393: Ultimate Game
Title text: RIP, Gary.
Gary Gygax was a game designer best known for co-creating the iconic nerd pastime Dungeons and Dragons; as such, he is commonly described as the "father of D&D." He died on March 4, 2008, three days before this comic was released.
The idea of playing games with supernatural entities in exchange for one's soul is an old one and has been referenced in many works. Here, the specific twist is that the victim can choose which game they want to play. Naturally, it is only fitting that Gary would challenge Death to D&D.
The problem is that Dungeons and Dragons isn't so much a game as it is a set of rules for describing stories. It requires the intervention of a Dungeon Master (or DM) to create a scenario which the players' characters must overcome. It's unclear exactly how the game between Gary and Death works, but given that D&D generally takes a long time to play due to the setup time and large amount of dice-rolling, and the fact that Gary seems to keep adding extra rulebooks (official or pseudo-official books which add new classes, items, spells, etc. for players to use), it's understandable why it would take longer than Death's boss (satan?) would like.
Although Gary is the father of D&D, Dave Arneson's contribution should not be ignored. Although xkcd did not cover his death in April 2009, a stick-figure tribute to the man who created the concept of role-playing does exist, courtesy Order of the Stick.
- [Split screen. Man on office phone in upper left, Death on cell phone in bottom left.]
- Man: Death?
- Death: Speaking.
- [Office. Man on office phone.]
- Man: This is the boss. Where are you? You haven't been up to the office in days!
- Death: I've been held up.
- [Death on cell phone.]
- Man: What happened?
- Death: You know how when someone dies, they can challenge me to a game for their soul?
- Man: Sure, standard procedure.
- [Room with table. Table has figurines and paper strewn about. Gary Gygax and Death seated at the table. Gary Gygax leaning over his briefcase. Death on cell phone.]
- Death: Well, we didn't count on this guy. I might be a while.
- Gary Gygax: I add the paladin to my party.
- Death: Oh, Jesus. He's getting out another rulebook.