D&D (2024) Greyhawk Confirmed. Tell Me Why.


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Chaosmancer

Legend
D&D seems to go through this cycle periodically. They drift too far from the core audience, start hemorrhaging fans, and then return to classic tropes mingled with a bit of new stuff to reel them back in. Most recently with the launch of 5e a number of years ago, but it seems about time for the cycle to repeat. Especially after the last couple of years worth of relatively (relatively, mind. I'm not suggesting that these were all flops) poorly received products and PR gaffes.

That doesn't seem to follow to me.

The site I was looking through divided things into categories, but I think this still speaks pretty strongly.

Adventures: The most recent stuff set somewhere new was Journey's through the Radiant Citadel, in July 2022, two years ago. Since then we've had Stormwrack set in FR (2022), Dragonlance (2022), Reprint of Tyranny of Dragons (2023), Keys from the Golden Vault, mostly set in FR (2023), Shattered Obelisk set in FR (2023) and coming up we have Vecna and the Infnite Staircase, both of which are classics.

Settings: If you don't count Radiant Citadel or Dragonlance since they were mainly adventure books, the most recent was Strixhavem in December 2021, since then we had both Spelljammer (2022) and Planescape (2023)

Supplements: We haven't had a non-traditional supplement book. Since 2021 we have had Fizban's (2021), Mordenkainen Presents (2022), Bigby (2023) and the book focused on the Deck of Many things (2024)

So... if your theory is correct, this pendulum swing started TWO YEARS ago. Which, incidentally, is also when they announced plans for the 50th anniversary, which might be a better explanation for why the sudden increase in classic material.

But, even IF, even IF the pendulum swing theory holds water... I'm not sure it accounts for the disparity of looking at the whole of the product list.

  • There are 8 books in the supplement category, all focus on Classic DnD
  • There are 10 adventure setting books. In order they are Sword Coast (FR), Ravnica, Acquisitions Inc (FR), Eberron, Wildemount (Critical Role), Theros, Ravenloft, Strixhaven, Spelljammer, Planescape. You could throw Radiant Citadel inbetween Strixhaven and Spelljammer and Dragonlance between Spelljammer and PLacescape if you wanted.

The same pattern kind of extends to the adventures. There were 27 adventure books put out. Only four or five of them are not classic DnD. In fact, 17 of them are set in the Forgotten Realms.

In total, out of 48 books released in the last 10 years, I'd argue that only about Eight books were not classical DnD books. Ravnica, Theros, Strixhaven, Radiant Citadel, Stranger Things adventure, Rick & Morty Adventure, and the two Critical Role books which are VERY VERY close to classical DnD.

It seems much more like the new material was sort of slotted in where they could get it, while the majority of their releases whent with classic tie-ins to classical DnD. So this idea that they've bled fans by putting out too much that is not classical DnD seems to hold no water. It is barely one-fifth of their releases over 10 years.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Not really IMO. The divide between DM and Player is largely artificial and it was something that was presented as this huge thing in earlier versions of D&D where players weren't even supposed to know the rules, let alone have any input in setting design. It's not 1981 anymore though. There is zero reason for this divide to be that big. If you have a player that comes back with nonsensical answers, do you really think the DM presenting options is going to work?

Wouldn't it be far better to teach players that they have just as much responsibility for the success of a game as DM's? That they should be engaged in designing the world just as much as the DM? I mean, I'm doing a fairly short side campaign for my regular group right now to give the DM a bit of a break. It's a single adventure, so, it's not like I'm doing much in the way of deep building here. One of the players is fairly new and wanted to know more about Tabaxi. My response was, "You tell me." And he did. Fantastic stuff.

That's what we need to be teaching players. That level of enthusiasm that gets beaten out of players by DM's constantly shutting down any attempt by players to have any authorial input into campaigns. We need to have less of a divide between players and DMs, not more.

I wonder how many DMs are the player who was shut down, whose ideas didn't get heard, and so now that they are in the driver's seat, they feel this almost desperate need to finally get their ideas out there. I know for me, I want to take in more input from players... but I also feel like if I do, then the player is going to go with the most drab, basic options and I still won't get to play with all the cool lore that I like.

Yes, yes, your elf is pretty, immortal and lives in the woods... could we ALSO put in a death cult, please? It is so much more interesting than generic fantasy elf! (Shout out to Eberron for sick elven death cult lore)
 

Staffan

Legend
How exactly have they been trying to “make Greyhawk happen?”
First thing they did after buying TSR was starting to republish Greyhawk, first with a Player's Guide to Greyhawk and The Adventure Begins, and then following up with a Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook as well as some adventures (including the 25th anniversary remakes). Then they used Greyhawk as the default setting for the 3e core books, adventures and supplements, and let the RPGA develop it further. I mean, it's not the full-throated support the Realms have been getting, but they've been trying to push it.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm impressed with those of you with the work ethic and consistency to have strong opinions on how to go about world building? I can't be the only one who approaches world building with manic episodes of creation, sometime at the high level, sometime really zoomed in because an idea grabbed me, followed mostly by panicked prep the night before game day, and lots of seat-of-the-pants improv (sounds better than make s*** up because who could have guess the players would that!?).

My last homebrew experience:

Spend months creating a world map, giving high-level details of the various Kingdoms, geographical areas, factions, and history. Start creating a number of high-level plot lines and create major factions and NPCs that fit into those plots and the world. Enter it all into RealmsWork and cross link everything.

Create the first adventure in great detail, where the party will start the campaign.

Between sessions start filling in more details of part of the world based on what the party did last session and what they stated their plans are for the next session. Focusing more on adventure, encounters, etc., but still doing some world building.

After a few months of play...

Make stuff up, start downloading and creating lots of encounter and plot hook random tables. Update my world notes based on what I rolled/made up.

I guess that is "top down", but there is only so much detail I can write up and have a day job. MOST of the world creation is done as part of adventure writing, but that often devolves into some bullet points and improv and taking notes.

The best way to world build, I find is to play in the world. The details will materialize through play. But it is nice to have a nice map (a nice map is always nice) and some bullet points or brief paragraphs to give you some guide posts and scaffolding to help direct things and give you something to build on.

And, taking this back to the OP, that is why a 15-30 pages of Greyhawk material in the DMG would is (for me at least) a good way to go, especially if it is linked to encounter tables, NPC generation tables, settlement-generation tables, and other tools to help the GM quickly fill out the granular details the day before, or during, the game.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
First thing they did after buying TSR was starting to republish Greyhawk, first with a Player's Guide to Greyhawk and The Adventure Begins, and then following up with a Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook as well as some adventures (including the 25th anniversary remakes). Then they used Greyhawk as the default setting for the 3e core books, adventures and supplements, and let the RPGA develop it further. I mean, it's not the full-throated support the Realms have been getting, but they've been trying to push it.

Was there anything at all in 4e? Much so far in 5e?
 

Hussar

Legend
Sure, but I also don't think it's a good idea to take time honored and pretty ubiquitous social contracts about how the game is typically played by most people and start flipping over tables and telling them to do it differently, especially when--as the biggest most mainstream player in the industry--you've got a lot more to lose by doing so than some indie game or even a smaller but still big player in the industry, who can afford to be a bit edgier with their implied social contract.

D&D, by virtue of its position in the marketplace has to try to be almost all things to almost all customers still, which means not rocking the boat too much. I think that that approach to worldbuilding will be seen by too many players and GMs as rocking the boat more than they like.
I'm honestly not sure how ubiquitous it actually is. It's common, sure, mostly because it's forced onto groups from how the game was written in the past. IME, giving the players a bit more influence in world building results in better games. Is it perfect? Nope. But, it's a good sight better than presuming that one person per group is going to do this massive amount of work without any help from anyone else.

Just like we were taught that as DM's we should jealously hoard all of our authority over the setting to protect it from those pesky players, we need to teach the next generation that sharing is caring. :D
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
First thing they did after buying TSR was starting to republish Greyhawk, first with a Player's Guide to Greyhawk and The Adventure Begins, and then following up with a Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook as well as some adventures (including the 25th anniversary remakes). Then they used Greyhawk as the default setting for the 3e core books, adventures and supplements, and let the RPGA develop it further. I mean, it's not the full-throated support the Realms have been getting, but they've been trying to push it.
They made one push back when they first bought the company, then they did a Castle Greyhawk book about 8 years later, Ghosts of Saltmarsh over a whole decade later than that, and now they’re having a chapter in the DMG that talks about Greyhawk.

I mean, that hardly looks like a push.
 

MGibster

Legend
How would your character know this? Who do you go talk to figure this out and how to you bring up the discussion to avoid arousing suspicion? Or how do you go about inconspicuously casing the area to come up with a rough estimate?
Their characters lived in Little Rock, so I didn't think it was unreasonable for them to know the approximate population, how many fighting people they had, what every did for food, etc., etc.
 

It seems much more like the new material was sort of slotted in where they could get it, while the majority of their releases whent with classic tie-ins to classical DnD. So this idea that they've bled fans by putting out too much that is not classical DnD seems to hold no water. It is barely one-fifth of their releases over 10 years.
Spelljammer may be an old setting, but the presentation of it was hardly classic. That said, I only know what the sales data from Amazon was for the books that it was highlighted to me, not for the others. If Radiant Citadel or Strixhaven for example, sold below expectations (I admit, I don't know what they expected, but it sold poorly relative to earlier titles) and The Deck of Many Things didn't (I have no idea if it did or didn't), then that implies a picture very different from WotC is hinting at where gen z players are a big cohort of customers looking for something that's not their dad's D&D.

Something doesn't quite add up. Throw in the various PR gaffes and catastrophes in the last year or so, the sudden and unexpected resignation of the head of WotC, and it suggests a brand in decline, or at least a corporation looking to stop the string of negative news by getting back to basics and shutting up whomever keeps generating more bad news. I don't have enough pieces of the puzzle yet (nor am I interested enough in chasing them down) to know what's going on, but I think the prevailing narrative about sales and the market and who's playing and more importantly who's buying D&D products gives off enough red flags to look like a whole freaking communist parade.

I also suspect that the online energy around the OSR might cause it to punch above its weight in terms of perception of their importance, but somehow catering to them or trying to woo them back to the fold seems to have been an on again off again theme with D&D for many years now.

Maybe the devs are secretly sympathetic to their views. Maybe WotC are just control freaks and it burns them up that people can play D&D without playing their D&D. I dunno.
 
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