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D&D 5E Greyhawk: Pitching the Reboot

dave2008

Legend
Greyhawk has to do something. You can't sell fantasy on a map with some of the fantasy restricted without some kind of spice to jazz it up. That's just selling trust in the group to do the work in making up for the losses.
I agree it needs something, we just don't agree on what that is. I think the restrictions could be that something, but there a lots of other ways the could go or add on top of the low-magic idea if they decided that is not enough. If the included stronghold, mass combat, and kingdom management as part of low-magic greyhawk setting that would be cool too. i wouldn't use those, but some people would.
 

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dave2008

Legend
That could very well be true. I followed that a bit, constant rewrites WotC ordered for their novels, the resulting lawsuit, it being dropped. Pretty strange, as Tracy and Margaret (who I've met) are top notch individuals and creators. Biz-is-Biz, however. Oftentimes creators and biz-people come to terms within the arrangement, sometimes not.
Well the novels are back on, so differences can be resolved.
 

dave2008

Legend
BUT. They have not opened it up for Greyhawk. That's the proof and the pudding, no?
I don't think so. Everything takes time with 5e. They have opened very few settings on the DMsGuild so far. The pattern has always been to release a setting book and then open it on DMsGuild. So, we just need to push for a setting book it seems to me. I honestly believe we will see it in 2024 if not before.
 


dave2008

Legend
And they probably didn't like backing down from the recent lawsuit over the new trilogy Hickman and Weis slapped them with either.
That was not legal interpretation I heard on these forums when the suit was repealed by Wies and Hickman, but I'm not a lawyer.
 

Not that I think it really maters, because the are directly competing with FR whether they are high fantast or not...
The two settings being closer means you're less likely to capture new customers. Someone who would buy a Greyhawk book is likely to buy an FR book. Someone who would buy a Ravnica book may or may not be an FR buyer, so if you're already selling FR adding Ravnica is a better bet for getting new customers.

But I'm not sure that applies: WotC isn't really selling FR in and of itself. They're just using a foggy version as a backdrop to selling adventures and pc options. So a Greyhawk book with new adventures and/or pc options wouldn't really be vote-splitting.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I agree it needs something, we just don't agree on what that is. I think the restrictions could be that something, but there a lots of other ways the could go or add on top of the low-magic idea if they decided that is not enough. If the included stronghold, mass combat, and kingdom management as part of low-magic greyhawk setting that would be cool too. i wouldn't use those, but some people would.

I don't even know what Greyhawk needs to even disagree with anyone on what it is.

I'm just saying that Restrictions is just Subtraction and Subtraction on its own is a terrible selling point. Saying you are adding Substraction and just Subtraction is purely selling less and offering a product that can be copied.

Which to me is the crux of the problem. Few can agree on what Greyhawk or Greyhawk 2.0 adds or emphasizes.
 

Oof, reading that Mearls didn't even reply to Rob Kuntz is honestly quite sad... that's just rude!
Had to come back for this one. The point I made was not specific to Mearls (but generally 3 I posed about WotC's non-responses, all of which, left to the area of silence, were interpretable); and even though I mentioned him as a contact person, what I assumed at the time to be THE contact person at WotC re such a matter, that reference was not meant to start bashing-of-Mearls rejoinders. Biz is Biz. Sometimes you take the cold shoulders as an easy way out. It's never stopped me: 100 publishing credits, 2 awards and published in 20 languages, if I did nothing else (highly unlikely!) until my eventual retirement, I'd have earned my chops.

I do appreciate the nod of respect, OTOH. ;)
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Had to come back for this one. The point I made was not specific to Mearls (but generally 3 I posed about WotC's non-responses, all of which, left to the area of silence, were interpretable); and even though I mentioned him as a contact person, what I assumed at the time to be THE contact person at WotC re such a matter, that reference was not meant to start bashing-of-Mearls rejoinders. Biz is Biz. Sometimes you take the cold shoulders as an easy way out. It's never stopped me: 100 publishing credits, 2 awards and published in 20 languages, if I did nothing else (highly unlikely!) until my eventual retirement, I'd have earned my chops.

I do appreciate the nod of respect, OTOH. ;)

Well, this is a good way of taking it, I suppose. I do believe the proper way of responding is a polite "No thank you," but I suppose as a Canadian I am a little naive as to how people should respond to this sort of thing...
 

Well, this is a good way of taking it, I suppose. I do believe the proper way of responding is a polite "No thank you," but I suppose as a Canadian I am a little naive as to how people should respond to this sort of thing...
Well. Biz is also the ability to not cry over imagined spilled milk. I have NEVER been desperate to sell a deal no matter who I am dealing with. It's all about the product with me. So I am left with: is it the product? Me? if he had said "No thank you." As it stood it was neither. Always find solutions, not problems. I never concern myself with things I cannot control. That is the way forward past all of the self-imagined walls. In summary, everything is a positive. "What does not destroy me strengthens me." -- F. Neitzsche
 

dave2008

Legend
I'm just saying that Restrictions is just Subtraction and Subtraction on its own is a terrible selling point. Saying you are adding Substraction and just Subtraction is purely selling less and offering a product that can be copied.
Possibly, but I never thought it would just be subtraction. For me that is the interesting thing and all I would probably care about (that and NPCs and monsters of course), but each setting book typical adds some new rules and lore. I would imagine a GH book would do the same.
Which to me is the crux of the problem. Few can agree on what Greyhawk or Greyhawk 2.0 adds or emphasizes.
As the OP suggested, you don't need people agree on what Greyhawk was, you just need to making something good now.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Possibly, but I never thought it would just be subtraction. For me that is the interesting thing and all I would probably care about (that and NPCs and monsters of course), but each setting book typical adds some new rules and lore. I would imagine a GH book would do the same.

Perhaps I am looking at things differently since I sell things for a living.

Pure Substraction, if it is not cost or difficulty of use, is a nice attraction. It can be fun but it isn't a broad marketable attraction.

So if the goal is to make more people buy and play Greyhawk, you need to do more than just Substraction.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a human only setting with low magic power, extremely low magic frequency, and extremely low magic versatility. However it is a very popular setting due to the thick political drama, layers of romance, displays of action, suspense, mystery, and tragedy, and gripping lore.

Greyhawk 2.0 cant be just "It's D&D but only 2 of you can be a caster or nonhuman. It'll totally be fun guys". Because that puts all the burden on fun on hope.


As the OP suggested, you don't need people agree on what Greyhawk was, you just need to making something good now
What is good.

Good is subjective and it's an adjective of comparison.

You cannot make Greyhawk "good" until you determine you want it to be "good" at. Otherwise someone else can make the same thing and improve on anything to be "better"
 

When trying to differentiate between fantasy campaign settings I like to do a mental exercise called 'Inn, Barn, Prisoner'. It's the encapsulated framework for an introductory story that makes you think about the on-the-ground details that give hints at the larger world. It's akin to introducing Middle Earth first through The Shire and the Prancing Pony rather than starting with dramatic flyover imagery, world maps and (sorry/not sorry) grognard politics. Here's how it goes:

...

It's night, cold, your steed is tired and you're terribly hungry. The only lodging is a small roadside in with a few outbuildings nestled around it, starkly lit by the heavenly bodies. You'd rather not stay here but you have little choice. You sigh, dismount and find yourself in front of the door. Before you head inside though, you hide an item or piece of clothing that you visibly wear on the road. Questions:

1) What hangs in the night sky that tells you you're in X campaign setting? Is it ominous, neutral or a good portent?
2) Why would you rather not go in this inn? What about its features - specific to X campaign setting - gives you pause?
3) What item do you hide, and why do you hide it? What allegiance are you wary of showing to the patrons of the inn - specific to X campaign setting - that you show openly on the road?
4) Look at your steed. What about its physicality, barding or demeanor is specific to X campaign setting.

The inn is warm, stiflingly so. But it's still better than the cold night. There are six patrons, all men, fieldhands and laborers , and an old woman tending a long bar of a singular make, a whimsical piece of (natural?) history reshaped into furniture. The men glance at you nervously, then back to their cups. They look like they've been in a scuffle, a few fresh bruises and scrapes among them. One is not like the others, exotic, surprising. The woman gestures for you to take a seat, wordlessly. She bears a faded mark on her arm, a token of punishment that hasn't been used in decades. There's no ordering here, it's obvious, you're are served what's cooking in the pot and what's fermenting behind the counter. Questions:

1) What is the bar made of - a material or repurposed item that is specific to X campaign setting?
2) What race are most of the farmhands, and what race is the exotic (specific to X campaign setting) one?
3) What is the mark on the woman's arm and what punishment does it represent - specific to X campaign setting?
4) The pot and the fermented drink, each includes a mundane ingredient that is specific to X campaign setting. What are they?

The men begin to whisper, looking back at you. One, the eldest stands and asks if you're looking for coin, an adventurer for hire. You are. He explains they have a "problem" that requires a steady hand and mind. It's out back in the barn. You're curious, agree to follow them. You're wary that there are six of them but they seem sensible, know that they would be fools to attack you. Your kind has a deadly reputation.

The barn is in better shape than the inn, there's a symbol above the door that indicates it also doubles as a place of worship, a church or temple. They unlock the doors nervously. Only the elder will follow you inside, a lantern raised high. You regret agreeing to help them the moment you lay eyes on the prisoner. Your life has been complicated one-hundredfold. This prisoner's fate is entwined with yours. The fate of guilds, mercenary companies, possibly kingdoms, is in the mix. It's related to the item you chose to hide before you entered the inn. You understand now why they've been locked in a holy place. Questions:

1) What do the men recognize about, in your features, clothing, or demeanor, that's deadly - specific to X campaign?
2) What symbol hangs above the barn?
3) Who/what is the prisoner? How do they relate to you and that item? Why can you not simply dispatch this prisoner without attracting dire consequences? Of course, specific to X campaign?

...

If I can sell myself first on a scene and dilemma that is unique to the campaign world, then I can sell it to my players. If the differentiating elements between fantasy settings are all bird's-eye (ie: related more to maps, ancient histories, lost civilizations) than the in-game, ground level, vibe, then I don't bother trying a new setting.

All this said, I haven't see an evidence of a big vibe difference between Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk. For the DMs? Sure. For the players? No.
 

Faolyn

Hero
1. Greyhawk, in it's early days forward, was all about zero to hero. There were plenty of adventures, Dungeons etc. - for low, mid and high levels. Sure you could keep the PCs low level - but it was, in no way, baked into the setting.
Don't forget that in earlier editions, you had monsters that drained levels. So it was kind of baked in, in the sense that it was likely you would be dropped down a couple of times.

If it is required to remove more than half of the classes in the Player's Handbook in order to get the proper "feel" for the Greyhawk setting... WotC is not going to bother to make a setting book for it.
I think it would make more sense not to remove classes, but to suggest removing magical archetypes from nonmagical classes. For instance, for Fighter, only include Battle Master, Cavalier, Champion, Purple Dragon Knight/Banneret (or, well, the GH equivalent), and Samurai.
 

Possibly, but I never thought it would just be subtraction. For me that is the interesting thing and all I would probably care about (that and NPCs and monsters of course), but each setting book typical adds some new rules and lore. I would imagine a GH book would do the same.
That's where the problem hits though. Greyhawk needs the answer to its "Why do you need a setting book?" hook answered. They can and have published Greyhawk based stuff previously, just look at Saltmarsh. FR's gone heavy on plot in the past, Eberron's vastly different and had its author going to bat for it, and the ones that have gotten setting stuff have tended to be all new to D&D.

NPCs aren't a selling point because they can and have done just, Greyhawk adventures without a setting book. It needs something to pull you in, and unfortunately I think people are right in saying time may have moved past Greyhawk. The way the game was expected back then just isn't how its played today. Trying to recapture that, and Greyhawk being the thing to try and catch that, is probably a disservice to Greyhawk if anything
 

dave2008

Legend
Perhaps I am looking at things differently since I sell things for a living.

Pure Substraction, if it is not cost or difficulty of use, is a nice attraction. It can be fun but it isn't a broad marketable attraction.

So if the goal is to make more people buy and play Greyhawk, you need to do more than just Substraction.
Again, I never thought a GH setting book would be pure subtraction. Not sure why you are harping on that.
A Song of Ice and Fire is a human only setting with low magic power, extremely low magic frequency, and extremely low magic versatility. However it is a very popular setting due to the thick political drama, layers of romance, displays of action, suspense, mystery, and tragedy, and gripping lore.

Greyhawk 2.0 cant be just "It's D&D but only 2 of you can be a caster or nonhuman. It'll totally be fun guys". Because that puts all the burden on fun on hope.
Sure, but I am not worried about the other parts. I am not trying to make the product. I am just discussing the parts I would care about. Not everyone needs everything. I have bought many a 5e adventure and setting book (all of them I have purchased in fact) primarily for the monsters. Sometimes a book just needs one thing to get someone to but it.
What is good.

Good is subjective and it's an adjective of comparison.

You cannot make Greyhawk "good" until you determine you want it to be "good" at. Otherwise someone else can make the same thing and improve on anything to be "better"
Not my job. I am not trying to determine what is good, nor do I care too.
 

dave2008

Legend
That's where the problem hits though. Greyhawk needs the answer to its "Why do you need a setting book?" hook answered.
I agree, and I generally agree with the OP about the angle of that hook. Maybe it is not the answer you want, but it is my answer.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

A. No.
B. No.
C. No.
1. Maybe.
2. Yes.
3. No.

That's my stance on it. Basically, I stand by my original thoughts: "I don't care what WotC decides to 're-release' as the next setting, just as long as it is NOT Greyhawk or Mystara".

I would go into more detail about each of the above answers, but it would just be a bunch of "some old grognard refusing to get with the times" and "...well back in MY day..." anecdotes. So lets leave it at that. :)

^_^

Paul. L. Ming
 

Because F-you Hickman and Weis. That's why.

WOTC outright owns the IP. But DL fandom still consider DragonLance to be Hickman and Weis's baby.

That's why Butcher bailed on WOTC when he found out Hickman and Weis had nothing to do with the reboot he was supposed to do.

I guarantee WOTC hated that. And they probably didn't like backing down from the recent lawsuit over the new trilogy Hickman and Weis slapped them with either.

Never underestimate a corporations capacity to be straight-up petty and vindictive about such things.
.

As someone who has worked for gigantic corporations almost my whole life, they are rarely, if ever, petty and vindictive on an institutional level. That tends to be tiny company behavior, e.g. the FLGS down the street from me that sabotaged itself because the owner personally had a grudge against Warhammer.

What they are is extremely conservative, often to the point of bewildering stupidity. I am willing to bet money that the Dragonlance situation has little to do with personal emotions, and everything to do with some of the most boring lawyers and product managers you can imagine discussing the implications of having an intellectual property that you legally control, on paper, but which the market largely regards as somebody else's.

If I'm a corporate product guy, Butcher bailing is a huge red flag. It says, yeah, we legally own Dragonlance, but we really don't control it. Not really. Someone else does. The fact is that Weis & Hickman can screw up our plans just by not participating. They don't even have to say anything, and people we hire and make contracts with bail on us. It's our brand! They're not our employees! But due to consumer perception, they're still basically in control. Consequently, producing Dragonlance product has uncontrollable downsides for us because someone we can't fire, end a contract with, or otherwise end a relationship with retains the power to destroy the value of our brand because market perception is, regardless of what the papers say, is that its their brand.

Doesn't matter that Hickman & Weis didn't really go out there and try to screw up WotC. The problem is that they could. They have that power. It means that engaging with the Dragonlance brand has downside risks we can't control, and we hate that.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Well, sure, but what I'm saying is the modification needed would result directly in poor sales. Your average player wants to be flinging Fireballs after a few game sessions.



Low-level adventuring is baked in via the XP system and the higher lethality of the game. Sure, you can buy a 14th-level adventure for AD&D. But how much adventuring did it take your players to get to 14th level? By my estimation, it has taken my ToEE party more than twice as long to reach level 8 as my Out of the Abyss party, and I still have them leveling up at about 15% faster than AD&D.



At least per the rules (IDK how well this was followed in official publications, especially in the late 80s), there is only 1 10th-level monk in the entire Flanaess. There are only 3 druids of 13th level. A 9th-level Fighter rules a parcel of territory from 40 to 100 miles across. This embodies dramatically different assumptions from how the typical 5e storybook adventure runs. For example, Out of the Abyss gives you a gaggle of Veterans, who are about equal to 9th-level warriors, as nameless, faceless henchmen. They're nobodies, just dudes who work for some other dude. They're not feudal lords of modest renown who have laid aside their prerogatives to address the dire threat to the world, which is what they'd be in Greyhawk.

So, IMO, if you want to reboot Greyhawk, you've got to recapture that feeling that making it to tenth level is a noteworthy achievement, requiring luck, hard work, and dedication. Running into a Veteran or Drow Elite Warrior is an event, not just some random sack of combat stats that fell out of a table. I don't think you need to explicitly copy-and-paste the rules for Archdruid combat from 1e. What you need is pacing mechanics and interaction with the world that players feel like the kind of people that kings are starting to pay attention to, not just hired guns who have run a monster-killing treadmill for a few weeks.

And that's what Greyhawk should add to the 5e system. Give me a different XP chart, and some new mechanics to handle all that.


One thing that really bothers me about this theoritical approach is that it has nothing to do with Greyhawk and everything to do with the differences between 5e and 1st/2nd edition.

Like, look for a brief moment at the Scout from 5e. If we just look at their number of attacks, they are likely close to being a level 5 warrior. A spy is a multiclassed fighter thief from this angle. These people are supposed to be POWERFUL individuals if you use this metric. Nearly lords of the land themselves.

They are low CR mooks hired by more important people. A Scout is literally a military reconnaissance scout, not someone of renown.

Look at the Archer from Volo's, they are basically a level 5 battlemaster... and they are a faceless mook with low-quality gear. Swashbuckler? Same deal.

5e is just not set up with the expectation that people who reach level 8 are national heroes with few peers. The bandits are led by a guy who is nearly as good as you are, with two archer bodyguards and a group of their normal bandit buddies can be the match or more for a group of even level 5 or 6 adventurers.

And this is completely ignoring spellcaster NPCs who are presented as far far more powerful than that. Each of the basic wizards in Volo's are 9th level spellcasters. The game isn't signalling that these people are ruling cities and running guilds, this is a generic statblock for when your enemy has a spellcaster in their group.

So, if you want to make 9th level a pinnacle of power that is hard to surpass... you need to basically break with 5e assumptions.
 

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