Recently I had the pleasure of corresponding with the customer service division of Chessex. Their representative, Dustin, had the fastest response time of any customer service team I’ve ever dealt with, taking only ten minutes to respond to my query and responding even more quickly after that. Here’s what Dustin had to say, and I admit it rather took the wind out of my sails:
“Chessex was named such because the owner was an old Chess player. He was nationally ranked at one point. Thus Chess-ex or Chessex.” – Dustin, the blazingly fast Chessex rep.
Why did this take the wind out of my sails? Because, I had discovered an amazing coincidence that I had hoped was more that that, but sadly is not. Here it is anyway for you to amaze your friends at trivia night:
Chessex, the company, was founded in 1987. That’s straight from their own website.
However, in April 1986 the word chessex was used as a name for something else entirely. Dragon Magazine 108 featured an article titled “Mutant Manual 2”, featuring 20 new monsters for use in the Gamma World game. These monsters were contributed by various authors, and Dan Snuffin contributed the chessex, also known as the fear deer. Presumably it was so fearsome because of it’s psychic fear aura and it’s venomous antlers. And there’s your Holy Shit moment for today gamers. By pure coincidence (I really hoped it wasn’t and that Chessex’s founder had borrowed the name from Dan Snuffin’s mutant deer, but Dustin put the kibosh on that straight away.) the name chessex was used in April 1986 by Dan Snuffin as the name of a mutant deer, and some nine to twenty-one months later it was used again as the name of a company that was to become a major company in the RPG industry. I’ll leave you with an image of the fear deer as envisioned by Dragon’s art director, but wearing a gnome hat: