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
Re: Games Day

Scott814thmpco said:
Hi Mr. Gygax
Games Plus in Mount Prospect Ill. is having a D&D games day Nov 9th, It would be really cool if you dropped by or better yet DM'ed some good o' 1st edition D&D.


Scott

Hola Scott!

As I recall, I am slated to go to the gathering at Games Plus in Mt. Prospect--it's only a bit over an hour's drinve from here in Lake Geneva. I'll be coming with Chris Clark and likely my son Alex.

As it stands, though, I am going to be running an LA game or the like--the LA fans were the ones who invited Chris and I to come about a month or so back.

Cheers,
Gary
 


johnsemlak

First Post
Questions for Gary

Questions:

1. Did you ever consider either adding more detail (a map, details of encounters, etc) of the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu to D3, or publishing a separate product detailing Erelhei Cinlu?

2. In your own words, how would you summarize the difference between AD&D and Basic/Expert/etc. D&D?

3. How important do you feel the concept of 'character archtypes' is to the D&D game? Do you feel that 3e rules, by going away from having core character classes, has lost something important here?

4. In your campaign, was the dissident drow Nilonim from D3 ever a PC?

P.S. Please write a sequal to Necropolis.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Kershek said:
Gary,

What did you think about the Dungeons & Dragons movie?

I think of that flick as little as possible ;)

For a Grade B fantasy film it was passable because one could enjoy the few good bits and laugh at the rest. Otherwise, virtually nothing was right in it. Even the special effects were pretty mediocre. Anyway, no need to belabor the matter, as it is dead, very dead indeed...

Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Questions for Gary

johnsemlak said:
Questions:

1. Did you ever consider either adding more detail (a map, details of encounters, etc) of the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu to D3, or publishing a separate product detailing Erelhei Cinlu?

2. In your own words, how would you summarize the difference between AD&D and Basic/Expert/etc. D&D?

3. How important do you feel the concept of 'character archtypes' is to the D&D game? Do you feel that 3e rules, by going away from having core character classes, has lost something important here?

4. In your campaign, was the dissident drow Nilonim from D3 ever a PC?

P.S. Please write a sequal to Necropolis.

Okay, and some answers:)

1. As I noted in an earlier response, the drow city in the vault is one that I did think about revisiting, expanding. Becuase such a project demanded considerable time and effort, it didn't happen, so now it's in WotC's hands.

2. I am not going to try to do critical comparative anayyses here or in any chat. That's a task that demands much careful thinking and effort. The only thing I can say about the matter is this: Play the two and judge for yourself. I think that AD&D is a "tighter" game than D&D was, more directed, less free-form. However, that applies mainly to those DMs who followed the book, if you will, as AD&D could be played in the same style as D&D.

3. I feel very strongly that the archetype is crucial to the D&D game, and yes, I believe that 3E has suffered by virtually abandoning that concept. Without it I don't think the game will maintain so strong an appeal as it originally possessed. Time will tell.

4. The drow was strictly an invented NPC. None of my players ever showed much interest in playing drow. Of course, with well-established PCs going before the drow were introduced, that's likely a principal reason for such lack of interest.

As for the sequel to NECROPOLIS, as I mentioned before, it's in the hands of the gods. I need to be able to open some MAc+ files, find the maps I made around 1994 for a potential CRPG, then see how much work is involved in changing the adventure from a computer base to a paper one.

Gary
 


ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Re: Questions for Gary

johnsemlak said:
3. How important do you feel the concept of 'character archtypes' is to the D&D game? Do you feel that 3e rules, by going away from having core character classes, has lost something important here?


This is a question both for the poster and for Gary - how does 3e not have these archetypes? How has 3e moved away from core character classes; it has as many (OK, a few more) as any other edition did? Is it easier multiclassing that seems to be the main difference, game-wise? I imagine many still play single-classed characters.

I'm not being argumentative; I genuinely don't understand this assertion. I've played D&D/AD&D for something like 22-23 years, and I don't see that much of a difference in 3e in this regard.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
CrazyMage said:
What are your favorite drinks, and when should I bring them over?;)

Hell, I'll drink just about anything :D Bombay Sapphire martinis top the list of appertifs, but I like manhattans too. Don't think there's a form of liquor I don't like, and beer or ale is fine--as long as it isn't mass-brewed crap or "light" stuff. Ugh!

Seriously, though, I don't usually imbibe doring gaming sessions, and if it's hot and I decide to have a g&t, it's light on the gin and heavy on tonic and ice.

So, Whitewater isn't too far distant. Want to join the Thursday night LA game session here? We begin c. 6:30 and close at 10--everybody has a ways to drive to get home, or else needs to be up early for school:)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Questions for Gary

ColonelHardisson said:


This is a question both for the poster and for Gary - how does 3e not have these archetypes?

No way I am goping to get involved in a critical analysis of 3E now, amigo. I will say that while you suggest that some players stick with a single-class character, is that because of the way the game is done or in spite of it? Also, the way that skills and feats are presented tends to both encourage multi-classing while blurring the archetypes. Yes, one can still play 3E with archetypes, but the system does not encourage it, nor is that in the spirit of the system--gaining power.

That's all from me on this topic.

Gary
 

johnsemlak

First Post
More Questions for Gary

Gary

Thanks for taking so much time to answer my and other people's questions.

1. A recent D20 product details the use of time-travel magic. I don't believe you have ever mentioned time travel in any of your D&D/AD&D material (am I wrong?), though it's a popular tool in fantasy literature. Do you think time travel poses difficult problems for the game?

2. Do you have an opinion on the use of firearms in D&D?

3. You are from Chicago, and fantasy gaming has strong roots in the Midwest, from Wierd Tales magazine to Gen Con 2002. Do you think there is any particular reason for that?
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Re: Re: Re: Questions for Gary

Col_Pladoh said:


No way I am goping to get involved in a critical analysis of 3E now, amigo. I will say that while you suggest that some players stick with a single-class character, is that because of the way the game is done or in spite of it? Also, the way that skills and feats are presented tends to both encourage multi-classing while blurring the archetypes. Yes, one can still play 3E with archetypes, but the system does not encourage it, nor is that in the spirit of the system--gaining power.

That's all from me on this topic.

Gary

Hey, this is the kind of answer I was looking for! I figured that since it was brought up, I'd ask. You did want questions asked, right? :D

EDIT: Oh wait - this actually begs another question! What was the spirit of earlier editions. then? From the perspective of a player, 1e AD&D, for example seemed about gaining power also.

And remember - I learned to play by reading the 1e DMG and PHB, which you wrote... ;)
 
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Rel

Liquid Awesome
Gary, I've been a poster on these boards for a pretty good while now and I've always thought it was cool how you would drop by from time to time. I've rarely seen a figure of your importance to a hobby be quite so accessable to the fans as you are.

Anyhow, I felt the need to stop in and thank you from the bottom of my heart for how your creation has enhanced my life in so many ways. It kept me out of trouble when I was young and it helped me form friendships with guys who are like brothers to me to this day. It has made me more literate and creative. And someday it will hopefully give me a fun activity to pursue with my children (they need to get out of diapers first and stop trying to eat my dice) as it already does with my wife.

In short, I have gotten more unadulterated joy at a phenomenally low cost-per-hour from D&D and the many games it has spawned than I could ever have hoped for in a hobby. For that you have my undying gratitude. Not to be excessively sycophantic but just imaging you reading these words gives me a touch of fan-boy glee.

But I'm not here just to suck up! I have a serious question:

Col_Pladoh said:
Hell, I'll drink just about anything :D Bombay Sapphire martinis top the list of appertifs

How many olives do you take with that and what brand (if any) vermouth do you prefer? (excellent taste in gin regardless of your answer)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: More Questions for Gary

johnsemlak said:
Gary

Thanks for taking so much time to answer my and other people's questions.

1. A recent D20 product details the use of time-travel magic. I don't believe you have ever mentioned time travel in any of your D&D/AD&D material (am I wrong?), though it's a popular tool in fantasy literature. Do you think time travel poses difficult problems for the game?

2. Do you have an opinion on the use of firearms in D&D?

3. You are from Chicago, and fantasy gaming has strong roots in the Midwest, from Wierd Tales magazine to Gen Con 2002. Do you think there is any particular reason for that?

Welcome:)

1. Somehow I can not relate time travel to fantasy per se. That is, I believe it belongs in the science fiction genre,m something based on technology rather than magic. This is not to say I don't think time travel is interesting, and I have had it included in my own game campaign--a blend of both probability and time travel. The players did not like it... Anyway, I don't think it works well in fantasy.

2. I do not allow firearms to work in any of the campaigns I run, but I have had my players travel to other worlds, parallel ones, where firearms worked. There is no problem handling the damage caused by such weapons, but in my view such technological weapons are counter to the spirit of the fantasy game, and all things considered, quite unnecessary.

3. I was born in Chicago, lived there for my first eight years, then for about 10 more years--from age 19 on through 28. I worked in the city until near the end of 1970, gamed with many people from Chicago. There was a good bit of organized gaming there, and I did likewise in Lake Geneva, started GenCon here 35 years back. As to why there is such interest, I can speculate only. Winters are long here, so indoor activities are often pursued. Once game groups get started in an area, they tend to persist and proliferate too.

Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Re: Re: Questions for Gary

ColonelHardisson said:


Hey, this is the kind of answer I was looking for! I figured that since it was brought up, I'd ask. You did want questions asked, right? :D

EDIT: Oh wait - this actually begs another question! What was the spirit of earlier editions. then? From the perspective of a player, 1e AD&D, for example seemed about gaining power also.

And remember - I learned to play by reading the 1e DMG and PHB, which you wrote... ;)

Journalists and trail attornies stuff, amigo ;) As I said, I don't care to go into a comparative analysis of the games, and they are very different games, as most everyone acknowledges. You can draw your own conclusions, eh?

Now, as for _wanting_ questions asked, heh! I simply agreed to do an online interview, and I am answering questions here so as to lessen the load when I get into the chatroom later today :p

Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Rel said:
Gary, I've been a poster on these boards for a pretty good while now and I've always thought it was cool how you would drop by from time to time. I've rarely seen a figure of your importance to a hobby be quite so accessable to the fans as you are.

Thanks. What can I say other than to point out I am a gamer, and I generally respect and like my fellows, so I don't mind spending time kicking things about with them. One face sharpens the other too...

Anyhow, I felt the need to stop in and thank you from the bottom of my heart for how your creation has enhanced my life in so many ways. It kept me out of trouble when I was young and it helped me form friendships with guys who are like brothers to me to this day. It has made me more literate and creative. And someday it will hopefully give me a fun activity to pursue with my children (they need to get out of diapers first and stop trying to eat my dice) as it already does with my wife.

In short, I have gotten more unadulterated joy at a phenomenally low cost-per-hour from D&D and the many games it has spawned than I could ever have hoped for in a hobby. For that you have my undying gratitude. Not to be excessively sycophantic but just imaging you reading these words gives me a touch of fan-boy glee.

What you note above is what I posted about earlier when asked how I felt about doing work that influenced so many people in so positive a way. You know I am really encouraged when I read accounts such as yours :)

[/QUOTE]But I'm not here just to suck up! I have a serious question:

How many olives do you take with that and what brand (if any) vermouth do you prefer? (excellent taste in gin regardless of your answer)
[/QUOTE]

Right! Well, in general if I have any vermouth at all, it will be a few drops of Martiti & Rossi. I like blue cheese-stuffed jumbo olives (2) in a martini, ot three small sweet onions in in a gibson. Typically, though, I drink the Bombat Sapphire shaken sans any vermouth, straight up, with one small olive in a proper martini glass. In fact, a generous soul saw to it that I got a pair of them from the Bombay Gin compamy, each with a blue sphere where the stem meets the bowl of the glass :eek:

Small things can surely bring a lot of enjoyment...

Gary
 

Mortaneus

First Post
Here's another one:

Of all the published D&D related items you've written (novels, rulebooks, adventures, etc), do you have any particular favorites? What was the most fun to write? The least?
 

johnsemlak

First Post
still more questions

Gary

1. What are your favorite fantasy movies? And would you like to see a film based on a popular D&D module/adventure?

2. One of the primary limitations to the cleric class or related classes has been the prohibition of edged weopons. This was based, to my knowledge, upon the prohibition among medieval priests against spilling Christian blood (I don't think they had a problem with spilling infidel blood). I believe the Pope Julius was known to charge into battle with mace and beat opponents to death.

However, did you ever feel it was a bit unrealistic to extend this to all priests, including evil priests, not to mention the general concept that it was/is ok for a priest to bash an opponent to death (somehow without spilling blood) but not to use edged weopons?


That's all I can think of.

Good luck in your future gaming and publishing. I really hope you somehow return to writing material for WoG. I'd most like to see you do more drow material, though other authors and done much of that already.

Cheers

John Semlak
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Questions for Gary

Col_Pladoh said:


Journalists and trail attornies stuff, amigo ;) As I said, I don't care to go into a comparative analysis of the games, and they are very different games, as most everyone acknowledges. You can draw your own conclusions, eh?


Actually, I don't want you to do a qualitative comparison between games. I'm not a raving d20 fanboy (well, not that way, at least) that sees no value in anything printed prior to the turn of the millennium (or close to it). I played AD&D 1t edition for well over a decade. I'm actually interested in what you feel the spirit of older editions was. It doesn't have to entail anything about other games. One could surmise a certain mood or feel for the game based upon the fiction you gave as recommended reading in the DMG. However, older editions/versions of the game seemed to have a different feel from the later AD&D. Can you articulate what that was?

This isn't a grilling - Sorry if it seemed like that (I'm certainly no trial lawyer or journalist, and don't mean to come off that way). I'm asking for some artistic commentary from you. Like when Steven Spielberg is interviewed and he tells about what symbolism was used in a film he's made, or why he made particular artistic choices. OK, so maybe not that involved, but along those lines. Does that make sense? It doesn't have to be about the game overall; I'd be interested in, for example, knowing what directly influenced the "Giants" series, or the "Drow" series.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
O, Great Gygax, who we implore to not let the rust monsters near our vorpal swords...

You've mentioned the weakening of the archetypes in the 3E system - I'm unfamiliar with your Lejendary Adventures game, save that it is 'rules lite', but I was wondering if you used archetypes in that system, or another approach altogether?

Cheers!
 

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