Interview: Gary Gygax

GameSpy: How often do you role-play these days and in how many different campaigns? What are you favorite RPG game systems outside the fantasy realm?

Gary Gygax: As I work six or seven days a week, put in an average of 10 to 12 hours a day, there’s precious little time for gaming. Every Thursday night, I run a Lejendary Adventures campaign, and that’s about it for RPGing. When I am at conventions, I typically run an “Old Time D&D” game or two, and an LA game demo or adventure.

Later this year I hope to have time to begin a second campaign game using the new D&D system. As for non-FRPG games, I generally enjoy any that I have a chance to play. There have been few opportunities to do that in the past few years, though, because of the amount of time I must devote to designing and developing material for the new LA game system. I’d really like to play some DEADLANDS from what I have seen and read in regards to that game. Actually, my gaming tastes are pretty eclectic, so if given time and opportunity, I’ll play just about any genre of RPG.

I must also mention I play cards, chess, boardgames, board wargames, and military miniatures with considerable verve too. I played about 10 games of Chinese Checkers with one of my grandchildren last weekend. No question about me being a game geek!

GameSpy: How do you think AD&D’s 3rd Edition has improved over the original D&D? Are there times that you think D&D plays better than the Advanced version?

Gary Gygax: Each version of A/D&D is different, has its own charms if you will. The new D&D game seems ideal for capturing a whole new generation of young players even as it offers new vistas to the veterans of one or the other version of AD&D. Seems to me that Wizards did a great job there!

To rate one above another, though, is rather like asking a parent to choose a child that is their favorite. No way I can do that, eh? I can say that I personally enjoy “winging it” with old D&D though, as compared to running an AD&D game when doing one-off games at a convention.

GameSpy: Do you play any computer games? There are some very good RPGs out there now. Have you tried any of them, or do you still prefer pencil and paper?

Gary Gygax: The experience in playing a computer game is vastly different from that of playing an RPG in person with a group. From my perspective there is no way to compare the two experiences. I actually enjoy them both very much, different as they are. The question is almost like asking, “Do you enjoy eating and drinking?” The answer is yes to both, not rating one over the other.

GameSpy: So what is this about you getting a D&D part in a Futurama episode?

Gary Gygax: David X. Cohen, producer of the FUTURAMA shop is a former D&Der, and DM. His office contacted me about my interest in being a part of an episode. After reading the script, I was delighted to agree. Doing the voice-over was easy and fun, and I had a good time chatting with David in between a few “takes.” Despite my demands for a larger role, regular appearances, and above-union scale, we got on well (^_^). The episode was very funny, I think, and all the credit goes to the writers and producers. Sure would love to do more of that sort of work!

GameSpy: Heard you are a “Kentucky Colonel.” What does that involve and how did that come about?

Gary Gygax: You are correct, I am a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. It is a honor bestowed on selected individuals by that state. I suppose someone there in Frankfurt appreciated my gaming efforts, eh? Anyone interested in the order can find details online, of course.

GameSpy: And finally, John Kovalic, who writes Dork Tower, asked me to ask you what the stats are for a third-level muskrat? (for the fans, one of Kovalic’s main characters in his strip, Carson, is a muskrat).

Gary Gygax: And here I thought I had sunk John once and for all with that roasting bio I wrote about him for a recent convention…

Well, then Carson, 3rd level muskrat: Abilities: swimming, lodge building, crawdad catching. Feats: Assisting in poking fun at gamers–especially those who take themselves and their hobby too seriously, and playing games as well as many a human I have seen!

(Originally published on GameSpy, October 2000)

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