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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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ciao Mistere29,

Actualy, about 80% of the game action in my old GH campaign centered on the castle and dungeons and in city adventures. Wilderness adventuring covered the balance of what wasn't published in various modules from TSR. The dungeon-centricity of the campaign was by popular demand, and that's why there were so many levels and side adventures based off of encounters in the depths;)

As for your LA game campaign, why not go with what most appeals to you, what you feel confortable with and have a lot of fun with? This will generally translate to the players enjoying things, for your enthusiasm will be contageous.

In my own game I don't hesitate to use a published module now and again so as to change the pace from my style to that of another--a bit at least.

Come on back if that doesn't cover it.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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schnee

First Post
Gary,

I started RPGs twenty years ago, with the first D&D Basic box set. Thanks for all the fun, and I'm glad to see you still designing games.

I'm a relatively new DM, and about to run a group through the Return to the Tomb of Horrors. Do you have any specific DM advice you can offer? Things to avoid? Encouragement? We generated characters specifically for this adventure (I warned them not to get too attached, hehe) and I told them they're in for a wild ride.

*** SPOILER for those who haven't run the Tomb of Horrors

Also, a few of the traps seem to kill the players on chance alone rather than stupidity or lack of forethought... I'm thinking specifically about the green slime tapestries in the mechanical 'bucking bronco' room. What was the rationale for having that trap? Is that a 'test of character' that I'm just not seeing?

*** END SPOILER

Thanks.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Howdy Schnee,

Don't confuse the RttToH, which I did not write, with the original ToH. In the latter there are no mechanical bucking broncos or green slime tapestries. Of course the incautious will find plenty of certain death opportunities in the original adventure...

Only the most veteran of my group attempted to explore the ToH with their regular PCs. Son Ernie and Terry Kuntz retreated when they discovered how difficult and deadly a dungeon their PC faced. Rob Kuntz with PC Robilar made it to the end, losing some dozen or so orc troops along the initial route, and when faced with the rising skull of the demi-lich did the logical thing for his character--scoooped up the treasure and retreated in utmost haste. Note all of those forays were by single PCs, Robilar accompanied by flunkies.

A number of large parties of PCs made the journey into the tomb, some with many survivors, and two I know of defeated the demi-lich. The most innovative solution was by a tournament group that used the reverse end of the scepter to touch the crown gained with it in the throne room. When the skull arose one of the PCs popped the crown on it, another used the scepter, and the demi-lich was powder. Russ Stambaugh was their DM, and when he told me what they had managed to pull off, I awarded them first place hands down.

The adventure is meant to be deadly, kill off all the unwary PCs, and make the survivors paranoid. It is best played with characters created for the adventure, not the regulars in a campaign, as the ToH is unforgiving and often results in TPK.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Altalazar

First Post
Greetings Gary,

I have played for over 20 years, starting with the light blue Basic Set. I've always loved the game and wish I could play much more regularly than I do these days - with full time (and then some) work and law school at night, I seldom have time for anything resembling fun.

Which brings me to my rather unusual question - since I am studying law now, I decided to use the tools at my disposal to satisfy my curiosity and looked up all of your old cases that are now catalogued - the rulings, that is.

I have read also your account of the "history" of TSR and the lawsuits mentioned therein. I was curious just what was most memorable or not about the suits and what it made you think of the civil court system going through them. I guess as a law student and a gamer, I'm fascinated when the two worlds meet. It seems strange to think of a judge talking about gaming terms - but then I see it in the case. I imagine the judge was rather clueless about what gaming even was. Did you find that to be the case?

I realize this is a rather open-ended, perhaps pointless question, but I just couldn't resist asking.

(And now I wonder if anyone, anywhere has roleplayed an actual "lawyer" character. :) )

Oh, and thanks for creating the game that started it all. I have had so many fun times over the years as the result of that first seed.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Hi Altalazar,

The suit I filed against TSR, Williams, et al. was for compliance with the terms of the Shareholders' Agreement regarding buying and selling stock. Judge Reed who presided over that fiasco was clearly unaware of contract law, so it is a good thing he didn't have to know anything about games. As i understand it, he was the most appealed judge in the State of Wisconsin. Shortly after hearing my case election time rolled around, and he lost his bid for retaining his office. What rankled me a good deal was that the judge grew up one door north and across one street from me. He was about five years older than I, and when i was about 10 years old he and two of his buddies strong-armed me out of a BB pistol. then sent me and my friend running by shoting at us with a 410 shotgun blast...

The suit filed by TSR against us for the Dangerous Journeys game system never got to trial. We were indeed concerned about the capacity of the judge to understand the RP game form, my legal counsel was very knowledgeable, felt no normal judge would be able to grasp the matter. I suppose that's why they insisted we settle out of court, take the money and run.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Son_of_Thunder

Explorer
Epiphany!

Gary,

Holy smokes!!! This quote from yourself on page two is exactly how I've been feeling lately.

"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"

At 33 years of age I've found myself going back to my OAD&D books more than my new edition books. When did you say your hardback for LA was coming out?

Son of Thunder
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Son_of_Thunder said:
Gary,

Holy smokes!!! This quote from yourself on page two is exactly how I've been feeling lately.

Howdy!

I suppose that enjoy being free to innovate as they run adventures share that sentiment, yes... ;)

Anwyay, I've edited the quote below so that it reads more coherently, I hope:

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


At 33 years of age I've found myself going back to my OAD&D books more than my new edition books. When did you say your hardback for LA was coming out?

Son of Thunder

Well, despite your tender years it is apparent that you are a confident Game Master with a desire to have the adventure matter more than rule-playing does.

Before the hardback LA core rules books are published I want to have two paperback supplements released, so that those with the softcover version don't feel they are beingforced to buy a whole new set of books. As it stands the supplements will be published next year, so that means the revised hardcover LA core rules books will be released late in 2005 or 2006.

Cheers,
Gary
 

RFisher

Explorer
Gary,

I always wondered about Gord's special abilities that you described in the appendix to the first novel. (If I recall correctly: +1 to hit/damage w/ longsword & dagger, no penalties for dual-weilding, was that it?) Are these only there because you were writing fiction, or would you let PCs have this sort of thing?

Another completely unrelated thing I wondered about recently: In the early days, when Rob DMed for you, were you typically the only player? It seems like nearly all of the tales I recall of your PCs don't feature anyone else's PCs.

I was thinking of asking what question you get asked the most. Then I thought it might be more interesting to ask: What is a question you hardly ever get asked that you think should be asked more often?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
RFisher said:
Gary,

I always wondered about Gord's special abilities that you described in the appendix to the first novel. (If I recall correctly: +1 to hit/damage w/ longsword & dagger, no penalties for dual-weilding, was that it?) Are these only there because you were writing fiction, or would you let PCs have this sort of thing?

The last time I read that particular book was about 15 years ago, so I confess to no memory of the special capacities I noted for Gord. That said, they can be easily explained by sword specialization. ambedexterity, and the fact that his father was a deity;) You can bet your last buck that I didn't allow that sort of thing for a PC...

Another completely unrelated thing I wondered about recently: In the early days, when Rob DMed for you, were you typically the only player? It seems like nearly all of the tales I recall of your PCs don't feature anyone else's PCs.

Because Rob was kind enough to DM for me when I was working at home, about half of the adventures I enjoyed were single player--me playing one or more, usually more, of my PCs. the remainder of play was with one or more other persons, on occasion a dozen or more, so I can play just about any way. the tales I recount are generally those of more memorable sort--easy when only one person is making the decisions and those decisions turn out very well or most unfortunate...

I was thinking of asking what question you get asked the most. Then I thought it might be more interesting to ask: What is a question you hardly ever get asked that you think should be asked more often?

You found just the right question, one that I am interested in answering too!
If nobody has asked, who cares what I think about something not sufficiently interesting to others to have inquired about? ;)

Oh all right: Do I enjoy killing PCs when I GM? A The answer is definately not in the least, especially if they belong to regular players. there I do all I can to prevent such loss without directly intervening in players' actions for their characters. However, rather like playing "giveaway checkers," such a session can be fun and challenging as a convention game where arbitrary means of having characters meet their demise are out of the question. The last session I played like that was at GenCon 2002, and darned if one of the nine PCS didn't manage to save her PC from death, so the team beat me as the GM.

Heh,
Gary
 

schnee

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Don't confuse the RttToH, which I did not write, with the original ToH. In the latter there are no mechanical bucking broncos or green slime tapestries.
Ah, my apologies for not being specific enough. The question I asked was about the original Tomb of Horrors (wholly contained within RttToH). The room I mentioned is #21, 'The Agitated Chamber'; it contains the tapestries and floor I speak of. After thinking about it a bit, I guess they're traps for players who lose sight of their intended goal - looting instead of trying to find and slay the great evil.

Thanks for the anecdotes - using the sceptre and crown is brillant! I hope my players are as clever.
 

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