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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
Geoffrey said:
Hi, Gary.

Your D-trilogy of modules are my favorite AD&D modules. Legalities aside, do you have any interest in finishing detailing all the encounter areas on the large-scale map? It should only take a dozen or so more modules. :D It would be doubly cool to have them printed in the same font as the D trilogy, and have monochrome/pastel covers.

Shifting gears to your latest love, when is Hall of Many Panes scheduled for release? It sounds intriguing! :)
Sure! It would be fun to goi back and flesh out more of the Drow underground, but that's pretty unlikely to come about ;)

your mention of format of the modules is something that you can count on seeing from one to two publishers soon. It's been discussed recently on the www. Dragonsfoot.org boards too.

The HALL OF MANY PANES should be ready for release at GenCon as a premier--at least that's the current plan of the Trolls, I believe.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
Good afternoon Poppa G! :)

I'm sharing some old time stories from the early days about my first DM/GM in another thread and it'd be great if you could pop in and share some of yours too. :)

http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=41429

And, if you hadn't already heard, please know that you are also invited to jump on board for the March Fo(u)rth for GM's Day! movement. We've got a growing, grass roots movement to promote the first gamers' holiday and I think you'd enjoy being a part of it. :)
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mark CMG said:
Good afternoon Poppa G! :)

I'm sharing some old time stories from the early days about my first DM/GM in another thread and it'd be great if you could pop in and share some of yours too. :)

http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=41429

And, if you hadn't already heard, please know that you are also invited to jump on board for the March Fo(u)rth for GM's Day! movement. We've got a growing, grass roots movement to promote the first gamers' holiday and I think you'd enjoy being a part of it. :)
Heh, and son Alex is want to call me "Papa G" now and again;)

The accounts of the old time D&D games I have are pretty well told already, or will be, in the DRAGON Magazine column I do, "Up on a Soapbox," so I have to pass on the kind offer.

I hadn't heard about March Fo(u)rth for GM's Day. Sounds an excellent idea. Hope it gets a great turnout. I'll not be marching much of anyplace, though, what with my bad leg...

Cheers,
Gary
 


Lord Zardoz

First Post
Quick Question

This is related to politics, but thankfully, not to firearms.

What non US country do you admire most, and why?

And on a more game related note:

What D&D Villian did you create that you are most proud of?

END COMMUNICATION
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Quick Question

Lord Zardoz said:
This is related to politics, but thankfully, not to firearms.

What non US country do you admire most, and why?

And on a more game related note:

What D&D Villian did you create that you are most proud of?

END COMMUNICATION
As one of the very select number who are members of the Zardoz Film Fans, how can I not respond?

Actually, from my historical interest perspective, I admire many other countries for one or more reasons. Which one I admire most is a very difficult question for me to answer. The criteria are manifold, so without some specific bases for selecting one, I can't name a special one.

I will mention that Ancient Egypt holds a special place in my heart, for it lasted so many centuries, and the people of the land wanted the afterlife to be no more than a continuation of their fleshly existance there. That's quite a nod for living under pharoah's rule.

From a gaming standpoint, my all-time favorite is Obmi the dwarf. All of the players who encountered him rapidly came to despise Obmi and want to see him extirpated. Of course, that was why he kept coming back.

Most of the others were sort of uber-NPCs, and not as much joy could be had from thwarting the PCs' desires in regards to their expunging them.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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Ulrick

First Post
Mr. Gygax,

Is it true that you knew and were friends with the late Chief Standing Bear here in Ames, Iowa?

I'm the current President of the Guild of Wargamers and Roleplayers--which used to be known as Iowa State University Simulation Association.

http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/gowar/

I'm just trying to get some understand of the history my organization.

Chief Standing Bear is a bit of a legend within the Guild. Some of the older gamers say he was the best DM they ever had and all around great guy.

Ulrick

Edit: Added the link.
 
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Nathal

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
I do have some number of d20 works in process of publication. anthough the advent of 3.5E is likely to mess that up a good deal.
Oh, don't let 3.5 stop you, Gary. There are always many who are willing to aid in translating your adventure designs, or more generic "gygaxian fantasy" material into the specifics of the latest D&D incarnation. :)

Of course anybody who tires of keeping a strict catalog of errata and revisions to "official canon" can try out Lejendary Adventure with its emphasis on the Game Master's primacy as the final arbiter on which rules (or even updates) to use or toss.

Granted there is such a "Rule Zero" written in the new D&D, and yet there remains a great concern with what is Official. This a common obsession, never discouraged by Wizards, regardless of conventional wisdom concerning DM fiat. LA hammers home the point that the Game Master is ultimately responsible for the success of the game, the fact intrinsic to its very design it would seem, based on its "rules-light" nature. :cool:
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
G'day, Gary!

Back a while ago, you did that poll in Dragon on the various aspects of RPGs - very illuminating and thought-provoking, I must say!

Which aspect do you find easiest, and which do you find hardest as a DM to handle properly?

Personally, whilst I love role-playing, I find it extremely difficult to pull off, especially when I'm not getting good feedback from the other player: instead of feeding off each other, it turns into one person doing all the work. "I am Sir Malkonian, lord of these lands. What are you called, adventurer." "Bob." "Why have you come before me." "Need work." "Is there a reason that I should hire you?" "..." :(

Conversely, finding quests for the players seems relatively easy to me, though at times it turns into quest overload. "Can't we have some down-time?" "But there's a dragon about to eat your castle, and you need to find the Sword of Magnificence to kill it! No, you can't rest, now!" :)

Cheers!
 

johnsemlak

First Post
MerricB said:
G'day, Gary!

Back a while ago, you did that poll in Dragon on the various aspects of RPGs - very illuminating and thought-provoking, I must say!

For those of us who don't have access to that poll, could you provide a summary? :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ulrick said:
Mr. Gygax,

Is it true that you knew and were friends with the late Chief Standing Bear here in Ames, Iowa?

[snippage]

Chief Standing Bear is a bit of a legend within the Guild. Some of the older gamers say he was the best DM they ever had and all around great guy.

Ulrick

Edit: Added the link.
Hi Ulrick,

The name doesn't ring an immediate bell. Did he ever use another name? It seems to me that I recall a gamer who was an American Indian, a very knowledgeable and articulate fellow who was from Iowa. Met him at a GenCon or two early on when D&D was just starting, and I think he played in a tournament I was DMing and was on the winning team.

Going back a quarter-century and more tests the memory rather severely...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Nathal said:


Oh, don't let 3.5 stop you, Gary. There are always many who are willing to aid in translating your adventure designs, or more generic "gygaxian fantasy" material into the specifics of the latest D&D incarnation. :)
Thank goodness for such help, I must say!

However, I was actually referring to the possibility of current material in editing having to go back to be revised to the new 3.5E rules, thus messing up the publishing schedule and release date :(

Of course anybody who tires of keeping a strict catalog of errata and revisions to "official canon" can try out Lejendary Adventure with its emphasis on the Game Master's primacy as the final arbiter on which rules (or even updates) to use or toss.

Granted there is such a "Rule Zero" written in the new D&D, and yet there remains a great concern with what is Official. This a common obsession, never discouraged by Wizards, regardless of conventional wisdom concerning DM fiat. LA hammers home the point that the Game Master is ultimately responsible for the success of the game, the fact intrinsic to its very design it would seem, based on its "rules-light" nature. :cool:
Heh, and that's so. Being old and cranky, I have grown tired of arguing over rules, so I figured that doing a system that had as few rules as possible, just enough to facilitate easy play, and with mechanics that were "forgiving" in that they allow for some and just about any addition alteration without throwing the system out of kilter was the way to go. That way the GM can play the fast and easy way or add whatever else is enjoyable to him and his group without difficulty. It also gets me out of the "what does this mean," and "why isn't this done thus-and so," loop :D

Heh,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
MerricB said:
G'day, Gary!

Back a while ago, you did that poll in Dragon on the various aspects of RPGs - very illuminating and thought-provoking, I must say!

Which aspect do you find easiest, and which do you find hardest as a DM to handle properly?

[snippage]

As you note, roleplay, and even role-assumption, are the hardest elements of the RPG for me to get to if the player group is not so inclined. I include one encounter in the upcoming HALL OF MANY PANES that absolutely demands the group properly assume their character's role and then play that persona. Surprisingly, when so confronted, all of the group did well, including my young son Alex, age 16, who is uneasy in reagrds that (which is typical of most young persons not of a theatrical bent).

Some problem solving can be a trial, for if the group isn't in the mood for serious lucubration at the time, they then to use the rule, "Don't use force; het a bigger hammer!"

Focusing on strategy and devising tactics to accomplish the mission is another probem area at times. In the excitement of the adventure many a team loses its focus and goes astray.


Conversely, finding quests for the players seems relatively easy to me, though at times it turns into quest overload. "Can't we have some down-time?" "But there's a dragon about to eat your castle, and you need to find the Sword of Magnificence to kill it! No, you can't rest, now!" :)

Cheers!
That you can easily manage the quests portion of the game is excellent. to the best of my knowledge many GMs don't do that with great facility. That's why short modules are pretty popular. A busy GM is often hard-pressed to devise an interesting scenario, for the quest must have more than the sheer mission, be given details in regards all sorts of things. Bening able to have a quest that's complete--a ready-made adventure that can be slipped into the campaign--is generally looked at as a great boon by harried GMs.

The intermediate elements are intregue (quite demanding on the GM), politics, and economic ones--building, commerce, etc. In most groups I am familiar with these are not as popular as action aspects. When I play I love to get involved the lot of them. Jim Ward actually made a group called "The Vigilists" a part of his infrastructure of groups that characters will encounter in his METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA game :eek:

BTW, the easiest RPG elements to manage all around are exploration and combat. Most players love both, so that's why they form the meat and potatoes of many campaigns.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
johnsemlak said:


For those of us who don't have access to that poll, could you provide a summary? :)
Below are the questions I asked. i published the results in DRAGON, but I don't know which two nimbers the column ran in, so hopefully MerricB can suply that.

BTW, had I been aware of this website I'd have posted the survey here too;)

The questions:

THE ELEMENTS THAT CONSTITUTE A ROLE-PLAYING GAME

Rate each component of the game from 9, most, to 1, least, important to the RPG.
If you believe any element listed does not belong in the game form give it a 0 (zero).

1. Building (construction, land acquisition, etc.)
2. Business (an occupation aside from "adventuring")
3. Character Development (detailing game persona’s “history”)
4. Combat
5. Economics
6. Exploration (dungeons and for larger discovery)
7. Intrigue
8. Politics
9. Problem Solving
10. Questing
11. Random Chance (encounters, resolution of combat, etc.)
12. Role Assumption (staying "in character" in actions/thinking)
13. Role Playing (ditto, and speaking thus when playing)
14. Story (backstory and in play)
15. Strategy
16. Theatrics (occasional histrionics and sound effects)
17. (You name it and rate it:)_________________________

Cheers,
Gary
 


Caedrel

First Post
Pronunciation, D-series

There was an earlier post on pronunciation of Gary's surname - from memory, they now say "Ghuy-gax", although it was originally "Ghee-gax".

I struggled with the lack of detail in the D-series modules... I'm now more grown up and feel more confident about tackling this sort of thing, and have actually recently pulled out the GDQ super series with a view to adding them on to my existing campaign in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (so the Hall of Many Panes is even further away - sorry about that, Gary! :))

In looking at this, it's clear that the chief "shadowy mastermind" of the G series is Eclavdra, head of the house Eilservs, who have turned away from Lolth to serve the Elder Elemental Eye... why then is the "final confrontation" with Lolth? Was something meant to happen in the Vault of the Drow that led to the destruction of Hosue Eilservs and the impending unleashing of the true worshippers of the Spider Goddess upon the surface?
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
I've wondered that in the past, myself.

Here's my explanation of the incongruity.

I'm sure Gary's talked about this recently - the explanation being relatively simple: Lolth is a threat. Though she is not the threat you thought you were pursuing, she nevertheless represents a grave threat to the upper world, and must be dealt with.

Of course, it's also hard to predict the exact form of the adventure once it reaches D3...

However, my memory is notorious for confusing reality with fiction, so perhaps Gary might like to confirm?

John - the poll was first mentioned in Dragon Magazine issue 279, and then results examined in issues 280, 281, 282, 283 and 284. Issue 286 finall brought everything to a close with a discussion of the suggested '17th element' to RPGs as well as more analysis of the survey.

Cheers!
 

mythusmage

First Post
Lolth was a Diversion

Recall a certain galley, the one 'manned' by undead? You got it, the party was supposed to take that boat and go in search of the true masterminds behind the giant raids that started the whole mess off.

Even had a title for the adventure, A Sailor on the Sunless Sea. In it the party would take the ship and go off on adventure, over the course of time learning of the fell creatures who had 'inspired' the drows' decision to conspire with the giants. Those vile beasts known as mind flayers.

It being the illithids' plan to cause a war between the surface dwellers and the drow that would weaken both and allow the mind flayer conquest of both the lands of sunlight, and the Underdark. After which they would rule the world and use the humanoids as food.

Never ran it, but I might do an updated version later on for my fantasy setting.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Pronunciation, D-series

Caedrel said:
There was an earlier post on pronunciation of Gary's surname - from memory, they now say "Ghuy-gax", although it was originally "Ghee-gax".
Close:) The Swiss pronounce it as "Ghe-gox," and so do many others in the family here in the US, but my branch gave up and has adopted a more American "Guy-gax"

I struggled with the lack of detail in the D-series modules... I'm now more grown up and feel more confident about tackling this sort of thing, and have actually recently pulled out the GDQ super series with a view to adding them on to my existing campaign in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (so the Hall of Many Panes is even further away - sorry about that, Gary! :))

In looking at this, it's clear that the chief "shadowy mastermind" of the G series is Eclavdra, head of the house Eilservs, who have turned away from Lolth to serve the Elder Elemental Eye... why then is the "final confrontation" with Lolth? Was something meant to happen in the Vault of the Drow that led to the destruction of Hosue Eilservs and the impending unleashing of the true worshippers of the Spider Goddess upon the surface?
You gotta keep the players busy and happy! I surely do understand that :eek:

As for Q1, Ask Dave Sutherland and Brian Blume about that. It was taken out of my hands by the latter when Sutherland discovered the "Demonweb" pattern in a hand towel and talked Brian into using it as the main theme for the concluding module. I had no creative control over it.

I had hoped to get to the Elder Elemental god in a sequal to the ToEE, but...

Bah,
Gary
 
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