Q&A with Gary Gygax - Page 789
  1. #7881
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug McCrae
    Would a competent DM have the rules memorised? Or make on-the-spot rulings that are not necessarily consistent with the rules as written?
    A bit of both. A good DM has read the rules, knows the spirit of the game, and is aiming at captivating his player audience with the fantastic experience of the campaign, so he can make up what is necessary on the spot.

    Digging around in rules books is much the same as having the film break or the TV station experience transmission difficulties during an exciting program...a loss of the unagined participation.

    Cheerrs,
    Gary
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  2. #7882
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    May I make some comments about wizards as portrayed in 1E and 2E?

  3. #7883
    Hey Gary,

    Have you ever seen a 'perfect gaming group,' meaning one that did everything right, chose carefully balanced characters, thought everything through, acting impulsively when needed, and generally made the amazing rolls at the right moment? If not, who came the closest? Who holds that special place in your DM's heart?


    Curious,

    the black knight

  4. #7884
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edena_of_Neith
    May I make some comments about wizards as portrayed in 1E and 2E?
    Why not?

    As long as it does not lead to yet another spate of Edition Wars posts

    Cheerio,
    Gary
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  5. #7885
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    Quote Originally Posted by the black knight
    Hey Gary,

    Have you ever seen a 'perfect gaming group,' meaning one that did everything right, chose carefully balanced characters, thought everything through, acting impulsively when needed, and generally made the amazing rolls at the right moment? If not, who came the closest? Who holds that special place in your DM's heart?


    Curious,

    the black knight
    Now there's an interesting questionfor sure!

    In AD&D play I would have to say that the core members of my player group--Ernie, Gygax, Rob Kuntz, and Terry Kuntz played very wellif not near perfect. Terry would on occasion be impulsive as he became engrossed in the adventure. Between them, and whomever else might be along such as Jim Ward and Mike Mornard, they overcame many of the toughest challenges.

    As for more recent play, that being back c. 1997, I would have to say that the LA game group that play-tested some sourcebook material and an exceedingly difficult module--all now being readied for release. The party members were well balances in capacity, and they were superbly played by:

    Steve Frank
    Alex Gygax
    Luke Gygax
    Dennis Harsh
    Mike Johnston
    Tracy Knapp

    This group that were the principal play-testers for The Hall of MAny Panes campaign-length module were top-notch:

    Jeff Burklow: Otto von Grunwald who is as dark, mysterious, and silent as the woods he calls home has answered the call for brave men of heroic stamp. His loyalty to his comrades is only outdone by his deceptively great combat skills with the bow, and his enchanted staff. This brave forester gained no little renown in defeating a giant, bandits, and many fell monsters in and around the lands of the Waldgraf Siegfried. He met with the other members of the party in the City of Ludnum and traveled with them from there on their mission to find the lost demigod McGregtim. Repute on commencement of play in this module: 5.

    Eric Clapsaddle: Vendar, a stout soldier who grew up in the hamlet of Burrflint, which is little more than a wide spot near the intersection of two major roads. He worked in his parents’ tavern serving customers and stabling horses. He yearned for adventure and travel and would listen to all of the stories, no matter how outrageous, that the travelers told when they were enjoying a mug of his father’s fine ale. When he was 15 years old he ran away from his parents and enlisted in a free company of mercenaries. Finding that much routine duty and little excitement was to be had in a mercenary band, Vendar left to find more exciting employment as a soldier of fortune, came across a strange fellow who offered him the adventure of a lifetime, and in accepting the challenge found himself in a closed mini-cosmos with a party of would-be heroes seeking to find and free a captive demi-god.

    Alex Gygax: Xagnar, a roguish hero indeed, who with others gained the highest of all renown in the Banir Wastes and atop the mysterious Maledicted Plateau therein, also went from the Town of Arajeray at the behest of the Adepts there to serve as a hero in the band that is aiding the Lady Rowina in discovering where the hero-bard, now a member of the Tuatha da Danaan, might be imprisoned. Having dealt with demons, devils, and drakes, he believes this new mission is suited to his vast capacity for overcoming foes. Repute on commencement of play in this module: 10.

    Luke Gygax: Sir Hrolfgar von Grosschweinkopfstein, a tall and powerfully built young knight from the lands of the Teonoric Knights in Varan, hero of the many actions in the area of the Village of Taen, and other places in the Waldgraf Siegfried’s lands, is in the forefront of the party. Hrolfgar disdains missile weapons and will only engage his foes in hand-to-hand combat. For these contests he prefers a large falchion or his two-handed sword. Hrolfgar has earned much renown by defeating a savage cephalahorn giant, countless bestials and like subterranean monsters, and the dreaded bandits that infested the waldgraf’s lands. Sir Hrolfgar is the third son of a minor noble and was forced to seek his own fortune in life. After cleansing the caves near Taen of the evil beasts that lurked there Hrolfgar is financially well off. But he is driven to find the answer to the mystery of the magical artifacts found in the caves. To that end he is currently assisting the Lady Rowina to rescue the bard made a demigod, McGregtim. Repute on commencement of play in this module: 7.

    Mike Johnston: Chahlor, the mighty Prince of the Iron Invoker clan of dwarfs. He is a great mystical warrior, who left the Maledicted Plateau in the heart of the Banir Wastes for a most noble quest. At the request of the academicians of Arajeray, he has traveled far—to Ludnum, then on to Cimbernia, and from there all the way to Varan’s North to help a great band of heroes in their hunt for the lost Daneen demigod McGregtim. He will need all of his prowess in battle as well as the magical arts to help solve the mystery of what greater forces are responsible for that deity’s disappearance. Chahlor is widely renowned in the Key of Sand area, and even beyond. Repute on commencement of play in this module: 9.

    John Seibel: Deogolf, an enchanter formerly of Gothendland, who had tired of cramped spaces, dusty tomes and scrolls, the smell of burning wax while doing research and menial tasks for his superiors, so had come to seek adventure in Ludnum, decided to join a band of fine heroes to help the beautiful Lady Rowina in her quest for the lost demigod McGregtim. He now wonders if this was good idea after all

    Also Dennis Harsh, once a regular of the group, and David Podesta, both of whom played only in a few of the adventures, but whose presence was appreciated.

    Cheerio,
    Gary
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  6. #7886
    A fascinating answer to be sure. I enjoyed reading about the respective characters quite a bit.

    Thanks, Gary!!


    Another question, if you don't mind. Have you ever seen a non-good party endure over any lengthy period of time? Do you feel the dynamics of such a group make for a different type of campaign? If so, are there any hidden benefits to such a party? have you ever played in one yourself?

    I ask because I'm currently in a group like that. We've held up for the last four levels (started mid-level, now we're 8th level or so), but we tend to tone down the malevolence in order to stay together. So far, so good.


    Curious,

    the black knight

  7. #7887
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    Quote Originally Posted by the black knight
    A fascinating answer to be sure. I enjoyed reading about the respective characters quite a bit.

    Thanks, Gary!!


    Another question, if you don't mind. Have you ever seen a non-good party endure over any lengthy period of time? Do you feel the dynamics of such a group make for a different type of campaign? If so, are there any hidden benefits to such a party? have you ever played in one yourself?

    I ask because I'm currently in a group like that. We've held up for the last four levels (started mid-level, now we're 8th level or so), but we tend to tone down the malevolence in order to stay together. So far, so good.


    Curious,

    the black knight
    Howdy!

    When my son Ernie became angry with me as DM he switched to playing an LE character, Erac's Cousin. That PC adventured fairly frequently with two othe LE ones, Robilar and either Terik or the monk PC that Terry Kuntz liked to play. Those three never attacked each other--mainly because each character was able to win in a fight, so why take chances when there are easier targets around.

    Mordenkainen would adventure with that lot, always with a strong henchman. He was never assualted or even threatened.

    I suspect that these players opted for Lawful Evil to avoid the necessity of random acts of evil nature against their fellows. Their strength was in cooperation--a pair of strong fighters and a mage, sometimes a monk replacing a fighter.

    Cheers,
    Gary
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  8. #7888
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    No edition wars with me.
    I still use 1st edition item saves, second edition spells (and sometimes monsters), 3.0 rules, lots of extra stuff from 3.5, and anything else that seems neat.
    When they tell me that I can't do that, because it's not in of the current rules, I just shrug it aside without comment.
    The Gaming Police never could rein me in. I have ... Carte Blanche.

    Getting to wizards ... I have a lot of musings on them. A lot of musings. But I'll stick with just a few here. Having just read the final Potter book, it is all the more poignant to me, the memories of rping wizards.

    Rping pure wizards was *hard*, Gary. Really hard. The way you meant it to be, I suppose ... and the way it is depicted in classical fantasy.

    In this, I stuck to the rules you set down in the 1st edition Player's Handbook, 1st edition Unearthed Arcana, and 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide, with some additional rules from 2nd edition.

    That is to say:

    - Only humans could be wizards, and have unlimited level progression.
    - Wizards could not wear armor or carry shields. (They were always welcome to try ... but unless you're practiced, walking around in heavy armor is problematic and exhausting, and in any case spells cannot be cast, wands and other items are awkward to wield, and it's basically tantamount to a death sentence if a combat ensues.)
    - Wizards could cast 1 spell at first level, progressing as per the charts (Rings of Wizardry were beyond price ...)
    - Wizards gained ONE spell per level, to write in their spellbook. No more.
    - A wizard's standard spellbook was the size of Webster's Dictionary, and as heavy. When people discussed the cute female wizard, said poor cute female wizard was carrying around at least one monstrous book in her backpack, and probably two or three. Travelling spellbooks didn't help nearly as much as expected, and they were time-consuming and costly to make.
    - Of course, a wizard's spellbook was subject to easy destruction by attacks, and very difficult to protect (until someone got that invaluable Bag of Holding, and was wise enough to stuff it under heavy plate armor, with the wizard's spellbooks inside it.)

    No magic shops existed (had they existed, they would not have existed very long. A lot of avarious, greedy people and monsters, not to mention evils, would have loved to help themselves to said shops, and no Payment Plan or Credit Card needed!)
    No spell libraries existed except in private studies (strictly off-limits) or in ruler's studies (special situation access only) or at magical colleges (Are you a student?? Then NO.)

    Of course, said poor wizard could buy spells from NPCs. As per your rules, it was a matter of HA, HA, HA. Ok, you want a spell? This is a common spell. I'll just take that wand in return, plus that bag, and 10,000 gold, and ... you have a problem with that? Oh, that's too bad.

    Said wizard could, of course, break into private studies (heavily guarded and trapped, not to mention being arrested and hung), break into the ruler's study (as above, but worse), or the library of a university (easier than it sounds.) And they could always attack a wizard's tower. Hopefully, the wizard and his friends wouldn't be home. His GUARDS most certainly would be.

    Oh, and weapons. Ah yes, weapons. The wizard wants to carry a sword? Ok. I sincerely hope she doesn't cut your head off with it. Because with that THAC0, and - 6 on top of that, and a missed swing in combat, that just might be what happens.

    Poor, poor wizard. No armor, no shield, no weapons, practically no spells, spells only obtainable at astronomical price or in adventure, few magic items (at low level), and all of her items and spellbooks (and those precious spells!) subject to destruction by a single Fireball.
    And hit points? What hit points? (chuckles evilly, gets microscope out to find said hit points.)

    (gleeful, evil laugh) And they say I'm a KIND Dungeon Master. But the poor, cute wizard, she has all these things (and more) to deal with in my campaign.
    Ain't life unfair? Ain't it just a terrible shame? Isn't there mercy in the world? Doesn't the world have any shame?!

    No. Sorry kiddo, being a wizard means you have a rough road ahead. And tough, if you have a problem with that.

    Heh. As per your rules and in the spirit of the game, Gary. And it was (I maintain it was and is) in the spirit of the game, everything I have said above.

    -

    I attempted single class wizards. Most were killed. Those few (I can count the survivors on the fingers of one hand) that survived, however ...
    Edena, after he dual-classed to wizard, managed to make it, but it was sheer perseverence and audacious stubbornness that got him to high level. Which, of course, is how it should have been.
    Yes, Edena suffered terribly rising as a single classed wizard. Which is, as it should have been. Had the road been easy, I would have felt insulted.

    Other players in my groups attempted single class wizards. A few saw those wizards flourish and rise to high level. Many, however, saw their characters killed, or in sheer frustration gave it up and tried another class. Which again, in my opinion, is how it should have been. Playing a wizard should never be easy, in my book. The rules you, Gary, set down helped insure it would not be easy.

    Now, we come to the Elven Fighter/Mage. An EXTREMELY popular class choice, and 90% of the wizards I saw were of this sort.
    Which, of course, led to the Elven Fighter/Mage in Elven Chain. Hehe. Yeah, even I pulled that trick, a couple of times. The versatility of the fighter, the power of the mage. (And people wonder why all the other races hate elves. Hehe. )
    Of course, that level limit comes in. But a lot of players ignored it or moved it. Go figure, get your cake and eat it too. (Pity the poor single class wizard who, without all that fighter expertise, made it on her own, and suddenly this elven runt gets it all for nearly free! LOL.)

    So why do I so strongly support your (your, Gary's) rulessets? Why do I so gleefully parrot that wizard's should be put through it? Why do I think elven fighter/mages led the good life, if level limits were removed?

    Because of the payoff. (solemn look) The payoff, in the games where *I* was DM, was enormous.

    Remember the 1st Edition Shapechange? With that spell - at least in *my* game - you could become any being except a God, Demigod, Archdevil or Demon Lord, or singular being (you could become a tarrasque, solar, or nilbog) and gain ALL of the powers of that being except magic resistance and those powers based on the mind (but if ever in question, I always ruled in favor of the player.)
    You also kept all of your own powers.

    I don't belief in all this Nerfing the Wizard stuff they've done, starting in 2nd edition and continuing in 3.0 and REALLY continuing in 3.5.

    You somehow manage to go through what a wizard has to go through, and make high level, you get the payoff.

    You want to Disintegrate an opponent? If successful, no there is no dust remaining.
    You want to Fly? You can Fly!! (think Peter Pan. )
    You want to Rock to Mud an entire dungeon? Be my guest!
    You want to sit, invincible, in a Prismatic Sphere, while sticking your finger out and blasting opponents with Chained Lightning? (the original version) Go for it, girl!

    You paid the price. Now you reap the reward!! You are the strongest character in the game.

    The cute female wizard is now an Archmage. Fear her. Be afraid.
    You BETTER be afraid, boy. You BETTER run, better hide, better cower, better beg. She just might let you off, might show mercy, if you grovel enough!
    There isn't anywhere you can hide from her. She will find you. And she will have her wicked way with you.
    You think your puny magic resistance will help? 100% MR? Well, la-di-da, since that drops by 5% for every level she is over 11th, and she is 25th level, so what magic resistance are we talking about.

    Saving throws? SAVING THROWS?! HA, HA, HA.
    Forget it, kiddo. Those (original) 9th level spells don't allow them.
    Time Stop, she cuts your head off (original version), you die.
    Hellfire, you burn in agony forever, no save.
    Prismatic Sword, take ALL the damage from a Prismatic Sphere with each strike of her blade.
    Flensing? Your skin is flayed away, no save, while she flicks her little finger.
    Temporal Stasis or Imprisonment. Time for you to take a little nap. A permanent one.
    Oh, and forget just killing her. She has Clone, Contingency, Chain Contingency, illusion magic, Simulacrums, Lifeproof, and heaven knows what else. If you are actually facing the real mage, it is because she allowed it, and wishes the personal pleasure of slowly, excruciatingly, putting you in the dead book.

    But perhaps you have powerful priests, powerful allies, powerful monsters, powerful items to help you?
    GOOD. Because if you are so incredibly foolish as to mess around with said Archmage girl, you had better have these things. It's the only chance you've got.

    -

    I wrote as I did above to be thematic and to illustrate how I see wizards who have somehow made high level, and reaped the rewards.
    But it is so rare that this happens ... just so incredibly rare.
    A PC trying to become that archmage girl, is going to have to pay the price. That price is going to be so awful, so incredible, so torturously long and hard, that ... well, the player is going to have the right to be very proud that she achieved this accomplishment.
    And your rules, Gary, help make this the reality. A gaming reality I think is the right reality.
    Just ask Hermione Grainger, how easy even elementary wizard training is!

    So Nerfing the wizard? A big NO.
    Keeping the draconian rules on wizards? A big YES.

    So what about 3rd edition. Characters can be anything they want here, and achieve any level.
    It doesn't make much of a difference, actually.

    A single class wizard still advances to the high levels fastest (which is to say, glacially slow, through agonizing adversary and frustration and effort.)
    Those who multi-class, will never make it. (Sometimes, you have to have single-minded dedication ...)
    A wizard can decide all day, in 3rd edition, that he wants this Armor Feat, or that Weapon Feat, or that multi-classing (well ok, one level in cleric is good, since it allows the original Divine Metamagic Feat (really EVIL grin)) or whatever ... and in the end, the character was not dedicated, and never made it. Simple as that. He didn't make it, like said cute female mage did, because he didn't show the dedication and persisverence she did.

    And so he does not reap the reward of those awesomely powerful spells. He gets the short stick instead. Cry me a river. He choose not to make the sacrifice, he loses the payoff. Hehe. That's life.
    But I have some good news for said Almost-Been.
    I just saved a whole bunch of money by switching to ...

    -

    Ah me.
    Why am I being so forceful about this?
    Because, Gary, I watched a lot of (unjustified) resentful players pull down the wizard. They were bright and intelligent players, one and all, and they could have chosen to take the hard road of the wizard.
    But they chose to take different, easier ... and perhaps funner and more rewarding, each player to their own fun!!! ... paths than our female mage did. There was nothing wrong what that. But now she has the payoff of being a high level wizard, and they do not.

    Now, she is stronger than them, and they resent it. They didn't pay the price, but they want the reward. And if they can't have the reward, then why ... she can't have it either!

    Thus, the Nerfing began, and it has continued until they have ruined the wizard. If there is no payoff, then there is no reason to go through the agony of playing a single-classed wizard.

    Ok, I know I'm going to be nuked now (not in this thread, but elsewhere) but it's the truth.
    Everyone wants to deny the wizard the payoff she has earned, and which they have not earned. (But not in my games. In my games, the reward remains, as big as ever. But of course, those draconian restrictions remain too. Nothing in D&D is a free ride, and especially not for the wizard ... and it never will be a free ride in my games.)

    I say, go out and earn the payoff. Stop with the Nerfing (weakening.) No pain, no gain.

    Ah me. That is where I come from.
    Of course, I enjoy other classes (heck, I spent most of Edena's career playing him as a cleric.) And, like everyone else, I found playing single class wizards HARD, as I said. (I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb around, and do not claim it now.)
    Of course, there is great fun in the other classes. Who wouldn't believe that?
    I'm just saying that if it's a single classed wizard, she's in a special situation, with special problems and special rewards. And that's how it is. Live with it. (Or die with it, when she turns your PC into a mushroom and squishes him into goo.)

    There you are, Gary. Some of my musing on wizards. A bit of a rant, but like a lot of Gamers, I'm a very opinionated and stubborn person.

    Yours Sincerely
    Edena_of_Neith
    Last edited by Edena_of_Neith; Thursday, 26th July, 2007 at 03:35 AM.

  9. #7889
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    (rereads own post above)

    Gads (very embarrassed look.)

    I sound less mature and more incoherent, at times, than Ronald Weasley throwing a conniption fit over something totally ridiculous (and I don't say THAT lightly, having read all the books.)
    But I will not change what I wrote. Those are my true feelings.

    You set up a beautiful system, Gary. The other classes (in general) were easier to play, but the payoff was less. Playing a single classed wizard was very hard, but the payoff was enormous.
    They started the War on Wizards long ago, it turned into the Crusade Against Wizards, and they destroyed the wizard as you created her. And I, at least, think it a shame that happened.


    Edena_of_Neith
    Last edited by Edena_of_Neith; Thursday, 26th July, 2007 at 03:36 AM.

  10. #7890
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gentlegamer
    Not that it matters what I say, but that "level stacking" you did is illegal.
    Agreed. To me, it looks like Edena made it to 21st level totally legitimately, more or less on a par with what I did with my highest level character (21st level also) and what some other folks did in that same campaign. (And we lost a lot of dead PC's along the way -- it was only the survivors from two large groups played for years that got there.)

    I didn't read too much beyond the stacking levels bit, but as a DM admitting Edena to a game, I'd probably give 2-3 levels of "credit" for that, and say Edena can be 23-24th level.

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