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

Chaosmancer

Legend
[Piers Anthony



I read Piers Anthony when I was a teen as well, and enjoyed it, but there is a lot of creepy subtext that I missed at the time so that I would not recommend it to my son.

Stuff like:
-relationships between young female teens and much older men (Adept series),
-an obsession with the underwear of female teens (one of the Xanth series is literally called ‘The Colour of her Panties’, but it is constant in Xanth),
- the idea if a young woman is attractive or teasing, a man is exhibiting extraordinary self-control in not sexually assaulting her (Adept series again)

Overall, knowing that a middle-aged man wrote these novels really makes it feel skeevy in retrospect.


Ah, I also read them when I was younger, so I likely missed those as well. Honestly, I don't remember the plots of the novels very well, just some of the big ticket metaphysics ideas.


Um, okay? Your entire attitude here is one of extreme entitlement and false victimhood.

What the flying...

Extreme Entitlement? I'm literally asking what about the setting makes it worth exploring? How can that possibly be entitled? I'm not demanding it gets made or not made, I came to this thread wondering the same question that got asked a dozen times. What is the hook that makes it a setting worth buying?

If I walked into a LFGS... well, I guess in this example it is going to be a LGS and see "New GreyHawk 5e setting" and asked the guy behind the counter "Hey, is this worth buying?" and their responses was "Only if you are a fan of the works of Howard and Morcock and really understand the complexities of Sword and Sorcerery settings" then... well, not buying it. And if the person behind the counter told me I was acting entitled just for asking the question in the first place, well, I'm not shopping at that store anymore.



You've chosen to remain ignorant, and are proud to remain ignorant, and angry (by your own words) that people have suggested maybe you spend a tiny bit of time dealing with that ignorance.

I don't really understand why you don't get it. You demand a seat at the table. You demand you to be taken seriously. You are angry that you're "excluded" just because you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. This is pretty close to peak entitlement. Not sure what else to tell you. It's fine to say "I don't get it", but it's not fine to say stuff like "If u cant explan it 2 me, its dumb stuff 4 dummies", which is basically what you did.

I know you really want to be a victim here, but you're not. You're not "too ignorant to enjoy the setting". You might well enjoy it just fine, just like you did with Eberron. However, you're too ignorant to have a place in arguing about the quality of the setting.

Ah, so my entitlement comes from the position of both acknowleding that I am ignorant (I haven't read those books. Sorry.) and saying that if it is impossible to even explain the setting without that context, which by the way, no one else has had a problem explaining any other setting, then it might have problems.


I mean, truly consider this for a moment.

You want WoTC to see that this is a setting worth selling, but you can't even explain the appeal to someone unless they have a grounding in very specific media. Very specific old media.

This would be like someone developing a Middle Earth video game, but you can only enjoy the game if you've read The Silmarillion. That game isn't going to sell well, because you have limited your audience to an extreme degree.


If you are strapped for time, you could spend a little time to familiarize yourself with the genre on the Sword & Sorcery page of TV Tropes. But I think that if you at least understand the concept of Conan the Barbarian, you have a pretty good starting point for Sword & Sorcery.

This is a bit rude, Chaosmancer. A person's reasons for liking Ruin Explorer's post are not so absurdly limited to either bashing Butcher and/or Sanderson and accusing you of being too ignorant to like Greyhawk. That's an unnecessary false dichotomy.

Look, I don't think that Sword & Sorcery is necessary to understand Greyhawk, though having a little knowledge of the popular fiction of Gygax's day certainly creates an enriching understanding of the influences of the early D&D and its associated settings: e.g., Mystara, Wilderlands, Greyhawk, etc. When it comes to Sword & Sorcery, Dark Sun probably leans far more into Sword & Sorcery than Greyhawk, not to mention the 3rd party setting Primeval Thule. Greyhawk has clear Sword & Sorcery influences, but I would say that it is more the sort of setting you would expect created from someone who loved Medieval European miniature wargaming. IMHO, the attitudes, tones, and assumptions of Greyhawk run more cynical and pessimistic than what one would typically find in the Forgotten Realms. Protagonists in Greyhawk are typically motivated by self-interest (e.g., gold, power, land, etc.) whereas I have found that a lot of Forgotten Realms play is more oriented around playing the hero who saves the day.

In terms of literary fiction, Greyhawk is more Black Company and Game of Thrones at the macro-level and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser at the micro-level. The closest analogous piece of pop fiction would probably be The Witcher. If your friends of ignorant of The Witcher, then that's a pretty large level of disconnect from contemporaneous pop culture fantasy. I have never read the books, played the games, or watched the mini-series, and even I know a fair bit about the setting from secondhand sources.


I'm sorry if you feel I was rude, but I'm honestly getting frustrated here. I started reading this thread hoping to gain some insights into Greyhawk, some of the lore and the setting that I could dig my teeth into. Instead, I find myself defending my lack of knowledge on certain fantasy topics and my taste in authors.

I came here to learn, and instead I feel like I'm getting attacked as some sort of "problem" because I am asking fans of the setting to tell me about it, instead of researching it online. But... read the title of the thread. "Why people still fight to preserve Greyahwk". That is supposed to be what this thread is about. Why do people defend it, why do they love it.


And, from the last few pages... I can't tell you. Because they liked Conan I guess. They like gritty settings that are all gritty with everyone being immoral and fighting an evil force because the balance between good and evil must be maintained. Elves and dwarves are dying races that have no impact, because it is all about humanity.


I mean, I guess if I absolutely had to answer why someone loved Greyhawk, if I synthesized everything I've been able to glean between the lines. It is this.

Greyhawk is a world that doesn't care about you. Where humans rule, and the only things that matter are money and power. No one is going to help you, no one is going to support you, and your only way in this world is to gain enough money and power to be able to protect yourself. Others if you feel like it. You play Greyhawk to be a band of mercenaries jobbing for gold, and praying you live long enough to spend it.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
And, from the last few pages... I can't tell you. Because they liked Conan I guess. They like gritty settings that are all gritty with everyone being immoral and fighting an evil force because the balance between good and evil must be maintained. Elves and dwarves are dying races that have no impact, because it is all about humanity.

I mean, I guess if I absolutely had to answer why someone loved Greyhawk, if I synthesized everything I've been able to glean between the lines. It is this.

Greyhawk is a world that doesn't care about you. Where humans rule, and the only things that matter are money and power. No one is going to help you, no one is going to support you, and your only way in this world is to gain enough money and power to be able to protect yourself. Others if you feel like it. You play Greyhawk to be a band of mercenaries jobbing for gold, and praying you live long enough to spend it.
It certainly does have a certain mercenary self-interest appeal, where you are the one who has to pull yourself up in the world or die trying. (Hints of Gygaxian Libertarianism maybe?)

My sense is that a lot of nostalgia for Greyhawk is rooted in that old school style of play that is largely no longer supported by D&D: e.g., higher lethality, player skill > character skill, dungeon delving with random encounters, gold for XP, etc. It's almost as if to understand Greyhawk, you also have to understand the earliest editions of D&D and what made them tick. Unsurprisingly, the game mechanics flavored a lot about the setting and how it was played. I kinda get it, particularly when I look at how many of the assumptions about the Nentir Vale are likewise rooted in 4e or even how a lot of Eberron was written with 3e's game assumptions in mind.

I think that there is an appeal there in Greyhawk, but given the current trajectory of D&D, I'm not sure if 5e D&D is the rules set that I would use to support it. Dungeon Crawl Classics, Old School Essentials, Five Torches Deep, or even Forbidden Lands seem more conducive to the play goals of a Greyhawk Campaign than 5e D&D. I understand why people would fight to preserve Greyhawk, but I do find it questionable that it's something they would potentially want converted for 5e apart from a rekindling of the fire for potential new audiences.
 

DnD Warlord

Adventurer
Greyhawk is a world that doesn't care about you. Where humans rule, and the only things that matter are money and power. No one is going to help you, no one is going to support you, and your only way in this world is to gain enough money and power to be able to protect yourself. Others if you feel like it. You play Greyhawk to be a band of mercenaries jobbing for gold, and praying you live long enough to spend it.

I think I can make a few adjustments

Greyhawk is the original setting of D&D made by game co creator Gary Gygax, a sword and sorcery grim dieing world full of mercenaries mages and monsters... most of all the deadliest of dungeons.
A world where no one is going to help you, no one is going to support you, and your only way in this world is to gain enough money and power to be able to protect yourself.
You play Greyhawk to be a band of mercenaries working for gold, and praying you live long enough to spend it.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
The closest analogous piece of pop fiction would probably be The Witcher. If your friends of ignorant of The Witcher, then that's a pretty large level of disconnect from contemporaneous pop culture fantasy. I have never read the books, played the games, or watched the mini-series, and even I know a fair bit about the setting from secondhand sources.

The Witcher is a pretty good comparison. There are both plenty of monsters in that world, yet most people are just peasants.

In the first episode of the TV show, we are introduced to three people who could fit into a PC role; Geralth, Renfri, and Stregobor. The latter two are not good people, but aren't quite villains either. Stregobor in particular reminds me a lot of Mordenkainen, being a wizard who thinks he's in the right but is doing morally questionable things to achieve his goals. Renfri is fighting for revenge against Stregobor, also not an evil act considering his horrible history with her. And Geralt is trying to do what he considers is the right thing, to fairly rigid moral standards.

I won't say the episode's ending if you haven't seen it, but let's say it's not happy. Chiefly, acts of good are not rewarded by the townspeople, and instead the strange and powerful are ostracized, no matter their morality.
 

pemerton

Legend
A strength of Greyhawk is its geography. In the centre of the map you have a big city (Greyhawk) plus some other significant cities (Dyvers, Hardby), a coast with pirates (the Wild Coast), an Elven land (Celene), a Dwarven land (Urek, the Kron Hills, the Lortmils), an Orcish land (the Pomarj), a desert with nomads and ancient ruins (the Bright Desert), forests (the Suss Forest, the Gnarley Forest), and probably other useful stuff I'm forgetting.

In this respect it resembles the map of the Nentir Vale in 4e, or the map in the B/X module Night's Dark Terror. These are good maps for running a standard D&D-type FRPG on: all the major setting tropes have a home. About all that's missing is a volcano for a red dragon or an ice cave for a white one.

The setting doesn't bring the same metaplot as FR (some of the late=80s/early-90s material changes this a bit, though still not to FR levels), but retains its map/trope strength as one expands out from the centre of the map: a decaying empire ruled by fiend-worshippers (Aerdy), Furyondy vs Iuz, Vikings, monks and assassins who live in a hidden plateau (one has to ignore he stereotyping here, as with much S&S/pulpy fiction).

As a setting, I think the pitch is here's some good maps with some pretty handy tropes and an ancient empires backstory that supports standard FRPGing. Whether that is commercially viable is someone else's call.
 

In terms of literary fiction, Greyhawk is more Black Company and Game of Thrones at the macro-level and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser at the micro-level. The closest analogous piece of pop fiction would probably be The Witcher. If your friends of ignorant of The Witcher, then that's a pretty large level of disconnect from contemporaneous pop culture fantasy. I have never read the books, played the games, or watched the mini-series, and even I know a fair bit about the setting from secondhand sources.
I could not have described it better. The Witcher's world is pretty close to what Greyhawk looks like from the common man point of view. The heroes are viewing themselves like Fafhrd and they Gray Mouser think of themselves and the Countries see our heroes just like the leaders see the Black Company. That is people to be used for suicidal missions that no one dares to do.

Yet, I will point out again that magic is not absent from Greyhawk. In fact, it is very present. It is the power level of those weilding it that is drastically different from other setting. In Waterdeep alone, how many powerful mage (level 12+) can you count? 6? 10? More than that? Just in the 1st edition Waterdeep, you can find more than 15... In Greyhawk? In the supplement of the City of Greyhawk, you can count 5... And that is accounting for Tenser that doesn't live in Greyhawk proper... The same goes on with any other classes. The order of magnitude for the presence of high level NPCs is usually cut by 3 or more. On the other hand, the presence of low level casters and half casters should be about similar. The danger associated with adventuring means that a lot of the adventurers hopes to find a big treasure to retire ASAP before they get killed.

For Island of the ape, (18+ module) the PC's group is litterally put together by Tenser and the payment for bringing back the artifact is astronomical. Yep, in Greyhawk, even the good PCs are more on the mercernary side than in any other settings.
 

pemerton

Legend
Greyhawk has as many high-level mages as are needed for RPG purposes. The list of rulers in the original GH material makes a number of them high-level characters, including spell casters. If you use the City/Town encounter matrix from Appendix C of the AD&D DMG, you will find mid-to-high level NPCs turning up on a pretty regular basis! Especially fighters. Using the castle encounter rules from the same Appendix will produce the same result.

The contrast with FR, in my view, is not demographic - we're talking imagined demographics of imagined worlds whose description is far from complete - but play expectations. Which goes back to my comment about metaplot: FR as I understand it is metaplot heavy and expects the GM to use high level NPCs as a device for shaping and constraining the events of play. GH is not presented in the same way. These are decisions about RPG tone and style, not decisions about in-game population details.
 

Eric V

Hero
However, you're too ignorant to have a place in arguing about the quality of the setting.
Is he, though? I have been following this as a GH fan (though I am a fan of the "wrong" GH, i.e. From the Ashes), and it seems more like he's asking what makes the setting distinct and special to warrant a big product from WotC. That should be easy to answer without asking the prospective consumer to read a bunch of 40+ year old books, shouldn't it?
 

Ace

Adventurer
Does the current market support a world with Greyhawk's assumptions? My impression is that its gritty, money grubbing, somewhat post apocalyptic setting (the Colorless Rain of Fire and all that) with elements of the Western and more than a tablespoon of gonzo.

It might be a bit too based in its time frame, 1975-1985 or so to appeal outside of its fan base with so much of a makeover that it stops being what it is and turns away the original fans. Also all complaints about the Greyhawk Grognards aside , they are going to be the first people to look at the books and in a game hobby as full of options, not even counting homebrew ,you can't count on making up loss of that lot with different gamers. Lose them you have nothing.

I'll note too the 1988 Greyhawk Adventures book by James Ward though full of cool stuff and released with a new box set around the same time never really took off. Tastes had shifted to the Realms by than. I'm not sure that there is a way now to kick it off when there wasn't in the late 80's.

Its a tiny niche market with a really terrific and determined fan base but may not be a mainstream product.
 

1) Greyhawk has as many high-level mages as are needed for RPG purposes. The list of rulers in the original GH material makes a number of them high-level characters, including spell casters. If you use the City/Town encounter matrix from Appendix C of the AD&D DMG, you will find mid-to-high level NPCs turning up on a pretty regular basis! Especially fighters. Using the castle encounter rules from the same Appendix will produce the same result.

2) The contrast with FR, in my view, is not demographic - we're talking imagined demographics of imagined worlds whose description is far from complete - but play expectations. Which goes back to my comment about metaplot: FR as I understand it is metaplot heavy and expects the GM to use high level NPCs as a device for shaping and constraining the events of play. GH is not presented in the same way. These are decisions about RPG tone and style, not decisions about in-game population details.

1) Opponents are always aplenty for the PCs. PCs can never run out of opponents. But for the "fixed" number of "named" NPCs I would not count the random encounter tables as relevant of the power level of a city/country. It is the "named" NPCs that matters the most as your players will need to interact with some of them for buying/selling/contracts for object making and many other possibilities. The nameless blokes meant to be opponents for the players do not matter one iota. Be it Greyhawk, FR, DS, Eberron or any other settings.

2) I partially agree. A lot can be explained by play expectations but not everything. The tone of Greyhawk is way different. The amount of High Level NPCs in Greyhawk is a lot less than in other settings. This makes high level PCs both an asset and a liability. If they are your allies, HURRAY! If they are your foes... DOH! A single high level fighter in Greyhawk can possibly take on an average castle by himself, imagine if he is with his fellow adventurers... (for an average castle, take a look on the Assassin's knot adventure. A 12th level fighter will slay everyone in there without having a serious trouble. Well, a well placed "hold person spell" might be problematic but if the fighter has the chance to slay them first... The rest would be a cake walk. For the standard castle in FR, go check on the Bloodstone lands supplement FR 9. Lots of high level opponents in there. Yet, Bloodstone is barely the equivalent of Furyondy and this is a nation besieged by a demi-god! Hell, even the supplement Castles! we could see the difference between the settings.

A high level PC in Greyhawk will bring a lot more respect than the equivalent level in the FR. Simply because the lord of the land is probably unable to take on the PCs by himself if nothing else. This alone should bring a lot of respect. In a lost place like Shadow Dale, Mourngrim was 14th level! And let's not talk about the others around (and do not forget Elminster himself...). Hell, Khelben Blackstaff had a special rule that he was always 5 levels higher than the highest PC... If that is not a power spike, nothing is. You don't see that in Greyhawk. Tenser in the Island of the Ape is of the same level as the PC. And the amount of treasure he pays them is astronomical! He knows he can't do it himself and if you take a careful read of the text that is to be read to the players, Tenser is respectful and careful in choice of words with the PC.
 

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