A Secret Fire Burns in Loving Memory of Gary Gygax

Today, July 27th, 2011, marks the 73rd birthday of Gary Gygax who passed away in 2008. It seemed suitable to post this today in his memory. Gary was the creative genius behind the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. I grew up playing it and still do. He was also the founder of the best all around gamer/cosplayer/fantasy/horror/anything geeky convention I know of, Gen Con (Gen Con is next week so more on Gen Con 2011 coming soon!)

On July 14th I posted an article about a couple Kickstarter projects one of which was a role playing game called Legends and Labyrinths. On July 19th, the publisher announced that the name of the game was a fake until the game was ready to market and they kept the official name of the game a secret. The secret is now out and the secret is… The Secret Fire!

The game is dedicated to bringing back some of the best elements of old fashioned tabletop, role-play gaming that Mr. Gygax and his friends pioneered back in the 60’s and 70’s, modernizing them, and starting a secret fire burning in the hearts of a new generation of gamers while adding new life to the spirit of gaming to old schoolers like me.

Since I wrote my first article on the game I dug up more information and looked at some of the sample materials the company has online such as character sheets and their sites “What Makes Legends and Labyrinths Different?” page.

From what I can tell without having actually played or even having the book in my hands, the game seeks to simplify some of the more complex bookkeeping tasks of RPGs while encouraging and enhancing the creative, collaborative storytelling that is Role-play Gaming. Unlike many role-playing games where a characters moral inclination/alignment is written down and forgotten, in The Secret Fire it is tracked on the character sheet and the character’s actions will affect the character in more significant ways, such as in the earning of Energy Points. Energy Points can be used during the game to embellish a players actions and give them flare as well as give them advantage in the game.

I can’t help but getting a little geeky here and using a personal example on this point as I think about this because this sort of thing is often a frustration for game masters. Recently I was playing Vampire the Masquerade with my Tuesday night gaming group and a bunch of baddies crashed through the gate into the courtyard of the building our characters were preparing to enter. The baddies came pouring out of their car and the battle was on.

My character has celerity (superhuman speed) and a shotgun with silver ammo (ya never know when silver slugs might be handy!) and he charged in and jumped on the car’s hood to get the best shot at one of the leaders. After dispatching the leader-type baddie my character was being attacked from behind by a couple of other baddies. While just turning around and shooting would be simple and effective, as the game master pointed out, I wanted to embellish a bit so I explained what I wanted to do to the game master. After he scratched his head for a minute he had me roll a series of dice that took into consideration my dexterity, speed, and other factors and luck was with me. So, after rolling a handful of dice, my character jumped off the hood towards the wall of the gatehouse, kicked off that with a ninja style back-flip to land behind his attackers. The net effect after several rolls was I got a back attack on my attacker.

Sure, just turning and shooting would have been less risky but it was fun. With the energy points if you want to do something like that and it makes sense to the game master it will cost you a few energy points and add to the fun.

Attacks in battle are based on a target’s dodging ability for a successful attack and damage taken in battle is reduced by the target’s armor resistance. Taking damage affect’s a character and damage is tracked by levels. Minor damage has the effect of giving the victim a plus one on their roll to hit their opponents (“Don’t make me angry! You won’t like me when I am angry!”) while being severely damaged will slow you down (though the effects stack!)

All in all, The Secret Fire looks to be an interesting and fun system to play.

Speaking of secrets, in reading the info on their gaming site I read an interesting comment:

“GYGAX’S VISION FOR THE FUTURE. As Gail Gygax has mentioned on her Facebook page, a screenwriter is currently writing a movie based on Gary’s life using Gary’s unpublished works and various writings about himself from his diaries and his ideas for gaming from his first thoughts about creating RPGs through this last days on this earth from his notebooks. The name of the screenwriter has not been revealed, but he has in his possession the inner thoughts of Gary Gygax on many things, especially his vision for the future of gaming, which happens to be the same as my own sensibilities. More on this topic later (i.e., that’s all I’m at liberty to mention now)”

Also on the site is the quote by Gail Gygax, “With LEGENDS & LABYRINTHS, George Strayton is following in the footsteps of the inventor and master of role-playing games, Gary Gygax, expanding on Gary’s original vision of fantasy role-playing by taking it back to its roots while simultaneously bringing it into the future.”

As I mentioned in my previous article on this game, “George Strayton is a writer that has been involved in such media greats as XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3, TRANFORMERS 1 & 2, STAR TREK, FRINGE, and the DRAGONLANCE movie.”

Some mysteries are more prone to speculation than others. In this case I think they would want a writer that has a history in gaming and screen writing as well as a familiarity with the life of Gary Gygax and his vision for the future. Mr. Strayton says the screen writer has diaries and such that give him Mr. Gygax’s, “vision for the future of gaming” and Gail Gygax says that with The Secret Fire Mr. Strayton is, “expanding on Gary’s original vision…” Can you say, “No Brainer?” I think you can.

If my suspicions are correct I will expect a press release and maybe even a press conference next week at Gen Con.  If I am wrong?  Well, I will really be surprised if I am wrong but we will all find out next week!

About the author

Weird AKA John Collins

John N. Collins is a writer, photographer, game & coloring book designer and a bad dancer. Any resemblance to the King John character is merely a coincidence. Follow John N. Collins: YouTube Facebook Fan Page Facebook Personal Account Instagram Twitter

Readers Comments (4)

  1. I am sitting staring at the screen as I contemplate this comment.

    Thank you Mr. Strayton for confirming my suspicions.

    Sorry I didn’t make it to any of your games at Gen Con or even catch up with you to meet you but I didn’t discover how many Marriot hotels there are in downtown Indianapolis until Saturday night and tried to catch the game in the JW Marriot but that game got cancelled according to Gen Con staff.

    Thanks again for the information and now I think I will go freak out for your having made that disclosure on my site and nowhere else at this point. Hopefully my laptop won’t be damaged if I faint.

  2. You are correct in your assumptions. No announcement was made (other than the mention on Gail’s FB site) because the deal with the big actor on board to play the lead hasn’t been signed (as the lawyers on both sides continue to try to outdo each other). But a big announcement should be forthcoming as soon as we lock him in along with the director. It’s very exciting as D&D has been a passion of mine since 1979 and I can’t wait to tell the REAL story that no one knows about yet (I couldn’t believe what I was reading — what we know about the creation of D&D was purposefully fictionalized by Gary to create one giant game that he wanted revealed after he passed — it’s pretty incredible). Last thing I will (and am allowed to) say is that this will be a $150 million big-budget blockbuster film with a huge heart and millions of Easter eggs for gamers. The story’s already written. Just need all the pieces to fall into place so we can get the green light and start shooting! Gary WILL live on!

  3. A gamer? Seriously? You? I would have never guessed! LOL!

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