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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RFisher

Explorer
Storm Raven said:
Interesting. I wonder which came first The Seven Samurai or Beowulf?

<shrug> No human creation comes from a vacuum. "Derivative" is the most worthless criticism anyone can make of a work. It is interesting to examine influences, but it says nothing about the quality of the new work. What really matters is how the new work itself was executed, not what its influences were.
 

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Raven Crowking

First Post
Storm Raven said:
Interesting. I wonder which came first The Seven Samurai or Beowulf?


The 13th Warrior is a loose retelling of Beowulf at best. While an interesting movie, I found the book to be better! :D (Um...I mean the novel, Eaters of the Dead, upon which The 13th Warrior was based, which was itself based on Beowulf.)
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Marshal Lucky said:
The way the group is assembled one by one (the best scene in 13th Warrior, by the way), the way the group has to deal with discord inside the village, one of the heroes has a fling with the local girl, the leader who seldom speaks, the way each memeber of the group has his own specialty...

... but the clincher has to be a final battle in slow motion, in a downpour, between a few men on foot (with all the traps they set up in the village) and the bad guys on horseback.

Which 13th Warrior were you watching?

The assembly scene in 13th Warrior is entirely unlike the assembly of the warriors in The Seven Samurai, the "discord in village" and "wandering gunslinger has fling with local girl" are cliches of the first order, the leader in Beowulf is positively chatty through much of the movie, and in the final battle there are vast differences (in point of fact the only real similarity is the small amount of slow motion) for example, there are no traps (something you felt important to highlight) in the final battle in 13th Warrior.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Raven Crowking said:
The 13th Warrior is a loose retelling of Beowulf at best.

Loose yes, but much closer than one might think. The number of warriors accompanying Beowulf, the emnity between Beowulf and Hroogar's son, the flow of the battles and who dies when and various other details are all very close to the text of the original poem.
 

Raven Crowking

First Post
Storm Raven said:
Loose yes, but much closer than one might think. The number of warriors accompanying Beowulf, the emnity between Beowulf and Hroogar's son, the flow of the battles and who dies when and various other details are all very close to the text of the original poem.


I've read several translations of Beowulf and have the original text in one book, in the event that I ever wanted to attempt translation myself. :lol:

When he was writing Eaters of the Dead, Crichton attempted to follow the story of Beowulf as though it was a retelling of historical fact, and did so from an outsider's viewpoint (so that he could comment on things that the principle characters would not). This required some serious retooling of the identities of various monsters from the poem (or dropping some, such as the "window-dressing" monsters near where Grendel's Mother lived). It is a good film, and an even better book, but I found it most enjoyable just after rereading Beowulf, so that the original was fresh in my mind.

QUESTION FOR GARY: Which writer do you prefer: R. E. Howard or E. R. Burroughs? Which influences your gaming more (if either)?

RC
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
haakon1 said:
A kind DM also helps. I've seen the M-U taken out by area effect spells the rest of the party survived in two different campaigns I've run now. (In the second one, I allowed a second saving throw, which worked and counted. In the first, I allowed Raise Dead to be acquired in a plot-coolness way.)

Normally, I don't "nerf" anything, but for the M-U (or Wizard/Sorcerer in later editions) caught in a Fireball at 4th-5th level, a special break seems fair.
In OAD&D the m0u gets a slightly better save vs such attacks, and there are a fair number of items that help protect against fire, many of which are not unreasonable for a 4th-5th level one to possess...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Howdy HolyGrenadeFrenzy,

Ever read "The Archer" trilogy by Cornwell? It centers around a search for the Holy Grail.

Playing does indeed improve one's GMing skills!

The displacer beast was most assuredly inspired by A. E. van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle.

Actually, the computer gaming gurus do give me ample credit for my contribution to that game medium, and there is anm article upcoming in Wired magazine that might broaden that context, but as I have not seen a draft of it, I can't say...it might even blast me for all I know, but I suspect otherwise ;)

Cheerio,
Gary (#! Nerd of All Time per Sync magazne :lol: )
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Raven Crowking said:
...

QUESTION FOR GARY: Which writer do you prefer: R. E. Howard or E. R. Burroughs? Which influences your gaming more (if either)?

RC
Howard by far, as his work is never a pot boiler as so many of ERB's later novels were. However, for creative settings, monsters, and even antagonists I muct give the nod to Burroughs.

By the by, who wrote Snap, Crackle, & Tarzan?

Cheerio,
Gary
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
Marshal Lucky said:
The way the group is assembled one by one (the best scene in 13th Warrior, by the way).

Except that in 13th Warrior the heroes were assembled in a manner of seconds, according to the shaman's prophecy. In Seven Samurai, the first two got followed by the third one, and had to seek out others one by one (there is even a visit from an "8th Samurai" that basically showed up to say "Work for free! Screw that, I'm outa here!" which has no parallel in 13th Warrior).

The discord in the village is entirely different. In one movie, the villagers do something so dishonorable that the protecting samurai want to kill the villagers, and the "peasant samurai" gives a stirring speech in defence of them. In the other, one of the villagers has a pissing match problem with the visitors, and so the visitors simply kill him (or beat him badly, it has been a while). No stirring speech.

And it is not like slow motion is unknown in action movies. Why not say that 13th Warrior is derivative of The Bionic Man?

And note the differences in the "love interest". In Seven Samurai it was seen as a *bad wrong* that the village girl had that fling. The father *freaked out*. In 13th Warrior I believe the only response was one of the Warriors asking "So, did you finish her or did she finish you?".

The bad guys were nothing alike in the two movies. The "fish out of water" Arab has no equivalent in Seven Samurai.

I would say that 13th Warrior has no more in common with Seven Samurai that with most "group saves the village" action movies.

I just don't see the derivation here.
 
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