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
schnee said:
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.

...

Ah, yes of course. the"mechanical bull" reference threw me off. The room where the movement will rip the tapestries if being handled, cause them to revert to their actual material, green slime, is exactly as you discerned, a trap for greedy PCs who have lost sight of their mission.

I have a sheet posted for my players that says: "FOCUS: MISSION, GOAL, OBJECTIVES, Strategy, Tactics, Logistics" ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Melkor

Explorer
A system question regarding AD&D

Hi Gary,

I wanted to pick your brain for some knowledge of the Surprise and Initiative systems in AD&D 1st Edition. Here are my thoughts on how it works, would you mind pointing out there errors and clarifying some of my points that may be a little off ?

Thanks in advance for your time!

Surprise:
Both sides roll surprise....If one side is surprised, and the other is not...The score of the higher is subtracted from the lower to determine how many segments the losing side is surprised, based on the table in both the PHB and the DMG.

If both sides are surprised, the same occurs to determine which side (if any) gets actions before the other, and how many segments of action the "winning" side gets.

During surprise, characters can get a full round's worth of action in only a segment's time - and possibly double the rate of fire for missile weapons.

Initiative:
Spellcasting is done independantly from initiative. A spell's segment determines where in the round the commencement of the spell takes place, in regards to weapon attacks and other spellcasters.

Spellcasting must be announced prior to rolling for initiative.

A character attacking a spellcaster may lose initiative, but still complete his attack before the the spell is cast. Subtract the fighter's sides initiative roll from the weapon speed of the fighter's weapon. If the result is higher than the spell's segment time, the attack takes place AFTER the spell commences. If the result is the same as the casting time, the attack is simultaneous with the casting of the spell. If the result is lower than the spell's casting segment, the attack happens before the spell can be cast, in which case a successfull, or "non-saved" attack causes the spell to fail.

Other than the above scenario, weapon speed is only used when simultaneous initiative is rolled after the initial round of combat (A weapon's speed does not apply to the initial round of combat), in which case it determines which opponent strikes first. The faster weapon speed is then compared to the slower to determine if the faster weapon gets additional (Extra) attacks before the slower weapon gets it's attack. If the weapon speed of the slower weapon is at least twice as much (or 5 factors more) the speed of the faster weapon, the character with the faster weapon gets two attacks. If it is 10 or more, the character with the faster weapon gets two attacks before, and one attack simultaneous with the slower-weaponed character.

In the case of a weapon set against charge, the initiative is automatically given to the character with the weapon set against an onrushing opponent.

A fighter able to strike more than once during a round will attack once before opponents with only a single attack. A fighter with multiple attacks fighting another fighter with multiple attacks uses initiative to tell who attacks first.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Melkor said:
Hi Gary,

I wanted to pick your brain for some knowledge of the Surprise and Initiative systems in AD&D 1st Edition. Here are my thoughts on how it works, would you mind pointing out there errors and clarifying some of my points that may be a little off ?

Thanks in advance for your time!

Hi Melkor:)

Those are some lengthy and very well-phrased questions. Thanks for the latter, as it maked answering easy.

Surprise:
...

Your understanding is correct.

Initiative:
Spellcasting is done independantly from initiative. A spell's segment determines where in the round the commencement of the spell takes place, in regards to weapon attacks and other spellcasters.

Spellcasting must be announced prior to rolling for initiative.

...

Yes, as the spell-caster announces intent first, that means he is commencing the activation of the spell at the beginning of the round, so initiative does not affect that.

As for the rest you are also correct.


Other than the above scenario, weapon speed is only used when simultaneous initiative is rolled after the initial round of combat (A weapon's speed does not apply to the initial round of combat),

Where initiative is equal the longer weapon strikes first in the initial round.

in which case it determines which opponent strikes first. The faster weapon speed is then compared to the slower to determine if the faster weapon gets additional (Extra) attacks before the slower weapon gets it's attack. If the weapon speed of the slower weapon is at least twice as much (or 5 factors more) the speed of the faster weapon, the character with the faster weapon gets two attacks. If it is 10 or more, the character with the faster weapon gets two attacks before, and one attack simultaneous with the slower-weaponed character.

We seldom used this rule, but yes, that is correct.

In the case of a weapon set against charge, the initiative is automatically given to the character with the weapon set against an onrushing opponent.

The exception to this would be where the onrushing opponent has a longer weapon--a lancer versus an opponent with a short pole-arm or spear of 8' or less length.

[/QUOTE]A fighter able to strike more than once during a round will attack once before opponents with only a single attack. A fighter with multiple attacks fighting another fighter with multiple attacks uses initiative to tell who attacks first.[/QUOTE]

Yes, that is correct, but when two opponents with two attacks each are concerned, the one with initiative strikes first, then the slower responds, the initiative holder attacks a second time, followed by the second attack of the slower combatant. A third attack by both follows that sequence. If only one had a third attack it would follow the last of the second exchange.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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Melkor

Explorer
Thanks for the response Gary.
I appreciate you taking the time to address one of the "tricky" parts of AD&D that has left a question mark in my mind for years.

A few follow-up 1st Edition questions if I may:

How many of the rules in the original Unearthed Arcana, Wilderness Survival Guide, and Dungeoneer's Survival Guide made their way into your campaigns (Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that only a limited amount of material found in UA was actually written by you) ?

Did you use Ability/Attribute checks in your campaigns, or did you assign an arbitrary percent chance to activities that the character might attempt which were not covered by class abilities ?

How did you handle situations where a character of one class (say Fighter) was attempting to use Move Silently or Climb Walls - Two situations that when taken literally (i.e. - the Thief can Move with ABSOLUTE SILENCE whereas someone else might attempt to move stealthily, and the Thief can climb SHEER SURFACES wheras someone else might climb a rough cliff, or a tree), would mean that only the Thief could attempt them, but when looked at in a broader fashion, might be allowed for a character of any class ?

How were "Secondary Skills" used in your campaigns ? Did you just allow a bonus when making an Ability Check if the character posessed a relevant Secondary Skills ?

And finally, in the years you have had to look back upon 1st Edition, are there any specific things that you would have changed about the system if you had the opportunity to revise it ?

Thanks again Gary!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Melkor said:
Thanks for the response Gary.
I appreciate you taking the time to address one of the "tricky" parts of AD&D that has left a question mark in my mind for years.

A few follow-up 1st Edition questions if I may:

Groan! Seeing as how you are so polite, how can I refuse? So even though I am in the modst of detailing a dungeon level's encounters I'll break for a bvit and respond.

How many of the rules in the original Unearthed Arcana, Wilderness Survival Guide, and Dungeoneer's Survival Guide made their way into your campaigns (Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that only a limited amount of material found in UA was actually written by you) ?

All of the material in UA was mainly of my creation, gathered from articles I wrote in Dragon magazine. virtually oll of that material was used in my campaign, much of it before the book was published. I never used anything from the other two books, though, the survival guides.

Did you use Ability/Attribute checks in your campaigns, or did you assign an arbitrary percent chance to activities that the character might attempt which were not covered by class abilities ?

If a player wanted a character to do something not covered by class but otherwise logically possible I would usually have a check rolled against the associated ability, with a bonus or penalty depending on the action and the difficulty rating I considered applicable. the rolls were made on d20 against the ability, as adjusted, a score of at or under the number arrived at meaninga success.

How did you handle situations where a character of one class (say Fighter) was attempting to use Move Silently or Climb Walls - Two situations that when taken literally (i.e. - the Thief can Move with ABSOLUTE SILENCE whereas someone else might attempt to move stealthily, and the Thief can climb SHEER SURFACES wheras someone else might climb a rough cliff, or a tree), would mean that only the Thief could attempt them, but when looked at in a broader fashion, might be allowed for a character of any class ?

Generally common sense was applied. A fighter in metal armor can't move silently, but without that impediment a Dex ability roll with modifiers for surface and/or footwear, would be called for. Same for climbing, metal armor makes that almost impossible, plate particularly so. When climbing or some like activity, was required for a group, I set a probability for all non-thieves, and had each player roll for his PC. The check might have been on any die; for example jumping over a crevass might use d6, a 6 meaning a failure, or a d10 with 9-0 or only 0 a failure. Again, arbitrary perhaps, but based on common sense. the main idea was to convey the sense of danger with a reasonable chance for success, perhaps a more than reasonable one for the sake of the game;)

How were "Secondary Skills" used in your campaigns ? Did you just allow a bonus when making an Ability Check if the character posessed a relevant Secondary Skills ?

Most of my players ignored such opportunities, being contyent to focus on activities of their PC class. When someone wanted to include secondary skills I'd allow them to choose from the list or make up their own. Application was automatic if a simple use, otherwise a chack against an applicable ability score was made, modified as needed by difficulty and circumstances.

And finally, in the years you have had to look back upon 1st Edition, are there any specific things that you would have changed about the system if you had the opportunity to revise it ?

Thanks again Gary!

Water under the bridge is long gone, and there's little benefit in analyzing the distant flow. For my current thinking in regards to FRPG system excellence, I refer you to the Lejendary Adventure game :cool:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Melkor

Explorer
Thanks Gary.

Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions....I know you are "up to your elbows" in dungeon design at the moment, which strangely, is exactly what I picture the creator of D&D should be doing at any given time of the day or night. ;)

I own an early printing of the 3 LA books, and I plan on purchasing the version Troll Lord releases. So while I plan on supporting the line, I haven't had a chance to actually play the game.

Take care, and good luck with your current projects.

Cheers.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Welcome Melkor:)

If you want to give the LA system a test, go on over to www.lejendary.com and download the free pdf that is available there, "LA Quickstart Rules." It is a complete product, with instructions, rules, six pre-generated Avatar characters, and a good adventure for the Lejend master to run.

Now back to pipulating an underground lake;)

Cheers,
Gary
 
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Whitey

First Post
Happy GM's day.

If anybody should get special kind wishes today, it's you - and if there's anybody who can really answer this question, it's you.
Beyond 'everybody has a good time', what would you say are the five most important elements of a dungeon/campaign/quest? You should answer that as broadly or specifically as you like.
It'll give us something to think about here while we're waiting on Castle Zagyg.
 

solomanii

Explorer
I just finished re-reading Descent into the Depths of the Earth. One thing I really like about GG modules is the unbelievable attention to the treasure. Not sure if you customised each one or if its all random, but I love the little touches. Instead of saying 1 Diamond and 400pp we get 143pp, 29gp and a delicate brooch shaped like a small spider.

Did you do this on purpose or was it random?

I also liked how even some of the random encounters and "grunt" patrols all had unique spells or items and small stories ("the female and male patrols are competitive").

Its this kind of attention to detail you don’t see so often in modern modules anymore.
 

mistere29

First Post
solomanii said:
I just finished re-reading Descent into the Depths of the Earth. One thing I really like about GG modules is the unbelievable attention to the treasure. Not sure if you customised each one or if its all random, but I love the little touches. Instead of saying 1 Diamond and 400pp we get 143pp, 29gp and a delicate brooch shaped like a small spider.

Did you do this on purpose or was it random?

I also liked how even some of the random encounters and "grunt" patrols all had unique spells or items and small stories ("the female and male patrols are competitive").

Its this kind of attention to detail you don’t see so often in modern modules anymore.

dude, the thread is here now

http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=76849
 

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