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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
dcas said:
Yes, and if there were an LA version of Yggsburgh that would be just ducky.
As a matter of fact I am now using the CZY setting for my LA game campaigm, converting on the fly, and it is pretty easy. I agree, though, a formal conversion would serve a lot better. Sadly, I haven't the time to undertake suich a task for the foreseeable future. :heh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

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dcas

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
As a matter of fact I am now using the CZY setting for my LA game campaigm, converting on the fly, and it is pretty easy. I agree, though, a formal conversion would serve a lot better. Sadly, I haven't the time to undertake suich a task for the foreseeable future. :heh:
Ah, well, perhaps some kind soul will take it upon himself to stat out the NPCs and monsters and such for CZY. After all, it is a great setting even if one never delves into the Castle's dungeons.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
dcas said:
Ah, well, perhaps some kind soul will take it upon himself to stat out the NPCs and monsters and such for CZY. After all, it is a great setting even if one never delves into the Castle's dungeons.
Indeed, and if that is done likely the results will be posted on www.lejendary.com :D

Dungeon delving works fine using the LA agme system, but the GM can not arrange the levels as easily as is possible with a character-class-level-based one. so in that resp[ect there is more planning and thought necessary to develop a progressively more dangerous and demanding series of dungeon levels.

Maybe one of these days I'll find time to work up an essay on how to accomplish that. In part creature selection is a factor, but other considerations are necessary.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Edena_of_Neith

First Post
Edena_of_Neith here. Hey there, Gary. Another frivolous question from Yours Truly! :)

I never played the super-module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil.
But I finally obtained a copy (long ago) and had a look at it.
I saw, therein, a super-dungeon with 10 or so levels.

And I thought ...

One mage with a Rock to Mud could take out the whole place.
How?
He, being 10th level, casts Rock to Mud. This liquifies an area of 20 feet by 20 feet by 20 feet per level. So a 10th level mage could liquify 10 of these 20x20x20 foot cubes. He could thus liquify an area of rock equal to 60 feet x 60 feet x 20 feet with the spell.
He throws the spell on level 1 of the Temple of Elemental Evil, liquifying the 60x60x20 foot parcel of rock.
Most everyone and everything (except undead and the like) on level 2 drowns as a good part of level 1 melts onto them.
The mud then roars down the stairs into level 3 and wrecks the place, drowning half the monsters there. It flows down further stairways to become a real annoyance on level 4, a slight annoyance on level 5, and everything below level 5 is probably wondering what in Iuz's name just happened?
It is possible that some of the major structural support of the place goes, creating cave-ins that bury more of the Temple, and perhaps causing a cascading effect.

The mage then departs via Teleport, and (cautiously) returns the next day to continue the procedure, until the entire Temple is destroyed.

If there are two or more mages of 10th level or higher present, the destruction of the Temple of Elemental Evil via Rock to Mud is accelerated.
Of course, the 10th level mage probably took the time beforehand (having long planned his attack on the Temple of Elemental Evil) to prepare Scrolls with Rock to Mud written many times on them. Thus, his initial attack involves many Rock to Mud spells, most of level 1 of the Temple is destroyed, and the mudflow drowns most everything below level 1 right off the bat (assuming, the entire Temple down to level 10+ doesn't collapse from the sheer weight of the mud!)

This form of attack could also be used against Castle Greyhawk and other dungeons, it seems to me.
And it seems to me this tactic - although bad as far as retrieving treasure goes - is quite good for destroying an enemy target with minimal risk to the mage and his party.

-

My questions are:

Would this tactic work?
If yes, how would Mordenkainen (when he was 10th level) pull it off?
If no, then why wouldn't it work?
If yes, have you ever used this tactic or a variant of it?
If yes, have your players ever used this tactic or a variant of it?

Yours Sincerely
Edena_of_Neith
 
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Nathal

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
As a matter of fact I am now using the CZY setting for my LA game campaigm, converting on the fly, and it is pretty easy. I agree, though, a formal conversion would serve a lot better. Sadly, I haven't the time to undertake suich a task for the foreseeable future. :heh:

Cheers,
Gary
Why didn't you drop CZY right into Lejendary Earth and keep going from there? Are you taking a temporary break from Lerthe?
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Flatlanders are as you describe them...and they talk funny too. Betcha you talk funny :lol:

Actually, Flatlanders consider the locals as slack jawed villagers, while the locals think of the FLatlanders as stupid outsiders whose only saving grace is that they are spending money.

There is merit in both views.
That bit is the same as Vermont. As for talking funny, I find a lot of similarity between upstate NY, western MA, southern Vermont, southern Wisconsin, and western Washington State in the accent. Southern Wisconsin is probably the most different, but it's still in the "Standard American" accent zone between the central-southern Illinois butternut/copperhead stuff ("we have to 'may-zure' the damage to the 'ruff' after the tornado, to get the 'INsurance' to pay out") and the northern Wisconsin accent (like the movie "Fargo")

That's probably because so many New Yorkers historically spread westward at more or less the same latitude.

Col_Pladoh said:
Incidentally. my maternal family came to Wisconsin from Upstate NY, after landing in Rhode Island c. 1642. The terrain is rather similar, although Upstate NY has more rygged hills than is common in much of Wisconsin.

Terrain is a factor in RPGs, of course :p

Cheers,
Gary
It's debatable whether I'm from upstate NY. My hometown is only about 40 miles from NY, and 10 miles from the Atlantic. So, the City is sure we're upstate (and the accent is), but upstate thinks everything south of Albany is the city. And since we border on Connecticut and have close links to them, I think we're New England.

But rugged hills, we've sure got those. Terrain-wise, it's definitely Appalachia, from the Green Mountains, the Berkshires, the Taconic mountains, and even on the other side of the Hudson in the Catskills and the 'Gunks. But somehow, without the country music, it's just the Appalachian Trail that's officially Appalachian about it. :heh:

As for RPG tie-in . . . in the late 80's an illegal animal collector who was nearly caught once let a komodo dragon loose in our town . . . we got some weirdness overflow from NYC that day. The experts said it would die over the winter if it wasn't caught, but nobody should approach it. So, my two D&D friends and I grabbed some sturdy quarterstaves and went on a dragon hunt, sadly with no success. And if we had been bitten -- you probably would have gotten the blame! :eek:
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Dumb Question

Every weekend, I go to my FLGS -- the one that said anything Gygax makes, they will get -- and look around to see if the "new stuff" ever shows up. They've got Gaxmoor, Canting Crew, etc. But nothing newer.

So my stupid question: what's name of the book(s) I'm waiting for, and who makes it for what game? I think it's Castle Zagyg and Yggsburgh, and will be from Troll Lords, for Castles & Crusades. Are they in print yet? Do I have the names right? :eek:
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Edena_of_Neith said:
Edena_of_Neith here. Hey there, Gary. Another frivolous question from Yours Truly! :)
And you have come to the right person for a frivolous answer :lol:

I never played the super-module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil.
But I finally obtained a copy (long ago) and had a look at it.
I saw, therein, a super-dungeon with 10 or so levels.

And I thought ...

One mage with a Rock to Mud could take out the whole place.
How?
He, being 10th level, casts Rock to Mud. This liquifies an area of 20 feet by 20 feet by 20 feet per level. So a 10th level mage could liquify 10 of these 20x20x20 foot cubes. He could thus liquify an area of rock equal to 60 feet x 60 feet x 20 feet with the spell.
He throws the spell on level 1 of the Temple of Elemental Evil, liquifying the 60x60x20 foot parcel of rock.
Most everyone and everything (except undead and the like) on level 2 drowns as a good part of level 1 melts onto them.
The mud then roars down the stairs into level 3 and wrecks the place, drowning half the monsters there. It flows down further stairways to become a real annoyance on level 4, a slight annoyance on level 5, and everything below level 5 is probably wondering what in Iuz's name just happened?
It is possible that some of the major structural support of the place goes, creating cave-ins that bury more of the Temple, and perhaps causing a cascading effect.

The mage then departs via Teleport, and (cautiously) returns the next day to continue the procedure, until the entire Temple is destroyed.

If there are two or more mages of 10th level or higher present, the destruction of the Temple of Elemental Evil via Rock to Mud is accelerated.
Of course, the 10th level mage probably took the time beforehand (having long planned his attack on the Temple of Elemental Evil) to prepare Scrolls with Rock to Mud written many times on them. Thus, his initial attack involves many Rock to Mud spells, most of level 1 of the Temple is destroyed, and the mudflow drowns most everything below level 1 right off the bat (assuming, the entire Temple down to level 10+ doesn't collapse from the sheer weight of the mud!)

This form of attack could also be used against Castle Greyhawk and other dungeons, it seems to me.
And it seems to me this tactic - although bad as far as retrieving treasure goes - is quite good for destroying an enemy target with minimal risk to the mage and his party.

-

My questions are:

Would this tactic work?
If yes, how would Mordenkainen (when he was 10th level) pull it off?
If no, then why wouldn't it work?
If yes, have you ever used this tactic or a variant of it?
If yes, have your players ever used this tactic or a variant of it?

Yours Sincerely
Edena_of_Neith
My players know better than to try something sure to incur wrath :]

Such tactics are a matter for the DM to manage, and as one here is how I would handle an attempt of this sort.

"Sorry, Flubspell, but your Rock to Mud casting seems to fizzle out when it contacts the stonework of the temple. golly, I guess the builders must have imbued it with some fort of protection from this sort of assault on its integrity..."

"Oh, by the by, it seems that you are now turning a ghastly gray color. It seems as if yout attempt has invoked a curse of some sort, as you feel quite weak and not at all well..."

I'd use the same sort of response if someone tried that with any important campaign setting. To stop the rules lawyers from their shrill protests I's write up a few spells to cover constructions--anti-disintigration, anti-rock to mud, etc. Also a few retributive spells to be activated and aimed unerringly at any spell caster attempting to bring down a stricture by that sort or obvious and predicatble tactic. Just because such spells are not included in the standard roster doesn't mean they don't exist.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Nathal said:
Why didn't you drop CZY right into Lejendary Earth and keep going from there? Are you taking a temporary break from Lerthe?
Me abandon Learth? Never!

The objective is produce a version of my original campaign that is as close to what was used then as is possible now. The LA game isn't built to facilitate progressively more demanding dungeon levels according to PCV level, because there are no levels in the LA game system;)

Dungeon crawls work fine with the new system, but they are not the same as in the class-based, PC-level sort of game.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
That bit is the same as Vermont. As for talking funny, I find a lot of similarity between upstate NY, western MA, southern Vermont, southern Wisconsin, and western Washington State in the accent. Southern Wisconsin is probably the most different, but it's still in the "Standard American" accent zone between the central-southern Illinois butternut/copperhead stuff ("we have to 'may-zure' the damage to the 'ruff' after the tornado, to get the 'INsurance' to pay out") and the northern Wisconsin accent (like the movie "Fargo")
Accurate, and Chicagoans say "the-ay-ter" for theater.

Most Wis-can-sinites north of Madison have the near-Canadian accent, don'tcha know.

That's probably because so many New Yorkers historically spread westward at more or less the same latitude.
Yes, although a fair number did end up in California...

It's debatable whether I'm from upstate NY. My hometown is only about 40 miles from NY, and 10 miles from the Atlantic. So, the City is sure we're upstate (and the accent is), but upstate thinks everything south of Albany is the city. And since we border on Connecticut and have close links to them, I think we're New England.
So you are one of THEM... :mad:

:lol:

But rugged hills, we've sure got those. Terrain-wise, it's definitely Appalachia, from the Green Mountains, the Berkshires, the Taconic mountains, and even on the other side of the Hudson in the Catskills and the 'Gunks. But somehow, without the country music, it's just the Appalachian Trail that's officially Appalachian about it. :heh:
Right pretty for viewing, no fun at all to have to tramp over. about all we have hereabouts are the gravel hills left as terminal moraine desposit. Some of those knobs are relatovelt steep, though, and most difficult to clamber up. Thankfully, I haven't been moved to do such things for some years now :eek:

As for RPG tie-in . . . in the late 80's an illegal animal collector who was nearly caught once let a komodo dragon loose in our town . . . we got some weirdness overflow from NYC that day. The experts said it would die over the winter if it wasn't caught, but nobody should approach it. So, my two D&D friends and I grabbed some sturdy quarterstaves and went on a dragon hunt, sadly with no success. And if we had been bitten -- you probably would have gotten the blame! :eek:
hunting a komodo dragon armed only with a staff is brave to the point of foolheartiness. My friends and I would have dared it only with our bows...or maybe out rifles and shotguns.

As for blame for injury, likely D&D, and I as well, swould have been fingered :heh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
Every weekend, I go to my FLGS -- the one that said anything Gygax makes, they will get -- and look around to see if the "new stuff" ever shows up. They've got Gaxmoor, Canting Crew, etc. But nothing newer.

So my stupid question: what's name of the book(s) I'm waiting for, and who makes it for what game? I think it's Castle Zagyg and Yggsburgh, and will be from Troll Lords, for Castles & Crusades. Are they in print yet? Do I have the names right? :eek:
Not a bad question at all!

The latest of my creations are all from Troll Lord Games--Hekaforge is slow getting out the balance of the Lejendary Earth world setting books :(

Anyway, go to http://www.trolllord.com/ there you will see all that I have had published for the last few months including"

Lejendary Adventure Essentials game boxed set
Hall of Many Panes LA and D20 game boxed campaign module
Castle Zagyg Yggsburgh Part I campaign setting and adventures for the C&C game
...and much more ;)

The Trolls have a batch of my mss. and I am working with a slug of freelancers to produce many more modules and reference books.

(Really I am semi-retired, but they just don't believe me when I claim that :uhoh: )

Cheers,
Gary
 

Levi Kornelsen

First Post
Sir;

There have always been, and always will be, folks doomsaying in the RPG industry, even when things are great, and people saying things are fabulous, even when sales are bad. Given the lack of information that folks have in relation to things like sales numbers, profit margins, and the like, this is pretty inevitable.

However, it seems likely that one person who'd likely have an intuitive handle and good general guess on how things are sitting right now as far as industry peaks and slumps would be yourself.

So, sir, in that regard, how do you think the industry is doing as a whole right now? Any insights?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Levi Kornelsen said:
Sir;

There have always been, and always will be, folks doomsaying in the RPG industry, even when things are great, and people saying things are fabulous, even when sales are bad. Given the lack of information that folks have in relation to things like sales numbers, profit margins, and the like, this is pretty inevitable.

However, it seems likely that one person who'd likely have an intuitive handle and good general guess on how things are sitting right now as far as industry peaks and slumps would be yourself.

So, sir, in that regard, how do you think the industry is doing as a whole right now? Any insights?
Heh...

Could be you are correct in your assessment of my capacity, although there are many who would dispute that. Be that as it may, I will opine a bit in regard to your query:

The audience for paper RPGs is at best static, and likely to decline a bit due to attrition, for the only sizable publisher in the field, WotC (cum Hasbro) is not actively recruiting new young players through a basic game offering and advertising for such customers. Meanwhile there is stiff competition for players and their custom from computer and online computer "RPGs" and all manner of other entertainment forms.

The RPG market is small and overcrowded with product, games and accessories alike, so the prospects for any new publisher are dim, as dim as they are for many of the small ones now extant.

I think that if D&D goes into a 4th edition the marketplace will be damaged.

This is not to say that I see the end of paper RPGs, only that that I view the market as a small one that is very unlikely to grow larger, much more likely to contract somewhat unless there is a concerted effort to expand it. At best I do not envision the audience as growing to a size beyond that of what must be considered a nich one--say a maximum of 10 million active participants in North America if there is a consumer advertising push of considerable sort.

I do not anticipate such a marketing campaign being launched, but I would surely welcome that effort.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Nathal

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
Heh...

I think that if D&D goes into a 4th edition the marketplace will be damaged.
I agree, unless they create a basic game---something more along the lines of C&C---and an Advanced game for experienced players. Make it modular, and eliminate the howling advocates of "light" versus "rules heavy" game systems by offering both under the same brand name. What a novel concept, eh? ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Nathal said:
I agree, unless they create a basic game---something more along the lines of C&C---and an Advanced game for experienced players. Make it modular, and eliminate the howling advocates of "light" versus "rules heavy" game systems by offering both under the same brand name. What a novel concept, eh? ;)
I urged something similar to Peter Adkison way back when, but my suggestions fell upon deaf ears. Since then the position of WotC seems to have hardened further, so I rather doubt such a step will be taken.

Pity that...

Gary
 

Orius

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
And you have come to the right person for a frivolous answer :lol:


My players know better than to try something sure to incur wrath :]

Such tactics are a matter for the DM to manage, and as one here is how I would handle an attempt of this sort.

"Sorry, Flubspell, but your Rock to Mud casting seems to fizzle out when it contacts the stonework of the temple. golly, I guess the builders must have imbued it with some fort of protection from this sort of assault on its integrity..."

"Oh, by the by, it seems that you are now turning a ghastly gray color. It seems as if yout attempt has invoked a curse of some sort, as you feel quite weak and not at all well..."

I'd use the same sort of response if someone tried that with any important campaign setting. To stop the rules lawyers from their shrill protests I's write up a few spells to cover constructions--anti-disintigration, anti-rock to mud, etc. Also a few retributive spells to be activated and aimed unerringly at any spell caster attempting to bring down a stricture by that sort or obvious and predicatble tactic. Just because such spells are not included in the standard roster doesn't mean they don't exist.
This is pretty much the reason I tend to avoid the typical dungeon crawl as a DM at higher levels. Once the PCs start reaching certain levels, particularly spellcasters, they have more and more means at their disposal to circumvent the physical boundaries of a dungeon. So as a DM I generally have to options: restrict spells and other special abilities, or challenge them in different ways. I prefer the latter, though it's more difficult and requires more planning. There's nothing wrong with the occasional dungeon where magic works...differently...that only higher level PCs can successifully navigate though.

Don't get me wrong, I like dungeons, and I like making them, but I think they just work better with low level PCs.
 

Orius

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
The audience for paper RPGs is at best static, and likely to decline a bit due to attrition, for the only sizable publisher in the field, WotC (cum Hasbro) is not actively recruiting new young players through a basic game offering and advertising for such customers. Meanwhile there is stiff competition for players and their custom from computer and online computer "RPGs" and all manner of other entertainment forms.
I think possibly WotC is using their miniatures game as a way of recruiting newer players. At least that seems to be part of their strategy. I do give them crdit for one thing though: they actively conduct market research. That's something that wasn't seen in the past and ended up hurting the hobby. From what I understand though, the majority of their customers tend to be in their mid 20s or so and have more disposable income to buy gaming products than teens, so they tend to market to those customers.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Orius said:
...

Don't get me wrong, I like dungeons, and I like making them, but I think they just work better with low level PCs.
Or with high-level PCs whose players are not power gamers seeking to become demi-gods or greater, rather playing the game in the spirit in which it was meant;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Edena_of_Neith

First Post
(considers Gary's post above)

Rats. Another evil plan by my characters to take over the D&D worlds foiled. :D
I don't get to wipe out $60 spent by the DM and 10 to 20 hours (or more) of preparation on his part with a single spell. Nuts. It's totally unfair. It's unfair, I tell you! Unfair!

Anyways ...

The tactic I suggested (using the Rock to Mud) caused me to ask: what could I do, if my characters had a castle, to protect against it (assuming a DM used such tactics as the Rock to Mud tactic.)

The first thought that came to mind was Wall of Force.

So ...

Just how powerful is Wall of Force? How much damage will it take before it collapses? I have had to make a lot of arbitrary rulings on this, since the spell is not invincible but it is very powerful.
Now, I'm curious on your take.

For example, let's say a Wall of Force cast by a 10th level wizard has 1,000 hit points? An 11th level wizard would create a Wall of Force with 1,210 hit points? A 12th level wizard would create a Wall of Force with 1,440 hit points?

- Perhaps a 6 dice fireball removes 6 points, and a 30 hit dice fireball 30 points from the Wall (plus the level of the spell in points, plus the level of the caster, in points) ?
- Spells and items that fire other spells that inflict dice of damage (Cone of Cold, Lightning Bolt, etc.) would inflict 1 hit point per hit dice of damage on the Wall (plus the level of the spell and the level of the caster, or the level required to create the item plus the level of it's spell plus the level of it's user) ?
- Other types of spells (enchantment, illusion, wild magic, etc.) successfully deflected by the Wall cause it to sustain hit points of damage equal to the level of the spell (plus the level of the spell and the level of the caster) ?
- Innate spell-like attacks cause 1 point of damage to the Wall per spell level equivalent, plus the a number of points of damage equal to the hit dice of the monster?
- A weapon hit, does no damage, except for it's magical bonus, counted in points of damage (a + 3 sword does 3 points.) ?
- A stick of dynamite would do 1 point per hit dice of blast damage? (So, your typical stick of dynamite would do 6 points of damage.)
- A firearm would do 1 point per hit dice of damage caused (including the area effect attacks of weapons like gatling guns, mini-guns, etc.) ?
- An energy weapon attack (such as a lightsabre, plasma cannon, phaser, whatever) would do 1 point of damage per hit dice of damage caused?
- Disintegration attacks would down the Wall, without harming what was behind it?
- The Wall would lose, say, 1 point per ton of impact (that is, a 100 ton locomotive running into it would cause 100 hit points of damage. A 100 ton dragon flying into it would do likewise) ?
- The Wall could hold up 1 ton of weight per hit point? Doubling the weight beyond that would inflict 1 hit point per round on the Wall? Doubling the weight beyond that would inflict 10 hit points per round? Doubling the weight beyond that would inflict 100 hit points per round on the Wall? Any weight beyond that would cause the Wall to instantly collapse?

What is your take?

I've been wanting to ask THIS question for many, many years!

Edena_of_Neith
 
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gideon_thorne

First Post
Edena_of_Neith said:
The tactic I suggested (using the Rock to Mud) caused me to ask: what could I do, if my characters had a castle, to protect against it (assuming a DM used such tactics as the Rock to Mud tactic.)
*scratches head* Seems to me that a simple Protection from Magic or some sort of modfied Anti magic spell cast into the stones of the fortification itself would be much more the thing. In essence giving the wall magic resistance. :cool:
 

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