Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Memoriam - Tom Moldvay (1949 – March 9, 2007)

Who's Tom Moldvay, you may be asking?

He was a giant in the RPG industry. Here's a quick cut and paste from Wikipedia that illustrates my point:
As an employee of TSR, Inc., Moldvay authored or co-authored landmark D&D adventure modules such as Castle Amber, Isle of Dread, the rewrite ofPalace of the Silver Princess,[1] and Secret of the Slavers Stockade, all published in 1981. Of these, X1 - Isle of Dread was one of the most widely played modules of the time because it was distributed inside the D&D Expert Set rules.
I loved Secret of the Slavers Stockade. It had one of my favorite monsters of all time in it - perhaps created by Tom himself - the boggle. I remember begging my friend Alan Kent (my DM at the time) to let me 'tame' or 'befriend' a boggle so that my character, a monk named Belloq, could have a pet. He gave in and it was great.

Another fond memory that I have wouldn't have been possible without the work of Tom Moldvay.

In 1980, my dad was working in Las Vegas. He had to travel a lot in my youth to find work. He was a union electrician and most of those jobs in the '70s and '80s were in the construction of power plants. In the early '80s, that construction was in Nevada, not Arizona, so he would work there during the week and travel home on weekends.

During the summer of 1980, my good friend Brian Eells had introduced me to this crazy game, Dungeons and Dragons. He had DM'd a good portion of The Keep on the Borderlands for me and I was totally enamored of the game. I'd saved my money and had convinced my mom to take me to Tri-City Mall to buy the Basic and Expert Sets.

The Basic D&D set came with The Keep, which I'd already explored. The Expert set came with a new module - The Isle of Dread!

The Isle was cool for many reasons. Foremost of which was the 'overland' exploration of the island. You see, the Isle had this cool, colorful hex map of all the island terrain. I think there were even rules that guided exploration and took into account the fact that you might make a wrong turn and get lost. Very exciting.

There was also an underground temple (I think) and it was full of marvelous treasures, not the least of which was a black pearl the size of a bowling ball!

So, there I was with a cool module (that I knew too much about!) and no DM. What to do, what to do?

Draft Dad!

Somehow, someway, I convinced my dad to run the Isle of Dread for me over the weekends when he was home. He probably would have preferred to do something else with me. Maybe golf or movie viewing, but he sucked it up and ran the adventure. He even did a pretty good job of hiding his suspicions that I knew a little too much about the adventure. Looking back now, it was obvious he knew I was "peeking", but then he was a good sport.

Thank you Tom Moldvay. Thanks Dad!

1 comment:

Jim Dickinson said...

Wow! Jim, I had no idea that your Dad ran a D&D adventure for you! I NEVER could have gotten my Dad to do that, and I never figured your Dad for the type that could pull it off. That is an awesome story! That is so cool! Brilliant!