Dragon Talk Interview with Kate Welch re Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Parmandur

Legend
One interesting bit from the interview, one of the folks who works in WotC in Magic was in the Merchant Marine, and Welch had numerous meetings with him to get sea stories that she used in the random tables. She waxed on about how fun making random tables is for her.
 

gyor

Adventurer
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.
The Forgotten Realms is so damn popular that they still won't do a FRCG style book for it to full update the lore for 5e.
 

gyor

Adventurer
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.
That is an interesting idea, I'd support that.
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
It will take more than a frenzied mob of cyberbullies to shut down Mike. He's just stepped away from social media until they find some other target for their vitriol.
That "frenzied mob of cyberbullies" (a) is his customers and (b) included victims of a known harasser who he covered for.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
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.
I’m sensing the anger here isn’t actually about what was said.
 

lkj

Explorer
I guess. Assuming Mearls ever appears again!
He is at GaryCon. There are folks who have tweeted about being at his table. And he even showed up in a picture. So they haven't shut him in a WotC dungeon.

But, yeah, he's staying awfully quiet.

AD
 

epithet

Explorer
That "frenzied mob of cyberbullies" (a) is his customers and (b) included victims of a known harasser who he covered for.
I think (a) is the reason he's remaining quiet, and (b) is not what I saw when I glanced at his twitter page. It appears he believed M when she made her recent statement against Z, but also believed her when she made a statement in his defense before. No victims of Z are clamoring for Mike's head on a platter, at least not that I saw. The people who are clamoring seem for the most part to just be a virtual pitchforks-and-torches mob who don't want to miss an opportunity to be ferociously outraged. Some of them apparently had online arguments with Z, and it seems at this point that most everyone who interacted with him in almost any capacity dislikes the man, but Z's actual victims have made no attacks against Mike that I've seen.

Mike didn't "cover for" anyone. He's a game designer, not a grievance investigator, and I think it's clear in retrospect that investigation should have been handled a lot differently. Still, he did the best he could in the situation he found himself in, and I seriously doubt that anyone with any sense believes that Mike would or could willfully ignore domestic abuse. By any reasonable analysis Mike is an ally, not the enemy.

Anyway, I don't plan to respond more on this topic. I don't want to derail the thread, but I did want to stand up for Mike.
 

epithet

Explorer
I’m sensing the anger here isn’t actually about what was said.
In the context of several years of taking stories and characters from Greyhawk and transplanting them to the Forgotten Realms, Kate's comment that "The Forgotten Realms is just the most popular setting, and that's all there is to it" was a bit grating. I mean, if the FR is so freakin' wonderful, why not dig up its "vintage" story lines to be revisited, hmm? Clearly, there is more to it, since we've now seen Elemental Evil, Against the Giants, Descent into the Depths & Vault of the Drow, Tomb of Horrors & The Forbidden City, and of course Mordenkainen, all repackaged to be FR compatible. If the FR is so great, why are so many of the 5e storylines coming from Greyhawk? No indeed, that's not all there is to it.
 

Volund

Explorer
I doubt there is a big market for Greyhawk, but it might be comparable to the market for Art & Arcana. I just wish they would decide to do something with the setting one way or another - either publish something, hand it over to a 3rd party partner like Goodman Games or Kobold Press, or at least unlock it for DMsGuild developers. Keeping it in limbo won't make anyone happy.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think (a) is the reason he's remaining quiet, and (b) is not what I saw when I glanced at his twitter page. It appears he believed M when she made her recent statement against Z, but also believed her when she made a statement in his defense before. No victims of Z are clamoring for Mike's head on a platter, at least not that I saw. The people who are clamoring seem for the most part to just be a virtual pitchforks-and-torches mob who don't want to miss an opportunity to be ferociously outraged. Some of them apparently had online arguments with Z, and it seems at this point that most everyone who interacted with him in almost any capacity dislikes the man, but Z's actual victims have made no attacks against Mike that I've seen.

Mike didn't "cover for" anyone. He's a game designer, not a grievance investigator, and I think it's clear in retrospect that investigation should have been handled a lot differently. Still, he did the best he could in the situation he found himself in, and I seriously doubt that anyone with any sense believes that Mike would or could willfully ignore domestic abuse. By any reasonable analysis Mike is an ally, not the enemy.

Anyway, I don't plan to respond more on this topic. I don't want to derail the thread, but I did want to stand up for Mike.
I really need you to stop dismissing victims of a known harasser as "a virtual pitchforks-and-torches mob". You can discuss the topic with resorting to insults. Thank you.
 
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guachi

Villager
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.
It's like they want to have their cake and eat it, too. Play upon nostalgia of old adventures and old monsters but not do the actual work of caring about their own 40-year history.

"We don't care" is the WOTC philosophy.

If you don't care about your company's own history, stop strip-mining it for lazy rehashes.
 
It's like they want to have their cake and eat it, too. Play upon nostalgia of old adventures and old monsters but not do the actual work of caring about their own 40-year history.

"We don't care" is the WOTC philosophy.

If you don't care about your company's own history, stop strip-mining it for lazy rehashes.
Ford can care about it's history without relaunching the Model T.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Based on the Spoilers & Swag on Twitch from last night, Mike Schley has done the map of the town of Saltmarsh, but the various floorplans are done by Dyson Logos in a style similar to the Waterdeep APs. They shared some of the maps, they look good.
 

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