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
haakon1 said:
Here here! As a guy who majored in history/poli sci and works with translating numbers into business decisions, I've got to wonder how much of my mind's development I owe to picking up the PHB in 1981 . . . quite a lot, I'd say.

Thanks Gary!
Welcome, but...

My contribution is minimal. It was something that stimulated you to develop your own potential, rather as might a grammar school teacher through recommending books whilst directing a course of study so as to make it interesting.

Ciao,
Gary
 

haakon1

Visitor
Col_Pladoh said:
There is absolutely no connection. I did the two maps on hex paper of the maximum sixe that TSR's printers could manage at the time, free-handing the work so as to get in all the cultural types I thought would make for an interesting campaign ;)
Thanks so much for answering that. Your map has made and is making for an interesting campaign.

It'll stay on my wall tacked up next to a Tolkien map 'cause I know the DM is always right, even when the Father of the Game says, "Nah, I really wasn't thinking that." :lol:
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
Thanks so much for answering that. Your map has made and is making for an interesting campaign.

It'll stay on my wall tacked up next to a Tolkien map 'cause I know the DM is always right, even when the Father of the Game says, "Nah, I really wasn't thinking that." :lol:
Fact is that I have never compared the three maps in question, JRRT's Middle Earth and the Oerik pair, so it might seem there is some connection. However, I do believe the scale of the Middle Earth map is smaller than that of the World of Greyhawk, so a side by side comparison would not be meaningful.

Cheers,
Gary
 

haakon1

Visitor
Col_Pladoh said:
How right you are. I have no creative rapport with the new system, nor the old world setting as altered...
IMHO, the new system is better for players than for DM's ("options" = complexity), and after a certain level, the complexity just breaks the whole game.

For me, I ignore new Greyhawk in many areas, but I steal its ideas liberally. For example, WOTC says Bissel was conquered by Ket, and Sterich and Geoff were conquered by the Giants. I say, no PC's defeated the Giants, so Geoff and Sterich were in trouble but survived due to the heroism of now retired adventurers. And in present day, Ket has invaded Bissel with a huge force of mercs and a secret alliance with Iuz. Why is there a war? BECAUSE newer PC's took Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn from the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Ket coveted it, and had their elite adventurers bested by the PC's. Iuz is angry because the PC's resurrected his rival former vampire sister (how Robilar like!). Yet another new party is going on lots of little missions to help the Bisselite war effort, and has benefited from the hospital powered up by the Lanthorn.

Works for me . . . I totally get it that it doesn't work for you, especially in the official form. Fair enough. You gave us the tools to have fun with this stuff forever.
 

haakon1

Visitor
Col_Pladoh said:
My contribution is minimal. It was something that stimulated you to develop your own potential, rather as might a grammar school teacher through recommending books whilst directing a course of study so as to make it interesting.
Precisely, but it's nice to be able to thank you "personally" for the positive influence you've had on so many people, and to hear your wise and humble answer.
 

oldschooler

Visitor
Hi Gary,

I've a general question regarding many of your creature concepts, as far as how they came about and/or changed over the years.

Kobolds: did they always look like lil' dog-lizards, or were they originally just a lesser form of goblin?
Hobgoblins: I've always known hobgoblins as being "good guys" in a way. How did you come up with them as larger, meaner goblins?
Gnolls: originally described as a cross between 'gnomes and trolls'... How did they become the hyena-men we know and love today?
Gorgons: I would have pictured a hideous snake-lady with asps for hair, but you split the creature into the Medusa (named for the popular gorgon) and Gorgon (an iron-clad bull)? How did that happen?
Hydra: why mention the snake-like original (Monsters & Treasure), then give it dinosaur-like legs?
Troll: I know you like the regenerating, green, rubber dude; but what ever happened to true trolls (of Scandinavian myth)?
Where did the concept for the 'dungeon cleaning crew' come from (some of my favorite critters by the way)? I'm guessing the old classic horror flick The Blob but...
 
Col_Pladoh said:
We toasted Dave on thursday last as four of us worked on getting the maps for YGGSBURGH into shape for a final pass.
Hmmm, I haven't been getting notices about postings recently so I just happened to be checking the board and saw this reply. Glad to see things are coming along with the CZ project!

The module Frank Mentzer and I will co-author is one that was originally done for AD&D and will be translated to the C&C game system in due course. It is not tied to the ZAGYG'S CASTLE project.

Cheers,
Gary
And more good news!

Gray Mouser
 

Palaner

Visitor
Hey Gary,

I love the concept of evolving media, and D&D is no exception. After all, it is, what I think, the first game to ever become a medium in itself. What do you think is (or should be) the future of the roleplaying game?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
oldschooler said:
Hi Gary,

I've a general question regarding many of your creature concepts, as far as how they came about and/or changed over the years.

Kobolds: did they always look like lil' dog-lizards, or were they originally just a lesser form of goblin?
Hobgoblins: I've always known hobgoblins as being "good guys" in a way. How did you come up with them as larger, meaner goblins?
Gnolls: originally described as a cross between 'gnomes and trolls'... How did they become the hyena-men we know and love today?
Gorgons: I would have pictured a hideous snake-lady with asps for hair, but you split the creature into the Medusa (named for the popular gorgon) and Gorgon (an iron-clad bull)? How did that happen?
Hydra: why mention the snake-like original (Monsters & Treasure), then give it dinosaur-like legs?
Troll: I know you like the regenerating, green, rubber dude; but what ever happened to true trolls (of Scandinavian myth)?
Where did the concept for the 'dungeon cleaning crew' come from (some of my favorite critters by the way)? I'm guessing the old classic horror flick The Blob but...
Sigh...

Kobolds are humanoid, mainly forest-dwelling creatures that Dave Sutherland gave the canine visage and scaley skin.

I made hobgoblins larger, although the prefix "hob" indicates little" because goblins had been made too small and weak for challenging higher-level characters. goblins and hobgoblins are treated in various ways from mischiveous to darkly malign in folklore. I went with the latter for game purposes.

Who says a cross between a gnome and a troll can't have a hyena-live visage? After all, it was me that mentioned the origination of the species. I just decided it was too bland and needed something more evil. I dislike hyenas intensly...

You clearly are not steeped in medieval bestiary lore;) In that regard the gorgon is a scaled bull, so rather than having only three sisters the D&D game had a rade of medusas and a race of gorgons.

As for me giving a hydra legs, where do you see my name in the illustration?

Scandanavian trolls are pretty borinng, and who needs such critters when they can't go into sunlight? So I used Poul Anderson's model for a more challenging and fearsome monster.

Because of the large and varied ecology of the D&D dungeons and underground, it was necessary to have scavengers of all sorts, so I made up the gelatinous cube, carrion crawler, ocher jelly, etc. There was no particular inspiration save for nature--amobeas, insect larva, and imagination.

Gary
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Palaner said:
Hey Gary,

I love the concept of evolving media, and D&D is no exception. After all, it is, what I think, the first game to ever become a medium in itself. What do you think is (or should be) the future of the roleplaying game?
Heh,

I seldom if ever engage in pointless speculation :eek:

The future of the RPG will be determined by many more persons than me. I believe the game form will persist into the foreseeable future. It seems pretty certain that the majority of play will be online, that next will come the computer RPG audience--when AI makes such games actually more akin to what the game form is supposed to be--and last but not least will be the group playing face-to-face.

As I have noted before, the analogy one might use is that of televsion, motion pictures, and stage plays.

Cheers,
Gary
 
Col_Pladoh said:
I will reiterate that government is generally based on what? Why LAW, of course.
Bah. You know full well, old friend, that all governments are created and maintained primarily to Hold Power Over Others, modified only by the cojoint purpose of maintaining themselves.

And I would maintain that given that primary goal, all government is also therefore Evil...


-- a pragmatic anarchist
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Frank Mentzer said:
Bah. You know full well, old friend, that all governments are created and maintained primarily to Hold Power Over Others, modified only by the cojoint purpose of maintaining themselves.

And I would maintain that given that primary goal, all government is also therefore Evil...


-- a pragmatic anarchist
No. as the Constitution originally set forth the enumerated powers of the federal government, it was not Evil, merely Lawfully Neutral, with those holding high office basically of good alignment.

Ciao,
Gary
 
Col_Pladoh said:
No. as the Constitution originally set forth the enumerated powers of the federal government, it was not Evil, merely Lawfully Neutral, with those holding high office basically of good alignment.

Ciao,
Gary
Actually, the Constitution (pre Patriot Act) goes a long way to limiting the power of the Federal government by only giving the Federal government limited to prevent it from becoming a tyranny. Such limits on government and the Enlightenment concept of the rule of Law would actually be Chaotic Good not Lawful Good (Lawful Goods believe that the law should be enforced upon individuals, but not necessarily the state, for that might limit the power of government to do good in their opinion). However, it's permission of slavery and restrictions on eligible voters, reduced it to a True Neutral document.
 

haakon1

Visitor
US Government alignment

I'd say the American Revolution was Neutral Good. Chaotic in wanting freedom and opposing the king. Lawful in its Deist religious background, and desire for machinistic rule of law. Neutral between chaos and law by using the law to protect freedom -- never was there a more Neutral Good document than the Bill of Rights.

As for it not being Good because it permitted slavery, remember the old maxim: "Lawful Good is not Lawful Stupid." Trying to fight the Civil War and the Revolution at the same time would have failed.

In general, I think America is a lot more chaotic than most countries of similar level of economic development -- compare us to the UK, Japan, Germany, or France, for instance. Both parties have their chaotic holy cows (2nd Amendment for the GOP, 1st Amendment for the Dems) and their lawful aspects (Terry Schiavo case for GOP, ACLU defending even people they dislike on the Dem side).

I won't touch the Good/Neutral/Evil thing with a 10' pole. Both at least think they are good.

Alignment in the real world discussions are silly, but amusing, until someone starts getting mad. :]
 
You dudes must like fishing? Going by the huge can of worms you just opened of course? :lol:

Col_Pladoh said:
No. as the Constitution originally set forth the enumerated powers of the federal government, it was not Evil, merely Lawfully Neutral, with those holding high office basically of good alignment.

Ciao,
Gary
 

Hiryu

Visitor
Col_Pladoh said:
Well, J.C.

In my view you have an imperfect understanding of alignments as they apply to the game. However, it is a waste of my time and energy to d9ispute your assertions...profitless on all counts.

I will reiterate that government is generaly based on what? Why LAW, of course.

Gary
Well, like I said, no agreeing required. I was merily sharing my opinion on alignments and very personal interpretation of them.;)

While I believe that many of the rules are straightforward and with a clear right-wrong way to interpret them, in my personal and very humble opinion, alignments fall into that interpretational category that doesn't have a clear right way to handle it. After all, good and bad are both very hard to define and dependant on each person's perception of morality.

That's not to say I don't think I may be a tad off on my interpretation when compared to the original idea, since D&D is strongly based on the classical idea of great good vs. great evil common in fantasy literature. I just like them better that way both as player and DM.

If I could, I'd definitely go with your idea of only having Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, but my players always refuse.:uhoh:

*dives back into lurking mode*

J. C. Corona

PS: Governments may be based on law and good, but that doesn't mean they are ran as such. All in all, I agree with Mr. Mentzer, and that is the last I'll say about it. Politics are the most efficient way to loose friends.:confused:
 
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francisca

Explorer
I'm happy to leave political teeth gnashing on your list, Gary. :) Thanks for stemming the tide. I hope everyone abides by it.

Back to gaming, I recently found this nugget, and thought you and the rest of the board might find it to be of interest:

Writing in pseudonym about his own works, Leiber wrote:

"What seems to make the Fafhrd Mouser stories stand out is that the two heroes are cut down to a plausible size without loss of romance and a believed in eerie, sorcerous atmosphere and with a welcome departure from forumla. They are neither physical supermen the caliber of Conan and John Carter, nor moral or metaphysical giants like Tolkien's Strider, etc., and Morcock's Elrich. They win out by one quarter brains, another quarter braun, and at least fifty percent sheer luck. They have an engaging self interest, blind spots and vices, a gallantry of sorts, and an ability to laugh at themselves - even if the Mouser occasionally quite galling. One's first impression may be that the Mouser is the darkly clever comedian and Fafhrd the somewhat stupid straight man, or Fafhrd the hero and Mouser the comic relief, but a little reading reveals the self infatuation underlying and sometimes tripping the Mouser's cunning, and also the amiable wisdom that now and then shows through Fafhrd's lazy complacency."
In short, they seem like the perfect D&D adventurers, right down to the 50% sheer luck part being represented by die rolls. I found out about Fafhrd and the Mouser via your indirect recommendation in the DMG (and Moldvay's Basic set). They really struck a chord with me, probably because I was in my middle teens and devouring the AD&D core books. Looking at the experience in hindsight, with the above quote in mind, it all makes perfect sense why I like those stories so much.

When DMing, I often find myself trying to create the same vibe in adventures that Mr. Leiber did in his Fafhrd and Mouser stories. Usually, it's just a pale imitation, but that's still pretty good, I think. (My players too, they keep coming back, week after week.)
 

oldschooler

Visitor
Thanks for the reply regarding creature inspirations. Apparently, kobolds are goblin-like, and it was the illustration that lead to their current "reptilian" nature. Facinating stuff!
I actually like hyenas, so gnolls are one of my favorite humanoids. Sometimes I just wish they weren't quite so tough:)
I agree with the "true" troll being more exiting than the Scandinavian one. As per Chainmail, one could simply use ogre stats for those.
I have to say I've never heard of gorgons being described as bull-like, but like you say, I'm not into the medieval bestiary so much as ancient Greek mythology. The oldest description I know of is "dragon-like, with faces like hideous boars and snakes for hair". As for the hydra, I wasn't referring to the illustration, but rather it's description in Monsters & Treasure.
I've always loved those oozes, slimes and jellies. Great creepy fun!

Hope you had an wonderful Father's Day!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
francisca said:
...

Back to gaming, I recently found this nugget, and thought you and the rest of the board might find it to be of interest:

...

In short, they seem like the perfect D&D adventurers, right down to the 50% sheer luck part being represented by die rolls. ...
Do be careful there!

All of the dice rolling for random results has a probability that a good player knows and takes into account. Luck is by no means half of the reason for successful FRPG adventuring in general, although in any given case it might be a key component, or might not be involved at all. the same is true of real life successes and failures, of course. Random events and luck are actualities.

Otherwise, I surely do concur in regards to Fritz's writing about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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