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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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Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
The primary appeal of the Druid class from a creative standpoint is that the Romans were so thorough in destroying them and their religion that we know virtually nothing about either :eek:

Maybe it is just me, but when I first started playing D&D, the only "druid" I was familiar with was Getafix. I tried to find that super-strength potion on the druiid list of abilities, but was disapponted it wasn't there.
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
I don't think we have any way to determine accurately which edition has more people regularly playing it. Leaving aside the question of how to determine who is a player, and who is just a collector, and who is "regularly" as opposed to "sporadically" playing, we simply have no verifiable sales data for the books that would allow for a good comparison...

But I think your argument that the DM is disempowered in 3e is just off-base...

"We" do have some pretty good information regarding sales of OAD&D compared to 3E, although WotC is not trumpeting it, and the former were considerably higher than than the latter from what insiders and purveyors of RPGs ahve told me. As there is no likely difference between the two games in regards to who did and does do what with them, the remainder of your argument is invalid.

The plethoras of rules in new D&D speaks volumes as to your latter assertion, as does the manner in which players approach 3E, memorizing and quoting rules to the DM.

If you enjoy the new game fine. There is no point in discussing this further. My opinions stand as do yours.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven said:
Maybe it is just me, but when I first started playing D&D, the only "druid" I was familiar with was Getafix. I tried to find that super-strength potion on the druiid list of abilities, but was disapponted it wasn't there.
:lol: :uhoh: :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

nyrfherdr

First Post
Hey Gary,
Nice to see you back in action. We were all concerned for your health.
Take care of yourself and your family.

I don't have any questions, it's just nice to see you active on the boards again.

Game ON!
nyrfherdr
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
"We" do have some pretty good information regarding sales of OAD&D compared to 3E, although WotC is not trumpeting it, and the former were considerably higher than than the latter from what insiders and purveyors of RPGs ahve told me. As there is no likely difference between the two games in regards to who did and does do what with them, the remainder of your argument is invalid.

The information is not publicly available, nor is it verified. Until that happens, all claims (unfortunately, including those of insiders and purveyors of RPGs) are entirely unreliable - especially since the distribution chain has changed significantly between 1975 and 2007.

The plethoras of rules in new D&D speaks volumes as to your latter assertion, as does the manner in which players approach 3E, memorizing and quoting rules to the DM.

Are you really claiming that players didn't memorize and quote rules to the DM in the "old days"? Maybe not at your personal table, but in my experience, it happened all the time. The rules-lawyer is a consequence of personality, not system. Are you saying that there were not reams of rules in the "old days"? I'd argue that the volume of rules per page is less in most of the new products than it was in many earlier edition products, or at the very least they are simpler to use as they aren't a collection of several dozen unique subsystems each with its own set of rules for use.

Here's what I think the real source of your position is: when playing Chainmail/OD&D/AD&D, you were intimately familiar with the system you played with. Your version of the game was not the one that was published - you had a collection of house rules, personal to you and your players, that you were familiar with and used (I believe you have stated publicly that you didn't play AD&D as written in the published rules). The game seemed, as a result, easy, intuitive, and no one argued about much, because you had already decided how to fill in the gaps and make judgment calls.

When you looked at the 3e rules, they were different. Trying to assess the play style, you assumed all the rules would be used, and people would insist on it. You've heard here and there about people having problems with players quoting rules to the DM and rules-lawyering up a storm. Because you did not grow the system from its roots, and weren't along for the ride over the course of its development, it seems a lot more complicated. Based on almost no evidence at all, you seem to think that DMs have limited authority now, despite the many times this is contradicted in the 3e books.

However, my experience with older editions of D&D is very different from what I have hypothesized yours was. I came to the system when it was a finished rules set - published for public consumption. The groups I played in tried to use all the rules, because they were tprinted in the books, we supposed, we were clearly meant to use them. The early attempts to play D&D were a mess, and until we started playing using a raft of house rules to cover up the problem areas, arguments and "DM challeneges" abounded (none of which was helped by your now-infamous and probably misunderstood "if you aren't playing by the rules as written, you aren't playing D&D" missive). Much of D&D felt arbitrary and counterintuitive, because we had not seen the system evolve as you had. In many ways, we played D&D despite the rules, not because of them.

The current system is not really that different in this regard. Playing using all of the rules is still difficult - although not as much so. But the game states clearly, both in the PHB and the DMG that it is up to the DM to decide how the game will be played, what rules will and won't be used, and what options, choices, and alternatives are available in the campaign.

To you, older D&D feels "organic", and the new edition feels "rulesy". Neither is the case. They are pretty much equally "rulesy", I suspect that it is just your familiarity with one and lack of familiarity with the other than gives you this impression.
 


Ardenian

First Post
SR,
i would offer that there are more rules now - and each Splat book released offer more rules to interlock with existing rules - even if the core rule books have no mention of them... like in all RPG's there are rules that the "house" will modify, expound apon and eliminate - it's like that in every game setting - although in the 3.x rule set - you have a vast increase in ruels in comparison to the 1.0 rule set. Not worse, not better (IMO) just more, and different. I had a great time playing the 1.0 rule set - and created my own game system that incorporated the specific 1.0 rules from AD+D, gear and ideas from Star Frontiers, Mech Warrior and Rifts (just to name a few).. i'm currently playing the 3.5 rule set and having a good time - although there seems to be a increase in comments like "Gimme a sec i need to look something up..." than there was 20 years ago.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
nyrfherdr said:
Hey Gary,
Nice to see you back in action. We were all concerned for your health.
Take care of yourself and your family.

I don't have any questions, it's just nice to see you active on the boards again.

Game ON!
nyrfherdr
Thanks :)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Storm Raven,

As it happens I was not only a director and officer of TSR back through 1985, but I also received royalty reports for AD&D sales, so there is no problem in me varifying them. Also, I have no reason to doubt what i have been told regarding sales of 3E--and 3.5E for that matter. Indeed distribution has changed since I was CEO of TSR. It is far worse today, and RPG sales are way down. There is great concern amongst many game publishers in this tegard. That said, I do not believe any further discussion of this matter will be fruitful, so I am dropping the topic.

As for familiarity, I had the distinct chore of spending many sessions playing a 3E based module. The time wasted in looking up rules, typically by players, and then arguing with the two DMs about how to apply them, demanding thaey be applied, was tedious indeed. This happens in many groups I am informed. I never saw nor heard of an OAD&D DM that would tolerate such behavior.

Now let us drop this subject and move on to something interesting.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ardenian said:
SR,
... - although there seems to be a increase in comments like "Gimme a sec i need to look something up..." than there was 20 years ago.
LOL!

I am guilty of that when mastering my own, rules-light Lejendary Adventure game. In my case it is mainly to keep from looking bad in front of my player group, When the action is fast and furious, or the role-playing innovative, I forget the books and wing it.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Ardenian said:
SR,
i would offer that there are more rules now - and each Splat book released offer more rules to interlock with existing rules

Most splat books have very little in the way of "rules". They mostly have prestige classes, new base classes, new spells, and new feats. Sometimes they have new races and new equipment. A very limited amount of the splat books is really what I would consider "new rules" (like the skill tricks in Scoundrel, for example). Of course, the 1e supplemental books were similar - Unearthed Arcana was basically a bunch of spells, equipment, and classes, with a few new rules here and there.

And, more to the point, all of the splat books are explicitly optional. If you don't want to bother with them, you don't have to. That is entirely within the DMs purview (something the Col has said is lacking now, but the actual books contradict).

- even if the core rule books have no mention of them... like in all RPG's there are rules that the "house" will modify, expound apon and eliminate - it's like that in every game setting - although in the 3.x rule set - you have a vast increase in ruels in comparison to the 1.0 rule set.

Not even close. I think you are looking backwards with rose colored glasses here, and remembering what 1e looked like when you edited out the patchwork quilt of hundreds of rules that were little used in practice. Try looking at 1e with fresh eyes and really look at the rules. Look at how dense the rule set really is. It is not simple, and almost no one played them as written, taking shortcuts and leaving out huge chunks of rules to allow for playability.

i'm currently playing the 3.5 rule set and having a good time - although there seems to be a increase in comments like "Gimme a sec i need to look something up..." than there was 20 years ago.

I find that the rules now need far less lookup than the 1e rules did, primarily because the new rules are so regularized. Sure, there is a learning curve, and the first month or two with 3e we were really slow and had to consult the rules, but then again, we had to spend a lot of time climbing the learning curve when we started with 1e too - more time in my recollection.
 
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Storm Raven

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
As it happens I was not only a director and officer of TSR back through 1985, but I also received royalty reports for AD&D sales, so there is no problem in me varifying them.

I have no doubt but that your figures are correct. That's not my concern in this.

Also, I have no reason to doubt what i have been told regarding sales of 3E--and 3.5E for that matter. Indeed distribution has changed since I was CEO of TSR. It is far worse today, and RPG sales are way down. There is great concern amongst many game publishers in this tegard. That said, I do not believe any further discussion of this matter will be fruitful, so I am dropping the topic.

This I think is in question. Many figures have been bandied about at various times, many times citing "industry insiders" and "knowledgeable sources", and almost all of them are mutually contradictory. I don't think that there is really any chance of getting a good handle on the "RPG market" overall, and we really don't know anything about the distribution of 3.5e. of course, there is also the additional problem of whether you include third party publishers in your "current edition" count - since several of them are counted (in various measures) among the largest publishers in the industry.

I also think that it isn't really a valid comparison to simply mark off sales for one edition against another. I think it is ridiculously simplistic (and not worthy of you) to assert that the difference is the result of differing amounts of "DM power", especially since the 3e rules make clear that the DM has just as much authority as the 1e rules ever endowed him with. The current RPG market has to compete with options that the market in 1975 simply did not. CRPGs had not even been invented - not until the mid-1980s did they become any kind of competition, and that was trivial - one or two titles per year. Online RPG options weren't even on the horizon. The RPG market itself had almost no competition for D&D - Tunnels and Trolls and Traveller were pretty much it for a while; and although legions of imitators popped up quickly, most of them were shoddy efforts (Dragonquest, for example). There were almost no VCRs, and certainly no DVDs clamoring for a gamer-geek's budget. And so on.

As for familiarity, I had the distinct chore of spending many sessions playing a 3E based module. The time wasted in looking up rules, typically by players, and then arguing with the two DMs about how to apply them, demanding thaey be applied, was tedious indeed. This happens in many groups I am informed. I never saw nor heard of an OAD&D DM that would tolerate such behavior.

I have seen and heard of dozens of OAD&D DMs who not only put up with that behaviour, but expected it. And, to tell you the truth, I have seen almost no rules disputes in 3e, certainly far fewer that I had when playing 1e or (rarely) 2e. I'd say one adventure is a pretty weak foundation to base an argument on - after the first OAD&D adventure the group I started with still thought that "spells per level" for magic-users and clerics meant that was the number of spells they could cast until they reached the next experience level, and that fireballs were thirty inches across, and a host of other misconceptions and mistakes in the rules. Many misconceptions resulted in disagreements, and contentious arguments. As I said before, there is a learning curve for 3e. There was also a learning curve for 1e, but you, having developed the system as it grew, never saw it.
 
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Shane_Leahy

First Post
haakon1 said:
To the PC's, he's just some foreign dude (native language: Cold Tongue) in chainmail who hangs around in a big hospital ward with a fancy multi-colored lamp, healing the war wounded. I'm sure NOBODY here can guess what lamp that is. ;)

Well I didn't see an S listed in the modules but I would guess you got if from a Lost Cavern somewhere...
 


Ron

Explorer
Gary,

I was thinking of running a West meet East campaign, something akin to my Portuguese ancestors exploring the orient in the XV-XVI centuries. As such, I just ordered a replacement copy of Oriental Adventures. I know that you were more a supervisor than a designer to that project. Still, I wonder if I will get in trouble mixing characters from both books and if it would hurt much to take out the Oriental Adventures' Non Weapon Proficiencies system?

Best wishes,
Ron
 

Fifth Element

First Post
Storm Raven said:
I think you are looking backwards with rose colored glasses here, and remembering what 1e looked like when you edited out the patchwork quilt of hundreds of rules that were little used in practice. Try looking at 1e with fresh eyes and really look at the rules. Look at how dense the rule set really is. It is not simple, and almost no one played them as written, taking shortcuts and leaving out huge chunks of rules to allow for playability.

Just to throw my support behind Storm Raven, I agree 100% with this comment. I recently went through some old 1E books in detail, reading passages I had never read when I actually played the game, and realized how many of the rules we simply ignored when we played.

Take note: I am not arguing 3E is superior to earlier editions, I simply take issue with assertions that the reverse is true. Colour me unsuprised, however, that the creator of 1E considers it to be superior to 3E. If I had created the game, I'm sure I'd feel that way too, though the arguments to support this assertion provided by the Col are the same ones advanced (and discredited) in many other threads.

It is perfectly fair to prefer one edition over another, as long as you realize it is a matter of taste. Advancing arguments to "support" your personal tastes is folly. Witness the "GM power" argument, which is simply, demonstrably false.
 

Fifth Element

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Only WotC can estimate the actual number based on sales of the work, Imperical evidence is useless, as not 5% of the new D&D game audience posts here or on any other website

My statements are based on the the rule books published, the contents of same, ans what I have heard imperically


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

(You need to imagine a fake spanish accent to get the right feel.)
 

John Drake

First Post
Jdvn1 said:
Well, it's the type of encounters you come across. As a PC facing a horde, you might have to stand your ground among a bunch of other people. As an epic PC facing a horde, you might have to stand your ground while at the same time protecting the lives of citizens as they run away.

So you have to use your resources to not only kill baddies but to also control the battlefield, try to influence where they move (stop them from going to certain places or certain directions), or use resources to directly stop enemy casters' spells.

Hmmm, very well put. Y'know, I guess in my experience, I've had very few good ones with "epic" level stuff, so I suppose that is why I have the POV I do. I do find it rare, however, that a DM has run a decent game on large levels. In one specific instance, I knew for a fact that the DM just wanted to be able to use big massive monsters, just to check out their crazy abilities! Now, that is all fine and good, but with no proper story (imho) to tie it together, even a half decent premise to warrant such encounters, made it boring imho. But yes, if the DM uses their brain, any level of adventure can be satisfying, as you eloquently state.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
robertsconley said:
Ok you got me , it was a obvious question. :lol:

I just curious if you had any stories about it. I read accounts about those days from Bob, Bill Owen, etc and I was just curious in what details you could supply. :D

Thanks
Rob Conley
Actually there was little contact between TSR staff and the JG pep[;e/They sent prosepective mss. to TSR, and someone at the company suposedly read them and gave an okay or asked for revisions. That operation was generally the purview of Brian Blume.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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