Professor M.A.R. Barker, fantasy author and creator of Empire of the Petal Throne (1974), a D&D spinoff which was arguably the earliest RPG to include a really detailed background world, history and culture, has died.
I never really got into EPT, perhaps because of the level of detail (and because I rarely played in long-term RPG campaigns, and it was very difficult to get into in a one-off game), but it stood head and shoulders over other RPGs at the time, and later games derived from the setting are still models of complex world-building. He also wrote five fantasy novels set in the game world, Tekumel. He'll be missed.
Later - Jo Walton's obituary of Barker: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/03/mar-barker-1929-2012#