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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
Hadit said:
Hello Gary,
Thanks again for humoring us with this Q&A thread! I just can't get over how cool it is to be able to drop questions on the Old Wizard himself about his creative ideas... truly the internet has made the World that much closer together!
Hola Duglas,

Sure, happy to do that, and I have fun doing so;) No question that the internet is a really great boon to all, especially gamers!

Anyway... my query regards Mythus. I pretty much know the story how T$R pillaged that lovely endeavor... but I was curious about whether there existed any unpublished material for the game (perhaps now owned by WotC)? Namely, a book of monsters! (Or would that be considered "faerie creatures" in Mythus terms?) The book of native animals and such just didn't have enough crunchy action in it for me to consider pursuing a Mythus campaign despite the lawsuit... but a book of monsters just might have.
Dave Newton was working on the Phaeree Bestiary. I believe he had completed most, if not all of it. What happened to the materail I can't say. Seems to me, though, that I heard some of the entries might have been available throough the MythusL...

Would you be interested in seeing the current owner of the Mythus rights (I am assuming WotC) republishing that game, or is it considered a dead beast by you? Perhaps having it republished would run counter to your activities with Lejendary Adventures?
Thanks and take care, Duglas
I wouldn't likely be involved in any re-release of the DJ system and Mythus--not that there'a any likelihood that WotC will ever do that... It would compete as much with 3E as it would with the LA game, right?

Yes, when I set out to create the LA game system I was certain that the DJ one was dead. Of course over the intervening years I have spent the majority of my creative time developing the new game, so that's where I now create most easily, think in those game terms. Because there's yet much to do in regards to completing the world setting and in the way of adventure material, I need to keep working on the LA system--especially with a MMP online version likely in the offing.

By the way... I can't find Lejendary Adventures products ANYWHERE in Seattle... very frustrating!
Getting shelf space for an RPG that isn't widely promoted and advertised so as to stimulate both "push" to make space and the "pull" of consumers demanding it is a fact of life for small publishers. If no shop will order the LA product you want--it is carried by several major distributors--then I suggest that you visit www.lejendary.com From there you can link to the online shop RPGme to order thus.

BTW, we are working on an intro product for the LA game, a free, downloadable pdf that will enable the potentially interested party to play a bit and see if the system is his cup of tea. Having someone spend money to discover he doesn't like the game is good for nobody. It should be ready in a couple of months.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ulrick said:


Thanks for the answer. I'm going to speak with those who knew Standing Bear today (Wednesday) to find out if he went by another name.
Great! I wish my memory for people was better, but it has never served me very well. I guess the space available is filled up mainly with "otyer stuff" :(

In the meantime, I wish to ask one more question:

Has anybody ever pointed out that certain artwork in the 1st ed. DMG resembles artwork from Gustave Dore's illustrations for Dante's Inferno?

"There is no honor among thieves"--p.24, resembles "Ugolino"

and the succubus on p. 200 resembles "Myrrha."

I'm fan of Dore's artwork and Dante's "Divine Comedy" and just happened notice that awhile ago.

I apologize if the question is too obscure. I'm just curious.
Actually, no; that's never been called to my attention prior to this. Likely the artist was looking for inspiration and had some of Dpre's work around. Only the person or persons who did those illos can give you a firm answer, of course. My old DMG isn't handy, so I can't check them examples.

Cheers,
Gary
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Gary, your answers to all questions, as always, were excellent.

Did you ever suffer D&D burnout, playing as often as you did?

Today - well, yesterday now - I had one of the more amazing moments of my (rather short) life. I was visiting the house of two of my good friends - the conductor of the choir I sing in and his wife. They're both lovers of fantasy, though not of RPGs, alas!

They have a nine year old daughter, who recently, upon rummaging through their old belongings found a copy of the 1981 edition of the Basic D&D rules.

It appears that the husband was given the set as a present by his wife some twenty-two years ago, but not being a game player, just left it - almost untouched.

But now their young daughter has found it - and wants to know how to play the game.

She has been informed that I know how to play the game, and indeed, play D&D every Friday night with my friends. She was amazed. She thought old people didn't play games!

Well, wish me luck as I try to make her first experiences with Dungeons and Dragons memorable and enjoyable. To try and repay the favour done to me, twenty years ago, when I was given a copy of the 1981 edition of the Basic D&D rules, and introduced to this amazing game.

Onwards!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Howdy, S'mon!

you posted here as I was, and luckily I heard the incoming email notification, checked, and saw that. Otherwise I'd be be off doing some work and not have responded until later. Anyway...

Your comment about needing assistance was something that I noted when Luke and Ernie were running the LOST CITY OF GAXMOOR play-tests. Even when the player group wasn't over 20, more of a reasonable 10 or so, there was a lot of assistance needed. combats took forever--which was great for all of us who smoke, as we'd get our actions in and then duck outside for a cigarette, a must in game sessions that lasted six hours and longer.

Back to your accounts of the campaign, I must again say that they are well done. I can get a great sense of the play from the well-dramatized reports, and from that know that you DM the play in like, exciting manner. How you manage that with the 3E rules is a testiment to your ability, and I say that with complete sincerity. I know I couldn't. I've always "winged" much of the play, ignoring rules and skimping on DM duties so I could have fun in the adventure too :eek:

Cheers!
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Et Tu, MerricB!

Heh, and your post hit just as I finished my reply to S'mon ;)

Actually, I didn't suffer any D&D play burnout because I was working on the AD&D core materials from 1976-78 and so my playing time then dropped off to a couple of sessions a week, As a matter of fact I took a "break" from rules writing between the PGB and the DMG to write the G series, and after the D series modules. I really am a game geek :D

That's a great story about your friends and their young daughter. It is really fun to teach youngsters to RPG--I did that with my six kinder, of course. Being a mentor in RPGs surely does mitigate against harsh DMing, as you will soon know for yourself. Damn. but sometimes it is hard to switch gears and get back into the proper state of mind for making the game challenging for older and experienced players after being the kindly teacher DM for youngsters....

Cheers,
Gary
 

jasper

Rotten DM
This just our on the f. i. b press line
The creator of controversial game Dungeons and Dragons violently gunned down an alleged intruder on his lakeshore estate. 2 shotguns, a couple of military style automatic machine guns, and various automatic handguns were recovered during the investigation. Hundreds of rounds were also recovered.
Mr. Guygax came to public infamy in the early nineteen eighties blah blah,.,,….

We now return to Donahue show.
:D :cool: :cool: :cool: :D :D :D
 


S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:
Your comment about needing assistance was something that I noted when Luke and Ernie were running the LOST CITY OF GAXMOOR play-tests. Even when the player group wasn't over 20, more of a reasonable 10 or so, there was a lot of assistance needed. combats took forever--which was great for all of us who smoke, as we'd get our actions in and then duck outside for a cigarette, a must in game sessions that lasted six hours and longer.

Back to your accounts of the campaign, I must again say that they are well done. I can get a great sense of the play from the well-dramatized reports, and from that know that you DM the play in like, exciting manner. How you manage that with the 3E rules is a testiment to your ability, and I say that with complete sincerity. I know I couldn't. I've always "winged" much of the play, ignoring rules and skimping on DM duties so I could have fun in the adventure too :eek:
I think one good thing about 3e is that it satisfies my liking for tactical miniatures combat - the rules really require minis, or at least counters. 1e AD&D is the game I ran in high school (grammar school, we Brits call it), in 45 minute lunchtime sessions - it wasn't practical to use miniatures, so although I accumulated hundreds, they were rarely used. Now I'm at the time in my life where I can run games in my own home (I didn't play much during the 2e era), and the miniatures finally get to be used, nearly 2 decades later!
The converse of this is that Monte Cook's 3e DMG has quite stringent indications as to what makes a suitably manageable battle: parties of around 4 PCs (maybe with 1 cohort each) and no more than 13 NPCs at a time. Obviously Gaxmoor wasn't built around these strictures and running the large combats, with dozens or hundreds of opponents, under 3e combat rules can be pretty tough. Now that the party has recruited their own army and cleared out most of the enemy hordes, I look forward to running smaller battles in future... :)
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Col_Pladoh said:


;) Too many of them, too much quantification
In the spirit of discussion - I bought your module, The Hermit, which is dual-statted with d20 rules and Lejendary Adventures rules. To be frank, the stat blocks for LA look to take up as much space as the ones for d20. I haven't yet picked up LA, but the impression I got from this module suggests that LA, in comparison to d20, also has a fair amount of rules. This isn't a judgement of either game one way or the other, since I don't really put a lot of importance on how extensive the rules are for a game, as long as it plays well. I guess my question is, could you explain why the LA stat blocks take up as much space as they do, given that you've emphasized the concise nature of LA? I'm not critcizing, or calling you onto the carpet; I'm genuinely curious about the game. This is a chance for you to expound upon it. :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
S'mon said:


I think one good thing about 3e is that it satisfies my liking for tactical miniatures combat - the rules really require minis, or at least counters. 1e AD&D is the game I ran in high school (grammar school, we Brits call it), in 45 minute lunchtime sessions - it wasn't practical to use miniatures, so although I accumulated hundreds, they were rarely used. Now I'm at the time in my life where I can run games in my own home (I didn't play much during the 2e era), and the miniatures finally get to be used, nearly 2 decades later!
The converse of this is that Monte Cook's 3e DMG has quite stringent indications as to what makes a suitably manageable battle: parties of around 4 PCs (maybe with 1 cohort each) and no more than 13 NPCs at a time. Obviously Gaxmoor wasn't built around these strictures and running the large combats, with dozens or hundreds of opponents, under 3e combat rules can be pretty tough. Now that the party has recruited their own army and cleared out most of the enemy hordes, I look forward to running smaller battles in future... :)
Good point, S'mon;0

Ernie ran a big "meeting engagement" game with various groups of Good, Evil, and Neutral forces on the tabletop. It took a long time for moves and combat resolution, especially for invisible forces, jyst as military miniatures usually do. the game was a blast though...even in my Evil force led by my PC in the engagement an assassin were wiped out. My roll to strike the nighthad with my envenomed dagger came up a 1, and she slew me quickly thereafter and managed to escape with the artifact everyone was fighting to gain.

Heh,
Gary
 

Geoffrey

First Post
Gary, I have a two-fold question for you regarding the 1981 "Basic" and "Expert" D&D rulebooks:

1. How much say did you have on the contents of these books? I know that 1981 was when your influence at TSR unfortunately began to wane.

2. How pleased are you with these rulebooks? I've noticed that many gamers have mentioned on various boards they are abandoning 3E for the 1981 rules precisely because the latter are widely held to be the clearest and simplest of all the various incarnations of the D&D and AD&D games.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Geoffrey said:
Gary, I have a two-fold question for you regarding the 1981 "Basic" and "Expert" D&D rulebooks:

1. How much say did you have on the contents of these books? I know that 1981 was when your influence at TSR unfortunately began to wane.
Hola, Geoffrey!

Right you are, and I was kept busy with lots of corporate work too. Fortunately, I had taken Frank Mentzer into my personal staff, so he was there to do the revision of the initial Basic Set. So Frank did the bulk of the work, and I reviewed and directed his efforts.

2. How pleased are you with these rulebooks? I've noticed that many gamers have mentioned on various boards they are abandoning 3E for the 1981 rules precisely because the latter are widely held to be the clearest and simplest of all the various incarnations of the D&D and AD&D games.
Well shucks! I was very pleased with them, or they wouldn't have gotten into print;) I still had pretty firm creative control over the D&D and AD&D game systems proper. It was me who urger the completion of the series too, so Frank could go ahead and do that. however by then I was more removed from the creatibe process...

When I play OD&D O prefer to use the original little booklets, altering them with whatever seems right at the time, but not including thieves, I do give clerics a spell at 1st level usually, or else start that as 2nd level PCs. Fact is, i have a lot of fun just playing and "winging it." If the players aren't lost in known rules they tend to have more fun that way, and the sense of wonder comes back...FWIW.

Cheers,
Gary
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Aww, don't tell me I got put on the "ignore" list! I don't think my question was rude. I mean, I did buy The Hermit, so I must be kindly disposed towards ya, Gary. :D
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
ColonelHardisson said:
Aww, don't tell me I got put on the "ignore" list! I don't think my question was rude. I mean, I did buy The Hermit, so I must be kindly disposed towards ya, Gary. :D
Hey!

I didn't get an email notice of your post, Colonel, and I missed in in scrolling down...until your last post gave me notice, and I re-checked. Sorry.

As I recall, and I don't have a copy of THE HERMIT on hand, the stat blocks for LA are extensive in a few instances because the information is for new creatures.

For a fair comparison look at the standard NACs stats and those for d20 NPCs. About a quarter of the latter at most.

Anyway, on a positive note, have you played the module? If so, I'd like to know how it went, and if the group had fun with the adventure.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Ulrick

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:


Great! I wish my memory for people was better, but it has never served me very well. I guess the space available is filled up mainly with "otyer stuff" :(


I've always been better with faces rather than names...its something I'm really working on to remedy.

Anyway, I did find out that Chief Standing Bear DID go by a different name. The problem is that the gamers I talked to yesterday didn't know what it was. However, when the Guild meets this Saturday, I'll have the chance of asking some of the people who knew him better.

I feel like sage or perhaps even an adventurer digging for obscure bits of lore for his next adventure! Ha! :D

Hopefully it won't lead to that infamous Tomb of Horrors... ;)

I'll try to figure out his name though. I'll keep you posted.

And thanks again!

Ulrick
 

Mercule

Adventurer
And, from left field....

What RPGs have you played/do you play that are not some breed of D&D and not of your design? Which ones struck you favorably, and why?

Vampire, Shadowrun, Hero, GURPS, Paranoia, Castle Falkenstein, Amber, Aria, etc.?


Also, what genres, besides fantasy, do you enjoy gaming (incl. wargaming) in?
 

Bendris Noulg

First Post
Well, in addition to giving this a bump for Mercule's question, I'll ask one myself...

Recently, the SRD was updated and made entirely official. However, some creatures/races were removed and retained, presumably as Product Identity (i.e., no 3rd Party can use them short of special permissions, and word is that some have already obtained the "green light").

Might I ask, for the sake of curiosity, where the ideas for the following originated?

-Beholder
-Carrion Crawler
-Displacer Beast
-Kuo-toa
-Mind Flayer
-Slaad
-Umber Hulk
-Yuan-ti

I'm not trying to snub WotC, mind you. I'm just trying to figure out what makes these more PI than, say, owlbears and ropers.
 

S'mon

Legend
Bendris Noulg said:
Well, in addition to giving this a bump for Mercule's question, I'll ask one myself...

Recently, the SRD was updated and made entirely official. However, some creatures/races were removed and retained, presumably as Product Identity (i.e., no 3rd Party can use them short of special permissions, and word is that some have already obtained the "green light").

Might I ask, for the sake of curiosity, where the ideas for the following originated?

-Beholder
-Carrion Crawler
-Displacer Beast
-Kuo-toa
-Mind Flayer
-Slaad
-Umber Hulk
-Yuan-ti

I'm not trying to snub WotC, mind you. I'm just trying to figure out what makes these more PI than, say, owlbears and ropers.
Hm - so if I want Slaad in stuff I write I now theoretically (ie assuming WoTC has enforcable IP rights in the use of the current version of Slaad) have to base them off their original appearance in White Dwarf magazine, which was copyright to the original author... assuming he didn't object. :)

-S'mon, copyright law guy
 


Mathew_Freeman

First Post
Not a question as such, but a continuation of thoughts on Gaxmoor...some spoilers ahead...
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That maze spell was nasty! But the final revelation that Trakhassa has been masquerading as the High Priest all along was fun...please feel free to congratulate the authors on a fun module on behalf of our group!

We're now moving on to other things in the campaign, but we got a lot out of that one city - excellent stuff. I'll let you know what happens with the statues in the future :D
 

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