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
Further to Allen

Oops!

I forgot to post one that is rather glaring.

According to Dave Arneson the "Egg of Coot" was created from the name "Gregg Scott," the chap who ran the MicroArmor casting company some years back. Gregg dismissed fantasy games as childish and claimed wargaming was "manly."

Coot indeed!

Heh,
Gary
 

mistere29

Villager
Col_Pladoh said:
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.
How did you generate attributes in your games?

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...
Were you trying to up the power of the warrior classes in D&D. Between WS and Full/Feild plate armor, fighters and cavaliers got a pretty big got a pretty big boost. If so, why?


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.
Anything specific that caused this decision. I know you don't want to compare systems, but i don't think telling about your personell experince in a D20 campaign is neccsarilly a comparsion.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Holiday Cheer:)

mistere29 said:
How did you generate attributes in your games?
in 1972 we all rolled 3d6, but later when AD&D made the stats more meaningful, players would keep rolling until they got more viable numbers, so then we switched to various systems--roll seven or eight times with 3d6 and keep the six best totals or roll d4d and throw out the lowest die.

After all, the object of the game is to have fun, and weak PCs aren't much fun for most players. Even fine role-players want characters with at least one or two redeming stats...

Were you trying to up the power of the warrior classes in D&D. Between WS and Full/Feild plate armor, fighters and cavaliers got a pretty big got a pretty big boost. If so, why?
Absolutely so. Magic-users were very potent, so it was time to beef up the fighter class.

Anything specific that caused this decision. I know you don't want to compare systems, but i don't think telling about your personell experince in a D20 campaign is neccsarilly a comparsion.
Well, after being at RPG activity since 1972, I finally realized something that should have been evident to me a couple of decades ago. When I GM I prefer to "wing it" much of the time, and ignore rules that get in the way of the flow of the adventure. The same is true when I play a character, prefering to use logic and imagination in preference to hunting up rules. In short, I do not like rules-heavy systems. Rule-playing is worse than roll-playing. I can enjoy a good deal of hack & slash, but even a bit of rules lawyering makes me want to go and find something else to do.

Additionally, I find no soul in the new D&D game, no archetypes, just seek and destroy play and too much of the comic book superhero in characters.

It is no reflection on those who enjoy the game, just my personal taste that leads me elsewhere.

Yuletide best,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Flexor the Mighty! said:
Hi Gary!

I was wondering if you are a gun owner/collector, do any hunting or recreational shooting, etc? If so what is your favorite to shoot?
Heh, Flex'...

Guess my comment on Political Corectness pegged me, eh?

Yes I own a number of handguns and shoulder weapons. I got my first BB pistol when I was about 10, a Daisy BB gun when I was 11, and my first .22 rifle, a single-shot, bolt action Winchester for my 12th birthday--thanks to my grandfather, for mother was not keen on that. I loved plinking and hunting, and how badly I wanted a .25 lever action carbine I used to gaze at in the local Gamble's store is difficult to express in words. Never did get it. I did get a fine lemonwood bow made by Bear Archery, though. It had only a 38-pound pull, so my range was only about 120 yards with a hunting arrow.

However, over the next few years I did add several more .22 rifles, a bolt-action, three shot Mossberg 16 gauge shotgun, a old single-barreled 12 gauge, and a .32 pistol. The rifles were used for squirrel, rabbit, and varmint hunting, the shotguns for pheasants, ducks, and geese, and the revolver for target shooting.

In later years I got rid of the old weapons, added a 7.62 Argentine Mauser, a 30-30 carbine, and variuous other rifles, shotguns, and quite a few handguns. Years later, when I used to get death threats because of D&D I always had a .357, 9 mm, or .45 caliber pistol handy. If those were too conspicuous, a little .32, .25, or .22 derringer from Defender Arms was around. Sure glad I didn't need to use them...

Damned if I ever did manage to line up a buck whitetail in my sights, but I tried a couple of times.

These days my leg injury keeps me pretty much out of what I used to love to do--hike for miles with or without a firearm. One of the chaps in my gaming group just returned from deer hunting, bagged a 10-point buck:)

Cheers,
Gary
 
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mistere29

Villager
Col_Pladoh said:
Holiday Cheer:)

in 1972 we all rolled 3d6, but later when AD&D made the stats more meaningful, players would keep rolling until they got more viable numbers, so then we switched to various systems--roll seven or eight times with 3d6 and keep the six best totals or roll d4d and throw out the lowest die.

After all, the object of the game is to have fun, and weak PCs aren't much fun for most players. Even fine role-players want characters with at least one or two redeming stats...
What about attribute requirements for classes. Did you hold your players to them?

Absolutely so. Magic-users were very potent, so it was time to beef up the fighter class.
Why just the fighter, or where the other classes getting beefed up too?
 
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MerricB

Eternal Optimist
G'day Gary!

Col_Pladoh said:
When I GM I prefer to "wing it" much of the time, and ignore rules that get in the way of the flow of the adventure. The same is true when I play a character, prefering to use logic and imagination in preference to hunting up rules. In short, I do not like rules-heavy systems.
Col_Pladoh said:
"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?
That's an interesting balance between the two - no rules and it's not a RPG, too many rules and it turns into something which more resembles a board-game or similar where imagination is hobbled by the minutae.

And of course, the point of balance is different for each person and group! :)

###

Gary - just wondering: have you had any chance to play in (rather than DM) a game in the past year? ;)

Cheers!
 

diaglo

Villager
MerricB said:
Gary - just wondering: have you had any chance to play in (rather than DM) a game in the past year? ;)
i know i offered to run an OD&D at DragonCon which gary wasn't going to make. he then mentioned going to Biloxi with Chris Clark to me. and then bagged out on it. :eek:

so i'm curious too.

Col.Playdoh said:
After all, the object of the game is to have fun, and weak PCs aren't much fun for most players. Even fine role-players want characters with at least one or two redeming stats...
are you saying people can't have fun playing the game as written?

i beg to differ. we did for 10+ years.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
What about attribute requirements for classes. Did you hold your players to them?
But of course! Usually that meant the player with a specific class in mind about to create a character would roll up quite a few before one fit the bill, but that was considered part of the fun

Why just the fighter, or where the other classes getting beefed up too?
IMO the other classes needed no strengthening. The fighter was played a lot, and the class had turned out to be the weakest of the lot, lacking anything potent to make it unique. So weapons specialization came into the rules.

Yuletide best,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Harry Holidays Merric:)

MerricB said:
G'day Gary!

That's an interesting balance between the two - no rules and it's not a RPG, too many rules and it turns into something which more resembles a board-game or similar where imagination is hobbled by the minutae.

And of course, the point of balance is different for each person and group! :)
Quite so. Of course the group might well enjoy a game that is an exercise in amateur theatrics, or a combat simulatuon. that isn't in and of itself anything to fault, but what they are engaging in isn't an RPG, for the game form has more elements.

Gary - just wondering: have you had any chance to play in (rather than DM) a game in the past year? ;)

Cheers!
Bah! One time only, and that for only a couple of hours. I have fudged a bit and played an Avatar in my own LA game compaign. It is an exercise in self-restraint and really allows little but combat participation, so it isn't very satisfying.

During that same time period several persons who were going to come and run a game here have crapped out.

Of course when I am a guest an a convention there's really no time for me to play. I am there to be seen, socialize, interact, speak and run games for others.

A couple of years back son ALex and I attended a con in Milwaukee as gamers only, played in an RPGA-run game of CoC. Alex's PC panicked and ran off at the end, taking the skraelings off after him, so the rest of us survived. I am pleased to say that the team voted me the best role-player, and I aced a lot of the enemy characters too, including their shaman, but my character ended up with a permanently gimpy leg :confused:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
diaglo said:
i know i offered to run an OD&D at DragonCon which gary wasn't going to make. he then mentioned going to Biloxi with Chris Clark to me. and then bagged out on it. :eek:

so i'm curious too.
As CoastCon came at the same time as the GAMA trade show, Chris Clark had to cancel his appearance. As Chris was my ride there, that sort of made my appearance impossible, eh?


[/QUOTE]are you saying people can't have fun playing the game as written?

i beg to differ. we did for 10+ years.[/QUOTE]

Before you bang you bang your drum too loudly, there are some gamers who have played D&D since 1972, me amongst them :D That said, yes, I am saying that the majority of gamers were looking for more in their PCs than was developed by the regular 3d6 stat rolls taken in order. This is especially true when AD&D was published and all of the stats were given more weight.

But...as a matter of fact I have DMed OD&D, the three-booklet really original version, at a dozen cons over the past few years. I have players roll 3d6, record the scores in order. and play the characters as developed thus. I do modify the rules in regards HPs, have any 1 rolled count as a 2. We have a great time. Of course that's mainly due to nostalgia on the players' part, and I do my best to make the dungeon crawl exciting and unusual--encounters such as those with my Old Guard kobolds.

That your group played OD&D and enjoyed it for 10 years is great, and I am honored to have written a game that brought all of you so much entertainment, Diaglo. Clearly you and your associates are excellent role-players, and the campaign was undoubtedly very well developed and well-DMed. I know that there are many RPGers still playing OD&D, and also OAD&D, That aside, a great number of gamers wanted more, and the success of 3E indicates that change is welcomed still. if it is for the better.

Beside all that, I am an inveterate game designer, and that means I am compelled to ever-tinker with rules :rolleyes:

Holiday best,
Gary
 

diaglo

Villager
Col_Pladoh said:
Beside all that, I am an inveterate game designer, and that means I am compelled to ever-tinker with rules :rolleyes:
i refereed OD&D, not DMed. ;) i'm still miffed at you for coming out with Advanced. my players revolted and i had to include some of the rules from those books to placate them. i never did adopt the other means of rolling tho from the UA.

i don't punish you for tinkering. but have pity on us little guys. ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
diaglo said:
i refereed OD&D, not DMed. ;) i'm still miffed at you for coming out with Advanced. my players revolted and i had to include some of the rules from those books to placate them. i never did adopt the other means of rolling tho from the UA.

i don't punish you for tinkering. but have pity on us little guys. ;)
Holiday Cheer, Diaglo:)

I stand corected. Indeed, you refereed OD&D.

Believe me, I know very well that without all the "little guys" I'd be nowhere, so I have no airs or inflated opinion about myself. While it is the nature of my thinking to look for different ways to accomplish a desired end, there was a lot of instigation from my many players to do that with OD&D. J. Eric Holmes pushed hard for a revision, the Basic Set rules, so I agreed. When I got his ms. it seemed a good plan to add in a few of the new rules I was in process of writing for AD&D;)

The variations on rolling dice for characters came from me, mainly because i was weary of watching players roll dozens of times in order to come up with a set of stats they wanted.

It seemed a logical thing to do, as with allowing the scores to be ordered as the player desired so as to arrive at stats for a PC they wanted to play :cool:

Cheers,
Gary
 

mistere29

Villager
How much of the changes between the original dragon articals and the final print version of UA was your doing. A couple changes in noticed.

Weapon of choice changed

Specialization was given to the ranger as well as the fighter.

Barbarians could eventually use magic.

Magice full and field plate where added to the treasure tables. (the cavalier articile implied that the player would have too pay to construct them, although i could be reading to much into it)

Magical Elven Chain (i.e. elven chain +1) added to the treasure tables, when the DMG specfically said there was no magic elven chain. (was this done to strengthen thieves?)

Attrubute Method V (orginally made for the barbarian, now available to all humans)

On a related note, how much of oriental adventures was your work. The proficency system makes me think that OA was geared with 2nd edition in mind.
 

Vigilance

Explorer
Gary, I just wanted to say that I ran the original Temple of Elemental Evil less than three months ago, and still find it, along with Isle of the Ape, in my top two D&D modules.

And the village of Hommlet is actually my favorite part of the module. It reminds me of the European towns my father visited during and after WWII. All that old world charm, but with steel and hidden weapons underneath.

I really think no one has ever mastered the art of writing a D&D module like you, and I wanted to thank you for countless hours of enjoyment from them alone.

Chuck
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
How much of the changes between the original dragon articals and the final print version of UA was your doing. A couple changes in noticed.
Happy New Year!

What you are asking is that I recall relative minutia from about 20 years ago. Add to that the fact that I was back from running D&D Entertainment because TSR was in grave financial trouble. At the same time that I instructed thet my Dragon magazine articles be compiled into a work I named Unearthed Arcana, I was dealing with a bank that was ready to shut the company down. Meantime I was fending off idiotic ideas. For example:

The head of sales and marketing was ready to kill the RPGA to save a few thousand dollars. I saw to it that he was dismissed. The three outside members of the board of directors were considering selling Dragon magazine, at that time the only part of the company that was showing a profit. Meanwhile, I was working with an outside investment group willing to acquire TSR--the only answer that the foolish outside directors thougtht possible in regards saving TSR from bankruptcy. Their audit was uncovering gross mismanagement, and I had to work through that, cleaning up the mess with a pro tem CEO the board put in place, a fellow who knew nothing about hobby gaming, let alone TSR.

So the points you raise: I recall editing the compiled ms. for the UA book, but what changes I put in and which were done by others i can not say.

Because of severe time constraints I put Francois Marcela Froideval and Zeb Cook onto the Oriental Adventures book project. Although I had planned to co-write that work with Francois, TSR needed is immediately after UA was published so as to continue the positive cash flow from product sales. Zeb took it upon himself to delete much of Francois' material in favor of his own--which I found inferior. By the time the ms. hit my desk it was too late for me to rectify that. In all, the OA work was done according to my outline and overall direction, but the end product was not what I had envisaged or anywhere close to what I would have designed. Were TSR not at a desperate pass, I'd have placed Francois in charge of the project and had it re-written.

So Cook's work in OA was evident, yes, and as he was mainly responsible for 2E, a product that lost about 50% of the AD&D audience, your observation is accurate.

As an aside, the publication of the two new books was sufficient to bring TSR out of the red, what with the internal measures taken to reduce waste and expense. With that evident, I sent the investment group packing, and told the three outside directors they were history as soon as I could manage that. That was a mistake. I should have dissembled, and not allowed my ire to be evident.

It is generally impossible to manage a large company and devote any considerable amount of time to creative work.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Vigilance said:
Gary, I just wanted to say that I ran the original Temple of Elemental Evil less than three months ago, and still find it, along with Isle of the Ape, in my top two D&D modules.

And the village of Hommlet is actually my favorite part of the module. It reminds me of the European towns my father visited during and after WWII. All that old world charm, but with steel and hidden weapons underneath.

I really think no one has ever mastered the art of writing a D&D module like you, and I wanted to thank you for countless hours of enjoyment from them alone.

Chuck
Thanks Chuck:)

About all I can say is that I do love gaming, and likely that shows in my writing of adventure material.

When I write a module I immerse myself into the setting, imagine the players' characters interacting with the environment and the encounters, try to anticipate what they will do--the clever and the foolish. To be frank, I find writing modules a lot of work, but it is really fun, much like actually playing the adventure with a character.

Anyway, I am glad you have had so much enjoyment from my designs, and I hope that you'll find some of my more recent efforts good fun too ;)

Happy New Year,
Gary
 

med stud

Villager
Hi Gary (and merry christmas and happy new year!!)

I was wondering something about the names of Erythnul and Nerull; Erythno means red or something like that in latin or greek, and nero means black. Did you name Erythnull and Nerull with that in mind?
 

Gez

Villager
grodog said:
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 ;)
I've seen several typos...

"Bilarro = anagram for Robliar" Robilar
"Tom Bombidil, J. R. R. Tolkien's character" Tom Bombadil
"Radigast = Radigast the Brown" Radagast the Brown
"Jack Vance was" Jack Vance still is. Not in a good shape, but still alive.
 

mistere29

Villager
Col_Pladoh said:
Happy New Year!
What you are asking is that I recall relative minutia from about 20 years ago.
Well what versions of the material do you use in your AD&D games today. That's what i was really interested in. Or do you play mostly LA now?

Thanks for all the info.
 
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