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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 said:
Argh!

A sore subject that.

Because of the poor market for comics, there is now a question of the project going forward:(

I have a query into the licensee, but no response yet--just sent it on Monday. It has brought me to wonder about our not incluiding a "print or pay" clause in the contract, though, ala films. Option money being small, the publisher has no real incentive to go forward in many cases without such a requirement.

If this goes into the dumper I will be most sad. Keep your fingers crossed that we can find a way for it to happen despite the bad market conditions.

Cheers,
Gary
Ack!!! I hope it does come to pass.
ken
 

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Breakdaddy

First Post
Hi Gary, Glad to see you still lurking about! Do you ever play 3rd edition D&D or will you only play earlier editions? Also, since you seem to endorse Arcana Unearthed by Monte Cook, do you get to play this variant much, and if so, what is your favorite class?

Cheers,
Breakdaddy
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Breakdaddy said:
Hi Gary, Glad to see you still lurking about! Do you ever play 3rd edition D&D or will you only play earlier editions? Also, since you seem to endorse Arcana Unearthed by Monte Cook, do you get to play this variant much, and if so, what is your favorite class?

Cheers,
Breakdaddy

Howdy!

Actually, I don't get to play any RPGs much at all, other than to serve as the Lejend Master for my Lejendary Adventure campaign. Time is short, and I seldom am away from the computer and work.

I don't enjoy new D&D, but I will happily play original D&D or OAD&D when opportunity presents itself. In fact, I am working on an extensive compaign base module for the upcoming Castle & Crusade rules from Troll Lord Games. It is an OGL-based system that aims at coming close to OAD&D, and it that effort succeeds, then Rob Kuntz and I will be going to work on producing a version of the original Castle Greyhawk that is suitable in size and detail for the C&C system and the strictures of publishing such a potentially massive work. In short, we'll cut the size back to something in the range of 20 levels, a bit larger than my original work but a lot smaller than the combined material Rob and I used to entertain player groups of 10-20 persons several times a week.

This will be a lot of work, as we both used very sketchy encounter notes, a single line was typical, for "winging' was the favored approach to all adventures. Quantifyng will eat up much time and space, not to mention the re-drafting of old level maps to fit the new configuration we have outlined.

The salient features of the original dungeons will be retained, of course. If the work proves to be sufficiently popular we can always supplement the base with add-ons too, just as we did with the campaign material through opening new split and side levels, placing transporters into dungeon areas to move PCs to separate adventure areas akin to those published as separate modules--DUNGEONLAND, LAND BEYOND THE MAGIC MIRROR, and ISLE OF THE APE.

As for Monte's ARCANA UNEARTHED, I was impressed with the work because of its faciulity of using the D&D base to present a whole new and substantially different milieu. I would have very much liked to play some in it, as I did the 3E game in the long playtest of the LOST CITY OF GAXMOOR, but that wasn't possible, as the Good Mr. Cook doesn't live in the Lake Geneva area;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
Hey Col_Pladoh mate! :)

Col_Pladoh said:
Argh!

A sore subject that.

Because of the poor market for comics, there is now a question of the project going forward. :(

Dear goodness, thats terrible news. :(

Col_Pladoh said:
I have a query into the licensee, but no response yet--just sent it on Monday. It has brought me to wonder about our not incluiding a "print or pay" clause in the contract, though, ala films. Option money being small, the publisher has no real incentive to go forward in many cases without such a requirement.

If this goes into the dumper I will be most sad. Keep your fingers crossed that we can find a way for it to happen despite the bad market conditions.

I will indeed be keeping my fingers crossed, I have been awaiting this for some eighteen months now (or whenever it was you first mentioned it here on the boards) and I will be almost as gutted as yourself if it falls through.

Best of luck (in everything) Gary. :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Well, Upper_Krust...

If the project gets cancelled, the sole consolation will be that it was due to a lousy comic book market, not that the product was lacking. It seems at this time all that's movng well are trilogies. How one can publish trilogies and complete a graphic novel thus is something of a poser :rolleyes:

Ciao,
Gary
 

Krypter

First Post
Hello Gary,

I was wondering how you developed the world of Greyhawk. I know it was undoubtedly an organic growth with pieces being fleshed out through your games, but later on when the project was becoming commercial, did you have specific design goals for Greyhawk? I've heard people commenting that Forgotten Realms is a "high-magic" setting with really powerful NPCs doing most of the adventuring while Greyhawk is a grittier world where evil often wins and even the most powerful NPCs (like the Circle of Eight) promote Neutrality rather than Good. The history of Greyhawk does seem a lot nastier than FR.

Was this intentional design or a later development at TSR?
 

Elodan

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
I don't enjoy new D&D, but I will happily play original D&D or OAD&D when opportunity presents itself.

In fact, I am working on an extensive compaign base module for the upcoming Castle & Crusade rules from Troll Lord Games. It is an OGL-based system that aims at coming close to OAD&D
Hello Gary,

Based on this I was curious if you've tried HackMaster which is based on 1E/2E.

Sorry if this has been asked before, but I've only just discovered these threads. I'm also looking forward to the Troll Lord project.

Tom
 
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Ed Cha

Community Supporter
Gary,

I've noticed you seem to be writing a lot of mega-modules lately. Is this a publishing decision or just because you like doing them?

Personally, I'm not a big fan of mega-modules unless they're really good like the ones you did with "Necropolis" or "The Temple of Elemental Evil". I'd much prefer a series.

Ed
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Krypter said:
Hello Gary,

I was wondering how you developed the world of Greyhawk. I know it was undoubtedly an organic growth with pieces being fleshed out through your games, but later on when the project was becoming commercial, did you have specific design goals for Greyhawk? I've heard people commenting that Forgotten Realms is a "high-magic" setting with really powerful NPCs doing most of the adventuring while Greyhawk is a grittier world where evil often wins and even the most powerful NPCs (like the Circle of Eight) promote Neutrality rather than Good. The history of Greyhawk does seem a lot nastier than FR.

Was this intentional design or a later development at TSR?

Well...

When I was asked by TSR to do my World of Greyhawk as a commercial product I was taken aback. I had assumed most DMs would far perfer to use their own world settings. Furthermore, as I was running a game with a large number of players involved, I really didn't want to supply themwith the whole world on a platter. I'll repeathere what has been told before;)

I found out the maximum map size TSR could produce, got the go-ahead for two maps of that size, then sat down for a couple of weeks and hand-drew the whole thing. After the maps were done and the features shown were named, I wroite up brief information of the featyres and states. Much of the information was drawn from my own personal world, but altered to fit the new one depicted on the maps.

Whatever came out from TSR regarding the World of Greyhawk up through 1985 was from me, with a bit of material added as filler coming from Frank Mentzer after I approved the work.

The relatively low level of NPCs, and the balance between alignments was done on purpose so as facilitate the use of the world setting by all DMs. With a basically neutral environment, the direction of the individual campaign was squarely in the hands of the DM running it. The Circle of Eight came into the setting when it seemed to me that my PCs were generally too powerful to remain in active play, and they were put into the mix for DMs to use in case they wanted to keep the setting from being dominated by Good or Evil, to a lesser extent Law or Chaos and even true Neutrality. That was done because to my way of thinking dominamce by one alignment group tends to restrict the potential for adventuring.

If that doesn't fully answer your question, come on back.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Elodan said:
Hello Gary,

Based on this I was curious if you've tried HackMaster which is based on 1E/2E.

Sorry if this has been asked before, but I've only just discovered these threads. I'm also looking forward to the Troll Lord project.

Tom

Actually, I have only read through the player's handbook for the system. After doing that I posted on the www.Dragonsfoot.org boards that the system was worth a look, because it had material usable by DMs with OAD&D campaigns. Frankly, I'd much rather play OAD&D than get into what started out as a parody of the game, then developed into a somewhat more serious RPG. To my taste the HM system isn't an improvement over OAD&D, so there's no incentive to invest in all the books now required to play it, learn the system changes necessary to properly GM and play it.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ed Cha said:
Gary,

I've noticed you seem to be writing a lot of mega-modules lately. Is this a publishing decision or just because you like doing them?

Personally, I'm not a big fan of mega-modules unless they're really good like the ones you did with "Necropolis" or "The Temple of Elemental Evil". I'd much prefer a series.

Ed

Hi Ed,

There are plenty of short modules around, and when I am writing an adventure I figure why not add a little more effort and make the work something that I can use for a longer period of time? I really don't like module writing all that much, but once I get started on it I get into the work and have fun, so they tend to grow apace thus. There is another motive behind this, of course. That is that I don't want to create a module that is like any of the others I've done, so I tend to seek further afield for something new and different for most of this form of writing.

However, I have just sent in a LA "Primer" game campaign-base module for the Trolls to release immediately after the boxed set hits the stands. It isn't all that long, contains a village with some role-playing activity as it's introduction, some combat in that as things do along, then a couple of relatively short fprays for adventuring outside the hamlet, and as a capper a rather lengthy dungeon crawl. With that I've tossed in a goodly number of expansion ideas and adventure springboards for the GM to use to build a local campaign, and it's all under 60K words, with three encounter area maps and one map of the hamlet of c. 400 pop.:)

The introductory campaign-base module meant for the new C&C rules is considerably larger, a bixed set size likley, but that's because it is to serve as the platform for a slug of add-on parts meant to come thereafter, one of which Rob Kuntz has outlined now.

Cheers,
Gary
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Hiya Gary. This is a question a bit off the beaten path for these threads, but I thought I'd ask you as a fellow Robert E. Howard/Conan fan...with L. Sprague deCamp's death a couple of years ago, a chapter in the Cimmerian's printed saga ended. I always thought deCamp was a talented, imaginative writer when doing his own material, but I didn't very much care for his rewriting of Howard's material to make it more "palatable" for a modern audience (which was pretty much how it was justified). What are your thoughts on his role in helping to popularize Conan? Other than Glen Lord, I can't think of anyone other than deCamp more instrumental in making Conan popular. On the other hand, the often draconian rewrites of Howard obscured the raw power of Howard's prose in many instances. Thoughts? Agree/disagree?

Plus, did you ever read any of Lin Carter's Callipygia/Mandricardo books? If so, any opinions?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Greetings ColonelHardisson!

As a fan of REH and Conan, I must say that I find no fault in your analysis of Sprague's handling of the revisions he did. De Camp was one of my favorite authors, especially when he wrote with Fletcher Pratt, but his work on Howard's original material left me cold. I found it inferior to the original writing. I read my first Conan yarm c. 1948 and was captivated.

As for Lin Carter's work, I fear I have nothing positive to say, for I didn't like his style.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Ed Cha

Community Supporter
I would love to play in a Castles & Crusades game next year at the Milwaukee Gamefest if you were running one, Gary. :)

Also, can you tell me if C&C will have any similarities to the pre-D&D games that you played in that wargaming group? I think I'm on the membership list for C&C at TLG, but I haven't gotten the full 411 from Steve or Davis yet.

By the way, have you heard of the Tom Wham and Jim Ward project, "Planet Busters"? I just read a TLG press release about it.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ed Cha said:
I would love to play in a Castles & Crusades game next year at the Milwaukee Gamefest if you were running one, Gary. :)

Also, can you tell me if C&C will have any similarities to the pre-D&D games that you played in that wargaming group? I think I'm on the membership list for C&C at TLG, but I haven't gotten the full 411 from Steve or Davis yet.

By the way, have you heard of the Tom Wham and Jim Ward project, "Planet Busters"? I just read a TLG press release about it.

Felicitations!

The direction of the C&C rules is not my perview, Ed, although I do get input, so you'll have to see what the Trolls have to say about the matter.

I have heard that TLG was working with Tom, but with my nose to the creative grindstone here I don't have much time for delving into those things that might distract;)

Cheers,
gary
 

grodog

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Darn! Thanks for posting the link:)

De nada, Gary. I don't know that I have collected any other gems like that, but if anything comes up I'll forward it to you and Rob.

Allan, I had totally forgotten that lurid tale I wrote. It was a dramatization of an actual dungeon adventure into the enlarged Castle Greyhawk that Rob and I co-DMed, of course, and an accurate one too. The strange rod was a Dirdir laser pistol gained from adventuring through a gate that brought PCs to the "Pkanet of Adventure" and the "Carabas" thereof.

I wondered if the ray-gun had come from there or from the Barrier Peak starship; thanks for clearing that up!

Anyway, I have the map of the level, of ourse, and it might make it into the revised form we need to have so as to have a product that is publishable. At worst it can be used as a potential add-on module to the main levels.

So I have saved the story and will see what can be done in regards including the level in the Zagyg's Castle project.

Excellent, and I'm glad to hear that. The episode definitely captured my imagination!

On a module-related note, I recently dusted off my copy of GW1 Legion of Gold, which you co-wrote with Luke and Paul Reiche. This is the only TSR-era module that I recall you co-writing---was this effort one that you worked up from Luke's concepts, or vice-versa? I only know Paul Reiche from his OD&D books published with Erol Otus; what were his contributions to the final adventure?

Thanks again for the news on the Black Reservoir Gary---it makes my birthday morning brighter already :D
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
On a module-related note, I recently dusted off my copy of GW1 Legion of Gold, which you co-wrote with Luke and Paul Reiche. This is the only TSR-era module that I recall you co-writing---was this effort one that you worked up from Luke's concepts, or vice-versa? I only know Paul Reiche from his OD&D books published with Erol Otus; what were his contributions to the final adventure?

Thanks again for the news on the Black Reservoir Gary---it makes my birthday morning brighter already :D

Happy Birthday, Allen:)

I was living in the big place near Clinton, Wisconsin, working in a little library-study there when Luck came in and told me about his ideas for a Gamma World module. He dictated a lot of the content of the Legion of Gold adventure, so I listed him as author. Darned if I can recall what Paul Reiche added to the work, perhaps some development to make it a longer one.

At least he didn't screw anything up as happened with one helpful editor who removed "Mignol Chorts, still fresh in their plastic wrapper," and "Grey modeling clay,' as well as "Package of firecrackers" from a long list of things to discover. The idiot left in the C4 explosvive, but there was no fooler inert clay, and nothing to set off the plastique, since the flash crackers weren't there. Worst of all, though, no character was able to find and consume the Mignol Chorts, a Tom Whamism for Twinkies;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

mossfoot

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Heh, Noah...

Love the mini ads for Fuzzy Knights!

Funny you should mention my campaign. As a matter of fact I cancelled four sessions so as to be able to keep up with work. We resume play this month on the 15th.

Cheers,
Gary


Thanks, Gary! I made a couple of them, I think I'll switch over to the animated ad for a while ;)

Whoa! four sessions? Do you generally play once or twice a week? I've been out of it for over a month now, but that was because of a bike trip and my brother visiting Japan... :rolleyes:

Okay, okay, last time I post here, I promise! I bug you enough as it is :D
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Yuppers, Noah,

I scotched four sessions, a month of time as we play only once a week. It is the 13th we resume, though, not the 15th. We play Thursday nights for three to four hours time. When I need to concentrate on creative work not related to the campaign, which was the case, it is necessary to stay focused and working, so there goes game play.

Fortunately all is now in good shape, so the campaign can be run without messing up my work schedule.

The animated ad for Fuzzy Knights is a great one, BTW:)

Cheers,
Gary
 

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