Page last updated at 04:33 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 05:33 UK

Role-playing games pioneer dies

Dave Arneson in an undated photo
Arneson taught classes in game design in his later years

Dave Arneson, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-play game, has died of cancer at 61 in a hospice in St Paul, Minnesota.

His two-year battle with the disease ended on Tuesday when he passed away peacefully, his daughter said.

Arneson created the game famous for its oddly shaped dice in 1974 along with the late Gary Gygax.

"The biggest thing about my dad's world is he wanted people to have fun in life," said his daughter Malia.

Arneson and Gygax developed D&D using medieval characters and mythical creatures and it was a worldwide hit, particularly among teenage boys.

It eventually was turned into video games, books and films.


"I think we get distracted by the everyday things you have to do in life and we forget to enjoy life and have fun," Malia Weinhagen told the Associated Press.

"But my dad never did. He just wanted people to have fun."

D&D, described by AP as "the quintessential geek pastime", spawned copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that is still growing in popularity.

"[Arneson] developed many of the fundamental ideas of role-playing: that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures and that personality is as important as combat prowess," said a statement from Wizards of the Coast, which produces D&D.

The company noted that Blackmoor, a game Arneson had been developing before D&D, was the "first-ever role-playing campaign and the prototype for all [role-playing game] campaigns since".

Arneson met Gygax, who died in March of last year, at a games convention in 1969.

He is survived by his daughter and two grandchildren.

Your tributes:

Dave was a nice guy; I grew up playing his games but only met him as an adult--I spoke to him regularly and met him a few times over the last few years and was always happy to hear from him--he had a great attitude and a wonderful sense of humor. Thanks for everything, Dave, and of course, a belated thanks to Gary Gygax, whom I neither met nor spoke with, but who will remain a massive influence on my life.
Jamie Blackman, Louisiana, USA

Never having played d&d, I got to know Dave Arneson through a side project related to the 'Runelords' movie that never happened. We became friends - he sent me all the texts on his 'Blackmoor' series, I sent him the UK copy of the dungeons and dragons movie that had the little extra showing him in the tower at the end of the movie (they never released that extra in the states). I only spoke to him a couple of weeks back, and he had said he was unwell. At least it is over. I'm gutted I'll never be able to drive you to Blackmoor in southern England now Dave, but it's been a pleasure to know you.
Matt Harrill, Bristol, England

I remember nights spent with friends among the candlelight, dices and sheets of paper with sparks in out eyes doing something magical together, transcending ourselves and our environment. I also remember hours and hours spend playing computer D&D based RPGs... Now, no matter how geeky it was, I think I learned a lot from those days. How to be careful, how to take risks, how to think in critical situations.. And the people I played with, I really explored them from very different perspectives. It was a very valuable experience, no less significant in the process of growing up than reading, going to the theater plays and concerts. The system he created and the worlds that came out of it are deep, interesting and serve as valuable tools for people to learn many different things about themselves, their lives and the reality. It might seems strange how it teaches reality being completely unreal and based on imagination but it does. Thank you Dave. You were doing an amazing thing, far more than creating a new way of entertainment. Your legacy will be always living on. Rest in peace.
Aleksey Andreev, Whitewater, WI

Rest easy, you will be missed... Thank you both for a way for a socially inept doofus to align with "normals". You made it possible for me to not have to explain myself...
scott hanley, venice, ca

Regards to the chap who has given me a sad life for the past 40 years - a role player, remember this - whoever dies with the most characters wins.
bobbus, normandy

Thanks for years of fun and adventure. You brought the greatest worlds of all to us - The worlds of our own imaginations. Rest in peace.
Nicholas Lee, Exeter, UK

Even though I haven't played for years I can still remember spending hour upon hour playing D&D with friends. The times we have just fallen about laughing at some of the things that used to go on on some of our adventures still make me smile now. Thanks for the fun Dave. God bless
John Scattergood, Birmingham UK

Chadwell Heath is arguably one of the least interesting towns in the UK, with scant facilities for youth. As a teenager with about 30p a week pocket money (enough for a series 1 Airfix model kit, bought and assembled every Saturday), D&D was an excellent way to pass a Friday and a Saturday evening. We moved on from D&D to Traveller, Chivalry and Sorcery, DragonQuest, MERP and Star Empires. No underage drinking, hanging out on street corners, experimenting with drugs, Just tea, cakes and good company. We did it from 1976 until some of us got married and moved away (mid to late '90s). Some still do it today.
Paul T Horgan, Bracknell, UK

Thank you.
Nikhil Kini, Mumbai, India

My first D&D game was in 1980 with my family and friends. We are still playing now. It's a way of life, not just a game. I am now 62 and a grandma on the outside, but a powerful Priest who slaughtered Iuz and many more demi-gods over the years in my life in D&D. Thanks for all that. I shall never forget you.
Julie Keymer, Cambridge, UK

I'm sad to see one of the men who helped define my life pass. I grew up a closet geek, and now I'm an out and out geek. D&D (and it's myriad offshoots) have meant I've had a close circle of friends that I still play games with sixteen years later. An epic level man passed away - and he'll be missed by a great more communities than maybe he'll have ever known.
Paul Drew, Oxford

D&D was the epitome of interactive escapism; long before the days of Playstation and XBOX. - D&D, described by AP as "the quintessential geek pastime" - Yeah sure. Instead we have gangs of hoodies hanging around street corners with nothing better to do then harass people and trash cars.
Abdul M. Ismail, Liverpool, UK

Thanks for endless hours of fantasy adventures. Playing since 1983, and still have the original hardback books. You spawned many a young man like me into a fantasy addict, its all I read, and all I attempt to write. You'll always be remembered and thanked.
Simon, Gorey, Ireland

Another hero of the genre passes away. Condolences to his family and friends, and a huge thank you to a man who provided so much enjoyment to so many people. Even if we are geeks :)
Tony McQueen, Portsmouth UK

Would just like to say that both Dave and Gary will be fondly remembered by me, as the "quintessential geek" mentioned in the article was me, and many of my friends at school playing the first D&D, then AD&D and moving on through the computer game genre (who remembers "Valhalla"?) which has become such a huge phenomenon, and which was single-handedly spawned by these two. RIP.
Carl Hobbs, Folkestone, UK

Thanks for creating such a wonderful game and pastime. DnD was a major influence in my childhood, and its effect on pop culture have made it part of my life through influencing movies, and video games. The world would have been poorer without your work. Thanks for the experiences and fun that still continues, and I hope to share them with my son when he is old enough. RIP you legends.
Kurt Dean, Sydney

I was Young, I was happy. I'm still young, i'm still happy! Thanks and "'till our swords meet again"
Celebgil Eltar Telperion, Rome, Italy

Wow, yet another great loss in the role-playing games field. Gygax and Arneson helped out a lot of us high school outcasts cope with the angst of the teenage years; they will be missed.
Randall C., Alexandria, U.S.A.

I was never much for RPGs but always had respect for people who played them. To see my friends get so involved and to see their imaginations running wild was wonderful. I was almost jealous at times. He was a pioneer that deserves head line coverage and his legacy will last forever in many peoples hearts. Respect.
J. W. Jessy Forsyth, Istanbul, Turkey

For giving me the opportunity to dream of worlds beyond reality, to fight for my beliefs of right. To open my mind to accept what can be possible, and to awaken a never-ending kaleidoscope of imagination, I thank you both.
Benji Ong, Q.C. Philippines

By now he's probably rolling in his grave.
Stephen Hennelly, Berlin, Germany

I played Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager, and am one of the typical geeks who played it (I am a 39 year old software engineer). Though the teachers of our high school actually banned it because they thought it "undermined our morals" we continued to meet and play in secret, with our painted lead figurines of thieves, paladins, assassins and various monsters. We spent hours painting those figurines while listening to heavy metal. I was just the other day considering taking it back up again and showed my girlfriend the Wikipedia pages on the guys who invented D&D. Rest in peace Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax.
Lindsay Kay, Auckland, New Zealand

I was thirteen when I first played D&D. I'm forty next month and like many who started then I'm still playing now, thanks to Dave and Gary. They began it all. It all started with these two. Without them the world would have been a sadder place. What else can I say except Thanks.
Rchard , Valencia

I must thank Arneson and Gygax for their creativity and imagination. Almost all of the fondest memories I have in my life are with my friends growing up, and almost every time we were together, nightly, religiously, we would be in my friend steve's garage immersed in our make believe land within the realm of D&D. The game spawned my alter ego Hexen Soulblade, which followed me through most of middle school. As humorous as it sounds, I will never forget the fun and togetherness I felt when we were were huddled at that table. Life and all of its stresses ceased to exist, and we were free in a far away land full of adventure and laughter and trials and triumph. only a game to some, but to me it was what kept us (myself and my family of friends) togeather, and happy. Thank you!
Antonio Periera (Hexen Soulblade), seward, illinois, USA

I guess you finally rolled a natural 1. Rest In Peace. Thank you that in your life time you created a world of role play that has deviated and expanded so much and given me so much in my life. We will hold a memorial game.
Sarah Ross, Aberystwyth Wales

Gygax and Arneson, your legacy lives on! Next weekend, my 5 friends and I will be spending the entire night at a kitchen table with our character sheets, d20's, and figurines. I want your families to know that we six awkward teenagers still remember your brilliance. Thanks for the all-nighters.
Adeline the Pleasant, Buffalo, NY

Thanks for bringing intelligent fun in my teenage years!
Mattia Leoni, Clonakilty, Ireland

Who says he is dead? This is just a dream, for him the real adventure begins now. His dream inspired millions others to have countless adventures and now he is on a better board having the greatest adventure ever! 'Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives!'
Umer Mumtaz, Islamabad, Pakistan

Thank you for great ideas that have made my life happier. In some of my best memories I am playing D&D with my friends, and it has influenced all my likes and dislikes since I got to know it. Hope you have fun in a very good place now. All my best to your family, wish them strengh to go through this.
Nitzah, UK

Rest in peace. AD&D was the first role-playing system for me that I got attached to in early years of high-school in '92. In Croatia, we didn't even have the real books at that time so we used bad copies of the copies supplemented with hand-written notes... I spent many nights with my closest friends roleplaying instead of sleeping in those days. But we were not in a small room but someplace else, wielding swords and magic... It brings back dear and unique memories that only fellow role-players can understand. Thank you guys and condolences to the family.
Marko Gacesa, Zagreb, Croatia

Rest easy, mate. You will be remembered. Thanks for many years of fun (since 77). Guess you finally failed your save....happens to all of us in the end.
mark fitzgibbon, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Thank you for your dreams and ideas that spawned D&D. I have the original and all the later editions. Your game kept me thinking and imagining, and made me friends. I kept out of trouble because I just wanted 1 more adventure. Thank you. Save vs constitution, failed. Rest well and continue adventuring wherever you now may be.
Keith Tan, Singapore

Rest in peace, you and gary gygax,and we never forget you. Nabil Ben Hariz
BEN HARIZ, Thiais France

Due to Arneson's & Gygax's efforts I will forever cherish the hours & hours I spent huddled in my garage with 6 of my closest friends. It was a wonderfully inventive way to spend a day with friends....even though one was a hair-brained barbarian that would never check for traps, and contributed in me losing my favorite sword.....Even now, though I haven't played in years, in the back of my closet, I still have my dice, manuals, dungeon maps, and character sheets ready if anyone happen to have a game going?? Anyone?? You both shall be missed but never forgotten.
Finneas Macabre, USA, Mississippi, Biloxi

As a long time and ardent fan of D&D/aD&D and now a veteran warcrafter in the 40's bracket, this man and the late Gary Gygax have given me thousands of hours of fun, adventure, thrills in the comfort of my own imagination. A great loss that will be felt by all that play the game past and present.
Ian Watson, Dorset

While many may disparage the validity or usefulness of role playing games, there is no way to overlook their gateway for loners into social groups. Awkward teens worldwide can find common ground in the escapism role playing provides. I remember picking up the first edition of D&D when I was about ten and being awestruck by the world presented therein, as well as perplexed by the awkward D4 dice. I'm sure many have had similar experiences. This shy and reserved individual has grown to be a productive and sociable member of the community, and I place a great deal of credit for that at the feet of these two men. They spawned a universe of books, games, history, and friendships for me. I wish more people had an understanding of the value and direction they've provided across a wide stretch of all aspects of the entertainment industry. D20s forever.
Timothy Roller, Seattle, U.S.A.

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson didn't just invent a game, they invented a hobby that shaped my entire life. My first memories of Dungeons and Dragons are of family games. I was the Dungeon Master, father was a Fighter, mother was an Elf, and grandmother was a Wizard. I miss those cheerful days, and I'll miss the men who made them possible.
Chris Nail, Baton Rouge, LA, U.S.A.

If I'd had the chance in this life, I'd have told Dave Arneson thanks for D&D and all the attendant good times I've enjoyed with my friends as a result of playing the game. My heartfelt condolences go out to the Arneson family.
Ewan Cummins, USA

RIP. I spent many hours with my friends enjoying RPG's including Mr. Arneson's games. The quality of entertainment and thought he put into his games and game systems provided millions of people a popular and relaxing pastime. That is his legacy. He left the world much improved than he entered it. In the end, that is all anyone can do.
mike, Buffalo, NY

The true wizards have departed. May your hit points always be copious.
William Sherman, Boxford, MA, USA

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