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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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grodog

Adventurer
Some Tsojcanth questions!

Hi Gary---

Unrelated to the Yggsburgh and CZ focus of late (I'm glad to hear that you and Rob are continuing forward with the project!), I have a couple logistical questions about Tsojcanth for you. In particular, I've been trying to piece together how best to show the relationships between the Greater and Lesser Caverns, as well as all of the little nook-and-cranny-style extra entrances, exits, chimneys, and what-not that you crammed into Iggwilv's mountain :D

I have some maps online at:


Do the maps roughly capture how you imagined the levels looking in relation to one another? If not, do you have any pointers on how to revise the maps to better reflect the environment?

Also, did you even design an underwater level for this module in your home games? You hint at it several times in the adventure that it seems like you'd already designed such a level, but perhaps cut it out of the published version due to time- or size-of-book considerations or somesuch.

Thanks!
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Hi Gary---

Unrelated to the Yggsburgh and CZ focus of late (I'm glad to hear that you and Rob are continuing forward with the project!), I have a couple logistical questions about Tsojcanth for you. In particular, I've been trying to piece together how best to show the relationships between the Greater and Lesser Caverns, as well as all of the little nook-and-cranny-style extra entrances, exits, chimneys, and what-not that you crammed into Iggwilv's mountain :D

I have some maps online at:


Do the maps roughly capture how you imagined the levels looking in relation to one another? If not, do you have any pointers on how to revise the maps to better reflect the environment?

Also, did you even design an underwater level for this module in your home games? You hint at it several times in the adventure that it seems like you'd already designed such a level, but perhaps cut it out of the published version due to time- or size-of-book considerations or somesuch.

Thanks!
Howdy!

I looked at the rough maps, and they look all right, pretty well along the lines I had envisaged;)

I did not do a formal map, but I did have some adventuring upon an underground "sea" which was associated with the Lost Caverns. Not having an actual map allowed me complete freedom to innovate.

Cheers.
Gary
 

teitan

Legend
thufur said:
Any ideas what has happened to Carl Sargent or is that even in your purview of knowledge? Am I correct about an auto accident and he is now unavailable for comment? I guess I'm asking because its good clean fun reading boards/blogs from you, Frank and Wolfgang Baur, and I think he would be a great resource if he was available.

Bringing up an old post here but thought the original poster may still be wondering: I have never heard anything about an auto accident (are you thinkin of Bill Mantlo who used to write the Hulk, Alpha Flight etc for marvel?) but the last known works of Carl Sargent were books on the occult as he is a practicing occultist and author. Fas as I know (2001) he is is fine.

Jason
 


francisca

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
I think it best if I ignore puns for a time, or else I'll have angry villager gamers storming my abode...

Cheers,
Gary
Not so, my comment was meant ingest. :p

(unless you have shrink wrapped copies of the original boxed set laying about, then I might be reaching for a pitchfork....)
 

Orius

Hero
Col_Pladoh said:
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;)

I think it's really a matter of how experienced the DM is. I used to prepare heavily detailed notes like the adventure note I saw in Dungeon and the few published modules I had when I started DMing back in the days of 2e. That's what I read, and that's the way I figured it was supposed to be done. But more recently, my notes have become more sketchy, as I find it much easier in preparation to only note the important stuff, for example with an encounter, I'll list stuff like hps or weapons which ar emore variable, while referring to the Monster Manual otherwise rather than writing down full stat blocks. Also, when I come up with a scenario, I have a general idea of how things are supposed to work, so I don't need to prepare long detailed notes of stuff that's already in my head.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
francisca said:
Not so, my comment was meant ingest. :p

(unless you have shrink wrapped copies of the original boxed set laying about, then I might be reaching for a pitchfork....)
You will go on ad nauseum. I can't swallow any more puns, even if done for a lark :mad:

Gary
 


grodog

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
I looked at the rough maps, and they look all right, pretty well along the lines I had envisaged;)

Thanks :D

I did not do a formal map, but I did have some adventuring upon an underground "sea" which was associated with the Lost Caverns. Not having an actual map allowed me complete freedom to innovate.

That makes perfect sense. Was the underground sea an area that Iggwilv used, or more of a hidden sub-level? If the latter, surely Iggwilv must have had some other lairs then, since there's no living quarters, guard posts, conjuring rooms, laboratories, etc. in the Greater or Lesser Caverns.

How's the underground sea differ from the Black Reservoir beneath Castle Greyhawk?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Thanks :D
That makes perfect sense. Was the underground sea an area that Iggwilv used, or more of a hidden sub-level? If the latter, surely Iggwilv must have had some other lairs then, since there's no living quarters, guard posts, conjuring rooms, laboratories, etc. in the Greater or Lesser Caverns.

How's the underground sea differ from the Black Reservoir beneath Castle Greyhawk?
Well, Iggwilv could be anywhere it seemed a good place for her to have living or other sort of quarters :eek: If the party were sufficiently strong, they could indeed have an encounter with that lovely lady... :lol:

As for the underground sea think of it more as what would be encountered from further explorations in the D# module, part of the great Underdark. The Black Reservoir level is tiny compred to the former body of water, and the reservoir is filled with large supporting pillars too...although the sea monster dwelling in its waters doesn't mind the obstructions :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Tav_Behemoth

First Post
Col., if the mists of wonder-crowded memory allow, could you confirm or deny some speculation about the origins of the mind flayer?

In an interview with Planewalker.com, Charles Stross said that his idea for the the githyanki & githzerai, that they had been bred as slave races by the mind flayers, was inspired by Larry Niven's World of Ptaavs. He suggested that whoever created the mind flayers (which I assume to have been your eminent self) might have been was inspired by Niven as well.

The similarities between Niven's Thrint, or Slavers, and mind flayers are that both are powerful telepaths & mind-controllers with tentacled faces (see Wayne Barlowe's interpretation). Knowing the depth of your reading in SF & fantasy, I imagine you might have read Niven World of Ptaavs back in '66 or so -- especially since I've been told that, back in the day, there was so little of "the good stuff" being published that fans could & did read everything they could get their hands on. And I've seen some evidence that Niven was in the minds of early D&D folks in the form of a cool old Erol Otus booklet of creatures and magic items that featured a Slaver disintegration rifle.

Any link between this great D&D monster and the great Known Space universe would, of course, only increase my admiration for your syncretic genius.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tav_Behemoth said:
Col., if the mists of wonder-crowded memory allow, could you confirm or deny some speculation about the origins of the mind flayer?

In an interview with Planewalker.com, Charles Stross said that his idea for the the githyanki & githzerai, that they had been bred as slave races by the mind flayers, was inspired by Larry Niven's World of Ptaavs. He suggested that whoever created the mind flayers (which I assume to have been your eminent self) might have been was inspired by Niven as well.

The similarities between Niven's Thrint, or Slavers, and mind flayers are that both are powerful telepaths & mind-controllers with tentacled faces (see Wayne Barlowe's interpretation). Knowing the depth of your reading in SF & fantasy, I imagine you might have read Niven World of Ptaavs back in '66 or so -- especially since I've been told that, back in the day, there was so little of "the good stuff" being published that fans could & did read everything they could get their hands on. And I've seen some evidence that Niven was in the minds of early D&D folks in the form of a cool old Erol Otus booklet of creatures and magic items that featured a Slaver disintegration rifle.

Any link between this great D&D monster and the great Known Space universe would, of course, only increase my admiration for your syncretic genius.
Well...

No need to speculate, for I can set forth the process in a few words. Larry Niven's writing had nothing to do with the creation of the Illithid race for the AD&D game.

I happened to be thinking of devising a new terrible race if creatures inimical to humans, and my eye fell upon a paperback book authored by Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath. The cover illustration was of a bipedal monster with a head resembling a squid or an octopus. Voila!


That was a perfect model for an underground-dwelling race of fiendish predators on humankins, and thus the mind flayer was born.

I made up all the details of the race, of course, they being a form of AD&D monster.

BTW, the drow were inspired by no more than a dictionaly listing for the name as "dark elves," and i made up the kuo-toa out of whole cloth so as to have another underground race on distinctly non-human sort.

Cheers,
Gary
 

StupidSmurf

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Well...

No need to speculate, for I can set forth the process in a few words. Larry Niven's writing had nothing to do with the creation of the Illithid race for the AD&D game.

I happened to be thinking of devising a new terrible race if creatures inimical to humans, and my eye fell upon a paperback book authored by Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath. The cover illustration was of a bipedal monster with a head resembling a squid or an octopus. Voila!


That was a perfect model for an underground-dwelling race of fiendish predators on humankins, and thus the mind flayer was born.

I made up all the details of the race, of course, they being a form of AD&D monster.

BTW, the drow were inspired by no more than a dictionaly listing for the name as "dark elves," and i made up the kuo-toa out of whole cloth so as to have another underground race on distinctly non-human sort.

Cheers,
Gary

I get a kick out of finding out behind the scenes stuff like this. Thanks, Gary!

Incidentally, for the longest time, whenever I saw an illustration of a mind flayer, the phrase "Cthulhu fthgan" would run through my head ;)
 

mythusmage

Banned
Banned
As I recall H.P. Lovecraft and Brian Lumley were near contemporriies, and the horror/weird stories crowd back then was about as tight as the RPG crowd today. Most everybody knew most everybody else and corresponded a great deal. Hell, Howard wrote more in the way of letters than he ever did fiction. :) So it's very likely the two played off of one another. Much like Green Ronin and The Game Mechanics do today.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
StupidSmurf said:
I get a kick out of finding out behind the scenes stuff like this. Thanks, Gary!

Incidentally, for the longest time, whenever I saw an illustration of a mind flayer, the phrase "Cthulhu fthgan" would run through my head ;)
Welcome:)

As a matter of fact I have been a fan of HPL and those who developed his mythos for some decades now, so you were on target :cool:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Indeed, Alan,

The circle of those who wrote in the mythos originated by HPL was generally close. Even those at the fringes seemed to have been careful to stay within bounds and not add anything that was antithetical to Lovecraft's vision.

Cheers,
Gary
 

mythusmage

Banned
Banned
Col_Pladoh said:
Indeed, Alan,

The circle of those who wrote in the mythos originated by HPL was generally close. Even those at the fringes seemed to have been careful to stay within bounds and not add anything that was antithetical to Lovecraft's vision.

Cheers,
Gary

Being in on the joke helped a lot.
 

StupidSmurf

First Post
I'm a big HPL fan as well. And speaking of that circle of writers, I know that often times HP and friends would insert slightly altered versions of each other's names into their stories as the protagonists. For instance, one of Lovecraft's stories has "Robert Blake". ;) Naturally, I can't remember offhand which one it is.

I just about plotzed when the Deities and Demigods hardcover book came out with the AD&D stats for the Cthulhu mythos. Every once in a while I just couldn't resist sticking in a Mythos creature in one of my AD&D adventures!
 

ScottyG

First Post
I wrote a mini-adventure based on the Mountains of Madness that included some of HPL's creations. The party was teleported to a frozen, ruined city from my version of the Greyhawk Dungeons, and had to find a way back before freezing, or being eaten by a shoggoth or some other nasty.
Scott
 

VirgilCaine

First Post
StupidSmurf said:
I'm a big HPL fan as well. And speaking of that circle of writers, I know that often times HP and friends would insert slightly altered versions of each other's names into their stories as the protagonists. For instance, one of Lovecraft's stories has "Robert Blake". ;) Naturally, I can't remember offhand which one it is.

I just about plotzed when the Deities and Demigods hardcover book came out with the AD&D stats for the Cthulhu mythos. Every once in a while I just couldn't resist sticking in a Mythos creature in one of my AD&D adventures!

Robert Bloch?

While we're on the subject of monster origins, where did the Rakshasha come from?
 

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