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General For the Love of Greyhawk: Why People Still Fight to Preserve Greyhawk

Cosigned! I was playing and running Dark Sun when it first came out, but I never liked the psionics system.

That would be awesome, give me that please! I find DS very interesting, but i despise psionics.

Greyhawk, beloved of grognards, is harder nut to crack. If the Folio is the only true Greyhawk product, that practically doesn't even need an update, as it's scant on rules. If you get as far as the boxed set, well, then why not include the Ashes era? Where does the one true Greyhawk end? There are certainly lots of people from 3e that have fond memories of Living Greyhawk that wouldn't care for everything from that being tossed out. Likewise the grognards that would rankle at anything after 1983. It's possibly a no-win situation they'd be entering into.

I say all this as someone that loves Greyhawk, mind you. I'd pick up a 5e Greyhawk book in a heartbeat. I think Wizards could create a product that respects all eras of Greyhawk while evoking the core feel of the world. But compared to more active products lines like Forgotten Realms, MtG, Wildemount, Eberron, even I have to admit that it's a dusty setting. Ghosts of Saltmarsh currently sits at #33 in D&D sales on Amazon, while its bookends, Avernus at #25, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage at #29, both outrank it. The older Curse of Strahd, Dragon Heist, Tales of the Yawning Portal, and Tomb of Annihilation all outrank it.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
This isn't an argument for how to preserve Greyhawk, it's an argument how to grow the setting into greater prominence among younger gamers.

It's an interesting question- my preference would be to tack hard into things that make it different; I personally would go hard into the Swords & Sorcery ethos, and probably have rules for spell-less Paladins and Rangers (for example) and lean heavily on the martial/magic distinction. That could be interesting!

But in the end, all that matters is that someone who cares created something good. The rest follows.

Oh, and no Bards. Because Greyhawk might be many things, but it is Bard-free. Bards just don't get it, we have to keep Greyhawk copacetic, Realms lovers try to deny it, but we know that Bards are so pathetic.
 

I think you missed the boat on answering your own question. Good post, but I think you failed to answer this primary question;
Why is it that every discussion about an "updated" Greyhawk is met with roughly the same level of vitriol as someone saying
Here you start to touch on what I think is underlying the answer to your question;
But here's the thing- early D&D, and AD&D especially, were defined by Greyhawk.
And you actually touch on one aspects;
They do not want a campaign setting that incorporates other settings ... because. They do not want everything told to them. They want the blank spaces to fill in.
But, you failed to address at all what I think is the major cause of these knee jerk reactions and the volume of resistance and disagreement.

People who love Greyhawk love their memories and attachments to a joyful time 30+ years ago. Sure, they may still be playing in that world, but it is one they traveled to decades ago, that were part of their youth, that in part shaped who they are.

Let's try and think of it like this;
If you have moved away from where you grew up, and have lived longer in a house or place other than you grew up in, you can go home again, but it is never the same home you left. You have changed, your memories are those of a youth, of a different you, they no longer reflect the reality of what was, only of what you remember.

I have a fond attachment to Greyhawk, and especially the Barrier Peaks and the Dale, but I have not gone back there, because it would not be the same as I remember. Even if I used the sources I used/played then, it would be different than I remember. It would be an emotional pain to realize those memories are in same way false.

For those who played in GH 3 decades ago, a new GH, will have an emotional disconnect from what is in our hearts and minds. Any thing new will not fit with what we believe and will challenge emotionally held beliefs about a time and place from our memories and fantasies. Their is such resistance to anything new because of the strong emotional attachment that is at the core of our being.

To have it re-written is to allow someone to violate our self-identity.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
For those who played in GH 3 decades ago, a new GH, will have an emotional disconnect from what is in our hearts and minds. Any thing new will not fit with what we believe and will challenge emotionally held beliefs about a time and place from our memories and fantasies. Their is such resistance to anything new because of the strong emotional attachment that is at the core of our being.

The issue with your framing is that there are many people that have continued to use the 1980 and 1983 sets as the source of their campaign settings .... for the decades since then.

Sure, the past might be a foreign country, but the most vociferous objectors are often the people with most familiarity- those that continue to run 1e or retroclones in Greyhawk.

I don't think your explanation fully covers it.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
It's an interesting question- my preference would be to tack hard into things that make it different; I personally would go hard into the Swords & Sorcery ethos, and probably have rules for spell-less Paladins and Rangers (for example) and lean heavily on the martial/magic distinction. That could be interesting!

But in the end, all that matters is that someone who cares created something good. The rest follows.

Oh, and no Bards. Because Greyhawk might be many things, but it is Bard-free. Bards just don't get it, we have to keep Greyhawk copacetic, Realms lovers try to deny it, but we know that Bards are so pathetic.
This might be because I just finished up Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, but leaning into the gritty of the setting would be pretty interesting. Magic is truly rare, only the elves and powerful archmages can do any true magic. The Circle of Eight is half fairy tale, half bogeymen.
 

I'm sorry, but it seems the demographics are no longer with you on this one.

Let us review: (WotC - Comparing EN World's Demographics to the D&D Community's)

As you noted, Greyhawk material was already waning by 1985 - that was 35 years ago. That means that Greyhawk fans are generally in the 40+ age category... which seems to be around 11% of the current D&D player base.

Greyhawk fans may be vocal, but they no longer hold dominance of gaming's economic pie. It hardly makes sense to put such resources to a project targeting them, considering how critical you note they are.
Yes we are vocals. But I don't want WoTC to be the publisher. Let them open GH to the DM Guild and let's see what the fans will make.
Yes GH waned after 1985. It was hard for TSR to make GH be Forgotten (pun intended) as anything still related to GG would only bring sourness. Though I did like From the Ashes and the following products. The third edition ones were... well... were not made on par with what FR had been entitled too. It is almost as if the grudge against GG was still living in the corridors of WoTC. Without new products in the 4ed era, and none in 5ed, GH is doomed to die when the old grognards like me fade away.

I maybe one of the rare grognards that would like new material to be in Greyhawk. Dragonborns are cool so are Tieflings. I did incorporated them in my campaign and I can tell you that it was really easy to do. The "Canon" thing is both good and bad. A setting must evolve if you want it to live and grow. WIth the treatment GH suffered, it is a miracle that it is still talked about today. If "Canon" means that things are set in stones, then it is not good news for those that love the setting. We have to evolve and adapt. Not everything should be thrown down the drain, but finding a right balance will be a bit harder that some here might think.

Maybe a simple adaptation or just enhancing on the other part of the continent, the lands west of the deserts are worth exploring.

I would simply adapt NPCs from From the Ashes (even 3ed might be good...) and start expanding GH into the western lands.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
This might be because I just finished up Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, but leaning into the gritty of the setting would be pretty interesting. Magic is truly rare, only the elves and powerful archmages can do any true magic. The Circle of Eight is half fairy tale, half bogeymen.

TAKE MY MONEY!
 

jasper

Rotten DM
To me Greyhawk always struck me as a base model which you permission to be your own cook. Don't like gnomes, then gnomes don't exist in your Greyhawk. And your players accepted what you cooked and placed before them.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
You Gotta Fight...For Your RIght...to Greyhawk!



Pictured L to R:
Gryrax, Yagrax, and Zagig Yragerne.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Would a boxed set of a bunch of high quality maps (with a digital key to go with them) and a nicely illustrated book of the famous NPCs be a seller?
 


Wishbone

Paladin Radmaster
The pattern for setting books seem to be having content that can be ported to people's games regardless of if they choose to run the setting. Greyhawk already seems to have been stripped for parts and put into baseline D&D—most of what I knew about Greyhawk came from NPC's like Iggwilv and Vecna which got pulled from the setting and genericized in recent editions.

What sort of mechanics and player-facing options would Greyhawk offer as a hook for people who don't have exposure to it? Make it the swords and sorcery world with more gritty rulesets? If the setting helped form the assumptions of baseline D&D then it seems like the justification to publishing more material is to increase the exposure of a setting most people who learned to play in the last few editions are only dimly familiar with.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The pattern for setting books seem to be having content that can be ported to people's games regardless of if they choose to run the setting. Greyhawk already seems to have been stripped for parts and put into baseline D&D—most of what I knew about Greyhawk came from NPC's like Iggwilv and Vecna which got pulled from the setting and genericized in recent editions.

What sort of mechanics and player-facing options would Greyhawk offer as a hook for people who don't have exposure to it? Make it the swords and sorcery world? If the setting helped form the assumptions of baseline D&D then it seems like the justification to publishing more material is to increase the exposure of a setting most people who learned to play in the last few editions are only dimly familiar with.

Great questions!

1. Include a Rogue's Gallery of, well, famous characters from the past; you can use the 1e Rogue's Gallery as a starting point.

2. Include a variant artifact table, with artifacts from the 1e DMG.

3. Provide mechanical options for swords & sorcery, gritty play- increase mechanical options for martial classes, more limited spellcasting. Basically a way to "fine tune" your world to more gritty and S&S by default.

4. And the updated bells & whistles (Suel Monks, Greyhawk panetheon, etc.).


But that's just one way of doing it; there are many others. I could see someone doing a good job in the other direction by upping the "gonzo" factor and using Barrier Peaks and the Boot Hill / Gamma World crossovers to make Greyhawk a real "cross roads" type of setting.
 

The pattern for setting books seem to be having content that can be ported to people's games regardless of if they choose to run the setting. Greyhawk already seems to have been stripped for parts and put into baseline D&D—most of what I knew about Greyhawk came from NPC's like Iggwilv and Vecna which got pulled from the setting and genericized in recent editions.

What sort of mechanics and player-facing options would Greyhawk offer as a hook for people who don't have exposure to it? Make it the swords and sorcery world with more gritty rulesets? If the setting helped form the assumptions of baseline D&D then it seems like the justification to publishing more material is to increase the exposure of a setting most people who learned to play in the last few editions are only dimly familiar with.

I only played Greyhawk in one campaign. It was boring and generic. Even the Realms are pretty generic but I just couldnt get into Greyhawk. There wasnt anything that set it apart as far as rules. At least FR has wild and dead magic for example.
 

Sure, the past might be a foreign country, but the most vociferous objectors are often the people with most familiarity- those that continue to run 1e or retroclones in Greyhawk.
Which I tried to, briefly, address here;
Sure, they may still be playing in that world, but it is one they traveled to decades ago, that were part of their youth, that in part shaped who they are.
As for;
I don't think your explanation fully covers it.
Absolutely agree, I was already less concise than I wanted so I left it where I did.

In short, to me to resistance is not about 'accuracy' or 'canon' or anything else. It's about emotional attachment to a time and place that only exists in each person's/group's heart.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
They could open up Greyhawk on the DM Guild.

I personally think they should open up on DM's Guild all the older settings they plan to do nothing with in the next 5 years.

Great questions!

1. Include a Rogue's Gallery of, well, famous characters from the past; you can use the 1e Rogue's Gallery as a starting point.

2. Include a variant artifact table, with artifacts from the 1e DMG.

3. Provide mechanical options for swords & sorcery, gritty play- increase mechanical options for martial classes, more limited spellcasting. Basically a way to "fine tune" your world to more gritty and S&S by default.

4. And the updated bells & whistles (Suel Monks, Greyhawk panetheon, etc.).

Agree on:
  • NPCs/Rogues gallery
  • Artifacts
  • Subclasses that reflect "Greyhawkiness"

Don't care much about S&S mechanics.

But would also add:
  • Gazeteer. Take the 1e Gazeteer (looking at my folio right now), and double the content
  • Pantheon
  • Dig deeper into spells, especially those created by legendary Greyhawk NPCs like Bigby; as well as new NPCs.
  • Lots of new awesome art - this is the biggest part of the budget and is what requires someone like WotC's resources.
  • Reprint of Darlene's Map at .7m x 1m AS WELL AS a modern updated map by one of our modern cartographers, such as Jonathan Roberts (created the Westeros map)
  • Intro adventure, for 1-3rd level characters.
Of course, that's basically a setting book just like Wildemount or Eberron.
 

Mistwell

Legend
I'm sorry, but it seems the demographics are no longer with you on this one.

Let us review: (WotC - Comparing EN World's Demographics to the D&D Community's)

As you noted, Greyhawk material was already waning by 1985 - that was 35 years ago. That means that Greyhawk fans are generally in the 40+ age category... which seems to be around 11% of the current D&D player base.

Greyhawk fans may be vocal, but they no longer hold dominance of gaming's economic pie. It hardly makes sense to put such resources to a project targeting them, considering how critical you note they are.

Their kids are now often hitting their 20s and are primary players of this game. It's the combination of the older original generation and the youngest new generation which encapsulates a desire for a new Greyhawk. The youngsters have been hearing about it since they started playing from their parents.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
In short, to me to resistance is not about 'accuracy' or 'canon' or anything else. It's about emotional attachment to a time and place that only exists in each person's/group's heart.

I didn't mean to be dismissive- I think nostalgia plays some part of it; nothing that is ever released will replace those carefree moments of youth, or those early loves, or the time you had the Cars' debut album playing on the hi-fi as you were spelunking through G3.

But I don't think it's just nostalgia. 5e has mined a lot of D&D's past and, for the most part, it's been okay. A lot of the old guard has returned and played it. I think that the specific issues I outline w/r/t Greyhawk, play a large part as well. I think that there's a general lack of trust.

I think people worry that WoTC will just use it as another Realms- and that's not what people (or the old fans) want. I'd prefer a fresh take than turning it into another generic fantasy setting.

Again, IMO.
 

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