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D&D 5E Greyhawk: Pitching the Reboot


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Personally, I think that Greyhawk is less magical than 5E typically presents, but it's not "low magic" in the LotR sense. There's plenty of magic in the world, but it's inaccessible to most, leaving information about it rather rare. People fear what they don't understand, giving magic a bad reputation, which many magic-users would gladly take advantage of. The PCs are obviously going to be outliers in any edition, but especially so in a highly magical edition like 5E.


I think the fact that there's divisions within GH fans doesn't help either. I appreciate the work you've done to carry the banner all these years, but after the "Greyhawk is the default setting" from 3E, I found this isn't a winnable battle. This was by far the worst thing that could happen to GH (including the Greyhawk Wars), since it gave the impression to everyone unfamiliar with the setting that it's just generic. Because of this, no one wants to actually learn anything about it, being instead drawn to other settings.

I honestly don't want any more official GH material; I'm just too afraid of what it would look like. If they got you, Luke, or other old school authors to work on it, that'd be amazing, but I find that highly unlikely. Instead I expect they'll make an anniversary book, reprinting previous material without adding anything new. I'd be happy if they'd open the DMGuild for GH, since it would allow a lot of material that each DM can pick and choose from, without any "official" material forced upon them.
I have repeatedly said over the years that the GH fandom is one large problem re WotC's inclination to revive the setting. How much this factor has now become a convenient excuse for the latter is debatable.

While waiting for the next crust of bread to be thrown to the GH "beggars" below mayt be a Greyhawkers "Ground Hog Day" tradition it does serve the purpose of symbolizing their station in relation to the Grand Coastal Wizards. I do not say this out of spite for the die-hard fans out there, but do pose it as a reminder: Don't eat the crust. Demand better or receive nothing. If they are going to kill-it-through-a-thousand-crusts rather let it die a dignified death.

In between I am championing "Black" Hawk! Blowing up the world as Gary did in his novels and starting over, Dying Earth style. New names, familiar but somewhat changed faces, a regression and a progression at once, and a heavy-handed lateral move for sure. BLOW iT UP, because "it's better to burn out than fade away" -- Neil Young
 

hopeless

Adventurer
Or set it much earlier so they can avoid most of the problems they feel trying to have it set during the current era poses for them?
Maybe not as early as Blackmoor mind you.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I would like to remind people that Ghosts of Saltmarsh exists. It's a 5E book that uses Greyhawk stuff. I assume everyone in this thread who loves Greyhawk already purchased their own copy of it???
Yep, and loving it (mostly - it does have some content drawn from elsewhere). I’d love to see more - an expanded L series would be another nice series of modules to bring Greyhawk back into the limelite.

I’ll be curious to see if Goodman’s Game update of Elemental Evil will retain the Greyhawk references and what it might do for the call to open Greyhawk up to the likes of the DM’s guild for more GH content.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I like the comparison to GOT
But greyhawk was not a low magic setting. It was just that the magic was concentrated in certain cities.
Remember back then level 10 was High.
Despite the ever present desire on the internet for low magic games every setting that has been successful was not low magic. Low magic has always had a much smaller playrbase and appeal.

Yeah, I think a lot of people are talking like Greyhawk was designed with low level NPCs and PCs as a core design feature. But, it wasn't. Dungeons and Dragons was designed that way.

I understand the mental conflation between Greyhawk and 1e or 2e, but it is correlation and nothing more. It really sounds like what people want is an older version of DnD, and that isn't something that 5e should do.
 

In between I am championing "Black" Hawk! Blowing up the world as Gary did in his novels and starting over, Dying Earth style. New names, familiar but somewhat changed faces, a regression and a progression at once, and a heavy-handed lateral move for sure. BLOW iT UP, because "it's better to burn out than fade away" -- Neil Young
Honestly with Wizard's thing at the moment being setpieces (See: Candlekeep being an entire book of them) I reckon any Greyhawk stuff in the future will just be setpieces grabbed from Greyhawk that can then be used elsewhere

Not great in terms of wanting access to it on the DM's Guild (Still not sure why they didn't open that up for Saltmarsh), but in line with what WotC seem to be doing with the line at present. I think in general the age of the 'How's this setting been getting along?' sourcebook may be done, and they're just going to focus on the ones with the mechanical stuff
 

Hussar

Legend
Again, it depends entirerly on what you consider low magic. Is Greyhawk low magic? The answer is both yes and no. Magic is not as pervasive in Greyhawk as in other settings like FR or Eberron. In FR, the availability of high level casters is staggering, bordering on the almost ridiculous. In Eberron, magic is so common that even the normal people can have access to it.

In Greyhawk, magic is as powerful as in any of these two settings (or any other for that matter) but the actual number of high level practitioners is way lower than in the FR and thw availability of magic is way lower than in Eberron.
/snip
Something to also remember is when we say Forgotten Realms or Eberron, both settings are a HELL of a lot bigger than Greyhawk. Isn't GH about the size of the Sword coast? That Sword Coast map that WotC banged out for 5e from Mike Schley - shows the Sword Coast area to be roughly a large chunk of the continental United States. Here's one comparison I found:
1617757472300.png


Sorry, bit big. But, it gets the idea. FR is freaking HUGE. Greyhawk isn't much bigger than the Sword Coast IIRC.
 

The Flannaess is pretty large in size, at about 6.8 million square miles, which is not quite twice the size of the US (3.8 million square miles per Bing). It's larger than the map in the SCAG (5 million square miles), which is much more than just the Sword Coast (the white cliff coastline between Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep). The difference is that the Flanaess is all that got done with Greyhawk (the original plan was to add more of Oerik instead of advancing the timeline), while Greenwood fully expanded out of Faerun. Realms even got the other continents of Toril filled out (if only by absorbing Kara-Tur and Al-Qadim).
 

Would this work better if the magic was being hoarded thus no magic shops and what little they can find is either used or ends up being bought by the very people hoarding the stuff to insure the local populace never develops the means to topple those in charge?
You could have Mage Guilds supervising these expeditions and eventually making sure the most dangerous stuff remains under their control even if its means backstabbing their adventurers' without them realising whats actually going on?
What books best describe the Greyhawk setting?
In Gygax time...it was the Gord books...but he killed off that version of Greyhawk...when Tharizdun was locked away in it.
 

How do you handle the power growth?
I ran a game and still feel like I wasn't handling it properly so I'm interested to learn how you handled that!
In AD&D the sweet spot was 5th to 7th level...keep your players there as long as you can...Instead of making the world magic poor, make the world gold poor. Make the players pay for training to level up. This will slow down leveling faster than anything else. This will also have the party selling all those minor magic items to help with paying for training.
 

Hussar

Legend
The Flannaess is pretty large in size, at about 6.8 million square miles, which is not quite twice the size of the US (3.8 million square miles per Bing). It's larger than the map in the SCAG (5 million square miles), which is much more than just the Sword Coast (the white cliff coastline between Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep). The difference is that the Flanaess is all that got done with Greyhawk (the original plan was to add more of Oerik instead of advancing the timeline), while Greenwood fully expanded out of Faerun. Realms even got the other continents of Toril filled out (if only by absorbing Kara-Tur and Al-Qadim).
Well, putting it that way, that still means that the Flannaess is about half the size of Faerun. Never minding the rest of Forgotten Realms. Greyhawk is a lot smaller area than a lot of other published settings.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I would like to see a Greyhawk DIY kit, not a storybook adventure. Basically, take the 1e Greyhawk box, update it to 5e, and fill in things provide other materials that made it something of a disappointment, particular more detail on the different countries and what's in them. I would include, in addition to updates of the original two books, a rules booklet containing material for
  • hex-crawling.
  • domains & warfare.
  • Name Level benefits loosely inspired by AD&D.
  • A revised level schedule with gold-based XP.
Essentially, make it a more thorough DIY kit than the DMG for running adventures in a setting that's about 50% homebrew, 50% published.
There may be a spark of genius there. I think your pitch is killing multiple birds with one stone, or for a more apt analogy, hatching multiple birds from one egg.
  • Worldbuilder's/Adventure Writer's Guide: Despite approximately half the fanbase preferring homebrew settings, we don't yet have a "worldbuilder's guide" or "guide to making adventures" for 5e. Everything from the direction of rivers & where mountain rain shadows fall to how to craft a compelling faction as an antagonist (perhaps using the Scarlet Brotherhood as an example) & how to hook more mercenary-minded players beyond gold. The DMG is a great introduction, but this could go much deeper and provide templates useful to newer and experienced DMs alike. And this harkens to Gary Gygax's sentiment that each DM should make the setting their own.
  • Fill-in-the-Blanks/Random Tables: With different views among the Greyhawk fanbase, and with Forgotten Realms as a setting heavily drenched in canon, perhaps embracing a more "OSR playbook" approach to mysteries & edges of the map might be a way to make something broadly appealing and also distinctive. The wonder of random tables is that they also give newer or time-harried DMs something to hang their creativity on when fleshing out the unknown & also present an avenue for those intimately familiar with Greyhawk to present their ideas as possibilities rather than canonical fact.
  • Starting Towns/Short Adventures: One of the most essential parts of a new D&D game, and one which can involve plenty of elbow grease, is the starting town – as brilliantly realized in Hommlet – so a hypothetical book could include a couple potential starting towns each with a single-session adventure to get you started.
  • DMG 2: There are many places where rules and narrative inform one another, such as prevalence of higher-level NPCs, or how spells are created, where there is room to go beyond the existing resources. We've seen little piecemeal approaches to this in Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, but this hypothetical book would be the place to take a deep dive into how house rules & rules interpretations affect your setting.
  • Nostalgia Meets Streaming: By using recognizable NPCs from Greyhawk lore (Circle of Eight, Eclavdra, Lum the Mad) as examples of how to design antagonists, allies, and quest-givers, or using the Free City of Greyhawk as a template for city design, inspire a culture of creation and design which newer gamers can show off in DMs Guild or on various livestreams.
I have no idea about the market for such a book, nor any legal restrictions related to the Estate, nor future plans for Greyhawk, nor even if my hypothetical is offensive as a "Franken-hawk", but surveying the challenges – divided older fanbase, need to hook younger audience, corporation looking for settings that fill distinctive roles – I wonder if this might be a potential path forward.
 

There may be a spark of genius there. I think your pitch is killing multiple birds with one stone, or for a more apt analogy, hatching multiple birds from one egg.
  • Worldbuilder's/Adventure Writer's Guide: Despite approximately half the fanbase preferring homebrew settings, we don't yet have a "worldbuilder's guide" or "guide to making adventures" for 5e. Everything from the direction of rivers & where mountain rain shadows fall to how to craft a compelling faction as an antagonist (perhaps using the Scarlet Brotherhood as an example) & how to hook more mercenary-minded players beyond gold. The DMG is a great introduction, but this could go much deeper and provide templates useful to newer and experienced DMs alike. And this harkens to Gary Gygax's sentiment that each DM should make the setting their own.
  • Fill-in-the-Blanks/Random Tables: With different views among the Greyhawk fanbase, and with Forgotten Realms as a setting heavily drenched in canon, perhaps embracing a more "OSR playbook" approach to mysteries & edges of the map might be a way to make something broadly appealing and also distinctive. The wonder of random tables is that they also give newer or time-harried DMs something to hang their creativity on when fleshing out the unknown & also present an avenue for those intimately familiar with Greyhawk to present their ideas as possibilities rather than canonical fact.
  • Starting Towns/Short Adventures: One of the most essential parts of a new D&D game, and one which can involve plenty of elbow grease, is the starting town – as brilliantly realized in Hommlet – so a hypothetical book could include a couple potential starting towns each with a single-session adventure to get you started.
  • DMG 2: There are many places where rules and narrative inform one another, such as prevalence of higher-level NPCs, or how spells are created, where there is room to go beyond the existing resources. We've seen little piecemeal approaches to this in Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, but this hypothetical book would be the place to take a deep dive into how house rules & rules interpretations affect your setting.
  • Nostalgia Meets Streaming: By using recognizable NPCs from Greyhawk lore (Circle of Eight, Eclavdra, Lum the Mad) as examples of how to design antagonists, allies, and quest-givers, or using the Free City of Greyhawk as a template for city design, inspire a culture of creation and design which newer gamers can show off in DMs Guild or on various livestreams.
I have no idea about the market for such a book, nor any legal restrictions related to the Estate, nor future plans for Greyhawk, nor even if my hypothetical is offensive as a "Franken-hawk", but surveying the challenges – divided older fanbase, need to hook younger audience, corporation looking for settings that fill distinctive roles – I wonder if this might be a potential path forward.
Your idea is as good as any submitted on this tend. I am not a purist. All versions of Greyhawk had good, bad and excellent points in previous editions. It is just a matter of how WotC would adapt Greyhawk to 5ed. I am sure a lot of good can come out of it.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I have repeatedly said over the years that the GH fandom is one large problem re WotC's inclination to revive the setting. How much this factor has now become a convenient excuse for the latter is debatable.

While waiting for the next crust of bread to be thrown to the GH "beggars" below mayt be a Greyhawkers "Ground Hog Day" tradition it does serve the purpose of symbolizing their station in relation to the Grand Coastal Wizards. I do not say this out of spite for the die-hard fans out there, but do pose it as a reminder: Don't eat the crust. Demand better or receive nothing. If they are going to kill-it-through-a-thousand-crusts rather let it die a dignified death.

In between I am championing "Black" Hawk! Blowing up the world as Gary did in his novels and starting over, Dying Earth style. New names, familiar but somewhat changed faces, a regression and a progression at once, and a heavy-handed lateral move for sure. BLOW iT UP, because "it's better to burn out than fade away" -- Neil Young
Greyhawk was already blown up by the elves. That what put it in its current state. I think if you blow it up you lose old timers and if its a typical dark gamey of thrones thing it never takes off
 


I’m smiling at telling @Rob Kuntz of all people what might happen to Greyhawk old timers.
I only speak for myself as a designer for the world. As I noted up thread, the idea of a DIY world for each individual DM as opposed to what the designers, including Gary, were doing with it (besides using it as a parking lot for plopped down adventures), such as the GH Wars, FTA excursions and even slip-stream-stepping into EGG's BLOWN UP variation (although no doubt the latter was done out of disgust and the realization that, hey, "it's gone from my hands: and artistic intent" now attitude), well all of it is one literal, ongoing mess and meandering and pandering patchwork machination at this point. Sure Sift amongst the rubble again and again, take the 100th poll where NO ONE EVER reaches consensus and never will about what GH (individual) should mean for GH (grouped conception), the latter which philosophically does not and never did exist specifically because of the former philosophy was it's seminal philosophy. So, yes. Blow it up and start over, satisfy WotC in that regard (if indeed they can be satisfied, I have my doubts), satisfy the curious newcomers who don't ever need to hear the old war stories and "that's not the way to do Greyhawk." And for the rest, the battle-hardened grognards? Like all Greyhawker Old Guard, including me, you roll with it...
 

Hussar

Legend
A very healthy attitude to have @Rob Kuntz . Honestly, I think keeping as open a mind as possible is a good idea. The Saltmarsh adventures are pretty Greyhawk'y. They hit a lot of the right notes. As I mentioned before, that charity module for Extra Life is a fantastic way to get new gamers interested in both the history of the game and the history of Greyhawk. That, and it's a hell of a fun module too. :D What a romp.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Frankly, the whole "Low Magic" thing smacks of grognards looking down their collective noses. "Oh, that FR is alright for the kiddies, it's high magic after all, for those of us with taste, though, it's just gauche". It ignores the fact that Greyhawk most certainly isn't a low magic setting at all. Good grief. You have commoners with magic swords in Hommlet. Actually, looking at any GH example of a town or village, there are multiple magic items in the town, as well as multiple casters, frequently of fairly significant level. Magic was by no means rare or unheard of in the setting.

But, because FR is "high magic", then Greyhawk MUST BE low magic. After all, some folks want Greyhawk to be different and are desperate to throw up any difference they can grasp, even though it completely contradicts the setting itself.

I'm sorry, but, it's laughable that in a setting where you have countries governed by actual GODS, that it's a low magic setting? Where there are artifacts all over the place? Heck, where any given treasure trove had about a 1 in 10 chance of multiple magic items? I mean, how much magic do you need to make something high magic?
I agree, and I am only regretfully able to give your post one like. Instead of trying to frame this as low magic vs. high magic, it seems more apt IMHO to frame Greyhawk as typifying Gygaxian fantasy in a way that Forgotten Realms does not.

Something to also remember is when we say Forgotten Realms or Eberron, both settings are a HELL of a lot bigger than Greyhawk. Isn't GH about the size of the Sword coast? That Sword Coast map that WotC banged out for 5e from Mike Schley - shows the Sword Coast area to be roughly a large chunk of the continental United States. Here's one comparison I found:
Here's Khorvaire from Eberron. It apparently changed size between 3.5 and 5e (~75% of the original size), the latter of which is closer to what Keith Baker originally had in mind.
lcywda103y341.png
If we focus on just Khorvaire - rather than the world map - I don't think Eberron is that big by comparison to the Flanaess. If anything, it's possibly smaller.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I only speak for myself as a designer for the world. As I noted up thread, the idea of a DIY world for each individual DM as opposed to what the designers, including Gary, were doing with it (besides using it as a parking lot for plopped down adventures), such as the GH Wars, FTA excursions and even slip-stream-stepping into EGG's BLOWN UP variation (although no doubt the latter was done out of disgust and the realization that, hey, "it's gone from my hands: and artistic intent" now attitude), well all of it is one literal, ongoing mess and meandering and pandering patchwork machination at this point. Sure Sift amongst the rubble again and again, take the 100th poll where NO ONE EVER reaches consensus and never will about what GH (individual) should mean for GH (grouped conception), the latter which philosophically does not and never did exist specifically because of the former philosophy was it's seminal philosophy. So, yes. Blow it up and start over, satisfy WotC in that regard (if indeed they can be satisfied, I have my doubts), satisfy the curious newcomers who don't ever need to hear the old war stories and "that's not the way to do Greyhawk." And for the rest, the battle-hardened grognards? Like all Greyhawker Old Guard, including me, you roll with it...
No theyll just keep running the original and ignore the reboot. When i dip into greyhawk or forgotten realms i go back to 1e versions. None of the after silliness ever happened. But to each his own.
I think when the campaign sets were presumed to be something that each DM was going to make thier own for thier own group they were more popular.
 

nevin

Adventurer
A very healthy attitude to have @Rob Kuntz . Honestly, I think keeping as open a mind as possible is a good idea. The Saltmarsh adventures are pretty Greyhawk'y. They hit a lot of the right notes. As I mentioned before, that charity module for Extra Life is a fantastic way to get new gamers interested in both the history of the game and the history of Greyhawk. That, and it's a hell of a fun module too. :D What a romp.
I love the history of greyhawk. I just dont think blowing it up (i presume we are talking catyclysmic reset) is a good idea. Now if you want to just skipp 100 years or so into the future with st cuthbert and mordenkainen, and other icons still trying to hold the darkness at bay, i'd be all in
 

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