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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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grodog

Adventurer
Thanks for the replies on the geomorphs, Gary.

FYI, some folks are talking about Fritz Leiber and his rumored involvement with ghost-writing D&D rules and running D&D games over at http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=75019

IIRC, Fritz and Harry designed the 1975 TSR Lankhmar boardgame, but I've never heard that either played D&D or helped to write the rules....
 

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Manzanita

First Post
I think it's great that your sons Ernie and Luke became active in the games you created. I'm curious if your daughters ever played. If not, I wonder if you have any thoughts on that.

By the way, Grodog, when are you going to update your CY175 campaign log on your website?

Thanks
Grant
 

Bob the Reaver

First Post
Hello Gary,
Please excuse me if this question has been asked before.

I was wondering about your apperance on the Futurerama television show. I was very excited to see your likeness on this exellent comedy. I guess I was wondering about whether or not you had a chance to meet any of your co stars during the recording. Al Gore Mr Hawkings etc.

A few days ago I belive I read somewhere that Dnd spawned a billion dollar buisness (the Rpg industry in the past 25 years?). We owe alot to you Mr. Gygax. I live and breathe the fantasy of imagination's. I belive it all started with my first set of dnd books. Thank you very much.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
talinthas said:
hey gary, i've always wanted to know this- Why did you release the 1st edition AD&D monster manual before the other two books?

I decided to create the MM as the initial part of the new AD&D system because it would be usable by all the D&D players, and the entry information in the book would whet appetites for the new rules. It was also the easiest one to put together, since I had been doing penciled-in new system stat sheets for all the old monsters, as well as writing up a lot of new ones. I had a box in my office, and I'd toss the rough stat sheets into it each day. Mike Carr would collect them and type them up--or have someone else do it, so in no time at all there was sufficient material for the MM even as I was developing the whole of the material for the system, beginning on the PHB.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
grodog said:
Thanks for the replies on the geomorphs, Gary.

FYI, some folks are talking about Fritz Leiber and his rumored involvement with ghost-writing D&D rules and running D&D games over at http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=75019

IIRC, Fritz and Harry designed the 1975 TSR Lankhmar boardgame, but I've never heard that either played D&D or helped to write the rules....

Welcome Allan:)

Thanks for your heads up on regards to Fritz. I went on over to that thread and posted a couple of messages to set thhings straight. You are correct, of course, about Fritz and Harry not being RPGers, not doing any rules writing. Rumors surely do become odd over time...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Melan

Explorer
Greetings!

Gary, how did TSR release the Empire of the Petal Throne game? Was it solely M.A.R. Barker's creation (which seems to be my guess - it is too well edited for a TSR product of that age. :D ), or did TSR do most of the rules? Also, what do you think about the system therein as an alternative approach to OD&D?
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Manzanita said:
I think it's great that your sons Ernie and Luke became active in the games you created. I'm curious if your daughters ever played. If not, I wonder if you have any thoughts on that.

By the way, Grodog, when are you going to update your CY175 campaign log on your website?

Thanks
Grant

Well Darn!

Here i thought that most everybody knew that the first two play-testers for the D&D game were my son Ernie and my daughter Elise. They played the first dungeon adventurte, were joined the next day by Don Kaye and Rob Kuntz.

Elise played for a few months, then lost interest. Her younger sisters, Heidi and Cindy, got into D&D later on. those two used to make Luke DM for them when he was very young, tell him what treasure that they found. When he complained to me about that I set him straight, and shortly after that his sisters quit playing, the greedy power gamers :D

As I have often said, I am a biological determinist, and there is no question that male and female brains are different. It is apparent to me that by and large females do not derrive the same inner satisfaction from playing games as a hobby that males do. It isn't that females can't play games well, it is just that it isn't a compelling activity to them as is the case for males.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Bob the Reaver said:
Hello Gary,
Please excuse me if this question has been asked before.

I was wondering about your apperance on the Futurerama television show. I was very excited to see your likeness on this exellent comedy. I guess I was wondering about whether or not you had a chance to meet any of your co stars during the recording. Al Gore Mr Hawkings etc.

A few days ago I belive I read somewhere that Dnd spawned a billion dollar buisness (the Rpg industry in the past 25 years?). We owe alot to you Mr. Gygax. I live and breathe the fantasy of imagination's. I belive it all started with my first set of dnd books. Thank you very much.

I wish...

The fact is that although I urged the producers of the Futurama Show to give me a larger part, make me a regular on the program, and in any case fly me out to the West Coast, it was in vain. I got the script and then spoke my lines over a clean telephone line from Milwaukee:( Thus I met no one in person--although David X. Cohen and I did spend a fair bit of time chatting before it was time for me to be recorded speaking my part.

I had to do a second recodding session a couple of weeks after the initial one, a new script being furnished because Davic Duchovney was out of the episode and VP Al Gore replacing him in the role of team leader. That actually got me a couple of extra lines too :p

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Melan said:
Greetings!

Gary, how did TSR release the Empire of the Petal Throne game? Was it solely M.A.R. Barker's creation (which seems to be my guess - it is too well edited for a TSR product of that age. :D ), or did TSR do most of the rules? Also, what do you think about the system therein as an alternative approach to OD&D?

Howdy:)

When Phil Barker got ahold of D&D he realized the system was perfect for use in expressing a game based on his fantasy world creation, Tekumel. Phil lifted large sections of the D&D game and was planning on publishing, but I heard about it and put the breaks onto that. I informed him that if TSR was the publisher, fine, otherwise, he had better devise new rules. The Good Professor was happy to agree,so we did a deluxe RPG, the EPT game that all the guys at TSR really loved.

You are right about the ms. Phil sent it in, and it was near perfect--same with his War of Wizards game. Those mss. made us very happy, of course :cool:

As for the EPT system, I really liked it for Tekumel, but we never adopted it for our regular fantasy adventuring. As it's been a coulple of decades since last I played it, more I can't venture.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Bregh

Explorer
Hey, Gary :D!

I come bearing a question re: the mechanics and cosmology of the planes in OAD&D, specifically with regard to how the manner in which they've been treated by divers designers in numerous products.

Initially (earliest appearances in The Dragon, the PHB, Kuntz and Ward's Deities and Demigods) there's little mechanical information--some notes on the multi-planar existence of demons, undead, powerful swords, et al, and some light flavour references and text (the cover of the first printing DMG, with the City of Brass over a burning sea of lava, a few references in MMII to what certain layers of the Abyss look like, and so on). As time marches on we have modules like Q1 ('Demon Web Pits) and Roger Moore's articles on the Astral Plane in Dragon were we get a slew of detailed mechanics, and some interesting flavour developments (Int and Wis acting as Str and Dex). By the time of the Manual of the Planes we have some very specific and detailed information on how exactly things work in the planes, and what, in particular, they "look" like. Places like the Ethereal Plane and the Plane of Elemental Fire, particularly, are described in quite a different manner than what we got initially.

My question is this, was this eventual development of the planes, mechanically and descriptively, in concert with what you envisioned (in terms of play and setting), or is it the end result of several smiths distilling a brew, which, while palatable and enjoyed by many, is ultimately not what "your recipe" called for?

(I believe I know your answer to this, likely from some other board in time and space, but I ask it again in order to have clarification for several here who seem interested. Also, I've tried to avoid "leading" you one way or another. :eek: )

As always, your time and answers are most appreciated.

--B
 

mattcolville

First Post
Gary-

Hello! First, on behalf of myself and everyone in my game group, I want to thank for you your inestimable contribution to the creation of the hobby we all love. I sometimes like to think we're playing the game...even this new version...the way you did/would now. I genuinely feel, perhaps delusionally, that the spirit of the games you played is transmitted via tradition and convention play and rulebooks and articles over the years to us.

My only question for the moment involves the classes in 1st ed. AD&D and their inspiration. In many discussions about design, I've referenced those classes and said "If there had never been Aragorn, there would be no Ranger." Ditto the Thief with the Grey Mouser. It's presumptuous of me to say such a thing, especially considering you're right here and I can just ask you. :) To what extent were the original classes inspired by/modeled on specific characters?

Ok, I lied, I have another question.

To what extent, if any, would you say politics and war played a role in your games? My first experiences with D&D were in a Greyhawk game modeled closely after Glen Cook's Black Company series and I've always felt A: that Greyhawk was very much a realm in which political realities could play a part and B: it fit well with the tone of the Black Company books, of which I do not know if you are aware.

After 20 years of no good mass combat/realm management solution for D&D apart from things we kitbashed together, I participated in the core design of such a product, recently released for 3.0/3.5. Did you have a need for such a thing and, if so, how did you resolve such issues? Your characters obviously became powerful and influential, some were landed nobles, yes? How did they rule their realms?

Thanks for your generosity in these threads.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Bregh said:
Hey, Gary :D!

I come bearing a question re: the mechanics and cosmology of the planes in OAD&D, specifically with regard to how the manner in which they've been treated by divers designers in numerous products.

[snippage]

My question is this, was this eventual development of the planes, mechanically and descriptively, in concert with what you envisioned (in terms of play and setting), or is it the end result of several smiths distilling a brew, which, while palatable and enjoyed by many, is ultimately not what "your recipe" called for?

(I believe I know your answer to this, likely from some other board in time and space, but I ask it again in order to have clarification for several here who seem interested. Also, I've tried to avoid "leading" you one way or another. :eek: )

As always, your time and answers are most appreciated.

--B

If you assumed that the majority of the resulting planar material was not what I envisaged, you are on the money. Treating the many planes named in the DMG would be a long and demanding task, and it is one I never got to. About the closest to an extensive treatment of any one of them other than the PMP is what I wrote about the Abyss in the Gord yarns.

Skip Williams and I put together extensive notes for a treatment of the Plane of Shadow, but that never got past the preliminary stage because of my separation from TSR at the end of 1985.

That's about all I can say, other that I do hope to include a generic treatment of the cosmos in the Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds reference book series, but I hope to advise only, not author it, as right now I have overtwo years of work on other projects that needs be done;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mattcolville said:
Gary-

Hello! First, on behalf of myself and everyone in my game group, I want to thank for you your inestimable contribution to the creation of the hobby we all love. I sometimes like to think we're playing the game...even this new version...the way you did/would now. I genuinely feel, perhaps delusionally, that the spirit of the games you played is transmitted via tradition and convention play and rulebooks and articles over the years to us.

Howdy Matt,

Welcome, and rest assured I've enjoyed myself a great deal in the process.

My only question for the moment involves the classes in 1st ed. AD&D and their inspiration. In many discussions about design, I've referenced those classes and said "If there had never been Aragorn, there would be no Ranger." Ditto the Thief with the Grey Mouser. It's presumptuous of me to say such a thing, especially considering you're right here and I can just ask you. :) To what extent were the original classes inspired by/modeled on specific characters?

The Ranger class was originally devised by Joe Fischer, then a regular in my D&D game group. I published his initial treatment of the class in The Strategic Review, thereafter revised it and included it in the core game rules. Of course it is apparent that Joe based the class on JRRT's work and Aragorn. Likely a forester of some sort would have been created at some point, but it would have been quite different from the Ranger as it appeared. certainly.

The Thief was based on Jack of Shadows (Zelazny) and Cugel (Vance) with a touch of REH's Conan, rather than solely on the Gray Mouser. Mouser was too good a swordsman to serve as the pure model.

What was done was tobuild game characters based on broad archetypes, and where there were strong fictitional characters of the archtypical sort, use them as central models.

Ok, I lied, I have another question.

To what extent, if any, would you say politics and war played a role in your games? My first experiences with D&D were in a Greyhawk game modeled closely after Glen Cook's Black Company series and I've always felt A: that Greyhawk was very much a realm in which political realities could play a part and B: it fit well with the tone of the Black Company books, of which I do not know if you are aware.

After 20 years of no good mass combat/realm management solution for D&D apart from things we kitbashed together, I participated in the core design of such a product, recently released for 3.0/3.5. Did you have a need for such a thing and, if so, how did you resolve such issues? Your characters obviously became powerful and influential, some were landed nobles, yes? How did they rule their realms?

Thanks for your generosity in these threads.

In general the player group in my campaign were not much interested in politics and warfare. When I played, my PCs I was always meddling in politics and had a large army, so some warfare was played out with Rob as the DM. The lands rules by my PCs, that is Mordenkainen and his followers, were gained by his formation of a raiding force, that being developed into a standing army. It was supported initially by raiding and pillaging opponents, then by the resources of the territory gained by military action. As it was mainly against aggressive humanoid forces and nomadic raiders, the settled states around his holdings were happy to support and trade with the newly formed political entity.

Greyhawk was set up to enable both political play and large-scale warfare; and I agree that Glen Cook's "Black Company" is a good reference for including such considerations in a campaign. I made a stab at mass combat with Swords & Spells, but I believe its system was too abstract for most D&Ders who were not inculcated in large-scale military miniatures play.

As I don't play new D&D I can't comment on the current efforts to provide rules for such warfare.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Mirth

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
Skip Williams and I put together extensive notes for a treatment of the Plane of Shadow, but that never got past the preliminary stage because of my separation from TSR at the end of 1985.

:eek: I for one would LOVE to see this, Gary. Any possibility of contacting Skip and tweaking this enough to release under d20 or OGL? (That assumes that the material is still around and both of you are even interested, of course :D )

Jay
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Mirth said:
:eek: I for one would LOVE to see this, Gary. Any possibility of contacting Skip and tweaking this enough to release under d20 or OGL? (That assumes that the material is still around and both of you are even interested, of course :D )

Jay

Well, Jay...

The notes are still in a file somewhere in the basement here, anbd they can be found, wife Gail assures me. However, in regards to Skip, he seems uninclined to go forward. I proposed we do that back around 1996, and at that time he declined. Since then I've heard nothing from him. Of course I could go ahead and develop the material on my own, but there is a co-mingling of ideas, so Skip would have a half interest in it. As I have plenty of other work, I'm not about to do all the design and share payments with him without his equal input;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

mistere29

First Post
A while ago, you tried to convince wizards to release the OAD&D material alondside the new stuff. Kind of like a collectors edition. Since wizards had new managment now, did you ever try to pitch the idea again.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
A while ago, you tried to convince wizards to release the OAD&D material alondside the new stuff. Kind of like a collectors edition. Since wizards had new managment now, did you ever try to pitch the idea again.

Wizards has licensed out the OAD&D system to Kenzer, so they won't be publishing anything using it. Even if they did, though, the same problem of co-mingling of ideas exists.

If Skip were to contact me now and say he wanted to go forward, my writing schedule is filled for the next two or so years.

Cheers,
Gary
 
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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Interesting. Not to go off on a tangent, but to what extent do you find that rules drive an adventure design? I'm curious what sort of challenges you're facing as you match up creative thinking with mandated rules.
 

Gray Mouser

First Post
Greyhawk PC Wizards

Gary,

I know that Bigby the Mage started out as an apprentice to Mordenkainen (after, I have heard, being captured by Mordy!). I was wondering, were there ever any other PC mages that had dealing either with their former masters or who acquired any apprentices of their own and did these interactions ever have repercussions in your campaign? I'd be interested to know if Tenser, Otto or Drawmij (aka Bombadil) ever undertook any quests for their former mentors, or sent their apprentices on any such quests.

Thanks! (And I cannot wait for Zagyg's Castle, btw!),

Gray Mouser

(Frustrated Mage but adept thief and swordsman :)
 

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