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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
Thulcondar said:
It does indeed have the hand-written note. Jim Lurvey was kind enough to send me a .pdf of the article. Ah, innocent days of yore.

...

Thul
Well,

Quoting Bugs Bunny, "Ain't I a stinker?"

:lol:
Gary
 

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Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
I'm trying out a paladin in the original Temple of Elemental Evil, and am having a good time with both the module and the concept of the lawful good man who rides into an area beset by evil to cleanse it. Especially since my paladin isn't stuck in the latest canon. We have four characters that all worship Pelor: a cleric, a monk, my paladin, and the thief who really only worships Pelor because he wants to hang out with our group and get a share of that treasure.

My paladin is a worshipper of Pelor, and he's a rough-and-ready type. He doesn't wear polished armor since he likes to try to sneak up on the enemy, if able, and he carries a battle-axe instead of the typical sword. Although he doesn't practice it, he tolerates shadier dealings such as his companions enjoyment of ladies-of-the-night, since it isn't against the law to do so. Also, he recently allowed the thief to take control of a large pirate boat we just captured in Nulb in order to convert it into a future floating guildhouse. This came about because we were supposed to question the pirate captain about the entrance to the temple, but my character couldn't take any more of the man's boasting of his evil deeds and all hell broke loose...(along with the DM's script). He did make the rogue promise to focus his guild on trading and the infiltration of evil organizations, and not stealing from the good locals, however. Now to the big moral question...

We used to make an effort to take those that surrendered to us and bring them to Hommlet for imprisonment and trial, but they would either be released due to corrupt guards, or people on the outside would slay the guards and free them. The good people were frightened of the more corrupt ones in their midst, making a trial impossible.

After a few incidents, my paladin came up with a solution. He has a speech ready when he enters a room full of low-lifes or when humanoids surrender after a few rounds of combat. It goes like this: "Gentlemen, you have three choices. First, you may surrender yourselves to me and I will place you under arrest in our fortress (converted Moat House now made into a fortress/temple to Pelor). There you will receive food and a cell to rest in, but will have no trial until we have cleansed this land of evil. This may be a long time, but afterwards you will be tried by the good people of Hommlet. Your second option is to agree to repent your evil ways and convert to Pelor. You will still be kept in a cell, but we will see to your religious education and free you when we are confident that you have seen Pelor's light (by using Detect Evil and testing their knowledge of Pelor). Finally, I can judge you here and now. I warn you that my judgement is harsh, and it will most likely end with your execution. You will have your say, and if I deem you guilty, I will allow you an hour to pray to your god before giving you the axe. What do you choose?"

So far I have had a lot of surrenders, one conversion, and one execution. The execution shocked the party. I put the river pirate captain on trial and his only verbal defense (after he asked for the trial) was to spit at me. So I had him locked in his cabin to pray for an hour, drug him out to the edge of his vessel, tied him down, and told him to say his last prayers to his sea god and asked if he had any last requests. He asked to be thrown into the sea he loved, and we had a short dialogue of mutual respect, before I gave him a moment to make his prayer, chopped his head off, and kicked both pieces of his body into the river.

The rest of the players stared wide-eyed and thought it a very un-paladin thing to do. Given the state of law in the area and the danger of keeping the really evil characters in the cells, the paladin thought it was for the best. The 'Three Choices' are now a running gag I use whenever I have the right opportunity with this character.
 

airwalkrr

Adventurer
I quite like the three choices. I personally do not find execution beneath a paladin, especially when it is done in such a lawful manner in such a lawless area. I think you did a fine job of roleplaying.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
airwalkrr said:
I quite like the three choices. I personally do not find execution beneath a paladin, especially when it is done in such a lawful manner in such a lawless area. I think you did a fine job of roleplaying.
Thanks! I was trying to play a paladin that was 'true' to the paladin code, but against the stereotype.
 

Howdy Gary,


Col_Pladoh said:
Tenser was conned by a hill giant, and I tried to dupe several PCs into get-rich-quick wagers. Sadly for me, the regulars were all too canny after being burned by my various ploys, so...

I did, though, manage to con Robilar into entering a cave with a sleeping red dragon, the "helpful" thief that brought him to the place waiting outside until Robilar was well inside, then yelling "LOOK OUT!" at the top of his lungs. Unluckily for dragon and thief, Robilar offed both although he was near death at the conclusion of the fray.
My favorite con you pulled as a DM has to be Herb's research for Robilar in an effort to reach, Mars was it? I'll let you relate that story.


Futures Bright,

Paul
 

dcas

First Post
Deuce Traveler said:
Now to the big moral question...
I actually think that the sneakiness and toleration of fornication is much more out-of-character for a paladin-type than what you have described about surrender/conversion/execution (which is probably less "harsh" than typical mediaeval justice). In fact, it would probably not be out of character for the paladin to execute characters even after they convert to Pelor to prevent backsliding.

Btw, I believe the "lawful" in "lawful good" does not refer to laws as such, since laws can be unjust, but the elevation of the good of the group over that of the individual. IOW, a paladin might fight against laws permitting prostitution, etc., as being bad for society as a whole.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
dcas said:
Btw, I believe the "lawful" in "lawful good" does not refer to laws as such, since laws can be unjust, but the elevation of the good of the group over that of the individual. IOW, a paladin might fight against laws permitting prostitution, etc., as being bad for society as a whole.
I agree about the morality, but I specifically asked the DM how open the institution of prostitution was in the game. He said it was both legal and widespread. I figured my paladin would not pursue it seeing it as somewhat morally shady, but not try to stop the other party members into engaging in the activity.

As for the sneaky stuff, we often go against enemies strong enough that a frontal attack is unwise.
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
Gary, what were the more memorable paladins that you've seen played?
Heh,

There were only a few played in my campaign, but there were two that were remarkable,

That played by Don Arndt was the most cautious one I have ever experienced or heard of. His behavior was so remarkable that the Artifict, "Invulnerable coat of Arn" was created to jape at such play.

The most paladin-like PC in the campaign was played by Mark Ratner with Aylerach, a paragon of bravery and virtue. He was duped into freeing the demon Fraz-Urbluu from his prison in Greyhawk Castle, the delighted demon carrying both he and Erac back to his home in the Abyss as a reward. Sadly, both of Erac's Vorpal Blades alng with Aylerach's two-handed +5 Holy Avenger turned into useless bars of iron there. Although both PCS were reutrned to the PMP, neither was very pleased with me as their DM for that adventure.

:uhoh:
Gary
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Heh,

There were only a few played in my campaign, but there were two that were remarkable,

That played by Don Arndt was the most cautious one I have ever experienced or heard of. His behavior was so remarkable that the Artifict, "Invulnerable coat of Arn" was created to jape at such play.

The most paladin-like PC in the campaign was played by Mark Ratner with Aylerach, a paragon of bravery and virtue. He was duped into freeing the demon Fraz-Urbluu from his prison in Greyhawk Castle, the delighted demon carrying both he and Erac back to his home in the Abyss as a reward. Sadly, both of Erac's Vorpal Blades alng with Aylerach's two-handed +5 Holy Avenger turned into useless bars of iron there. Although both PCS were reutrned to the PMP, neither was very pleased with me as their DM for that adventure.

:uhoh:
Gary
Ouch. Gary, what did those poor paladins ever do to you? And here I thought you enjoyed making that class. ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
Ouch. Gary, what did those poor paladins ever do to you? And here I thought you enjoyed making that class. ;)
Actually, Erac was a dual class fighter/magic-user, the swordplay bit being learned when he was transported to Barsoom by a cursed scroll. He came down in the Land of Ugor, had to fend off the cannibals there, and soon Erac was a 1st level fighter. He made F6 on that alternate world Mars, IIRR, before finding a way back to Oerth so that his magic would again function.

All I can add is that it is liukely a bad ides to play when both DMs are sipping Southern Comfort and seeking diversion from the ordinary... :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
 


haakon1

Adventurer
airwalkrr said:
I quite like the three choices. I personally do not find execution beneath a paladin, especially when it is done in such a lawful manner in such a lawless area. I think you did a fine job of roleplaying.
Nod. I agree. I think it's great role-playing, and that your DM is being "hard but fair" with having the villagers of Hommlett let off the bad guys in their trials.

If I was DMing it, I'd have the lords of Hommlett -- the two guys in the tower -- be in charge of judging cases, and have no compunction at executing bandits. If I wanted to be complicated, I might say that lords can't deal out capital punishment, so they need to wait for a circuit judge to come for a trial, and I might have the circuit judge be corrupt. But jail breaks I wouldn't think about, as the prisoners would be in a deep, lightless hole in the underbelly of the tower.

I like the idea of turning the Moathouse into your base. I did that in the computer game version (though other than staying there, I couldn't fix it up and change the map, it being a computer game). One thing to worry about is monsters returning to any parts you aren't watching closely, or "new secret doors" being discovered. Bwahahaha!
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Haakon, we actually sent for a few priests from the nearest city to be help run our temple in the Moat House and took our gold and used almost all of it to hire the men to guard it from monsters coming back in and make band-aid repairs to the wall for now. And yes, we are scared about secret entrances that we have not yet found. We sealed up one with a tunnel by collapsing some stones...

Gary, how did the idea for the Temple of Elemental Evil come out? It feels like a living, breathing world to a greater extent than Keep on the Borderlands. I suppose that's because the Keep was it's own internal environment, while the area around the Temple has a more diverse atmosphere due to the competing factions and interests. So far we've enjoyed it more, and the DM has also, especially because we're not the kind of party to stick with the storyline. We made the Moat House into a base, attacked some of the more actively evil people inside Nulb (town hates us now), tried to recruit our own spies among the people of Nulb, changed the pirates' ship into a floating thieves guild, and started a small chapel for Pelor while spreading the faith. And despite all this, the DM has done a decent job of taking the information provided and just running with it, which makes this, in my opinion, a well-designed module.
 

SpiralBound

First Post
Gary,

I have a question for you. A friend and I were comparing the stereotypical 3rd Ed D&D player mindset to that of players of 1st and 2nd Ed D&D. Specifically, that "today's gamer" (knowingly using and abusing the stereotype with full knowledge that not ALL players fit this mold) is much more prone to accepting the rules "as is" whereas in previous editions of the game, players and GMs were comparatively more willing to adjust or ignore a rule if it didn't suit them. This player attitude is in stark contrast to the fact that the D20 system is technically much easier to modify than the older editions were. A bit of a paradox really, the more adaptable and modular the rules became, the more "rules obedient" the average player has become - to the point that many "3 Ed only" gamers today assume without giving it a second thought that if the rules say "x", then no matter what, you play it that way.

Of course, the population of EnWorld does not usually fit this standard. For one, many of them have been playing since before 3ed, and are often much more willing to tinker with the rules and use them as guidelines, not laws. Yet even here I will still ocassionally see players lamenting that D20 is too complicated and that there are too many rules to obey... Apparently the act of simply not using a set of supplementary rules you disagree with has become a foreign concept. My friend and I realised though why this was the case. We realised why players are less able to intuitively 'mix and match" their rules, despite using a system that is more geared towards such than ever before.

The idea of "Rule 0" has become VASTLY reduced in prominence since the release of 3rd Ed D&D. One could even say it has been excised from the inherent philosophy of how one uses the rules. What was once presented as a set of guidelines that were only as valid as the desires of the GM and the enjoyment of the players is now being presented as "The Way Things Are Done"(TM). This has deeply influenced the newer generations of players in how they view the proper application of and subservience to The Rules As Written. Even supplimentary varient rules are treated as "take as directed" sources of additional mandatory rules. Frankly, I think that the lack of a "rule zero" in D&D 3.5 is it's largest failing.

Having said all of that... (P.S. thank you for your patience thus far!) If you were to write Rule Zero now with the current crop of new, young players in mind, people who've never played anything older than the "outdated" D20 3.0, just how would YOU phrase this idea?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
I have a taste for Southern Comfort myself. Perhaps I'll bring a bottle or two if I'm able to make your next Con.
Okay...

Now and then I am not above mixing Southern Comfort with straight bourbon over ice...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Paul J. Stormberg said:
Howdy Gary,




My favorite con you pulled as a DM has to be Herb's research for Robilar in an effort to reach, Mars was it? I'll let you relate that story.


Futures Bright,

Paul
:lol:

That was a mean DM's trick also. I'll have to add that to the collection of tales of D&Ding, most of which appeared in Dragon Magazine, that I plan to gather and have published in book form one of these years;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Deuce Traveler said:
...

Gary, how did the idea for the Temple of Elemental Evil come out? It feels like a living, breathing world to a greater extent than Keep on the Borderlands. I suppose that's because the Keep was it's own internal environment, while the area around the Temple has a more diverse atmosphere due to the competing factions and interests. So far we've enjoyed it more, and the DM has also, especially because we're not the kind of party to stick with the storyline. We made the Moat House into a base, attacked some of the more actively evil people inside Nulb (town hates us now), tried to recruit our own spies among the people of Nulb, changed the pirates' ship into a floating thieves guild, and started a small chapel for Pelor while spreading the faith. And despite all this, the DM has done a decent job of taking the information provided and just running with it, which makes this, in my opinion, a well-designed module.
When the WoG was completed, I decided to start a new campaign based on Oerth rather than continue using my generally undetailed paralleel earth setting. Thus I created the VoH, ToEE, Nulb and Stoink for nearby town adventures. As I had the whole envisioned from the start, there was a good deal of continuity in the end products. the Temple was meant to be the dungeon crawl base replacing Castle Greyhawk, and more levels would have been added, but...

When Robilar freed Zuggtmoy, I pretty well scrapped the idea of using it for ongoing adventures for my group, vowing to get back to finishing it eventually. As I was not able to do much DMing thereafter, that never happened, so Frank browbeat me into having him complete the unfinished ms. for the ToEE. Of course, that did not have the added levels, but it was complete and in order.

Frank followed my initial material, understands that I write with mainly critical detaius only so as to encourage the DM to make the work his own.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Howdy SpiralBound

Clearly you are most serious about this matter, and I relate to what you are saying :D

If I were to write a rule regarding rules, I believe I would do it in this general way:

While this work contains clear, concise, and complete rules for the game, they are not graven in stone. Each Dungeon Master is unique, as if the player group. Together they develop a special world of their own, the campaign setting. As this environment is created by the group, the rules that govern it must suit their needs. In short, the DM has carte blanch to alter the game rules, doing so with the advice and concent of the players if a wise game master.

FWIW,
Gary
 

SpiralBound

First Post
Thanks Gary,

That's well spoken and certainly echoes my feelings on the matter. I guess I am serious about it. I'm lucky in that the people I play with are older and more experienced, but I often hear of conversations with younger players that typify my above points. I think that the worst part of it all is that these players are being robbed of what I feel could be a fuller, more enjoyable roleplaying experience. To these players, D & D is more akin to playing a boardgame minus the board. Still, I guess if they're still having fun... I just think that they could be getting more out of it than they are.
 

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