Dragon Talk Interview with Kate Welch re Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Volund

Explorer
Today's Dragon Talk podcast interview with Kate Welch, lead designer of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, offered a few more nuggets about this upcoming release. I pre-ordered GoS so I'm eager for any specifics about it. Some of this may be common knowledge, but here are some highlights that were new information for me.

Kobold Press was responsible for updating the old adventures to 5e.

The port city of Saltmarsh gets its own chapter. Best exchange of the podcast: "So what can you tell me about the town of Saltmarsh? ...Well, Saltmarsh is a pretty s#!tty place." There are different crime families and enterprises that are vying for control over Saltmarsh as well as law-abiding sailors. There will be "plenty of colorful new NPC's."

There will be stat blocks for ships, which we already got in the UA Of Ships and the Sea, and also more robust rules for underwater adventures than are found in the DMG.

For me, the most interesting part of the interview was about Greyhawk. If you are a fan of Greyhawk, and were hoping that GoS was a sign that WotC will be devoting a future release to exploring this legacy setting, Kate Welch's cavalier attitude about Greyhawk will break your heart. If her comments reflect the overall philosophy of the D&D team (aside from Mike Mearls) then we won't be seeing any Greyhawk updates ever.

Kate Welch: I saw a little bit of sadness in the community that it isn't a pure Greyhawk book, ha ha, and I know that Greyhawk has a ton of fans and a lot of fondness and nostalgia. I will say that Saltmarsh originally was a town from Greyhawk and we have extricated it from that setting and made it agnostic so you can put it in whatever setting. However, we have lots of little nods in there still to fans of Greyhawk who are excited about aspects of it. I think Tharizdun is a Greyhawk deity that we've got, and there is an adventure that has to do with him, so if you want to set this in Greyhawk this will be a wonderful time for you to do that and please feel free. But since so many people in 5e have been setting their campaigns in the Forgotten Realms, we didn't want them to feel that, "this is a book that is not useful for me"...
Until we actually do a robust Greyhawk setting book which - who knows - then it just makes more sense [to have agnostic settings] because like I said there is just so much FR campaigning that's going on in 5e that we want to make sure that everybody feels like they have stuff that is exciting to them in these books...
But I honestly don't know much about Greyhawk either...
It's easy to find people who are running in those vintage settings, so if it's something that's exciting to you those resources are definitely available. I don't know how much Greyhawk material is on the DMsGuild but that's probably where I would start looking if I wanted to find Fifth Edition old Greyhawk stuff, like if the Saltmarsh just wets your palette and you want to know more about that setting then you can definitely get out there and find stuff.

Greg Tito: You don't need to go in with a lot of lore or setting knowledge to enjoy D&D. I think there is a portion of the audience who enjoys that sort of stuff, and I am one of those people, but at the table it is not really necessary. I think the philosophy for 5e has been that from the get go, it's been like here's the setting of Forgotten Realms but you can do it anywhere.

Kate: That's partially because we wanted 5e to be more new-player friendly, and also that having a barrier to playing D&D, and that barrier being you have to know a lot about the history and the lore, that's a gate. That's not something that a lot of people have time for or even interest in, so the idea of gating anything behind this sort of vintage knowledge, certainly knowledge that I don't have, so if that had been a requirement of this job I definitely wouldn't have been sitting here. I did research it. I researched everything. The Forgotten Realms is just the most popular setting, and that's all there is to it.
 

epithet

Explorer
...
For me, the most interesting part of the interview was about Greyhawk. If you are a fan of Greyhawk, and were hoping that GoS was a sign that WotC will be devoting a future release to exploring this legacy setting, Kate Welch's cavalier attitude about Greyhawk will break your heart. If her comments reflect the overall philosophy of the D&D team (aside from Mike Mearls) then we won't be seeing any Greyhawk updates ever.
...
Those comments can be summed up as "I don't know much at all about Greyhawk, but I don't really care because the Forgotten Realms is just much more popular."

Well, no [excrement], Kate. Maybe if your team gave other D&D settings as much support as you've given to a setting from Magic the Card Game, more people would be playing somewhere other than the kitchen sink.
 

lkj

Adventurer
I heard the same interview, and I didn't at all take it that there would never be a Greyhawk book. They've been dropping a lot of Greyhawk references in a lot of different media lately. This was another example. The whole "Until we actually do a robust Greyhawk setting book which - who knows - " struck me as interesting and could be interpreted either way.

This is however a sign that if they are working on Greyhawk material that Kate Welch is not one of the folks on that team.

AD
 
The point is, until they do an adventure that uses plot elements specific to Greyhawk there isn't any commercial reason to make anything that isn't "setting agnostic".

And there is nothing in the Saltmarsh series that is specific to Greyhawk. Indeed it wasn't originally set in Greyhawk at all, it was (rather clumsily) transported to the then-current official setting upon publication.
 

ehenning

Explorer
I heard the same interview, and I didn't at all take it that there would never be a Greyhawk book. They've been dropping a lot of Greyhawk references in a lot of different media lately. This was another example. The whole "Until we actually do a robust Greyhawk setting book which - who knows - " struck me as interesting and could be interpreted either way.

This is however a sign that if they are working on Greyhawk material that Kate Welch is not one of the folks on that team.

AD
Anytime an author (or product manager of any kind) goes out of their way to say “who knows!?” or anything similar, it means they are doing it. I would put money down they are in the middle of development and just don’t want us to forget about Greyhawk. This is all about building demand so when it comes out we all go crazy and buy two copies of the sourcebook each. Haha
 

The Big BZ

Explorer
I have regular contact with close to one hundred D&D players every two weeks between the AL I run and my home game and exactly one of those people is mad keen for Greyhawk. Now I sincerely hope he gets what we wants and I will snap that sh*t up in multiple formats as soon as it drops but I can't blame WotC one little bit for focusing on the other 99 people.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Those comments can be summed up as "I don't know much at all about Greyhawk, but I don't really care because the Forgotten Realms is just much more popular."
That's a really unkind, and uncharitable rewrite of what she said.
 

dave2008

Legend
The disappointing part for me is that she recommends people look on the DM's Guild for Greyhawk material - when such material is specifically excluded from that service. I am always surprised by how unprepared people are. She had to know this topic would come up and to give such an ignorant suggestion is just baffling to me.
 

pkt77242

Explorer
The disappointing part for me is that she recommends people look on the DM's Guild for Greyhawk material - when such material is specifically excluded from that service. I am always surprised by how unprepared people are. She had to know this topic would come up and to give such an ignorant suggestion is just baffling to me.
That isn’t quite accurate. There is a lot of Greyhawk material on DmsGuild, it is just old TSR, WoTC material from prior editions. People can not create new stuff for Greyhawk on the DmsGuild but that doesn’t mean there isn’t material there.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Yep. If you want to play in Greyhawk... all you have to do is click on that little Setting dropdown link on DMs Guild that says 'Greyhawk' and you can get what appears to be 122 separate Greyhawk products with thousands upon thousands of pages of Greyhawk material.

Just because you can't buy "new stuff" yet doesn't matter. You can get Greyhawk if you really want it that bad. So the ignorant statements here aren't coming from Ms. Welch.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Anytime an author (or product manager of any kind) goes out of their way to say “who knows!?” or anything similar, it means they are doing it. I would put money down they are in the middle of development and just don’t want us to forget about Greyhawk. This is all about building demand so when it comes out we all go crazy and buy two copies of the sourcebook each. Haha
This seems to be the most likely interpretation, given what we know of Mearls plans.
 

epithet

Explorer
That's a really unkind, and uncharitable rewrite of what she said.
Respectfully, I think it is fair. She dismissed Greyhawk as a "vintage" setting, in contrast to the Forgotten Realms which Ed began publishing in Dragon in 1979, and which had it's big "Gray Box" release in 1987. Greyhawk was originally published in 1980, and updated as part of the "Living Greyhawk" campaign through 2008. They're both "vintage" settings dating back to TSR. She went on to imply, to my ears anyway, an association between Greyhawk fans and the "gatekeeping" that Mearls made comments about when she was hired, referring to a "barrier" and a "gate" that Greyhawk, or its lore, or its fandom represents.

It is difficult to take her comments as anything other than entirely dismissive of both Greyhawk and its fans. She spoke about Greyhawk lore as something that not a lot of people (including herself) are interested in. She suggested that the Forgotten Realms is more "new-player friendly" as if that is the cause of their abandonment of other settings, not the result of it. Having then spoken about Greyhawk fans, her only comment for them was that she didn't know whether there was much GH material on the DMs Guild, but if she wanted to find "old Greyhawk stuff" that's where she would look.

I think in all fairness paraphrasing her comments the way I did (don't know, don't care, FR is the setting that matters) was giving her the benefit of the doubt. I don't know, but I suspect that she associates Greyhawk with whatever crap she caught when she started working for WotC (I didn't see it, but I saw the conversation here about it.) If that is the case, it would explain her apparent low regard for the setting, and I'm not trying to say that she ought to be a huge Greyhawk fan. It's perfectly fine for her to not like or care about a setting, just like it's fine for Mike to unabashedly love that setting. Ultimately, she did say she didn't know much about Greyhawk, she made it pretty clear that she doesn't care much about Greyhawk, and she went out of her way to point out that the Forgotten Realms is more popular and more useful. It's just what she said.
 
As much as I would love to see an official 5e Greyhawk setting, this. Like, most of the AL people I game with, just want to play D&D. They might have one setting or another that they really like, but most are just more attached to the game. The setting could be Brooklyn, and they'd still be excited to play D&D. New Jersey, on the other hand...maybe not... ;)

I have regular contact with close to one hundred D&D players every two weeks between the AL I run and my home game and exactly one of those people is mad keen for Greyhawk. Now I sincerely hope he gets what we wants and I will snap that sh*t up in multiple formats as soon as it drops but I can't blame WotC one little bit for focusing on the other 99 people.
 

epithet

Explorer
This seems to be the most likely interpretation, given what we know of Mearls plans.
Mearls' recent LYSK on Greyhawk included him saying that he would like to publish a Greyhawk product, but that he doesn't know how to approach it. He said that he might approach the Gygax kids at Garycon to see if they had any ideas. My guess is that he would like to work with Luke to put together something like the Eberron pdf that Keith Baker wrote for them, to be put up on the DMs Guild. If so, that might be something we see in 2020.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Listening to the podcast now: that is not what she or they said. They actually put significant energy into talking up Greyhawk.
 
Respectfully, I think it is fair. She dismissed Greyhawk as a "vintage" setting,
If someone refers to a vintage wine, are they "dismissing" it?

Personally, I would describe Greyhawk as "dated", "unpopular", "barely sketched out" and "badly written", so I would say "vintage" is being far more generous than it deserves.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Respectfully, I think it is fair. She dismissed Greyhawk as a "vintage" setting, in contrast to the Forgotten Realms which Ed began publishing in Dragon in 1979, and which had it's big "Gray Box" release in 1987. Greyhawk was originally published in 1980, and updated as part of the "Living Greyhawk" campaign through 2008. They're both "vintage" settings dating back to TSR. She went on to imply, to my ears anyway, an association between Greyhawk fans and the "gatekeeping" that Mearls made comments about when she was hired, referring to a "barrier" and a "gate" that Greyhawk, or its lore, or its fandom represents.

It is difficult to take her comments as anything other than entirely dismissive of both Greyhawk and its fans. She spoke about Greyhawk lore as something that not a lot of people (including herself) are interested in. She suggested that the Forgotten Realms is more "new-player friendly" as if that is the cause of their abandonment of other settings, not the result of it. Having then spoken about Greyhawk fans, her only comment for them was that she didn't know whether there was much GH material on the DMs Guild, but if she wanted to find "old Greyhawk stuff" that's where she would look.

I think in all fairness paraphrasing her comments the way I did (don't know, don't care, FR is the setting that matters) was giving her the benefit of the doubt. I don't know, but I suspect that she associates Greyhawk with whatever crap she caught when she started working for WotC (I didn't see it, but I saw the conversation here about it.) If that is the case, it would explain her apparent low regard for the setting, and I'm not trying to say that she ought to be a huge Greyhawk fan. It's perfectly fine for her to not like or care about a setting, just like it's fine for Mike to unabashedly love that setting. Ultimately, she did say she didn't know much about Greyhawk, she made it pretty clear that she doesn't care much about Greyhawk, and she went out of her way to point out that the Forgotten Realms is more popular and more useful. It's just what she said.
It sounds like you’re trying really hard to find insult there. You say “It is difficult to take her comments as anything other than entirely dismissive of both Greyhawk and its fans” but I assure you it’s not. I’m doing it right now.
 

dave2008

Legend
That isn’t quite accurate. There is a lot of Greyhawk material on DmsGuild, it is just old TSR, WoTC material from prior editions. People can not create new stuff for Greyhawk on the DmsGuild but that doesn’t mean there isn’t material there.
Thanks for the clarification! Still - no 5e specific content on DMsGuild, but it is not like that is really needed for the most part.
 

Pauln6

Explorer
They should do a series of adventures set in the Baklunish West. That would at least be something new.
 

Advertisement

Top