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
Howdy Jokamachi,

jokamachi said:
Hey Gary,

I seem to remember reading that you enjoyed wargaming in the early days before D&D, so I'm curious as to what kind of experience you have with miniatures. How much effort did you and your friends put into miniatures at that time? Did you paint them with great detail or were they simply tokens for you to manipulate?
I played military miniatures for many years--ancients, medieval, ECW, Napoleonics, ACW, Victorian, and WW II to 1956. I personally had 40 mm pre-painted medieval figurines, a small contingent of Turkish 20 mm troops, Brunswick Napoleonic figurines that I painted, and a large number of US WW II men and AFVs, the latter including many conversions I did.

In addition I planned and refereed many games in various periods. Our WW Ii games would sometime last the whole weekend--about 20 hours of playing time.

Finally, i had a sand table that we would spend hours preparing for a game, so that the terrain and buildings, if any, looked great.

The spectacle added considerably to the enjoyment of the actual reason for playing--the exercise of strategic and tactical ability.

Has that attitude changed? What about now? Do you still enjoy incorporating minis into your campaigns? Is it much harder since monsters have grown so fantastic in scope? How much attention/detail do these minis receive from you?

Lastly, I'm curious if you've seen the new minis line from Wizards. It has displayed a fair degree of success and seems to be pulling in thousands upon thousands of new minis fans by the week. Do you think that's good for the game (D&D)?

Sincerely, Jokamachi
I don't usually employ miniatures in my RPG play. We ceased that when we moved from CHAINMAIL Fantasy to D&D.

I have nothing against the use of miniatures, but they are generally impractical for long and free-wheeling campaign play where the scene and opponents can vary wildly in the course of but an hour.

The GW folks use them a lot, but they are fighting set-piece battles as is usual with miniatures gaming.

I don't believe that fantasy miniatures are good or bad for FRPGs in general. If the GM sets up gaming sessions based on their use, the resulting play is great from my standpoint. It is mainly a matter of having the painted figures and a big tabletop to play on ;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Oops!

I forgot to mention that I spent a lot of time painting and converting fantasy figures for the CHAINMAIL Fantasy game.

We also used to play Napoleonic and WW II naval miniatures a fair amount.

Gary
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
G'day Gary!

WotC are bringing out a new "Basic D&D" set out next year... hopefully that will help bring people into role-playing, whichever system they then choose to move to. :)

Are you enjoying the preparing the Castle Zagyg project?

Cheers!
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
MerricB said:
G'day Gary!

WotC are bringing out a new "Basic D&D" set out next year... hopefully that will help bring people into role-playing, whichever system they then choose to move to. :)

Are you enjoying the preparing the Castle Zagyg project?

Cheers!
Howdy Merric:)

If they make the new Basic D&D a proper introductory product and puch it through mass-market outlets, it will indeed ba a boon!

As for the Zagyg's Castle project, laying the groundwork for the main part of the multi-release series is demanding but quite enjoyable to me. I have been on hold for about a month, though, awaiting the roster of monsters to be included in the C&C rules. I'm not really complaining, though, as I have plenty of other work to keep me occupied, and have used free time to go back over the material I've written for the campaign-base module to detail and polish it.

Cheers,
Gary
 

grodog

Adventurer
Victorious German Arms?

Hi Gary---

A friend loaned me a copy of "Victorian German Arms: an alternate military history of world war two" by e. gary gygax & terry stafford (Baltimore, MD: TK Graphics, 1973).

It's 76 pages long, about the size of the OD&D manuals (octavo), has a lightweight, white card stock cover, with a German eagle facing dexter with a wreathed swastica in it's claws, while the back cover only has a swastica and the publisher's contact info.

Do you recall how many copies of this were printed? Did you used it in conjunction with Tractics? Who's Terry Stafford (any relation to Greg Stafford of RuneQuest fame)? Any other interesting tidbits?

As always, thanks :D
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Hi Gary---

A friend loaned me a copy of "Victorian German Arms: an alternate military history of world war two" by e. gary gygax & terry stafford (Baltimore, MD: TK Graphics, 1973).

It's 76 pages long, about the size of the OD&D manuals (octavo), has a lightweight, white card stock cover, with a German eagle facing dexter with a wreathed swastica in it's claws, while the back cover only has a swastica and the publisher's contact info.

Do you recall how many copies of this were printed? Did you used it in conjunction with Tractics? Who's Terry Stafford (any relation to Greg Stafford of RuneQuest fame)? Any other interesting tidbits?

As always, thanks :D
Yuletide Greetings!

Grodog, you surely do manage to find some oldies. Next you'll be digging up my old "Baku" expansion for Avalon Hill's Stalingrad board wargame, my first boardgame, the Battle of Arsouf, or maybe the "Conanomacy" Dippy variant I did... :eek:

Terry Stafford was the commander of the British Far East Squadron in the Ad Hoc Committee for the Reinstitution of WW II, the game directed by a group of wargamers at Standford U. back around 1962. I was living in Chicago, met Terry through the International Federation of Wargaming (a society I co-founded with Bill Speer and Scott Duncan, and Terry Joined). Thus I became the commander of the Chinese Communist forces in the short-lived WW Ii recreation (Don Kaye was commander to the Nationalists, BTW). Anyway, Terry used to drop in during lunch hour when I worked for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in Chicago, and we'd talk military history. One day we got onto the subject of alternate history and decided to write one where the Germans won WW II. Between us we did about 30 maps and the text you have in Victorious German Arms.

Ted Pauls was an active SF fan in Baltimore, published a fanzine, Kipple, to which I subscribed--as did folks like L. Sprague de Camp and Jack Chalker, then about as well-known as I was;) When Ted learned about the ms. Terry and I had done he asked to publish it, and we agreed. Sadly, the Good Mr. Pauls totally screwed it up, left out all the maps, lost them to boot! I think he printed 2,000 copies of VGA, maybe it was 3,000, and to the best of my recollection, I think all Terry and I ever received was a very small advance. My copies of that work are long lost.

About a year ago Lauren Wiseman from SJG emailed and inquired if we would be interested in having SJG republish it. I got ahold of Terry, and we both agreed it would be okay. that's the last I heard, so I assume that Steve Jackson changed his mind.

Terry Stafford is not related to Greg. Intersetingly, though, Greg Stafford was here in Lake Geneva for a time, a partner with another chap here and running a metal casting business doing 30 mm figurines. He left that enterprise about the time I moved back to Lake Geneva from Chicago, so I never met Greg here. His former partner hit is big with Bergamont Brass back in the 60s when large belt buckles were in vogue, and that company is still operating and doing well, having moved to Darien, Wisconsin where the rent is a lot lesds than spece in this tourist town.

So there's a long response to a couple of short questions :D

Holiday best,
Gary
 
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Mirth

Villager
I don't really have anything to ask, I just wanted to say that I find all of this history fascinating. Thanks, Gary.

Also, I did have the pleasure of meeting you one summer in Atlanta at DragonCon back in 1986 or 87 I think (when it was still a split affair between the Atlanta Fantasy Fair & DragonCon), where you graciously signed my OD&D box set and my 1st ed. DMG. I pulled them off the shelf just now to see if the date was inside, but alas...

It was nice to meet you then and it's great to hear these stories now.

Play on,

Jay
 

jayaint

Villager
Hi Col...

As someone who owned the red-box set, but never really got anything more out of it than waxing in the numbers on the dice (hey, I was 7) and who has only played casually and never been to Cons, fairs, etc... I just wanted to say that I am always glued to these Q & A threads with you.

Two questions today:

1. Can you let us in on any more "secrets" about the origins of different elements of GH? I really enjoyed learning, and have wow'ed some of my friends by pointing out, that the GH map is Northern Ill, Wisc. and Mich just turned like 270 degrees upside down.

and 2. What do you think about stroytelling based games, like interactive fiction, or Rpg's with less number crunching and dice rolling? With your background, I have no idea whether those kinds of games interest you at all.

Thanks for the great thread and the info.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mirth said:
I don't really have anything to ask, I just wanted to say that I find all of this history fascinating. Thanks, Gary.

Also, I did have the pleasure of meeting you one summer in Atlanta at DragonCon back in 1986 or 87 I think (when it was still a split affair between the Atlanta Fantasy Fair & DragonCon), where you graciously signed my OD&D box set and my 1st ed. DMG. I pulled them off the shelf just now to see if the date was inside, but alas...

It was nice to meet you then and it's great to hear these stories now.

Play on,

Jay
Aloah, Mirth!

Glad to be supplying some enjoyment via this thread;)

I did enjoy the DragonCons I was at. Sorry I didn't date my autograph...sometimes i do, sometimes I don't. Too bad about Ed, and thus a fantasy yarn I wrote for a Fritz Leiber's Nehwon compilation about Sheelba and Ningauble will never get published. I'ev misplaced my ms. for it too, a 40K words yarn :rolleyes:

Yuletide best,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Holiday Cheer, Jayaint!

jayaint said:
Hi Col...

As someone who owned the red-box set, but never really got anything more out of it than waxing in the numbers on the dice (hey, I was 7) and who has only played casually and never been to Cons, fairs, etc... I just wanted to say that I am always glued to these Q & A threads with you.
Well darn! Why not break on through to the other side, do some RPGing. then you'd have a great time at cons :cool: Pleased that you enjoy the Q&A threads, of course.

Two questions today:

1. Can you let us in on any more "secrets" about the origins of different elements of GH? I really enjoyed learning, and have wow'ed some of my friends by pointing out, that the GH map is Northern Ill, Wisc. and Mich just turned like 270 degrees upside down.
Actually, most of the singular sinister attitude of mind expressed in the original WoG work has been revealed--the names of persons, places, and things drawn from actual persons or puns--although the website dealing with that has a number of erroneous ones.

Maybe if you have specific questions I can supply something, though.

[/QUOTE]and 2. What do you think about stroytelling based games, like interactive fiction, or Rpg's with less number crunching and dice rolling? With your background, I have no idea whether those kinds of games interest you at all.

Thanks for the great thread and the info.[/QUOTE]

"Storytelling" games are not RPGs. Neither are "diceless" games.

An RPG creates a story, does not follow a script. That's a play, possibly improv theater. In a real RPG the GM develops a backstory and plot, sets the scenes, and then the PCs interact with those and by their actions create the actual tale, the events and conclusion of which are indeterminate until that occurs.

As in real life, chance and random occurrances must be a part of an RPG adventure. As a matter of fact you and I do not know what will happen in the next minute. As is oft quoted, "There's many a slip between cup and lip." to ignore random events, not allow chance into play, is to consign the game to predestination. For example, the best golfer might be stung by a bee at the moment he is about to make an easy putt, thus miss it. Who knows when a tire will blow out? Can anyone predict with certainty that a sudden gust of wind won't blow an obstructing object onto a windshield? throw off the course of a missile?

Nuff said;)

Anyway, I am a gamer who will happily play just about any sort of game given time and opportunity. I run a regular RPG campaign, play cards, board, and table games now and then, but shun computer games as too bloody addictive to me, for I am one who needs to be writing creatively most of each day.

Welcome!
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
I was wondering about the cavalier class. He's pretty tough. You wrote a good article on why you did what you did when designing the Barbarian Class. I was wondering what your thoughts were when designing the Cavalier sublcass.
Holiday Greetings, Mistere29,

the short answer is that I consider well-trained, aristocratic warriors such as knights and samurai as having been very beadly fighting machines. The Cavalier class was aimed at depicting a knightly warrior of most able sort...and they were very tough indeed.

Hope that serves, but if not come on back.

Cheerio,
Gary
 

grodog

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Actually, most of the singular sinister attitude of mind expressed in the original WoG work has been revealed--the names of persons, places, and things drawn from actual persons or puns--although the website dealing with that has a number of erroneous ones.
Hey, I've offered to fix the errors Gary if you just tell me what they are ;)
 

mistere29

Villager
Col_Pladoh said:
Holiday Greetings, Mistere29,

the short answer is that I consider well-trained, aristocratic warriors such as knights and samurai as having been very beadly fighting machines. The Cavalier class was aimed at depicting a knightly warrior of most able sort...and they were very tough indeed.

Hope that serves, but if not come on back.

Cheerio,
Gary
So they where supposed to be tougher, as long as they where role-played according to archtype? Did anyone in your campaign play one?

I was also thinking about weapon specialization. Did you use it in your campaign. I ask because the way it was presented seemed kind of half hearted. It was first presented in mixed topic "from the sorcerror's scroll" in dragon. I always thought you might not have had as much time to work on it before UA hit the printers.

While i'm at it, have you ever played a game of d20. Not dm, mind you, but play in someone elses campaign.

I appolgize if i repeated questions, but i'm new to these boards

Oh, and i'm christian, you can say merry christmas. ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Hey, I've offered to fix the errors Gary if you just tell me what they are ;)
I emailed the fellow who has the website, suggested a couple of additions and corrections, and the response i received was a ho-hum one, so I dropped the matter. After all, I know, and the rest is a matter of no import to me :D

Yuletide best,
Gary
 

Dr Awkward

Villager
Gary,

This is Bill Walton from The Escapist (www.theescapist.com) - I've spoken to you a couple of times before.

I've heard tell that you were called as an expert witness in a trial a couple of years ago, and that the trial had some kind of connection with gaming. Is there any truth to this, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?

Thanks, and happy holidays!
- Bill
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
So they where supposed to be tougher, as long as they where role-played according to archtype? Did anyone in your campaign play one?
Yes, we had a cavalier character in the Greyhawk Campaign, just about every one of the classes in the rules, and the same for demi-human characters. I once played a half-ord cleric-assassin, as a matter of fact.

I was also thinking about weapon specialization. Did you use it in your campaign. I ask because the way it was presented seemed kind of half hearted. It was first presented in mixed topic "from the sorcerror's scroll" in dragon. I always thought you might not have had as much time to work on it before UA hit the printers.
Indeed, we played weapon specialization even before i wrote it up in Dragon Magazine. By the time that article hit a couple of PCs in the campaign were doubly-specialized...

While i'm at it, have you ever played a game of d20. Not dm, mind you, but play in someone elses campaign.

I appolgize if i repeated questions, but i'm new to these boards

Oh, and i'm christian, you can say merry christmas. ;)
I was a play-tester in of the working draft of the Lost City of Gaxmoor module written by my sons Ernie and Luke. I played in about a dozen or so sessions that lasted an average of six hours each. I determined then and there that I'd never DM the new D&D system.

As for "can," I think Political corectness is absolute crap, and I freely speak my mind. If someone is offended, ah well... Life is rough, and they'll get over it.

Happy Christmas,
Gary
 

grodog

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Grodog, you surely do manage to find some oldies. [snip]

So there's a long response to a couple of short questions :D
Thanks for the reply Gary. I hadn't seen this book before, and my friend will be quite happy for the info on its provenance, I'm sure :D

FWIW, it appears as if T-K Graphics is still in business today, doing PR/promotional stickers, among other things. Do you think it would be worth trying to contact them to try to find those maps? Coincidentally, I'll be in NJ for the holidays, which is a short hop and skip down to Baltimore...

Col_Pladoh said:
I emailed the fellow who has the website, suggested a couple of additions and corrections, and the response i received was a ho-hum one, so I dropped the matter. After all, I know, and the rest is a matter of no import to me :D
Well, if you're referring to the site at http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_anagrams.html then that page is mine, and I'd be happy to fix any errors you've discovered; if you found another site, I'd be happy to look it over for more ideas for additions, too ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Dr Awkward said:
Gary,

This is Bill Walton from The Escapist (www.theescapist.com) - I've spoken to you a couple of times before.

I've heard tell that you were called as an expert witness in a trial a couple of years ago, and that the trial had some kind of connection with gaming. Is there any truth to this, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?

Thanks, and happy holidays!
- Bill
Yuletide Greetings, Bill!

What you mention is partially correct. I was indeed an expert witness in regards a trial, but it was about the destruction by prison officials of an inmate's property, 2E adventure modules he had written. He was suing the prison for damages.

He won, but... Sadly, the award granted to him was the least the jury could give. They had no respect for his creative efforts because he was a felon.

That's all I can say.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Thanks for the reply Gary. I hadn't seen this book before, and my friend will be quite happy for the info on its provenance, I'm sure :D

FWIW, it appears as if T-K Graphics is still in business today, doing PR/promotional stickers, among other things. Do you think it would be worth trying to contact them to try to find those maps? Coincidentally, I'll be in NJ for the holidays, which is a short hop and skip down to Baltimore...

Well, if you're referring to the site at http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_anagrams.html then that page is mine, and I'd be happy to fix any errors you've discovered; if you found another site, I'd be happy to look it over for more ideas for additions, too ;)
Ho Allen!

Ted Pauls died some years back, so whomever is running TK Grpahics, it isn't him;) Many years ago Ted told me he had lost the maps. thanks anyway.

That is the website I was referring to, yes, and yes, I guess it was you that gave me the luke-warm response :eek:

I'll be glad to check the material over again sometime later...when I have some spare time. For example: Ayelerach is Mark Ratner's Paladin PC. Bilarro is a name I conjured up out of thin air. Blemu Hills are only cooncidently close to Blume, and no connectionwas meant. Bucknard was another name I made up on the spot.

Christmas cheer,
Gary
 
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