Designer Tom Moldvay

We here at Wizards of the Coast were saddened to learn of the passing of game designer Tom Moldvay. Fellow TSR alumnus and D&D Minis website producer, Steve Winter, offered the following words to share on behalf of Tom’s memory.

Like most of the people who were involved in the early genesis of D&D, Tom Moldvay came to TSR with a broad knowledge of topics outside role-playing. That breadth always showed through in his work, where he incorporated elements of mythology, pulp fiction, history, pop culture, religion, and literature.

With Tom, it was always about the game -- any idea that advanced the game was worth considering. For example, in preparation for a Boot Hill tournament at Gen Con, he once hand-copied a prospector's map onto a torn piece of brown paper bag, folded it down, and carried it around in his boot for two weeks, all to give it an authentic 'air' when he dumped it onto the table for the players.

Tom's work that had the widest impact was probably the D&D adventure X1: The Isle of Dread, co-written with Zeb Cook. The adventure, set on a monster-filled island, was loosely based on King Kong. The Isle of Dread was included in every copy of the 1980 version of the D&D Expert Set as an example of an outdoor adventure and setting for D&D, which made it one of the most widely known and played adventures for years. Its most lasting contribution, however, was the map that sketched out the wider world. Labeled simply as "The Known World," that continent grew and evolved until it eventually became Mystara, a setting that spawned dozens of its own adventures, expansions, and accessories for the D&D game. It was characteristic of Tom that even his smallest ideas, tossed in as dressing and atmosphere, were rich enough to take on lives of their own and grow into entire product lines.

--Steve Winter

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