels and Trolls player; found D&D rules a little stultifying and loved how T&T let the GM decide so much – personally I was all about ‘what’s the realistic odds?’ and liked to agree that with the players – ie, do whatever the hell you can think of, we’ll agree the odds.

    Having said that – there wouldn’t have been T&T without this guy’s work.

    It’s also almost impossible to overstate the influence of D&D on computer/video gaming.

    Total respect to this bloke.

  6. Shadrach says:

    Just played a little D&D, but what those guys did for the world of fantasy and gaming is unparallelled. RIP… 61 is way too young to go.

  7. M.P. says:

    RIP, D&D was truly monumental and I hope Arneson’s and Gygax’s names and influence will be remembered!

  8. Danarchist says:

    Like watching my misspent childhood dying off :(
    Well heres hoping he rolls all 20’s in the afterlife!

  9. KBKarma says:

    Damn shame. I’ve enjoyed DnD for over five years now, and haven’t looked back.

    RIP Dave Arneson. Your legacy lives on.

  10. Mac C says:

    Funny how we always wait until someone dies before we thank them for their life’s work.

    Still though, a great man has passed on, and we should all recognise that.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    I guess his saving throw was too low.

    Did he drop any loot?

  12. Aftershock says:

    Only the good die young.

  13. DrGonzo says:

    I remember playing DnD with my dad, step-mum and brother when I was young and it was amazing. If it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t be so into gaming.

  14. Derek K. says:

    RIP indeed.

    He and Gary did a hell of job. It’s easy to say that things that came after were better, or more refined – it’s because they did the heavy lifting.

    And yes, that’s an oversimplification, but with out the two of them, a whole lot of lives would be very different.

  15. A says:

    (“I really should realise there are times when my opinion is not needed”- Ed)

  16. DigitalSignalX says:

    I preferred Cheetos. And we usually played on the dining room table.

  17. qrter says:

    Sad news.

  18. Burning Beard says:

    D&D had a huge influence on me throughout the years. Thank you and rest in peace Dave Arneson. Shame on the above commenters for getting into insignificant quibbles about overwrought stereotypes.

  19. Blaxploitation Man says:

    [I inexplicably felt like behaving like a deeply unpleasant human being as a reaction to tragic news.]

  20. Dizet Sma says:

    Man, along with policemen looking younger, this news makes me feel very old, and very sad.

  21. Dizet Sma says:

    Blax, don’t you mean AD&D is the reason, etc.?

    And you’re right, D&D has no needs to die.

  22. danielcardigan says:

    Novotny says: “I was a Tunnels and Trolls player”

    Wow! Me too, back in the 80s. Never mind stultifying, I plain couldn’t afford the D&D rule books. I even had the spin off Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes.

    A few years back I discovered that Ken St Andre was not only very much alive but had a website (which I can’t find anymore, but he still has a wikipedia entry that lists another members only website). I was pretty drunk at the time and an overload of nostalgia about how good it was to be a teenager (I aint going back!) prompted me to look him up. He had a contact email so I basically sent him my life story of what it was to be fifteen in the early 80s and how much I’d gotten from T&T at the time. Got back a really classy reply from him too.

    D&D was never a big thing for me but the relatively recent death of Gygax and Arneson just now still feels like a kick in the gut.

    Oh, Ken St Andre was a designer on Wasteland and Mercenaries… was written by Mike Stackpole, who’s probably more well known for a very well received series of Battletech books. See? (makes interlocking fingers gesture…)

  23. danielcardigan says:

    Oh, and T&T was published by Flying Buffalo

    link to

    who also ran (run?) Starweb, which was the longest running play by mail game at one time, and probably still is, cos PBM has to be dead by now. Starweb got totally ripped off by Mike Singleton when he designed Starnet for Micronet, which was the computer bit of PRESTEL back in the day.

    Mike Singleton went on to write “Lords of Midnight”.

    What ever happened to Chris Bourne from Micronet? Drop me a PM on the board if you know. That guy was righteous.

  24. Acosta says:

    R.I.P. is hard seeing the ones you owe so much for their talent and creativity. Being in a small village, playing rpgs was not a option, but I had the books and fantasized with it, creating adventures and trying to set solo adventures (is hard).

    *throws a D20 honouring Arneson*

  25. Rei Onryou says:

    Never played the tabletop games, but I am more than aware of the affect D&D had on modern gaming and RPGs. Anything Black Isle churned out in the D&D universe I lapped up. I came to love THAC0. I finally got a boxed copy of Planescape: Torment and it will be played in the memory of Arneson and Gygax.

  26. Lukasz says:

    Sad news. for us of course.

    For him not so much. Both of them are probably playing a game with Jesus, Muhammad and Elvis.

  27. Jazmeister says:

    More people I’ll never get to thank. Makes you want to write a huge list of your heroes and meet them before they are brutally snatched by the Sky Wizard.

  28. malkav11 says:

    Wow. I knew that I knew people who knew him, but I hadn’t really realized that that was because he lived right here in St. Paul.

  29. Klaus says:

    Hmm… he looks sorta like a dwarf or a gnome. Where are the clerics when you need them? :'(

  30. Ken St. Andre says:

    1. 61 is too young to die. I’m gonna hold out until I’m at least 62.
    2. If Gygax had stuck to WWII miniatures, Dave still would have invented fantasy role-playing.
    3. Big game conventions are gonna be a lot duller now that Dave is gone. Hey, Lou Zocchi and Rick Loomis are still around.

  31. T.B. Falsename says:

    Ken, aim for more than 62.

    I owe so much of what makes me me to Gygax, Arneson, Steve Jackson (GW/FF Steve, not GURPS Steve), Ian Livingston, Dave Morriss and Oliver Johnson, and Ken St. Andre…and I still have most of the books and boxed sets which I started off with.