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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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John Drake

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
I have said repeatedly in print that the D3 module was Dave Sutherland's interpretation of Lolth, and most certainly not mine. In truth I thoroguhly disapproved of the work but Brian Blume had it produced. Steam power indeed :mad:

Hmm, I had no idea about that, since I always thought the little forward you wrote in it was quite complimentary. In addition to what JRT asked, why did he get the job of doing that module? Iirc, it was something about things resembling (at that time) ToEE too much, and, if memory serves, you saw some of the work he was doing and gave it a green light. I'd check the module, but I don't have it handy at the moment. Of course, I'm generalising and glossing over the details as I have heard, so I don't mean to be offensive in any way. Thanks Gary, as always, very much appreciated!
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
JohnRTroy said:
Heh, I remember you disliking Q1. But in this question, another one appears. ;)

May I ask though what the ultimate goal was to be of Q1 before you discarded it? It's easy to assume, for instance, that there was a Q1 already planned, and it involves Lolth on her home plane. So what would have been the ultimate goal of the GDQ series if not the death of Lolth? Banishment? There had to be some kind of ultimate goal, I guess. :\

(As an aside--I actually just purchased the ToEE computer game after playing the demo and seeing how accurate it was to the modules, save for the update in the game system. Looking forward to that--I'll actually have to avoid digging out my old module so I don't cheat.)
Ciao John!

Dave brought into the TSR offices, then at 723 Williams St., a towel that had a marvelous design that was perfect as a demonweb, so that's how he got into the project for creating the Q1 module. My outline for the whole was for a demi-plane outside of the Abyss, a great spiderweb with encounters at junctions along the way to the center, Lolth's abode there in the middle. The PCs would need to gather pieces of an artifact based on the four elements in the web in order to be able to face the demoness and send her packing back to the abyss. Of course, that would have called back the Elder Elemental God from his place of banishment...

Being far too busy at the time to oversee the project, and as Brian Blume thought Dave's work great, I gritted my teeth and went on.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Blast!

I just noticed that I had missed a fair number of posts made before JRT's.

Sorry, and I will soon have replies to all ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 



Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
seskis281 said:
Hello Gary,

I have been spending time the last two days with my new LA essentials set and have a few questions.
Hopefully I will have an equal number of answers, eh? :lol:

I downloaded an Avatar sheet and have been doing character creation - I am assuming a few things on the sheet are from the full rules and not part of the essentials (Intellect, Capacities/Handicaps). A lot of things I like here, especially in simplicity of stats, the harm setup for both health and armor (finally the common sense that armor might need mending), etc.
You are correct, the Avatar Record Sheer is that for the full-blown LA game.

I am pleased that you find many things in the system agreeable.

I do have a question that confuses me though - I rolled up a Human Mage order Avatar that I wanted to also be strong in combat, so I chose Abilities (in order) Enchantment, Arcana, Weapons, Learning, Metallurgy. After all the setup, I had an Avatar with stats Health 57, Precision 56, Speed 15, with Enchantment 17, Arcana 14, Weapons 39, Learning 25 and Metallurgy 12, and 62 AEP's.
First, you failed to multiply Speed by four to get the number from which Abilities based on Speed are found. Enchantemnt score should be 100% of Speed Base Rating x 4.

Next, with Weapons as the third chosen Ability, the best that Avatar can attain in the Mage Order is 0th Rank until Learning and Metallurgy are the 3rd and 4th highest scores possessed. Once that happens the order of the Abilities doesn't matter, as the Avatar has met the requirements of the Order and can move on.

Now back to your missive:

The question I have is about activating energies during combat situations. With an Enchantment of 17, if I am reading right, would have a slightly less than 1 in 5 chance of activating just on the base score. The use of activations as I read are also supposed to be adjusted based on conditions, ranging from +10 for Danger Clear and Present to +100 for actual harm. If this is the case how could my Avatar ever hope to activate a Flame Gout (for instance) while in combat? It also seems like even using every merit gained to increase enchantment ability would still take almost a year (assuming 1 evening a week game at the 250 per 3-4 hour session mentioned in the book) to increase to a level where the Avatar would even have a decent chance to activate his energies under combat/stressfull situations.

Is this a purposeful subduing of magical abilities for lower power Avatars? Or I am misreading this?

Thanks,
John W. :cool:
The Avatar's Enchantment Ability score should be 68, as noted above ;)

the Avatar will not receive any benefits from the Mage Order, though, until he possess in order of successive score, 1 Enchantment, 2 Arcane, 3 Learning, 4 Metallurgy with Weapons Ability score less than all four of the Abilities required to be in the Mage Order. Think of it as a guild requirement that disallows other knowledge/capacity to interfere with its required areas.

Thus, it is wise to select Weapons as the fifth ability, and build its score thereafter as you increase Enchantment.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
I whipped out my old gold box DnD Immortal Rules the other day. There was no way even the lowliest of gods could have been killed by a party of 36th level characters. At best, they could 'banish' the entity, but even that was unlikely. I liked these rules, since it was connected to DnD, but at the same time your character had moved to another reality. When I was 8 years old, and given my first red box set (even though it said for ages 10 and above) I created a character called Treetop the Ninja (Fighter, level 1). It took me until I was 15 to reach level 36th, and then he became an immortal. The Immortal Rules were so different from the first four boxes, that I changed his character name and the features of the body he created to inhabit. In my mind he became so much more powerful, that I felt I had to divorce his new existence from that of the mortal world. He left all attachments to the old kingdom. Why would an immortal want to take over an inhabited planet when he could create and control his own worlds?

I think a party could have an interesting 'god-killing' game, but the immortal's status would have to be redefined. Such as when Conan would meet alien beings that the locals would worship as gods, and prove them wrong by striking it down in a barbaric rage. If ran properly, the DM can draw up an adventure with an ageless creature that has fanatical followers and plans to take over the world. Its powers are so great that the followers believe it to be a god, but it can be harmed and even killed with the right weaponry.
Okay,

But as I read your assessment, the game would have to move from a FRPG genre to what is virtually a comic book superhero type to manage the transition.

A game based on slaying deities is sure to become tedious in short order, is it not?

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Steverooo said:
I think you did something wrong... I've never seen the Essentials boxed set, but IF it works the same as LA, Enchantment should be (4 x Speed), or about 60%. A better place to ask is here: LAddicts.
Good Show! :D

I do my darndest to direct all gamers with questions about the LA game system to hit the www.lejendary.com website and post there, for there are many veterans willing to assist, often answer more quickly and fully that I am able to :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Hey Colonel, I have a question regarding henchmen and hirelings in 1e AD&D for you. A few PC's in my campaign are beginning to hire mercenaries and acquire a henchman or two for accompaniment on adventures.

When do you suggest giving the player the character sheet for the henchment they hire? Right away? After a few adventures when the henchman and the PC have cemented their relationship? Do you give the player an increasing amount of information about the henchman over time after staring out with, for example, only class and level?
I would suggest giving the player immediately upon gaining a henchman a CRS done in bare bones fashion. As the PC and henchman adventure together, the DM and the player in conjunction then detail the henchman's personality, motivations, etc.

Also, regarding hirelings, if a PC hires a group of 0 level mercenaries or acquires followers due to reaching "name" level do you give them any information regarding the hirelings' stats (although in the case of 0 levels this would besically be limited to Hit Points) or are those the sole purview of the DM?

Thanks in advance.

Gray Mouser
Followers that are ranked with levels should be treated as henchmen. Hirelings ade, as you suggest above, only rated by HPs and what they can do--mostly bear arms. The plyer need not know their HPs, or may have such information, at the DM's discretion.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Sheesh, even when Gary goes back to answer the skipped posts I get left out! A repost is in order, I think :)

Gray Mouser said:
Hey Colonel, I have a question regarding henchmen and hirelings in 1e AD&D for you. A few PC's in my campaign are beginning to hire mercenaries and acquire a henchman or two for accompaniment on adventures.

When do you suggest giving the player the character sheet for the henchment they hire? Right away? After a few adventures when the henchman and the PC have cemented their relationship? Do you give the player an increasing amount of information about the henchman over time after staring out with, for example, only class and level?

Also, regarding hirelings, if a PC hires a group of 0 level mercenaries or acquires followers due to reaching "name" level do you give them any information regarding the hirelings' stats (although in the case of 0 levels this would besically be limited to Hit Points) or are those the sole purview of the DM?

Thanks in advance.

Gray Mouser
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Oops, looks like I was a little overzealous and reposted just as Gary was answering my questions. Sorry, Colonel!

And, of course, thanks for your input. It will be most helpful as this is really the first time that players in my campaign have invested in henchmen and hirelings!

Gray Mouser
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Flexor the Mighty! said:
Hi Gary! Just wanted to say I finally started reading City of Hawks, and just 10 pages into it I am reminded how much I enjoy your D&D related fiction. Your descriptions of Greyhawk City are wonderful for my game and the planar politics of the Gord novels is what I base mine on when I run the Greyhawk campaign. I used Vuron in my last campaign as he tried to use some friendly help to start the Paladin of the group down the path to corruption.
Howdy Flexor!

Perhaps you recall me mentioning illustrated novel versions of the Gord books. Sadly, the state of the market in the US for comics and illustrated novels flushed that deal. I mention this becase the illustrator for the initial episode to introduce the story used City of Hawks as his basis, and the depiction of the boat with infant Gord in it approaching the looming walls of the city in the storm was just great in my opinion. The producer and illustrator had it nailed as far as I was concerned, so I was doubly whammied when things went south.

:(
Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Sheesh, even when Gary goes back to answer the skipped posts I get left out! A repost is in order, I think :)
:lol: :p :lol:

Your post about me missing your other post appeared just after I replied to the post you said I had ignored :] :eek: :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
Oops, looks like I was a little overzealous and reposted just as Gary was answering my questions. Sorry, Colonel!

And, of course, thanks for your input. It will be most helpful as this is really the first time that players in my campaign have invested in henchmen and hirelings!

Gray Mouser
Yuppers,

Remember, I am a Columbus Method typist, as it were...discover and land!

:confused:
Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
John Drake said:
Hmm, I had no idea about that, since I always thought the little forward you wrote in it was quite complimentary. In addition to what JRT asked, why did he get the job of doing that module? Iirc, it was something about things resembling (at that time) ToEE too much, and, if memory serves, you saw some of the work he was doing and gave it a green light. I'd check the module, but I don't have it handy at the moment. Of course, I'm generalising and glossing over the details as I have heard, so I don't mean to be offensive in any way. Thanks Gary, as always, very much appreciated!
Aloha,

Check my post responding to JRT's message for details of how Dave S. became involved in the projct.

Of course I was a total company man, so I would never disparage the work of another that was to go into production. While I was most disappointed in the material, I desired neither to denigrate Dave's effort or publically question Brian's acumen in regards creative selection. Thus the forward as written.

There was a link between the Drow modules and the ToEE, mainly in my head, and after QI came out I rather lost interest in developing the former, as the EEG was not released from hia banishment to a distant star (ala Set). I would have devised some other scenario to accomplish that, only the Drow and Lolth were not to be emulated in a hurry, and I ran oput of time to make the attempt, so Frank badgered me into having him complete the ToEE.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
JohnRTroy said:
At least Gail still (hopefully) needed and feeded you when you were 64. :p :lol: ;)
:]

Bah! She uses my weight and health ot avoid cooking what I wish her to feed me...steak & kidney pie, standing rib roast of beef, breaded veal kidney chops, mixed sausage grill, wiener schnitzel, peach cobbler, rhubarb pie, cream brule, that sort of thing :D

:lol:
Cheers,
Gary
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Col_Pladoh said:
Howdy Flexor!

Perhaps you recall me mentioning illustrated novel versions of the Gord books. Sadly, the state of the market in the US for comics and illustrated novels flushed that deal. I mention this becase the illustrator for the initial episode to introduce the story used City of Hawks as his basis, and the depiction of the boat with infant Gord in it approaching the looming walls of the city in the storm was just great in my opinion. The producer and illustrator had it nailed as far as I was concerned, so I was doubly whammied when things went south.

:(
Cheers,
Gary

I was going to ask you about the progress on those...well that just sucks. I was really pumped about those when you mentioned them last year or so. :(
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Flexor the Mighty! said:
I was going to ask you about the progress on those...well that just sucks. I was really pumped about those when you mentioned them last year or so. :(
Me too:(

Broken Halos was gpoing to be the publishing entity, and I began to suspect the worst when the release date kept getting pushed back further and further. I do not blame them, of course. It is the state of the market...amd likely because of a single distributor.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Okay,

But as I read your assessment, the game would have to move from a FRPG genre to what is virtually a comic book superhero type to manage the transition.

A game based on slaying deities is sure to become tedious in short order, is it not?

Cheers,
Gary

Not really. When I mentioned the word 'immortal' would have to be redefined, I meant using it as a farmer might, not as a referee. To the characters, an extremely powerful villian may seem god-like but actually be mortal. Sort of how the natives of the island saw King Kong as a god, but he was killable.

If one were to make dragons extremely rare in a fantasy game, an elder dragon could easily be considered an immortal god by the local population. The battle between such a villian and the heroes would be epic, but winnable.

I wasn't really talking about taking a villian and making him a super-villian. I meant more like trying to see the fantasy world through the eyes of normal mortals and incorporating that feeling into the descriptions of a game. If a peasant is distrustful of a wizard who can cast a spell and charm anyone, and fears a wizard who can throw fireballs into the masses of an enemy, he and his kin is going to see a evil lich who can stop time and kill with a gesture akin to an immortal god.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
Not really. When I mentioned the word 'immortal' would have to be redefined, I meant using it as a farmer might, not as a referee. To the characters, an extremely powerful villian may seem god-like but actually be mortal. Sort of how the natives of the island saw King Kong as a god, but he was killable.

If one were to make dragons extremely rare in a fantasy game, an elder dragon could easily be considered an immortal god by the local population. The battle between such a villian and the heroes would be epic, but winnable.

I wasn't really talking about taking a villian and making him a super-villian. I meant more like trying to see the fantasy world through the eyes of normal mortals and incorporating that feeling into the descriptions of a game. If a peasant is distrustful of a wizard who can cast a spell and charm anyone, and fears a wizard who can throw fireballs into the masses of an enemy, he and his kin is going to see a evil lich who can stop time and kill with a gesture akin to an immortal god.
Well sure,

But what you set forth is actually quite different from the original scheme, a campaign in which the PCs aim was to slay deities, not what ordnary yokels might consider as such :lol:

Fantasy deities create things, move mountains, sink continents, and are generally quite untouchable by mortals. even the Genie of the Lamp is quite unkillable, albeit he can be duped :uhoh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

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