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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Derulbaskul

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
LOL! I can relate to the desire to work up from #4 Flower to #1 Flower, but taking that into the realms of supernatural entities is a tile too far :eek:
Heh,
Gary

Gary,

I was 13. Does that explain it? ;)

Cheers
D
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Derulbaskul said:
Gary,

I was 13. Does that explain it? ;)

Cheers
D

Hi Derulbaskul,

The age sure does. nhot only can I relate through three sons who have been through that early teen sage, but I can recall my own thinking when I was age 13.

BTW, one of the column essays I will be writing soon for the "Up on a Soapbox" feature in Dragon magazine is ablut my son Luke playing D&D at age 12, the problems he had with staying in character and role-playing on the part of the DM (me).

cheers,
Gary
 

RFisher

Explorer
Gary,

You've said that you and Rob used a sort of "shorthand" format in the key for the Castle Greyhawk dungeons from which you would wing the details. Could you give us an example of what a entry might look like? Since most of us are creating dungeons for our own use instead of publication, I think an example of how a pro does it could teach us a thing or two. :)

And--let me add to the thanks I expressed before. The more I think about it, the more I realize what a profound impact you and the gang at TSR, as well as Marc Miller and the gang at GDW have had on my life. Since I got my first D&D Basic Set in 1981, role playing games have been the primary fuel of my imagination. The games challenged me to understand them. They suggested books to read. They got me to study history and science (without it being an assignment). They got me to study probability and analyze rules. They inspired creation of game mechanics, characters, worlds. I could go on and on.

The funny thing is that today I'm finding that OD&D and classic Traveller again are appealling to me more than nearly anything else available. (Although the new Conan RPG is calling to me...)
 

T. Foster

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
No version of the city that I designed has ever been published.

Hi Gary,

First off I've been remiss in thanking you for your kind (and extensive) answers to my previous questions, so I offer my sincere, if belated, thanks now and hope you didn't think I wasn't appreciative of your answers.

But now, onto another question :) Following up on the answer above (re: Greyhawk City), were the details of the city (including both the map and other sundry details -- street names, building locations, description of the city's walls and gates, sewer system, etc.) provided in the novel City of Hawks (and to a lesser extent in the other Gord books) drawn from your actual game version of the city or were they newly invented (re-invented?) for the purposes of that novel alone? I spent a lot of time and effort combing through those books back in the day gleaning details for use in my own games set in Greyhawk City (as an antidote to the bland bland bland version published by TSR -- talk about disappointment!).

Gratitude and regards,

T. Foster
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
RFisher said:
Gary,

You've said that you and Rob used a sort of "shorthand" format in the key for the Castle Greyhawk dungeons from which you would wing the details. Could you give us an example of what a entry might look like? Since most of us are creating dungeons for our own use instead of publication, I think an example of how a pro does it could teach us a thing or two. :)

Well, RF...

What we used was not 'pro" but simply veteran DM notes to more easily wing the actual action. Traps and "trick" areas were detailed in regards to trigger and damage or result from activating a trick.

Monster encounters looked like this: 12 ORCS, 4 with crossbows, 7-12 gp each, POTION OF HEROISM in hole under water barrel. Will fight until death.

Depending on the party entering their area, the HPs would be set high, or rolled, or set low. Likewise, the orcs might have a spy hole, detect the approaching party, fire through loopholes in the door and wall, or else be sitting around and possibly surprised.

Special encounters might be more detailed, two or three lines of notes.

Whatever was there was just to stimulate the DM's imagination and inspire something that suited the party for good or ill.

And--let me add to the thanks I expressed before. The more I think about it, the more I realize what a profound impact you and the gang at TSR, as well as Marc Miller and the gang at GDW have had on my life. Since I got my first D&D Basic Set in 1981, role playing games have been the primary fuel of my imagination. The games challenged me to understand them. They suggested books to read. They got me to study history and science (without it being an assignment). They got me to study probability and analyze rules. They inspired creation of game mechanics, characters, worlds. I could go on and on.

Indeed, a lot has come out of the original D&D game;)

[/QUOTE]The funny thing is that today I'm finding that OD&D and classic Traveller again are appealling to me more than nearly anything else available. (Although the new Conan RPG is calling to me...)[/QUOTE]

From my perspective wanting less in the way of rules constraints comes from being a veteran Game Master who feels confident that good material comes from imagination and player interaction with the environment that textbook rules material.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
T. Foster said:
Hi Gary,

First off I've been remiss in thanking you for your kind (and extensive) answers to my previous questions, so I offer my sincere, if belated, thanks now and hope you didn't think I wasn't appreciative of your answers.

Howdy TF:)

No need to thank me, and I do not assume that lack of a special note doing that after I have replied to someone is a lack of gratitude. Appreciate your thoughtfulness, though!

But now, onto another question :) Following up on the answer above (re: Greyhawk City), were the details of the city (including both the map and other sundry details -- street names, building locations, description of the city's walls and gates, sewer system, etc.) provided in the novel City of Hawks (and to a lesser extent in the other Gord books) drawn from your actual game version of the city or were they newly invented (re-invented?) for the purposes of that novel alone? I spent a lot of time and effort combing through those books back in the day gleaning details for use in my own games set in Greyhawk City (as an antidote to the bland bland bland version published by TSR -- talk about disappointment!).

Gratitude and regards,

T. Foster

the city material I included in the Gord novels was either from my notes, memory, or created to fill in gaps. The latter material was meant to be true to my vision of the City of Greyhawk, its infrastructure, places, and persons.

Your combing the books and gleaning details means you are following my template, but don't let that constrain your own addition to the setting. Rob was always addint material, and I used to have to consilt with him about what he had brought into the mix after he had run a city adventure.

What I am embarassed to admit is that such research likely makes you more expert than I am in regards to city details, most of which I have forgotten in the decades elapsed snce I write the stories, the memories replaced by later stories, adventures and urban settings.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Jehosephat

First Post
Greetings Gary,

In addition to Fantasy, Western, and Sci-Fi what other genres of novels and/or rpgs do you enjoy?

Also I am feeling a bit nostalgic tonight, thinking a bit about rpgs that I haven't played in years and such. So there are a few things I was curious about from the old days. I was wondering, how much playtesting did you personally do on Merle Rasmussen's Top Secret game? Also a couple of questions about Darlene Pekul. I first want to say that I loved her Greyhawk maps. If ever there was an rpg product worthy of framing and hanging on a wall, it was those maps. So, do you recall how much role playing she did around TSR in those days? And, do you know what Darlene is doing these days?

Sincerely,
Jehosephat.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Jehosephat said:
Greetings Gary,

In addition to Fantasy, Western, and Sci-Fi what other genres of novels and/or rpgs do you enjoy?

Also I am feeling a bit nostalgic tonight, thinking a bit about rpgs that I haven't played in years and such. So there are a few things I was curious about from the old days. I was wondering, how much playtesting did you personally do on Merle Rasmussen's Top Secret game? Also a couple of questions about Darlene Pekul. I first want to say that I loved her Greyhawk maps. If ever there was an rpg product worthy of framing and hanging on a wall, it was those maps. So, do you recall how much role playing she did around TSR in those days? And, do you know what Darlene is doing these days?

Sincerely,
Jehosephat.

Hi Jehosephat,

As for RPG genres, I'll likely play any sort if I have the time and opportunity-- wierd fantasy, horror, cyberpunk. I enjoy history and historical novels, horror, mysteries, and the old Oriental adventure yarns.

I did indeed playtest Top Secret, and son Luke ran a short-lived campaign in which I played. I also play-tested and played Star Frontiers and Gangbusters.

As for Darlene, I don't recall her doing much RPG play, but I most certainly do agree that her maps for the WoG were tops! Sheis now married, living on the East Coast, and considering doing some map work for my Zagyg's Castle project :cool:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Gez

First Post
Spawned from an unrelated discussion on Nutkinland:

Cyragnome said:
What have I told you about using Ouija boards?

Speaking French (doh!) and German, the weird name of these yesyes boards intrigued me.

So I looked up google, and found this, which is quite interesting.

E.C. Reiche, Elijah Bond, and Charles Kennard ... created an all new alphanumeric design. They spread the letters of the alphabet in twin arcs across the middle of the board. Below the letters were the numbers one to ten. In the corners were "YES" and "NO."

Kennard called the new board Ouija (pronounced 'wE-ja) after the Egyptian word for good luck. Ouija is not really Egyptian for good luck, but since the board reportedly told him it was during a session, the name stuck.*

Kennard lost his company and it was taken over by his former foreman, William Fuld, in 1892.

One of William Fuld's first public relations gimmicks, as master of his new company, was to reinvent the history of the Ouija board. He said that he himself had invented the board and that the name Ouija was a fusion of the French word "oui" for yes, and the German "ja" for yes.*

So, I just wonder... Was the Greyhawk godess Wee-Jas named after ouija boards? Should her name be pronounced "Weeya"?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Well Gez...

A long introduction to a short question there;)

As the deity under consideration here was an invention of Len Lakofka, I can't speak to the source for his creative thinking or to the matter of how her name is pronounced...other than to note that Len said "Wee-Jaz," with a slight stress on the first syllable.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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