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Tom Christiansen is an early TSR employee. Outside of roleplaying games, he is known for his work on the Perl programming language.


Early life[]

Christiansen grew up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, down the street and around the corner from D&D creator Gary Gygax. He was a friend of the Gygax family, often visiting to hang out with Gygax's son Ernie Gygax and his friend Skip Williams, who were around five years older than him. He attended Eastview Elementary School, coincidentally located opposite the home of TSR co-founder Don Kaye.

He became an early player of Dungeons & Dragons shortly after Don Kaye's death in 1975. Christiansen recalls accompanying Skip Williams to pick up Dungeons & Dragons books from Kaye's widow.[1]

He was an avid reader of fiction, and by age 14 had read Lord of the Rings 13 times.[2]


Following TSR's move to the Dungeon Hobby Shop on 723 Williams Street, Lake Geneva, Christiansen began helping out at the store in shopping and mailing. However, he was not yet old enough to be hired by TSR as an employee.

Christiansen was officially hired after TSR's move move to a property at 772 Main Street. He recalls that he was the 19th employee hired by the company. His responsibilities included working at TSR's retail hobby shop, the upstairs mailing department, and later at in GenCon management. He also took part in playtesting TSR products, and once ran a large version of TSR's Dungeon! board game at a convention.[1]

He took part in the Greyhawk D&D campaign run by Gary Gygax and later Rob Kuntz. He played a ranger with a flaming sword, and managed to survive G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King (1978). He also playtested the modules Descent into the Depths of the Earth (D1){{UnknownBook}}, D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa (1978), D3 Vault of the Drow (1978), and Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980).[1]

He ran a D&D adventure at GenCon 1978, on Sunday, August 20.[3] He took part in development and playtesting of Planet Busters, printed in Dragon #64 (Aug 1982), p.38-44.

Christiansen was a TSR employee for around four years.[1]

Later work[]

Christiansen is perhaps best known for his contributions to the Perl programming language.

Reception and influence[]

Gary Gygax recalled that Christiansen in his youth as intelligent and precocious, and enjoyed hassling the other players, who included his brother Neal Christiansen and Gygax's son Ernie. Gygax said that when playing Dungeons & Dragons, Christiansen never lost a character to poor play.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 A old friend to be sorely missed. Slashdot, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Scripting on the Lido Deck. Wired, 2000.
  3. Dragon #17 (Aug 1978), p.26.