Saturday, October 24, 2020

R.I.P. Lenard Lakofka

I just read over at Grognardia that Lenard Lakofka has passed away. James makes the observation that Lenard may be

one of the most underappreciated contributors to the growth and development of Dungeons & Dragons.

I would have to agree, especially when it comes to understanding my own history with the game. Therefore, let me set the record straight. 

As much as I love Gygax, Arneson, Holmes, and Moldvay, none of them taught me as much about being a Dungeon Master as Lakofka did. He put to page blueprints for what I experienced as a young high school kid in a sandbox campaign run by a college student. That campaign opened my eyes as to what D&D could be and I wanted my campaigns to look and feel like that one did. The only TSR publications that ever came close to showing me how to duplicate that experience where Lakofka's The Secret of Bone Hill and The Assassin's Knot.

Though I never ran Bone Hill, I am always striving to make sure my campaigns have the feel that exudes from Bone Hill on paper. Though Assassin's Knot was one of my first true failures as a DM, I still make sure my worlds have factions and humans as the true villains and monsters. Yeah, of all the guys who ever wrote for TSR, Lenard is the one who really taught me to be the DM (or Referee as I prefer) I am today.

Thanks Lenard, and as we Orthodox say, may your memory be eternal.


JB said...

I don't recall you mentioning Lakofka before. Besides Bone Hill and Assassin's Knot, what other writings of his influenced you? Just curious (I know he wrote plenty of articles in Dragon, but some are better than others).

FrDave said...

I haven't...which is why I sought to rectify that with this post. Admittedly, I never paid much attention to Dragon Magazine in any of its incarnations. Dungeon and White Dwarf, due to their inclusion of actual adventures, loom much larger in my formation as a player. This is probably why I have skipped over Lakofka...while he provided the template to which I aspire to, so many others provided better bits that fit the template better than what Lakofka himself wrote. At the end of the day, however, Bone Hill and Assassin's Knot are the foundation.

HuckSawyer said...

Your recollections are eerily similar to my own: we were 10-12 year old kids in 1982 when the older older brothers were decommissioned by the Army (President Carter Administration, I know, Reagan was President by 1982) and appeared with a big stack of AD&D wonder. And rad dice.

The pages of SOBH served as training grounds for village, travel and hostile exploration, and the mechanics of getting-there and getting-back. Ornery Mules! In our campaign, many B2 features were intermingled with SOBH.

Assassin's Knot and (even more) Saltmarsh were our introduction to prowler adventures.

What a wonderful time for imagination.