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


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I agree with this, and I'm getting ready to start a new campaign set in the 1983 Boxed Set Greyhawk. I've come around on this. I'm a grognard that sees unlimited use in that box. I don't like everything in From the Ashes, but do I pick out bits and pieces that I like ala carte for my Greyhawk. Damn right. I'm not as familiar with the Living Greyhawk stuff, (I was away from D&D for an era), but I've used bits from that as well.

So I say build a Greyhawk for today. I'd be happy for another source to cherry pick ideas from.
The FtA box set was great simply because you could either play way before it, ignore it, play during the war or play after the wars. I even had a campaign where the players saved the Shield Lands. Greyhawk has always been more opened than any other fantasy setting. So much empty spaces that you can build your own barony and eventualy a kingdom! Yes, in other setting you could do it. But they are so defined that the space required for a barony is not evident to find.

A Greyhawk setting could includes rules for creating and maintaining a barony/kingdom/empire... The rules in the Companion Set of OD&D were easy and fun to use. A battle system could be incorporated too.
 

Azzy

Newtype
Every ... single ... setting ... book released has added or changed the default of D&D in 5e.

Nevertheless, whenever this subject comes up with Greyhawk, people always want to make it into Forgotten Realms 2.
Hyperbole always helps making an argument be taken seriously. 🙄

The fact is that Greyhawk has always been presented as being the "default D&D experience" and all that entails. If Greyhawk is going to be released for 5e, it is going to have to accomodate the the "default D&D experience" of the 5e PHB, MM, & DMG. Greyhawk was, in 1e, simply D&D and expected the use of the 1e AD&D rules and its suplements. In each subsequent edition of D&D that Greyhawk has been published under, it always used that edition's rules as presented and conformed to the edition's experience. Expecting or insisting that Greyhawk in 5e, if it were to be published, to not follow the tradition of being default D&D is simply a fool's game.
 

Azzy

Newtype
As I mentioned much, much earlier in the thread - Erik Mona. He's a Greyhawk fan from way back, has done products in the setting and has lots of experience working for WoTC.
There's also Gary Holian. I'm sure he'd jump on this. Sean K. Reynolds is another that has a long history with GH.
 



Yeah, it's almost as if epic fantasy has other common features that contribute to the genre, and epic scale is only one such feature. But that would require reading what other people have written and contextualizing their arguments appropriately through good faith readings. However, let's rid ourselves of the ridiculous reductionist take here that this amounts to "This story has a lot of important characters, and those characters have a backstory." Or maybe we can say that there is no difference between the noir genre and teenage monster romance genre because both feature stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. But such reductionism would obviously be intellectually dishonest. So we should likewise avoid reducing the argument about characters fitting in settings with grand historical scale to simply "The story has a lot of important characters, and those characters have a backstory." In fact, maybe one should refrain from making further bad takes on arguments in the future? They are not particularly conducive to fruitful discussions.

I'm snipping most of your discussion, because while interesting, I feel like it is just going to go into circles, and I want to focus on this.

Let me requote @Hussar 's opening paragraph that got this line started.

This is a mistaken definition of Epic Fantasy. Epic fantasy is epic, not because of big stakes, but, because it is epic in scale - cast of thousands, tons of characters, big, massive battles with thousands of combatants - in other words - epic in the sense the The Illiad is epic - it's not the fate of the world, and, really, we're talking about the battle for one poncy little city over the stakes of a girl. :D But, it's epic because you have all these different characters and stories woven into the plot.
Note how he is specifically saying that the stakes do not make an Epic, epic? Note how he does not mention an epic scale of geography stretching most of the setting, or epic timescale involving multiple generations?

In fact, his only point mentions the number of characters, and their backstories.


So, I pushed back on that singular point. That an Epic Fantasy story is defined solely by having a large cast. A point that Hussar has since agreed with, a point that you agree with in your above post, even italicizing in the section I bolded.

So.... if everyone agrees with me, how was I making a bad faith argument, reducing his argument into a absurd caricature in an intellectually dishonest move?

I guess instead of saying "No, I think you are wrong and using too simplistic a definition, here is an example of something that is not an Epic Fantasy Story that has a large cast to back-up my assertion with evidence" I should have just said "No, you are wrong, it is more than that." And had you guys provide the evidence yourselves? Because, after all, you both agree with me. You both agree that a large cast with complex backstories are only one part of what makes Epic Fantasy Epic. So, how was I doing anything wrong by providing evidence to back up an assertion we all agree with in the first place?

Maybe, instead of backhandedly telling me "But that would require reading what other people have written and contextualizing their arguments appropriately through good faith readings" you could... maybe do the same? Because I keep making very simple points, that as the discussion moves on, everyone agrees with, but I keep getting called dishonest and ignorant in the process, and I don't understand why.


You're seriously comparing a single, American city, with a history that's measured in decades, to the epic scale of something like Middle Earth which has a history measured in millenia? Seriously?

sigh

An American City? What is this America? Oh, they came from England? What is that? Democracy has it's roots in the Native Americans and the Greek City of Athens? Oh, the mob seems to have a lot of Italian roots, how did that happen? Why was Italy that way? Rome? Didn't that involve the Greeks?

But yeah, just a history a few decades old is brought along to talk about the real world. Totally.

Might want to re-read my post where I said that "brings with it the entire weight of American history"

See, Tolkien had to explain millenia of stuff, because he was building a new world millenia old. Dresden doesn't need to tell us about the Civil War, or the Revolutionary War, or World War 1 and 2... because they are our History and we are assumed to know it, unlike the story of Middle Earth, which Tolkien had to write themselves.

Yes, what Tolkien did was monumentally impressive, but the reason it is impressive is because of the weight you can gain from reference real-life history, which brings all of that weight Tolkien constructed, ready made.



Because you aren't even trying to understand. The fact that I had to list out all those elements means that you actually don't know what you're talking about and are making zero effort to be informed before jumping in to criticize.
The very fact you had to list out all those elements means I was right!

My entire point was that the size of the cast ALONE did not define Epic Fantasy. Which you claimed it did. If that wasn't your claim, then perhaps you should have said so, instead of attacking the details of my argument and trying to show how badly I understand the original intent of Tolkien's work.

I mean, what effort was I supposed to put in to disagree with a point that you yourself disagree with? My only conclusion is that I should stop trying to back up my claims and just state them as facts, because every time I try and put forth a reasoned example, I get attacked over quibbles even when people agree with my point.

Which was, to reiterate.

The size of the cast alone does not determine if a work of Fantasy is Epic Fantasy or not.






Sigh. Epic Fantasy is a Fantasy form, number one, which doesn't exist in literature prior to the 19th century. It's also referring to the NOVEL form, which, also, doesn't really exist before the 18th century. Good grief, this is basic Lit Crit from high school.

I suggest you look at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly - Prose. Poetry. Pulp. or Black Gate before you begin writing off S&S as a genre. Or, look up Glen Cook's Black Company novels for another current example.

IOW, THIS is why you are getting raked over the coals. You are making zero effort to actually understand what's being explained to you and you are now forcing the rest of us to regurgitate crap that you should have learned in high school English classes. This is just freaking ridiculous.
Right, I suppose it sprang fully formed from the mind of Tolkien, with no references at all to prior forms of creative writing. No Epic Poems, no collections of mythological stories, none of it.

After all, the modern novel was completely unique right? It was based on say... collecting stories together into a single volume. Which happened for centuries if not millenia since people invented writing.

I mean, I mentioned it depended on how you define things. But I guess nuance is a pointless endeavor for me to embark on, since my arguments are ignored outright due to my perceived idiocy.
 

Okay, I'm done.


You're not even trying, argument-wise. A decade or two? Where are you getting this totally false stuff from?

REH wrote Conan stories between 1932 and 1936, when he committed suicide. They were republished for decades, up to the present day, and still popular enough that people based films on them in 1982 and 2011. Even before him there were authors considered to be either S&S or closely related to it.

Other writers, often inspired by REH's works, continued the genre onwards, and it continued into the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in literary format. The term wasn't coined until 1961, by a then-young Fritz Leiber. Moorcock didn't even start writing until the 1960s.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, and particularly '00s, all fantasy which isn't post-Tolkenian epic fantasy, whether it's S&S, or just fantasy that doesn't consistent of lengthy series of lengthy books has been increasingly, over that period, squeezed to the margins of the genre in terms of financial success, and the short-story magazines and collections which were where S&S was largely published have gradually faded away.

But not so outside literary fantasy. In RPGs, in TV/movie fantasy, in comics (especially in comics!), in video games, S&S was the dominant aesthetic, and remained so up to perhaps the 2000s, but it's still a common aesthetic, or even integrated into the aesthetic.

You're saying you've read articles and so on, but when you say "a decade or two", it's clear you haven't even read the wikipedia article, which I would think would normally be the starting point:


Either way I'm done, given that you've completely proven my point that if you don't try to find out about something, you will do a terrible job of arguing about it - this could scarcely be more perfectly illustrated than by summing up "1930 to 1990" as "a decade or two".

My apologies for not knowing the exact dates. I thought Howard was writing in the 60's, I'm not a scholar of the material, and yes, I never bothered to look into the man's life. I'm sure it is fascinating and interesting, but so are hundreds of other authors lives. Also, Republishing old works isn't adding to a written genre.

And, I was referring to the written genre, and to those few authors people keep mentioning. So... 60's to 90's... which is thirty years. I don't care if movies, tv shows and video games took up the torch, I was specifically talking about the written literature, because that has been what this entire discussion supposedly revolved around.

But, you are done. Fine. Maybe I'll get called fewer names.
 

I think that you can allow any option in the PHB in a GH setting. I just think that each option that exists.....all races, classes, backgrounds, and so on.....should all be given a GH specific description of how their inclusion will impact the setting. So, for example, Tieflings in GH.....are they a distinct race as we know them in the PHB and other settings? Or is it more a descriptor of any individual that has some fiendish blood in their heritage? How does that change the Tiefling from how it is presented in the PHB? How would a Tiefling character fit into a GH campaign? And so on.

I think simply barring certain options outright would be a bad idea, as it may dissuade some folks from giving the setting a chance. I think it would be far better to kind of try and envision how GH would handle Dragonborn or Tieflings or other elements that didn't really exist as PC options when the setting was introduced.
I think this is the biggest struggle, between Eberron, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk.

The first two make some fairly fundamental changes to the status quo. Elves, dwarves, orcs, halflings, ect are incredibly different if they even exist in those settings. The world is very different, with strange landscapes, cosmologies, power dynamics, ect.

But... FR and Greyhawk both hew fairly closely to the "norm". Kingdoms with kings and queens, feudalism, Churches with active gods, elves live in the forests, dwarves live in the mountains, halfings live on farms. In a fuzzy blob kind of view, they are pieced together from very similiar sets of pieces.

And, as has been discussed a few times in this thread, there is less written about greyhawk, so it has a harder time differentiating itself from FR. Which has so much written about it, that the details get lost in a morass of self-reference and deep history that few players care to dig into, because the end result looks very familiar.

Which is why, there is a thought of making Greyhawk very different than it used to be, to make it more distinctive "visually" instead of just tonally.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm a bit puzzled by the idea that is being floated that Greyhawk is different from "core" D&D.

Greyhawk is core D&D (as per its date of publication). And new humanoid races get placed into Greyhawk at the drop of a hat (eg the new sorts of giants in Fiend Folio and MM2). The setting already has tieflings (eg Iuz) and has various reptilian and amphibian humanoids among whom dragonborn might feel at home.

To reiterate: Appendix C of the DMG has orcs, kobolds, goblins etc hanging out as ruffians on its City/Town Encounter matrix. I don't think they're going to feel too put out if the odd tiefling or dragonborn joins them.
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

Saltmarsh left a very bad taste in my mouth (a book that encourages the DM to bully you if you play a dragonborn or a tiefling don't qualify as fun in my experience).
If your DM did this, then that's on him or her, the book most certainly does NOT excourage the DM to bully you if you play a dragonborn or tiefling. Heck, there are dragonborn in the art, and there's a group of tiefling NPC's IN Saltmarsh that are treated perfectly acceptably.

That's on your DM, not on the book.
 

Zeromaru X

Arkhosian scholar and coffee lover
If your DM did this, then that's on him or her, the book most certainly does NOT excourage the DM to bully you if you play a dragonborn or tiefling. Heck, there are dragonborn in the art, and there's a group of tiefling NPC's IN Saltmarsh that are treated perfectly acceptably.
I wanted to believe in that, when I read in the book that "the residents react to other visitors, especially tieflings and dragonborn, with a mixture of curiosity and fear" (page 11).

Basically, the book encourages that kind of prejudice and bullying on any player that doesn't want to play a member of the Fellowship of the Ring...

However, I'm an outsider to Greyhawk, and I look to the setting from a prospective PoV. That stuff doesn't appeal to me, but perhaps it was all the rage back then. Or perhaps I'm just spoiled by the Nentir Vale's stance of "people learned to accept and even become fond of those different from themselves" (Worlds and Monsters, pp.18-19).

People can trash talk of 4e all what they want, but at least this edition encouraged inclusivity from the start...

Edit: grammar...
 
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Cadence

Hero
Supporter
It feels like a lot of interesting campagin settings have restrictions or cultural expectations - maybe based on real world historical, maybe one based on a literary setting, maybe one set in a country based on a particular non-European culture, maybe one based around dungeon crawls, maybe a world without active gods. I don't want those settings to not happen just because there'll always be that one player who, after agreeing to the idea, then wants to be the only dragonborn in real medieval europe, be a drow wizard in Cimmeria, be named Fred and not connected to the culture at all, be a druid who's useless indoors, be the first cleric for the returning gods. If they agreed that the world sounded interesting, then they should be able to happily play within the confines of that world's set up if the DM considers their proposal and decides that it really doesn't fit, or be able to live with the logical repurcussions if the DM says ok but explains what those might be. As such I find it odd to have something be objectionable just because it isn't some iteration of the entire kitchen sink.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I wanted to believe in that, when I read in the book that "the residents react to other visitors, especially tieflings and dragonborn, with a mixture of curiosity and fear" (page 11).
to be fair, that's the reaction of the people of Saltmarsh, overwhelmingly human, somewhat isolated... it's not a description of 'everyone in the WoG'... if WOTC was going to do a sourcebook on the WoG, they'd undoubtedly make it a lot more inclusive, to better fit the tone of 5E. The WoG, being set mostly in 1E and 2E days, was a lot more along the lines of 'good aligned humans and demi-humans get along, evil humans and humanoids get along, the two sides are in opposition'. Of course, back then, just about every D&D world was like that...
 

Strange that the kitchen sink trope plagues Greyhawk but not: Darksun, Theros, Ravnica, Birthright, Dragonlance, Innistrad, Amonkhet, Ixalan, Kaladesh and others. The "Ho but they're MTG settings! They don't count!" is pure BS. Three of these are not, and you could add others that are in the DM guild or even Drive thru. A setting is a setting and so far, the printed ones were well received and the PDF of the others were not receiving the tropes' accusations either.

As for inclusivity. You'll get the suspicious/xenophobic tropes even Eberron depending on your race and the region you'll be in. The changelings hide and do not show their heritage for a reason. Even in the realm there will be suspicions/xenophobia involved depending on your race, culture, class or simply because you're not from the village. Some places are cosmopolitan others are backwater areas. Not everything is and should be Mos Eisley...
 


pemerton

Legend
It feels like a lot of interesting campagin settings have restrictions or cultural expectations - maybe based on real world historical, maybe one based on a literary setting, maybe one set in a country based on a particular non-European culture, maybe one based around dungeon crawls, maybe a world without active gods. I don't want those settings to not happen just because there'll always be that one player who, after agreeing to the idea, then wants to be the only dragonborn in real medieval europe, be a drow wizard in Cimmeria, be named Fred and not connected to the culture at all, be a druid who's useless indoors, be the first cleric for the returning gods. If they agreed that the world sounded interesting, then they should be able to happily play within the confines of that world's set up if the DM considers their proposal and decides that it really doesn't fit, or be able to live with the logical repurcussions if the DM says ok but explains what those might be. As such I find it odd to have something be objectionable just because it isn't some iteration of the entire kitchen sink.
The question is - is GH such a setting?
 

Hussar

Legend
I wanted to believe in that, when I read in the book that "the residents react to other visitors, especially tieflings and dragonborn, with a mixture of curiosity and fear" (page 11).

Basically, the book encourages that kind of prejudice and bullying on any player that doesn't want to play a member of the Fellowship of the Ring...

However, I'm an outsider to Greyhawk, and I look to the setting from a prospective PoV. That stuff doesn't appeal to me, but perhaps it was all the rage back then. Or perhaps I'm just spoiled by the Nentir Vale's stance of "people learned to accept and even become fond of those different from themselves" (Worlds and Monsters, pp.18-19).

People can trash talk of 4e all what they want, but at least this edition encouraged inclusivity from the start...

Edit: grammar...
Umm, "mixture of curiousity and fear" is hardly xenophobia. Nor is it license to bully the character either. Good grief, that's a pretty minor line to be taking as an excuse to go full on KKK on anything outside the acceptable baselines.
 


Strange that the kitchen sink trope plagues Greyhawk but not: Darksun, Theros, Ravnica, Birthright, Dragonlance, Innistrad, Amonkhet, Ixalan, Kaladesh and others. The "Ho but they're MTG settings! They don't count!" is pure BS. Three of these are not, and you could add others that are in the DM guild or even Drive thru. A setting is a setting and so far, the printed ones were well received and the PDF of the others were not receiving the tropes' accusations either.

As for inclusivity. You'll get the suspicious/xenophobic tropes even Eberron depending on your race and the region you'll be in. The changelings hide and do not show their heritage for a reason. Even in the realm there will be suspicions/xenophobia involved depending on your race, culture, class or simply because you're not from the village. Some places are cosmopolitan others are backwater areas. Not everything is and should be Mos Eisley...

I think it is because those settings have a strong thematic presence that doesn't feel like "generic fantasy"

So much fantasy writing happens in not!England/not!France during the not!Medieval Period that it almost feels like a blank slate when you start off that way. Sort of like writing Sci-Fi stories in a space station. It is just the start, even if it should be interesting in and of itself.

But, Darksun, Ravnica and Theros have strong thematic settings that break that blank slate beginning. They are inherently different than the norm, so there is no desire to make them different than the norm.

Dragonlance and Birthright I feel like would run into the same problem (I've never played Birthright, but I've seen people talking about it on the forums) but they aren't being discussed or advocated for, so the debate doesn't come up.

And, while Greyhawk was alway a bit of a kitchen sink, the kitchen was smaller back when Greyhawk was conceived, so it feels limited compared to settings that have continued to evolve with 5e.
 

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