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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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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Edena_of_Neith said:
Just meant as humor. Obviously, no mage and his party sank due to a Prismatic Sphere! Not in any game I was in, at least.
OTOH, it is a possibility for a party of annoying PCs :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Tav_Behemoth

First Post
O venerated Col.,

I was dipping into the AD&D Fiend Folio recently and noted three tiny races of your creation -- the jermlaine I'd long been a fan of (Descent into the Depths of the Earth having been one of the first books I bought with my own hoarded allowance), but the booka and the killmoulis were new to me and, I feel, unjustly overlooked.

It seemed to me that these pint-sized monsters -- minimuses or midges, as per your jermlaine nicknames -- might have been developed for a campaign arc in which tiny opponents played a large role, perhaps even the heroes-shrunk-to-rat-size adventures that reading Leiber's Swords of Lankhmar inspire so vividly.

Can you share any insights about the origins of these monsters or moments in which you remember them being used in a game?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tav_Behemoth said:
O venerated Col.,
Howdy Tav:)

I was dipping into the AD&D Fiend Folio recently and noted three tiny races of your creation -- the jermlaine I'd long been a fan of (Descent into the Depths of the Earth having been one of the first books I bought with my own hoarded allowance), but the booka and the killmoulis were new to me and, I feel, unjustly overlooked.
For those who do not know, I made up the jermlaine based on the gremlin, an older version of it if you will.

It seemed to me that these pint-sized monsters -- minimuses or midges, as per your jermlaine nicknames -- might have been developed for a campaign arc in which tiny opponents played a large role, perhaps even the heroes-shrunk-to-rat-size adventures that reading Leiber's Swords of Lankhmar inspire so vividly.

Can you share any insights about the origins of these monsters or moments in which you remember them being used in a game?
The booka and kilmoulis are "fairie folk" from books of folklore from which I devised the creatures of the same nemes for the AD&D game.

I had a side adventure area akin to the Isle of the Ape, Dungeonland, and The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror set up for my campaign. I titled it A Midsummer's Night's Nightmare. It was populated with all of the British-based monsters such as the booka and the kilmoulis, as well as many sorts of "little people" as commanded by Oberon and Titania (don't mess with them!)...and Puck too was a most dangerous encounter.

Sadly, all of that has been lost, and after 20 years I have forgotten the details :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Tav_Behemoth

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
I had a side adventure area akin to the Isle of the Ape, Dungeonland, and The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror set up for my campaign... Sadly, all of that has been lost, and after 20 years I have forgotten the details :uhoh:

Yet another incentive to build a time machine big enough to fit your campaign notes - or perhaps even a younger version of yourself! It'd be worth any amount of paradoxes and ruptures in the space-time continuum.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tav_Behemoth said:
Yet another incentive to build a time machine big enough to fit your campaign notes - or perhaps even a younger version of yourself! It'd be worth any amount of paradoxes and ruptures in the space-time continuum.
Or maybe a better system of filing here so as to not lose such materials :confused:

As a matter of fact I have lost a town map for an Lejendary Aventure sourcebook hat was done onlyabout five years ago. Admittedly, there isome hope of finding it... :heh:

Merry Christmas,
Gary
 

Bullgrit

First Post
Mr. Gygax,

I'll get straight to some questions:

How did you decide/settle on using the 6 ability scores of D&D: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma? [Any bets on how many people comment on the order I've listed them here compared to how they've been listed through the years/editions?]

Especially with Charisma being almost universally regarded as a "dump stat" through all editions, did it have more relevance in your games (and how you envisioned everyone else's games)? Did your games stick to (or even use) the reaction adjustment and henchmen limitations given in the book rules? Or did you give Charisma more (unwritten) weight in character interaction?

In the 70's, how often did a given PC play in your campaign? For the rules as written, how often did you expect people to play the game? I've read where you've said you ran games nearly every day of the week. Was this for different PCs, or did the same PCs play multiple times a week. My underlying question is whether you expected PCs to rise X number of levels in a year. Did you set the xp tables (both for awarding and for leveling up) so the PCs would reach ~X level in ~52 game session, whether those 52 sessions came in one year (once a week) or in 3 months (thrice a week). I know you probably didn't work this up as a calculation, but I'm wondering what your general intent or expectation was. Did you consider a PC rising to 10th level in 52 game sessions fast or slow or about right?

Thanks.

Bullgrit
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Bullgrit said:
Mr. Gygax,

I'll get straight to some questions:

How did you decide/settle on using the 6 ability scores of D&D: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma? [Any bets on how many people comment on the order I've listed them here compared to how they've been listed through the years/editions?]
The six attributes used seemed to cover the spectrum of what a human consisted of in general manner. They seem to have been on target, as there hasn't been a change in them for some years... :lol:

Especially with Charisma being almost universally regarded as a "dump stat" through all editions, did it have more relevance in your games (and how you envisioned everyone else's games)? Did your games stick to (or even use) the reaction adjustment and henchmen limitations given in the book rules? Or did you give Charisma more (unwritten) weight in character interaction?
We did indeed use the reaction adjustment for charisma as stated. That was used considerably when a PC was meeting and seeking negotiation with an NPC. No added rules were needed, only the DM's determination of what the PC's charisma would come into play. Persuation is pretty well a self-evident factor in interpersonal dealings.

[/QUOTE]In the 70's, how often did a given PC play in your campaign? For the rules as written, how often did you expect people to play the game? I've read where you've said you ran games nearly every day of the week. Was this for different PCs, or did the same PCs play multiple times a week. My underlying question is whether you expected PCs to rise X number of levels in a year. Did you set the xp tables (both for awarding and for leveling up) so the PCs would reach ~X level in ~52 game session, whether those 52 sessions came in one year (once a week) or in 3 months (thrice a week). I know you probably didn't work this up as a calculation, but I'm wondering what your general intent or expectation was. Did you consider a PC rising to 10th level in 52 game sessions fast or slow or about right?

Thanks.

Bullgrit[/QUOTE]
There were well over 60 different players that participated in in the game sessions that I ran, and that's one of the reasons that I had Rob Kuntz join me as co-DM. Many of them, the "regulars" numbering around a dozen, were there seeking daily adventure sessions, while the majority of the others showed up to play on weekends. sometimes there were over 20 D&D gamers ghathered in my basement.

I expected no particular number of game sessions from anyone. The "regulars," on the other hand, expected to play many times a week. Eventualy, the occasional players dropped out, or became regulars replacing others of that ilk that left the campaign, as the ones that played more frequently we of higher level and dominated the action.

The number of XPs given to rise a level was initially intuitive, later on based on th play of my campaign group. I think that 52 sessions to reach 10th level is about right if the time per session is about four hours. Longner sessions would reduce the number accordingly.

Merry Christmas,
Gary
 
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orsal

LEW Judge
Gary -- in terms of game time, how long on average between adventures for the PCs in your Greyhawk campaign? In other words, if it took 52 game sessions to get a new character to ~10th level, how much older would (s)he be?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
orsal said:
Gary -- in terms of game time, how long on average between adventures for the PCs in your Greyhawk campaign? In other words, if it took 52 game sessions to get a new character to ~10th level, how much older would (s)he be?
That's impossible to answer :uhoh:

If play was intensive dungeon crawling, the 52 play sessions might take up only a few weeks of game time, with several adventure sessions being the continuation of a single day of delving. Also, when magically sent to another location time was generally different, and one reappeared in the original place with only a fraction of subjective time while away having passed in the home universe. Outdoor adventures might consume months of game time, of course.

The latter posed a problem for players used to adventuring as a group when they were not with the others on an outdoor foray, so the regulars would often seek their fellows on such jouneys.

To answer in geneal, the time span for 52 adventure sessions was generally anywhere from as many weeks to two years or longer.

Yuletide best,
Gary
 

ScottyG

First Post
Gary, it seems like you would often be DMing for parties with a wide range in levels. with Joe Newbie coming in and playing with Ernie and Rob, who have been playing daily for a year. Did you run different sessions for different level ranges, or did you mix the new PCs in with the existing group?
Scott
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
ScottyG said:
Gary, it seems like you would often be DMing for parties with a wide range in levels. with Joe Newbie coming in and playing with Ernie and Rob, who have been playing daily for a year. Did you run different sessions for different level ranges, or did you mix the new PCs in with the existing group?
Scott
Scotty, just so!

Whenever possible I ran the less-experienced players alone or with lower-level "flunkie" PCs of the veterans of the group, giving them a chance to get full XPs instead of the half limit if played in addition to their "masters."

The newbies actually often preferred to be along as assistants to the high-level PCs, even though I had by then developed the "XP shares by level" method, where all levels of the party were added and the total XPs for the adventure divided by that number and then shared up accordingly--multi-class levels counting as half-levels added to the main one (for instance a F/MU/T of 4-4-5 would have 9 share levels [2+2+5]). Then Robilar and Tenser were involved, the kills and loot were usually great.

Christmas Cheer,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Yuletide Greetings!

I responded on the thread.

Frankly, I believe it is possible that there was such an expenditure, but I was not there. It might well have been buried in the books and slipped by when outside investors audited TSR before making an offer to buy out the Blumes.

Christmas cheer,
Gary
 

dcollins

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
About all I can add is that a computer can run regular A/D&D combat rules for an army and have the results done in real time. Care would be needed to manage morale rules, for those would be critical to outcomes. A programmer with good knowledge of military miniatures could do it without much trouble--aside from the time needed to enter all the data.

Gary, it was interesting to see your comments on this page because I've recently been working on a program of just that sort. Of course you're correct that there's a lot of leeway for how the morale rules get instituted.

Another key aspect is exactly what the assumed "formation inside a figure" is. For example, if a single figure in 1:10 scale represents a line of 10 men, or 5x2 rows (my preference), or a 1-man wide column -- since it determines how many can attack an opposing formation in one turn. What's your expectation for this?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
dcollins said:
Gary, it was interesting to see your comments on this page because I've recently been working on a program of just that sort. Of course you're correct that there's a lot of leeway for how the morale rules get instituted.

Another key aspect is exactly what the assumed "formation inside a figure" is. For example, if a single figure in 1:10 scale represents a line of 10 men, or 5x2 rows (my preference), or a 1-man wide column -- since it determines how many can attack an opposing formation in one turn. What's your expectation for this?
Christmas Salutations!

Having written a fair number of military miniatures rules for tabletop play, the form that a figure takes depends on the figure to troops represented ratio--1:10, 1:20, etc. and the class/stand mounting of the figures. Skirmisher-types are likely in a single rank or at most a double one with a broad fron assumed. The same is true of cavalry, although the front varies by class of horseman, while infantry can vary according to their class and fighting style/training. A pike figure would be four ranks of five men in 1:20 scale surely, with mounting of figures close in blocks of at last four for Swiss or Landsknecht pikemen, larger stands for less well-trained ones.

Yuletide cheer,
Gary
 


Mighty Veil

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Erik Mona has asked me for a Gord the Rogue short story, Yes, even I get the fabled "writer's block" now and then :confused:

Is Gord a "charming thief" who likes to steal (I never read any Gord stories before)?

He could be stealing something of great worth from a highly political family. Gets caught. Charms his way out from being tossed to the dungeon. The daughter falls for his charms, and convinces her family she should wed him. And the father needs a charming figurehead to run as Lord Mayor of the city. Gord finds himself in quite the mess. He needs to get out of this marriage. Survive the messy and dangerous politics he's gotten himself thrown into. And steal the thing he came for in the first place.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Yuletide Greetings:)

Happy to discuss military miniatures anytime...same for military history.

As for Gord, he isn't at all like you suppose :lol:

Christmas cheer,
Gary
 

Gentlegamer

First Post
Merry Christmas!

Gary, you've mentioned before that you might like an avatar of your appearance on Futurama. Here's a couple for you, sized for this forum:
 

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haakon1

Adventurer
Gentlegamer said:
Merry Christmas!

Gary, you've mentioned before that you might like an avatar of your appearance on Futurama. Here's a couple for you, sized for this forum:

So, were Uhura, Gary, and Al Gore all recorded by the actual people? I never can tell on cartoons when the guests are "real" or not.
 

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