D&D 5E Greyhawk: Player Options for a Campaign Setting

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Greyhawk is D&D before people thought they needed to color within the lines. Greyhawk is D&D your way. It's the infinite multiverse and crashed spaceships, it's ninja nazi monks and demon-possessed emperors, it's endless black ice and dead civilizations blasted by colorless fire.

It's a mechanical bejeweled songbird from two millennia ago with powers that amaze and terrify, and an ancient computer designed by a long-ago Baron driven insane by his creation. It's a dark nameless god dreaming within a crystalline cyst, and demi-gods raised from the ranks of mere mortal adventurers.


It's a land that contains both the hospitable and brave free people of the Yeomanry who regularly elect their leaders from amongst their ranks, as well as the infamy of Vlek, the Stonefist, who acquired power through the slaughter of the Coltens Feodality under cover of negotiation.


I have often made the case for Greyhawk, but as we come up on the 50th Anniversary of D&D (1974 - 2024), I think that it is a no-brainer for WoTC to re-visit the setting. When you have an anniversary that allows a celebration of the past, it would seem a natural fit to update and release the OG of official campaign settings. Not to mention the basis for a lot of the lore we have seen recently; after all, Vecna, Mordenkainen, Tasha ... all have their roots in Greyhawk.

But while I have spilled some words (for large amounts of "some") discussing Greyhawk in general in the past, today I wanted to concentrate on a more narrow issue- given that WoTC always releases campaign settings that have player-facing options in order to increase sales, what player-facing options would a revised Greyhawk setting have?

....and, honestly, this is an area that I struggle with. Because Greyhawk was the original campaign setting, a lot of things that we take for granted were introduced for play during the Greyhawk era, but are now part of the regular game. For example, I don't think "Drow" would be a big selling point. Other things just couldn't be (or shouldn't be) done- Greyhawk had a rich description of the various waves of human settlers/colonizers/invaders to the Flanaess (Oerdian, Suel, Baklunish, Flannae etc.), but D&D has rightfully avoided any mechanical differentiation in humans.

I am also not interested in either more varieties of Elves (although people can post them in the comments) or in listing things that have been covered elsewhere but are present in Greyhawk (Centaurs, Bugbears, etc.).

With that in mind, I am going to throw out a few ideas and then see if others have a few of their own for player-facing options for Greyhawk-

A. Scarlet Brotherhood Monks. This one is the easiest. Maybe too easy. Obviously, the monks of Greyhawk are a little different- the whole Nazi thing. Which maybe makes them not as appealing a player option ... while you can always Drizzt it up (the PC is someone who is against the prevailing power structure, etc.) you may want to leave this whole area as "Villain/NPC only."

B. Tiefling/Cambion. Yes, Tieflings are technically related to (descendants of, bloodline curse, etc.) ....fiends, which means either devil or demon. But other than IIRC a UA, the TIeflings to date in 5e have had a distinct devilish tilt. Either through a pact with Asmodeum or in MTOF other Archdevils. The one thing that Greyhawk has ... is demons. Grazzt. Iuz has had a presence and a country. Let's have some demon-centric options.

C. Aliens/Vegepygmies. Maybe it's time for some more plant-based PCs? The original alien life form was the vegepygmy, in Barrier Peaks. Maybe you don't want to go "full robot" but you could certainly introduce some of the old classics as PC options.

D. Valley Elf. Ugh, no. Gag me with a spoon.

E. Return of the Old? This might be too stupid (or too clever), but maybe have variant classes that reflect the oldest AD&D classes that we no longer have. An illusionist that isn't just a pale Wizard subclass, but a REAL ILLUSIONIST. A ranger option that skews heavily toward the old Aragorn/strider model (a Fighter Subclass, loosely based off of Eldritch Knight but with druid spells, maybe).

F. Gary, expanded. A jester? A mountebank? An acrobat/thief? A savant? A mystic (no, sorry ... not that one, psionics fans)? There were ideas for expansions to the classes by Gygax that were introduced just prior to his departure, or were planned for afterwards. Obviously, the biggest issue is that several of these (jester, mountebank) might be bard-adjacent.

G. Deity-specific subclasses, bonuses, or feats. Not just for clerics anymore! From OD&D through Dragon #283 (and beyond!), Greyhawk has had a rich tradition of providing bonuses for believers, clerics, or followers of certain deities. The pantheon of Greyhawk is bizarre, and fun, and whether you're a Shining Blade of Heironeous or a Theocrat of Pholtus, there is something for you here.

H. Good artifacts make good artificers. Whether you're in the Yeomanry or Irongate, and regardless of whether you've excavated the Sea of Dust for forgotten technology of lost empires or found alien technology in the high mountains, there is something for all artificers within Greyhawk. Just don't go mad with the implications of what you are building ....

I. Knights, knights, and more knights. Whether you're the Watch, Luna, or the Hart ... there are Knights of Orders a plenty in Greyhawk.


Anyway, there are some seed ideas. I am sure that there are people here who could come up with more! And I'd love to see them.

So let me ask- if you were releasing a New Greyhawk Campaign Setting, what player-facing options would you include? And what player-facing options would you like to see?
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Greyhawk is D&D before people thought they needed to color within the lines. Greyhawk is D&D your way. It's the infinite multiverse and crashed spaceships, it's ninja nazi monks and demon-possessed emperors, it's endless black ice and dead civilizations blasted by colorless fire.

It's a mechanical bejeweled songbird from two millennia ago with powers that amaze and terrify, and an ancient computer designed by a long-ago Baron driven insane by his creation. It's a dark nameless god dreaming within a crystalline cyst, and demi-gods raised from the ranks of mere mortal adventurers.


It's a land that contains both the hospitable and brave free people of the Yeomanry who regularly elect their leaders from amongst their ranks, as well as the infamy of Vlek, the Stonefist, who acquired power through the slaughter of the Coltens Feodality under cover of negotiation.


I have often made the case for Greyhawk, but as we come up on the 50th Anniversary of D&D (1974 - 2024), I think that it is a no-brainer for WoTC to re-visit the setting. When you have an anniversary that allows a celebration of the past, it would seem a natural fit to update and release the OG of official campaign settings. Not to mention the basis for a lot of the lore we have seen recently; after all, Vecna, Mordenkainen, Tasha ... all have their roots in Greyhawk.

But while I have spilled some words (for large amounts of "some") discussing Greyhawk in general in the past, today I wanted to concentrate on a more narrow issue- given that WoTC always releases campaign settings that have player-facing options in order to increase sales, what player-facing options would a revised Greyhawk setting have?

....and, honestly, this is an area that I struggle with. Because Greyhawk was the original campaign setting, a lot of things that we take for granted were introduced for play during the Greyhawk era, but are now part of the regular game. For example, I don't think "Drow" would be a big selling point. Other things just couldn't be (or shouldn't be) done- Greyhawk had a rich description of the various waves of human settlers/colonizers/invaders to the Flanaess (Oerdian, Suel, Baklunish, Flannae etc.), but D&D has rightfully avoided any mechanical differentiation in humans.

I am also not interested in either more varieties of Elves (although people can post them in the comments) or in listing things that have been covered elsewhere but are present in Greyhawk (Centaurs, Bugbears, etc.).

With that in mind, I am going to throw out a few ideas and then see if others have a few of their own for player-facing options for Greyhawk-

A. Scarlet Brotherhood Monks. This one is the easiest. Maybe too easy. Obviously, the monks of Greyhawk are a little different- the whole Nazi thing. Which maybe makes them not as appealing a player option ... while you can always Drizzt it up (the PC is someone who is against the prevailing power structure, etc.) you may want to leave this whole area as "Villain/NPC only."

B. Tiefling/Cambion. Yes, Tieflings are technically related to (descendants of, bloodline curse, etc.) ....fiends, which means either devil or demon. But other than IIRC a UA, the TIeflings to date in 5e have had a distinct devilish tilt. Either through a pact with Asmodeum or in MTOF other Archdevils. The one thing that Greyhawk has ... is demons. Grazzt. Iuz has had a presence and a country. Let's have some demon-centric options.

C. Aliens/Vegepygmies. Maybe it's time for some more plant-based PCs? The original alien life form was the vegepygmy, in Barrier Peaks. Maybe you don't want to go "full robot" but you could certainly introduce some of the old classics as PC options.

D. Valley Elf. Ugh, no. Gag me with a spoon.

E. Return of the Old? This might be too stupid (or too clever), but maybe have variant classes that reflect the oldest AD&D classes that we no longer have. An illusionist that isn't just a pale Wizard subclass, but a REAL ILLUSIONIST. A ranger option that skews heavily toward the old Aragorn/strider model (a Fighter Subclass, loosely based off of Arcane Knight but with druid spells, maybe).

F. Gary, expanded. A jester? A mountebank? An acrobat/thief? A savant? A mystic (no, sorry ... not that one, psionics fans)? There were ideas for expansions to the classes by Gygax that were introduced just prior to his departure, or were planned for afterwards. Obviously, the biggest issue is that several of these (jester, mountebank) might be bard-adjacent.

G. Deity-specific subclasses, bonuses, or feats. Not just for clerics anymore! From OD&D through Dragon #283 (and beyond!), Greyhawk has had a rich tradition of providing bonuses for believers, clerics, or followers of certain deities. The pantheon of Greyhawk is bizarre, and fun, and whether you're a Shining Blade of Heironeous or a Theocrat of Pholtus, there is something for you here.

H. Good artifacts make good artificers. Whether you're in the Yeomanry or Irongate, and regardless of whether you've excavated the Sea of Dust for forgotten technology of lost empires or found alien technology in the high mountains, there is something for all artificers within Greyhawk. Just don't go mad with the implications of what you are building ....

I. Knights, knights, and more knights. Whether you're the Watch, Luna, or the Hart ... there are Knights of Orders a plenty in Greyhawk.


Anyway, there are some seed ideas. I am sure that there are people here who could come up with more! And I'd love to see them.

So let me ask- if you were releasing a New Greyhawk Campaign Setting, what player-facing options would you include? And what player-facing options would you like to see?
I would love to see the Pomarj fleshed out more. I mean, an empire of non-humans ripe for a party consisting of an orc, goblin, bugbear and half-orc to adventure in. See society from a different view point. How cool would that be.
 




Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Like gag me with a Bohemian earspoon

North of Geoff, South of Ket,
By the River Javan wet,
Living with the stubby gnomes,
The Valley Elves do make their homes ...

Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf, Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf . . .
So cool, so fair,
With chartreuse hair, So young, secure --

“Fer sure, fer sure,
like, oh, man, I was really down today,
like, sooo down,
I almost flunked archery today,
I was blitzed totally, it was
wrong. Like, I wore my elven cloak
into the dungeon, y’know, and it got all
grody with, wow, Iike
spider webs and green slime all over it,
like yucko, like
when I saw it when we got out I thought, oh,
gag me with a wand,
it was grody to the max, just psionic, like,
and I had to clean it, oh,
gross me out, man.
Totally awesome. I hate to go in dungeons,
they are so rank, and some of the monsters just like freak me out, man, like wow.
I even saw a fer real monster, like real close up once, and it was really, like, totally
disgusting, barf city man, it was so gross
that I thought, like, Hey, keep away from me, man! Like no way I’m gonna ever even use my sword
on you, I just waxed it, y’know, like
gag me with a mace.”

Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf, Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf . . .

North of Geoff, South of Ket,
By the River Javan wet,
Living with the stubby gnomes,
The Valley Elves do make their homes,

“Sure, totally, y’know, I had a dog, man,
a cooshee, like he was special,
a Gucci cooshee poochie,
he had designer genes, like, really rare,
he was just awesome, but not too housebroken.
I had to clean up after him, and that was like grody, just gross to the max, but, wow,
like, no biggie, cuz he was my
dog, y’know, but he’s gone now, totally, see,
I met-the mage the other day, and, wow, man,
the mage has got like no,
totally no sense of humor. Like, I made a joke, y’know, I thought it was super,
like, I saw the mage and said like, hey,
we’re in the Valley of the Jolly,
like, Ho Ho Ho, Green Valley Mage,
just like the freakin’ commercials,
but he just looked at me, like wow,
he must have really been out of it, man,
like he was so out of it he threw
one of those, like, meteor swarms at me, it was just awesome, I mean it was just, oh wow man, it was astral, and it missed me and hit my dog,
my designer dog, like,
crispy critter city,
I was really bummed out, really bad like.”
 

North of Geoff, South of Ket,
By the River Javan wet,
Living with the stubby gnomes,
The Valley Elves do make their homes ...

Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf, Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf . . .
So cool, so fair,
With chartreuse hair, So young, secure --

“Fer sure, fer sure,
like, oh, man, I was really down today,
like, sooo down,
I almost flunked archery today,
I was blitzed totally, it was
wrong. Like, I wore my elven cloak
into the dungeon, y’know, and it got all
grody with, wow, Iike
spider webs and green slime all over it,
like yucko, like
when I saw it when we got out I thought, oh,
gag me with a wand,
it was grody to the max, just psionic, like,
and I had to clean it, oh,
gross me out, man.
Totally awesome. I hate to go in dungeons,
they are so rank, and some of the monsters just like freak me out, man, like wow.
I even saw a fer real monster, like real close up once, and it was really, like, totally
disgusting, barf city man, it was so gross
that I thought, like, Hey, keep away from me, man! Like no way I’m gonna ever even use my sword
on you, I just waxed it, y’know, like
gag me with a mace.”

Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf, Valley Elf,
He’s a Valley Elf . . .

North of Geoff, South of Ket,
By the River Javan wet,
Living with the stubby gnomes,
The Valley Elves do make their homes,

“Sure, totally, y’know, I had a dog, man,
a cooshee, like he was special,
a Gucci cooshee poochie,
he had designer genes, like, really rare,
he was just awesome, but not too housebroken.
I had to clean up after him, and that was like grody, just gross to the max, but, wow,
like, no biggie, cuz he was my
dog, y’know, but he’s gone now, totally, see,
I met-the mage the other day, and, wow, man,
the mage has got like no,
totally no sense of humor. Like, I made a joke, y’know, I thought it was super,
like, I saw the mage and said like, hey,
we’re in the Valley of the Jolly,
like, Ho Ho Ho, Green Valley Mage,
just like the freakin’ commercials,
but he just looked at me, like wow,
he must have really been out of it, man,
like he was so out of it he threw
one of those, like, meteor swarms at me, it was just awesome, I mean it was just, oh wow man, it was astral, and it missed me and hit my dog,
my designer dog, like,
crispy critter city,
I was really bummed out, really bad like.”
Those Dragon magazine articles where they would do song parodies (I think they were April Fools editions) were so great. I still remember the one where they did the entire Dragonlance series set to "Bohemian Rhapsody".
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
B. Tiefling/Cambion. Yes, Tieflings are technically related to (descendants of, bloodline curse, etc.) ....fiends, which means either devil or demon. But other than IIRC a UA, the TIeflings to date in 5e have had a distinct devilish tilt. Either through a pact with Asmodeum or in MTOF other Archdevils. The one thing that Greyhawk has ... is demons. Grazzt. Iuz has had a presence and a country. Let's have some demon-centric options.
There is also room when considering the details of the Great Kingdom’s final years and the frequent flirtations with lower planar creatures.

G. Deity-specific subclasses, bonuses, or feats. Not just for clerics anymore! From OD&D through Dragon #283 (and beyond!), Greyhawk has had a rich tradition of providing bonuses for believers, clerics, or followers of certain deities. The pantheon of Greyhawk is bizarre, and fun, and whether you're a Shining Blade of Heironeous or a Theocrat of Pholtus, there is something for you here.
And with hero deities popping up all over, it’s a reasonable place for ascension rules.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
Not sure about setting options, but I’d love to see a relaunched Greyhawk setting accompanied by a mega-adventure based around Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and Temple of Tharizdun, with new material interfacing with the classic modules.
I like the idea by @Maxperson of developing The Pomarj as an area to play non-human cultures.
A full illusionist would also be great.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
There is also room when considering the details of the Great Kingdom’s final years and the frequent flirtations with lower planar creatures.


And with hero deities popping up all over, it’s a reasonable place for ascension rules.

What is level 21?

DEMI-GOD.

Yeah, that was always the best end-game .... I'd love to see some ascension rules.

The best retirement is the DEMI-GOD retirement after all!
 

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