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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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Gentlegamer said:
Since in the discussions you remember you and others pointed out how much you didn't like "old" D&D and had left the game and only "returned" for "3e,"

Find the post where I said that. :)

I like "old" D&D. I played it for years. I "left the game," not because of the rules, but because I moved away from my gaming group and couldn't find another for awhile. When I "returned," it was because I found out online about a new version - and found some online games in which to play it. I've since found another face-to-face group.

I prefer 3E, but I'd still be willing to play an older version - if I had the time and a good group.

Which brings me to my next question ...

When it comes to gaming groups, the majority of our time is spent playing one particular system. Currently, that's D&D 3.X. We're playing some d20 StarWars at the moment, as one DM takes a break, but we also play a lot of other games - the Munchkin card game, Cartagena, Battle Cry (done as a miniatures game), Rolemaster / MERPS, etc. In the past, my D&D groups (at this point, it was 2nd Ed.) also played short stints of Shadowrun, Rolemaster, WEG Star Wars, M:TG, and a bunch of others.

So, when you weren't DMing D&D (in whatever flavor your preference at the time was), what other games did you or your gaming group prefer to run? And, if you've got more than a couple moments, what was it about those systems you particularly enjoyed?
 

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Gray Mouser

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Damn!

I wish I'd have read your post, Gray Mouser, before I responded to so many of those before it :uhoh:

So, RIGHT ON Brother!

Ciao,
Gary

Heh, thanks Gary. I tried anyway ;)

BTW, I have a question for you regarding the World of Greyhawk setting. I was just perusing the encounter tables in the glossography recently and noticed that a fait amount of them include results for "Men, Cavemen" (areas such as Blackmoor, Sterich, Valley of the Mage, the Barrier Peacks, Crystalmist Mountains and Jotens, the Clatspur Range and Yatil Mountains, the Hellfurnaces) and even a "Use Plestocine Conditions Encounter Table" (Sulhaut Mountains).

Did you envisions these as the WoGH's "Lost World" type areas (particularly the Sulhauts)? I noticed they were fairly spread out on the map so it could also have been simply considering the Cavemen as a less developed subset of humans. Also, did any of the OC's in your campaign ever encounter their Neanderthal brethren or any Plestocine creatures in the WoGH proper (not, for instance, in Isle of the Ape)?

Gray Mouser
 

gizmo33

First Post
dcas said:
Of course, if one really wants to get into the Law of Gravity then it is the time (not the distance) of one's fall that should dictate the damage taken, since velocity is a function of time (v = 32t). I think a simple method could be 1 point of damage per foot for the first 20 feet, two points of damage per foot for the next 50 feet, and 3 points per foot for the next 80 feet. (It only takes about 3 seconds to fall 150 feet.) A character falling 15 feet would take 15 points of damage; one falling 50 feet would take 20 + 60 (30 * 2) = 80 points of damage; one falling 100 feet would take 20 + 100 (50 * 2) + 90 (30 * 3) = 210 points of damage. One might allow a saving throw for 1/2 damage. ;) Anything over 150 feet would result in automatic death (barring really extraordinary circumstances).

It doesn't matter how far you've fallen, it matters how fast you're going when you hit the ground. Because velocity increase is linear, it means that a damage system tied to velocity ought to be linear as well. In the original system of 1d6/10 ft, the damage increased faster than linear with respect to time - ie. faster than gravity as it was. A munchkin would have physics on his side when arguing against the original 1d6/10 ft system as being too much damage! The "exponential" system is even more of a departure from the actual physics of a fallen body. The distance fallen (increasing exponentially) is not relevant to the force of striking the ground.

But the implication of either system is that damage is proportial to force - which IMO is probably not the case. To keep things simple, I don't see anything wrong with a damage system based on distance fallen - whether it is linear or exponential. The point is that neither system "correctly understands" the physics of v=at.
 

orsal

LEW Judge
gizmo33 said:
It doesn't matter how far you've fallen, it matters how fast you're going when you hit the ground. Because velocity increase is linear, it means that a damage system tied to velocity ought to be linear as well.

dcas' point is that velocity is linear with respect to time, but not with respect to distance. Since distance is quadratic (faster than linear) with respect to time, that means time (and therefore velocity) only increases with the square root of distance, somewhat *less* than linear.

gizmo33 said:
The "exponential" system is even more of a departure from the actual physics of a fallen body. The distance fallen (increasing exponentially) is not relevant to the force of striking the ground.

How did exponential growth come into this? Distance isn't exponential in any quantity I can think of. It's quadratic (more than linear but much less than exponential) in time.
 

gizmo33

First Post
orsal said:
dcas' point is that velocity is linear with respect to time, but not with respect to distance. Since distance is quadratic (faster than linear) with respect to time, that means time (and therefore velocity) only increases with the square root of distance, somewhat *less* than linear.

Actually, DCAS' pointed seem to be to propose a falling damage system - which was the subject of my post. The bottom line is that DCAS's system IS NOT a linear system, it proposes a non-linear increase in damage based on distance fallen (which is compounded by the non-linear relationship of distance to time, as you point out). I agree with what you're saying above about the relationship of distance to velocity - but this seems to have played no part in the final falling damage system that he proposed. Look at the numbers - you take 15 pts of damage for hitting the ground at 31 ft/sec, and you take 80 pts of damage for hitting the ground at 56 ft/sec.

(BTW - I put *quotes* around the exponential - call it quadratic or whatever you want. Regardless, what DCAS proposes is not anything close to a linear relationship of damage with respect to time - which I'm not sure was his intention but the proximity of the physics to the rule proposal implied some relationship between the two.)
 

RFisher

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
but having armor is usual in REH's tales, save for Conan and a few other of the lesser protagonists, and the Barbarian class covers that pretty handily.
Admittedly I've only read half of REH's tales so far, but didn't Conan always use the best armor available to him?
 

orsal

LEW Judge
gizmo33 said:
Actually, DCAS' pointed seem to be to propose a falling damage system - which was the subject of my post. The bottom line is that DCAS's system IS NOT a linear system, it proposes a non-linear increase in damage based on distance fallen (which is compounded by the non-linear relationship of distance to time, as you point out). I agree with what you're saying above about the relationship of distance to velocity - but this seems to have played no part in the final falling damage system that he proposed. Look at the numbers - you take 15 pts of damage for hitting the ground at 31 ft/sec, and you take 80 pts of damage for hitting the ground at 56 ft/sec.

Oops! I missed the "per foot" part of his proposal. If instead of multiplying at the end by distance he multiplied by some constant (or some fixed random range, such as 1d6), it would fit the physics. Assuming that damage is proportional to final speed, it should be proportional to the square root of the distance fallen.

Oh, and just to return this thread to its intended topic:

Gary, if you were writing the AD&D core rules all over again, is there anything you'd change?
 

Yeoman99

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
As an amateur historian of Anglo-Saxon england, one who favors Wessex, the Cornwell novel sounds interesting, and I will probably pick it up.

Heh, even the qualified histrorians would have to support Wessex - but then that's my birthplace....

My eldest son came in minus half a front tooth the other day having "fallen out of a tree". An ear to the ground revealed that a certain over-enthusiastic knight bested him with a trusty wooden broadsword!
How little times change sometimes:)

Have recently been assigned to doghouse for filling his head with nonsense:D

Solution appears to be more intensive dice-work to focus his energy. Result!:lol:
 

A'koss

Explorer
dcas said:
Anything over 150 feet would result in automatic death (barring really extraordinary circumstances).
Of course, you could add a little believability into your game and just say any fall of 40' or greater is automatically lethal unless you land on a forgiving surface or can slow your decent somehow (as it is IRL... actually 30' is generally considered the cutoff point, but I'll be a little generous here. :p ). Anything between 10 and 40' you can just say inflicts 3xft fallen % of your total hp in damage... Save for 1/2). There, and I got it to sound somewhat 1st eddish too!

Cheers!

A'koss.
 

Gentlegamer

First Post
RFisher said:
Admittedly I've only read half of REH's tales so far, but didn't Conan always use the best armor available to him?
Later in Conan's career, when he had become more civilized, he took to wearing armor, even heavy plate armor (as King of Aquilonia). If you are reading the collected Conan stories published recently, remember, they are arranged by order of publication which is definitely not the chronological order of Conan's life.
 

dcas

First Post
gizmo33 said:
Actually, DCAS' pointed seem to be to propose a falling damage system - which was the subject of my post. The bottom line is that DCAS's system IS NOT a linear system, it proposes a non-linear increase in damage based on distance fallen (which is compounded by the non-linear relationship of distance to time, as you point out).

No no. ;) I was simply using numbers (20, 50, 80) that are easier to remember than 16, 48, and 80. In the first second of fall one falls approximately 16 feet (distance ~= 16*t^2), the second second 48 feet, and the third second 80 feet. One has a velocity of 32ft/sec. in the first second of fall, 64 in the 2nd, 96 in the third, etc. I know my system doesn't model the real physics exactly. I didn't want to make the calculations to heavy. Of course one could determine the exact velocity from the distance fallen. But who has time to do this at the gaming table? I wouldn't want to extract a square root at the table (that is, unless I could do it in my head). I suppose one might create a table that listed distance in increments of 10 feet, along with velocity, and then approximate damage from that. For example

10 feet ==> t ~= 0.8 ==> v ~= 25.3 ft/sec.
20 feet ==> t ~= 1.1 ==> v ~= 35.8 ft/sec.

IOW one wouldn't take much more damage from falling 20 feet than falling 10 feet.

30 feet ==> t ~= 1.4 ==> v ~= 43.8 ft./sec.
40 feet ==> t ~= 1.6 ==> v ~= 50.6 ft./sec.

Falling 40 feet would cause about twice as much damage as falling 10 feet. And falling 160 feet would cause four times the damage. Oof!

Yes, I guess my proposed system did a poor job of estimating. Oh well. I didn't really think about it too much when I came up with it (this afternoon). ;) Sorry. In this light I would argue that the first ten feet cause approx. 3 points of damage, the next 30 about 1 point each, and anything over 40 is automatic death. I would be inclined to give the first 10 feet "free," then have 3 points per foot from 10 to 20, and 1 point per foot from 20 to 50. ::shrugs::
 

WyzardWhately

First Post
Two things.

1. Someone mentioned, about a page back, stories available from Google Groups about the ToH & ToEE. I can't seem to find those. Can anyone link me?

2. This joke about the Ultimist class keeps getting mentioned. I hate being left out of in-jokes. Is there anywhere that I can see the text of this 'zine or whatever it was? I'm curious. Also, none of my companions will have heard of it, and I can play the joke on them.
 


WyzardWhately

First Post
Yeah, I know that. I was wondering if it's scanned in anywhere on the web, or if someone has it as a file.

I don't have so much seniority that I can dig into a box in the closet and find such things, you see.
 

RFisher

First Post
A'koss said:
Of course, you could add a little believability into your game and just say any fall of 40' or greater is automatically lethal unless you land on a forgiving surface or can slow your decent somehow (as it is IRL... actually 30' is generally considered the cutoff point, but I'll be a little generous here. :p ).
Yeah. I've been thinking for a while that falls shouldn't affect hp. I've been thinking some kind of actual injury (broken leg/arm--with lack of use of the affected limb--or even death) would be better. With some sort of saving throw.
Gentlegamer said:
If you are reading the collected Conan stories published recently, remember, they are arranged by order of publication which is definitely not the chronological order of Conan's life.
I've got the Fantasy Masterwork duo that are arranged in "life" order instead of "published" order. (I would have preferred published order.)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Dannyalcatraz said:
No matter where I lived (I was an army brat), our mock-combats used ranged weapons almost exclusively. In Tacoma, Washington, it was little rocks (!); in Stuttgart, Germany, it was Horse Chestnuts, either stripped of their outer casing, or with spikes intact (!!); and in Dallas, Texas, it was "spear grass"- a plant about 6-14" tall that, when plucked, had a hard, dart-like root-ball that if thrown, could draw blood at ranges up to 25'.

We were nuts.
Indeed, a sort of "spear grass" grows around here, has characteristics as you note, and served as a close-range missile weapon in rock fights. The horse chestnuts here aren't nearly as fne a missile as are green walnuts, those being larger and heavier, but the kids nowadays can't find much countryside with such trees so as to engage in throwing them at each other :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 



Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gentlegamer said:
Since in the discussions you remember you and others pointed out how much you didn't like "old" D&D and had left the game and only "returned" for "3e," I can't help but point out (by way of clarification) that "3e" and "3.5e" are not D&D, but part of the d20 System rules set. I don't understand why it upsets you so much.
Quite so!

New D&D is a different game than were D&D and AD&D in their various editions.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Patryn of Elvenshae said:
...
...
So, when you weren't DMing D&D (in whatever flavor your preference at the time was), what other games did you or your gaming group prefer to run? And, if you've got more than a couple moments, what was it about those systems you particularly enjoyed?
Speaking for me...

I was always happy to play just about any RPG somneone else was GMing. My favorite was Metamorphosis Alpha, as I love the mix of whimsey and menace embroidered into the science fantasy basis. Of course I played every one of the other RPGs TSR published, and enjoyed them all, especially Boot Hill. My son Luke ran a brief campaign of Top Secret, but quit as the game wasn't properly supported. We also played Paranoia, Traveller, and CoC when there was a willing GM.

Frankly, with a good GM, with or without other enthusiastic players, I just love to have at roleplaying--or just about any other game. That's why I don't get invlved in computer games or play online, as I'd do nothing else :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

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