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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
Re: Re: Re: More questions

BOZ said:


hmm, i've heard "roll-playing" plenty of times, but i think this is the first time i've heard this one. :) i think it needs to be said a lot more often...

Heh, Boz;)

Many people knock "roll-playing," but it is a necessary part of the PRG game form where chance is a major factor in the game--as it is in real life. The real bad rap against dice rolling is if combat is the predominate feature of play, that negating the other elements that make up the game...such as role-playing.

Rules are necessary for a structured game, doubly so when it is based on fantasy where no real facts are available to the participants. then the structure becomes the major feature of play, though, then it is at least as onerous as roll-playing, so both terms are equally daming. If a game is nothing but role-playing, then it is not really a RPG, but some form of improvisational theater, for the game form includes far more than acting out assumed roles.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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Geoffrey

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Indeed, in AD&D I "fudged" the banshee to be a spirit of an evil female elf--that flying in the face of elves being soul-less... So you were basically correct, and I was using my revised treatment, returning the banshee into the ranks of the sidhe where they belong;)

In my games, I considered banshees the spirits of human women who died in childbirth. Also, I considered that demi-humans were all of inherently good alignment. I didn't have any evil or neutral dwarves, elves, gnomes, or halflings in my world. (This, of course, doesn't include duergar, drow, or deep gnomes.) Just as, for example, there were no six-foot tall halflings (not even as "exceptions"), there were no non-lawful good ones either.
 

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Re: Re: Re: Re: More questions

Col_Pladoh said:
Heh, Boz;)

Many people knock "roll-playing," but it is a necessary part of the PRG game form where chance is a major factor in the game--as it is in real life. The real bad rap against dice rolling is if combat is the predominate feature of play, that negating the other elements that make up the game...such as role-playing.

Rules are necessary for a structured game, doubly so when it is based on fantasy where no real facts are available to the participants. then the structure becomes the major feature of play, though, then it is at least as onerous as roll-playing, so both terms are equally daming. If a game is nothing but role-playing, then it is not really a RPG, but some form of improvisational theater, for the game form includes far more than acting out assumed roles.

right, we need a good balance between all three for it to work well as a whole. over-emphasizing one or diminishing one takes away from the feel of the game. :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Geoffrey said:


In my games, I considered banshees the spirits of human women who died in childbirth. Also, I considered that demi-humans were all of inherently good alignment. I didn't have any evil or neutral dwarves, elves, gnomes, or halflings in my world. (This, of course, doesn't include duergar, drow, or deep gnomes.) Just as, for example, there were no six-foot tall halflings (not even as "exceptions"), there were no non-lawful good ones either.

Geoffrey, I was not so strict in my management of demi-humans. While most were basicaly of G alignment as groups, there were plenty of TN elves, and individuals within a group could vary through the whole spectrum. Basically E demi-humans had the same exceptions, although most PCs were hesitant to believe them, heh-heh.

Never did have a halfling or any other sort of racially gigantic proportions. About 25% variation in height was the max.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: More questions

BOZ said:


right, we need a good balance between all three for it to work well as a whole. over-emphasizing one or diminishing one takes away from the feel of the game. :)

That's the way I feel, Boz. There are those who really love to emphasize one or another feature though. What the heck, if they are having fun it can't be bad...just sort of wring in terms of what the RPG is meant to be ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Hadit

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
... and a finally where the successful PC(s) get the big reward for staying the course and reaching the untimate conclusion.

Of course this begs the question: Did any of your players reach the "ultimate conclusion" of Castle Greyhawk?
Or do secrets lie there still?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Hadit said:


Of course this begs the question: Did any of your players reach the "ultimate conclusion" of Castle Greyhawk?
Or do secrets lie there still?

When i was running the campaign alone, the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk wree only 13 levels deep. On the 13th was Zagig himself--he observed what went on above, restocked, etc. When a character got down to his level there was no going back. The one managing that was given an appropriate reward then sent on a giant, one-way slide clear through to the other side of the world, a place akin to China;) They had only what they carried at the time.

finding the lowest level was very difficult. Rob, playing Robilar solo, delved into the dungeon, made it. Ernie, noting Rog's absence from adventuring with the party, sent Tenser on a solo quest to discover Robilar's whereabouts. He managed to follow a similar path, and made level 13. Then Terry Kuntz noted both of his usual companions were nopt available to play, went forth with Terik, and made the lowest lever successfully. These PCs were around 10th level at this time. Rob never mapped, and Ernie didn't either when he went exploring with Tenser, so there was no cheating. Can't say how they managed it, but all three did it in succession. Each then solo-adventured back overland syccessfully via different routes.

No other players in the group managed that. About a month after all that Rob and I combined out castles, and Greyhawk Castle's dungeons grew massively, from about 20 levels total, 13 deep, to over 40, going down to about 28 levels.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Hadit

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:


When i was running the campaign alone, the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk wree only 13 levels deep. On the 13th was Zagig himself--he observed what went on above, restocked, etc. When a character got down to his level there was no going back. The one managing that was given an appropriate reward then sent on a giant, one-way slide clear through to the other side of the world, a place akin to China;) They had only what they carried at the time.

finding the lowest level was very difficult. Rob, playing Robilar solo, delved into the dungeon, made it. Ernie, noting Rog's absence from adventuring with the party, sent Tenser on a solo quest to discover Robilar's whereabouts. He managed to follow a similar path, and made level 13. Then Terry Kuntz noted both of his usual companions were nopt available to play, went forth with Terik, and made the lowest lever successfully. These PCs were around 10th level at this time. Rob never mapped, and Ernie didn't either when he went exploring with Tenser, so there was no cheating. Can't say how they managed it, but all three did it in succession. Each then solo-adventured back overland syccessfully via different routes.

No other players in the group managed that. About a month after all that Rob and I combined out castles, and Greyhawk Castle's dungeons grew massively, from about 20 levels total, 13 deep, to over 40, going down to about 28 levels.

Cheers,
Gary

Wow! Castle Greyhawk is one cool dungeon! I hope some day that it manages to get published.

I guess then if Zagig was treated with proper respect he was amicable enough... better China than dead!

Does this mean that the Oerth is detailed in full somewhere in your notes? Or did you just 'wing' it?

Thanks for the responses!
Duglas
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ho Duglas!

I did sketch maps only for areas where there would likely be a lot of adventuring. Oterwise I winged it. Must have done a fair to middlin job, as Rob so enjoyed robilar's adventures in the Coty of Brass while returning from the Mysterious East that he went on and developed a detailed city of that name of his own design;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

optimizer

First Post
Howdy!

Col_Pladoh said:

The elements needed thereafter are: Challenge of exploration, increasing danger including actual PC loss, varied problems, varied environments, occassional humor or like relief from the tension normal to the environment, mysteries, rewards commensurate with the challenge overcome, a series of milestones indicating achievement in the course of delving into the labyrinth, and a finally where the successful PC(s) get the big reward for staying the course and reaching the untimate conclusion.

What are the differences in using OAD&D versus LA when making a dungeon with increasing dangers?

Thanks!

Mike
 

Devall2000

First Post
highest allowable level for PC's

Hey Gary,
The information you've been providing is invaluable. I can't say 'thank you' enough.

I'm curious to know the highest level you would allow PC's to attain before you had them retire and/or made the players roll up new characters.

thanks,
Jamie
 


Devall2000

First Post
Well, I've gone all the way back through to where this thread first began. I think it's 34 pages worth of Q&A with Gary. I found that the question I had about levels was answered.

Gary, I've been reading about how the Gord the rogue novels are coming out in graphic novel format. This made me think about a graphic novel that came out in 80's. It was a spider-man graphic novel called "hooky." It was off the beaten path as far as spider-man went/goes. Have you ever had the chance to read it?

Also, have you ever played Axis & Allies? What did you think of it?
thanks,
Jamie
 

Hey Gary on another list we've been discussing the Paladin, and the use of Detect evil. Would you care t5o explain what you envisioned when you gave that ability to the class, and how you expected it to be used?
Ken
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Paladin's Detect Evil Power

Howdy Ken:)

Well, as the Paladin is supposed to be the virtuous warrior wholly dedicated to being upright and doing good, the Detect Evil capacity seemed natural.

I envisaged it as being one that the Paladin must use with active thought, that meaning when he is thus engaged he can be doing nothing else. (It was not meant as an automatic sensing device akin to a Geiger counter detecting radiation level.)

The Evil needs to be an active force such as in a character or a spirit entity or at worst a semi-intelligent monster able to contemplate doing wicked things, or an active magical effect that has a sentient quality that triggers it malign effect.

Okay, there is is, and don't ask why this isn't quantified thus in the original PHB ;)

cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Whoa! Missed a few...

I just got a notice of a post today, answered it, then chacked back and found several others that I'd not been alerted to. Sorry about that :( I'll answer them now.

Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
optimizer said:
Howdy!



What are the differences in using OAD&D versus LA when making a dungeon with increasing dangers?

Thanks!

Mike

that's a difficult question to answer, for the beginning Avatar in the LA game is more like a 7th - 8th level PC in many ways. When placing weaker creatures in encounters, the Lejend Master needs to have plenty of them, and be careful to operate them in as clever a manner as possible considering their nature.

Increasing dangers aren't so difficult, as the creatures with higher Health and chance to hit, those doing a lot of extra Harm or with special attack forms are clearly ratable and tougher to defeat. Also. problems requiring the use of some not-too-common Ability, come into play, as to difficult problems and tricky situations.

One needs be careful, though, for Avatars take a long time to work up to potency greater that their corresponding level in AD&D terms. Regular play (40 + sessions) adds what amounts to about a level and a half per year, assuming the acquisition of some good Extraordinary Items (magic) along the way.

They system can manage Avatars of considerable potency, of course, and even veterans of six or more years can be properly challenged. Don't forget that the LA game does not center on combat, makes it a key element amongst several or many;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Re: highest allowable level for PC's

Devall2000 said:
Hey Gary,
The information you've been providing is invaluable. I can't say 'thank you' enough.

I'm curious to know the highest level you would allow PC's to attain before you had them retire and/or made the players roll up new characters.

thanks,
Jamie

Never did I demand a retirement of a PC. Most of the players with characters in the high-teens level voluntarily took those PCs into semi-retirement, keeping them only for adventures that called for potent adventurers. My own top-level PC Mordenkainen, went past 20th level thus--special high-level scenarios. In one in company with several other like PCs. the first encounter faced by the group were liches armed with Rods of Cancellation that charging the party.

Mordie's last two adventures were one there he was accompanying some mid-level characters who got transferred to the MA game's Starship Warden and another in which two ancient white dragons were awaiting the party. Each of those was about a year apart.

Otherwise, as did my players, I tend to have more fun playing a PC of somewhere between 5th and 12th level.

Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
The Blue Elf said:
I'm curious to know how did Zagig become a Demi-God,Gary?

And thank you very much Gary for your time. :D

Castle Greyhawk had to have such a figure behind it. Otherwise, how could one explain all the strange and near-impossible (even in a magic-active universe)?

So the advent of Zagig corresponded to the development of the castle-dungeons complex early in 1973 used in my Greyhawk campaign. Zagig put in a cameo appearance when the adventurers managed to plumb the utmost depths, as will be covered in a DRAGON Magazine essay in my "Up on a Soapbox" column one of these months;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Devall2000 said:
Well, I've gone all the way back through to where this thread first began. I think it's 34 pages worth of Q&A with Gary. I found that the question I had about levels was answered.

Gary, I've been reading about how the Gord the rogue novels are coming out in graphic novel format. This made me think about a graphic novel that came out in 80's. It was a spider-man graphic novel called "hooky." It was off the beaten path as far as spider-man went/goes. Have you ever had the chance to read it?

Also, have you ever played Axis & Allies? What did you think of it?
thanks,
Jamie

The Gord the Rogue graphic novels are postponed due to difficulties with illustrators and colorists. Now I know why the publisher was reticent about announcing. The release date has been moved from August to the end of the year:(

No, I missed the Spiderman graphic novel. I really enjoyed the movie, though. I am eager to see the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, as I really liked the graphic novel!

As a hardcore board wargamer, I found Axis & Allies a little too abstract for my taste. Both sons Ernie and Luke played it a fair bit. When I got the more recent Avalon Hill/Hasbro ACW boardgame, I created less abstract, more historically oriented, "wargamers'" rules for it immediately after playing once with the printed ones;)

No, I have no problems with gamers who "improve" game rules similarly, even if those "improvements" happen to be on something I wrote :rolleyes:

Cheers,
Gary
 

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