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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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Henry

Autoexreginated
I can say that a 7th/9th level fighter-thief in 1E is DEFINITELY more capable across the board than a 7th level Fighter-Rogue in 3E. He can fight better, steal better, climb walls better, etc. Whereas the 3E character can specialize and do ONE of those things well, the generalist that is the AD&D F/T can doo them ALL equally well. I know because I made one up for a Gameday recently. :)
 

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BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Col_Pladoh said:
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

and that it was. :) friendly to the demihuman races all the same, but clearly still humans as the big dogs. the way it worked, as suggested in the DMG of the time, you doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled the amount of XP needed to get to the next level, depending on your race. thus, if an elf was capped out, but needed say 1,000,000 xp to get to the next level, he would find that the staggering 4,000,000 xp would take some time to acheive indeed. :) thus, there was a reward for continuing, but it would require no small amount of work.

of course, when i think back on it... it was rare enough for a demihuman character to make it to his level limit in the first place - but at least i had my rules set up in case it did happen. :p
 

gideon_thorne

First Post
the .....rule doesn't fit logically

Ah. But by who's logic? When designing a game to fit a certain style the logical consistency is in the mind of the designer, and may not always agree with the logic of anyone else.

This is a purely subjective point.

Fantasy has its own internal logic that the person perusing it simply accepts (or not) as part of the over all story.

If the 'internal logic' of a given system/method doesn't work for a given person, change it.

Why is this so hard I wonder?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Barak said:
But big axes, which is why they hld their own, all things considered.
You misspelled a**es ;)

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?
Yes,i do really think that unlimited demi-human races will absolutelt obviate the humanocentric bases for a campaign world...unless the demi-humans are very few and far between. to have them as an integral part of the campaign world, one must have them limited in potential to something less than the dominant humans.

As I wished to have include demi-humans commonly as PCs, NPCs, and in basically their own racial communitities and state entities as well as amongst human societies, I limited their potential power so as to make human dominance a reasonable assumption for play.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
loki44 said:
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?
Phantasmal Force was an old Chainmail Fantasy Suplement spell, as a matter of fact;)

The illusionary force can be of any sort, but it must be a force--anything from a great swarm of insects to a herd of animals, a company of knights or a battle of pikemen, a tribe of bugbears or a flock of wyverns.

The use of the spell does demand an able DM and a player able to articulate the exact nature of the Phantasmal Force brought forth, what it looks like and what it will do. Of course the caster will need to concentrate on the latter aspect unless the action is simple and straightforward.

In all, the spell is nothing more than an illusion.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Barak

First Post
But.. But.. How to reconcile that with.. Anything? Elves, not only are tree-huggers and cookie makers, they aren'y even -close- to being the best magic-users.

Not only do dwarven women have beards (the closest I'll come to entertain anything bad about dwarves), their best figthers are weiners compared to humans.

Given that, I wouldn't only question the dominance of humans, I'd question the existence of anything -not- human. After all, humans have proven time and again their willingness to destroy anything different by a small degree..

But, well, elves still bite the big one.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
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?

Where are there any elves at all in the majority of fantasy literature?

Do get a life and forget about those make-believe twinkle-toed race :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
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.

As I said before, get a life and forget about all this silly quibbling. After all is siad and done, dwarves are so unbelievable as to be completely irrational. They live underground in caves and drink ale and eat meat. Where do their supplies come from? Where, outside of my assertion if D&D that they have a strong constitution, does that "logical" assumption come from. After all, they might be as fraail as vampires when it comes to sunlight, and that's why they live underground. Many a fairy tale portrays dwarves as wholly evil, as are the svartalves of Norse mythology.


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.
You might try putting your intellect to work right here for a change :p I am sure you have a keen one or you wouldn't be a gamer...

cheers,
Gary
 

dead

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Okay, you know better than I do. I am left wqith the nagging question: If the players aren't concerned about power gaming, wish only to create "stories," why should they worry/express concern about level limits

They don't want to have to retire their character at 10th-level while their human allies continue. They want to continue the epic "story".

But level limits are only part of the problem that restricts my 1E AD&D players. There's the issue of multi-classing, too. You want the freedom to add or discontinue classes because it is believable for someone to dabble in this or that. My players don't want to multi-class for the sake of multi-classing; they only want to if it makes sense to both me and them within the unfolding campaign story.

To say, "No, your demi-human suddenly can't advance any more in levels," or, "No, you do not pick up another class for your magic-user even though he's been training in sword-play for the last campaign year," or, "No, your elf fighter/wizard cannot stop progressing in fighter and focus his talants on wizardry" -- to say no to all these things because "God saideth" lacks creativity to me. I prefer some smoother explanation within the game. I still can't find this explanation (I was hoping you could help me) so I continue to play 1E AD&D with my house rules of no level limits and no multi-classing restrictions. This has not created any power gaming problems. It has, I admit, required considerable revisions in XP allocation, but this is simply becaues the system as is doesn't allow for such flexibility.

Thanks.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
loki44 said:
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.
Absolutely incisive and correct. A game that is mainly drawn from literature is handicapped and hobbled by its limited source material. By using literature of all sorts as inspirational, anD casting a wide net, the resulting game can be as open to alteration as A/D&D was. that despite later versions so many people play the basically "dead" OD&D and AD&D game systems speaks volumes as to the strength of that design method.

That someone will spend hours, and thus pretty much require me to waste a good deal of time likewise, disputing about the potential of imaginary races in the game it s testiment to its power to captivate the fancy of active minds

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
dead said:
...

To say, "No, your demi-human suddenly can't advance any more in levels," or, "No, you do not pick up another class for your magic-user even though he's been training in sword-play for the last campaign year," or, "No, your elf fighter/wizard cannot stop progressing in fighter and focus his talants on wizardry" -- to say no to all these things because "God saideth" lacks creativity to me...

Thanks.

So much for story telling. None of that should have any part in a work of literature.

On the other hand, if you are playing a game, the players should be well aware of the paramaters of the character classes and races before they create a PC with which they will PLAY A GAME.

If they want to tell stories, they might try hanging out somewhere where such people come to hear them, or else take up a career as authors of same.

Heh,
Gary
 

mythusmage

First Post
You should keep in mind that Col. Pladoh is the person who insists that lady dwarfs wear chin wigs. :p

I prefer to keep the non-humans in check through in-game measures. Where elves are concerned...

Elves have a much smaller population than humans. They're also not as intellectually and culturally flexible as humans. Smarter, but not as flexible. They can think of an answer faster than a human, but they are not as adaptable. Think of it as a race-wide high functioning autism.

Elves are also aware of the human need to be in charge. So the elves have agreed to let humans think they are running things. Elves will take care of things behind the scene, using humans as cover for their activities. Something which greatly amuses the dragons, who have been very successful in convincing the elves that they, the elves, are running things.

Level limits are set not by a rule, but by the player. A player can advance a character for as long as adventuring with that character remains interesting. If adventuring with a character no longer has appeal, the character is retired and becomes a Game Master Character. A possible contact or patron for the players.

The Drow are another story.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Hey Fellows!

I am quite bored with the subject of demi-human level limits, so I'll not answer any further posts pertaining to that subject for at least a few days.

Besides, tonight is game night, so I have to get ready to run the OD&D campaign in which we are currently engaged. Thankfully, all the PCs are humans :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
gideon_thorne said:
Ah. But by who's logic? When designing a game to fit a certain style the logical consistency is in the mind of the designer, and may not always agree with the logic of anyone else.

This is a purely subjective point.

Fantasy has its own internal logic that the person perusing it simply accepts (or not) as part of the over all story.

If the 'internal logic' of a given system/method doesn't work for a given person, change it.

Why is this so hard I wonder?

Don't faint, Peter!

For once I agree with what you state, right down the line. Of course this is gaming, not politics :D

Cheers,
Gary
 

dead

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
So much for story telling. None of that should have any part in a work of literature.

On the other hand, if you are playing a game, the players should be well aware of the paramaters of the character classes and races before they create a PC with which they will PLAY A GAME.

If they want to tell stories, they might try hanging out somewhere where such people come to hear them, or else take up a career as authors of same.

Heh,
Gary

To me, role-playing games are an amalgum of game and story-telling.

If I wanted to play just a GAME, I'd pull out Chess or Monopoly or play Poker.
 

gideon_thorne

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Don't faint, Peter!

For once I agree with what you state, right down the line. Of course this is gaming, not politics :D

Cheers,
Gary

*Busts out laughing*

Hey. Law of averages. I figure I could get at least one thing right? :D
 

T. Foster

First Post
dead said:
To me, role-playing games are an amalgum of game and story-telling.

If I wanted to play just a GAME, I'd pull out Chess or Monopoly or play Poker.

But that's the fundamental disconnect because, you see, a lot of us DO consider role-playing games as "just" another kind of game, not really any fundamentally different from Chess or Monopoly or Poker. It was with that attitude that D&D was originally written and to that group that original D&D and AD&D most strongly appeal. If you're not part of that group naturally you'll find yourself disagreeing with some things about how the game is designed and plays, and if so you can freely change those things in your own games.

Of course if you change too much eventually you'll have to ask yourself if you wouldn't be better off playing another game entirely (or creating your own game), but that's a question everyone must answer for himself. Some people have such an attachment to the idea of "D&D" that even if they've changed 90% of the rules and are playing something that would be totally unrecognizable away from their own table will still insist they're playing "D&D." I don't really understand that attitude -- when I want a game with different rules and assumptions from D&D I play other games -- RuneQuest, Pendragon, Warhammer FRP, Mythus, Lejendary Adventures, Amber Diceless, and that's just fantasy-genre games -- but when I sit down to play D&D I accept its rules and assumptions as-is and in fact am choosing to play it largely because of those rules and assumptions. But maybe that's just me...

Anyways,

P.S. This thread is getting pretty long (and has also been pretty effectively derailed by this latest tangent); perhaps it's time to close it up and start the Gygax Q&A Part VIII?
 

Davelozzi

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
I am quite bored with the subject of demi-human level limits, so I'll not answer any further posts pertaining to that subject for at least a few days.

Hi Gary,
Just a quick note to thank you for a lifetime worth of entertainment and inspiration

...and more immediately, for putting an end to that ridiculous argument. ;)
 

dead

First Post
T. Foster said:
This thread is getting pretty long (and has also been pretty effectively derailed by this latest tangent)

Sorry for the derailment. Just asking Gary some Questions and hoping for some Answers.
 

tenkar

Old School Blogger
Henry said:
I can say that a 7th/9th level fighter-thief in 1E is DEFINITELY more capable across the board than a 7th level Fighter-Rogue in 3E. He can fight better, steal better, climb walls better, etc. Whereas the 3E character can specialize and do ONE of those things well, the generalist that is the AD&D F/T can doo them ALL equally well. I know because I made one up for a Gameday recently. :)


Guess my experience with AD&D was that multi-class characters fell far behind the rest of the party around name level (9-10) as their THACO and HP were usually substantiallly lower. The fighter-thief doesn't tank as well (lower ac and hp) as a fighter of equal XP, tho the thief abilities don't lag all that far behind.

In 3rd ed, if my cleric takes 1 level of fighter for the bonus combat feats, or my wizzie takes a level of thief first for extra proficiencies, weapons and abilities it like getting a major free bonus at little cost. You are right tho', in 3rd ed it is a liability to try and keep more then one class leveling.

Ah well, guess the topic has been done to death ;)
 

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