TSR Q&A with Gary Gygax

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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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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Tav_Behemoth

First Post
Col., if the mists of wonder-crowded memory allow, could you confirm or deny some speculation about the origins of the mind flayer?

In an interview with Planewalker.com, Charles Stross said that his idea for the the githyanki & githzerai, that they had been bred as slave races by the mind flayers, was inspired by Larry Niven's World of Ptaavs. He suggested that whoever created the mind flayers (which I assume to have been your eminent self) might have been was inspired by Niven as well.

The similarities between Niven's Thrint, or Slavers, and mind flayers are that both are powerful telepaths & mind-controllers with tentacled faces (see Wayne Barlowe's interpretation). Knowing the depth of your reading in SF & fantasy, I imagine you might have read Niven World of Ptaavs back in '66 or so -- especially since I've been told that, back in the day, there was so little of "the good stuff" being published that fans could & did read everything they could get their hands on. And I've seen some evidence that Niven was in the minds of early D&D folks in the form of a cool old Erol Otus booklet of creatures and magic items that featured a Slaver disintegration rifle.

Any link between this great D&D monster and the great Known Space universe would, of course, only increase my admiration for your syncretic genius.
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Tav_Behemoth said:
Col., if the mists of wonder-crowded memory allow, could you confirm or deny some speculation about the origins of the mind flayer?

In an interview with Planewalker.com, Charles Stross said that his idea for the the githyanki & githzerai, that they had been bred as slave races by the mind flayers, was inspired by Larry Niven's World of Ptaavs. He suggested that whoever created the mind flayers (which I assume to have been your eminent self) might have been was inspired by Niven as well.

The similarities between Niven's Thrint, or Slavers, and mind flayers are that both are powerful telepaths & mind-controllers with tentacled faces (see Wayne Barlowe's interpretation). Knowing the depth of your reading in SF & fantasy, I imagine you might have read Niven World of Ptaavs back in '66 or so -- especially since I've been told that, back in the day, there was so little of "the good stuff" being published that fans could & did read everything they could get their hands on. And I've seen some evidence that Niven was in the minds of early D&D folks in the form of a cool old Erol Otus booklet of creatures and magic items that featured a Slaver disintegration rifle.

Any link between this great D&D monster and the great Known Space universe would, of course, only increase my admiration for your syncretic genius.
Well...

No need to speculate, for I can set forth the process in a few words. Larry Niven's writing had nothing to do with the creation of the Illithid race for the AD&D game.

I happened to be thinking of devising a new terrible race if creatures inimical to humans, and my eye fell upon a paperback book authored by Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath. The cover illustration was of a bipedal monster with a head resembling a squid or an octopus. Voila!


That was a perfect model for an underground-dwelling race of fiendish predators on humankins, and thus the mind flayer was born.

I made up all the details of the race, of course, they being a form of AD&D monster.

BTW, the drow were inspired by no more than a dictionaly listing for the name as "dark elves," and i made up the kuo-toa out of whole cloth so as to have another underground race on distinctly non-human sort.

Cheers,
Gary
 

StupidSmurf

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Well...

No need to speculate, for I can set forth the process in a few words. Larry Niven's writing had nothing to do with the creation of the Illithid race for the AD&D game.

I happened to be thinking of devising a new terrible race if creatures inimical to humans, and my eye fell upon a paperback book authored by Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath. The cover illustration was of a bipedal monster with a head resembling a squid or an octopus. Voila!


That was a perfect model for an underground-dwelling race of fiendish predators on humankins, and thus the mind flayer was born.

I made up all the details of the race, of course, they being a form of AD&D monster.

BTW, the drow were inspired by no more than a dictionaly listing for the name as "dark elves," and i made up the kuo-toa out of whole cloth so as to have another underground race on distinctly non-human sort.

Cheers,
Gary

I get a kick out of finding out behind the scenes stuff like this. Thanks, Gary!

Incidentally, for the longest time, whenever I saw an illustration of a mind flayer, the phrase "Cthulhu fthgan" would run through my head ;)
 

mythusmage

Banned
Banned
As I recall H.P. Lovecraft and Brian Lumley were near contemporriies, and the horror/weird stories crowd back then was about as tight as the RPG crowd today. Most everybody knew most everybody else and corresponded a great deal. Hell, Howard wrote more in the way of letters than he ever did fiction. :) So it's very likely the two played off of one another. Much like Green Ronin and The Game Mechanics do today.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
StupidSmurf said:
I get a kick out of finding out behind the scenes stuff like this. Thanks, Gary!

Incidentally, for the longest time, whenever I saw an illustration of a mind flayer, the phrase "Cthulhu fthgan" would run through my head ;)
Welcome:)

As a matter of fact I have been a fan of HPL and those who developed his mythos for some decades now, so you were on target :cool:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Indeed, Alan,

The circle of those who wrote in the mythos originated by HPL was generally close. Even those at the fringes seemed to have been careful to stay within bounds and not add anything that was antithetical to Lovecraft's vision.

Cheers,
Gary
 

mythusmage

Banned
Banned
Col_Pladoh said:
Indeed, Alan,

The circle of those who wrote in the mythos originated by HPL was generally close. Even those at the fringes seemed to have been careful to stay within bounds and not add anything that was antithetical to Lovecraft's vision.

Cheers,
Gary

Being in on the joke helped a lot.
 

StupidSmurf

First Post
I'm a big HPL fan as well. And speaking of that circle of writers, I know that often times HP and friends would insert slightly altered versions of each other's names into their stories as the protagonists. For instance, one of Lovecraft's stories has "Robert Blake". ;) Naturally, I can't remember offhand which one it is.

I just about plotzed when the Deities and Demigods hardcover book came out with the AD&D stats for the Cthulhu mythos. Every once in a while I just couldn't resist sticking in a Mythos creature in one of my AD&D adventures!
 

ScottyG

First Post
I wrote a mini-adventure based on the Mountains of Madness that included some of HPL's creations. The party was teleported to a frozen, ruined city from my version of the Greyhawk Dungeons, and had to find a way back before freezing, or being eaten by a shoggoth or some other nasty.
Scott
 

VirgilCaine

First Post
StupidSmurf said:
I'm a big HPL fan as well. And speaking of that circle of writers, I know that often times HP and friends would insert slightly altered versions of each other's names into their stories as the protagonists. For instance, one of Lovecraft's stories has "Robert Blake". ;) Naturally, I can't remember offhand which one it is.

I just about plotzed when the Deities and Demigods hardcover book came out with the AD&D stats for the Cthulhu mythos. Every once in a while I just couldn't resist sticking in a Mythos creature in one of my AD&D adventures!

Robert Bloch?

While we're on the subject of monster origins, where did the Rakshasha come from?
 

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