In memory, and to the honor of Bruce “Duke” Seifried, A pioneers in adventure games and one of the originators of Dungeons & Dragons. On this day, and to honor Dave Arneson, I wish to pay tribute to “Duke” Seifried who passed away in his home yesterday at the age of eighty three after an extended illness. Everyone knows about Dave’s wargaming roots. What a lot of people don’t know was there was others around in the early days of TSR at Lake Geneva, and one of them was none other than The Duke
I met him in 2006 at Origins. That year I had arrived early Thursday morning to setup an entire weekend of gaming, and showed up on the back dock about 4 AM with a truckload of custom designed gaming tables and a couple thousand minis for my HMGS American Wars of Independence games that I was planning on running through the weekend. It took me a couple hours to load in and setup my three multi-tiered three dimensional tables, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself right until the time I walked up to the front of the minis hall and observed the thirty plus number of sand tables setup with …um, probably twenty thousand miniatures! I was floored.
Hung on the wall in that corner of the gaming hall was this huge banner that said “Uncle Duke’s Extravaganza”. There was a flip chart on a stand with a list of simple combat, movement, and morale rules, and standing there was Gary Gygax and none other than Duke Siefried. We were the only people in the gaming hall that early in the morning (true gamers, ya… setting up for games at 6 AM)…, and I walked up and the Duke was showing Gary all the miniatures games they were going to run for the show, and was giving Gary an update on how the rules had been modified for that particular year. We spent about an hour just checking out all the games that he had scheduled for the weekend.
That was the day that I first met Gary and got the chance to thank him for making D&D. In the course of their discussions, and because I was just tagging along and observing, Gary introduced me to the Duke, and let me know that he had been the Executive Vice-President of TSR. Gary clearly looked up to him, and was inspired by the Duke, because later on in the afternoon when I went looking for Gary, he had ditched the D&D games, and I found him with Duke Seifried again at the Duke’s extravaganza setup playing games. He had a set of dice in his hands, and he was busy trying to beat the Duke. They were playing some Viking Raider game, where Gary was playing a band of Vikings, and the Duke was playing some English Saxons, and Gary’s Raiders had landed on the coast, and he was busy trying to loot a village, While the Duke had mounted a defense of the village. They of course each had a couple of lieutenants who were maneuvering various forces around the table to gain a decisive advantage. The game ended with the Duke having a slight advantage, keeping the village and running off the Viking Raiders led by Gary . Gary’s Vikings had taken loot and captives, but had taken high casualties and withdrew to the longboats on the Coast. They were gamers through and through, and I’m pretty sure both of them had showed up at Origins that year, Just so they could play together on one the Duke’s sand tables.
Some of my archive of the 2007 Origins Duke Siefried Extravaganza Games (Sadly my 2006 photo archive was lost with a Windows crash on my PC)
“Uncle Duke’s” massive “Extravaganza” games have been Feature Events at Historicon, Little Wars, Origins, GenCon, and countless other conventions of all genres. His stunning dioramas and tabletop displays and detailed miniatures set an unsurpassed high standard for convention game presentation. For many, including Gary Gygax as well as Dave,, getting into an “Uncle Duke” game is considered the highlight of a convention for many attendees. Over the past three decades, Duke has assembled teams of premier Game Master’s as apprentices at Historicon and Origins for his multiple game events titled “Uncle Duke’s Retrospective“. Duke is one of the major pioneers and contributors to the success and growth of the miniatures gaming hobby.
It was the Duke who coined the phrase “Adventure Gaming” by mixing historical and alternate gaming genres to create an entirely new class of games. He was the driving force behind several firms in the early days manufacturing miniatures with Der Kriegspieler, Custom Cast, and Heritage USA miniatures.
The Duke is credited with a number of firsts including the initiation of “bubble packs” for miniatures, multiple posees of figures with interchangeable heads in one packages, boxed sets including paint, brushes, and minis together in one package, point of purchase displays, quality water-based polymer acrylic self-shading paints, and the concept of stain painting.
The Duke initiated professional displays at Trade Shows, and was involved with special projects, product conceptions, development & promotion, acquisitions, and initiation of foreign manufacturing and licensing while serving as Executive Vice-President at TSR.
1957 Graduated from Miami University, Oxford, OH
1960 Melee rules released
1979 Napoleonique: A Miniature Wargame
1989 MWAN (Midwest Wargamers Association Newsletter) Tribute
1995 The Jack Scruby Award
2004 Origins Hall of Fame Award
2010 HMGS Game Master Lifetime Achievement Award
Sculpted over 10,000 miniatures throughout his career.
Farewell my gaming friend, I will miss you!
HMGS Obituary Notice – August 19th, 1935- September 29th 2018
Memorials in his behalf may be made to the Building Fund at Hope Lutheran Church in Milton, WI located at 335 Dairyland Drive, 53563, as well as the Building Fund for the Southern Wisconsin Humane Society located at 222 S. Arch St, Janesville, WI 53548
Miami University Tribute to Duke Seifried
Dungeon Dwellers interview with Duke Siefried
Duke Seifried says goodby to John Hill (From Avalon Hill)
Photo of Duke Siefried without grey hair
Duke Seifried and the Development of American Miniature Wargaming
available at Lulu here;
Some of the Duke’s Photos – hit his photo archive here for more!