"Red Box" Developer Frank Mentzer To Produce Empyrea Setting For D&D
  • "Red Box" Developer Frank Mentzer To Produce Empyrea Setting For D&D


    Some great news for Greyhawk fans! Frank Mentzer, who designed the 1983 edition D&D Basic Set (known as the "Red Box") along with its sequels, co-wrote The Temple of Elemental Evil with Gary Gygax, and more, is to launch a Kickstarter soon for a 5th Edition and Red Box compatible region of a continent east of the well-known Greyhawk setting, known as the realm of Empyrea, a continent described in the adventure Egg of the Phoenix in 1987. He is working with Ted Fauster (World of Faerel), and is inviting famous artists of that era of D&D to join the project, such as Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, and Erol Otus. He's doing this based on written permission from Gary Gygax dating back to 1981.




    Here's the full announcement from Frank Mentzer:

    Historic Dungeons & Dragons® Campaign Returns
    Loxley, Madison WI, August 11 2017

    Legendary game designer Frank Mentzer, famed for his worldwide version of the Dungeons & Dragons® game, has teamed with fiction author Ted Fauster to revisit one of the earliest known D&D® fantasy worlds. The game continues to be one of the most popular of all time, and Mentzer’s version is still available in fourteen languages, on every continent.

    In 1981, Mentzer was given written permission from E. Gary Gygax (co-author of the original game in 1974) to establish and develop this little-known portion of Oerth, one of the game’s original settings. This new realm of Empyrea has a 40-year history (starting with simple materials from Judges Guild) and is still actively used. The artist Darlene, who painted Gary’s maps in his 1980 product, will create similar maps for this one. Other famous artists of that era -- including Caldwell, Dee, Diesel, Easley, Elmore, Holloway, Jaquays, and Otus -- are being invited to join the project.

    Empyrea is on the mysterious and isolated continent of Aquaria, east of Gygax’s World of Greyhawk™ setting. Until now, knowledge of this portion of the world has remained largely a mystery, as the broad and dangerous Solnor ocean separates the two. The continent is briefly described in the Advanced D&D® adventure “Egg of the Phoenix” (Mentzer & Jaquays, TSR Inc., 1987).

    “It’s time to share this Dungeons & Dragons® world with hobby gamers,” Mentzer says. “Unlike others, Gary approved this personally. Empyrea combines both traditional fantasy and science fiction elements. Magic is dominant, but technology lurks. And it’s one Realm… this isn’t a cluster of medieval city-states like Greyhawk.”

    Author Ted Fauster has accepted the role of Creative Aide, which was Mentzer’s original title when he worked with Gygax at TSR in the 1980s.Mentzer and Darlene will finance the set through crowdfunding, with support from Judges Guild. It will be compatible with the most recent Fifth Edition D&D® game (D&D 5E) as well as Mentzer’s own world-famous "Red Box" edition of the game.

    An official start date for the Kickstarter will be announced shortly after the GenCon® 50 Game Convention in August.

    For More Information, contact:
    Loxley LLC
    Mentzer: LoxleyKey@gmail.com
    Fauster : ted@tedfauster.com

    (Ownership of trademarks indicated is not disputed)





    In 1987's Egg of the Phoenix, by Mentzer and Paul Jaquays, the PCs save Empyrea from the Lords of Elemental Evil. It was produced for AD&D 1st Edition, and was designed for characters of levels 5-9. Mentzer made a few other comments about the project:

    • "Most artists are responding favorably. All are VERY busy, so we're gonna build around their schedules; a win/win."
    • "I plan to double-stat throughout (won't take much room) and issue free Stat Supplements for other systems, including DCC, S&W, C&C, and even Runequest."
    • "We'll mention Greyhawk in the historical section (just the facts ma'am) but it will not be used in promotion or actual play. Gary wanted it that way."
    • "Aquaria is a continent, Oerid is a continent. Greyhawk is a city in the latter, Empyrea in the former. WotC will receive advance copy of the historical section long before publication, and we anticipate no serious issues. We give them all due credit of ownership, we will not promote use or infract upon Gary's original. This was created before and after my TSR employment, and all I wrote 1980-86 belongs to them. So we'll work around that. But I do have Gary's original handwritten note of approval, and that's a zinger."
    • "We plan zero Stretch Goals. There may be a Deluxe version with special maps & overlays."
    • "Straightforward production project, no stretch. Possibly another 10-50 supplemental products if it's successful, tho (adjacent territories, Colonial play, Post-War play, and a pile of my adventures & others)."
    • "I also want non-English editions; want to work with gamer/fan translators and place it with Euro publishers (avoids all kinds of taxes and stuff). I'll be in touch."

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    Comments 56 Comments
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      The letter from Gygax is more of a marketing thing. Empyrea is a city on the continent of Aquaria located on the same planet (Oerth) as the rest of the Greyhawk. It really matters very little unless you plan to tie them in somehow using place, people, or things already present in GH. Given that all of those are owned by WotC, I anticipate next to no connection with the rest of GH. Essentially, it is cool that EGG said it was part of GH, but it won't be tied in at all.
    1. vogless's Avatar
      vogless -
      Sounds awesome, but I'm not thrilled having any association to the Judges Guild. Lost a lot of money on that KS which looks to never ship.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by vogless View Post
      Sounds awesome, but I'm not thrilled having any association to the Judges Guild. Lost a lot of money on that KS which looks to never ship.
      As far as I'm aware, JG has nothing to do with this Kickstarter.
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      I am definitely in! Can't wait.
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      Is there any way to be notified when the kickstarter goes live? If they know under which kickstarter account this will be created, I could at least follow them. Don't want to miss this... and would like to get in early.
    1. vogless's Avatar
      vogless -
      Mentzer and Darlene will finance the set through crowdfunding, with support from Judges Guild.
    1. vogless's Avatar
      vogless -
      How can they support when they
      Can't deliver their own KS?
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      Yeah. The mention of Judges Guild gives me pause... Hopefully they can clarify what "support" they will be providing.

      Quote Originally Posted by vogless View Post
      Mentzer and Darlene will finance the set through crowdfunding, with support from Judges Guild.
    1. vogless's Avatar
      vogless -
      That being said, Mentzer is one of the Giants. I wish the project well.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by ddaley View Post
      Is there any way to be notified when the kickstarter goes live? If they know under which kickstarter account this will be created, I could at least follow them. Don't want to miss this... and would like to get in early.
      Keep an eye on a popular RPG news website!
    1. Banesfinger -
      Something for my beloved Red Box.... I'm IN!
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      Well, of course. I check this site multiple times per day already. But, any limited pledge levels may sell out quickly!

      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Keep an eye on a popular RPG news website!
    1. DuBeers's Avatar
      DuBeers -
      This is cool! Frank was talking about this at NTRPGCon and I'm glad to see him moving forward with it.
    1. Alzrius's Avatar
      Alzrius -
      Holy crap! Take my money! Take it! TAKE IT!
    1. Winterthorn -
      This is wonderful! I own a copy the original Red Box - a whole BECMI collection actually - and I'm loving 5E, so this is awesome on many levels! :-)
    1. tenkar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      As far as I'm aware, JG has nothing to do with this Kickstarter.
      From my conversation with Frank at NTRPG Con in June, Judges Guild is involved in the project. My understanding was they were handling the KS side, but that wasn't very clear.

      My questions and thoughts were all about the product, not the project.

      Edit - in retrospect, JG involvement may only be in reference to their IP that
      leaked into Frank's campaign. It wasn't really clear, so my assumption may
      be wrong
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by tenkar View Post
      From my conversation with Frank at NTRPG Con in June, Judges Guild is involved in the project. My understanding was they were handling the KS side, but that wasn't very clear.

      My questions and thoughts were all about the product, not the project.

      Edit - in retrospect, JG involvement may only be in reference to their IP that
      leaked into Frank's campaign. It wasn't really clear, so my assumption may
      be wrong
      What do you know, and what do you assume?
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      Well, I'll probably back it regardless. Their level of involvement may influence the level of my "investment" in the project. But, knock on wood, I have been pretty fortunate with the countless projects that I have backed. Even the Marmoreal Tomb, which is WAY behind schedule, still seems to be making progress. I am still quite excited about that one.

      Quote Originally Posted by tenkar View Post
      From my conversation with Frank at NTRPG Con in June, Judges Guild is involved in the project. My understanding was they were handling the KS side, but that wasn't very clear.

      My questions and thoughts were all about the product, not the project.

      Edit - in retrospect, JG involvement may only be in reference to their IP that
      leaked into Frank's campaign. It wasn't really clear, so my assumption may
      be wrong
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Can someone summarize the issue with Judge's Guild?
    1. tenkar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      What do you know, and what do you assume?
      Eh, things change (from the FB thread)

      "JG is not involved with production, in part because of the delays in existing projects. (All that is working out nicely, btw, just late.) This is a Loxley product. And I can't risk screwing up my very first ever Kickstarter, y'know? So I'm getting good advice on all that."

      I'm glad Frank is doing his own KS. The project was shopped around and this is the best solution where he keeps control of the IP and the integrity of the KS.
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