"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. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      It looks like they had a kickstarter project that was due in 2014, but still have not delivered. It also looks like they have not been communicating with backers... at least not very well.

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...cible-overlord

      I didn't back this project. Maybe backer can give a more complete answer. Read some of the comments on the project...


      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      Can someone summarize the issue with Judge's Guild?
    1. Sqn Cdr Flashheart's Avatar
      Sqn Cdr Flashheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      Can someone summarize the issue with Judge's Guild?
      A standard KS fail, so far. Lots of money earned, lots promised, very very late (ETA Dec 14). I don't really remember specifics, but I've still not got anything but a few maps in PDF. Maybe we'll see the stuff, maybe not. At least they are giving (EDIT: sorta) regular updates.
    1. vogless's Avatar
      vogless -
      That about sums it up.

      JG out, I'm back in!
    1. heptat's Avatar
      heptat -
      That JG kickstarter campaign is exactly the sort of thing I would've backed...glad I somehow missed that one

      This Red Box KS campaign is on my radar now, so will definitely get my money...
    1. Inchoroi's Avatar
      Inchoroi -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sqn Cdr Flashheart View Post
      A standard KS fail, so far. Lots of money earned, lots promised, very very late (ETA Dec 14). I don't really remember specifics, but I've still not got anything but a few maps in PDF. Maybe we'll see the stuff, maybe not. At least they are giving (EDIT: sorta) regular updates.
      Jeez. And I thought the Exalted 3e Kickstarter was bad...
    1. ddaley's Avatar
      ddaley -
      When I back a kickstarter project, I understand that the project may fail for any reason. Even if it delivers, it may not live up to the hype. So, take the old gambling advice: don't back for more than you can afford to lose. With that being said. I have received a lot of great products from kickstarter campaigns.
    1. guachi's Avatar
      guachi -
      I feel those who are reticent to back a Kickstarter with lots of money. I have to have lots of faith to pony up more than about $40 for a KS. Luckily, all have come through, even the Mystery Science Theater 3000 KS I backed for $4,000 and that turned out to be even better than I could have hoped for.

      With this Kickstarter we have talents proven to provide quality product on a deadline. The worst thing I can think of is that age becomes a factor. Mentzer is 67 and Elmore is 69, for example.
    1. DuBeers's Avatar
      DuBeers -
      Quote Originally Posted by tenkar View Post
      (...) this is the best solution where he keeps control of the IP and the integrity of the KS.
      Agreed. Be wary of letting others have control of your stuff.
    1. DuBeers's Avatar
      DuBeers -
      Quote Originally Posted by ddaley View Post
      I have received a lot of great products from kickstarter campaigns.
      As have I. I've backed 9 projects, I've received what I was promised all 9 times. I'm not a giant fan of KS, but I take the same tack as you, I only "gamble" what I feel I can lose.
    1. Vampyr3's Avatar
      Vampyr3 -
      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.
      I'd say follow here - https://plus.google.com/+FrankMentzer

      or Here - https://www.facebook.com/frank.mentzer (Which is where the quotes at the end of this "article" comes from (And not sourced)
    1. trancejeremy's Avatar
      trancejeremy -
      I'm skeptical how "Red Box" compatible this could possibly be.

      While the core of the rules was similar to AD&D (or OD&D for that matter), it has a lot of differences as well. Things like race as class meant you didn't have things like half elves (or half-orcs). The monsters were subtly different and the planar structure was completely different. You didn't have devils or demons or anything like that (until the Immortals set where they were meant to be opponents for Immortal characters). Not to much in the basic Red Box, but later boxes supported very, very high level play and very high magic, basically every magic-user (wizard) that was able to brew potions was immortal because potions of longevity didn't have the gotcha as in AD&D

      All these things were reflected in the setting for Basic D&D, The Known World/Mystara, and made it a fairly different place than the worlds for AD&D.
    1. Emirikol_Prime's Avatar
      Emirikol_Prime -
      Quote Originally Posted by trancejeremy View Post
      I'm skeptical how "Red Box" compatible this could possibly be.

      While the core of the rules was similar to AD&D (or OD&D for that matter), it has a lot of differences as well. Things like race as class meant you didn't have things like half elves (or half-orcs). The monsters were subtly different and the planar structure was completely different. You didn't have devils or demons or anything like that (until the Immortals set where they were meant to be opponents for Immortal characters). Not to much in the basic Red Box, but later boxes supported very, very high level play and very high magic, basically every magic-user (wizard) that was able to brew potions was immortal because potions of longevity didn't have the gotcha as in AD&D

      All these things were reflected in the setting for Basic D&D, The Known World/Mystara, and made it a fairly different place than the worlds for AD&D.

      Pretty sure the father of the red box will figure out what you're missing.



      Sent from my iPhone using EN World mobile app
    1. Mouseferatu's Avatar
      Mouseferatu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Emirikol_Del'Tessain View Post
      Pretty sure the father of the red box will figure out what you're missing.
      That's stepfather, and Tom Moldvay would like a word with you.
    1. Emirikol_Prime's Avatar
      Emirikol_Prime -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mouseferatu View Post
      That's stepfather, and Tom Moldvay would like a word with you.
      I mean the good version.


      Sent from my iPhone using EN World mobile app
    1. Yaarel -
      I quote this from a thread elsewhere.



      Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
      The Mentzer Basic set, which actually WAS D&D doesn't deal with gods at all. And that product was the highest selling RPG product of all time.

      "In D&D games, as in real life, people had ethical and theological beliefs. This game does not deal with those beliefs. All characters are assumed to have them, and they do not affect the game."

      "A cleric is a human character dedicated to a great and worthy cause. This cause is usually the cleric's Alignment."

      Yeah, Immortals became a part of the game with the Immortals set (which didn't sell nearly as much and so was, de facto, not a part of most games) and were added to the Known World in Gazetteers. But D&D, actual D&D as opposed to AD&D, expressly eschewed gods.

      And even when it did add gods (or Immortals...) there was no assumed default of a cleric serving a particular god. So from at least 1981 to the games demise 15 years later D&D (actual D&D and not AD&D) that's the way the game was. I don't own a copy of Holmes D&D so I don't know if that assumption dates back further.


      Does this mean that the 5e ‘Mentzer Red Box’ Empyrea setting will be nonpolytheistic too?

      If so, a setting and a rule set for 5e that was built from the ground up without imposing idolatry or polytheism would be valuable to me.
    1. Mark Taylor's Avatar
      Mark Taylor -
      While on the one hand I am glad this is seeing some 'official' love again, I think the direction they are taking may not be the most lucrative. In my own home-brewed version of the Forgotten Realms (which I have dubbed my "Misbegotten Realms"), I had placed in on the Sword Coast (of course, I moved the sword coast over to the Dragonreach, but thats another story). It was good placement, if I do say so m'self. I plan a series of conversion-modules for old TSR stuff for the DM's Guild, porting it into the 5th edition Realms, and one possible project was to move Egg of Phoenix into the Utter East (its the only place I could possibly put it, not really disturb anything, and it still be considered 'Faerûn').

      I might want to contact Mr. Mentzer - I think this could be a good thing, but it won't get the traction it deserves unless its incorporated into the 5e 'Core' setting, which is FR. I might also want to re-post the maps I did for this, when I placed it in my own version of the Sword coast, just to 'generate buzz'. Perhaps include an 'adaption' for the FR setting? Still, fans tend to steer clear of 'generic' (not setting-specific) material, for some odd reason. The timing would be perfect -except for some very rudimentary 'connections' established in the original material, it was never actually developed for GH (which is what this thread is all about - he's finally getting around to it). Given that, and the fact that FR itself has just undergone a massive, in-setting 'retcon' (The geography was changed once again by 'The Sundering', which 'swapped regions between worlds'), so adding anything to that setting couldn't be easier ATM.

      I guess what I am saying is, if you are going to put this much effort into something, at least get paid for your work. Except for some grognards, people aren't really buying anything associated with GH anymore.
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