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
Joseph Elric Smith said:

Well I have found that if you buy him a good smoke and a good meal and a nice drink he can talk for hours on the most fascinating stuff. :)
Ken
Why thanks, Ken. I do tend to wax eloquent after a good meal, with a cigar in hand and a drink before me. It is enjoyable to become a raconteur in such circumstances. Recalling things that were amusing or exciting to me and sharing the accounts with others who find the tales interesting is enjoyable. Of course that risks being a bore...so I don't mind sharing the floor, as it were :rolleyes:

Ciao,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Sir Edgar said:
I know you have a list of books that inspired your work at the back of the 1st edition DMG, but if you were to recommend five books that MOST influenced you in the design of D&D, what would they be? Basically, I'm looking for a few good books to read that will help me get an understanding of your design philosophy. Thank you. :)
I can't narrow it down to five books, but five authors, maybe:

Jack Vance
Robert E. Howard
Fritz Lieber
de Camp & Pratt
A. Merritt

Honorable Mentions:)
Roger Zelazny
Michael Moorcock
Fred Saberhagen
L. Sprague de Camp
Stanley Weinbaum
Margaret St. Claire

Sorry, even being that "narrow" makes me feel uneasy. I read a LOT of fantasy and SF before I got to the penning of the D&D game :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Janos Antero said:
I was always a fan of your villians in the early Gord the rogue novels, especially for how they seemed to break the mold (although at the time I suppose there really wasn't a mold in the same sense) of villians we see today.
Thanks. Not a few critics claim my villains lack redeeming qualities, are thus not complete and "dimensional," but that's the way I see really evil individuals. No touchy-feely, blame society sort of hogwash for me. they have nothing whatsoever to recommend them, no depth of character, and their motives are simply to do what is malign. Hey, that sounds a lot like game reviewers! Heh-heh.

[
You mentioned the script of the 2nd series of cartoons you had in the works.... any chance a bottle of fine whiskey sent to you might loosen your tongue on where you saw it going, or what it was going to be like?

As always thanks for the replies.
Marvel has the two completed scripts. My copy of the one approved is likely not in the WotC archives somewhere--unless Williams trashed it.

the series was to focus more on action and the realization of the heroic band that they were maturing, actually gaining the capacity to do heroic deeds on theior own, without relying on some magical item. Of course with this growing maturity there would be some dramatic xcenes of soul searching, emotional longing for a return to their mundane existences, development or personal relatuonships--all the srtuff that get's in the way of the real fun, the adventure and combat :eek:

Okay, I was jesting.

Cheers,
Gary
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Col_Pladoh said:
Sorry, even being that "narrow" makes me feel uneasy. I read a LOT of fantasy and SF before I got to the penning of the D&D game :eek:
Yes, you managed to forget Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Let's remind everyone - from Gary's foreword to the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons:
These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don't care for Burroughs' Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard's Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on and enjoy a "world" where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!

I grew up with tales of the Norse Gods, and reading the ERB Barsoom and Venus books, so I've got something of a soft spot for ERB. :)

Slowly, I'm tracking down some of the other inspirations on Gary and reading them - I was delighted to find a 2nd hand copy of the 5 Harold Shea stories by de Camp and Pratt a couple of years ago, and I've just purchased an omnibus edition of the early Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser stories.

Young Grace very much enjoyed her 2nd experience of D&D - alas that I had to leave when I did, but my choir rehearsal called (with her father being the conductor of that choir, my being absent might be a bit noticable...)

Cheers!
 

Janos Antero

Villager
Irredeemable, aye that was what I meant. I've gotten very tired of the fallen good guy stereotype, or the bad guy gone good. It seems most times these days to be truly evil in the fantasy genre, you must be inhuman, because if you are human, the potential for redemption is inherent. Probably a christian redemption value worked into our culture.

But really, I much prefer villians who feel like villians, not decent fellows gone bad. Obmi was a good example of a truely wicked individual, as was Iuz's mother the witchhag (not even gonna TRY and spell that name without it in front of me).

In my experience pyhrric victories are often some of the best in a story, and most memorable endings if handled well. Most early adventures, and just the feel and style of DnD reflected that well, but a tendency toward happier endings has gradually seeped into the genre. Not suprising considering how much investment good characters recieve, and how distraught some can get over the loss, but none the less it seems a sacrafice of story-telling to cater to feelings, which is a questionable trade in my book.

So since we've got you going on about the old days here, how about telling us about one of your favorite characters on the side of "good", or at least not one of the villians?
 

cimerians

Villager
cartoon

I never thought about asking Gary about the animated show. Sweet memories! I remember being 11 years old, eating Lucky Charms and watching D&D.

Thats really interesting. Dennis Marks a producer for the Spider-man cartoon show mentioned he worked with you on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Seems like a nice guy and he had very nice words about you. The interview is at http://www.spider-friends.com

Always wanted to ask if some of the monsters in the cartoon were picked by you? (Specially some of the lesser known Fiend Folio creatures. Bullywuugs, Grimlocks etc.... even Lolth!) And lastly....what was Venger? A Lich? Simply an ex-good guy turned evil with fangs and one horn? (The voice actor for him was really good).

Thanks for everything Gary! And lets get that memoir book written!! :)
 

Ulrick

Villager
Re: cartoon

cimerians said:
Always wanted to ask if some of the monsters in the cartoon were picked by you? (Specially some of the lesser known Fiend Folio creatures. Bullywuugs, Grimlocks etc.... even Lolth!)[/B]
Yeah! I remember that! Doesn't Venger cause a pit to open up beneath the heroes and they drop into Lolth's web.

And Venger says, "Behold! Lolth! The Demon Queen of Spiders!"

And there she is! In spider form with a human head! :D

And Tiamat would show up occasionally to beat up Venger! I loved it!

My gosh, I just wish you could buy those episodes somewhere. Sure, they're a little corny sometimes, but I know every gamer who's see that cartoon wants Hank's bow of energy! :p
 

diaglo

Villager
Geoffrey said:


Ah yes, the D&D boxed set (edited by Mr. Holmes) with the chit sheet in it. I still remember wondering how to glue those chits together to form dice. :D

Fortunately I bought some real dice soon afterwards.
i had dice before i bought that boxed set. actually i had the Original Collector's Ed box set first. and still do. and then bought the Advanced stuff.

but i liked the Holmes version because the cost of plate mail and chain mail went way down. ;) compared to the ADnD PHB. and i thought the chit idea was cool.

i was the only one with dice of a group of 15 (14 players and me, the DM). those dice didn't last long. the d20 was completely round by the time i had chits in hand.


edit: that might be why i have over 14000 dice now.:eek:
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
ERB

Merric,

Thanks for posting the forward to the D&D work. I had totally forgotten it.

I recalled Edgar Rice Burroughs only after submitting my reply...,but I actually did remember his books. As for the Barsoom and Venus yarns, don't neglect the stories based in Pellucidar! Those hollow earth adventures, one with Tarzan included, were just great! BTW, I read my first ERB novel at age 10, Cave Girl, and loved it.

Young Grace very much enjoyed her 2nd experience of D&D - alas that I had to leave when I did, but my choir rehearsal called (with her father being the conductor of that choir, my being absent might be a bit noticable...)

Cheers!
Heh, and it is good to being in youngsters. RPG play should encourage her interest in all manner of other thing too, open a whle world of imagination and creativity;)

Cheerio,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Janos Antero said:


[snippage]

So since we've got you going on about the old days here, how about telling us about one of your favorite characters on the side of "good", or at least not one of the villians?
Thanks for the good words, amigo:) To avoid blushing I snipped the lot. Heh-heh. BTW, Iggwilv is the sweet and loving lady you refer to, I am sure.

The closest I came to a human gone bad was Wastri, "The Hopping Prophet." I must admit I relished describing his fall from a seeker after inner, and greater, knowledge into a hunter of gnomes for "sport." Iuz was born bad, but of course his parentage had something to do with that :eek:

Fact is I never really developed any strong NPCs of Good for play in the campaign. The reason for that is twofold. First, many of the players had characters of that alignment. Second, the Evil team would have felt obliged to assail that NPC, and to withstand such an assault the character would have had to be so powerful as to be otherwise an overmatch for most any Evil in the campaign--short of the demi-deital sort. Add to that the main team of "bad guys," Erac's Cousin, Robilar, and Teric were not ravening sorts, so that there was no campaign demand for retribution. They were as willing to combat NE and CE adversaries as they were any other.

Likely the inclusion of Mordenkainen, bigby, and the rest of my PCs as a Neutral force in the campaign moderated excesses, of course, those of Good as well as Evil. I kept them as active in play so as to make the campaign viable for all alignments, No faction could expect to dominate with the Circle of Eight there to keep the balance. Beside that, it gave me a chance to team up with any group when someone else was DMing, and thus I could play more :D

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: cartoon

cimerians said:
I never thought about asking Gary about the animated show. Sweet memories! I remember being 11 years old, eating Lucky Charms and watching D&D.

Thats really interesting. Dennis Marks a producer for the Spider-man cartoon show mentioned he worked with you on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Seems like a nice guy and he had very nice words about you. The interview is at http://www.spider-friends.com
Whoa! Thanks for pointing me to the interview with Dennis:) I've lost touch with him mainly because he's not active online. Dennis forgot John Beebe's name. Jogn knew Orson Wells sufficiently to be able to get through to him, but they weren't really buddies. Dennis didn't mention that he is a very fine stage magician.

I have great memories of the two is us sitting poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel dreaming up springboards for the D&D Cartoon Show, developing plots. Dennis was a frequent visitor to our offices and digs up on 1636 Summit Ridge Drive for social gathrings. I introduced him to the Firesign Theater there, in fact, listening to the "Giant Rat of Sumatra." For his part he had us over to his place and as his guest at the Magic Castle.

His problem getting along with Judy Price of CBS wasn't lost on me. When I pitched the D&D Cartopn Spinoff to Judy--and Margaret Loesch (then head of Marvel Entertainment) and Hank Saroyan--Gail (now my wife) orchestrated the whole meeting. She made sure that when we took a break after a couple of hours intense discussion there weere proper refreshments--excellent California chardonay wine, green grapes, cold shrimp, and some bree and water buiscuits. The crew stayed until around 10 PM, then I took them all out for a late supper down in Beverly Hills. Believe it or not, Judy and Margaret had never been there for dinner. As I recall, they wanted Italian, so I decided on LA Famiglia for a relaxed atmosphere. The party broke up around 1 AM, and the deal was done ;)

Always wanted to ask if some of the monsters in the cartoon were picked by you? (Specially some of the lesser known Fiend Folio creatures. Bullywuugs, Grimlocks etc.... even Lolth!) And lastly....what was Venger? A Lich? Simply an ex-good guy turned evil with fangs and one horn? (The voice actor for him was really good).

Thanks for everything Gary! And lets get that memoir book written!! :)
Most of the writers for the D&D cartoon came up to our place and hung out--free food, a pool to swim in (and a few brought their girlfriends up for night swims too), a hot tub, pool table and free bar, and best of all an old stable converted to a studio where they could set up their computers and work...when not playing Chainmail fantasy battles on the 6' x 12' sandtable in the main room of the place. they were a great bunch, so they had the run of the place even when I wasn't around--much of the time after 6 PM;)

Anyway, as I had creative control, I read and made suggestions as to anything that didn't meet the D&D canon. They had the whole of the core books, including all the monsters ones, so most selections were their own. I do know that bullywugs were chosen both for their interesting features and because son Luke, then living out there with me, was a regular in many of the Chainmail games and known to be the creator of those critters.

Well, there's some memoires for you :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
A bit of clean-up here in this post...I am running short of time this AM:(

Venger was Dungeon Master's son who was under an evil curse. The object was to somehow lift the curse from him, but his father could not speak of it.

The paper plate up for auction on Ebay is completely bogus to the best of my knowledge.

Those low-impact d20s did get pretty round in short order--well short order in terms of gaming time. Rob Kuntz had one that would stand on a point now and again. I still have a couple that I use when playing OD&D as the DM. One with gray faces on 10 sides is a "killer" die that comes up on those faces a lot--the 11-20 range, of course! Can't find it now, but it's likely in a box of old dice somewhere in the basement here. I have a second one with red faces that's as good for the monsters' rills, of course :D

Sorry If I've missed anything I shuld have responded to. If I have, somebody holler at me, and I'll make amends.

Cheers,
Gary
 

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Re: Can I get one of these?

Enceladus said:
Be careful what you throw away. :)

TSR Plate?

Next time your at a convention can we just bring a stack of paper plates?
LOL it doesn't look like anyone bid on it though. ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

BOZ said:


LOL it doesn't look like anyone bid on it though. ;)
Last I heard there were two bidders, the high bid $.11.

Now I wonder if the audience is wise to such a scam or am I just not much of a draw?

Heh,
Gary
 
Re: Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

Col_Pladoh said:


Last I heard there were two bidders, the high bid $.11.

Now I wonder if the audience is wise to such a scam or am I just not much of a draw?

Heh,
Gary
it is because you are such a draw. :) Hmm gary should I auction off the plates and silver are you ate with when you where at my house? At least it is better quality then Styrofoam, and you can authenticate them :).
Ken
who is often but shouldn't be amazed at the things on the internet.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

Joseph Elric Smith said:

it is because you are such a draw. :) Hmm gary should I auction off the plates and silver are you ate with when you where at my house? At least it is better quality then Styrofoam, and you can authenticate them :).
Ken
who is often but shouldn't be amazed at the things on the internet.
Well Dude!

Why stop at the table service? There's the couch cushion I sat on, and the doorknob I touched. I am growing nauseus...

Oh, boy, this sort of silliness makes me shake my head in wonder, so I do share your amazement, Ken;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

jgbrowning

Community Supporter
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

Col_Pladoh said:
Well Dude!

Why stop at the table service? There's the couch cushion I sat on, and the doorknob I touched. I am growing nauseus...

Oh, boy, this sort of silliness makes me shake my head in wonder, so I do share your amazement, Ken;)

Cheers,
Gary
now the doorknob idea may be workable....... :)

"Open the door on a new realm of fantasy adventure!"

joe b.
 
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

Col_Pladoh said:


Well Dude!

Why stop at the table service? There's the couch cushion I sat on, and the doorknob I touched. I am growing nauseus...

Oh, boy, this sort of silliness makes me shake my head in wonder, so I do share your amazement, Ken;)

Cheers,
Gary
Oh yes I forget that see Gary's butt print in my couch, or this is the actually toilet seat Gary sat on LOL
ken
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I get one of these?

Joseph Elric Smith said:

Oh yes I forget that see Gary's butt print in my couch, or this is the actually toilet seat Gary sat on LOL
ken
:( :( :(

Just where i feared this digression would lead...

That'll teach me to expand on things:mad:

Gary
 
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