What follows herein is strictly for the eyes of you, the campaign referee.

As the creator and ultimate authority in your respective game, this work is written as one Dungeon Master equal to another.
Pronouncements there may be, but they are not from "on high" as respects your game.
Dictums are given for the sake of the game only for if ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is to survive and grow,
it must have some degree of uniformity, a familiarity of method and procedure from campaign to campaign within the whole.
ADVANCED D&D is more than a framework around which individual DMs construct their respective milieux,
it is above all a set of boundaries for all of the "worlds" devised by referees everywhere.
These boundaries are broad and spacious,
and there are numerous areas where they are so vague and amorphous as to make them nearly nonexistent,
but they are there nonetheless.

When you build your campaign you will tailor it to suit your personal tastes. In the heat of play it will slowly evolve into a
compound of your personality and those of your better participants, a superior alloy. And as long as your campaign remains
viable, it will continue a slow process of change and growth. In this lies a great danger, however. The systems
and parameters contained in the whole of ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS are based on a great deal of
knowledge, experience gained through discussion, play, testing, questioning, and (hopefully) personal insight.

Limitations, checks, balances, and all the rest are placed into the system in order to assure that what is based
thereon will be a superior campaign, a campaign which offers the most interesting play possibilities to the greatest number of
participants for the longest period of time possible. You, as referee, will have to devote countless hours of real effort in order to
produce just a fledgling campaign, viz. a background for the whole, some small village or town, and a reasoned series of
dungeon levels -- the lot of which must be suitable for elaboration and expansion on a periodic basis. To obtain real satisfaction
from such effort, you must have participants who will make use of your creations: players to learn the wonders and face the
perils you have devised for them. If it is all too plain and too easy, the players will quickly lose interest, and your effort will
prove to have been in vain. Likewise, if the campaign is too difficult, players will quickly become discouraged and lose
interest in a game where they are always the butt; again your labors will have been for naught. These facts are of prime
importance, for they underlie many rules.

Naturally, everything possible cannot be included in the whole of this work. As a participant in the game, I would
not care to have anyone telling me exactly what must go into a campaign and how it must be handled; if so, why not play
some game like chess? As the author I also realize that there are limits to my creativity and imagination. Others will think of
things I didn't, and devise things beyond my capability. As an active Dungeon Master I kept a careful watch for things
which would tend to complicate matters without improving them, systems devised seemingly to make the game drag for
players, rules which lessened the fantastic and unexpected in favor of the mundane and ordinary. As if that were not enough
hats to wear, I also wore that of a publisher, watching the work so as to make sure that i t did not grow so large as to become
unmanageable cost-wise. None of this was compromise, per se, but the process was most certainly a refining of what should
logically be presented in the system.

Returning again to the framework aspect of ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, what is aimed at is a
"universe" into which similar campaigns and parallel worlds can be placed. With certain uniformity of systems and "laws",
players will be able to move from one campaign to another and know at least the elemental principles which govern the new
milieu, for all milieux will have certain (but not necessarily the same) laws in common. Character races and classes will be
nearly the same. Character ability scores will have the identical meaning - or nearly so. Magic spells will function in a
certain manner regardless of which world the player is functioning in. Magic devices will certainly vary, but their principles will be

This uniformity will help not only players, it will enable DMs to carry on a meaningful dialogue and exchange of
useful information. It might also eventually lead to grand tournaments wherein persons from any part of the U.S.,
or the world for that matter, can compete for accolades.

The danger of a mutable system is that you or your players will go too far in some undesirable direction and end
up with a short-lived campaign. Participants will always be pushing for a game which allows them to become strong and
powerful far too quickly. Each will attempt to take the game out of your hands and mold it to his or her own ends. To satisfy
this natural desire is to issue a death warrant to a campaign, for it will either be a one-player affair or the players will desert
en masse for something more challenging and equitable. Similarly, you must avoid the tendency to drift into areas foreign to
the game as a whole. Such campaigns become so strange as to be no longer "AD&D". They are isolated and will usually
wither. Variation and difference are desirable, but both should be kept within the boundaries of the overall system. Imaginative
and creative addition can most certainly be included; that is why nebulous areas have been built into the game. Keep such
individuality in perspective by developing a unique and detailed world based on the rules of ADVANCED D&D. No two
campaigns will ever be the same, but all will have the common ground necessary to maintaining the whole as a viable entity about
which you and your players can communicate with the many thousands of others who also find swords & sorcery role
playing gaming as an amusing and enjoyable pastime.

As this book is the exclusive precinct of the DM, you must view any non-DM player possessing it as something
less than worthy of honorable death. Peeping players there will undoubtedly be, but they are simply lessening their own
enjoyment of the game by taking away some of the sense of wonder that otherwise arises from a game which has rules hidden
from participants.

It is in your interests, and in theirs, to discourage possession of this book by players. If any of your participants
do read herein, it is suggested that you assess them a heavy fee for consulting "sages" and other sources of information
not normally attainable by the inhabitants of your milieu. If they express knowledge which could only be garnered by
consulting these pages, a magic item or two can be taken as payment - insufficient, but perhaps it will tend to discourage such

I sincerely hope that you find this new system to your taste and enjoy it. The material is herein, but only you can
construct the masterpiece from it, your personal campaign which will bring hundreds of hours of fun and excitement to many
eager players. Masterful dungeoning to you!


TheDungeonDelver wrote:

Anyway, Gary, I'm sorry if it seems like we're bombarding you with pure AD&D (or Original D&D) questions constantly and seemingly ignoring the body of your work beyond D&D (LA, DJ etc.).
Please don't think we (or at least I) don't like to hear about your other projects as well. It's just that we're all really, really big D&D fans, too. 

Not a problem. I just don't find it a good use of my time to rehash any substantial material pertaining to a game that is now owned by another entity, one where I have no input, let alone control.

Whatever anyone concludes, wants to do with the games for their own campaign is as valid as anything I can supply.


- Out of curiousity, how long did it take to you to complete the three AD&D books?
Did you wait till a book was printed and released before starting on the next?

I write the MM in about six months, then took a break for a month,
wrote the PHB with the MM being printed and sold, the second book taking me about seven months to write.
I then took a break to writhe the G Series of modules and then penned the DMG in about eitht months--after completing it I write the D Series of modules.

I was always working before the next book was in print.

weasel fierce wrote:
One thing I am enjoying a lot, as I am having time to read more and more oAD&D material (I originally started with Mentzer's D&D and AD&D2nd edition, then got into 1st edition retroactively) is the implied mythology, relations and world views that the game presents, especially as far as monsters go.

I can imagine a good chunk of these things were flavour text, thrown in to make the game more vivid, but how much of the non-generic information was based off your Greyhawk visions, and how much was "this would be really cool" ?

Cheers and thanks in advance!


Virtually everything I wrote for the D&D and AD&D game systems through 1979 was drawn from experience in the "trenches" as a DM or a player.
thereafter, much of the new material was simply envisaged, put on paper, put into play, then published.

That's about as close as I can come to being definitive in this regard.

Happy New Year,

Col_Pladoh wrote:
AD&D per se is as dead a system as Latin is a language, while the C&C game has much the same spirit and nearly the same mechanics.
So why not accept the latter...


SemajTheSilent wrote:

Re this statement:

AD&D per se is as dead a system as Latin is a language, while the C&C game has much the same spirit and nearly the same mechanics. So why not accept the latter, and if so determined, make the easy conversion to OAD&D (never 2E!)

In your opinion, should gamers who enjoy AD&D stop playing it and shift to C&C?

What a difficult question!

I am of a mixed mind.
Movng to the C&C game would help TLG to produce more and better product, have the ad budget to spread the word more efficiently too.

OTOH, how difficult it is to urge anyone to give up AD&D, a game system I still love.
If it is enjoyed, why leave it?
Convert material to it until another system has more appeal, then keep it around as a change of pace.
That's what I have done 


In the meantime, I wish to ask one more question:

Has anybody ever pointed out that certain artwork in the 1st ed. DMG resembles artwork from Gustave Dore's illustrations for Dante's Inferno?

"There is no honor among thieves"--p.24, resembles "Ugolino"

and the succubus on p. 200 resembles "Myrrha."

I'm fan of Dore's artwork and Dante's "Divine Comedy" and just happened notice that awhile ago.

I apologize if the question is too obscure. I'm just curious.

Actually, no; that's never been called to my attention prior to this. Likely the artist was looking for inspiration and had some of Dpre's work around. Only the person or persons who did those illos can give you a firm answer, of course. My old DMG isn't handy, so I can't check them examples.


Et Tu, MerricB!

Heh, and your post hit just as I finished my reply to S'mon 

Actually, I didn't suffer any D&D play burnout because I was working on the AD&D core materials from 1976-78 and so my playing time then dropped off to a couple of sessions a week, As a matter of fact I took a "break" from rules writing between the PGB and the DMG to write the G series, and after the D series modules. I really am a game geek 

Originally Posted by Agback


Anyway, now that I am provoked to write, I have a question:

I have read that you did a lot of experimental play before the first release of D&D, tinkering with game features until you got things right. My question is, how systematic was this experiementation? Did you map out a possibility space and try the combinations systematically to discover what worked best? Or was it more of an incremmental approach, in which you started with a design that seemed intuitively right, tested it, and changed the things that seemed to work?


Hi Agback,

I was as much taken with the prototype of the D&D game as anyone, so the design approach was strictly hands-on, seat-of-the-pants play and revise. The process began in the laast quarter of 1972 and continued through the spring of 1973. By summer I felt the basics were sufficient to publish the game, and only a few alterations were made between then and when the work was published in January of 1974. Thereafter, however, I went back to play-and-revise, so that before the year was out we were testing the material that was published in the Greyhawk D&D game supplement in 1975. In short, I was too busy having fun playing to be really organized in the writing of the game.

When later on I wrote the AD&D game I used a less chaotic approach, including a general mission statement I created for my own reference and a short outline that grew as I progressed.


Originally Posted by Bloodstone Press
Hi Gary,

I remember reading the 1e DMG when I was a kid and thinking "Wow, this guy is really smart."

And even now sometimes I read things you say and I still think "Damn. He's so smart."

So I gotta ask, what is your educational background? Ever been to college? If so, what did you study?
Well, I sometimes get too big for my britches, but those who know me are quick to deflate my bloating ego.

I never finished high school, attended junior college in Chicago, picked up a fair number of English and anthropology-sociology credits amongst various other classes.
As I was on the Dean's list and had professors pushing me, I was admitted to the U. of Chicago, but I took a job in insurance instead.
Thus, most of what I know came by my own study and reading, and listening to knowledgeable folk, certainly.

When I was at the Washington School of Psychaiatry in 1984 (IIRR) speaking to the faculty on creatiity, the concensus was that my IQ was very high--over 200.
Of course, knowing how little I actually know and can do well, I am flattered but dubious.
I have given large seminars on gaming and had mere pre-adolescent audience members ask me questions I had extreme difficulty answering, so I know i am far from the Light of the Ages.
I just happen to rest well... 


Originally Posted by sluggo the sleazebag
Hello again, Gary,

If you don't mind, I have a family question for you. From the accounts I've read, you playtested early versions of OD&D with your children to great success. I'm curious, how many of them still play D&D? Do you still DM any sessions for them? Have any of them worked on gaming publications and, if so, how does their work differ from your own?



Hola Sluggo!

All six of my children have played RPGs. the two eldest, Ernie and Elise did indeed serve as the first two play-testers of OD&D. Later daughters Heidi and Cindy played with me as the DM, also with their young brother Luke as the DM--who they told what to do until he came to me and I set him straight.

The girls never were captivated by gaming as were my boys. ther played for a short time only, relatively speaking. In fact I would recruit Heidi's boy friends to my AD&D campaign when we were living out in the country, and she got cross at me for having to wave goodnight to two or three ex-beaux AD&Ding in the living room with me when she was with a new boy friend going out on a date.

Sons Ernie and Luke wrote the Lost City of Gaxmoor D20 module a couple of years ago for Troll Lord Games. It definately shows the influence of my creative and DMing style. I had a lot of fun play-testing it. They have no plans for more such design, however, as Ernie works all the time now, is buying his own house soon, and Luke is in a job that keeps him very busy and relocating periodically, so he doesn't even get in miuch gaming.

Son Alex age 17 is still at home/ Heplays mainly computer games, although he enjoys participating in my LA game campaign on Thursday nights....when his school work allows it.


Originally Posted by Whitey


That's about how the conversation played out. Some of the more colorful expletives were removed, but what Tom said, was really crucial. So, it's posted here with the question - what do you think, Mr Gygax? Basically, can a gamer play just the spirit of a game, or is there something intrinsic to the rules, that makes playing the rules the point?

Howdy Whitey...

What you suggest is something I have basically supported since the inception of the game: the rules are guidelines and the DM should feel free to do his own thing.

I did attempt to get some conformity in the AD&D system, because I wished to rpomote large-scale convention tournaments, give cash prizes (but that was quashed along with my gamer scholarships effort).

So in my opinion you are completely justified in what you think.


Originally Posted by Levi Kornelsen

And, thanks for the quick response!


To elaborate as a matter of fact...

I regularly hear in-person and in email and letter communications from fellow gamers how much they appreciate the style of my writing,
how much it has assisted them in various ways.
The most frequently cited work in this regard is the DMG.

I don't expect to please everyone, of course.
that's impossible, as I note in one of my sigs:

"He who publishes a book runs a great hazard,
since nothing can be more impossible than to compose one that may secure the approbation of every reader."

Of course I sometimes use this one:

“The envious only hate the excellence they cannot reach.”
From a letter to Thomas Jefferson as quoted by Dumas Malone in his six volume work, Jefferson and His Times.


Originally Posted by Gearjammer
Gary, first of all many thanks for creating a game that's given me and my friends endless hours of enjoyment over the last 20 some-odd years.

In talking with many of my fellow gamers most of us seemed to have experienced sometime in our early gaming career the "Wonder moment." A time when we were first introduced to D&D or another RPG and after being confused by the pile of numbers, stats, and dice had a singular moment where your imagination "clicked on" and you were seeing the game in your head and you were hooked forever. Did you ever have a "wonder moment" and when did it occur?

Of course you are welcome, for I have greatly enjoyed the whole gaming experience myself.

You asked a good question. Indeed, from the time I sat down to create the rules for the OD&D game I was filled with a thrilling sense of wonder and excitement to present and play such a game. That continued on for several years after D&D and AD&D were published,...until the grind of business and associated matters rather wore it out. However...

I have been working on polishing the core rules for the Lejendary AsteRogues Fantastical Science RPG the last week or so, and sure enough, the old enthusiasm was right there! the only problem I have is that my creative energy now runs out in a few hours rather than lasting all day :\


Appreciate the laud.

As a matter of fact I was often too vague in detailing such information as I was so used to making a ruling on the spot based on the circumstances.
Attempting to cover every case seemed too complicated to me, too much an imposition on the DM's prerogatives.


<such information: rope of entanglement>