Dungeons and Dragons Day at the Merril Collection: July 27, 2019

July 21, 2019 | Isabel

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On Saturday July 27, 2019, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy will host Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Day from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm. Come for a talk on table-top roleplaying games (RPGs) and stay for a game and a chance to see some treasures of the Merril Collection. Whether you’ve never heard of Dungeons and Dragons before or you’ve been playing since birth, all are welcome.

This event is organized by Friends of the Merril Collection members Oliver Brackenbury and Marie Tossios.

Some shelves of Dungeons and Dragons at the Merril Collection
Some shelves of Dungeons and Dragons at the Merril Collection.

July 27 is recognized by fans worldwide as a day to celebrate the life of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax, who was born on July 27, 1938. Along with Dave Arneson, Gygax designed and published what would be a revolutionary new gaming experience. Gygax died in 2008 at the age of 69.

While Dungeons and Dragons was revolutionary, it did have forerunners in games and literature. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction traces its origins to the rise of historical re-enactment groups in the 1960s and the popularity of Wargames. Gygax and Arneson both played Wargames and had separately started designing games set in fantasy worlds. Gygax added rules systems to his game that governed game mechanics such as combat, magic and, later, character attributes.

To find out more about Gary Gygax and the creation of RPGs check out these books:

Empire of Imagination

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons

Rise of the Dungeon Master

Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D 

The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games

The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games

Gygax also wrote a list of the books that inspired D&D. Known as Appendix N, this list first appeared in the back of the 1979 AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. The Merril Collection's July 27 event will include a brief introduction to this list. Browse the books in the collection or check them out from your local library!

Here are some of the works Gygax mentioned:

Swords and Deviltry

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

A collection of the first stories in Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series.

Necronomicon - The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

The Compleat Enchanter

The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt

RPGs started with D&D but they didn’t end there. Now there are tabletop RPGs in every genre, from science fiction to steampunk to Lovecraftian horror. There are even tabletop RPGs built around pop-culture sensations like Star Wars and Star Trek. Many of these are held in the Merril Collection and are available for use in the Reading Room. There are over 1,800 items in the collection and it is still growing. If you want to plan a campaign or just see what the fuss is about, come on by.

New RPGs ready to be added to the collection
New RPGs ready to be added to the collection.

To find out more about the Merril’s RPG collection, check out this blog by our Department Head, Sephora Henderson.

The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy is located on the third floor of Lillian H. Smith branch.

We hope to see you here on July 27!