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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.

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Gray Mouser

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
No I don't agree with those wimpy whiners who are afraid of a few living dead :p There were always plenty of them in the adventures I ran, and likewise in those that I was playing in. For example, in one Jim Ward scenario, the first monsters we encountered were liches attacking us with rods of cancellation. This was likely in revenge for some of the perils Jim had to face with me as DM, such as when a vampire had his PC trapped. Darned if Jim didn't roll well enough to force the vampire to dust-mote form while I couldn't hit his PC no matter what.
LicheS? RodS of Cancellation? As in plural? Holy cow, Gary, what did you do to warrant such a response?!? Running a single lich intelligently is, imo, more than enough to worry even hardened adventurers. BTW, did your PC's make it out alright?

Gray Mouser
 

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Ranes

Adventurer
Gary Gygax Q&A: part VI

Continued from http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=71486

Col_Pladoh said:
About three years back I was playing in an OAD&D game and a wind walker was encountered. Damned if I could remember just how to attack the critter effectively, so my PC ran away, managed to escape while it was busy attacking others.

Cheers,
Gary
You... you... so what are your feelings on 'metagaming'? ;)
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Gray Mouser said:
LicheS? RodS of Cancellation? As in plural? Holy cow, Gary, what did you do to warrant such a response?!? Running a single lich intelligently is, imo, more than enough to worry even hardened adventurers. BTW, did your PC's make it out alright?

Gray Mouser
Hi Gray Mouser:)

Well, I sorta kinda neglected to say that the lot of the PCs involved were pretty well able to manage such an encounter. Mordenkainen, Robilar, and Erac's Cousin, amongst the bunch, IIRR. The liches were destroyed without any loss to the party, andwe went on to loot and pillage shamelessly...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Omand

Explorer
Col_Pladoh said:
Hi Gray Mouser:)

Well, I sorta kinda neglected to say that the lot of the PCs involved were pretty well able to manage such an encounter. Mordenkainen, Robilar, and Erac's Cousin, amongst the bunch, IIRR. The liches were destroyed without any loss to the party, andwe went on to loot and pillage shamelessly...

Cheers,
Gary
Hello Gary,

I have been lurking on these various threads for ages, just wanted to say it great to see you interacting and answering questions.

And, as no one else seems to have done this, I will link this thread to the next thread in the series:

http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=76849

Cheers :)
 



Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ranes said:
Continued from http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=71486


You... you... so what are your feelings on 'metagaming'? ;)
Depends on the subject matter and the character. Who can say what a PC knws and doesn't know aboit the world he lives in? if it's something that could be known, then there's no metagaming involved.

Also, coming up with new ideas not common to the assumed society should not be labeled as metagaming is the PC is reasonably inteligent.

Getting to the case of the wind walker, the PC I was playing had faced one before, also associated with a broad range of knowledgeable, high-level characters. Thus he (I) should have remembered how to attack the critter. It was a case player NUMBRAINING, NOT A HINT OF METAGAMING THERE :D

Cheers,
GAry
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Omand said:
Gary,

Here is my question for you. You seem to have a preference for magic-user characters, yes? Or is it simply my reading too much into the posted exploits of your characters?

Cheers :)
The options for m-us are more interesting to me than are those for most other classes. I have played a good number of fighters, but I prefer to play a PC that can whip out a spell now and again. My highest level PC is Mordenkainen, my last PC, created some five years back, is a gnome illusionist-thief, with about four levels in each class. I had some fun playing a half-orc cleric-assassin, but when he was killed the other (Evil) PCs with him simply looted his corpse and moved on...

In the play-test sessions of the Lost City of Gaxmoor module I played a straight fighter, and it was interesting, but I had to do a lot of improvisational role-playing to make it so, and many of the young gamers there were somewhat taken aback at such thespianism. Worst of all, playing in-character, I boasted to an orc chieftain that he had better comply with the group's demands for the cooperation of his force in our forthcoming attack on another band in the city...or else. That gave DM Luke Gygax all the excuse he needed to have the orcs pack up and steal away, depriving us of their help, and thefeafter our attacking and looting of the lot :eek:

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Calico_Jack73 said:
Hey Gary, I've got an opinionated question for you:

Of all the modules that you've written or played, which was your favorite and why? Also what is your most memorable moment when playing?

Cheers!
Hah, C_J!

That's akin to asking aparentwhich child is his favorite :D

Also, most of the time I have DMed, not played modules, so it's difficultto answer in the latter context.

I believe that my favorite modules to DM were the G-D series, sans Q1. the whole made a good, long connected story with plenty of variety in location, challenges, and combat.

My favorite short module to play and DM alike is probably the generic The Abduction of Good King Despot, with plenty of problem solving and action packed into a short scenario.

I must say that most recently I really had a lot of fun running the Hall of MAny Panes for my LA group, and because I think it will likewise appeal to D20 fans, it is being done in dual system format. It is a very long module that took us about a year to finish, but the variety of challenges in it is so broad that none if us got bored, me included;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

mistere29

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
First, a cleric or two with a party means the threat is lessened dramatically.
How often did you adventure with a cleric in the party. I ask because some players seem to think that all adventures are designed so that the cleric's powers are absoutley neccessary. Usally there is a npc cleric in every group if players don't like the class.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
mistere29 said:
How often did you adventure with a cleric in the party. I ask because some players seem to think that all adventures are designed so that the cleric's powers are absoutley neccessary. Usally there is a npc cleric in every group if players don't like the class.
Generally the parties I DMed had one or more clerics, or at least a Paladin PC able to use some cleric spells. My son Ernie's PC, Serten, got to be a fairly high level cleric. When I was playing I usually took along my own cleric, Rigby, sometimes playing him as my main PC and not merely a tag-along henchman. To me playing a cleric is more enhoyable that playing a straight fighter,

Cheers,
Gary
 

T. Foster

First Post
Col_Pladoh said:
My favorite short module to play and DM alike is probably the generic The Abduction of Good King Despot, with plenty of problem solving and action packed into a short scenario.
I've got the New Infinities release of this and it's one of favorite 'one-off' modules as well. As one of the former principals of NIPI can you shed any light on who currently controls the rights to the module -- the original authors or someone else? It's very ripe for reprint and IMO would be particularly well suited for Hackmaster (due to its prescient mixture of old-school action and problem-solving with abundant humor of dubious quality).

...and while I'm here, I suppose I'll ask some more questions about the Greyhawk Campaign: a lot of stories seem to involve only 1 or 2 players (with or without assorted henchmen and hirelings). How typical were these more 'intimate' adventures compared to the larger group efforts -- in your estimation was more play done in large groups or small groups? Was it assumed that once characters reached a certain level that they would branch off into these sorts of 'extracurricular' adventures? And also, how was it decided who would play when -- was it simply a matter of which players showed up on which nights (i.e. "Rob's the only player here so I guess Robilar's going solo tonight"), or would you figure in advance which players should come when and in what combinations?

Regards,

T. Foster
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
T. Foster said:
I've got the New Infinities release of this and it's one of favorite 'one-off' modules as well. As one of the former principals of NIPI can you shed any light on who currently controls the rights to the module -- the original authors or someone else? It's very ripe for reprint and IMO would be particularly well suited for Hackmaster (due to its prescient mixture of old-school action and problem-solving with abundant humor of dubious quality).
I can't say for sure who owns the copyright to the TAoGKD, likely WillNiebling or Russ Stambaugh IIRR. I agree that it is a great candidate for a reprint. However, as an inveterate punster, I take umbrage at: "abundant humor of dubious quality." Of course, if you meant that as being chock full of groaners, I must concur :D

...and while I'm here, I suppose I'll ask some more questions about the Greyhawk Campaign: a lot of stories seem to involve only 1 or 2 players (with or without assorted henchmen and hirelings). How typical were these more 'intimate' adventures compared to the larger group efforts -- in your estimation was more play done in large groups or small groups? Was it assumed that once characters reached a certain level that they would branch off into these sorts of 'extracurricular' adventures? And also, how was it decided who would play when -- was it simply a matter of which players showed up on which nights (i.e. "Rob's the only player here so I guess Robilar's going solo tonight"), or would you figure in advance which players should come when and in what combinations?

Regards,

T. Foster
Back in those halcyon days we played in large groups on weekends, while during the week smaller parties were DMed by me, or another of the ones who had campaigns--Rob mainly (and thus he was made co-DM of my campaign late in 1974).

Adventures with 10 to 20 PCs were fun, if hectic, and few of any of such mass forays were of memorable sort, other than perhaps for the number of low-level characters being done for and new one's hastily rolled up. Because of that, and the fact that the more skilled veterans with higher-level PCS wanted adventures of less chaotic sort, the sessions with smaller groups were much in demand. As Ernie, Don, Rob and Terry in my house or near to it, were family or friends, they came by often to play, rob more so than the rest, followed by Ernie and Terry, for Don had a day job and a family.

As I was working at home I did not schedule play sessions, but when a gamer or two dropped in of a day, I made haste to finish immediate work and put on my DM's hat. Evening games with the regulars were generally schedules a few hours or a day or two ahead.

In 1974 the veteran group had doubled in size,and as it was necessary for me to spend more time working on revising the game, Rob took over some of those sessions. The "wild bunch" showing up for weekend adventures was also larger, so Rob and I co-DMed those mass expditions.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Ranes

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Depends on the subject matter and the character. Who can say what a PC knws and doesn't know aboit the world he lives in? if it's something that could be known, then there's no metagaming involved.
Absolutely.

Col_Pladoh said:
Also, coming up with new ideas not common to the assumed society should not be labeled as metagaming is the PC is reasonably inteligent.
I totally agree.

Col_Pladoh said:
Getting to the case of the wind walker, the PC I was playing had faced one before, also associated with a broad range of knowledgeable, high-level characters. Thus he (I) should have remembered how to attack the critter. It was a case player NUMBRAINING, NOT A HINT OF METAGAMING THERE :D
Now that's reassuring. :D Not that I ever thought otherwise. I just couldn't resist the opportunity...

If it's not too late, thank you for the game! And thanks for the great Q&A threads.
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
John Q. Mayhem said:
Mr. Gygax, where did vampires level drain come from? Also, I just wanted to say that it's amazing to me that you are talking with the rank&file. Like someone else said somewhere, what other hobby is there where you can talk to the creator?
Ho John Q,

the vampire's level drain came from me. I decided upon it as a way of simulating that monster's capacity to weaken and make helpless its victims. Once established, the level-draining attack power made all undead so able into most fearsome opponents :cool:

Of course magical and clerical means of restoring lost levels were provided--excellent ways for DMs to be rid of wishes and to drain treasure from PCs hoards and into clerical coffers.

The last special group of gamers to visit me from a distant place, summer before last, so as to go on a wild adventure across the Flanaess of Oerth had a run-in with some super-wights that drained one of their PCs. Luckily for them they were near Veluna, visited a temple there, and for only about 90% of the wealth they had acquired along the way, those lost levels were restored. If they'd have had a cleric in their party they would have been much richer at adventure's end...

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ranes said:
Absolutely.
Now that's reassuring. :D Not that I ever thought otherwise. I just couldn't resist the opportunity...
Hey, now don't get me wrong! I can get just as caught up in power gaming as the next guy. When so enthralled, all considerations of what the PC could or could not knnow about go by the board :D

If it's not too late, thank you for the game! And thanks for the great Q&A threads.
Not too late at all, for here I am. I enjoy taking a break from the more humdrum aspects of creative work to answer these questions. It's only when really into the toils of designing new material that I find interruptions irritation.

Cheers,
Gary
 

CombatWombat51

First Post
Gary,

I've got two questions about cavaliers and paladins in UA, and it's awful nice to be able to come to the author for the answers :)

First, did cavaliers roll d12's for hit points after first level, or d10's? In the table where it summarizes what hit dice different classes have, it lists both classes as getting 1d10. But on the cavalier table for advancement, it says they roll 1d12. And under that, that they get 1d10+3 at first level. So which was the typo? Do they get d10's or d12's?

Second, I've always been a bit confused by how to advance their ability scores. It says that they roll percentile dice at first level, and afterwards they roll 2d10. Personally, I take that to mean just that. However, others in my gaming group feel that by 2d10, you meant to generate a number between 1-100, as percentile dice, not 2-20. Which is the proper method?

Ok, one more question :) In the assassin's matrix in the DMG, the footnote says that assassins should plan out their assassination. That gives me the impression that the percentage chance of success is based more on the whole event of assassination, rather than on a single attack roll. But in the PHB, it simply says that an assassin can attempt to assassinate a victim whenever the assassin has surprise. Lastly, the footnote in the DMG says that certain modifiers should be incorporated. Could you give me some examples of what types of modifiers for what types of circumstances should be used?

Thanks very much,
Rick, who feels like a giant fan boy :D

EDIT: One more question! Where in the world did you come up with the title "Grand Master of Flowers"?
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
CombatWombat51 said:
Gary,

I've got two questions about cavaliers and paladins in UA, and it's awful nice to be able to come to the author for the answers :)
Hi Comabt',

The questions call for quite a stretch of my memorY, BUT o'LL DO MY BEST.

First, did cavaliers roll d12's for hit points after first level, or d10's? In the table where it summarizes what hit dice different classes have, it lists both classes as getting 1d10. But on the cavalier table for advancement, it says they roll 1d12. And under that, that they get 1d10+3 at first level. So which was the typo? Do they get d10's or d12's?
The typo is the d12, that's one I have no trouble with, for only the Barbarian was to have a d12 for HPs.

Second, I've always been a bit confused by how to advance their ability scores. It says that they roll percentile dice at first level, and afterwards they roll 2d10. Personally, I take that to mean just that. However, others in my gaming group feel that by 2d10, you meant to generate a number between 1-100, as percentile dice, not 2-20. Which is the proper method?
Okay, a pause while I break out my worn copy of UA and have a gander...

No problem with the question:) For their Str, Dex, and Con scores the player rolls d% as an addition to each at the beginning of character creation. For example Str 16 + 48 on d% = 16.48, Dex 17 + 11 on d% = 17.11, and Con 15 + 64 on d% = 15.64. When the cavalier reaches 2nd level, 2d10 are rolled for each ability score, the total added to the number following the decimal point. when that reaches 00, a whole point is added to the score, up to 18.99. If a cavalier had Ste of 16.99 and went up a level, his Str would be at minimum 17.01 and could be 17.19 with two 10s coming up on the 2d10 roll.

Ok, one more question :) In the assassin's matrix in the DMG, the footnote says that assassins should plan out their assassination. That gives me the impression that the percentage chance of success is based more on the whole event of assassination, rather than on a single attack roll. But in the PHB, it simply says that an assassin can attempt to assassinate a victim whenever the assassin has surprise. Lastly, the footnote in the DMG says that certain modifiers should be incorporated. Could you give me some examples of what types of modifiers for what types of circumstances should be used?
Play of an assassin where a kill was to be made by the PC was meant to require both a written plan delivered to the DM and then full expanation and roleplay on the part of the player where called for in the situation. If those were properly done, the DM would ajudicate the chance for surprise more favorably. The base chance for surprising an intended victim being 2 in 6 for the unsuspecting sort, as low as 1 in 20 for someone on guard.

Modifiers are many and rather self-evident, but most apply only in the context of a planned assassinationas noted above. Of course, if the assassin is normally around the intended victim, that gives a bonus to surprise chance, and a greater one if the assassin is a trusted person.

The attack roll might be a check for successfully insinuation of poison into the victim's food or drink, slipping a deadly scorpion into the subject's boot or bed, etc.

The straight d% chance roll is meant mainly for the assassin striking by surprise in chance meeting of the intended victim.

Writing rules for roleplay was something that just wasn't done at the time the DMG was published. Frankly, I fondly assumed that sort of thing would be understood by the readers...

Thanks very much,
Rick, who feels like a giant fan boy :D
Welcome, and what sort of giant? :D

Cheers,
Gary
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
CombatWombat51 said:
EDIT: One more question! Where in the world did you come up with the title "Grand Master of Flowers"?
Very sneaky! That one got me :mad:

All of the titles for the Monk Class were taken unabashedly from mah jjong, one of my favorite games. As flowers are honors tiles, delicate and beautiful, I thought it fitted well with an Eastern aesthetic martial artist, the object belying his actual prowess.

Heh,
Gary
 

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