log in or register to remove this ad

 

TSR Q&A with Gary Gygax

Status
Not open for further replies.
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
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Barak

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

:lol:
Gary

And that's exactly what I meant by forthcoming typos. Obviously, by "appaled", Gary meant "agreeing".

What can I say. I love dwarves, I hate elves, and I'm human. :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Storm Raven

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

Some mechanics are more arbitrary than others. Dwarves get a bonus to Constitution because they are supposed to be generally tougher and hardier than other races. Elves get a bonus to Dexterity because they are generally more graceful than other races. The rules have a point built into their existence that makes sense from an internal perspective. Thus they are not wholly arbitrary.

On the other hand we have the rule "demi-humans can't advance beyond a certain level in any class other than thief" because . . . of nothing that can be expressed in internal terms. That makes the rule wholly arbitrary.
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Storm Raven said:
Note the word "progression"?

Of course. But ion your original quote it was progression of the story that you referred to, which, imo, isn't contingent on level progression.

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

Of course not. Elves can reach up to 11th level as M-U's, 13th if you use UA. That's pretty powerful, imo. I can barely cast a first level spell, after all.

Of course, it's your campaign so you can do whatever you want. I had similar thought about level restrictions for a while but chnaged my mind. IMO, the racial abilities demi-humans get and the level limitations combine to do a fairly good job at representing the picture of such beings in mythology and literature. YMMV

Gray Mouser
 

If I can prise the subject of discussion away from demi-humans for a minute or two...

Gary, I'm working on preparing some 1e AD&D material set in the Spindrift Isles. I realise that Len Lakofka was largely responsible for these - but I'd welcome any reminiscences that I can persuade you to share about how - and where - the material devised by the worthy Leomund meshed with your own work and that of Mr Kuntz.

Were there lines of demarcation - "That's your bit, this is mine" - or did you all sort of pitch in and write whatever you felt like writing?

I'd also like to invite your comments on the "Wish" spell, particularly its uses for ressurecting dead players. I've heard it said that Wish could be used to raise any dead character (including those races which could not be raised through Ressurection) and that no system shock roll is required - would you agree or disagree?

Thanks in advance!
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Gray Mouser said:
Of course. But ion your original quote it was progression of the story that you referred to, which, imo, isn't contingent on level progression.

In general, it is. Which is the direction I was pointing. You move through the story dealing with successively deeper layers of opposition. Halting that at a topped out level for some characters (but not for others) is a really wonky mechanic.

Of course not. Elves can reach up to 11th level as M-U's, 13th if you use UA. That's pretty powerful, imo. I can barely cast a first level spell, after all.

Yet, to be on par with humans, elves have to multiclass as M-U/Thieves, for some reason. And the elvish M-U limit was among the highest allowed in the game, and beyond the levl of most 1e style campaigns. The kicker is this, if the level limits are that high, then they don't accomplish their intended purpose of balancing the demi-human races against humans. Whicl makes the mechanic both arbitrary and ineffective. Surely soimeone like Gygax could have come up with a better solution. I'm trying to see why he didn't.

Of course, it's your campaign so you can do whatever you want. I had similar thought about level restrictions for a while but chnaged my mind. IMO, the racial abilities demi-humans get and the level limitations combine to do a fairly good job at representing the picture of such beings in mythology and literature. YMMV

Which literature and mythology are you reading? It certainly doesn't represent the elves, dwarves of most of the fantasy literature and mythology I've seen.
 


Gray Mouser

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
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, enter the svirfneblin! Now those are some gnomes that can give a party some major headaches, what with their elemental summoning abilities and all!

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 kudos to you! I love Valley Elves, myself. They're rather limited in my own campaign world and I preserve the outsider aspect of them. In the lone Elvish kingdom there's perhaps 500 such chaps in their own communities.

Your treatment of those dark elves is absolutely the way I intended them to be.

Heh, I never understood people who wanted fantasy beings who were evil by nature to go through some great, existentialist struggle. Man, next thing you know Demogorgon will have his twin heads on some shrink's couch looking for some catharsis. I have news for you Demo: you are evil and your lot is to be set upon by every two-bit PC party that can make their way to the Abyss! Die! Die! Die!

Heh, sorry ;)

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

More evil than the Melniboneans! Yikes! Man, did a certain twin scimitar wielding Dark Elf confuse things for a lot of people. Even with Elric's angst and existential suffering you always knew the Melniboneans were a wretched lot.

Gray Mouser
 

loki44

Explorer
Storm Raven said:
On the other hand we have the rule "demi-humans can't advance beyond a certain level in any class other than thief" because . . . of nothing that can be expressed in internal terms. That makes the rule wholly arbitrary.

Darn it! I didn't want to get sucked into this discussion.....
I don't think it is arbitrary to simply say that demi-humans max themselves out at a given level. If I work out hard everyday eventually I will hit a plateau where it is physically impossible to improve (nowhere near that BTW :) ). The level of that plateau will vary from person to person. Is it too much of a stretch to imagine that, in fantasy terms, demi-humans reach their maximum potentials before humans do? My example was physical in nature but I don't find it implausible to think that an elven magic-user might reach a level at which he just can't cram another spell into his head whereas a human may have the capacity to learn more. The idea of "levels" is abstract anyway and purely a game mechanic. The characters themselves have no idea that levels even exist. The player knows his character has stopped "advancing" in terms of the game mechanic but I don't suppose the character would have a clue.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
Some mechanics are more arbitrary than others. Dwarves get a bonus to Constitution because they are supposed to be generally tougher and hardier than other races. Elves get a bonus to Dexterity because they are generally more graceful than other races. The rules have a point built into their existence that makes sense from an internal perspective. Thus they are not wholly arbitrary.

Au contraire, those selections are made by the game designer on the arbitrary basis of his preferences, or what he believes will make the game more enjoyable to an audience.

On the other hand we have the rule "demi-humans can't advance beyond a certain level in any class other than thief" because . . . of nothing that can be expressed in internal terms. That makes the rule wholly arbitrary.

No, "we" is not applicable. I made that rule because it fitted logically with the other assumptions I had set forth in the game. All of the total balderdash was completely at my whim, thus wholly arbitrary. It is you who are trying to rationalize your whims. To make them valid you need to write a game system;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Barak

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Dwarven jesters have small wit :eek:

Heh,
Gary

But big axes, which is why they hld their own, all things considered.

Alright, enough jesting. I do seriously wonder about demi-humans being limited in -all- classes (thief excluded). Elves are reknowned for their MU, dwarves for their fighters. Would it truly destroy the idea of human-domination to have each unlimited in their favored field?
 

Storm Raven

First Post
tenkar said:
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.

I'd say this is about as wrongheaded as any assessment of 3e vs. 1e multiclassing as one is likely to find. Compare a 1e Ftr/M-U, Ftr/Clr, or Clr/M-U with just about any 3e multiclass combination similar points in their careers and one will find that (relative to his oppostion) the 1e multiclass has vastly more power to draw upon. (A point mostly attributable to the logarithmic nature of the 1e experience point charts, as well as to the even progression of classes). At least until the demi-human level limits kick in, but in many cases they kick in far too late to be of any use anyway.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Of course. But ion your original quote it was progression of the story that you referred to, which, imo, isn't contingent on level progression.
Quit it! You are ruining the story he is trying to put forth as a cogent argument :uhoh:


Of course not. Elves can reach up to 11th level as M-U's, 13th if you use UA. That's pretty powerful, imo. I can barely cast a first level spell, after all.
That's game stuff, not touchy-feely story. Oh, wait, we are talking about a game here, aren't way? for a moment i got confused and thought we were lost in making up fairy tales for kiddies and amateur thespians...

Of course, it's your campaign so you can do whatever you want. I had similar thought about level restrictions for a while but chnaged my mind. IMO, the racial abilities demi-humans get and the level limitations combine to do a fairly good job at representing the picture of such beings in mythology and literature. YMMV

Gray Mouser

Truer words were never stated, than that. It is strictly up to the GM and his group to decide what makes their campaign interesting, enjoyable, and exciting. that's the reason I really hate to get involved in thses kinds of discussions....other than to devil some folks who take games and themselves too seriously :eek:

Heh,
Gary
 

loki44

Explorer
PapersAndPaychecks said:
If I can prise the subject of discussion away from demi-humans for a minute or two...
I'd also like to invite your comments on the "Wish" spell, particularly its uses for ressurecting dead players. I've heard it said that Wish could be used to raise any dead character (including those races which could not be raised through Ressurection) and that no system shock roll is required - would you agree or disagree?


That reminds me of a spell question I had. Would you care to comment on the old Phantasmal Force illusionist spell? That spell was a blessing and a curse. It was great because it was so open ended that the caster could be hugely creative, but it always seemed like a nightmare for the DM to adjudicate its effects in a way that didn't imbalance the game or squash the player's creativity. Any thoughts?
 

Storm Raven

First Post
loki44 said:
Is it too much of a stretch to imagine that, in fantasy terms, demi-humans reach their maximum potentials before humans do?

Given the source material drawn upon (i.e. mythology and fantasy literature), yes.

My example was physical in nature but I don't find it implausible to think that an elven magic-user might reach a level at which he just can't cram another spell into his head whereas a human may have the capacity to learn more. The idea of "levels" is abstract anyway and purely a game mechanic. The characters themselves have no idea that levels even exist. The player knows his character has stopped "advancing" in terms of the game mechanic but I don't suppose the character would have a clue.

Hence there are no powerful elven wizards with powers matching the greatest human spell slinger? Which work of literature would that be drawn from?
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Storm Raven said:
In general, it is. Which is the direction I was pointing. You move through the story dealing with successively deeper layers of opposition. Halting that at a topped out level for some characters (but not for others) is a really wonky mechanic.

Hmm, let's see. More magic items, more treasure with which to hire henchmen and hirlings, expanded spell lists for more options (even if number of spells memorized doesn't increase), to say nothing of the ability ability to make potions and scrolls for M-U elves.

There's certainly options for the player of a demi-human to keep up with his human peers if he desires (and knows how to play the game).

Yet, to be on par with humans, elves have to multiclass as M-U/Thieves, for some reason.

No, not really. I gave that example because you referred to people's desire to keep progressing in levels.

And the elvish M-U limit was among the highest allowed in the game, and beyond the levl of most 1e style campaigns. The kicker is this, if the level limits are that high, then they don't accomplish their intended purpose of balancing the demi-human races against humans. Whicl makes the mechanic both arbitrary and ineffective. Surely soimeone like Gygax could have come up with a better solution. I'm trying to see why he didn't.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion. However, you should remember that all demi-human races have various racial abilities that humans lack. For example, elves get bonuses to hit with swords and bows even though they are limited to 7th level as fighters. Add on a 90% resistence to sleep and charm and that's pretty good, imho.

With abilities like these it's very reasonable, imo, for humans to have unlimited level progression. A demi-human of the same level as a low- to mid-level human will have certain advantages, after all. Besides, I don't see balancing as meaning making things egalitarian. It's a balance because after a while your elvish M-U, while still retaining his racial abilities will simply be surpassed by his human companion in the spell casting department.

Which literature and mythology are you reading? It certainly doesn't represent the elves, dwarves of most of the fantasy literature and mythology I've seen.

Um, OK if you say so :)

Gray Mouser
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Au contraire, those selections are made by the game designer on the arbitrary basis of his preferences, or what he believes will make the game more enjoyable to an audience.

And justified based upon their internal consistency. To my knowledge, no one has ever argued, for example, that Dwarves should not gain a Constitution bonus, because the reason they do is consistent with the background given for the race, and consistent with the mythological and literary background that the game draws upon. Level limits don't.

No, "we" is not applicable. I made that rule because it fitted logically with the other assumptions I had set forth in the game. All of the total balderdash was completely at my whim, thus wholly arbitrary. It is you who are trying to rationalize your whims. To make them valid you need to write a game system;)

Or, I guess I could just use game systems designed by people who put some thought behind their decisions. Since the level limit rule doesn't fit logically, and has all the earmarks of a pasted on quick-fix. If your reasoning as to why you did one thing rather than another is simply an arbitrary assertion, then you aren't nearly as astute an individual as many have taken you for.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
PapersAndPaychecks said:
If I can prise the subject of discussion away from demi-humans for a minute or two...
Oh goody!

Gary, I'm working on preparing some 1e AD&D material set in the Spindrift Isles. I realise that Len Lakofka was largely responsible for these - but I'd welcome any reminiscences that I can persuade you to share about how - and where - the material devised by the worthy Leomund meshed with your own work and that of Mr Kuntz.
Regretably, I can supply nothing of substance. Len ran his own campaign, and I played in it only a handful of times well over 25 years ago, the last time c, 1983 when Len and a friend came to visit me at my house. Rob and I ran games only on Oerik and didn't worry about what Len was doing, or Francois for that matter. I planned to pick up all the salient matters later--sometime in 1986-8 when i could get to a revision of the AD&D game and the expansion of the WoG setting...

Were there lines of demarcation - "That's your bit, this is mine" - or did you all sort of pitch in and write whatever you felt like writing?
See above. I also reviewed and approved as "official" all of Len's WoG material for publication.

I'd also like to invite your comments on the "Wish" spell, particularly its uses for ressurecting dead players. I've heard it said that Wish could be used to raise any dead character (including those races which could not be raised through Ressurection) and that no system shock roll is required - would you agree or disagree?
I would agree with the caveat that the wish would have to be phrased properly, generaly one that prevented the deadly incident from having occurred. thus, something like this should be required: "I wish that our party had not encountered entered the cave in which the red dragon was laired, thus preventing it from becoming aware of us, attacking, harming, and killing Alfie the Elf, even though such wish might mean we are not aware of the red dragon and that might remove from our knowledge and possession such items that led us to the cave."

Cheers,
Gary

Thanks in advance![/QUOTE]
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Gray Mouser said:
Well, you're entitled to your opinion. However, you should remember that all demi-human races have various racial abilities that humans lack. For example, elves get bonuses to hit with swords and bows even though they are limited to 7th level as fighters. Add on a 90% resistence to sleep and charm and that's pretty good, imho.

With abilities like these it's very reasonable, imo, for humans to have unlimited level progression. A demi-human of the same level as a low- to mid-level human will have certain advantages, after all. Besides, I don't see balancing as meaning making things egalitarian. It's a balance because after a while your elvish M-U, while still retaining his racial abilities will simply be surpassed by his human companion in the spell casting department.

Which makes the level limits entirely irrelevant at lower levels, and not very useful at higher levels (which most campaigns rarely reached anyway). Which makes the game mechanic of level limits very clunky. At low levels, elves and dwarves dominate: their special abilities unhindered by any corresponding weaknesses makes them obviously more powerful than human characters up until about 7th-10th level (where most level limits kick in). And after that, the humans somewhat surpass their demi-human companions by advancing, but how many campaigns did you play in 1e that advanced beyond 10th level? it seems like a very poor mechanic for balancing the races given how it didn't affect anything for most of a character's career, and then kicked in when things were usually wrapping up anyway.
 

loki44

Explorer
Storm Raven said:
Hence there are no powerful elven wizards with powers matching the greatest human spell slinger? Which work of literature would that be drawn from?


Yes. Which work of lit? I dunno. Who said the game has to be strictly drawn from existing literature? It is redundant to say again, but if you want elves to be more, or as powerful in your game, then I say uncap that level limit pronto! I was simply trying to argue the point that level limits can be justified in my opinion. It's all about suspension of disbelief and we all have our own ideas of what should or should not be gamewise.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Heh, enter the svirfneblin! Now those are some gnomes that can give a party some major headaches, what with their elemental summoning abilities and all!
I got tired of having only basically good gnomes hanging around. I thought that the svirfneblin would add some spice to the otherwise dull race. Of course my gnome illusionist/thief PC was always trying to do much the same...

And kudos to you! I love Valley Elves, myself. They're rather limited in my own campaign world and I preserve the outsider aspect of them. In the lone Elvish kingdom there's perhaps 500 such chaps in their own communities.
Thanks. It gets pretty demanding to add really interesting new races/sub-races to a well-developed game.

Heh, I never understood people who wanted fantasy beings who were evil by nature to go through some great, existentialist struggle. Man, next thing you know Demogorgon will have his twin heads on some shrink's couch looking for some catharsis. I have news for you Demo: you are evil and your lot is to be set upon by every two-bit PC party that can make their way to the Abyss! Die! Die! Die!

Heh, sorry ;)
No need to apologise to me for that! I loathe the self-centered angst-ridden crap that gets passed off as suiitable fare in a game of heroic action-adventure.

More evil than the Melniboneans! Yikes! Man, did a certain twin scimitar wielding Dark Elf confuse things for a lot of people. Even with Elric's angst and existential suffering you always knew the Melniboneans were a wretched lot.

Gray Mouser

Absolutely. The drow being shunted to the underground was the last straw in their becoming truly wicked, hating all those who dwell above. If you consider the sorts of creatures that walk the streets of Erelheicindlu, that's plain;0

Cheers,
Gary
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement1

Latest threads

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top