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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.

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
the black knight said:
Hey Gary,

Thanks for all the forthright responses to my questions. It's greatly appreciated.


I keep saying this, but I've got one last question for you.

What's the cruellest thing you've ever done, as a DM, to a player character?

Was it deserved? Do you regret doing it?


Curious,

the black knight



P.S. Have you watched Chimes at Midnight yet?
That would be when Rob Kuntz and I were DMing for my son Ernie and a chap named Mark Ratner that played a Paladin with a holy sword. Ernie was far worse with two fairly earned/gained vorpal blades.

They freed a demon prince, Fraz'urb'lu, Ernie's PC not using any metagaming information he could have, not even a hint, that was so pleased with the two that he carried them off to his domain in the Abyss where I rules that all three of their swords turned into useless hunks of iron.

They did not deserve that, and had I been fair I would have reversed the ruling as soon thereafter as possible. I did not and I regret it to this day.

Many a PC has been killed in mu campaign, but all those losses were because of very bad luck or like play. I have never set out to eliminate a PC in my campaign, only for special events at cons where the participants expect to have that happen. When a player is distraught aboyt such a loss, I empathise strongly...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Edena_of_Neith said:
May I relate the history?

Yours Sincerely
Edena_of_Neith
If you insist, but I believe that my validation, or not, is unnecessary. I have publically stated that very high-level PCs in a campaign well-managed to deal with such challenge are as valid as low-level ones.

IIRR, my friend Francois Marcela Froideval had at least one PC that was around 50th level...and he had a higher-level overlord. The main challenges were player to player, player to demi-deity...and terrasqes :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Edena_of_Neith

First Post
I would tell a story then.
It's a very long story (it's a long post even by my standards.) Please read it at your leisure, or whatever part you wish.
I feel I owe it to you, Gary. You deserve a full explanation from me.

Back in 1976, I learned of a game called D&D (what everyone calls OD&D now) and I attempted playing it.
After a year of playing, my first characters survived their first dungeon, and these were Clara (named after the girl in the Nutcracker) and Edena (a sidekick, needed for healing spells ... although those only came at 2nd level.)
This game was set in B1, and we conquered most of the upper level. Then the game broke up because of rules arguments between my father and my brothers.
Clara and Edena gained 2nd level after 2 adventures. (It is noteworthy that Edena had 3 hit points, was kicked by the party donkey for 2 hit points, and sat on the donkey for the entire first session, doing nothing but staying alive. A most humble beginning.)

I was in another game, in a module whose name I do not remember. In that game, Clara and Edena gained 3rd level.

I was asked at that point to translate them into 1st edition, now out (it was 1979.) So I did so.

I met a large and friendly gaming group at the age of 15. And they had a campaign going called Demonbane. I was invited to join, but could bring only one character. I had to choose, and it was hard: I finally choose Edena because he seemed weaker and needed strengthening. I was not allowed to change characters after that, so Edena became my main protagonist in this long campaign.
In Greggie's Castle (Demonbane), Edena gained 4th level (1st edition.)
In Mad Wizard's Revenge (Demonbane), Edena gained 5th level ... and drank the Potion of Eternal Youth met for the high level NPC wizard (the DM never told me what we were going after ... nobody in the party bothered to tell me that potion was for an NPC ... Edena drank it, thinking it would grant heroism in the face of the horned devils attacking the party ...)
In Quest for the Runestone Staff (Demonbane), Edena gained 6th, and then 7th level.
In the Final Battle for Demonbane (Demonbane), Edena gained 8th, and then 9th level (we went on a touring trip through interesting places like Q1, Avernus, fought in the Siege of Meln, and so on. We obtained the artifact, and brought it back to the NPCs who so badly needed it.)

Edena went through part of the Desert of Desolation series, then through the Deathwish Campaign, and gained 10th level.

Edena then went through The City Through the Gate. We did not find the Mace of St Cuthbert. We did run into Doctor Who. We *did* run into the Minions of Cthulu.
Edena gained no levels.

We challenged S1, the Tomb of Horrors. We gained the Crypt. We beat Acererak (but did not kill him permanently.) Edena was the only survivor ... he was the weakest character, and by the time Acererak reached him, Edena destroyed the skull. Sadly, Edena could not save his lost friends. Edena gained 11th level.

Edena went through the scenario known as Thieve's World. We toured the infamous city. We had a lot of fun in there. And a lot of trouble.

A shadow dragon drained Edena back to 10th level at this point.

Edena went into City Beyond the Gate a second time. There was much fighting against the Old Ones. Edena survived, rescued a lot of people, and learned a great deal about Terran lore.

-

And so on.
In this way, through standard play, Edena eventually reached 21st level as a cleric.
At this point, I retired the character. No games existed at this level. There was no way to further the adventure.

I went on to play many other characters. (I had already played many others, of course.) There were many other games, other good times, other challenges, other times and places.
I could fill hundreds of pages with those experiences and adventures. Suffice it to say, there was a lot that Dungeons and Dragons gave for me. The memories of those good times are forever.
And, of course, there was Star Fleet Battles, Battletech, Rolemaster (!), Car Wars, Dawn Patrol, and a host of other games besides D&D, in which I and my friends participated. We even had one player who created a three-tiered Dragonchess (Dragon Magazine #100) set, and we tried that (it's checkmate in one move, if you don't act immediately.)

-

Gary, I wanted to complete Edena's story in some sort of satisfactory way. And I could not do so. I could not find the right DM.
My old DM refused to allow the destruction of Goodslayer, Demonbane's opposite, by arbitrary ruling, and the good NPCs turned on Edena, so there was no good story ending there.
The Test of the Council gave Edena the ability to create a mage's enclave, but Edena was a cleric, and the DM moved away. No way to end Edena's story there.
And so on.
I so very much wanted a satisfactory ending for the character, and none was to be found.

I returned to playing Edena.
But I could not play him at 21st level. It was impossible. No such high level games existed.
I decided to arbitrarily lower him to levels between 1st and 10th, depending on the game, and with the DM's knowledge and permission. In this case, Edena was greatly weakened and without the items he had gained ... and if he was killed, he was killed PERMANENTLY. He could not go to his friends and allies gained in previous adventures, or rely upon items gained in previous adventures, to bring him back.

This proved very unfulfilling. A lot of risk, and no reward ... except finishing Edena's story, of course. But the risk was overwhelming, and I believed this unreasonable.

-

So I asked permission to add any levels Edena gained, at lower level, to his top levels. Not experience points, but levels.
Thus, if Edena went from 2nd to 3rd level in the game, his top level went from 21st to 22nd level.
This was INCUMBENT upon the DM's prior approval and express permission. I received such permission.

So why this approach?
Remember that if I stripped Edena to 2nd level, I took away everything he had. He was now a 2nd level character, with nothing - no items, no allies, no nothing.
I figured that there was an equivalency - that the effort necessary to go from 2nd to 3rd level, the risks involved, were equivalent to the risks involved in going from 21st to 22nd level.
Now, of course, higher level characters must deal with higher level monsters. But higher level characters have more power with which to deal with these greater challenges.
Higher level characters had to obtain vastly more experience points to level. But *at that time* experience was mostly earned through the obtainment of gold pieces and magical items, and these were typically handed out in vast quantities at high level by most DMs I had ever known ... and in small quantities at low level. Another equivalency.
Thus I felt satisfied that I remained within the Spirit of the Game in doing as I did. So did my DMs, who awarded the levels.

And fortunately, Edena - at those lower levels - managed to survive in all those adventures. I mean, let's say you're 25th level, and you're real powerful ... and you voluntarily reduce your character to 3rd level, take away all his magic, and say 'if he's killed like this he's permanently dead!' Yep, I did that. Over and over. And Edena won, again and again, triumphing over foes big and small.

I did not advance Edena beyond the charts.
That is, his THAC0 never dropped below -3 (the maximum for clerics), his saves never improved beyond 19th level (the maximum for clerics), and his turning ability never increased beyond 14th level (the maximum for clerics.)
What did continue to improve were his hit points, and I was allowed to add his Constitution bonus. Also, his spells improved (based on the charts, up to 30th level, and extrapolating beyond that point from the chart.)

The ultimate result was a character who is effectively a 19th level cleric who happens to have 250 hit points, and about 20 spells per level, up through 7th level.
He never gained more than one attack per round. He never gained the ability to cast more than one spell per round. He *never* gained anything like Quicken Spell.
He never threw a spell, if he took even a single point of damage. For the rules were the rules, and if you took damage, your spells being cast were ruined. That applied to clerics of 1st level ... and 121st level.

-

I attempted to complete Edena's story, but I never could find a satisfactory ending. I asked DMs for help on this, but received frustration instead (why? I don't know.)
So I kept playing Edena, seeking to finish his story.
When Edena's 'top' level reached 30th, I continued to give him levels, but these were honorary. It was patently obvious that nobody was above 30th level (except the phaerimm, that race of super genius mages who average 40th - see the Ruins of Myth Drannor boxed set.) It was patently obvious that nobody could be above 30th level, for some reason, with some extreme exceptions like Acererak.
But Edena's story never came to a conclusion, my frustration grew, and I kept trying and trying, and so the levels stacked up.

Edena *never* became anything like Acererak. Acererak had power beyond anything Edena could have. Acererak could look you in the face and melt your body and eat your soul. Edena could not do such things. He was merely a 19th level cleric with extra hit points and more spells than usual.
Indeed, Edena (chuckles) had a bad tendency to lose all his items real fast (except an artifact gained) Fireballs, dragon's breath, and acid (not to mention disintegrate and Mordenkainen's Disjunction) had this bad tendency to FRY EVERYTHING your character had. LOL. (And yes, back at that time, magical items tended to explode when destroyed.)
In the end, Edena was left with only Peacemaker, his original mace (the one he took into B1 at 1st level), which he kept as a personal memoir and an honorary weapon. This mace was destroyed repeatedly, but Edena always repaired it or reforged it and kept it at his waist.

When Edena was 10th level, he was challenged by Odin, his patron diety, to combat against an unknown foe. He was offered great reward (the artifact) if he won, and permanent death if he lost.
He was stuck in a chamber with no escape against a sabre-toothed were-tiger. After the battle from hell (cure light wounds is far more useful than people think ... (winces)) Edena won (with lycanthropy, later cured) and obtained the artifact.

But Odin demanded something else. He demanded Edena become Good. And Odin demanded this without explaining what Good WAS. He left that for Edena to figure out.

Edena had come from a Norse background, foresaw nothing but Nifleheim upon his death (an eternity in the Grey Waste, ultimate neutral evil) regardless of what he did (Odin showed this to him personally), and therefore became obsessed with *life* since life was all there was.
Asked to be 'Good', Edena - upon some adventuring and learning - came to appreciate that Good equated with Life, and was about preserving and protecting Life, cherishing Life. Edena, being Norsish, saw that giving battle to Evil, standing as a champion against Evil, was the best way to uphold Good, to champion Life, to cherish Life.

Thus Edena never came to revere, respect, or even discuss 'balance.'
After 'balance' became popular among the 'Good Guys', Edena never subscribed to it. He continued his attempts to give battle to Evil, to stand up against Evil in all it's forms, to constantly challenge Evil wherever it was.
Of course, this made Edena a rabble-rouser and disturber of the peace of the worst sort, and since Edena was so utterly dedicated, so extremely driven, so absolutely implacable and uncompromising, he came to be viewed as a lunatic by most people. (A view that continues through the current time.)
And since Edena *knew* that nothing but the Grey Waste, eternal dark and cold, awaited him after his final death, regardless of what he did, he kept him championing life ever more fiercely.
Edena came to regard the whole of the D&D milieu (the Prime Material Plane, Inner Planes, Elemental Planes, Outer Planes, Astral Plane, Etheral Plane) as a part of the Midgard, suspended upon Yggdrasil, and doomed to Ragnarok. There was an Oytgard (the world beyond Yggdrasil, the world of Terra, and the world of those crazy monsters called the Minions of Cthulu) but in *Edena's* case he could not escape his fate by staying in the Oytgard.

As his own side came to view his as a lunatic, and as he failed against the forces of Evil time and again (especially when they chased him with Morganti Blades, which he seized and hid ... weapons too horrible to ever be seen, much less used), Edena grew more and more desperate.
The Greyhawk Wars occurred. The Solistari Wars (in my setting) then occurred. Edena could not stop Ivid or Iuz, could not stop the Scarlet Brotherhood, could not stay the forces of Evil.) On Krynn, the War of the Lance raged. Then the Test of the Twins. Edena could not stand against Raistlin, could not stop the mechanizations of Takhisis. On Toril, Manshoon was too strong for Edena, Fzoul too clever, Tzass Sam too full of undead might. And the phaerimm were a colossal power Edena could not hope to fight.

Edena was now 38th level, and at a dead loss. The battle against Evil was going hopelessly badly. His own allies were dead or gone. Most on his own side considered him insane.
Edena decided, to do something most would call insane.
He decided to attempt to become Acererak's apprentice. (Since Acererak is your own character, this should be close to your heart.)

Edena considered that if he added wizardly power to his clerical power, it would make a difference.
But Edena, through observation, had come to a true appreciation of just what being a wizard meant.
It meant wearing no armor, carrying no shield, wearing no weapon, and having just one spell per day to cast (assuming your spellbook was not destroyed.) And finding new spells was almost impossible ((as per the rules in the 1E DMG.)) Finding the rare and very rare spells ((2nd Edition Spell Compendium)) was truly impossible.
Edena had watched many wizards try. He had watched many die.
Edena decided to attempt something that would circumvent the system, would enable him to obtain the rare, very rare, and even unique spells. Something that would allow him to have a crucial edge as a wizard, once he embarked upon that path with Odin's blessing (which was given.)
All he had to do was convince Acererak to make him his apprentice. That's all. Nothing big. Not like actually trying to risk anything (chuckles.)

Edena bet everything, including his soul (when Acererak kills you, you STAY dead) that Acererak had passed beyond alignment, had dedicated himself to naught but research, and would welcome passing that knowledge on. (In effect, Edena bet Acererak was now neutral. Fortunately, this proved to be true.)

I chose a killer DM for this purpose. A killer DM was necessary in the spirit of the game.
Another player brought his character along. That character didn't last long. ('Don't touch anything' is a good phrase in S1.)
Edena went ethereal, used the Sphere of Annihilation as a guide, and attempted to find Acererak.

He need not have bothered. Acererak showed up and summoned a demon army to give battle. Standing behind this army, Acererak launched them at Edena.
And Edena gave battle. There was naught else to do. Acererak wasn't in the mood to talk, and neither were the demons.
Acererak tried to blast Edena down with his Death Gaze, but Edena withstood it with his artifact from Odin. Edena then struck down a demon. (72% chance of making the roll ...) Acererak struck again and failed. Edena struck down another demon. Acererak fired a third time and failed.
Edena hid in a spell from the Tome of Magic, 2nd Edition. In this spell (I have forgotten the name) you can't be affected by things, or affect things. But the DM did allow Edena to stick his finger out to fire at demons (if said finger was within Acererak's sight, he could fire his Death Attack.)

For an hour, said DM sat and tried to figure out how to get through that spell. For an hour, he kept trying and trying to kill Edena. And he couldn't figure out how to do it (and I wasn't offering hints, either ... I knew of a dozen ways to down that spell!)
Meanwhile, Edena kept stick that finger out - not in Acererak's sight - and blasting demons. And blasting demons. Acererak simply conjured up more demons, of course, and yet more, until a host of demons was present. But none could penetrate that spell. And the DM couldn't figure out how to make them able to.

Finally, at the end of that hour, I had Edena stick his head out (not in Acererak's sight) and he spoke: 'I wish to talk!'
And Acererak asked: 'What could YOU possibly have to say of whit?'
And Edena answered: 'I wish to be your apprentice!'

That was one VERY astonished DM. He did not know this was my intent, in going into the adventure. Now he knew.

Acererak spoke: 'Very well. Come out of there, walk up in front of me, and I shall consider your request.'

And THAT was the moment of truth. Either go out there and stand in front of Acererak (and thus be grappled and held, artifact removed, and obliterated permanently, perhaps) or stay in the spell like a coward and never have a chance.

Edena walked out.

An impressed Acererak stated that when Edena reached 50th level as a cleric, he was to return and begin training. The DM made it clear Acererak was genuine in this offer.
Unfortunately, that DM retired before Edena made 50th level. I assumed Acererak made good on his offer (although, since I am talking with you, Acererak's creator, you might contradict that!) and Edena became a wizard.

But Edena did not go back to Acererak at 50th level. He went back at 121st level, after many additional adventures. Only then, did Edena become so utterly frustrated with his futile efforts to triumph the cause of Good, that he turned to this risky source of power for aid.

-

Edena went on through countless adventures.
He went through the Invincible Castle.
He took revenge on Count Von Strahd for killing his half sister, and recovered her body (killing the Count granted a temporary way of escape from Ravenloft.)

He gave battle to Kargoth, Lord of Death Knights, and lost. Kargoth banished him to another plane, stripped to 5th level and bereft of all possessions (artifact included.)
In this new setting, Edena went through an entire campaign (Culvere), helped save a people (they had been petrified), and had other adventures.
Edena finally escaped this setting, and his allies aided him in regaining his lost levels and artifact and some of his magical items. Eventually, he returned to his full strength, now at 67th level.

Then Edena went into Greyhawk to give battle to Vecna, but before he could do this he was entangled in hostilities with the Elves of Haldendreeva. These elves captured him and turned him into an elven girl who they raised as one of their own.
As a completely different character, she would gain 7th/7th/7th as a wizard/fighter/priestess, pass the Test of High Sorcery on Krynn (on this Krynn, Raistlin ruled uncontested), and become caught in the War of Summer Flame.

At the end of that war, all magic on Krynn (as normal magic is known) ceased to exist temporary, and the enchantment placed on the girl was broken, and Edena reemerged (the girl effectively ceased to exist ... her levels were lost.)
Edena was trapped on Krynn until the War of Souls, in which he fought against Mina, and afterwards with the return of magic was able to escape Krynn and return to Acererak.

Edena had great remorse at the effective death of the girl, and much later on he (with Acererak helping, of course) took a part of his own soul, and gave it so she could be recreated, a true being in her own right. And a true being she remains to this day. (She kept her levels: Edena did not get them.)

Edena attempted to defeat and subdue a tarrasque. This tarrasque was named Nom (in honor of another Nom from a certain book ...)
This tarrasque, unfortunately, was not so easily beaten. He was an archmage in his own right, and proceeded to summon an entire host of monsters to his aid.
The war was on.
The War With Nom raged for decades, and spanned many worlds. The aliens (from the film) joined in (!) Edena used his magic to turn some of them into a modified race of Good beings.
Edena killed Nom three times before he finished him for good. And that was because Nom had read something called the Chronomancer (chuckles), and was good with time travel. It was, to put it mildly, a wild affair.
The campaign world was devastated in this war, but Edena managed to save most of it's people. After the war, he did what he could to repair the colossal damage.

At the end of this campaign, Edena's honorary level was 98th.
The utter futility of his war, the inevitable failure of his cause, the emptiness of his victories, were sorely clear to Edena.
It seemed to him that all on his side were turning to Balance (they were ...) and the forces of Evil merely laughed. Edena had inflicted no real significant damage on them.
It seemed to Edena - very much so - that his whole life had been futile, wasted, a war against windmills (ala Don Quixote.) But he did not give up, did not give in, remained true to the committment he had given to Odin so very long ago (hundreds of years, at this point.)

To me, his player, there was still no good ending to the story.
And a good ending was becoming extremely unlikely. The culture had changed. High level characters above 10th were treated with increasing derision. Optional rulesbooks were seen with disdain and distaste.
Conventions were disappearing. Those that remained no longer featured many open D&D games. Sci-Fi Conventions stopped featuring gaming altogether. Gaming stores closed.
Suddenly, there were no more gamers, no more campaigns, no more eager young people to play with. (The young were all playing Magic, the Gathering.)
It was around 1995, TSR was waning, and times had changed.

I went to MichiCon, and played Edena in a game run by a younger DM.
This DM allowed my request for level equivalency, and he began the game. Edena started at 1st level.
We descended to the 2nd level of the dungeon, and gained 2,000 experience points. Everyone leveled. How nice!
We descended shortly after that to the 3rd level (by shortly, I mean 15 minutes), and gained 4,000 experience points. How very nice! ... but the rules said One Level Per Game, so I alone refused to level Edena. Hehe ... everyone else puzzled for 15 minutes on the matter, then we continued.
We descended to the 4th level shortly thereafter, and gained 8,000 experience.
Then the 5th level and 16,000 experience.
Then the 6th level and 32,000 experience.
Then the 7th level and 64,000 experience.
And the DM made it clear there were only 13 levels or so to go. (I kid you not.)

(chuckles) Well, I decided to do the obvious ... with the aid of someone's new Rock to Mud, Edena drilled a hole down through all remaining 13 levels.
Why? Because it was *BORING* to wait 15 minutes between inevitable stair climbing and doubled experience, especially when it was an INEVITABLE thing that was GOING to happen, without any real challenge.
So, I put some challenge into it. Hehe. Drilled that hole. And went down it too. And at the bottom ... hehe ... 'Hey, where's that 128,000 plus 256,000 plus 512,000 plus ...?!'
DM said no experience. Rats! :)
But there WAS a red dragon there. What to do at 2nd level? ATTACK!
Edena and a fellow killed that dragon. At 2nd level, that was a challenge, and real fun. It was only a baby red dragon, or we would have been fried. Should have been fried anyways.

And then, after Edena and the one other character killed it and were gathering the loot (the rest of the party was still at the top of the rope, 13 levels up, not willing to come down), the MOTHER DRAGON showed up.
We got up that rope real fast. But that wasn't stopping an infuriated mother! No way! She came UP THROUGH the dungeon, blasting through level after level, squeezing upward, to get us.
The party fled for the hills, through level 7. Edena and his friend were one room behind. And one room behind THEM was the dragon, who - upon reaching our level - starting blasting her way through it, room by room, squeezing through, to get to us.
That chase went on a long time:

Party: 'WE OPEN THE DOOR, SHUT IT BEHIND US, AND RUN'
DM: 'Monsters are there.'
Party: 'WE RUN PAST THEM. FORGET IT.'
DM: 'Edena and (fellow adventurer) reach closed door. Behind you, the crashing enters the room you just left.'
Us: 'WE OPEN THAT DOOR.'
DM: 'There are monsters with mouths gaping open.'
Us: 'WE RUN PAST THEM TOO.'

Repeat procedure, about seven times. (Poor monsters!)

We got away. Edena got one level. Everyone else got about seven. And killing the dragon and running from the big dragon was a lot of fun. :)
We didn't exactly get all the experience we could have (let's see, going down rope, 13 levels ... 128,000 to the 13th power ... then going down 13 flights of stairs is another 13th power, so ... I forget how much experience that would have been ...)

It was fun, but it was the last game. After that, MichCon had no D&D games. (sighs) Ah me, now there are only memories.

I have explained how Edena got to 98th level. Now, you know he reached 121st level as a cleric, then 40th as a wizard, according to me. Most of what happened later is similar to this, but would double the length of this article.
I thought you'd be satisfied with this.

Later on, though - I will say this - Edena found out the hard way just how impotent 161st level really was.
Vecna came after him personally, in his domain in Ravenloft. Edena was trapped in that domain. And you know what happened?
Edena went bye-bye. Even that artifact was useless: Vecna just blasted right through it.
Heh. That was a bummer. Edena was resurrected, but he will not whisper the word Vecna! Never. Some things are just best left alone, as Edena learned.

There is no way to translate Edena to 3rd Edition at his current level. That would be patently ridiculous. (Tries to imagine 165 ranks in a skill, and fails.)
Besides, if 3rd edition had been out, I would never have followed the path Edena took (restricted by the rules to dual-classing.) And the option I took of stacking levels probably would not have been available.

So how powerful is Edena is actual terms?
In his full might, he is probably around Mordenkainen's strength. This assumes you add his clerical and wizardly levels together: as a wizard, Mordenkainen is much stronger.
Edena has a great edge in that Acererak is his teacher, and thus he can access the rare and very rare spells (some risks do have pay offs) but Edena is good aligned and cannot access many of the terrible dark secrets that Acererak knows (not, and remain good.) Also, Edena cannot freely cast 10th and 11th level spells like Acererak can (such as, melting people into goo and eating their souls, no save. :) )

So there you have it.

Yours Truly
Edena_of_Neith
 


Dimwhit

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
If you insist, but I believe that my validation, or not, is unnecessary. I have publically stated that very high-level PCs in a campaign well-managed to deal with such challenge are as valid as low-level ones.

IIRR, my friend Francois Marcela Froideval had at least one PC that was around 50th level...and he had a higher-level overlord. The main challenges were player to player, player to demi-deity...and terrasqes :lol:

Cheers,
Gary
I like the way you think, Gary. I've always felt that a good DM can challenge any character, of any level, of any power. Might take some creativity and a little homework between sessions, but it's doable.
 


Odnasept

First Post
Ah, the joys of too much XP

Edena's tale of the constantly-doubling experience awards reminds me of one of my favourite mistakes in AD&D, made when I was but fourteen:

One of my players of similar age played a Mage named (uncreatively but surprisingly-appropriately) Merlin, and made liberal use of a necklace he had acquired around 9th or 10th level which contained five charges of a homebrewed 9th Level spell called Michelle's Chaos Wind (similar to a Finger of Death capable of effecting multiple targets). With this he killed more than one quasi-/demi-deity (unlucky saves on their part) and I, lacking official XP values for such things, decided to go the rout of impressing said player with progressively ludicrously high numbers.

Looking back at the character sheet a few years later, while I am not sure if I actually awarded a trillion or more XP, I calculated from what it looked like on that oft-erased area of the sheet and determined that he could be of around 6,053,008th level. I am glad that while we were playing I ruled that noone was available who could train Merlin beyond 20th level, but I would be very interested in knowing how Gary would handle a campaign with PCs of seven-digit level (I suspect remarkably well, but I am curious as to what kinds of challenges would be faced by said PCs).
 

Tewligan

First Post
(Blinks) Wow. That was a big damn post.

Gary, to get this back on the, y'know, Q&A theme, here's something that Edena's novella made me think of...

Which, if any, of the really big bad guys of D&D fame started life as actual PC's? For example, was Acererak ever an actual character who was eventually judged by the DM to be too much for a PC? What about Vecna and Kas? I seem to recall (and I could EASILY be wrong) that Kas got his name from Tim Kask - did you and Tim ever have a throw down in which he got a couple of lucky hits that left your wizard with one less hand and eye, and the whole thing passed into infamy?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ho Edena,

That is a rather lengthy tale indeed, but I see it is actually much abbreviated to get so much adventuring into so relatively brief an account.

Oddy enough I got a call from my friend Francois Marcela Froideval last evening, and I asked him what was the highest level character in his campaign. He informed me it was a 50+ level Cleric, M-U. That is assuredly a demi-deitial level combination!

Anyway, FWIW I find that your PC is likely valid if a somewhat over-rated in level. IMO gaining a lower level is not the equivalent of picking up one at high level. The adventuring time and XPs needed for the latter is more like four to two times those required to gain levels 2-8. I do agree that the risk involved is likely greater at low level than at higher level, although in a Jim Ward dungeon where we were adventuring with PCs of c. 14th-16th level the first thing we encountered was an equal number of liches runnint to attack us each with a rod of cancellation.

So if I was your DM I would have Edena rated at something closer to 90th level cleric/30th level m-u...and I would insist that the character be retired to serve in the campaign as a deitial sort of NPC run mainly by me as the DM ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
gideon_thorne said:
*blinks owlishly* Good grief! After some 30 or so years of gaming, I have one character that has reached past 25th level. :confused:
I have two over 20th, two over 15th, five of 10th or higher level, and perhaps a dozen that are below 12th level. If all that were concentrated in a single PC, one that could find suitable challenges when at 21st level and above, likely that one would be at least 50th level...if he survived that long :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Dimwhit said:
I like the way you think, Gary. I've always felt that a good DM can challenge any character, of any level, of any power. Might take some creativity and a little homework between sessions, but it's doable.
Agreed, but...

Either the players must have characters of generally similar power or else the DM must devise special scenarios for the one or two unber-PCs in his group. the last two times Mordienkained adventures was in the Metamorphosis Alpha game setting and in son Ernie's campaign at the Game Guild where about eight or 10 PCs of c. 8th level had been had by a pair of ancient white dragons. Mordie was called in to redress things, and he managed the pair of drakes pretty well single handedlu, although it was not a cake walk.

Cheerio,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gentlegamer said:
Not that it matters what I say, but that "level stacking" you did is illegal.
Not if his DM allowed it.

The main drawback is getting any other DM to recognize that. As i pointed out, gaining lower levels is about one-quarter as difficult as hgaining thos at the high end of the scale.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Odnasept said:
Edena's tale of the constantly-doubling experience awards reminds me of one of my favourite mistakes in AD&D, made when I was but fourteen:

One of my players of similar age played a Mage named (uncreatively but surprisingly-appropriately) Merlin, and made liberal use of a necklace he had acquired around 9th or 10th level which contained five charges of a homebrewed 9th Level spell called Michelle's Chaos Wind (similar to a Finger of Death capable of effecting multiple targets). With this he killed more than one quasi-/demi-deity (unlucky saves on their part) and I, lacking official XP values for such things, decided to go the rout of impressing said player with progressively ludicrously high numbers.

Looking back at the character sheet a few years later, while I am not sure if I actually awarded a trillion or more XP, I calculated from what it looked like on that oft-erased area of the sheet and determined that he could be of around 6,053,008th level. I am glad that while we were playing I ruled that noone was available who could train Merlin beyond 20th level, but I would be very interested in knowing how Gary would handle a campaign with PCs of seven-digit level (I suspect remarkably well, but I am curious as to what kinds of challenges would be faced by said PCs).
A cautionary lesson for all DM there.

As a natter of fact i fell into the trap of excell XP awards back in late 73 and realized it soon enough to redredd the problem, adjust for levels too easily gained by making the next few doubly hard to attain.

Excell magic items are easily managed though, mainly through attack forms what require them to save ot be destroyed, or areas where they have a chance of losing their enchantment.

Cheerio,
Gary

Cheers,
Gary
 

gideon_thorne

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
I have two over 20th, two over 15th, five of 10th or higher level, and perhaps a dozen that are below 12th level. If all that were concentrated in a single PC, one that could find suitable challenges when at 21st level and above, likely that one would be at least 50th level...if he survived that long :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
A common theme among the groups I have gamed with was a desire to fill those 'experience' numbers with actual experience. Sometimes it would take a year of real time gaming (once a weekend to 2-3 times a week) to gain 2-3 levels. And, while we didn't always follow the whole 'only one level at a time' rule, our characters at least had very lengthy epic stories behind them.

Oh yes. I think it might interest you to mention that I ran a bit of your Yggsburgh book at a local convention this weekend.

I had 4 players. One of which who had never gamed before. The party consisted of a Wizard, Monk, Barbarian and Thief. I ran the "Townbridge" encounter, the one with the bandits fleeing the city.

It's of note to mention that the new player, who ran the thief, actually came up with the most involved actions as part of the 90 minute long scenario I put them through. Whilst the other party members, who didn't actually know each other, got involved in trying to blockade the bandits from leaving, the thief quickly worked the watching crowds and both pilfered purses and organized a betting pool on the encounter outcome.

Even more of note, two of the players were womenfolk, including the newbie thief player.

I apparently gave them a good experience through the scenario which actually involved them using a good sampling of the C&C mechanics. I suspect I'll be hearing from these folks again. :)

All in all, a good experience for a short impromptu session.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tewligan said:
(Blinks) Wow. That was a big damn post.

Gary, to get this back on the, y'know, Q&A theme, here's something that Edena's novella made me think of...

Which, if any, of the really big bad guys of D&D fame started life as actual PC's? For example, was Acererak ever an actual character who was eventually judged by the DM to be too much for a PC? What about Vecna and Kas? I seem to recall (and I could EASILY be wrong) that Kas got his name from Tim Kask - did you and Tim ever have a throw down in which he got a couple of lucky hits that left your wizard with one less hand and eye, and the whole thing passed into infamy?
None, unless you count Obmi the DWarf as a big bad guy. My players surely did,hated him thoroughly, aways did their utmost to finish him off.

When Brian BLume was bent on devising a load of artifacts he made up such items as that of Kas and Gax for Tim and me. Inspired thus, I ccreated the Iron FLask of Tourney the Merciless in honor of sone Ernie and his evil PC, Erac's Cousin.

The fact is that none of the DMs that were influential in regards to TSR's creative output ever had very high-level PCs in their campaigns, thus neither those figures nor the NPCs opposing them were of such notable prowess.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Edena_of_Neith said:
Thanks much, Gary. Thanks much indeed.

I never was able to complete Edena's story, by the way.
Well...

If ever you get a chance to participate in an AD&D game DMed by Francois, he is the one that most likely could assist in concluding the epic of Edena ;)

There is a good chance that he will be visiting us here in lake Geneva in the late summer...

Cheers,
Gary
 


tenkar

Old School Blogger
Wow... that was... wow

It might not have been illegal, and it certainly wasn't in the spirit of the rules, but wow...

Reminds me that when I first gamed, we didn't have the MM, so all monster stats came from the back of the DMG... we thought HD and HP were interchangeable. A 4HD +1 HP Ogre always had 5 HP. Dungeons got much tougher, and expo flowed much slower, when we realized this mistake ;)
 

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