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D&D 5E Greyhawk: Pitching the Reboot

The two share a lot of content (I think the actual locale overview part is taken almost verbatim), but the boxed set expands upon the folio. The material in the Glossography book is almost entirely new to the boxed set.

How much detail is there in that original folio when compared to the Greyhawk boxed set?

But for the lack of gaming, that doesn't sound too bad! I've spent some time in the French countryside, and it was lovely (as was the Calvados).

It's all good. Besides, I have been isolated going on six years on a mountain in France in a very small hamlet and have no opportunity to game period, unless it is with my wife.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Like I said in the beginning of the discussion, there are mainly 3 levers in Magic:

  1. Power
  2. Frequency
  3. Versatility
Oerth is only low in magic frequency. Only those with magic items and spells encounter magic on a predicable basis. Greyhawk is however high on Magic Power and Versatility. Those with a decent amount of magic can do a whole lot with it.

This makes Greyhawk a setting of contrasting worlds. A world of magic inside a world without. Like Vampire the Masquerade with none of the enforcement. Lifestyle feudalism. A world of powerful NPCs, fantastic races, and mythical monsters who do nothing but flower at each other and a world of common commoner who just live their lives. A clear foreground and many backgrounds.

Selling this alone is not easy as Greyhawk adds little. It most ran base D&D and relied heavily on the DM. So a rebooted Greyhawk would need to see what it could add by pulling out some DM responsibility for action to mechanize it
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The two share a lot of content (I think the actual locale overview part is taken almost verbatim), but the boxed set expands upon the folio. The material in the Glossography book is almost entirely new to the boxed set.

The boxed set (usually called "WoG" for World of Greyhawk to differentiate it from the Folio ... or whatever) greatly add a lot of the fluff that EGG had published in Dragon in the intervening couple of years, quadrupling it in size from the original 32 pages.

But as you correctly note, the Folio had the Darlene map and the gazeteer. It's roughly the same as the first book in the WoG.
 

@Ralif Redhammer At least we reside below a ruined castle, so it's not like I can't imagine adventure from my upper terrace! ;) This shot is from its front; its backside is viewable from our abode in the hamlet.

Genoese Castle - touched-up 1000x1133.jpg
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I know Joe and might well do that. There's a few options cooking. Not to thread-jack, so I'll do the short version: I have some offers I'm considering, but one would involve me setting aside for 6 months a novel that I'm currently sailing along on and that I'm contracted to complete.. El Raja Key is my baby and I'll finish it (flesh it) in 1E and not license it before that's done; it's a stickler, for sure, finding the time to wrap it. The fact is I have too much happening and one of these happenings will likely see me traveling back to the USA in the next 2 months and that's for something other than the novel. The old humorous saying that "I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger with an itch," applies here. ;)

Well, I'm glad to read that you're busy! I'm pretty interested in seeing your future work in all its forms, so I wish you good luck!

I'm especially keen on your Journey to the City of Brass modules (I love the concept of an Efreeti City).
 

Well, I'm glad to read that you're busy! I'm pretty interested in seeing your future work in all its forms, so I wish you good luck!

I'm especially keen on your Journey to the City of Brass modules (I love the concept of an Efreeti City).
Thanks! TLB Games (Paul Stormberg) ran my "into the City of Brass" (which follows and completes "Journey to the City of Brass" (RPGA 1987 DragonCon)) at the latest virtual GaryCon; they will both be offered soon enough through his site. Beware Rhomus! Probably the most bizarre and dangerous "creature" I've ever created, until tomorrow, of course. ;)
 

Like I said in the beginning of the discussion, there are mainly 3 levers in Magic:

  1. Power
  2. Frequency
  3. Versatility
Oerth is only low in magic frequency. Only those with magic items and spells encounter magic on a predicable basis. Greyhawk is however high on Magic Power and Versatility. Those with a decent amount of magic can do a whole lot with it.

This makes Greyhawk a setting of contrasting worlds. A world of magic inside a world without. Like Vampire the Masquerade with none of the enforcement. Lifestyle feudalism. A world of powerful NPCs, fantastic races, and mythical monsters who do nothing but flower at each other and a world of common commoner who just live their lives. A clear foreground and many backgrounds.

Selling this alone is not easy as Greyhawk adds little. It most ran base D&D and relied heavily on the DM. So a rebooted Greyhawk would need to see what it could add by pulling out some DM responsibility for action to mechanize it
I'd add a fourth: how much the players can interact with magic. If the pc's are all magic users, even if they're literally the only ones in the world, the narrative will feature a lot of magic, because it's focusing on people with magic. If the pc's don't use magic, it'll feature very little magic unless magic is everywhere in the setting.

This, I think, will affect the feel of the game more than the worldbuilding.
 






I think the ideas that some are mooting about tweaking 5e baseline rules and assumptions to fit in with matching the ad&d feel are, respectfully ,flawed.

As the two systems are different, a level 9 character in both mean different things, conceptually in how they relate to the world. If you’re going to reboot it to work with the system, well, get it to work with the system. If a level 10 greyhawk wizard was the pinnacle of power in AD&D, well, that’s level 20 now.

So many seem to keep asking what makes it different to forgotten realms, then ignore the answer when given. It’s the feel of the setting.

Forgotten realms contains the shining city states, the forces of good are generally on the rise, those nefarious cults keep getting put down (and would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling Harpers shakes fists).

Greyhawk is, as has been stated, the witcher, GOT. It’s not low magic as in its low level or not there. But that’s it’s concentrated in a few powerful individuals (and by definition, as your party is exceptional, in you). It is dark and gritty, a silhouette of a dishevelled man, wounded, riding slowly against a blood red sunset as a crow caws in the fore ground.

Evil is on the rise and you’re scrabbling to make a living, or trying to make a difference. There are splashes of gonzo and surreal to lighten the tone.
The adventures themselves aren’t that different, it’s the presentation that invokes the mood and this can make all the difference.

Think early 40k before it went fully grim derp, it’s raw 80s punk aesthetic, laughing at machismo tongue in cheek, yet presenting a dark vision.

It also serves as another example of how set dressing can make the difference. The rules between it and warhammer fantasy were effectively the same for many things, it was the dressing that was difference) Yet one product did not obviate the other (and before anyone brings up end times, there were numerous, poor management decisions that led to fantasy’s retirement that don’t negate my point).

sometimes, dressing is enough.

EDIT: just want to mention, getting a like from Rob Kuntz led to a massive fanboy dance! :D
 
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I think the ideas that some are mooting about tweaking 5e baseline rules and assumptions to fit in with matching the ad&d feel are, respectfully ,flawed.

As the two systems are different, a level 9 character in both mean different things, conceptually in how they relate to the world. If you’re going to reboot it to work with the system, well, get it to work with the system. If a level 10 greyhawk wizard was the pinnacle of power in AD&D, well, that’s level 20 now.

So many seem to keep asking what makes it different to forgotten realms, then ignore the answer when given. It’s the feel of the setting.

Forgotten realms contains the shining city states, the forces of good are generally on the rise, those nefarious cults keep getting put down (and would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling Harpers shakes fists).

Greyhawk is, as has been stated, the witcher, GOT. It’s not low magic as in its low level or not there. But that’s it’s concentrated in a few powerful individuals (and by definition, as your party is exceptional, in you). It is dark and gritty, a silhouette of a dishevelled man, wounded, riding slowly against a blood red sunset as a crow caws in the fore ground.

Evil is on the rise and you’re scrabbling to make a living, or trying to make a difference. There are splashes of gonzo and surreal to lighten the tone.
The adventures themselves aren’t that different, it’s the presentation that invokes the mood and this can make all the difference.

Think early 40k before it went fully grim derp, it’s raw 80s punk aesthetic, laughing at machismo tongue in cheek, yet presenting a dark vision.

It also serves as another example of how set dressing can make the difference. The rules between it and warhammer fantasy were effectively the same for many things, it was the dressing that was difference) Yet one product did not obviate the other (and before anyone brings up end times, there were numerous, poor management decisions that led to fantasy’s retirement that don’t negate my point).

sometimes, dressing is enough.

EDIT: just want to mention, getting a like from Rob Kuntz led to a massive fanboy dance! :D
Well, I concur. There is no fiddly, hocus-pocus formula. Even out the playing field and then differentiate with great story telling, adventures, etc. From a designer's perspective I would go much further as I've previously noted about darkening it to a Dying Earth-type, but I do know that this itself dances near the "Cliffs of Heresy." I actually believe Gary would approve of the idea, but I lack my portable Ouija board to verify that... ;)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I'd add a fourth: how much the players can interact with magic. If the pc's are all magic users, even if they're literally the only ones in the world, the narrative will feature a lot of magic, because it's focusing on people with magic. If the pc's don't use magic, it'll feature very little magic unless magic is everywhere in the setting.

This, I think, will affect the feel of the game more than the worldbuilding.

That's Frequency.

Greyhawk is a low magic frequency game because only adventurers and adventurer-adjacent people (people of high society or leadership) ever interact with magic outside of full scale war or invasion. And even then you must be over a certain level to really see much of it.

Frequency is the amount of average magic spread across the world. If your party are the only magic most people encounter, it's low magic frequency. If your party and regular folk bump into magical things frequently enough to not be a rare event, it's high magic frequency.
 

I think I must clarify my stance on the low magic.

I should say magic is rare, but powerful. How many really high level NPC have we seen in the boxed set prior to the From the Ashes boxed set? Not many were active. Especially priests. 9th level was usually the norm. Canon Hazen was a notable exception. Most other priest stopped around level 9 to 11. How many powerful mages? Not a lot, but still a bit more numerous than clerics. Compare that to the FR and Greyhawk is far behind in availability of high level casters.

And do not get me wrong, you can always add a very high level opponent to face your PCs, that is why we play afterall, but at the same time, it this exact reason why I feel Greyhawk has so much more interesting. It was malleable enough that it could be adjusted for any campaign style. Countries were defined enough to give you an excellent idea on how to run them, but vague enough so that you could make them your own. It this versatility that I have always liked.
 

Well, I concur. There is no fiddly, hocus-pocus formula. Even out the playing field and then differentiate with great story telling, adventures, etc. From a designer's perspective I would go much further as I've previously noted about darkening it to a Dying Earth-type, but I do know that this itself dances near the "Cliffs of Heresy." I actually believe Gary would approve of the idea, but I lack my portable Ouija board to verify that... ;)
Oh my days that would be awesome.

I think one major problem we have is a , how to put this “kurt cobain/John Lennon” type situation . Like the setting was an early product started in Gary’s vision. Due to circumstance, it never had a chance to develop further with its original creator. The final product frozen in time, perfected in our minds as how we viewed it then. Gary may have developed it in ways that might have caused consternation to the OG fans. It didn’t age. It didn’t sell out. It didn’t cause controversy with choices. but that is speculative.

This is a flawless, unassailable product that will only be “ruined” because someone else has done something different to it that didn’t match what you envisioned at your table.

When this type of thread appeared before, I pitched approaching a campaign setting book as a wilderlands style hex crawl folio. With limited information or setting modification. Just snippets of basic flavour text about the nations and religions, then hexes with a small paragraph in each of different things (including the placement of classic adventures). That way, it remains as it was, a sketch of a world, waiting for you to ink in the details and add colour. To my mind, it would inspire adventure, differentiate it from the other 5e products and avoid controversies around a reboot of lore.

I’d be interested in your opinion on that if you felt if it was viable or not?
 

That's Frequency.

Greyhawk is a low magic frequency game because only adventurers and adventurer-adjacent people (people of high society or leadership) ever interact with magic outside of full scale war or invasion. And even then you must be over a certain level to really see much of it.

Frequency is the amount of average magic spread across the world. If your party are the only magic most people encounter, it's low magic frequency. If your party and regular folk bump into magical things frequently enough to not be a rare event, it's high magic frequency.
There's a big difference between "the pcs rarely interact with magic" and "the peasants rarely interact with magic."

The latter, I would say, is barely relevant to how the game plays out. The former is a seismic shift from how 5e DnD is presented.
 

I think I must clarify my stance on the low magic.

I should say magic is rare, but powerful. How many really high level NPC have we seen in the boxed set prior to the From the Ashes boxed set? Not many were active. Especially priests. 9th level was usually the norm. Canon Hazen was a notable exception. Most other priest stopped around level 9 to 11. How many powerful mages? Not a lot, but still a bit more numerous than clerics. Compare that to the FR and Greyhawk is far behind in availability of high level casters.

And do not get me wrong, you can always add a very high level opponent to face your PCs, that is why we play afterall, but at the same time, it this exact reason why I feel Greyhawk has so much more interesting. It was malleable enough that it could be adjusted for any campaign style. Countries were defined enough to give you an excellent idea on how to run them, but vague enough so that you could make them your own. It this versatility that I have always liked.
Well, those days of versatility are unfortunately gone. They were vanquished long before WotC acquired TSR. Greyhawk was versatile and a DM's sandbox; but with the breadwinners FR and DL, well these defined the path to GOLD: describe everything and leave no stone unturned. Greyhawk got literally crushed while caught between paradoxical and opposed philosophies (create vs. have it created for thee). Contributing to this was TSR's political war with Gary.

Greyhawk has to come into line with what the mode has been for a while: describe everything (and then let those who disagree sort it out on the back end). I generally do not prefer median products made for median use, so I side (as did Gary) with versatility. But the fact of a previously groomed market dictates Greyhawk's future if it ever leaves its iron-banded eyrie.
 


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