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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
ScottGLXIX said:
Here's one that's been bothering me for a long time. In your original conception of the Temple of Elemental Evil, was Zuggtmoy the big baddie, or did you come up with her as a replacement for Lolth after Q1 was released and you were forced to rethink her involvement?
Ciao,
Scott

Close to the mark there Scott. when Dave Sutherland did the Q1 as it was, and Brian okayed it, I was rather stuck. Lolth was supposed to be in there, and in the depths the prison of the Elder Elemental God. I had my hands full with the management of the D&D Entertainment Copr. out on the West Coast, so I couldn't get to the copmpletion of the ToEE. That;s when Frank Mentzer took a hand and filled in the lower levels that I hadn't detailed. That's why they ended where they did instrad of proceeding downwards more to where the EEG's area was going to be.

Cheers,
Gary
 

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ScottGLXIX

First Post
Gary, you know when Gene Weigel and me start discussing Greyhawk, it's bad news for you. Recently, we've been involved in a rather serious discussion on the ToEE. Anyone curious can check it out here: http://empiregames.proboards12.com/index.cgi?board=ghfantalk&action=display&num=1055713181
Gene recently pointed something out that I never noticed, nor have I ever seen the connection discussed before. At the end of D3, the party can end up with the "egg". "In the egg are an iron pyramid, a silver sphere, a bronze star of eight points, and a cube of pale blue crystal." The pyramid, sphere, eight-pointed star, and cube evolved into the triangle, circle, eight-pointed star, and square from the ToEE correct? Did you intend the items in the egg to be associated with the elements as they turned out being in the ToEE?
Scott
P.S. I owe you another blue bottle at Game Fest.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
ScottGLXIX said:
Gary, you know when Gene Weigel and me start discussing Greyhawk, it's bad news for you. Recently, we've been involved in a rather serious discussion on the ToEE. Anyone curious can check it out here: http://empiregames.proboards12.com/index.cgi?board=ghfantalk&action=display&num=1055713181
Gene recently pointed something out that I never noticed, nor have I ever seen the connection discussed before. At the end of D3, the party can end up with the "egg". "In the egg are an iron pyramid, a silver sphere, a bronze star of eight points, and a cube of pale blue crystal." The pyramid, sphere, eight-pointed star, and cube evolved into the triangle, circle, eight-pointed star, and square from the ToEE correct? Did you intend the items in the egg to be associated with the elements as they turned out being in the ToEE?
Scott
P.S. I owe you another blue bottle at Game Fest.

Well, Scott...

When I wrote an adventure I always tried to put in a few disguised hooks for later exploitation, or not, as the creative muse moved me.

As you note, the shapes were repeated in the ToEE as I did intend to tie the latter into the series. Lolth was to be connected to the temple, she the key to activation of that which would remove the imprisoning bonds from the Elder Elemental God. Of course that would have been by unintended consequences of her actions when the PCs discovered her.

Hoiw it was all to operate was something I never did get fleshed out. This was to happen in the lower levels of the temple, the development of which I never got around to because of my work out on the West Coast. Spending time trying to get a D&D-based film and like projects going took precedence over paper game material creation until the very end when I came back to Wisconsin to bail TSR out of its near-bankrupy position.

Sad memories, those :rolleyes:

Gary
 

Phebius

First Post
Good Morning, sir. :)

I was reading Artifact of Evil last night at work. (Don't tell my boss ;) ) and noticed a line about the circle of 8. I've heard that the TSR and later WOTC membership of the Circle were not the same as the Circle in your campaign. In the book, Bigby was the only member mentioned by name (Unless Melf was a member) So, who were the others? Was it a rotating membership? Did people enter and leave on a regulay basis? And did the members have to be magic-users? Sorry that my Greyhawk knowledge is on the fritz.

And did you happen to ever visit this site It pokes a bit of fun at some of the aspects of old school D&D in a good natured way. I think you'll enjoy it if you get the chance.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Phebius said:
Good Morning, sir. :)

I was reading Artifact of Evil last night at work. (Don't tell my boss ;) ) and noticed a line about the circle of 8. I've heard that the TSR and later WOTC membership of the Circle were not the same as the Circle in your campaign. In the book, Bigby was the only member mentioned by name (Unless Melf was a member) So, who were the others? Was it a rotating membership? Did people enter and leave on a regulay basis? And did the members have to be magic-users? Sorry that my Greyhawk knowledge is on the fritz.

The Obsidian Citadel and its Circle of Eight wasoriginal to my own campaign. When Mordenkainen was at a level I considered too high for normal adventuring, I used the money he and his associates had amassed to construct the siad fortress. The members of the 'Circle were Mordenkainen and his associates--others of my PCs. The latter included Bigby, Yrag the fighter, Rigby the cleric, Zigby the Dwarf, the Elves Vram and Vin, and Felnorith as principles. A number of lesser PCs were associated.


And did you happen to ever visit this site It pokes a bit of fun at some of the aspects of old school D&D in a good natured way. I think you'll enjoy it if you get the chance.

First time I've seen that website. From what I noted there, it was only someone with too much time on their hands critiquing in attempted humorous manner some of the AD&D monsters. What did I miss?

Whines about "old school" do amuse me, for all the "classics" that were best-sellers, action adventure material, are now being used for spin-off modules and as the bases for CRPGs are mainly of that "school," not the touchy-feely stuff "state of the art, sophisticated" ones that gather dust on FLGS shelves;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Cias the Noble

First Post
Greetings, Col_Pladoh. I now have some questions about the Unearthed Arcana. You may have been asked some of these questions a thousand times and, if you wish, please feel free to direct me to where I can find any previous answers you may have given.

Many people feel that the new material given in the Unearthed Arcana was “unbalanced” or that it gave too much power to certain races/classes. I have also come to understand (and please correct me if I am wrong) that the production of the UA was rushed and many of the rules were not properly play-tested. What rules (if any) from the UA would you remove and/or change, especially regarding the following:

1) Racial level limits. The tables in the UA seem a bit complex and I’ve always wondered, if your revision had ever been released, if this would have changed.

2) What, if any, changes would you make to the Cavalier and Barbarian classes?

3) Weapon specialization seems like a great feature that adds variety to the fighter class, but it is also accused of being overly powerful (esp. double specialization and bow specialization). Any changes here?

4) From reading the UA, I concluded that the option allowing magic-users to cast spells directly from their spell books was added with reluctance, and the rules given in the UA essentially allow magic-users of low level to make “cheap” scrolls. Do you feel that this should still be an “official” optional rule, and if so would you alter it’s form?
 

JeffB

Legend
Hello Mr. Gygax,

I'm curious if you still have any relationships/contact with m/any of the ex TSR staffers? (besides Rob)..people like Jim Ward, "Zeb" Cook, Dave Sutherland, Tom Moldvay, Jeff Dee, Allen Hammack, Lawrence Schick, etc. ..many of the folks who contributed to /worked during (what I consider) TSR's "glory days" (at least as far as product quality goes, I realize now what tough times there were).
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Cias the Noble said:
Greetings, Col_Pladoh. I now have some questions about the Unearthed Arcana. You may have been asked some of these questions a thousand times and, if you wish, please feel free to direct me to where I can find any previous answers you may have given.

Many people feel that the new material given in the Unearthed Arcana was “unbalanced” or that it gave too much power to certain races/classes. I have also come to understand (and please correct me if I am wrong) that the production of the UA was rushed and many of the rules were not properly play-tested. What rules (if any) from the UA would you remove and/or change, especially regarding the following:

1) Racial level limits. The tables in the UA seem a bit complex and I’ve always wondered, if your revision had ever been released, if this would have changed.

Not that any of this matters really, but here are my answers. Note that musch of the material in UA had previously been published in Dragon magazine, then cleaned up and expanded a bit for the book.

Can't say if time would have changed my take on racial limits, but I doubt it, as I assumed a human-based and rules world setting for the AD&D game. The limits printed in the UA book had been in play for at least a yearm and we had no trouble with them.

2) What, if any, changes would you make to the Cavalier and Barbarian classes?

None I can think of off hand. I might have raised the qualifying stats a bit, but for the class abilities, no.

3) Weapon specialization seems like a great feature that adds variety to the fighter class, but it is also accused of being overly powerful (esp. double specialization and bow specialization). Any changes here?

Too powerful? Sounds like a mage-lover's whine (as are most complaints about the barbarian class). Without the restrictions of 2E placed on magic, the changes affecting fighters and their ilk were simply things that brought them more on a par with spell-casters. As for archery being too potent with doule specialization, hey! Real arrows can and did kill, were deadly, so why not?

4) From reading the UA, I concluded that the option allowing magic-users to cast spells directly from their spell books was added with reluctance, and the rules given in the UA essentially allow magic-users of low level to make “cheap” scrolls. Do you feel that this should still be an “official” optional rule, and if so would you alter it’s form?

Optional rules are for the DM to decide in regards to use in his campaign. I was not averse to allowing casting from a spell book, as it is not cheap. Replacing one should be a major undertaking. The only character willing to use that expedient should be one in extremis, or else the campaign is being run too generously by the DM. When the spell is gone from the book, it can't be read and re-learned. Creating traveling spell books takes time and effort, money when the proper blank book is located in which to scribe the spells.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
JeffB said:
Hello Mr. Gygax,

I'm curious if you still have any relationships/contact with m/any of the ex TSR staffers? (besides Rob)..people like Jim Ward, "Zeb" Cook, Dave Sutherland, Tom Moldvay, Jeff Dee, Allen Hammack, Lawrence Schick, etc. ..many of the folks who contributed to /worked during (what I consider) TSR's "glory days" (at least as far as product quality goes, I realize now what tough times there were).

No, I don't see any of those individuals. Haven't been in contact with Rob in about six months--that's when he moved and went off line.

Jim Ward is not far off, in Elkhorn, but he is busy, and so I don't get a chance to speak with him often let alone play in his campaign--which I would enjoy.

Frank Mentzer is way up north in Minoqua, Wisconsin where he assists his wife run a really excellent bakery;) I haven't been up there for almost two years now, but maybe this fall.

That's it.

Cheers,
Gary
 

JeffB

Legend
Col_Pladoh said:


No, I don't see any of those individuals. Haven't been in contact with Rob in about six months--that's when he moved and went off line.

Jim Ward is not far off, in Elkhorn, but he is busy, and so I don't get a chance to speak with him often let alone play in his campaign--which I would enjoy.

Frank Mentzer is way up north in Minoqua, Wisconsin where he assists his wife run a really excellent bakery;) I haven't been up there for almost two years now, but maybe this fall.

That's it.

Cheers,
Gary

Gary, thanks for answering my questions, though your answers sparked a couple of new ones, if you do not mind. :)

1) Jim as the man behind FFE has a fairly poor rep here @ EnWorld. Many folks not only have problems w/ FFE's lack of understanding for D20 rules, but many also disdain the higher than average "power level' and emphasis on story/fluff elements (personally I like the FFE products, warts and all). I would assume Jim's gaming style in his home games would flow with that high power, story heavy theme. I get the impression that style of gaming is not exactly your cup of tea so to speak. Would you care to comment?

2) Are there any of the people I mentioned that you have not had contact w/ in many years that you would like to get together with and BS, or play a game with? IOW, who were some of the folks you really enjoyed working and/or gaming w/ at TSR who seemingly have dropped off the face of the earth? (so to speak). Not Rob, Frank, and Jim, but some of the others (if any).

Thank you again. :)
 

green slime

First Post
Hi Gary!

I've always enjoyed the Scarlet Brotherhood, and the area they inhabit. What occured in your campaign there? Where they always monks? What conspiracies where they involved in?

Thanks!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
JeffB said:


Gary, thanks for answering my questions, though your answers sparked a couple of new ones, if you do not mind. :)

1) Jim as the man behind FFE has a fairly poor rep here @ EnWorld. Many folks not only have problems w/ FFE's lack of understanding for D20 rules, but many also disdain the higher than average "power level' and emphasis on story/fluff elements (personally I like the FFE products, warts and all). I would assume Jim's gaming style in his home games would flow with that high power, story heavy theme. I get the impression that style of gaming is not exactly your cup of tea so to speak. Would you care to comment?

No question about it, I am a big fan of the METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA game, and that was what I was mainly referring to when I spoke of playing in a game run by James M. Ward;)

I can say that Jim has been the DM in a number of AD&D game sessions I have played, and his material was indeed high level, but the emphasis was more on exploration and action than on story.

You are correct, amateur theater is not popular with me, as I think that the story in a RPG campaign needs to be outlined by the DM, then "written" by him and the players' characters in interaction with the campaign environment, so that the events that take place are unknown until they have taken place.

2) Are there any of the people I mentioned that you have not had contact w/ in many years that you would like to get together with and BS, or play a game with? IOW, who were some of the folks you really enjoyed working and/or gaming w/ at TSR who seemingly have dropped off the face of the earth? (so to speak). Not Rob, Frank, and Jim, but some of the others (if any).

Thank you again. :)

The short answer is none. I do get together with Francois MArcela Froideval every couple of years, and we remain in touch via email and telephone. He is the only one of the former writers from TSR that was omitted from my list. There are a number of players from my campaign, or met at conventions, that I enjoy encountering online, via email, or in person--and that I manage pretty well.

My main creative contacts these days are with writers with whom I am currently working, and those are quite stimulating and enjoyable.

Cheers,
Gary

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
green slime said:
Hi Gary!

I've always enjoyed the Scarlet Brotherhood, and the area they inhabit. What occured in your campaign there? Where they always monks? What conspiracies where they involved in?

Thanks!

Yes, when I devised the Scarlet Brotherhood I based the concept on an organization of monks who were augmented by assassins and clerics, with a large number of fighters around, of course.

Most of the play in my campaign was around the Nyr Dyv and westwards. Thus the Brotherhood's machinations were not central to the action. I was planning to do a module to two featuring them, but that didn't happen, so I have no detailed plots regarding them and their conspiricies. As with many places on the continent of Oerik, they were there for use as needed, a tool for the DM;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

WinnipegDragon

First Post
I have a question if I may, Gary. (I'll skip the fluff and fawning, but suffice it to say it's kind of neat talking with you, and I'm a fan!)

I hold very fond and nostalgic memories of the D&D cartoon as I'm sure many others on the boards do. Who holds the rights to these, and have you heard anything about a possible DVD release of the series, similar to what is happening right now with The Transformers, etc?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
WinnipegDragon said:
I have a question if I may, Gary. (I'll skip the fluff and fawning, but suffice it to say it's kind of neat talking with you, and I'm a fan!)

I hold very fond and nostalgic memories of the D&D cartoon as I'm sure many others on the boards do. Who holds the rights to these, and have you heard anything about a possible DVD release of the series, similar to what is happening right now with The Transformers, etc?

Indeed, the series was a good one, and I was very sad that it was dropped after 26 episodes without a more "advanced" version going into production as was planned.

All the rights to the D&D Cartoon Show are held jointly by WotC and Marvel. Neither entity keeps me in the loop regarding their plans for any further exploitation of the series...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Hello Gary! :)

I've always been curious about the origin of a "weird" combo of magic items in AD&D...

Namely, the possibility of stacking Gauntlets of Ogre Power and a Girdle of Giant Strength when using magical warhammers (or was that only when using an Hammer of Thunderbolts?)

Thanks!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Nikosandros said:
Hello Gary! :)

I've always been curious about the origin of a "weird" combo of magic items in AD&D...

Namely, the possibility of stacking Gauntlets of Ogre Power and a Girdle of Giant Strength when using magical warhammers (or was that only when using an Hammer of Thunderbolts?)

Thanks!

Salut!

The combined gauntlets and girdle applied only to the noted magic item, it being akin to Thor's hammer, Mjolmir. Otherwise the two different items did not combine their powers.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Hadit

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Most of the play in my campaign was around the Nyr Dyv and westwards.

Heya Gary,

Mention of the Lake of Unknown Depths has sparked a trivial (but old) question I've had for awhile.
How do you pronounce Nyr Dyv? (I've always said it like: "nyer deev".)
Also, how do you pronounce Flanaess?

Thanks, Duglas
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Hadit said:


Heya Gary,

Mention of the Lake of Unknown Depths has sparked a trivial (but old) question I've had for awhile.
How do you pronounce Nyr Dyv? (I've always said it like: "nyer deev".)
Also, how do you pronounce Flanaess?

Thanks, Duglas

What's in a name?

Well, FWIW, here is how I mumble those names :eek:

Nyr Dyv: "Nir Div," with a punning "Near Dive" when PCs were about to be immersed.

Flanaess: "Flan-AeCE," the stressed syllable almost sounding "ace," the "Ae" like "Ay" perhaps.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Tamsar

First Post
Hello Gary,

Since I've been unable to find an answer in this rather humongous thread, can you give all us Gord fan's an update on the proposed Graphic Novels based on the books?


Thanks
 

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