Q&A with Gary Gygax - Page 198
  1. #1971
    Quote Originally Posted by Col_Pladoh
    Hi Jehosephat,

    As for RPG genres, I'll likely play any sort if I have the time and opportunity-- wierd fantasy, horror, cyberpunk. I enjoy history and historical novels, horror, mysteries, and the old Oriental adventure yarns.

    I did indeed playtest Top Secret, and son Luke ran a short-lived campaign in which I played. I also play-tested and played Star Frontiers and Gangbusters.

    As for Darlene, I don't recall her doing much RPG play, but I most certainly do agree that her maps for the WoG were tops! Sheis now married, living on the East Coast, and considering doing some map work for my Zagyg's Castle project

    Cheers,
    Gary

    Well, if Darlene does end up doing the maps, there's yet another reason to give this product a chance. I can't wait.
    Last edited by Jehosephat; Saturday, 14th February, 2004 at 08:40 PM.

  2. #1972
    Hi Gary....

    Thanks for your prompt reply to my last message. It's nice to see that you take the time to answer your fans' questions. Anyway, I've got some more for you...

    What do you think of this so-called "epic-level" play? From what I've read of your famous characters, I imagine you've had a few opportunities to explore this particular avenue of gaming.

    First off, what do you think are the primary distinctions between low-level play and the higher-level stuff? Do you prefer one over another? Also, how can high-level campaigns be tailored to instill a sense of dread when the characters have already acheived so much and are rarely challenged at higher levels?

    When you are running high-level games, do you introduce Oerth-shaking monsters into those sessions? For example, have you ever thrown the tarrasque at anyone? What about deities? Does divine-intervention interfere with the fantasy element or augment it?

    Lastly, what advice can you give to players (and dms) who are embarking on their first high-level campaign? Could you give us a Mordenkainen (or Bigby) tidbit to illustrate that wisdom?

    Thanks again,

    Sluggo
    Last edited by sluggo the sleazebag; Sunday, 15th February, 2004 at 03:02 AM.

  3. #1973
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    Hello Mr. Gygax,

    I've enjoyed reading your responses to these threads, as well as the "Up on a Soapbox" columns in Dragon magazine. I apologize if any of the questions that I bring have been asked before (hopefully, some of the more diligent member sof the board will hastily point me in the direction of the answer-bearing thread, if not reiterating it outright).

    First, how did you come across Finnish mythology? Other than Lonnrot's Kalevala, it seems to be a mythology that is rarely touched upon by most sources (well, at least most American sources, it seems--but then again, I may have just have been looking at/for the wrong type of books).

    Second, I enjoyed reading the "Giants in the Earth" column from early issues of Dragon, esp. when stats of notable fantasy literary characters graced the pages (I still remember the large stat block provided for Conan in issue #36, depicting the Cimmerian at various stages of his adventuring career). Did you want to try to obtain permission for creating D&D rule sets (or an RPG in general) for any of these properties? I know Lankhmar saw a D&D incarnation, as well as Conan via a pair of modules (plus the non-D&D style Conan RPG). For example, if feasible, would you have tried to go for a Lord of the Rings or Wizard of Earthsea RPG?

    And finally (after mentioning on the topic of Lankhmar), my last question is not that of a gamer, but that of a big fan of the late Fritz Leiber's works. Which of Mr. Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories have you enjoyed the most?

    Thank you for your time (& patience),

    AFGNCAAP

  4. #1974
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jehosephat
    Well, if Darlene does end up doing the maps, there's yet another reason to give this product a chance. I can't wait.
    If she is the cartographer, I am sure Troll Lord Games will make that fact known.

    Cheers,
    Gary
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  5. #1975
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    Quote Originally Posted by sluggo the sleazebag
    Hi Gary....

    Thanks for your prompt reply to my last message. It's nice to see that you take the time to answer your fans' questions. Anyway, I've got some more for you...

    Welcome, SLuggo, and happy to supply such answers as I can.

    What do you think of this so-called "epic-level" play? From what I've read of your famous characters, I imagine you've had a few opportunities to explore this particular avenue of gaming.
    As presented in new D&D, I don't like epic level play in the least. The characters have no archetype, are more super-heroes from comic books that fantasy heroes.

    When Mordenkainen hit 18th level he was virtually retired, went only on special quests. The last time he was played it was against a pair of ancient white dragons. Before that he was transported with a group of lower-level PCs to the Starship Warden. However...

    At 14th level through the next few above that he played for a good bit of time in Francois Marcela Froideval's campaign. At those levels Mordenkainen was a low-level "flunkie" type, as the movers and shakers in that setting were of high 30th and 40th level. Frnacois had a complete campaign based on ultra-high level characters, and believe me it was filled with challenges and a very real sense of danger for PCs of under 30th level, I should think. there was a lot of roleplay, and the wrong dialog coming from a chatacter could be fatal...

    First off, what do you think are the primary distinctions between low-level play and the higher-level stuff? Do you prefer one over another? Also, how can high-level campaigns be tailored to instill a sense of dread when the characters have already acheived so much and are rarely challenged at higher levels?
    The OAD&D game was written to challenge PCs from 1st through about 16th level. Above 16th there were few challenges--other than some combinations of potent monsters or high-level NPCs, or else very difficult problem solving with extreme penalties for failure.

    The typical adventure quest is a matter of scale, low-level monsters, problems that suit the capacity of the party. Up through around 16th evel the management of the adventure is simply a matter of scaling up the challenges the PCs must overcome. When the PCs are about 16th to 18th level, then some very special preparations must be made by the DM to present interesting material that is logical and will stretch the capacities of the high-leve; characters in their pursuit of their goals.

    The G series of modules were aimed at testing PCs of mid level, and the D series were for higher level characters. The Drow city of Erelhicindlu was meant to be a scary place for 16th - 18th level PCs.

    When you are running high-level games, do you introduce Oerth-shaking monsters into those sessions? For example, have you ever thrown the tarrasque at anyone? What about deities? Does divine-intervention interfere with the fantasy element or augment it?
    Outside of the Vault of the Drow, I have run very few high-level adventures. All of my players retired their PCs from general play when those characters reached the mid-teens in level. As most groups are of lower level, having a potent character with a party of lesser sort was not much fun.

    I never used the tarrasque (Francois did in his games, also demi-deities). When wishing to challenge high-level PCs I use a combination of potent monsters, including demons or devils and tricks and traps. The encounter with the vampire and succubus in module D3 is a good example of that.

    Divine intervention used properly certainly enhances the fantasy epic, but the deities invoked should not become the heroes of the adventure, only elements that add to the whole. If the deities are playing a major role in the adventure, then there must be those that oppose and threaten as well as assist the PC party.

    In all, I do not design adventures involving a lot of deities, but that can be done. Consider the deCamp and Pratt novel, The Incomplete Enchanter, in which the giants involved are deital.

    Lastly, what advice can you give to players (and dms) who are embarking on their first high-level campaign? Could you give us a Mordenkainen (or Bigby) tidbit to illustrate that wisdom?

    Thanks again,

    Sluggo
    As you'll note from my previous responses, I have run very few really high-level adventures, so I have no more advice to offer that what has been stated already. After surpassing 18th level, Mordenkainen and Bigby have adventured alone (with some lower level companions), as were no suitable challenges for them in cooperation.

    To prepare for high-level adventures, the DMmust needs present a setting where the "masters" of the environment are of tremendous potency, demi-deities. Their opponents must be of like power, and the main servants of these overlords need to be NPCs of greater level that the PCs who will be interacting with them. The monsters presented will need to be beefed up by the DM so as to be of comparitive level, and above, with the adventuring characters.

    Cheers,
    Gary
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  6. #1976
    Colonel,

    I was just perusing an old Dragon and came upon your thoughts for a 2nd edition of AD&D. I will avoid any comment as to my thoughts on the post-Gygaxian 2nd edition and ask this question instead:

    You mentioned in the article the removal of monks to an oriental-themed campaign setting. When I first read this many years ago I remember thinking "Yes, that makes sense." Of course, in retrospect, I remember on of my favorite PC's being a mid-level monk PC. Not to mention the central role they play(ed) in Greyhawk's Scarlet Brotherhood.

    Were you planning on removing the monk element from the Brotherhood or simply making them an exception to the rule? (Heh, heh, come to think of it, I'd like to see what would have gone into a 2nd edition "World of Greyhawk"!).

    Thanks!

    Gray Mouser

  7. #1977
    Gary, back in my AD&D days my group liked to stick to the basics when creating PCs. Everybody tended to be human rather than demi-human, and we almost never used the sub-classes (which are noted as optional, anyway). Thus, everybody tended to be one of the following types of characters:

    human cleric
    human fighter
    human magic-user
    human thief

    However, of the four the thief always seemed to be the least popular and the least useful class. Maybe this was because of our gaming style, or perhaps because we seldom had city-based adventures. My question is this: How essential to a balanced AD&D party is the thief? While I don't see how a party could get by without clerics, fighters, and magic-users, I've long scratched my head on just how essential the thief is to a party's continued success. To us, the thief always seemed more non-essential (similar to a druid or a monk) than one would think since it's one of the four core classes.

  8. #1978
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Mouser
    Colonel,

    I was just perusing an old Dragon and came upon your thoughts for a 2nd edition of AD&D. I will avoid any comment as to my thoughts on the post-Gygaxian 2nd edition and ask this question instead:

    You mentioned in the article the removal of monks to an oriental-themed campaign setting. When I first read this many years ago I remember thinking "Yes, that makes sense." Of course, in retrospect, I remember on of my favorite PC's being a mid-level monk PC. Not to mention the central role they play(ed) in Greyhawk's Scarlet Brotherhood.

    Were you planning on removing the monk element from the Brotherhood or simply making them an exception to the rule? (Heh, heh, come to think of it, I'd like to see what would have gone into a 2nd edition "World of Greyhawk"!).

    Thanks!

    Gray Mouser
    Hi Mouser,

    What I was contemplating was a non-Oriental sort of Monk character to replace the clearly Eastern martial artist one featured. The class would likely have been a sort of dedicated warrior-spy with a few elements of the original Monk class, new abilities of more European sort to round it out. that way the Scarlet Brotherhoob would not have had to lost its warrior-monk component.

    All the notes I had for the new classes are gone, so don't ask for details

    Cheers,
    Gary
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  9. #1979
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey
    Gary, back in my AD&D days my group liked to stick to the basics when creating PCs. Everybody tended to be human rather than demi-human, and we almost never used the sub-classes (which are noted as optional, anyway). Thus, everybody tended to be one of the following types of characters:

    human cleric
    human fighter
    human magic-user
    human thief

    However, of the four the thief always seemed to be the least popular and the least useful class. Maybe this was because of our gaming style, or perhaps because we seldom had city-based adventures. My question is this: How essential to a balanced AD&D party is the thief? While I don't see how a party could get by without clerics, fighters, and magic-users, I've long scratched my head on just how essential the thief is to a party's continued success. To us, the thief always seemed more non-essential (similar to a druid or a monk) than one would think since it's one of the four core classes.
    The thief is a strong archetype in fantasy and adventure stories in general. The main drawback to having one in the party was...theft! Otherwise, we always appreciated a thief PC being able to scout ahead, check for and remove traps, pick locks, cimb up where the rest of the PCs couldn't reach easily, and even pop out of shadows to strike a dangerous opponent for added damage.

    As encounters became more complex and dangerous, the party's thief became a lot more in demand. Just being able to have a member go ahead, see what was awaiting, and return to warn the other PCs was often the difference between success and failure.

    Thief characters that prospered understoon that their purloining had to be kept to a reasonably modest "extra share," or else the other PC would grab them, turn them upside hown, and shake them Of course when I was DMing I did my best to encoutrage thieves to be greedy, so as to give the party problems from within, that seeming logical when they had a sneaky stealer of wealth along.

    When I played a multi-classed demi-human with that ability I made sure to keep on the good side of the non-thief PCs too.

    Cheers,
    Gary
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  10. #1980
    Hi Gary,

    I remember reading the 1e DMG when I was a kid and thinking "Wow, this guy is really smart."

    And even now sometimes I read things you say and I still think "Damn. He's so smart."

    So I gotta ask, what is your educational background? Ever been to college? If so, what did you study?
    Last edited by Bloodstone Press; Tuesday, 17th February, 2004 at 12:23 AM.

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