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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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ScottGLXIX

First Post
Gary, I know you aren’t a big fan of psionics. I always thought the psionic hermit from the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth was a cool encounter though. I’m curious, did you ever have a regular, or semi-regular, PC in your campaign that possessed psionic abilities?
Scott
 

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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
ScottGLXIX said:
Gary, I know you aren’t a big fan of psionics. I always thought the psionic hermit from the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth was a cool encounter though. I’m curious, did you ever have a regular, or semi-regular, PC in your campaign that possessed psionic abilities?
Scott

Howdy:)

You are right about "psionics" in AD&D. The system wasn't really set up to handle them properly. No player in my group had them, not did I ever play a PC possessing them in AD&D.

However, in the LEJENDARY ADVENTURE game there is a Psychogenic Abilty that world well, and my one active character possess that capacity, and it is very useful much of the time.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Hi Gary.

I was wondering what you thought of the "5% principle" combat, saving throw, and xp charts in Dragon 80. It says it was written by you and Len Lakofka. I was thinking of using them but was interested in your opinion on them.

P.S. if a monster has 8+8 HD, like a Balor, does it have 8d8+64 or 8d8+8 hp? What column would I use on the attack charts?
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Flexor the Mighty! said:
Hi Gary.

I was wondering what you thought of the "5% principle" combat, saving throw, and xp charts in Dragon 80. It says it was written by you and Len Lakofka. I was thinking of using them but was interested in your opinion on them.

P.S. if a monster has 8+8 HD, like a Balor, does it have 8d8+64 or 8d8+8 hp? What column would I use on the attack charts?

My memory is pretty good, but not that good! Heh-heh-heh. Dragon #80? that's going way back... My copy is archived and there's no way I can review the material and refresh my memory, so a cogent response is not possible.

As for the second part, the 8+8 HD, that was meant as 8d8+8 hp, but for big monsters like demons I was using d10. I used the 9 HD column for 8+8, but one could reasonable use the 10 HD column.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Alas! It was a unified matrix that had all clases and HD of monsters together. It was in the Leomund's Tiny Hut section. Oh well playtesting is the only way to find out how good it works. Supposedly it gives a slightly better chance to hit for PC's and it gives more 5% increases in hit probability to non fighters instead of having them wait 3-5 levels to get a 10-15% increase.

Ok, so a Balor would be 8d10+8 HP or an average of 52 hp, while the dreaded Pit Fiend is a 13 HD badass with an average of 72 hp, and a better attack table. Methinks you have a bias towards LE and devils at the expense of CE demons. Reading some of the stories about how you stuck it to your players maybe you lean towards LE while you DM? =)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Flexor the Mighty! said:
Alas! It was a unified matrix that had all clases and HD of monsters together. It was in the Leomund's Tiny Hut section. Oh well playtesting is the only way to find out how good it works. Supposedly it gives a slightly better chance to hit for PC's and it gives more 5% increases in hit probability to non fighters instead of having them wait 3-5 levels to get a 10-15% increase.

Ah, that rings a tiny bell. I seem to recall that, and I thought Len was being too generous to non-fighters, for they already have other advantages.

Ok, so a Balor would be 8d10+8 HP or an average of 52 hp, while the dreaded Pit Fiend is a 13 HD badass with an average of 72 hp, and a better attack table. Methinks you have a bias towards LE and devils at the expense of CE demons. Reading some of the stories about how you stuck it to your players maybe you lean towards LE while you DM? =)

Actually, I was quite TN in my role, unless the party was being stupid or annoying. Then I would become CE in regards to random encounters, or LA in regards adhering to the doom that they brought upon themselves.

Of course the time Rob and I were sharing a bottle of Southern Comfort as we DMed Ernie' magic-user and Mark Ratner's paladin was more of a CE exercise that anything else, mainly because I saw it as a chance to relieve Ernie's PC of the two vorpal blades he had acquired.. I don't think I've ever been forgiven for that adventure...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Mystery Man

First Post
Hello,

I'm curious and apologize if this has been asked before; what is your formula for creating an adventure/campaign? Do start with just a sketch of an idea and let your players do with it what they will or do you have a plan? To what level do you flesh out your NPC's before gameday? When you get stuck for an idea how do break out of it?

That should be enough for now. :)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mystery Man said:
Hello,

I'm curious and apologize if this has been asked before; what is your formula for creating an adventure/campaign? Do start with just a sketch of an idea and let your players do with it what they will or do you have a plan? To what level do you flesh out your NPC's before gameday? When you get stuck for an idea how do break out of it?

That should be enough for now. :)

Howdy MM,

Can't honestly say I have any formula at all for running a campaign adventure or planning a module. When I need to be creative I just sit and ponder some odeas, try to decide what would be challenging and fun to play, and then pick some point and begin putting down information. Sometimes that means an outline of the whole work, other times it's details of one area from which I build "outwards."

As a case in point, when i did the "Giants" series, I began with only the hill giants fort, but as that developed, the concept of a larger adventure came, so that by the time I had finished G!, the springboards for G2 and G3 were well in mind, and the whole of the underworld to follow as well.

The HALL OF AMNY PANES module came from considering what would be an interesting "mini-adventure" that would logically become a year-long campaign with the characters totally committed to it. So in creating it I did the backstory introduction, and conclusion first, then worked through the rest of the material as ideas came to mind.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Manzanita

First Post
Omba and B1

Hi. Gary - it's so nice of you to take your valuable time to answer all these geeky questions. I have to ask a couple too, if only to see the 'Howdy Grant' response from The Man.

I recently reread J.D. Salinger's short story The Laughing Man, which features a dwarf named 'Omba.' I couldn't help noticing the similarity to your dwarf Ombi in G3 and The Gord the Rogue series. Coincidence?

Also, I've enjoyed your numerous modules immensely. There is one, The Keep on the Borderlands, that I've had the urge to DM lately, as it's for 1st level PCs, but I've been struggling with its premise. It just seems a little strange to have all those different monster groups living in such close proximity in those caves. It just doesn't have quite the epic sense of so many of your others. I have such good memories of playing it as a kid, I just wonder if it still makes sense to you as written.

Thanks
Grant
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Howdy Grant:)

Manzanita said:
Hi. Gary - it's so nice of you to take your valuable time to answer all these geeky questions. I have to ask a couple too, if only to see the 'Howdy Grant' response from The Man.

Heh, and the salutation gets that out of the way, eh?

As for answering "geeky questions," I suppose, but my doing that means I am an even bigger geek than those posing them. Fact is that I am a gamer from crown to sole, and I enjoy most things about gaming, so this is fun for me.

I recently reread J.D. Salinger's short story The Laughing Man, which features a dwarf named 'Omba.' I couldn't help noticing the similarity to your dwarf Ombi in G3 and The Gord the Rogue series. Coincidence?

Sheer coincidence indeed, as I missed the Salinger short story you note. Back when I first introduced the villainous dwarf I had a reason for naming him "Pbmi," but darned if I can recall that now, a quarter-century later. I do recall with considerable enjoyment the players' ire at not being able to do for him with their PCs, though. They disliked him so much that I just had to keep bringing him back.

Also, I've enjoyed your numerous modules immensely. There is one, The Keep on the Borderlands, that I've had the urge to DM lately, as it's for 1st level PCs, but I've been struggling with its premise. It just seems a little strange to have all those different monster groups living in such close proximity in those caves. It just doesn't have quite the epic sense of so many of your others. I have such good memories of playing it as a kid, I just wonder if it still makes sense to you as written.

Thanks
Grant

The B2 module was written to introduce newbies to the wonders of D&D adventuring. It is not "ecologically correct," but it is fun and entertaining, packed full of new and different challenges. Just between you and me, it makes as much sense as most things in the D&D game such as massive flying dragons that breathe various deadly things. Those who swallow the camel of the entire concept, then strain at gnats of particular monster or situation seem to be be losing much of the basis for playing. However, that sort of thing happens as one becomes familiar with the fanciful and begin to qualify the experience by comparison to reality. As you note, modules for more experienced players have more rationalization for setting and encounters.

The short answer is, if you enjoy DMing the KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS, then why not use it? If the players question anything, make up something on the spot to answer the challenge;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Indigo Rose

First Post
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. :)

I definitely second that! I'm really excited about the upcoming C&C project, and if the Trolls are going to be at next year's Gamefest a C&C demo (or possibly a tournament?) would be a lot of fun, I think! :D

Speaking of which, if I may ask, what exactly is it about the Castles & Crusades project which convinced you to associate with it? Thanks!


Indigo Rose
Knight of the Woeful Countenance
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Indigo Rose said:
I definitely second that! I'm really excited about the upcoming C&C project, and if the Trolls are going to be at next year's Gamefest a C&C demo (or possibly a tournament?) would be a lot of fun, I think! :D

Speaking of which, if I may ask, what exactly is it about the Castles & Crusades project which convinced you to associate with it? Thanks!


Indigo Rose
Knight of the Woeful Countenance

Hi Indigo Rose:)

When the Trolls mentioned they were developing a set or rules that would be close to OAD&D, I just had to get involved. As you likely have heard, I've been considering doing a publishable version of my original Greyhawk Castle & Dungeons for some time. The C&S rules should be perfect for that project.

I am so confident of the matter that I have already begun, written most of a campaign-base setting module that's titled ZAGYG'S CASTLE, YGGSBURGH, Part One. It is very large, covers an area the size of a small state, has a walled town, smaller communities, wilderness areas, and a lot if information for the GM in addition to many adventure encounters and springboards for others. I have yet to complete five dungeon-like level areas that are part of the adventures detailed in the base work.

Meantime, Rob Kuntz if writing the second part, the DARK CHATEAU, a sort of introduction as to how Zagyg became as he is now.

After that Rob and I will go to work on the upper levels of the castle, then the dungeons beneath--likely six additional modules, alhtough it might take more to get in all the best of the old levels.

It is going to be a lot of work, but also a good deal of fun;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh said:
Hi Indigo Rose:)

When the Trolls mentioned they were developing a set or rules that would be close to OAD&D, I just had to get involved. As you likely have heard, I've been considering doing a publishable version of my original Greyhawk Castle & Dungeons for some time. The C&S rules should be perfect for that project.

I am so confident of the matter that I have already begun, written most of a campaign-base setting module that's titled ZAGYG'S CASTLE, YGGSBURGH, Part One. It is very large, covers an area the size of a small state, has a walled town, smaller communities, wilderness areas, and a lot if information for the GM in addition to many adventure encounters and springboards for others. I have yet to complete five dungeon-like level areas that are part of the adventures detailed in the base work.

Meantime, Rob Kuntz if writing the second part, the DARK CHATEAU, a sort of introduction as to how Zagyg became as he is now.

After that Rob and I will go to work on the upper levels of the castle, then the dungeons beneath--likely six additional modules, alhtough it might take more to get in all the best of the old levels.

It is going to be a lot of work, but also a good deal of fun;)

Cheers,
Gary
Yes and we are all looking forward to it
ken
 

cimerians

First Post
LA boxed set?

Gary,

Can you give us more info on the LA boxed set and other things the Troll Lords will be releasing? An approximate release date perhaps? I was very excited to hear about the re-issue of LA on Troll Lords site.

Also, will the Lejendary Earth setting be re-released as well in some form from the Trolls?

I also joined C&C....great to hear about all the things they are planning.

By the way how is the Hermit adventure going? Any fatalities yet? ;)

I read through it and its a nice adventure, one I plan on running some-day.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
cimerians said:
Gary,

Can you give us more info on the LA boxed set and other things the Troll Lords will be releasing? An approximate release date perhaps? I was very excited to hear about the re-issue of LA on Troll Lords site.

Howdy Cimerians,

The Trolls have a lot of my material on their plate :D

The LA Primer boxed set isn't all turned in yet. Chris Clark just sent me his cut-down version of the creatures and magic items list. I feel we have too many monsters, can't pare more away, but the Trolls will have the final cut ability if that's so. I believe they are shooting for a March premier at the GAMA show, release soon thereafter.

Also, will the Lejendary Earth setting be re-released as well in some form from the Trolls?

The remaining three books comprising the "Learth" world setting should all be released next year. Thereafter I do believe that Troll Lord Games is planning to put the five parts into hardback form--likely in 2005. I don't know if it will fit in a single volume, but i hope so..

I also joined C&C....great to hear about all the things they are planning.

The project is exciting to me, for sure! Although I am not eager to spend the next two years doing castle-dungeon modules, at least Rob Kuntz is on board, so the work won't eat up every available creative minute. We should begin the actual castle ruins and subterranean levels early next year. Rob is currently working on a follow-up module to my campaign setting one, his being THE DARK CHATEAU, a sort of introduction to the characyer of Zagyg. Meantime, I am awaiting the moster roster for the C&C rules so I can finish my really big introductory piece.

By the way how is the Hermit adventure going? Any fatalities yet? ;)

I read through it and its a nice adventure, one I plan on running some-day.

It is a fun adventure that takes a lot of thinking, especially in the beginning, then some tough combat. Our game session slated for yesterday got cancelled because so many of the players were unable to attend. The third session is slated for the Thursday after Thanksgiving, That are about to enter the Gnome Maze.

No fatalities, yet, but this group is all veteran, and a copuple of them have played for many tears, LA for five or so, so if they are as clever as they were in the HALL OF MANY PANES, I don't expect much in the way of Avatar demises.

Cheers,
Gary
 


khyron1144

First Post
Dear Esteemed Mr. Gygax, inventor of my hobby, and chief deity of my pantheon,
How does it feel to be an adjective? see here
I bet they got what the term means wrong too.
I apologize, if this has been asked before.


Any advice on how a ferret might level? I gave my brother's PC a ferret as a sort of NPC buddy. This creates some unusual situations. Gold is being split two ways between my brother's PC and his Elf NPC buddy, but monster experience is split three ways. There was enough treasure in the first dungeon to let my brother's Thief go up to level four in one adventure, while the Elf went up a level too. The ferret is lagging by a bit. [this D&D where Elf is a charater class and there are three alignments].


I'm creative enough to come up with a solution myself, but some advice from the master is always apreciated.
 
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cimerians

First Post
Hurry

2004 and 2005 could not arrive quicker for me!

LA, box sets, hardbacks, C&C, Z's Castle............I must say, lots to look forward to!!
 

Indigo Rose

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Hi Indigo Rose:)

When the Trolls mentioned they were developing a set or rules that would be close to OAD&D, I just had to get involved. As you likely have heard, I've been considering doing a publishable version of my original Greyhawk Castle & Dungeons for some time. The C&S rules should be perfect for that project.

I am so confident of the matter that I have already begun, written most of a campaign-base setting module that's titled ZAGYG'S CASTLE, YGGSBURGH, Part One. It is very large, covers an area the size of a small state, has a walled town, smaller communities, wilderness areas, and a lot if information for the GM in addition to many adventure encounters and springboards for others. I have yet to complete five dungeon-like level areas that are part of the adventures detailed in the base work.

Meantime, Rob Kuntz if writing the second part, the DARK CHATEAU, a sort of introduction as to how Zagyg became as he is now.

After that Rob and I will go to work on the upper levels of the castle, then the dungeons beneath--likely six additional modules, alhtough it might take more to get in all the best of the old levels.

It is going to be a lot of work, but also a good deal of fun;)

Cheers,
Gary

My husband and I are anxiously awaiting both the C&C game and Zagyg's Castle, especially after reading all that it will entail! I'm drooling on my keyboard here! Not pretty, but true... :eek: As soon as I hear that pre-orders are being taken, I'm plunking my $$$ down! There's not much I'm willing to buy rpg-wise, sight unseen, but Zagyg's Castle and C&C definitely both make the cut. :)
 

Indigo Rose

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Howdy Cimerians,

The Trolls have a lot of my material on their plate :D

The LA Primer boxed set isn't all turned in yet. Chris Clark just sent me his cut-down version of the creatures and magic items list. I feel we have too many monsters, can't pare more away, but the Trolls will have the final cut ability if that's so. I believe they are shooting for a March premier at the GAMA show, release soon thereafter.

This is another project I'm looking forward to. We've already got the "complete" LA rules, but (and maybe this is just because we're getting older and our brains just aren't as flexible as they used to be!) we've had a difficult time wrapping our heads around the different game concepts. In other words, we keep wanting to refer to AC, hit points, etc. I'm hoping that the boxed set will be to LA what the old "Basic" boxed sets were to AD&D back in the early 80's, and I can just ease my way into the game! :D If we had a LA gaming group in the area, it would probably be easier on us, but it's just the two of us right now. Lots of things to look forward to!

Indigo Rose
Knight of the Woeful Countenance
 

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