Meet Ernie the Barbarian – Gamer & Author

Meet Ernie the Barbarian – Gamer & Author

ernestErnie the Barbarian – or Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. – has been a gamer nearly as long as he lived. He literally cut his first tooth on an Avalon Hill Panzer division, and went on from there to play many games, from board games to miniatures war games to, ultimately, role-playing games with his father and their many friends. One of the very first players of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Ernest is better known as the player behind the very first magic-user, Tenser. As such, his collaborations to the game include the play-testing of any material penned by his father during his time at TSR. Ernest wore many hats at TSR, from shipping clerk to EVP of Consumer Services in charge of 22 employees broken down into the Dungeon hobby shop, the mail order catalog services, Gen Con and the RPGA. He later was VP Creative for Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment, and Associate Editor of the Strategy & Tactics magazine in 1986. He is the founder of GP Adventures and co-author of the HOBBY SHOP DUNGEON with partner in crime Benoist Poiré, and created SAMMI-ZOWA VERSUS THE DUELING DRAGONS for his grandson, Sam, a story rooted in the creative landscape that informed the creation of the world’s premier role-playing game which Ernest wanted to gift to gamers far and wide so they too can share it with their own children and families.

Today Ernie gifts us with an exclusive interview! Enjoy 🙂

sammi Why do I write:  To me it is very simple, the best method I have of sharing memories, experiences and dreams is by the written word. If I had the ability to use Art as my co-worker Simon Todd or put images on data streaming movie experiences then perhaps I would let the word slip into the past. Yet I find that the word is the most basic and universal method of sharing life’s own experiences with others, not only today but perhaps for generations to follow.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?:  Sammi-Zowa versus the Dueling Dragons is a wonderful little story that came to me after creating a “Homemade” Valentines Card for my wife Deborah. She was a very outspoken young woman who asked of her loved ones for something made by hand or something truly from the Heart. Holidays would be her sons and then in ever increasing numbers grandsons lining up to give Grandmother homemade cards and works of Art. One of the finest things that my father E. Gary Gygax had ever done for us as children was his on the spot, homemade adventure tales. Whether by example or by genetics an imagination that knows few boundaries has always been part of my persona. So for my oldest Grandson’s birthday in 2006, I spent 4 months writing the original novel. It has way to many pages and some fine but not enough artwork for the 5 and 3 year old lads. We would sit and start the book many times but after but a wee bit, Grandpa turn the page, Grandpa next picture please…
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?:  This question nailed my story on the head. I had recorded the lives of the boys, there parents and Deb, our dog and even I. The only smoke screen provided was placing it in an imaginary Feudalistic Japan and for quality assurance added a ancient family Hero, Heirloom (a Sword similar to one at my house) and a World were Magic really works but only if you have the power in your family make-up. Well just as young Samuel Markling does! Quite surprisingly this made it much more difficult to slice down to size, appropriate to a younger age group. Even though this meant the removal of so many Historical details that were the family in the past and even harder now that Deb had left this World for one hopes a finer place. Nerissa Montie had this difficult assignment and then she shared it with her 5th grade class after editing. It now was a work that many young people were begging to read and finish! Then we added the fantastic art of Simon Todd and you have the initial 1st printing of the novel Sammi-Zowas versus the Dueling Dragons.
Do you find the time to read?:  Every day if even for but 15 minutes. I carry my latest book with me in the car, while sunning in the backyard or even when drying off after a shower. Many days I may read for a full 8 hours. This is recharging my batteries, as does a fine adventure film or playing a face to face game with others. Dungeons and Dragons or any boxed game by the designer Tom Wham can cause me to shift to another World and come back to this one hopefully with a glorious Victory in hand.
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?:  We all have the ability to dream. Dreams sometimes create new ideas and innovation. Most assuredly dreams are healthy, wonderful to enjoy and make us so much more equal than money power and other mundane realities. When I was young and we were poor – I could take a coat hanger, a bowling pin or even a soap ladle – for it could become a rocket ship, a super incredible hoover-tank, or even a muscle warrior servant. Once you finally find yourself enjoying your dreams and ideas, share them, sometimes they will be wasted but other times new friends will grow.
Click HERE to get Ernie’s book.


  1. […] in sculpture, he began to build up a body of hand-drawn pieces which eventually was noticed by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. This led in due course to Simon’s collaboration with Ernest and Nerissa Montie on SAMMI-ZOWA […]

  2. […] independent First Nations schools in British Columbia. She jumped at the chance to work with the Ernest Gygax Jr. on a project that really spoke to her love for children, writing, Japan, and fantasy. She was just […]

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