If you love the fiction of Dungeons and Dragons, there are a few names you probably know by heart.
Drizzt Do’urden. Artemis Entreri. Wulfgar.
If you’re an old-school fan, there are a number of others names that you might know by heart, like Elminster.
If you’ve been around since the beginning, though, you know that there’s one oft-forgotten name that deserves to live on in that pantheon. He’s forgotten by many, but he’s still important.
That name, of course, is Gord the Rogue.
Gord’s legend is fantastic, both on and off the page. He’s a great character, but he’s also a huge part of D&D’s early history. If you don’t already know him, get ready – he’s going to be a big part of your D&D education.
Gord is a fairly prolific character, appearing in six books and four short stories throughout the 80s, 90s, and the turn of the century. The novels include:
- Sage of Old City
- Artifact of Evil
- Sea of Death
- Night Arrant
- City of Hawks
- Dance of Demons
The short stories include:
- At Moonset Blackcat Comes: A Tale of Gord of Greyhawk (Dragon)
- Evening Odds (Pawn of Chaos: Tales of the Eternal Champion)
- The Return of Gord (Dragon)
- A Wizard’s Thief (Of Dice and Pen)
So, who was Gord?
As you might expect, he was a rogue. Specifically, he was a small human from Greyhawk City.
The character started life as a beggar and thief, but went on to have grand adventures that spanned the setting’s world. He went to war, fought demons, and was even around for the death of his planet.
In short, Gord was the main character of one of Dungeons and Dragons’ most famous settings. Leaving him out of the pantheon of characters is a frightful oversight.
If nothing else, Gord is the prototype for the role playing thief. He survives by his wits and cunning, as well as his general sneakiness. He is the thief among thieves, good-hearted even if he is technically a criminal.
His character growth across the books is impressive, especially in roleplaying literature. You can track his progress fairly easily from book to book, but it’s still surprising to see where he’s going.
As a character, he’s a great departure from what came before. He’s also largely responsible for the characterization of rogues going forward in that setting.
The Real History
Gord is first and foremost a marketing tool. He’s still a great character – but he was made to sell a setting.
Gary Gygax, one of the creators of D&D and an overall legend in the tabletop RPG field, noticed that the Dragonlance novels played a huge role in helping the modules in that setting take off. He made the (correct) assumption that a novel in the new Greyhawk setting would likewise help that line.
Thus, Gord was born.
Gord wasn’t just a cynical marketing tool to Gary Gygax, though. He was a tool that he could use to expand the lore of the setting while telling great stories. Through Gord, that world was able to grow far beyond what could fit in a foliio.
One of the reasons that Gord tends to be less well-known than some of the other game protagonists has to do with the split between Gygax and TSR. When Gygax left/was forced out, he took Gord and a few other characters with him.
While Gord would survive the split, he became less associated with the game that birthed him. He was a proper fantasy hero for a moment, even if his roots lay on the table top.
Gord the Rogue plays many roles in the history of Dungeons and Dragons. He’s a marketing tool, the epitome of the rogue class, and even a stab at taking the lore of the game and turning it into a legitimate fantasy series.
While many people may have forgotten Gord, his legend lives on. Every rogue that harkens back to the classic settings owes something to him. If you’ve ever played a scrappy thief who came up from the bottom to become a major player, you have Gord to thank.
Come Discuss Gord the Rogue in the Thieves Guild at LitRPG Forum
If you want to discuss Gord the Rogue and all your “geed feels” and memories about D&D and more, come join the discussion at LitRPG Forum.