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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
Ulrick said:


[snip]

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

And thanks again!

Ulrick
Sorry, I missed getting email notification of a number of posts here, yours being the first. I look forward to solving the mystery;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mercule said:
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?
Sorry, another email notice not gotten:(

I have played and enjoyed EPT, Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gangbusters, Top Secret, Gamma World, Paranoia, CoC, and Dark Conspiricy... Likely I've forgotten a few over the 30 years or so of RPGing :rolleyes:

In military miniatures periods I most enjoy medieval, WWII, Napoleonics, Napoleonic naval, ancients, ECW, and Victorian military campaigns.

In board wargames I have much the same taste, although WWII is likely my favorite period there.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
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.
Yet another post that I missed...

Okay, here's your list, and my answers;)

Beholder--Terry Kuntz dreamed up this sweet little critter.

Carrion Crawler--I just needed something nasty for the "clean-up crew, so thought this one up.

Displacer Beast--Vaguely inspired by a PJ Farmer critter in his "Created Universes" series, but not drawn from any specific thing therein.

Kuo-toa--Another "I need something new" race dreamed up out of whole cloth so populate the subterranean world.

Mind Flayer--the depiction inspired by the cover of the paperback noved by Brian Lumley, the Burrowers Beneath, but all the detals made up by me.

Slaad--This isn't my creation, so I can't say more.

Umber Hulk--Just a tough monster I made up from my imagination so the players would have something new and difficult to deal with.

Yuan-ti--this isn't my beastie...

As for the owlbear, I used the Oriental plastic figure sold in a package of various other "monsters" as the basis for it's appearance, then made up its specs.

The Roper I dreamed up out of whole cloth, like the unber hulk, so WotC could well claim it is unique. They missed quite a few others that I made up from whole cloth, of course.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
S'mon said:


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
Hi S'mon:)

As I recall, when Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston brought the Fiend Folio material to TSR for a book proposal, they had releases from all the contributors. Likely those are in the WotC files nowadays. So I expect that WotC does have all rights to the various creatures that appeared in that work.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mark CMG said:
:) Happy GM's Day, Poppa G! :)
Thankee Kindly, Mark!

Not only does son Alex sometimes call me "Pappa G," but I was totally unaware that 5 March was Game Masters Day.

Shouldn't we make a point of bringing awarness of this important day to the rest of the nation? I am sure that all school students would be pleased if it were made a national holiday--devoted to playing the RPG of your choice, of course :D

Heh,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tallarn said:
Not a question as such, but a continuation of thoughts on Gaxmoor...some spoilers ahead...
.
.

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
Appreciate the post. Ernie was rather dismayed by the ill-tempered posts about the module he found on RPGnet. I told him that in truth any mention of the work is a plus, and never to expect much in the way of a good word on that website;)

Do keep me posted on the interaction with the statues in Gaxmoor. Some are a lot of fun...heh-heh-heh.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:


Hi S'mon:)

As I recall, when Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston brought the Fiend Folio material to TSR for a book proposal, they had releases from all the contributors. Likely those are in the WotC files nowadays. So I expect that WotC does have all rights to the various creatures that appeared in that work.

Cheers,
Gary
Yep, the Slaad's details published in Fiend Folio were doubtless (c) TSR and thence (c) WoTC. However White Dwarf's copyright policy on publication was that works in White Dwarf remained (c) to original authors, with a single-reprint license, so as I understand it the details as published in White Dwarf were then, and always will be, (c) original author, as are any pre-publication versions in the possession of the author.
I have a link to a great article about how authors can use this interesting fact, that copyrights (and other rights) only flow forward in time to derivative works, not back to prior works, to get around restrictive transfer-of-copyright contracts, but unfortunately it's on my other PC...
 


S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:


Appreciate the post. Ernie was rather dismayed by the ill-tempered posts about the module he found on RPGnet. I told him that in truth any mention of the work is a plus, and never to expect much in the way of a good word on that website;)

Do keep me posted on the interaction with the statues in Gaxmoor. Some are a lot of fun...heh-heh-heh.

Cheers,
Gary
*SPOILERS FOR GAXMOOR*
-
-
-
-
-
-
The module has some editing problems, it takes more work on the DM's part than perhaps 3e players are used to, and the ending with Tracassa cackling evilly as she vanished with the sacred artifact is truly Gygaxian in its evilness and brutality towards those poor hapless player characters who'd sought the Staff so long, but I did have a great time running it - it gave me about 9 months' play since I got it last June, that can't be bad! Especially as there are plenty of bits-and-pieces remaining I can still use for future scenarios, perhaps for a lower level group than the current one (we had 9 characters in the party yesterday, average level 9.5).
Now I can't wait for Leopold to start 'colecting' the statues - pity Tallarn told his player all about this thread... :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
S'mon,

Darned if I can remember if the GW chaps had obtained additional releases from the authors of those creatures appearing in the Fiend folio or not. I think Kevin and/or Brian Blume cut the deal for publication. All I remember clearly is that I went through their list of monsters and deleted quite a number that I didn't want in an "official" bestiary, and created some new entries to replace them, and had others add theirs; then that Lawrence Schick left most of them in the work--he was leaving TSR thereafter, so I suppose he was showing me something...

Bah! :rolleyes:

Anyway, I can understand some editing problems being in 'Gaxmoor, because Ernie and Luke missed their deadline, and the Trolls were really under the gun to get it into shape for publication as they had planned. I must say that I had a good bit of fun playing in that adventure, and I am disappointed that the two are not working on the "Lost Undercity" now as had been the original plan, because I'd happily do play-testing there :D Ernie is working all the time and Luke has a new job that demands all of his time too. worse, he is currently called up and on active duty in the Army--Luke was with the 1st Armored Division in Desert Storm

Cheers,
Gary
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:

Shouldn't we make a point of bringing awarness of this important day to the rest of the nation? I am sure that all school students would be pleased if it were made a national holiday--devoted to playing the RPG of your choice, of course
Personally, I'd be tickled just to see what Hallmark came up with for the holiday. :D
 

S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:
S'mon,

Darned if I can remember if the GW chaps had obtained additional releases from the authors of those creatures appearing in the Fiend folio or not.
I'd be pretty amazed if they hadn't! I'm sure the original authors signed something transferring all rights to TSR (otherwise they're in line for a heck of a lot of royalties!) - this would only apply to the Fiend Folio published version & all later versions derived from the FF though. You could also make a (retrospective) contractual agreement transferring the copyright in the White Dwarf published versions to someone else, but I doubt anyone would have thought to do so in this instance.

The important point is that these two versions are separate works, albeit the latter derived from the former, and transferring copyright in the latter work does not affect the copyright status of the former work. So eg if you still have your original pre-publication umber hulk text, you would probably still have copyright in it, unless it were a 'work for hire' - eg if you were paying yourself a salary as an employee of TSR at the time, and creating monsters was part of your work duties, under US law the copyright in all 'works for hire' vests in the employer, so you as Gary Gygax would never have had any copyrights in any works done as an employee of the corporation.
Under the Berne Convention on copyright (US is signatory) you still have moral rights in how people treat the umber hulk, though...

Disclaimer: I could be wrong. I'm British, anyway. I'm not a qualified lawyer, I just have a PhD in moral rights in copyright.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mercule said:


Personally, I'd be tickled just to see what Hallmark came up with for the holiday. :D
"Munchkins and game geeks,
"Computer nerds too
"We hope this holiday's
"Perfect for you!

"From the Hacks at Hallmark."
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Heh, S'mon!

Believe you me, I made sure to have contractual agreements for everything I wrote while at TSR, those NOT as work for hire. My job description did not include creative material I produced.

When matters between TSR and me were settled back in 1985, that was covered, so most of the copyrights I owned became the property of TSR, and some additional ones were later acquired by WotC.

I do retain the rights to the "Gord" stories and some few other properties, as well as to my name and variations of it such as Ignatz. Morgax, and Zagig.

Cheers,
Gary
 

S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:
Heh, S'mon!

Believe you me, I made sure to have contractual agreements for everything I wrote while at TSR, those NOT as work for hire. My job description did not include creative material I produced.

When matters between TSR and me were settled back in 1985, that was covered, so most of the copyrights I owned became the property of TSR, and some additional ones were later acquired by WotC.

I do retain the rights to the "Gord" stories and some few other properties, as well as to my name and variations of it such as Ignatz. Morgax, and Zagig.

Cheers,
Gary
Your legal struggles are legendary, Gary. :)

Peter Jackson should make a movie about it...
 


S'mon

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:


Argh!

You know where to hit a guy and make it count;)

Heh,
Gary
Actually, when I think about the TSR saga, I always think of Star Wars, specifically George Lucas' excellent novel of ep IV:

(shameless flattery follows)

"The old TSR was the TSR of legend, greater than distance or time.

Once, under the wise rule of the EGG, the TSR throve and grew.

But, as often happens when wealth and power exceed the admirable and attain the awesome, there appeared those evil ones with greed to match..."

Thankfully though the only Evil Empire in gaming these days is British - and they don't do RPGs at all anymore, so no point getting het up about that... :)
 

Ulrick

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:


Sorry, I missed getting email notification of a number of posts here, yours being the first. I look forward to solving the mystery;)

Cheers,
Gary
Well, I did some digging and asking around, and nobody seems to remember his "English name."

It is a mystery, indeed.

So far I know the following:

1. People at the Guild who knew Standing Bear claim you were on amicable terms with him.
2. You vaguely remember an American Indian gamer from Iowa.
3. You met this gamer at a Gen Con or two when D&D was just starting.
4. Standing Bear also went by an English name.
5. I found out that Standing Bear did run an RPG before D&D game out. He switched to D&D because it had a better system.

The past, though lived, still changes. Every individual remembers it in his or her own way.

Which, of course, makes me more curious about the past...

But its the stories, however, that makes this search interesting. I don't know their true or not but I think these might be a little amusing. Keep in mind that these come from unreliable sources and I maintain that they are highly likely to be false (I don't wanna start rumors).

1. One member of the Guild claims that Standing Bear helped you create the original D&D game along with Dave Arneson--huh?
:confused:

2. Another claimed that D&D was made as a collaborative effort among you and your friends, and you just happened to see a business opportunity and took advantage of it. And your friends weren't too happy about it.

I said to that, "Good for Gygax. That's just how things work. Not many people see a business opportunity and take advantage of it...he did."

:p
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ulrick said:


Well, I did some digging and asking around, and nobody seems to remember his "English name."

It is a mystery, indeed.

So far I know the following:

1. People at the Guild who knew Standing Bear claim you were on amicable terms with him.
2. You vaguely remember an American Indian gamer from Iowa.
3. You met this gamer at a Gen Con or two when D&D was just starting.
4. Standing Bear also went by an English name.
5. I found out that Standing Bear did run an RPG before D&D game out. He switched to D&D because it had a better system.

The past, though lived, still changes. Every individual remembers it in his or her own way.

Which, of course, makes me more curious about the past...

But its the stories, however, that makes this search interesting. I don't know their true or not but I think these might be a little amusing. Keep in mind that these come from unreliable sources and I maintain that they are highly likely to be false (I don't wanna start rumors).

1. One member of the Guild claims that Standing Bear helped you create the original D&D game along with Dave Arneson--huh?
:confused:

2. Another claimed that D&D was made as a collaborative effort among you and your friends, and you just happened to see a business opportunity and took advantage of it. And your friends weren't too happy about it.

I said to that, "Good for Gygax. That's just how things work. Not many people see a business opportunity and take advantage of it...he did."

:p
At the risk of incurring the wrath of some of the folks who have given you their recollections:

As far as I am aware, there was no RPG available before the D&D game was created. The closest thing to it, aside from gtames of "Let's Pretend" sort were psychological ones and the Inter-nation Sims that were run popularly for a time in the 1960s.

There is no question that I wrote every word of the original D&D game. Dave Arneson has said so himself in an interview in the now-defunct magazine Different worlds (issue #3, as I recall).

I sent the original 50 pp. ms. to about a score of other wargamers I was close to back in 1972. Most of them were college students. Indeed, these individuals game me a lot of feedback, so that in about two months of time after sending out the initial draft I rewrote the game so that the ms. was 150 pp length. That was likewise mailed out, this time to about twice as many persons for play-testing and input.

Chalk up the false stories to envy and jealousy;) There isn't one person who can come up with a shred of evidence contrary to what I state forthrightly above, mainly because there isn't any. Rather like the post here some time last year that claimed I had bashed female gamers. That chap claimed he'd find and post the proof, and I'm still waiting :D

Anyway, that said, I do hope you can discver Standing Bear's English name, as my curiosity is piqued.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Draxx

First Post
Greetings Mr. Gygax,

I have looked on this forum for over a year but rarely posted as you can see by my extremely low number. Anyway I wanted to thank you for giving the world a game that has provided my friends and I over 25 years of fun and memories. I began playing in 1978 and am now 33 years old and still loving it!

If I may ask a question (I hope I'm not retreading old ground here) Can we expect any updated sequels to more of your classic modules by yourself or your sons in the near future? I have great memories and fondness for the giant series and White Plume Mountain. Also given the rise of computer power and DVDs, laptops at the game table, etc. Have you considered using computer visual aids to your adventure modules?

Just wondering, and thanks again for many years of fun!

Resepectfully,

Draxx :)
 

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