The Game

The Game

Q: Can the DM also play in a RPG?

A: DMs should not be players in their own campaigns;
they are supposed to be N and disinterested people who control the action,
resolve conflicts fairly,
and try to make sure that everyone has a good time.
The DM may control NPCs who join a party and act like PCs,
but this is not the same as playing.
When playing in someone else's campaign, a DM is just another player;
he has no special rights or privileges.


Howdy John,

Indeed, the best advice I can give is design to please yourself and your trusty gaming comrades so as to maximize the enjoyment generated by playing the campaign.

I do indeed get a bit fed up with disputes about which game is "best," for it is a matter or personal/group taste.
The same with niggling over mechanics and rules.
The RPG is a bloody GAME, after all is said and done. <>

As random events occur all the time in actual life, I am a firm believer in having the same thing happen in the role-playing game.
Whether the probabilities for various random things are relatively equal as with a linear curve, or wildly disparate, as a bell curve with multiple dice delivers, no matter...
aslong as the resulting event is approproate to the likelihood of it occuring when compred to the class of other such events in which it appears.

I do prefer the 100 possibilities of the d% roll to most others, and one can have additional rolls if needed to reflect decrasing probability of the indicated result.


Originally Posted by Gentlegamer
Since in the discussions you remember you and others pointed out how much you didn't like "old" D&D and had left the game and only "returned" for "3e," I can't help but point out (by way of clarification) that "3e" and "3.5e" are not D&D, but part of the d20 System rules set. I don't understand why it upsets you so much.

Quite so!

New D&D is a different game than were D&D and AD&D in their various editions.


Originally Posted by Llaurenela

Thank you kindly good sir!!


And another thanks to you for the account of the OD&D game campign.
I suppose you know that I had been playing pretty much the same sort of campaign as a break from the LA and C&C game systems...
but we are now back to the LA game, playing in the C&C-designed Castle Zagyg, Yggsburgh setting.
Anyway, the OD&D rules are meant to have house additions, because they are sketchy, and the DM is there to be the judge and referee, write statutes as needed for the group


Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz
With all due respect, Col., I suspect that has more to do with the campaigns than the system.
I remember back before I was cured of Munchkinism (1979-81), PCs in our campaigns would gain 2-3 levels a session.
Soon, the very gods trembled at our footsteps...

In fact, I just ran a 3Ed campaign where the first magic weapon wasn't awarded until 3rd level...and it was the only magic item the party had until 5th level.
And this wasn't a low magic campaign.
(Lets just say it had things in common with the Slave Lords modules.)

Of course poor DMing can account for many anomalies.
that said, it is the game rules that tell. If one follows them, then progress in AD&D is slow, in new D&D rapid.
the team spirit of AD&D is gone, as the emphasis is on individual progress in the new game. Experience is aimed at seek and destroy power gaming.
Of course, AD&D wasn't much better in that regard, but a revision shuld have corrected that flaw

Anyway, a debate of this sort is profitless, and hereafter i shall refrain from further comments in regards such matters.


Originally Posted by jasper
What ( most some few none all) {select the one you like} forget is D&D in any form is a GAME.
All games have rules. And all rules don't have to make sense. The game is not the story. The story is what happen during the game.
Just like the time me and my brother got my parents, my uncle and aunt to play Life with us and my Aunt won while Daddy when to the poor house with 1 kid and Jr went to poor house with 4 girls and 3 boys.
all games and hobbies give you stories to tell. They are only interesting if they are told in a interesting fashion and to some one who shares your interest.

Hoi Jasper,

Not much case for disputation in what you state
However, "told" isn't a necessary part of most games.
The critical factors are entertainment and enjoyment arising from play.


Originally Posted by Krieg

As opposed to Gary's personal house rules? lol
Just FYI, the best of those are called D&D and AD&D...


Originally Posted by Tuzenbach
OK, I've got one. Please forgive me if this has been asked before, but I'm just too damned lazy to look through all the "Gary Gygax Q&A" threads.

Tomb Of Horrors: What were you thinking? Don't get me wrong, I love it. However, this module has got to be the antithesis of dungeons for all those D&Ders who insist upon "role-playing" as opposed to "roll-playing". I mean, you play this thing "in character" and you die. Period. Was it, therefore, your way of indirectly dictating *how* D&D was to be played? It's been suggested by others that TOH was just your way of "weeding out" the average, bad, and good players from the truly great players, if such a thing can even be defined. Well, what gives?

PS: Congratulations on the creation of The Tomb Of Horrors. All dungeons should aspire to its scheming level of challenge and thought.

Forget the business about role-playing. It is as boring as rule-playing and roll-playing are when made the focus of the game. Notice that I stress game, as that's what is the main operative word in the description of the activity. The majority of persons engaged in RPG activity love to go on dungeon crawls, so the ToH was designed to challenge the best of that lot.

That's the gist of it <cool>


<bold added>

deimos3428 wrote:
... and the strategic employment of mules.)

Death to all rule-players and rules lawyers 


Virel wrote:

When you decide to make a House Rule for say OD&D, OAD&D, Lejendary Adventures, or Castles & Crusades how do you go about implementing it?

By telling the assembles players the new facts of campaign life;) even though many of such house rules becme stone by being put into print in a game, that doesn't mean i always use them...

Use the Mark One eyeball just "know" what will work and won't work due to experience with the game system in question?

That's the way i do it nowadays.

House rule writing began for me back in the 1960s when my opponent and I would argue about wargame rules.
Eventually we would agree on a new rule and write it down.
My original Gettysburg game has about four pages of added rules written on regular lined paper.

Do you play test it from the DM's point of view by letting the NPC's & monsters test against the party before turning it over for general use etc?

Include the rule then if it doesn't work over rule it etc?

I will certainly play-test a rule that I am uncertain about, and if it is flawed I will amend it so as to work better.
then the players' characters get a way or something that happened in their adventure didn't actually happen that way at all;)

Wondering about your methodology for this sort of thing for various game systems. I would appreciate any tips about the "good ways to do this". I tend to tinker with my games a little bit.

Thank You


if you have designed the system or are intimately familiar with because of long and intense play, you should be able to create rules changes by the proverbial seat-of-the-pants method.
Try it on minor things initially, and if the changes work as you assumed, keep on going.
Remember also that there can be rule changes for special situations that do not affect general play.
When you make them, just tell the players why the new rule is in effect, how it came about, and what it is.
Those changes can be forgotten, and only a player with a great memory will ever plague you if you don't bother to record them;)


Gandalf Istari wrote:
Mr. Gygax, another question if I may...

I would prefer it if you addressed me as Gary 8)

Actually, a question in two parts. Its obvious that your life-long love of games had an influence on you when it came to inspiration and the perspiration of creating the (A)D&D game. Would you say that different bits and peices of the game came to you over time as you worked through various board games, card games, war games, etc. before roleplaying in the D&D sense was invented, or was it like a "Eureka" moment where you saw the potential for a great game wherein people mathematically represented a character in a fantasy world? In other words, was it a gradual process of thought that slowly over time lead you into creating a role playing game, or was it a flash of insight that brought together alot of stuff that had been floating around in your subconcious?

the material for the initial D&D game's content came from over 30 years of game playing, more than 20 years of intense reading of imaginative literature,
nearly as many years of studying history and military history, and a decade of active game development and design work.
The specifics for the D&D game sort of fell into place automatically after the Chainmail "Man-to-Man" and "Fantasy Supplement" material was published and Dave Arneson related that his college group were playing the system on a pure player-for-hero (or wizard) basis, with mercenaries for hire to add to the force.

Gandalf Istari wrote:

So if I'm reading that right, you thought (A)D&D would take off among people who wargammed and among readers of various fantasy genres, but you didn't expect the game to expand much beyond those specific customer groups? If I am reading that right, then you must have been quite surprised when (A)D&D caught on as well as it did outside of the demographic groups you had in mind for the game.

30 years later and gaming is going strong. :)

No, by the time I was writing the AD&D game I was well aware that the audience for the game was much larger than I had thpought in 1972-5, and virtually world wide in scope.
My initial assessment was based on the D&D game and changed only after we had published it for two years.

By the end of 1975 I was very much aware of the broad appeal of the game.
The appeal was to almost anyone with an active imagination, as the theme of the game is the heroic quest one of mankind's folklore and legend.


- Silver Bold Added

Hi Richard,

As a practical matter the DM has control over everything, including the rules that govern play of the game. - Gary

GutboyBarrelhouse wrote:
Col_Pladoh wrote:
...the DM can do whatever he wishes, assuming that his player group generally agree and do not abandon the campaign because of such alterations.

Behold: The Concise Dungeon Masters Guide

:: runs and hides ::

No, take a bow!

That is indeed what every able GM should have firmly in mind.
He is there to provide fun and entertainment to his player group, and himself as well, not to adhere slavishly to some game system that at times interferes with the group's enjoyment.


Dammadon wrote:
That's rather telling, to me. I would've thought most anything AD&D is convertable. But then I wasn't thinking in terms of 'campaign' either...


It is indeed tha campaign aspects and the level progression involved, and only those considerations, that makes a conversion to the LA system unpalatable to me.


Originally posted by johnsemlak
2. In your own words, how would you summarize the difference between AD&D and Basic/Expert/etc. D&D?

2. I am not going to try to do critical comparative anayyses here or in any chat. That's a task that demands much careful thinking and effort. The only thing I can say about the matter is this: Play the two and judge for yourself. I think that AD&D is a "tighter" game than D&D was, more directed, less free-form. However, that applies mainly to those DMs who followed the book, if you will, as AD&D could be played in the same style as D&D.

Originally posted by ColonelHardisson

Actually, I don't want you to do a qualitative comparison between games. I'm not a raving d20 fanboy (well, not that way, at least) that sees no value in anything printed prior to the turn of the millennium (or close to it). I played AD&D 1t edition for well over a decade. I'm actually interested in what you feel the spirit of older editions was. It doesn't have to entail anything about other games. One could surmise a certain mood or feel for the game based upon the fiction you gave as recommended reading in the DMG. However, older editions/versions of the game seemed to have a different feel from the later AD&D. Can you articulate what that was?

Being close to the matter, it is difficult to write with clear objectivity.
About all I can say is the enthusiasm and the love of the game were possibly conveyed to the reader by the style in which I wrote the material.
Also, some of the rules and mechanics that were included in the original, removed later on, were actually critical to the "feel" and the "spirit" of the whole work.

That's about all I can relate, Colonel.

Originally posted by Clay_More


... As the ogres begin looking around, trying to find out why all their entertainment vanished, the Dwarf looks at the Wizard and asks; "Is this good or bad?"

Anyways, thanks for the game Gary. And I hold you personally responsible for the fact that half of my childhood memories contains orcs...
Heh! Gotta love that dwarf!

And Clay_More, you should be happy that those memories are of orcs, not orgre, right?

When my son Luke was about seven years old two of his older sisters made him DM (OAD&D, of course) for them, and they dictated what treasure was found when opponents were defeated. Finally he came to me, and I invested him with the "DM's Crown," thus putting an end to that abuse. Young players do many odd things to an RPG, but all in fun <eek>


Originally Posted by Storm Raven
No, it's noting that the progression of the game tends to work in a particular way, until it is arbitrarily stopped because of an odd game mechanic.
As if all game rules weren't arbitrary, eh? Heh, and so much for you, mister smarty pants... <stick out tongue>


Originally Posted by oldschooler
I've always been curious as to how much material Gary uses in his D&D games (both original and Advanced). Would he stick with the original stuff, like the lil' brown/white box and Greyhawk supplement for OD&D and just the first few hardcovers for AD&D; or does he go all out and use the Rules Cyclopedia and stuff from Unearthed Arcana (some or all?) or the Wilderness/Duneoneer's Survival Guides?

Short answer: I am not now, not have i ever been, a rules lawyer. Rule-playing is distasteful to me. The rules I use in any play session depend on underlying game, the player group, and the demands of the scenario. As the GM I pick and choose what I think will best suit the situation.


Originally Posted by oldschooler

Having said that, Gary: Is there any part of AD&D that you wrote (i.e. in the original Monster Manual, Players Handbook or Dungeon Masters Guide) but would'nt actually use in a game run by yourself?

I know from previous posts that you don't use Weapon Speed, Weapon vs. Armor Class and Psionics. But what about stuff like age affecting abilities, or whatever? Do you even play Advanced D&D nowadays? I'd like to know where your current gaming preference lies; As well as what games you plan to use most in the future, and to what extent (house rules, "by the book", etc..)?

Hopfully, this will be a catch-all question to cover many that tend to come up over and over, and allow you to tend to more important matters (like family, Castle Zagyg, LA, etc.)!

Generally speaking, when I DM AD&D, which OI do now and again, the areas you note above are the only rules I don't use. As I am not running an ongoing campaign, there's no need to worry about age, save when creating NPCs.

I never did create house rules, but I seldom open a book either. I create much material and referee on the fly as the players have their characters interact with the game environment.


Originally Posted by oldschooler
Gary, is this still the way you prefer to play original D&D?

Bonus question: Do you have such house rules for original Advanced D&D or Legendary Adventures?

When I am in the mood I love to fly by the seat of my pants as the Dm for OD&D...or AD&D.

Having house rules would rather spoil thewhole idea of winging it <EEK!>


Originally Posted by Orius
At least on the bright side, there've been a number of good computer games over the years that have been based on D&D and AD&D.
Perhaps not as good, but it's proven to be a good license, even if occasional bombs came out of it.
According to experts,. most of the computer games of fnatasy and like sort borrow at least something from the A/D&D game.

That's is why I am mentioned as being so influential in computer gaming 


Originally Posted by haakon1
Luckily, you are the only gamer with that problem. 

I think "never role-play alone" is up there with "never drink alone", for avoiding addictions.


I see my son Alex wasting far too many hours to believe that initial statement, and refer you to the game known as "Evercrack." 

Actually, my wife threatened to leave me because I would sneak out of bed to play a computer game at 3 AM, was doing no productive work at all...
When I get a special boardgame I might blow a week, but a computer game can eat up months <EEK!>


Originally Posted by airwalker
Oh obviously. I find AD&D an incredibly well-designed and well-thought out system. I am not trying to tell you that you could have done a better job or anything. I am just seeking to make some adjustments to coincide with my tastes and the tastes of my group and was trying to be circumspect about the consequences of "changing the rules."

I appreciate the lauds  Rest asured that I don't that the OAD&D rules are perfect, can't be improved upon by change, addition, or excision.
As a matter of fact, I did that frequently as I DMed 

Originally Posted by genshou
This is a good answer. I especially like the last sentence. Elegant is not the term I chose, but rather that of the OP in that thread. I didn't think it was a good word either, but to some people role-playing is an art. They would not enjoy the same games I do.

Anyone that claims playing a "Let's Pretend" game formalized by rules, no matter what it is called, is an art form is deluded, or else attempting to delude theaudience.


Originally Posted by riprock


Colonel, your responses generally focus on entertainment, imaginative fun, and so on.
Do you have any advice for folks using make-believe for business simulations, military training, etc.?

A most intersting application of an interest in the RPG, amigo!

While games can educate and instruct, they must be first and foremnost fun and entertaining, or else the audience will not participate in the play for any meaningful period.

What you are speaking of are simulatioons. I well recall the internation simulations that were vogue in the late 1960. They were interesting, challenging, and entertaining if one had the proper mindset.

Those participating in a simulation must be engaged in the subject, motivated by a desire to further their knowledge and understanding of what is being simulated, and the "play" is more similar to competitive sports/games than that of the RPG. The rewards for excellence in a simulation must be set forth clearly, as they are not likely to be obvious and immediate.

That's about all I have to offer off the top of my head...short of a real study on my part and a scholarly essay thereafter based on that research 


Hi Storm Raven,

No quibble with what you state,
but I do believe the number of persons tha played OAD&D was greated than the number playing the new game despite "unfriendly" rules.
Perhaps that was because those rules were explicit in alloting to the Dm the role of ultimate arbiter with free reign to excise and alter whatever was desired.


Originally Posted by Ranes
Continued from

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.


Originally Posted by Jemal
Hmmm.. So, does that mean you've completely given up on any new D&D stuff that wizards puts out, or are you hopeful about the possible 4th edition that everybody (at least around here) has been obsessesing over?
Maybe hopeful is going too far.. How about will you give it a chance, or a pass?

Here are the RPGs I am or will soon GM:
Lejendary Adventure
Lejendary AsteRogues (coming out late this year, I hope)

I will happily play:
The above RPGs
Metamorphisis Alpha
Any nin-rules-heavy RPG that someone else is willing to run for the group.

That answer your question?


Originally Posted by Doc_Souark
Hiya Mr. G 

Was there anything that you wished you had done in DnD that was excluded or toned down ?

Well, if i were writing the D&D or AD&D game today, the results would be quite different systems; but in answer to your question, no nothing I wanted in the games I authored was expurgated.

Originally Posted by dcas
My guess is that Mr. Fisher is referring to C&C. 

Ah well, I treat that the same as AD&D 


It is soooo easy to assume that C&C is AD&D 

It is also very easy for my original material to be expressed in terms of the C&C game system...especially when someone edits the material to make it conform 


I will occassionally DM OAD&D...and although not AD&D, the C&C game as well.

Gryphon: When did you realize that Dungeons and Dragons would need the massive rewrite/redesign which would become Advanced Dungeons and Dragons?

Gygax: We knew you could play Dungeons and Dragons if you were very bright or very imaginative or had some game experience. But we knew initially, probably in early 1975, that we had to do a more clearly done introductory piece. We began looking at it. Dr. Holmes was kind enough to volunteer. I got talking with him and Eric and I arrived at a very happy agreement and he took that over. I was not satisfied with Dungeons and Dragons in that it did not allow continuity of play from group to group and from region to region. The game had too many open ends and not enough structure and at that point I decided that we better have a new game with the same role playing principles and so forth, but one a little more tightly controlled.

Gryphon: Why do you want this continuity form place to place?

Gygax: So that people are playing the same game and have some uniformity of interest? It's very frustrating for someone to go from one place to another and sit in on a game that he or she doesn't recognize and it's called Dungeons and Dragons. There were some very good games that didn't resemble Dungeons and Dragons and there were some incredibly wretched ones. I did get a letter and I don't know if I still have it or not from a "43rd level Balrog" complaining that he didn't enjoy the game anymore -- it was too boring. Too many things were being done going from the sublime to the ridiculous that were virtually killing the game. Now, of course, there is a choice. You can play Dungeons and Dragons which is an open ended, freeform, lightly structured type of a game or you can play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, which is a different game.

- Interview with Gary Gygax, 1980 (citation: Grognardia)