“Oldies, but Goodies”

Book Keeper's Library Crew

Walking towards Abraheim’s room, you are unsure if he will actually be here this time. But, to your surprise, you come up on an open door. Peering inside, you see the old man sitting at his desk scribbling away on papers strewn out on his desk.

Turning to you, he waves and smiles. You can tell from how his face beams that he has missed being in his library, and enjoying your company.  There is already a chair waiting beside his desk.

“Thank you for bearing with me during my absence. I hope you enjoyed my stories. If so, I have many more. Today however, I wanted to talk to you about some of the books and stories I encountered while I was away.”

Abraheim nods his head in the direction of the stack of books on his desk. He runs his fingers over the spines of the stack and slides one out.

“Let’s start with this one.”

In his hands is an old trade paperback. The pages have long yellowed, and when he cracks it open, you recognize the distinct smell of an old book. It reads Saga of Old City, Greyhawk Adventures by Gary Gygax.

“This book comes from my fascination of finding the roots or beginnings of things, or just as well, “the first.” As you probably know, Gary Gygax is known in most circles as the father of roleplaying games. He was instrumental in the creation of my favorite game of all time, and some of the most iconic adventures and settings for Dungeons & Dragons. While not being his first document authored, this is his first novel. And I’m glad I have it.”

He flips open to the copyright page and smiles.

“First printing, I might add.”

“The Greyhawk Adventures books were written by Gygax to help promote the campaign setting of Greyhawk, much like the Dragonlance novels did for the Dragonlance Campaign setting. They follow the adventures of a roguish hero named Gord, and his rises from a slum dwelling beggar, to a vanquisher of demons and protector of the planter Oerth.”

He produces another book from the stack, the same size and color as the other.

“There were only two books written by Gygax under the Greyhawk Adventures name, Saga, and Artifact of Evil… which I also have… first printing. Alas, it might have been the only printing. I do not know the popularity of these books, but they hold a special place in my library. I wouldn’t call them rare necessarily, but they are significant to me. He has written a number of other books that follow Gord the Rogue, as well as some other characters. Some I have, so I don’t. Maybe one day I will complete it.”

He puts the two books back into the stack.

“If you are familiar with Gygax and any of his other works, specifically adventure modules for D&D, you know him to be the author of one of the most iconic adventures ever created —  Tomb of Horrors. I mention this one now because it deals with another book that we have visited recently. More on that in a second, though.”

Tomb of Horrors was an adventure module that didn’t necessarily revolve around killing monsters. It was a test against puzzles and traps. And while there was an underlying story to the trudge through the tomb, I feel that the true story telling, as with most D&D games, comes from how players eventually made it through, or died trying. In truth, according to the creator himself, it was meant to be extremely deadly. In a way it was almost a power play by Gygax against the players, but nonetheless rewarding if they happened to survive.”

Some of his adventures are so iconic in fact, that they have been either republished, or the inspiration for newer D&D 5th Edition Modules. Tomb of Horrors itself was republished in Tales of the Yawning Portal, a supplemental adventure book for D&D. His other and just as famous module, Temple of Elemental Evil, was the basis for one of the most iconic 3rd edition modules, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and the inspiration for the 5E module Princes of the Apocalypse.”

“If you want to read more about Gygax, I personally recommend reading Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer and Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt. They provide a lot of insight into his life and the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. But enough of my ramblings. Alas, I will leave you with this…”

He produces another book, Ready Player One.

“Remember this? If you have read the book, you know just how important the Tomb of Horrors and Gary Gygax are to the main plot, and it is one little connection that I couldn’t help but get sucked into as I was reading. If you haven’t, I do not want to give anything away, but the connections are worth checking out.”

The old man gets up and pops his back.

“I’ve been sitting so much since I have returned. But I enjoyed our little chat today. If you have time, you should check out those books that I mentioned. They all aren’t very cumbersome of a read.”

“I hope to see you again soon! Until Next time, my friend.”