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 said:
The year after i left TSR there was a very amusing event, though. I was to give a talk at Gencon, and Lorraine's minions put it in a corner where there was no light, no chairs set up, and the location wasn't properly noted in the program. Despite that about 100 intrepid adventurers managed to locate it :lol:

Well, if it helps, I hated 2e and most of the stuff Lorraine put out. It just wasn't the real thing, so I mostly stuck with AD&D and old adventures and my own work from 1981-2001.

But, after much wailing and dragging of feet, I was talked into trying 3e a few years ago. I actually like 3e and 3.5e fairly well, though there are more rules and that slows down the game a bit.

My questions: Have you played the latest versions of D&D? Do you like them?

Have you read later versions of Greyhawk? If so, do you like any of that work? I think Erik Mona, the current editor of Dungeon and prime author of the Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, does an excellent job with Greyhawk, though I wish he'd have thrown out more of the non-Gygax accretions to the setting (especially the Greyhawk Wars silliness).

Since it is a fantasy game, I'll tell you one of mine: you start writing adventures for 3.5e Greyhawk. Perhaps you come up with the adventure story, and Erik Mona or the like translates the rules for you? That's never gunna happen, is it?
;)
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
Halfling and treant are clear, but what's a balrog in D&D? One of the devils, I suppose, or perhaps you left it out entirely?
The balor demon, the name borrowed from Celtic mythology....where I expect that "balrog" came from.

I've been wondering something since the good old '80s . . . it seems to me that your map of Greyhawk and Tolkien's map of Middle Earth hook up to each other. Your Sea of Dust backs up nicely into his Nurn and Mordor, with your Sulhaut Mountains becoming his Ered Lithui (Ash Mountains), and your little lake and river on the Dry Steppes (in 3e labelled Lake Udrukankar and the Rumikadath River) fitting in nicely a tributary to the Sea of Rhun.

Is that just me, or did you or someone at TSR intend them to fit together?
There is absolutely no connection. I did the two maps on hex paper of the maximum sixe that TSR's printers could manage at the time, free-handing the work so as to get in all the cultural types I thought would make for an interesting campaign ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
Well, if it helps, I hated 2e and most of the stuff Lorraine put out. It just wasn't the real thing, so I mostly stuck with AD&D and old adventures and my own work from 1981-2001.
About half of the AD&D audience was lost when 2E was published. TSR tried publishing more product to make up for the smaller consumer audience, but it was a downward sprial.

But, after much wailing and dragging of feet, I was talked into trying 3e a few years ago. I actually like 3e and 3.5e fairly well, though there are more rules and that slows down the game a bit.

My questions: Have you played the latest versions of D&D? Do you like them?
I read the new PHB and DMG, played some 10 or so long sessions of 3E play-testing the Lost city of Gaxmoor. I did not find the system to my liking, so I have not played further, 3.5E included.

Have you read later versions of Greyhawk? If so, do you like any of that work? I think Erik Mona, the current editor of Dungeon and prime author of the Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, does an excellent job with Greyhawk, though I wish he'd have thrown out more of the non-Gygax accretions to the setting (especially the Greyhawk Wars silliness).
No, nor do i plan to, as the current version of the world setting it quite the opposite of what i created it for--an open world for DMs to freely adapt to their campaign needs.

Since it is a fantasy game, I'll tell you one of mine: you start writing adventures for 3.5e Greyhawk. Perhaps you come up with the adventure story, and Erik Mona or the like translates the rules for you? That's never gunna happen, is it?
;)
How right you are. I have no creative rapport with the new system, nor the old world setting as altered...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
You shall not be forgotten while we still live . . . beyond that, I can't promise, but I imagine the future versions of the internet will keep your memory around for another century at least.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Gygax
Heh....

Well there is also the new strain of bacteria, Arthronema gygaxiana, that might serve to remind some folks of my game jellies and slimes :heh:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Triskaidekafile said:
Neutrality is a relative. The Treaty of 1815 that ended the Napoleonic Wars absolutely forbid the Swiss (not quite the 'passive chocolate exporting banker' sterotype of today) from exporting mercenaries. There's a reason the Swiss Guard *still* have a commission to pull secret service type duty on the Pope.

In my Greyhawk, Perrenland is neutral, because it exports mercenaries to all sides -- Ket, Iuz, Highfolk, and sometimes Bissel. Normally, the cantons try to decide to export troops to only one side at a time, though. It's a weird combo of mostly Swiss (cantons, mercenaries, crossbows, and cheese) and a little American Indian (Flannae gods, which in my campaign means American Indian mysticism, nature respect, etc.).

I imagine all Greyhawk DM's have different takes on Greyhawk's many lands, and that my Swiss part fits what Gary would have done, but the American Indian stuff is nothing like what was intended. Is that a correct guess?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
In my Greyhawk, Perrenland is neutral, because it exports mercenaries to all sides -- Ket, Iuz, Highfolk, and sometimes Bissel. Normally, the cantons try to decide to export troops to only one side at a time, though. It's a weird combo of mostly Swiss (cantons, mercenaries, crossbows, and cheese) and a little American Indian (Flannae gods, which in my campaign means American Indian mysticism, nature respect, etc.).

I imagine all Greyhawk DM's have different takes on Greyhawk's many lands, and that my Swiss part fits what Gary would have done, but the American Indian stuff is nothing like what was intended. Is that a correct guess?
As for the inclusion of American Indian culture in Perrenland, indeed, it is different from what I would have done. As I tend to favor the Swiss military of the medieval period, I'd have included Welsh so as to have longbowmen in the battles of pikes, and maybe some Magyar horse archers as support units too :eek:

Heh,
Gary
 

That Crusades movie . . .

med stud said:
people in the movie had modern Western morals (which really bugs me).

It peeved me, rather than vexing me, since I'm so used to that particular fault in modern views of the past -- events like the Crusades happened simply because everyone was bad in the old days, not enlightened like we are since the 70's or so. Must be the influence of D&D improved our alignments. ;)

What bothered me most: Crusaders with a casual attitude to their religion, and flaming trebuchet shots at the stone walls of Jerusalem. Still, the trebuchets looked accurate to me, and the arms and armor were about right, so I never felt like walking out. But I can't be bothered to remember the name of the film a few weeks later . . .
 

ZuulMoG said:
Besides the whole '25 years of entertainment, lifetimes in alternate realities, and the accolades of mythic populations', I'd like to thank you for my mind. Playing every version of D&D from Basic to AD&D has not only kept my math skills up to date (Alas for ThAC0, it kept the riff-raff out of our game!!), it also kept me reading.

Here here! As a guy who majored in history/poli sci and works with translating numbers into business decisions, I've got to wonder how much of my mind's development I owe to picking up the PHB in 1981 . . . quite a lot, I'd say.

Thanks Gary!
 

Whitey said:
WHITEY: See, that's their scam. They're not really selling a game anymore - they're not even peddling a book of numbers, related to a game. What they're doing, is selling an endorsement. Play how we want, using not only our mechanics, but our whole mandatory wealth by level, guaranteed cakewalk combat, trendwhoring mish-mash settings, and you are playing the just and proper form of the game. Disagree, and your game is somehow lesser. They go on and on, about options instead of limitations being their goal, but there is no other option, if ya don't subscribe to that.
. . .
WHITEY: Look at it like this - according to them, every PC faces 'level appropriate' challenges, with the same gear value, using the same stale plot-lines. What's it to them, that every game plods out to the same result?

As we old-schoolers know, the DM is the boss, in any edition. How to make 3.5e a little more palatable for the likes of us?
- Put your players up against more challenging modules than they are supposed to be able to take on. I'm running a 4th level party through a 7th level adventure right now. It's easy in parts, fiendishly deadly in others. Seems about right to me.
- Make up your own rules. My ranger version is not the 2e/3e Two-Weapon Fighting version. I strip that out in exchange for regular feats, and as a result, I have a PC ranger (converted from 1e) whose the usual elven archer, and another more interesting ancient Greek spearman/spy. Mess with the adventures until they are de-lame-ified.
- Don't look at the truly stupid stuff, like the armor illustrations in the 3e PHB. Try to think Eberron must be like Blackmoor, and ignore it. Get your adventures from Dungeon instead of WOTC.
-Or just keep playing AD&D, or Hackmaster, or Lejendary Adventures. AD&D still works fine, and the others maybe more what you're looking for.

It seems to me the game would be better if WOTC stopped trying to sell us silly optional additional rulebooks, and just asked us to donate a $1 everytime we played. If Gary only had a nickel for every person in every game of D&D ever played . . . ;)
 

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