Luke Gygax Q&A
For those that haven’t heard the news, Luke and Ernie Gygax, in association with Jayson Elliot, Tim Kask, James Carpio, and Jim Wampler, now own the trademark for TSR. They are launching a new magazine. Luke Gygax kindly agreed to answer Clash’s questions about the project.
Clash: Would you describe the new TSR as a resurrection of the old company or as a new company altogether?
Luke: TSR is a brand new company that has no ties to the one acquired by Wizards of the Coast in the 1990’s. The trademark was abandoned and inactive for the better part of a decade. We registered the trademark in 2011 and it is now active again with the debut issue of Gygax Magazine in December, 2012.
Clash: To many long time gamers, the TSR name is associated with a classic era of gaming. To those who are only familiar with the company from the years after your father left, the name may not have such good connotations. Does this concern you? What is it about the TSR name that makes you want to use it again? Are you hoping to recapture a lost era?
Luke: I think it is good to have a company called TSR active in the gaming community again. I want to make it abundantly clear – this is a brand new company that is unaffiliated with the old TSR, Inc that my Dad founded in the 1970s and that was acquired by WoTC in the 1990’s. I am not concerned about associations whether negative or positive with TSR. It’s a nod to the past, but that TSR is long gone. We will succeed or fail on the quality of the product we bring to the market as a new company.
Clash: Will we be seeing TSR officer in Lake Geneva again?
Luke: Will you see a TSR officer in Lake Geneva? Sure my brother Ernie still lives in beautiful Lake Geneva, WI. If you meant to ask about a TSR office* – well there are no plans to open up an office in Lake Geneva at this time.
*We did mean to ask about a TSR office (D’oh!)
Clash: I’ve read over at Gamers & Grognards that Gygax Magazine will be a “reflection of the play style that Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Luke Gygax grew up with.” Could you describe that style?
Luke: The style we grew up with is definitely Old School. Obviously my brother’s experience is rooted more in the OD&D of 1973 and my experience is based in AD&D of the late 70’s and early 80’s. We gamed primarily with our father either daring the depths of the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk or play testing scenarios that were soon to be iconic modules (e.g. Against the Giants, Descent into the Depths, Barrier Peaks, Tsjocanth etc.). However our style and perspectives were also shaped by interactions with others through RPGs (Prof. Muhammad Abd-Al-Rahman Barker, Rob Kuntz and many others) as well as miniature and board gaming too. I think that I can speak for Ernie and I when I say that our style focuses on the adventure and less on the mechanics of the system when role playing. Players need to be challenged, they need to think and use a sound strategy when faced with an encounter. Rash and foolhardy actions will most likely bring dire consequences.
Luke: The new TSR is not planning on developing yet another rule system. Personally, I think there are enough rule systems out there now for us to choose from. The system is certainly a contributing factor to the overall game experience, but I would argue that it is not the most important one. The ability of the GM to tell a good story and balance that with action is what makes for a fun gaming session. TSR’s first endeavor is Gygax Magazine because we thought that would be a great way to interact with a broad spectrum of gamers immediately. Gygax Magazine is about Gaming! Tim Kask puts it like this, “We intend to salute the roots while taking special notice of the best new shoots.” We are going to deliver a high quality product that will be the new old school in gaming.
Clash: There are some in the industry who do not believe print magazines are viable. Clearly you disagree! Why do you think the market can support a new gaming mag?
Luke: No question about it, print media is in the decline overall. Making Gygax Magazine viable will require us to consistently produce high quality material that the readers find interesting and useful to them. Gygax magazine will be available in digital and print format because many gamers prefer to have their game material in electrons. I am an old curmudgeon and I still prefer to have physical books and magazines in my hands. I guess I enjoy the tactile sensation of turning the pages and looking at the artwork. I think that there are a significant amount of people like me that will support a print magazine if it delivers quality to them. Gygax Magazine will also need to show the industry that we appeal to a large segment of the gaming community and that it is worth their hard earned dollars to advertise in GM. It will take time for us to gain trust and establish our reputation. In order to bridge that gap we may consider generating capitol directly through crowd funding.
Clash: Your father, founder and creator of TSR, lost control of the company under what must have been very sad circumstances for you and the rest of the family. Do you feel a sense that you are setting things right by restoring TSR? A sense of justice?
Luke: No. That is something that happened decades in the past. I have made my own way in the world and I don’t waste precious time and energy on something I can’t change. I am taking part in Gygax Magazine because I want to be a proponent for the positive aspects of gaming. It is a great way for me personally to reconnect with my Dad since we spent a great deal of time together at the gaming table.
Clash: Finally, my most important question. As a military man, can you tell us how many Melf’s Acid Arrows it would take to bring down a M1 Abrams tank? (Clash note: Melf was one of Luke’s player characters.)
Luke: Great question! I noted above that players need to use strategy and not be foolhardy right? Well this is one of those situations where you need to really consider all the ramifications of attempting to take on an M1 with spells. Melf’s Acid Arrow has a 3” range and takes 4 segments to cast. An M1 has a range of over 300” and it can fire a 155mm projectile every segment. Evocation is probably not the best course of action here. I think it would be a better use of a second level spell to cast invisibility and maneuver closer to the M1. Then you have some better options like close combat (I’m not sure what the armor class adjustment would be for longsword versus IOTV though) or even better use a Sleep spell to incapacitate the crew members and seize the device!
Clash: Thanks for agreeing to answer questions for Clash of Echoes.
Luke: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to “talk” with you about our new project.
(Clash note: The position of the Gygax Family Estate has been made clear in this thread at ENworld. The estate is not involved with TSR or Gygax Magazine. Gail Gygax continues to raise money for a statue honouring her late husband, and clash readers are urged to visit the Memorial Fund website to make a donation.)