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TSR Q&A with Gary Gygax

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This is the multi-year Q&A sessions held by D&D co-creator Gary Gygax here at EN World, beginning in 2002 and running up until his sad pasing in 2008. Gary's username in the thread below is Col_Pladoh, and his first post in this long thread is Post #39.

Gary_Gygax_Gen_Con_2007.jpg
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
tenkar said:
You are probably right Henry. I would have to dig through boxes to pull these out. Getting real tempting these days tho.

Okay. that sounds familiar, and IIRR, I play-tested that scenario:)

Gary
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
dcas said:
Gary,

Do you think it is possible to put the Keep on the Borderlands and the Caves of Chaos on the Yggsburgh wilderness map? Where do you think might be a good location for it? At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, KOTB is my favorite adventure, whether playing or GMing.
Yes, but the best way to decide your question is for you to look at the map that is furnished, and also consider the suggestion of adding terriroty around its verges to expand the playing area. I believe those modules would best be located to the east (KotB) and northwest (CoC) in an extension of the hills.

Sorry not to be able to be more specific.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
Maybe because they don't want an artificially imposed end to the progression of the story?

Surely you jest! An "artificially imposed" end to a story based on a game full of completely imaginary factors to make it fun and exciting? That's straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel without so much as a gulping motion.

LOL
Gary
 

Sanguinemetaldawn

First Post
Gygaxian Greyhawk "canon"

Although it didn't yield anything useful, thanks for addressing my earlier question.

To Greyhawk specifically...
Were you to run GH today what published material would you use?
Would a simple "all pre-2nd Ed" cut-off suffice?
Some you would exclude even from that?
More you would include?

Thanks again.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
This argument only holds true if you assume that nonhumans are going to be designed with inherent advantages over humans as a baseline. And even for that situation, it has always seemed to me like a very clunky solution to the perceived problem. Why weren't demi-humans designed to be relatively equal in advantage to humans from the get-go rather than creating level limits?
If the only difference between humans and the demi-human races was superficial--size and a few minor physical traits, why bother to have such races at all? Of course, fantasy literature suggests there are advantages to demi-human races too, so that might be a consideration to an able game designer...


And also not about arguably multiclassed characters like Conan? I can come up with a dozen characters from mainstream fantasy literature that are best represented by multiclassed combinations, and none of them are comic book superheroes.

Conan multi-classed? you must have read different REH yarns than I did. Conan is an archetypical swords & sorcery barbarian, and his thievery was all by use of his brawn, superior reflexes, and savage abilities. Besides fighting and stealing, what else could he do that is worthy of awarding another class?

Bah,
Gary
 

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
i know there's not much love for 2E, but when we played that i *always* used the optional "slow advancement" rule for demihumans. that way there was never an abrupt end, but once you hit that limit, things slowed down a bit, and in the case of elves, a lot.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Thanks for the input, Gary. I thought I had the copy of Dragon at home but apparently not. Maybe it's in storage at my parents, still. The title of the column, iirc, was something like "The Last Word on Demihumans."
A misleading title, for certain, for here I am having to expend far too much time and effort on the subject :]


I agree. Can't recall any mythologies that have elves, dwarves, etc. as having the upper hand against humans. Nor any fantasy literature, although I don't read as much of it as I used to.
Just so. The Norse dwarves were like giants in their powers, and the French fey were as potent as fairies in some fairy tales. Neither is suitable for inclusion as a character race in a FRPG. The original gnomes were earth elementals of considerable potency as well, but i modeled the D&D race after those in fable and fairy tale.

Heh, I remember reading your description of Elves in the PHB and DMG back in the day and thinking, "Hey, that's not right!" Even by the time I was, oh, 10 or 11 JRRT's description of Elves had really influenced my take on them as a race. The differences between JRRT's elves and D&D elves can be seen rather clearly, I think, in the instance of the Grugach!. I don't think Tolkien would ever have described his elves like that. As for appealing to his fans (of which I am one) I do like the HIgh Elf, Grey Elf, Wood Elf distinctions (although Wood Elves are probably my favorite in D&D). I found the additions of Aquatic Elves and Valley Elves (which make an appearance in my homebrew world, too) to be pretty cool.
Understood. Many a participant loves elves, so adding more varieties, including the Drow, seemed a good plan. As I was thinking of detailing the Valley of the Mage, I thought it expedient to introduce that sort to the game;)

And who could forget the Drow? :) Who, by the way, are quite evil and malicious in my campaign, with absolutely no teenage-like angst about serving Lolth and the other demons :))

Gray Mouser
Your treatment of those dark elves is absolutely the way I intended them to be. While abberant individuals can be other than steeped in wickedness, the Drow race is EVIL, more so than the Melnibonean one of Michael Moorcock's creation :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
WHo says you have to stop adventuring once you hit the level limit?

Besides, if they want to keep advancing just take Thief as a multi-class.

Gray Mouser
Well said, but such an obvious thing is clearly not what munchkins want. How can their PCs be the toughest kids on the block that way?

Story-schmory! The rap is to kick butt and be all powerful...

:lol:
Gary
 

tenkar

Old School Blogger
Just an aside to the multi-class issue:

Multi-classing in the 3rd edition rules is much more powerful then 1st edition rules. 3rd edition characters get a total some of class traits, including HP and THACO (or BAB) and the flexibility of using class abilities from the multiple classes. 1st edition characters had reduced HP and THACO compared to others of their EX Point totals. This balanced the advantage of flexibility that multi-classing gave.

3rd edition is a game that runs at a higher power level, which appeals to the masses.

Reminds me of the movie Spinal Tap: "This one goes to 11"
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
Note the word "progression"?


All powerful elves are really good thieves? I don't buy it.

All powerful elves are not happening. The ones not accomplished thieves are nothing but wedge-eared tree-huggers who wear tights and prance around in curley-toed shoes when not baking cookies for Keebler or making toys for Santa :p

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
tenkar said:
Just an aside to the multi-class issue:

Multi-classing in the 3rd edition rules is much more powerful then 1st edition rules. 3rd edition characters get a total some of class traits, including HP and THACO (or BAB) and the flexibility of using class abilities from the multiple classes. 1st edition characters had reduced HP and THACO compared to others of their EX Point totals. This balanced the advantage of flexibility that multi-classing gave.

3rd edition is a game that runs at a higher power level, which appeals to the masses.

Reminds me of the movie Spinal Tap: "This one goes to 11"

Heh,

I'd describe the appeal as being to the munchkins and power-gamers, but that's just my opinion.

I can state with certainty that the number of 3E players is less than the number that played OAD&D in its heyday, c. 1983-5, so referring to "masses" is not correct. "Masses" play computer seek & destroy games ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
BOZ said:
i know there's not much love for 2E, but when we played that i *always* used the optional "slow advancement" rule for demihumans. that way there was never an abrupt end, but once you hit that limit, things slowed down a bit, and in the case of elves, a lot.

Without comment in regartds to 2E, your rule regarding a slowing of advancement seems well-founded if your campaign world was based on human culture and society.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Surely you jest! An "artificially imposed" end to a story based on a game full of completely imaginary factors to make it fun and exciting? That's straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel without so much as a gulping motion.

No, it's noting that the progression of the game tends to work in a particular way, until it is arbitrarily stopped because of an odd game mechanic.
 

Barak

First Post
While I fully agree with The Man's description of elves, obviously dwarves should be unlimited in levels. I can accept typos that deny that, including those forthcoming.

BTW, I always thought elves level limitations were a bit high, myself.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Sanguinemetaldawn said:
Although it didn't yield anything useful, thanks for addressing my earlier question.

To Greyhawk specifically...
Were you to run GH today what published material would you use?
Would a simple "all pre-2nd Ed" cut-off suffice?
Some you would exclude even from that?
More you would include?

Thanks again.

I have run little WoG-based games since 1986. when i do run OAD&D sessions based on Oerth i use the original maps done by Darlene and the books from the boxed World of Greyhawk set, along with such material as I have that i created specifically for my own campaign that might apply.

A cut-off at 1985 suffices quite well from my POV;)

Actually, there are some things in 2E that aren't bad to add to your OAD&D campaign, IMO.

Canon can be over-rated. If something outside such bounds makes your game better, then use it.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
If the only difference between humans and the demi-human races was superficial--size and a few minor physical traits, why bother to have such races at all? Of course, fantasy literature suggests there are advantages to demi-human races too, so that might be a consideration to an able game designer...

I didn't say no differences, I said perhaps the demi-humans could have been designed in such a way that their net abilities don't make them obviously more powerful than humans in game mechanic terms. Surely there are drawbacks to being nonhuman (other than being unable to become an 8th level magic-user) that could have offset some of their advantages. To me, this seems like it would have been a much more sensible solution, and your explanations thus far have not illuminated why you chose the route you did over the alternative.

Conan multi-classed? you must have read different REH yarns than I did. Conan is an archetypical swords & sorcery barbarian, and his thievery was all by use of his brawn, superior reflexes, and savage abilities. Besides fighting and stealing, what else could he do that is worthy of awarding another class?

Might I point out that Conan was the "greatest thief of his time", with stealthy abilities that allowed him to sneak about virtually silently even in full armor and other abilities limited to the thief class of 1e days. I would modestly point to the original Deities and Demigods where one would note that almost all of the heroes of myth, legend, and fiction detailed therein were multiclassed humans, which strikes me as a blunt undermining of your assertions.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
No, it's noting that the progression of the game tends to work in a particular way, until it is arbitrarily stopped because of an odd game mechanic.

As if all game rules weren't arbitrary, eh? Heh, and so much for you, mister smarty pants... :p

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Barak said:
While I fully agree with The Man's description of elves, obviously dwarves should be unlimited in levels. I can accept typos that deny that, including those forthcoming.

BTW, I always thought elves level limitations were a bit high, myself.

What? You think stubby rock-chewers should be more potent than the flighty ones of the forest? I am appaled!

:lol:
Gary
 

tenkar

Old School Blogger
Col_Pladoh said:
Heh,

I'd describe the appeal as being to the munchkins and power-gamers, but that's just my opinion.

I can state with certainty that the number of 3E players is less than the number that played OAD&D in its heyday, c. 1983-5, so referring to "masses" is not correct. "Masses" play computer seek & destroy games ;)

Cheers,
Gary

Well, IMHO, the masses these days are munchkins and power-gamers. My group fell apart after the 2nd edition due to real life time constaints. We all keep in touch, we've all picked up the 3rd edition rules, but we have never actually sat down and played them. They seem to far removed from the games we had played for years (1st and even 2nd editions). The familiarity was gone. As a DM that hurts. As a player my adjustment would have been easier i am sure.

If we wanted a game that revolves around miniatures and grid movement and exact facing we would have moved on to Warhammer.
If we wanted uber characters we would return to RIFTS (a campaign that burned bright then out real fast)

That being said I picked up C&C for myself, and have ordered copies for the old group. I'll have to see if it takes hold where 3rd edition hasn't been able to.

I will say that some of the 3rd edition sourcbooks have been extremely well done... the splats however remind me too much of the wallet-bleeding that 2nd edition was famous for.
 

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