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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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RFisher

Explorer
A couple of Chainmail questions:

When the combat tables say "1 die per man", do they mean 1 die per man (20 dice per figure) or 1 die per figure (1 die per 20 men)? (I've known people to interpret it both ways.)

Under Heroes, does "They have the fighting ability of four figures" mean that they are equivalent to 4 men or 80 men?

I understand that hero v. hero would be resolved on the Fantasy Combat Table. Hero v. normal forces would be resolved on the regular Combat Table. (The hero being classed as heavy foot, armored foot, light horse, &c. as fit the particular hero.) But were heroes & other things from the Fantasy Supplement ever used with the man-to-man rules? If so, how?

OK, that was three questons...
 

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Tuzenbach

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Well...

I suppose that the Drow ambidexterity would extend to hand-thrown missiles, so you were not off base there. An ambidextrous character can attack twice, yes, but of course that means no shield

Of course! As a matter of fact, I very rarely assigned shields to my characters. I always meant for them to have a sort of a roguish flavor. I mean, if you look at movies like "Krull" and such, NONE of the "good guys" had shields or helmets or even plate mail. Thus, I tried to follow suit whenever possible. Armour heavier/bulkier than normal chain I tended to shun. Plus, there's just so much more you can do shieldless than shield-burdened.

In any event, the Drow in question was (and still is!) a Fighter/Assassin. Stealth is crucial. Can't climb walls, move silently, hide in shadows, etc. shielded.


Col_Pladoh said:
and a penalty on the second attack is usual, eh?
Erm, what? Are you referring to the "off-hand" attack? I took the Drow's ambidexterity to mean they had NO off-hand and, thus, no off-hand penalty.


Col_Pladoh said:
You were well out in left field though claiming speed potions were cumulative. I can't blame you, though, as I have attempted to bulldoze GMs in like manner when i was power gaming :uhoh:
Ah, if only that'd been in the rulebooks, I would have had a better childhood! ;)

Col_Pladoh said:
Realistically, a drow character would care about losing 1% of his lifespan on a regular basis, don't you think?
You mean .01% of his life, surely. There I go again, rules-lawyering like a madman. Actually, I had only meant for this muti-speed thing to be a sort of "secret weapon". Afterall, where was he to get replacements for the spent potions on a regular basis? Hence, it was only ever used once.

FWIW, I had worked the rules that mulit-speed (and/or haste) would equate to quadrupling the years of life lost. Thus:

1 potion = 1 year lost
2 potions = 4 years lost
3 potions = 16 years lost

Etc..............


The bottom line was, if you had the years to spare and/or a healthy supply of potions of longevity/elixirs of life, this was the "secret weapon" for you. Or for me, anyway. The real tricky bit was figuring out how to store 9-score darts on your person!
 

SuStel

First Post
RFisher said:
A couple of Chainmail questions:

I'm not Gary, but I'm pretty sure I know the answer to these.

When the combat tables say "1 die per man", do they mean 1 die per man (20 dice per figure) or 1 die per figure (1 die per 20 men)? (I've known people to interpret it both ways.)

Usually, once you establish how many men a figure represents, the word man means figure.

Where the combat tables say "1 die per man," it means "1 die per figure."

If you have an army of 20 figures, do you really think they expected you to roll 400 dice? :eek:

Under Heroes, does "They have the fighting ability of four figures" mean that they are equivalent to 4 men or 80 men?

80 men is rather extreme, even for a hero. It's 4 men. Besides, that's why D&D Heroes have 4 hit dice (and Superheroes have 8 hit dice).

I understand that hero v. hero would be resolved on the Fantasy Combat Table. Hero v. normal forces would be resolved on the regular Combat Table. (The hero being classed as heavy foot, armored foot, light horse, &c. as fit the particular hero.) But were heroes & other things from the Fantasy Supplement ever used with the man-to-man rules? If so, how?

Gary will have to answer the historical question, but I'm sure they were. I imagine this is the sort of question that led directly to D&D. "Okay, I know how a Hero fights 20 men. But what if the Hero fights only four men?"
 

RFisher

Explorer
Thanks for your response, SuStel.

SuStel said:
If you have an army of 20 figures, do you really think they expected you to roll 400 dice? :eek:

All I can say is that I've seen people play it that way. Typically they'd have less than 20 figures on the table & they would be resolved in parts. (e.g. First reslove these three figures v. these two over here, then resolve those two figures v. those two over there.) Eventually every figure has taken some casualties so they're rolling less than 20 dice per figure.

SuStel said:
80 men is rather extreme, even for a hero. It's 4 men. Besides, that's why D&D Heroes have 4 hit dice (and Superheroes have 8 hit dice).

Ah, but if a hero is equivalent to 4 men, but you normally roll 1 die per 20 men, that means you'd have to roll 0.2 dice per hero. :)
 

johnsemlak

First Post
Gary

Was it your choice to include references to Baba Yaga in the 1e DMG? Was it intended for her to be a historical figure on Greyhawk? Was there any particular reason for the choice?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Heh, true enough. Speaking of Vancian Role-Playing, I was wondering if you've ever played the Dying Earth RPG? I personally have not, although from what I have read about it the game sounds like it would be a fun time if you had a group of Vance fans playing.

Gray Mouser
Hi 'Mouser,

Regretably I haven't had the chance to see, let alone play, the Dying Earth RPG. Not many GMs hereabouts, and it's a foregone conclusion I haven't the time to manage a new game system and run a campaign...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Hey Gary, I picked up my first issue of Dungeon last year when Rob published an updated version of Maure Castle. It credits both Rob and yourself for the adventure but I was wondering if you had gotten a chance to revisit the place of Mordenkainen's petrification with said Archmage and his comapanions or if you simply helped Rob update the manuscript but didn't engage in any play testing.

BTW, the "Swords and Sorcery - in Wargaming" essay was quite good. Glad they republished it as I was 3 when it first appeared :)

Gray Mouser
As you likely suspected, I reviewed the ms. but didn't do any play-testing. Actually, considering Rob's veteran status, not much of that sort of thing is needed.

Glad you enjoyed the essay. I suppose you weren't much into wargaming when it was originally published :uhoh:

Heh,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Colonel, I was just thinking. My first D&D adventure in The Keep on the Borderlands still has a place in my memory. Do you recall your first D&D adventure? The PC you used? The setting/scenario? How about the first time Mordenkainen was taken out for a spin? Any recollections there?

Gray Mouser
Well,
My first PC was a fghter named Yrag, back in 1972. Mordenkainen came into being about the first month of 1973. That's about all that I can recall with any level of certainly. I was very much engrossed in game creation then, devising mechanics and writing rules and in between time making dungeon levels and populating them for the ever-growing group of players I had continually knocking on the door for adventure sessions.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
RFisher said:
A couple of Chainmail questions:

When the combat tables say "1 die per man", do they mean 1 die per man (20 dice per figure) or 1 die per figure (1 die per 20 men)? (I've known people to interpret it both ways.)

Read "man" as "figure" and you have it. One die is just that...

Under Heroes, does "They have the fighting ability of four figures" mean that they are equivalent to 4 men or 80 men?
Heroes are used only in Man-to-Man play, so one is equal to four normal men.

I understand that hero v. hero would be resolved on the Fantasy Combat Table. Hero v. normal forces would be resolved on the regular Combat Table. (The hero being classed as heavy foot, armored foot, light horse, &c. as fit the particular hero.) But were heroes & other things from the Fantasy Supplement ever used with the man-to-man rules? If so, how?
i am quite at a loss to answer that, as the Hero and all the other Fantasy supplement figures were employed only in the play of Man-to-Man games, never in the mass system where one figure equalled 20.

OK, that was three questons...
"I've answered three questions,
and that is enough..."

Cheers,
Gary (alias Charles Dodson)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tuzenbach said:
Of course! As a matter of fact, I very rarely assigned shields to my characters. I always meant for them to have a sort of a roguish flavor. I mean, if you look at movies like "Krull" and such, NONE of the "good guys" had shields or helmets or even plate mail. Thus, I tried to follow suit whenever possible. Armour heavier/bulkier than normal chain I tended to shun. Plus, there's just so much more you can do shieldless than shield-burdened.

In any event, the Drow in question was (and still is!) a Fighter/Assassin. Stealth is crucial. Can't climb walls, move silently, hide in shadows, etc. shielded.
Only in the movies. while berserkers might have gotten by with such foolishness, once warfare became as organized as it had been before the Dark Ages, the value of armor was fully understood. the Swiss Pikemen had littlesave for front rank men, but their weapons kept opponents at bay, their crossbowmen keeping enemy missile units occupied.

Erm, what? Are you referring to the "off-hand" attack? I took the Drow's ambidexterity to mean they had NO off-hand and, thus, no off-hand penalty.
Does anyone use common sense? Even an ambidextrous person can't hammer two nails at the same time with equal skill...

Ah, if only that'd been in the rulebooks, I would have had a better childhood! ;)
The game if for thinking folks, eh ;)

You mean .01% of his life, surely. There I go again, rules-lawyering like a madman. Actually, I had only meant for this muti-speed thing to be a sort of "secret weapon". Afterall, where was he to get replacements for the spent potions on a regular basis? Hence, it was only ever used once.
Yuppers, my bad. I had the wish spell in mind, a 10-year aging effect. and single-use with a year lost would not be a factor to any adventurous, long-lived demi-human, I agree,

FWIW, I had worked the rules that mulit-speed (and/or haste) would equate to quadrupling the years of life lost. Thus:

1 potion = 1 year lost
2 potions = 4 years lost
3 potions = 16 years lost

Etc..............
Just say NO to over-potioning!

The bottom line was, if you had the years to spare and/or a healthy supply of potions of longevity/elixirs of life, this was the "secret weapon" for you. Or for me, anyway. The real tricky bit was figuring out how to store 9-score darts on your person!
As for the latter, any PC that had such a thing in my campaign would have been continually besieged with parties of NPC adventurers and monsters seeking to loot his store of potions.

In regards the darts, as the DM i'd have suggested that the PC with them was in "porcupine mode," darts feathers outwards :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
johnsemlak said:
Gary

Was it your choice to include references to Baba Yaga in the 1e DMG? Was it intended for her to be a historical figure on Greyhawk? Was there any particular reason for the choice?
Short answer:)

I liked Baba Yaga since i was age three and my mother read stories about her to me from Jack & Jill magazine. So all references to said legendary Russian witch were directly from me. She appears in three forms in the Lejendary Pantheons work, all of them demi-deital.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Glad you enjoyed the essay. I suppose you weren't much into wargaming when it was originally published :uhoh:

Heh, not that my parents have ever mentioned :p

I have played both "Axis and Allies", "Conquest of the Empire" and Avalon Hill's "The War of the Ring." Those are probably the closest I have come to wargaming in my day. Out of the three "Conquest of the Empire" was probably the most fun as I really enjoyed the ancient civilization period it was set in.

Gray Mouser
 

TerraDave

5ever
Col_Pladoh said:
I generally drink Samuel Adams Bosten Ale, Guniess Stout, Samuel Smith Porter or Nut Brown Ale, or several of the offerings from a local brewery, New Glarus Brewing that offer a good ale (Fat Squirrel) and many special sorts throughout the year.

Cheers,
Gary

Ah good, we are back to food and drink...

...to link back to my earlier question, I would recomend Newcastle Brown Ale, not too hard to find here in the States, and from Northumberland, home of St. Cuthbert and not far from his remains at Durham

I am actually going to be using Homlet (again) in the campaign, and have made this the official ale for our game ;)
 

Darrin

First Post
Regarding the Flannae

Gary,

I haven't really played DnD all that long, I started just a few months before 3.5 came out. Anyhow, the last game I participated in was Greyhawk, utilizing 3.5 rules mixed with the old Greyhawk setting. I was particularly fond of the Flan set of humans, as they were a unique blend of Native American culture and celtic. I found that the Flan were the oldest in the Greyhawk Setting, yet they seemed to have the least information on them. The best I found was the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, and even that was skimpin on the details. Why is it that the oldest people in Greyhawk have the least information? Is there anyway I can get a good background of them. Also, I noticed that the LGG had samples of different languages, yet I did not see an example of the Flan language. Would that be because, like the Navajo, they had no written language. Any expanding on this topic that you can do will me most helpful.

Or -- anyone else for that matter.

Lost in Greyhawk, Darrin
 

dead

First Post
Dear Gary: A hypothetical situation

Dear Gary,

If you won a million, trillion, squillion dollars and purchasing back the rights to D&D was just a drop in the ocean, would you:

a) Not even bother buying back the rights for D&D. That's behind you now. You would use all your money to promote and publish LA.

b) Buy back the rights and personally author the 4th edition the way *you* think it should be.

c) Buy back the rights and act as a consultant/creative director but otherwise focus on LA.

d) Buy back the rights but leave it unchanged.



Also, what would you do with GH if you bought back the rights. Would you:

1) Dump it as a setting. It's seen its time.

2) Dump all material after you left and begin again from the '83 boxed set.

3) Acknowledge WotC/TSR's "canon" version and take it up from there.


I'm very interested to hear your comments.

Thank you.
 

mistere29

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Yuppers, my bad. I had the wish spell in mind, a 10-year aging effect. and single-use with a year lost would not be a factor to any adventurous, long-lived demi-human, I agree,


Gary

Somwhere in the DMG is a chart that has age modifers for demi-humans. The gist of it is that magical aging assumes a human life span. If a race lives twice as long as humans, for example, then all aging effects are doubled.

Plus there is always the system shock roll.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Heh, not that my parents have ever mentioned :p

I have played both "Axis and Allies", "Conquest of the Empire" and Avalon Hill's "The War of the Ring." Those are probably the closest I have come to wargaming in my day. Out of the three "Conquest of the Empire" was probably the most fun as I really enjoyed the ancient civilization period it was set in.

Gray Mouser
Those aren't board wargames amigo. Real wargamers have played Drang Nacht Osten for a few weeks before giving up, or else know and play 20 Avalon Hill Company military game titles and have a collection of SPI games (never played usually).

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
TerraDave said:
Ah good, we are back to food and drink...

...to link back to my earlier question, I would recomend Newcastle Brown Ale, not too hard to find here in the States, and from Northumberland, home of St. Cuthbert and not far from his remains at Durham

I am actually going to be using Homlet (again) in the campaign, and have made this the official ale for our game ;)
Not only have I had a few pints of Newcastle, but I've enjoyed a variety of real ales locally brewed in the pubs of Old Blighty :lol:

Most of my group have to drive some distance home after a game session, so we don't get to enjoy much in the way of good brews when we play...and when I drink alone i prefer to be by myself ;)

Cheerio,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Darrin said:
Gary,

I haven't really played DnD all that long, I started just a few months before 3.5 came out. Anyhow, the last game I participated in was Greyhawk, utilizing 3.5 rules mixed with the old Greyhawk setting. I was particularly fond of the Flan set of humans, as they were a unique blend of Native American culture and celtic. I found that the Flan were the oldest in the Greyhawk Setting, yet they seemed to have the least information on them. The best I found was the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, and even that was skimpin on the details. Why is it that the oldest people in Greyhawk have the least information? Is there anyway I can get a good background of them. Also, I noticed that the LGG had samples of different languages, yet I did not see an example of the Flan language. Would that be because, like the Navajo, they had no written language. Any expanding on this topic that you can do will me most helpful.

Or -- anyone else for that matter.

Lost in Greyhawk, Darrin

I have had no input in regards to the WoG since 1985, so you will need to direct your comments and questions to wizards.

I can say that the Flan were not meant to be anything like the American Indians. they were of Hamatic-like racial origin, Negroes if you will. Little is known of them because they were generally absorbed into the waves of other peoples immigrating eastwards through the continent, so their culture was generally lost.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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