The Lost Youth Who Fueled ‘Cult Panic’ In Dungeons and Dragons

Rules of Tactical Study, the company founded by Gary Gygax to publish the rules for Dungeons & Dragons, which held its annual “GenCon” convention in the summer of 1979. At the time, D&D had not yet become a major notice, but the game is more popular with players, especially college students. One such student suddenly elevated the game to fame over the course of a terrific week in early September.

Everything is fine a few weeks after the convention, and a Tactical Studies Rules staffer named Rose Estes was in the middle of writing a piece about GenCon for a hobby magazine when she received a call from on The Dayton Journal-Herald. Estes was a spokesman for TSR at the time, and was accustomed to trying to explain the game to confused reporters. After hearing complaints from the reporter that the game was completely sold out in Dayton, he was asked to comment on the situation of the missing boy.

“What man?” he replied.

GenCon ended Aug. 19. The role of Michigan State University, the State News, ran a headline the following Saturday, about an “MSU student reported missing for two days from Case Hall,” one of the university’s dormitories. Included in this article is a photograph of a young man, just 16 years old, with the title deed Dallas Egbert. This meant that Egbert was from Dayton, Ohio, that he was an Honors College student at Lyman Briggs College, and that the last time anyone could be sure he saw him in the dorm was on Aug. 15 – a day before it started. the GenCon.

Egbert is attending a summer semester due to an illness that forced him to drop some of his spring classes. Officially, he is still considered a freshman. the State News It has been suggested that a friend of Egbert stated that he was “known to leave campus in the past for unknown destinations.” He added, “Owner in the fall took him and told me he was going. He was gone in two weeks.” A university official observed that this was “not an unusual situation. He is 16 and well. We were worried about his age. ”His roommate reported that Egbert was often the one who played his stereo to the point of” breaking the wall, but I haven’t heard it lately. ” Apparently, he doesn’t have a driver’s license and regularly rides buses to get around.

One who went missing for a day was not news, but another week later, on Sunday, September 2, the story spread in local papers and became a police officer. In Lansing, Michigan, State Journal, an article on the page the next day that thought, in its title, “Did the Lost Student Leave the Mark?” The paper reported that Egbert’s room was unnaturally tidy, removed the bedheets and a usual ream of posters, and that in their place, “putting on an uncleared desktop was a good printed letter two lines were written, what Egbert wanted to do with his body ‘should’ be found out. ”In what could be called a generous statement, police investigators agreed that he may have committed suicide.

Searching for leads, police brought a tarot deck they found inside a fortune teller to ask if a certain kind of message could be found in the arrangement of the cards. But the deck wasn’t the most surprising thing left in his dorm – it was a corkboard leaning against a wall, which contained 36 plastic and metal tacks, on which investigators examined the secret meaning. In the same article on Sept. 2, Egbert’s mother, who reported that she had played with her son before, suggested that it could be a kind of message, perhaps a map. “This year,” the State Journal Relevant, “Egbert told him about a new game he was familiar with, called Dungeons & Dragons.” In fact, the newspaper confirmed that “Egbert’s board presses were like the hole used in the game,” and Egbert’s friends don’t remember seeing the board there before he disappeared.

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