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Grognardia: The Interviews. The last 15

Grognardia: The Interviews. The last 15

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Published by Rogue Games
James Maliszewski's blog Grognardia has interviewed a number of creators from the hobbies, early days. This compilation, is just a work in progress, and is a easy to access PDF of all the interviews to date.
James Maliszewski's blog Grognardia has interviewed a number of creators from the hobbies, early days. This compilation, is just a work in progress, and is a easy to access PDF of all the interviews to date.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Rogue Games on Aug 25, 2009
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24August2009   
T o d a y s T a b b l o i d    
PERSONALNEWSFOR
richard.iorio@gmail.com     
1   
BLOGGERLABELFILTERFORPROVIDINGCONTENT    MANAGEMENTCOPY    
Interview:SteveMarsh   
 AUG22,200911:01P.M.  SteveMarshisanamelongassociatedwith
 Dungeons&Dragons   
,  havingworkedontwosupplementstoOD&Dandthe
 ExpertRulebook   
publishedin1981.He’salsoafriendofSandyPetersen,creatorof
Callof  Cthulhu   
,withwhomhesharesalongtimefascinationwiththeworksof   H.P.Lovecraft.IhadtheopportunitytoaskMrMarshafewbrief   questionsabouthisinvolvementinboththehobbyandtheindustryand   hewaskindenoughtoreplywiththeanswersbelow.  
1.Howdidyoubecomeinvolvedinthehobbyofroleplaying?   
Ihadtriedtocomeupwithmyownsystem,workingfromboardgames   and
TheGoldenBough   
anddidnotgetveryfar.OnedayIsatdownnext  toSandyPeterseninaclassatBYU,sawhis
 D&D    
rulebooks,andstarted   askingquestions.  
2.Itsinterestingthatyoutriedtoconstructyourown    roleplayinggamebeforeyoudactuallyseenthe
 D&D     
rulebooks.Doyourecallwhyyoutriedtodothis?Hadyou    heardof
 D&D     
beforehand?   
Itwas1969orso,IwasjuststartingHighSchool,hadneverplayed   miniatures,butIhadencounteredsomeAvalonHill/SPIboardgames   (andsubscribedto
 Strategy&Tactics   
foryears).
 D&D    
wouldntcome   outuntil1974,andIwantedtoplayagame.Ihadamythos.Iwanteda   game,butdidnotgetveryfar(Iwastryingtomakeunitcountersworkin   theplaceofminiatures,whichIhadneverseen).  
3.YouweregivenspecialthanksinSupplementsIIandIIIto    OD&D.Whatwereyourcontributionstothosetwobooks?   
Ididtheunderwaterencounters,monstersandsomeothermaterialin   
 Blackmoor   
andacharacterclassIdesignedwastakenapartandturned   intothepsionicpowersin
 EldritchWizardry   
.  
Kindof,Iwantedacharacterclass,buttheeditordecidedthatthe   abilitiesbelongedavailabletoeveryone,exceptforelves(Iwas52”atthe   timeandbuiltlikeawrestler,becauseIwasawrestler,andhadmore   sympathywithdwarvesthanelves,incaseyouarecurious).  
5.HowdidyoucometobehiredatTSRandwhatwereyour   responsibilitiesatthecompany?   
Garywantedmetovisit,soIworkedasummer.IdidJudgesGuild   productreviews,wrotetheExpertRulebookanddidtheminigame   
 Saga   
.  
6.SohowdidyoumeetGaryGygaxinthefirstplace?   
Correspondence.ThenfacetofaceyearslaterwhenIspentasummer    workingatTSR.WegottogetheratDragonconinFortWorthand   introducedeachothertoourwivesevenlater.  
7.SpeakingoftheExpertRulebook,whatwasyourrolein     bringingthatparticularproducttopublication?   
TheyhadalreadydecidedtodoitandTomMoldvayhadfinishedthe    bookthatwentbeforeit.Iwassupposedtopullthingstogetherandgetit   written.  
8.Wereyoumoreofadeveloper/editorthanadesignerthen    ordidyouandDavidCookworktogethercloselyinthewriting   oftherulebook?   
 WewereinthesameroomatTSR,butitwasntseenasthatdifficult,  thougheveryonefeltfreeto   kibitza   ndma   kecomments,eventheartist   (noonelikedtheideaofhairyrhinosbeingintelligent)...  
9.YoucontributedtoMonstersofMyth,showingusalittleof    yourcampaignworldsuniquecharacteristics,includingits   takeonChaos,whichhadadistinctlyLovecraftianqualitytoit.   WouldyouconsideryourselfabigfanofLovecraftand,ifso,  howhavehiswritingsinfluencedyourgaming?   
IlikeCthulhloidmenaces,thoughI’mnotalwaysabelieverintheirnot   beingabletobebeaten.Myhomebrewgamewastheoriginatorfor
Call  ofCthulhu   
accordingtoSandy[PetersenJDM],butitprovidedas   muchtothatgameasapairofdicewouldhave,Sandydideverythingof   significancefromhisownwork.  
10.SpeakingofLovecraft,isthereanychanceyourerelatedto    CaptainObedMarshofInnsmouth,Massachusetts?   
 AlltheMarshfamiliesintheUnitedStatesbeforeWWIIarerelatedto   eachotherasdescendantsofJohnMarshoftheWilliamandMary   Company(hewasabondservantwiththatgroup).  
11.Doyoustillroleplayand,ifso,whatgamesdoyouplay   nowadays?   
 
Today’sTabbloidPERSONALNEWSFOR
richard.iorio@gmail.com     
24August2009   
2    
IplayoveratSandyPetersensfromtimetotime,notasoftenasIwould   like.  GROGNARDIA:THEINTERVIEWS   
 AnotherKaskVideoInteview    
 AUG20,200910:35P.M.  Here’sano   therGenConvideointerviewwithTimKask,whereh   etalks   abouthisinitiationintothehobby,aswellastheforgottenendgameof   
 Dungeons&Dragons.
Goodstuff.  GROGNARDIA:THEINTERVIEWS   
TimKaskVideoInterview    
 AUG20,200912:38P.M.  MarkusSieblerwaskindenoughtopassalongalinktothisvideo   interviewwithTimKaskbyFeartheBoot.Itsaveryinteresting,ifbrief,  interviewthatincludesamentionofthecompanythathe,JimWard,and   FrankMentzerareinthemidstoffou   nding.Fromm      yperspective,I  foundthefactthathewasrunninganadventureforaproperoldschool  partyof12+participants.Irememberfondlythedayswhenmyfriends   andI,alongwithguyswebarelyknew,usedtoplungeheadlonginto   dungeons.  Halfthefunofthosedayswasgettingthepartytoworkwe   ll  together.S   ometimesIcanthelpbutfeelthattheever-shrinkingnum      ber   ofparticipantsinmostcampaignsisanothercontributingfactortothe   deathoftheOldWays.  GROGNARDIA:THEINTERVIEWS   
Interview:SteveWinter   
 AUG08,200904:10P.M.  SteveWin   terworkedatTSRfornearlytwentyyearsasaneditor,  developer,andcreativedirector.AlongwithDavidCook,hewasvery   heavilyinvolvedintheproductionoftheSecondEditionof
 Advanced     Dungeons&Dragons   
,andremainedwithTSRthroughoutthateditions   reign,shepherdingmanyofitsproductstorelease.MrWinterwaskind   enoughtoanswersomeofmyquestionsabouthistimeatTSR,  particularlyabouttheprocessofcreatingbothSecondEditionandother   
 D&D
productsfromthatera.  
1.Howdidyoubecomeinvolvedinthehobbyofroleplaying?   
Likeprettymucheveryoneelseatthattime,Ijuststumbledintoit.  Iwasalwaysinterestedingamesandpuzzles,especiallymazes.Istarted   playingAvalonHillwargamesinhighschool.Thebigstrategicgames    werefunaspuzzles,butitwas
Tobruk   
thatreallyhookedme.It’san   ultra-tacticaltankcombatgame.Yourolldicetotrackeveryshotfired.I  hadntheardofroleplayingyet,but
Tobruk
 wasalmostlikeroleplayinga   tankcommander.   WhenIheadedforIowaStateUniversityasajournalismmajor,Ilanded   agigasaneditoronthecollegenewspaper.Oneofmyfirstjobswas   proofreadingclassifiedads.That’swhereIreadabouttheIowaState   Gamersclub.Itsoundedlikeagoodplacetofindwargamers,soIwentto   ameeting.AfewpeoplewereplayingAvalonHillandSPIgames,but  mostweregatheredaroundagradstudentwhowasmaniacallysketching   roomsandcorridorsandmonstersonablackboard.Thatwasmy   introductionto
 D&D    
.  TheDMattheblackboardwasCorbin.Takeawayhisglassesandshoes   andhelookedexactlylikethecentaurfromthecoveroftheoriginal  
 MonsterManual  
.Corbinwouldstandinfrontofablackboardlikea   professorandrunenormousdungeoncrawlswith15or20playersata   time.Afewoftheplayershadhigh-levelcharacters(asin,level5orso).  Therestofusplayed1st-and2nd-levelhenchmenNPCs,essentially—     andwediedlikeflies.Wedidntevennameourcharactersuntilthey   reached2ndlevel.Itwasnothingtoburnthroughtwoorthree   charactersinanafternoon.Yourgoalwastolivelongenoughtobecome   arealmemberoftheadventuringpartyandnotjustanothernameless   corpseontheheap.Theonlycharacterswhogotrespectfromthehigher-  levelPCswereclerics.Aslongasyouhadahealingspell,youwere   useful.Otherwise,therewasnopityinCorbin’sdungeons.Low-level  charactersweretheretoopendoors,peekaroundcorners,andwalk   downcorridorsaheadoftheheroes,pokingeverythingwithinreachwith   a10-footpole.  
2.Youwereanewspaperreporterbeforeyoubecameinvolved    intheRPGindustry.Doyouthinkyourbackgroundin     journalismadequatelypreparedyouforthecrazyworldof   gamedesign?   
 Yesandno.Yesbecausetheindustrybadlyneededadoseof   professionalisminthosedays.IthinkthatIwasthefirstpersonhiredat  TSRwhohadactualjobexperienceinwritingandediting.Severalpeople   hadEnglishdegrees,includingafewwhodbeenteachers,andI’dnever   minimizewhatatoughjobthatis.Butas   arepor   ter,youwriteeveryday,  andthedeadlineisking.  Ontopofthat,journalistsaretrainedtowriteforclarityanddirectness.  Floweryphrasesandcleverwordplayarethingstoavoid.Thesameis   trueingames;thelanguageneedstobedirectandclear.  
 
Today’sTabbloidPERSONALNEWSFOR
richard.iorio@gmail.com     
24August2009   
3    
Ontheotherhand,Idontknowwhatwouldadequatelyprepare   someoneforworkingataplacelikeTSRinthoseearlyyears.Thoseofus   inR&Dcomplainedalotaboutpeopleinotherpartsofthecompanywho   hadnoqualificationsforthejobstheyweredoing,butreally,noneofus   did.WewereinventingtheRPGhobbyandindustryonthefly;howdo    youprepareforthat?InR&D,ourchiefqualificationswerethatweknew    andloved
 AD&D    
,wehadsomegiftforwordsorart,andwewere    burstingwithimagination.Beyondthat,thebiggestmeasureofwhether    youhad“whatittakes”waswhetheryoucouldkeepup.  
3.HowdidyoubecomeemployedbyTSR?   
Iwasworkingasacity-deskreporterforthe
 JournalStar   
newspaperin   Peoria,Illinois,playing
 D&D    
and
TheFantasyTrip   
asmuchas   possible,anddoingsomewritingfor
TheSpaceGamer   
magazine.One   dayIspottedanadin
TheDragon   
(#47,theissuewithZebs   “Crimefighters”init)TSRwaslookingforeditors.Itseemedlikea   goldenopportunity,soIsentaresume.Theinterviewprocesswasan   adventureinitself,involvingtwoseparatecarbreakdowns,butatthe   endofit,Igotthejob.DougBlume,whowasheadofpersonnelatthe   time,toldmethattheyhadhundredsofapplicants,butIwastheonly   onewithprofessionaleditingandpublishingexperience.Soitwaspretty   mundane,really.Isawanad,Iapplied,Igotthejob.  
4.OneofyourearliestcreditsisasaneditoronmoduleI1,  
 Dwellersofthe
ForbiddenCity   
,byDavidCook,whichisoneof   myfavoritemodulesofalltime.Canyoutellusalittleabout   theeditingprocessatTSRbackinthosedays?Wheredid    editingfitintotheproductionprocess?   
Theprocesswaslesscompartmentalizedthenthanitwouldbecome.  Peoplewe   relabeledasdesignersandeditors   ,butthejobdescriptionsfor   thosetitleswereintentionallyvague.Developmentasaseparate,  dedicatedstepintheprocesswaseliminatedshortlyafterIwashired.  Thedesignerwrotetheoriginalmanuscript;arandomassortmentof   peoplegaveinput;thenaneditortookoverandmanagedeverything   aboutthemanuscriptfromthatpointon(additionaldevelopment,  editing,layout,orderingartandmaps,proofreading,andtypefitting).It   wasutterlyinformal,though;therewastremendouscrossoveratevery   stage.Manuscriptsgotpassedbackandforthandsidewaysbetween   editorsanddesigners.Oncetheoriginaldesignwasdone,anyonemight   beaskedtorewriteanencounter,tofleshoutasection,tocreatesample   PCsandanyonemightpopbyandsay,“ooh,letmeseethat”andthen   scribblesomenotesinthemargin.That’swhythecred   itsforthosee   arly   products,suchasI1,listsomanypeopledoingsomanyjobs.Sometimes   thesamepersonshowsupinmultiplecategories.“SpecialThanks”were   theretocoverthosepeoplewhodcontributedsomething,evenifitwas    justasuggestionofferedupoverbeerandpizza.  Thefactthatnoneoftheeditorshadmuchtrainingingraphicdesign   shouldbeobvioustoanyonewholooksatthoseearlyadventures.  StephenSullivandiddoubledutyasbothaneditorandanillustrator,so   hehadsomeartisticsense.Ihadtraininginnewspaperlayoutandin   measuringandsizingtypetofititintoafixedspace.Wedrovethe   illustratorscrazywithourrequestsforillosinridiculoussizestofill  holes.  Itwasaslowprocess,buteventuallywecreatedasysteminwhathad   previouslybeenasortofmedievalworkshopwhereeachitemwas   individuallycraftedandcompletelynon-interchangeablewithanything   else.  
5.DavidCookcreditsyouwiththeorganizationof
 AD&D     
SecondEdition.Whatprinciplesdidyoubringtobearwhen    undertakingthetaskofmakingsuchacomplexgameeasierto    understand?   
Rulebookorganizationwasaregularsubjectfortheologicaldebate   amongtheeditors,andIpreachedtheGospelofStevetoanyonewho    wouldlisten.Heresthequickversion.   Asetofgamerulesneedstodecideupfrontwhetheritsjobisteaching   thematerialtonewcomersorservingasareferencemanualforpeople    whoalreadyknowthefundamentals.Idontbelieveitcandoboth.All  throughthe80s,we’dbeenproducing
 D&D    
productsaimedatteaching   thebasicstonewcomers.ThatsnotwhatAD&Dwasabout.Weassumed   that
 AD&D    
playersalreadyunderstoodroleplayingandhadatleasta   rudimentarygraspontherules.Theydidntneedatrainingmanual;they   neededareferencebookthatmadeinformationeasytofindduringplay.  Readingtheoriginalhardcoverbookswaslikehavingaone-on-one   conversationwithGary.Theywerecharmingbutnotmuchhelpwhena   questionaroseinthemiddleofabattle.   Whenwegotthegreenlighttostartworkingon2ndEdition,thefirst  thingIdidwasgrabsparecopiesofthePHBandDMG,slicetheminto   pieces,andstarttapingthembacktogetherthewaytheybelonged.(We    wereworkingonwordprocessorsbythen,ofcourse,butthePHBand   DMGdidntexistinelectronicform.)Itdidnttakelongtofillabig,fat,  3-ringbinderwithclippingsofrulebooks,alltapedtogetherlikesome   insanekidnapper’sransom-notemanifesto.Somematerialfromboth    bookswascombinedintoonesection,somematerialthathadbeen    joinedwassplitbetweenthebooks,somesectionsweretornapart  sentencebysentenceandreassembledinmorelogicalorder.Itwas   terriblytediouswork,butitwasalsosomethingIdwantedtodofora   decade.  Thepointofthisexercisewasntreallytoreorganizethebooks;thatwas   done(eventually)withamassiveoutlinethatstretcheddownthewall  andacrosstheflooronaboutadozensheetsofaccordion-foldpaper.The   giantcut-and-pastewasdonetodemonstratetothoseupthechainof   authoritythatthejobwastoobigtobehandledbyasimple   reorganiza   tion,whichiswha   tsomeofthemwerehopingforatthetime.  Throughthewhole2ndEditiondevelopmentprocess,thegoalwastoput  everythingtheplayersneededintothePHBandeverythingelseintothe   DMG.Playersneededtherulesoncreatingandequippingcharacters,on   magic,andoncombat.TheDMneededtherulesonworldbuilding,  runningadventures,andallthelittlethingsthatcropupoftenenoughto   needrulesbutnotoftenenoughtodeservespaceinthePHB.  

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