LAKE GENEVA — What comes to mind when you think of Lake Geneva? The lake, boating, beautiful homes, or a tourist destination? That might be all well and good, but you are forgetting one thing: Dungeons and Dragons.
Lake Geneva is the birthplace of the popular tabletop fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. It was co-created by Gary Gygax in 1974.
Now the city has one more thing to add to its list of attractions, a Dungeons and Dragons museum at 723 Williams St. in Lake Geneva.
The Dungeons Hobby Shop Museum opened in July 2021 as a way to preserve the legacy of the game and honor its creator, Gygax. The game is a co-operative adventure game that incorporates fantasy and role-playing. Players work together to complete quests.
"Generations right now don’t even know the name Gary Gygax, so our major goal is to get (a) Welcome to Lake Geneva sign that says Welcome to Lake Geneva Home of Gary Gygax co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons," Jeff Leason, the museum curator, said.
That might seem like a lofty goal, but the game has the stats to back it up. It has been consistently played for 47 years by millions of people all across the globe. It has even generated around $1 billion in revenue, according to the BBC.
“This museum should have been here 30 year ago, but we’re here now," Leason said.
In fact, the museum is in the exact same building as the original D&D headquarters. Inside are vintage figurines, old manuals, and everything in between. Almost everything inside has been donated.
You won't find many modern day pieces here, though. The majority of collectibles inside are from the 70s and 80s.
One of the most valuable items is a $10,000 wooden box set from the first edition.
The curator, Leason, is not just a D&D super fan. He has his literal name attached to the history of the game.
“Yea, it's the one thing that I feel most comfortable with is D&D.”
Leason was an editor, writer, and producer of some of the very first modules.
He worked for Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) from 1978 to 1986. TSR was created by Gygax so he could self-publish his game.
Leason hopes that his museum can inspire more people to play. More so, he wants local residents to know that this worldwide game was created by a guy in Lake Geneva.
"We need to spread the word that Gary Gygax is the creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and lived here. The city could benefit so much from that," he said.
The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Entry and tours are free, but donations are accepted.