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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.

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Just in case some reader here thinks it odd to create on the fly as Rob and I usuall are want to do:

The main difference between formal creation of material and doing it as one serves in the role of GM is spontenaity, that allowing the material created on the spot to beter suit the player group ad the situation at hand. Otherwise one must set forth the material to be played and recite it more or less verbatim, forcing the group to its mold. the creative demand is muc the same, but the free-style method usually allows fo more enjoyment b all participants.

I recommend it to all GMs able to manage such playing style :D

Cheerio,
Gary
 

dcas

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
I recommend it to all GMs able to manage such playing style :D
Well, not everyone can manage that style. I can (poorly!) and I have found it more to my taste than working from extensive notes. I usually lose track of extensive notes anyway, so if I work on the fly I at least spare my players the bother of waiting for me to find something. ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
dcas said:
Well, not everyone can manage that style. I can (poorly!) and I have found it more to my taste than working from extensive notes. I usually lose track of extensive notes anyway, so if I work on the fly I at least spare my players the bother of waiting for me to find something. ;)
Heh...

Seems to me that you doth protest too much, and despite meaning to use prepared material resort to winging it so as to keep the game lively and enjoyable. In short, it seems you can do it pretty well :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

francisca

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
Speaking of which:

Charlemagne mustard his Franks
To assault and pepper the Saracens with relish,
But they couldn't catchup.
Some think that pun is the wurst,
But I think it is a wiener.

Gary
Now, why'd you have to go and drag my forefathers into the fray? :]

Would be cheddar if you paid fromage to them, but not like so:

The Franks were the most barbarous and uncouth of all the Teutonic races, and they covered the shortest distance; they were ruled for 250 years by the Merovings, the most bloody and ineffectual dynasty which has ever disgraced a nation, and yet in spite of that they gave their name to the finest flower of mediavel Europe.
--Ewart Oakeshott, The Archaeology of Weapons​
Of course, old Ewart was a bit of a blow-hard.
 

Clangador

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Just in case some reader here thinks it odd to create on the fly as Rob and I usuall are want to do:

The main difference between formal creation of material and doing it as one serves in the role of GM is spontenaity, that allowing the material created on the spot to beter suit the player group ad the situation at hand. Otherwise one must set forth the material to be played and recite it more or less verbatim, forcing the group to its mold. the creative demand is muc the same, but the free-style method usually allows fo more enjoyment b all participants.

I recommend it to all GMs able to manage such playing style :D

Cheerio,
Gary
I don't think it's odd. It's just not the same play style as running a canned adventure. I find what you guys did when the game was young very interesting. Do you use the same format when running tourny adventures?
 

StupidSmurf

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Just in case some reader here thinks it odd to create on the fly as Rob and I usuall are want to do:

The main difference between formal creation of material and doing it as one serves in the role of GM is spontenaity, that allowing the material created on the spot to beter suit the player group ad the situation at hand. Otherwise one must set forth the material to be played and recite it more or less verbatim, forcing the group to its mold. the creative demand is muc the same, but the free-style method usually allows fo more enjoyment b all participants.

I recommend it to all GMs able to manage such playing style :D

Cheerio,
Gary
I for one don't consider it odd to create on the fly. In some cases, it's a necessity, particularly if the players aren't forbidden from venturing "off the game board". In my current campaign, I had designed an ancestral keep which the characters would need to explore. In the deepest undercellar I put a fault line on the floor that plunged down into a 320' deep chasm. I didn't flesh it out because I thought, "No way are they going to be so insane as to deviate from their pressing task just to check out some stupid deep fissure!" So I just made a notation that a "bunch of grimlocks" dwelled down at the bottom, and left it at that. Didn't even write up their stats.

Sure enough...guess where they went? :lol: Some people think SOP stands for Standard Operational Procedure. When I'm running D&D, it stands for Seat Of Pants. In my humble opinion, any DM who says that the players' characters can "go anywhere and do anything", had darn well better be able to create on the fly. :]
 


haakon1

Adventurer
dcas said:
Well, not everyone can manage that style. I can (poorly!) and I have found it more to my taste than working from extensive notes.
Me too. I also like to have dungeons that are not written "exclusively" to fit the party at hand, more of a feel of "the world goes on with or without you".

I also use the fact that other adventuring parties are in the same campaign world to my advantage in building verisimilitude -- so much so that in a recent session, my scared players assumed the slain NPC party they were hired to recover the party of must be real PC's.

Anyhow, back to the point . . . winging is fun, but written down is fun too. And winging is way easier in Gary's versions of the game than in 3.0/3.5, for which I feel compelled to scribble a page of notes before introducing a group of kobolds. Not kidding, sadly . . . better written Monster Manuals that don't require looking up stuff outside of the entry (such as by defining "Undead Traits" or "Light Sensitivity" with each creature having those features would help).
 

Agback

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
The main difference between formal creation of material and doing it as one serves in the role of GM is spontenaity, that allowing the material created on the spot to beter suit the player group ad the situation at hand.
It's a case of making up on the swings what you lose on the roundabouts. A thoroughly prepared adventure gives you more time to think, an opportunity to work out the details of a fiendishly elaborate dilemma, or a spectacularly intricate set piece. But on the other hand there is no way to know exactly what the situation is going to be, exactly what the mood is going to be, when the part does eventually get into Room 101. When it comes right down to it, there is no guarantee that a decision made late on Thursday night, after a bad day at work, slumped over your desk and caffeinated to the eyeballs is going to be better than a decision made late on Saturday night, in the heat of a torrid gaming session, but high on having fun and on form as a gamemaster.

The decider for me is that I have most fun if I plan the basics and wing the particulars. Preparation and extemporisation are complementary, especially if you let each do what it is good at.
 

Agback

Explorer
haakon1 said:
Me too. I also like to have dungeons that are not written "exclusively" to fit the party at hand, more of a feel of "the world goes on with or without you".
I agree, and that applies equally to adventures/locations/encounters that are prepared in detail as to ones that are made up on the fly.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
francisca said:
Now, why'd you have to go and drag my forefathers into the fray? :]

Would be cheddar if you paid fromage to them, but not like so:

Of course, old Ewart was a bit of a blow-hard.
I think it best if I ignore puns for a time, or else I'll have angry villager gamers storming my abode...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Clangador said:
I don't think it's odd. It's just not the same play style as running a canned adventure. I find what you guys did when the game was young very interesting. Do you use the same format when running tourny adventures?
When running a tournement we always used prepared material so as to have as much continuity as possible between GMs managing the competing groups. Inly in a final round was any innovation allowable...and used;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
StupidSmurf said:
I for one don't consider it odd to create on the fly. In some cases, it's a necessity, particularly if the players aren't forbidden from venturing "off the game board". In my current campaign, I had designed an ancestral keep which the characters would need to explore. In the deepest undercellar I put a fault line on the floor that plunged down into a 320' deep chasm. I didn't flesh it out because I thought, "No way are they going to be so insane as to deviate from their pressing task just to check out some stupid deep fissure!" So I just made a notation that a "bunch of grimlocks" dwelled down at the bottom, and left it at that. Didn't even write up their stats.

Sure enough...guess where they went? :lol: Some people think SOP stands for Standard Operational Procedure. When I'm running D&D, it stands for Seat Of Pants. In my humble opinion, any DM who says that the players' characters can "go anywhere and do anything", had darn well better be able to create on the fly. :]
Yes indeed! While I do often go with prepared material, especially when I am not feeling realy full of energy, the best game sessions are often those in which SOP was in fulll swing.

GMing on the fly is more demanding than is using prepared material, one's own or a published module, but the players generally really get into an extemporaneous adventure, as they are integral to its formation and direction.

Cheers,
Gary
 



Sledge

First Post
Recalling my early days with the Keep on the Borderlands (okay I know this isn't early to everyone here, but when I finally got that box I was in elementary school, so it's early, got it?) there was quite a bit explicitly spelled out for the dm to just add as desired. My map from the cover had a few areas I even penciled in as I went.
So I would say that until 3rd edition here I considered on the fly to be the only way to go. Now I still do it mostly on the fly and throw in a few prepped things and plundered materials to fill out stuff.
So don't let anyone tell you that anything but the seat of the pants is normal.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Sledge said:
Recalling my early days with the Keep on the Borderlands (okay I know this isn't early to everyone here, but when I finally got that box I was in elementary school, so it's early, got it?) there was quite a bit explicitly spelled out for the dm to just add as desired. My map from the cover had a few areas I even penciled in as I went.
So I would say that until 3rd edition here I considered on the fly to be the only way to go. Now I still do it mostly on the fly and throw in a few prepped things and plundered materials to fill out stuff.
So don't let anyone tell you that anything but the seat of the pants is normal.
Interesting:)

Of course most of the long-time DMs will have much experience in winging it even with modules, as that was assumed to be the normal way to run adventures for the first 10 or even 15 years of RPG play.

I suspect that newer GMs are more used to the hand-holding modules, prepare like material for their own campaigns.

That isn't all bad...as is the current notion amongst players that every encounter they meet is defeatable, that their PCs won't meet an untimely end unless they are ready to think carefully...or have their team flee in haste;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

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