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


He Mage
Through out Gary’s 81 folio and 83 boxed set. Those peoples are intermittently referred to by their own name and the common name given to them by outsiders.

Likewise, Tiger and Wolf Nomads are called Chakyk and Wegwuir.

I will doublecheck the endonyms by Gygax.

The Tiger (Alaska) and Wolf (Northwest) correspond to northerly Indiginous Americans/Canadians.

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Can you give the 1e (maybe 2e sources) of these names?

Heh, I want to vet them!

But still, even with separate ethnic names, Jotnum (maybe Jotnmi) is a reasonable name for the family of Nordic ethnicities collectively.
It's from the description of the political states in the boxed set, and possibly in the original folio. The term "barbarian" is what the rest of the Flanaess refer to them as. As far as I've been able to find, no group refers to itself as "barbarians.

It's important to note that the boxed set (and probably folio) are in-game references that are written by a fictional author with their own biases. It even references that while the rest of the world exists, "everyone knows" that only the Flanaess is of any importance. Outside of mechanics, it's pretty obvious that they were meant to be use used as an unreliable narrator, allowing the DM a lot of leeway to customize the game for their own use. Post-Gygax books removed this, giving existing biased information legitimacy.

Some of this proposals are interesting, but human "sub-races" doesn't look like a good idea to me.
It's been done before in SCAG, and possibly other setting books as Ethnicities (a term I now use for all the sub-races). There were no mechanical differences that I know of previously, so I doubt they'd do so in a Greyhawk book, since that would likely be considered offensive.


He Mage
There already are proper names for these people.

Cruski, Fruztii, and Schnai
Notably, these spellings − "Cruski, Fruztii, and Schnai" − look more like German and English words, rather than Norse or Finnish words.

Kinda the point is to disentangle the Nordic representations away from German/English stereotypes. The German stereotype has the self-delusional N*zi race problem. The English stereotype has the we-will-never-forget-Lindisfarne problem.

If Norse, the spellings would be more like: Isi, Frysti, and Snjai.

Kreisti (relating to "press", squeeze, pressure), Frysti (relating to "freeze"), Snjai or Snaei ("snow" snjó-, or variants snjá- or snæ-).

Where there is clear reference to "snow" and "frost", I suspect that "Cruski" or Kreisti is somehow "ice", problably from the inappropriate Latin "crystallus". So the Norsesque name would probably be Isi (ís- relating to "ice"). Compare the Norse name for Iceland: Ísland.

In any case, the Greyhawk names are the names of localities, regions, not the name of the ethnicity itself, especially not the name of the Nordic ethnicities that they came from.

From the Oerth name, "Jotnum-heim Sea", Jotnmi works well as a name for the Nordic ethnicities. The term "jǫtnum" is actually a Norse word, a dative case meaning something like those relating "with the jǫtnar".
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He Mage

The migration map has them as emerging from a very explicitly Persian/Arabic cultural analog. A more accurate association might be to central Asian nomad people. Past art and descriptions were close to Mongolian or Scythian.
The Indigenous of these NW American areas relate to certain Siberian ethnicities.


Getting lost in fantasy maps
The Indigenous of these NW American areas relate to certain Siberian ethnicities.
Seems quite central Asian. Their rulers refer to themselves as an Ilkhan, for example.


He Mage
Seems quite central Asian. Their rulers refer to themselves as an Ilkhan, for example.
View attachment 255505

Here is a photo of one of the Siberian ethnicities relating to the Inuit.

Note, Asian empires often involve many different unrelated ethnicities. As do most empires around the world.

Consider the yDNA haplogroup Q that arrives in the Americas. It emerges from prehistoric migrations from places like Afghanistan where there are many diverse ethnic groups.
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He Mage
It is fun − and creatively inspiring − when the Oerth setting represents reallife places. For example, I cant wait for my players to play in the region Sterich in a fantasy version of Las Vegas. And, the Valley of Mage is Washington state.

But this kind of "inspiration" must be culturally sensitive and dignifying. It is vital to avoid and remove any problematic representations. Avoid exoticizing. Show how authentic customs can function within a normal human culture. To call attention to diverse aspects within a reallife culture can enrich, and can be a supportive nod.

The planet Oerth corresponds to reallife places. Essentially, North America and Northern Asia have collided together to form one landmass. Meanwhile the missing places pop up elsewhere, like Jerlea Bay and the Hold of the Sea Princes representing the "flotsom" of the missing Pacific Coast of Canada, US, and Mexico. Flotsom Island is something like Seattle, where Niles and "Frazier" might have fun with coffee houses and hi-magi-tech.

This is fun! Greyhawk is a setting to play with these kinds of tropes.
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He Mage
It is possible that the "Suel" in the continent of Flanaess, roughly corresponds to reallife Nordic ethnicities. They are often depicted as having light complexion and the silliness of "viking horns".

There are difficulties with using Suel to represent Nordic ethnicities − besides how Greyhawk demonizes these ethnicities. Suel is decadent, cruel, and conniving. The N*zi Scarlet Brotherhood are said to preserve best the Suel culture. One can see why reallife Nordic peoples object to such an identification! The problematics continue. The Suel breed mul (≈ derro) as a dwarf-human slave hybrid. Likewise they engage defacto racist wars against orc, goblin, and hobgoblin, tho to be fair, Greyhawk characterizes these as more like nonhuman fiends, they remain ambiguously resembling reallife ethnicities anyway. The setting supposes that Suel is a specific prehistoric empire on the cusp of history in a location that roughly corresponds to the great deserts of Asia, such as Gobi Desert and Taklamakan. (These Asian deserts collide and blend with Mexican deserts.) In a later war, the Siberian-esque Baklunish unleashed the genocidal weapon of the "Rain of Colorless Fire" that causes the desolation of the Sea of Dust and genocides the Suel Imperium. During the various wars, many Suloise had already fled into the areas corresponding to North America, forming a Suel diaspora in North American Flanaess. Yeah.

If Suel is Nordic, they are far away from home. Perhaps they sail from Jotumheim to the gulf between Baklun and Dry Stepps, and south up the rivers to the mountains of what is now the Sea of Dust. There the population flourish.

In any case, the homelands of the Nordic ethnicities are around Jotnumheim Sea in NW Oerik. But this area exists off the edges of the maps of the World of Greyhawk from 1980 and 1983. The map beyond Flanaess that has these Nordic areas comes from the Dragon Annual magazine of 1996. It charts this Nordic "realm of the Jotnum". This map also mentions regions such as Erypt (= Egypt and Arabia) and Celestial Empire (= China).

In reallife, Nordic peoples founded communities in distant locations. Compare Vinland in North America and Rus in today Russia. The deserts of Asia and North America are awfully far away. But perhaps the Jotnum reach there. Perhaps the name Suel relates to Norse súl, meaning a "pillar" or "column".

Unfortunately, the surviving "Suel" populations are mainly "barbarians" and "jungle" dwellers. Moreover, these jungle dwellers have the unfortunate implication of white people appropriating the cultures of the Indigenous in Central and South Americas. Note Urnst and the islands of the Jerlea Sea are understood to be part of the Suel diaspora.

Here is what Gygax writes about the "Snow Barbarians". A Suloise is a member of Suel.

Suloise. The fleeing Suel folk were scattered in a broadcast fasshion across the Flanaess, so that many tended to mix with other groups. The Suel RACE (!) is very fair-skinned, some almost albino. They have light, red, yellow, blond, or platinum hair. Eye color varies from pale blue or violet through deep blue, with gray occasionally occuring. Curly hair is common. The inhabitants of the Dutchy of Ernst are nearly PURE Suel RACE (!). The Frost, Ice, and Snow BARBARIANS (!) are the BEST example [of racial purity]. The Suel folk are quite predominant in the island groups off the eastern coast of the Flanaess [such as the Jerlea Sea] as well as in the [N*zi] SCARLET BROTHERHOOD (!) region. Those BANDS that migrated into the [Central America] Amedio JUNGLE and [South America] Hepmonaland are so ALTERED (!) as to be no longer typical of the RACE (!): they are TAN to BROWN.


Yeah. No.

Scarlet Brotherhood. ... This [N*zi] order is purported to espouse the cause of the Suloise, claiming superiority of that RACE (!) above all others.


What makes this Greyhawk setting so violently painful to Norwegians is: the N*zis invaded us. The WW2 Germans did evil against Norway. They are not us.

The Nordic peoples are not − and have never been − Germans!

The concept of a socalled Aryan race is a bygone German scholarly racist fiction. There is no such thing!

That antihuman crap has nothing to do with us!


Gygax based his ideas on novels that few of us have read in this late era. Little of it is Tolkien or direct-Earth-analogue. Much of it is Lieber, P.Anderson, and Vance--who had some Earth analogues. Short elves. Non-arthurian LG paladins, etc. Roger Moores latest WoG interview w Jay Scott talks about exactly which fantasy novel paladins and gnomes came from.
Those inspirational sources are more relevant than Tolkien or Earth stuff.
Funny Kara Tur was supposed to be on Oerth, not Toril, but TSR...


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