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

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There seems to be mechanical support in core 5e D&D for evil PC concepts.

The PH has an assassin subclass.
You can have a PC concept of selling your soul to devils for power. Or be a Cthulhu/Old Ones/Mythos cultist.

I found this quote in the DMG, page 92:

"Class Options. In addition to the class options in the Player's Handbook, two additional class options are available for evil player characters and NPCs: the Death domain for clerics and the oathbreaker for paladins. Both options are detailed at the end of this chapter."

Paladins no longer need to be good the way they were in older editions. They can be any alignment.

I have not gone through the Ravenloft book player options in depth yet but I would not be surprised to see something that could support an evil PC concept.

As for the future and what they will or will not put in the books compared to what they have been putting in, we will see.

For a Greyhawk setting book it would not surprise me to see evil cleric or fiend warlock suggestions for Horned Society and Iuz followers or the Great Old One pact for Tharizdun cultists.

I don't particularly think new options are all that needed to do Greyhawk though, the Scarlet Brotherhood monks are core evil monks, not close to monk mystical martial artists that require different rules to capture unique aspects of the SB. Would you give them political adviser things like a focus on intimidation and persuasion? The monster breeder stuff from the 2e sourcebook? More 1e style powers? Make up completely new stuff for them?
PG-13 is the name of the game: you can be an infernal Warlock, sure, but the game funnels players towards using those powers in spite of the evil origins. A little edge lord, but within appropriate PG-13 parameters.
 

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Hussar

Legend
Yeah. Let’s be honest here. A playable Nazi just is not in the cards for a WotC product. Not going to happen.

Home game? Knock yourself out. Heck my current Dragonborn character is racist to dragons. In a Hoard of the Dragon Queen game, it’s certainly come up.

But officially supported option? No. Just no.
 

Emirikol

Adventurer
Those of us who have run evil campaigns (or one shots in my case) can vouch for the fact that evil crosses a line.
Evil = all the worst crimes. "Not evil" doesn't cross that line.
I don't care to ever repeat the experience of dming Scarlet Brotherhood from the bad guys point of view. Consider it a life lesson that I'll clarify with a parallel thought below.

I think there's this thought that acting badass or bullying is somehow evil. Meh. Off limits characters exist in many forms.

The Great Kingdom is a neutral evil kingdom. It has been described that its peasants are neutral exhausted. Somehow people there--on the scale of human decency--statistically will commit all the worst crimes opportunistically right?
In the scheme of what Gary described in the DMG1e as humanocentric norms being the basis for a campaign (and cultural CHOICE hostile to human norms/goodness as being evil), evil kingdoms sound like really naughty word places--places rife with great opportunity to NOT be evil.

Some DMs allow players to play out sick fantasies as evil characters--usually because they don't know how to say no f'ing way.
Other DMs seem to be in league with this thinking that evil just isn't that bad.
It could be played that way.
In my groups I don't have that option--evil is a line that is crossed in regards to norms. Its not a mental illness. Its not an excusable thing. It's the WORST stuff and it's not cute or misunderstood or cool or badass or chaotic neutral. Its inexcusable crap like premeditated stuff and personal violations to people of all ages that even in a game of combat, evil acts still are a line to be crossed. In Greyhawk gaming its clear to all but the least civilized players that places like Iuz's court, Scarlet Brotherhood's experimentation and eugenics pods, or Tourrish Mak's half-orc-breeding slave pens are not misunderstood or badass or anything less than horrific--and to portray them as anything less so shows a failing of a DM's concept of "evil." Shades of evil? Nope. There is a line. Playing and describing that stuff out in a game doesn't have to be told or roleplayed or inflicted without the X-card, but make no mistake, evil is a line that is crossed in Greyhawk quite clearly from its inception in societies and creatures. Items being evil? Nerull's scythe? Vecna's hand? Well, that's interesting isn't it. We can ponder that all day in Greyhawk discussions.

Societal alignment seems to be a useful tool for some aspects of the game, but it has as much to do with statistics of acts and allowances.

Will you find evil towns (statistically) on Nyrond? Sure and I find use in the descriptions put forth by Roger Moore, Gygax, and the bold moves of Carl Sargent, but characters from evil places (in regards to comparison with human social norms) arent allowed to be "evil" in regards to my gaming tolerance--and I would seriously question how many minutes a sick player needing to get-off on that as entertainment would be allowed to remain in my home.

Regarding political correctness (and the other terms we use) with words for the wandering culture of the Rhennee, I can tell when a player's intentions are sour on this and I don't flip out with archaic language (unless thats is rhe intended result). That said, I think it is perfectly possible to have the Rhenn and not use the G word or references to Chocolat the movie with Johnny Depp in a mass produced game like dnd.

Sometimes you also have to trust your readers not to concern-troll everything you do. Creating controversy where there is none intended or when it isn't ignorantly stated isn't beneficial, but it does stir something primordial in us with a feeling of the threat that right and wrong--a line--is being crossed.
 

Hussar

Legend
@Emirikol - I'm sorry, but, I've just tried to parse what you wrote three times, and I still can't really make heads or tails of what you are trying to say. It's been a bit of a long day at work, I think, but, I'm sorry, I really don't understand what you're trying to say here. What does the movie Chocolat have to do with anything?

I'm really confused.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
I must confess that I don't understand this whole tangent. Yes, WotC isn't going to promote fantasy nazis as a playable option nor are they going to present "evil" stuff in general. In our own games, we can do as we please, of course. Personally, I dabbled with evil characters as a teenager, but I have no interest in playing one now.

But what is the origin of this debate here? The fact that Greytawk Grognard has some Scarlet Brotherhood options in his fan-made PDF?
 

I must confess that I don't understand this whole tangent. Yes, WotC isn't going to promote fantasy nazis as a playable option nor are they going to present "evil" stuff in general. In our own games, we can do as we please, of course. Personally, I dabbled with evil characters as a teenager, but I have no interest in playing one now.

But what is the origin of this debate here? The fact that Greytawk Grognard has some Scarlet Brotherhood options in his fan-made PDF?
someone suggested making a scarlet brotherhood monk subclass which falls into the evil is cool trope which I hate for good reason.
thus I return to my question what other than backgrounds does greyhawk have going for it that is player-facing?
as I am the only non-dm here so I am the best you got.
 

I do not think the scarlet brotherhood should ever have a playable option as they are honestly completely evil.
So? You can play a character that has fiendish blood (Tiefling) who sold his soul to an Archdevil for arcane power (Pact of the Fiend). That's also completely evil, yet front and center in the PHB. The assassin class exists, also in the PHB. They're no worse than being a cleric of Iuz or paladin of Hextor.
 

So? You can play a character that has fiendish blood (Tiefling) who sold his soul to an Archdevil for arcane power (Pact of the Fiend). That's also completely evil, yet front and center in the PHB. The assassin class exists, also in the PHB. They're no worse than being a cleric of Iuz or paladin of Hextor.
it is complicated, devils are well not real, racial supremacists are for a start.
The second person who sold their soul for power but uses it for the good guys is a minor trope.
even merlin has been said to be a part demon in some tellings thus these have long-lasting reasons to work.
 

Hussar

Legend
someone suggested making a scarlet brotherhood monk subclass which falls into the evil is cool trope which I hate for good reason.
thus I return to my question what other than backgrounds does greyhawk have going for it that is player-facing?
as I am the only non-dm here so I am the best you got.
Ok, sure. Let's get back on this, because, frankly, the tangent is a bit weird and I don't think it's terribly productive.

Now, by "player facing", what exactly are you looking for? New classes? Races? Feats? Mechanics? Since I assume "player facing" isn't really setting lore and that sort of thing. Remember, that Greyhawk hasn't actually had any serious development in about 20 years, since before 4e and no real official material since the 90's, so, there isn't a whole lot of mechanics to draw on.

So, here's my quick list:

Narratives - backgrounds that are tied to character level a la Primeval Thule (and other settings as well) that grant various ribbons based on the setting - so, a narrative might grant followers for example.

Domain mechanics - honestly, I think the whole "let's build a castle" thing really could make a home in Greyhawk. Having actual decent set of mechanics for this I think would be a good way to go. Higher level politics between the various states does seem to be a Greyhawk thing.

Whelp, that's about all I've got off the top of my head. Again, though, I think that what sets Greyhawk apart is largely theme and tone much more than mechanics. The hobby is more than big enough to have more than one fairly vanilla setting, so, I'm not seeing the huge need for mechanics.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Narratives - backgrounds that are tied to character level a la Primeval Thule (and other settings as well) that grant various ribbons based on the setting - so, a narrative might grant followers for example.

Domain mechanics - honestly, I think the whole "let's build a castle" thing really could make a home in Greyhawk. Having actual decent set of mechanics for this I think would be a good way to go. Higher level politics between the various states does seem to be a Greyhawk thing.

Whelp, that's about all I've got off the top of my head.
Heh. I want to point out. Your alternatives to backgrounds are more backgrounds.

It brings up the point that backgrounds need to continue to add new options while leveling, such as allowing the character to establish some form of institution around level 9.



1e has psionic feats. But these too probably work well as a background, especially a background feat.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
There can be new classes and subclasses for the Oerth setting. But everything that is in 1e is either already standard 5e − or perhaps lacked the popularity to eventually become standard 5e. Any new class or subclass options are more likely to be an innovation.

For example. The Udadrow elf culture is likely to have a Paladin of Lolth, who is a Dex-fighting, light armor, Anti-Paladin, perhaps with sleep venom smites rather than radiant. Oppositely, the High elf culture with its Cleric/Fighter is also likely to have a Dex-fighting, light armor, Paladin of Corellon, perhaps with shapechanging features.

Gygax didnt create these subclasses, or Fighting Styles, but they are a remix and a reinvention of what he did create.



1e only has the Wizard and Cleric, including Druid, plus a formative Bard, but lacks Warlock, Sorcerer, Psion, and Artificer. A 5e update will have these other mages, plus subclasses that resonate the themes and tropes of 1e Oerth.



Actually, 1e Oerth is alot like Eberron in the sense that the various cultures have a real diversity in the different kinds of approaches to religion. So a more fluid and adaptable Cleric class, that can be animistic or philosophical, helps.
 
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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Since Greyhawk has been on the Obsolete Shelf (and the Lawsuit Magnet Closet) for a generation, new player options will have to draw on things that BASIC and 1e had, which were not subsequently followed up.
  • Racial / cultural paragon feats. The essence of the most elf-y an individual can be or become. "Elf" and "Dwarf" used to be a class not a race.
  • Your Alignment guides your actions, even for PCs. You won't stay NG for long if you keep destroying villages in order to save them.
  • Evil with a capital E does exist and it is no laughing matter. Ravenloft and Greyhawk share this feature.
  • Fantastical landscapes due to ubermagic. The Sea of Dust, a petrified forest that can still grow, that crashed spaceship.
  • Somewhat limited choice of playable character race. The orcs here are always-CE; nobody has ever heard of a dragonborn even in the wildest of dreams. OTOH no caricature / joke races like kender either.

There is a Johnny Cash story from when he joined Lalapalooza: the old man sang some songs from his childhood and the teens / twenties listening reacted with "We've never heard these songs before! They're new!"
Greyhawk offers the opportunity to do the same for people who discovered D&D with 5e and for those who are too young to remember a Living Greyhawk.
 


pemerton

Legend
The centre of the two GH maps have the following within easy adventuring distance of one another:

  • The City of GH, for Lankhmar/Thieves' Guild-type adventuring;
  • The Gnarley Forest for Robin Hood adventuring;
  • JRRT-ish Elves in Celene;
  • JRRT-ish Dwarves in the Lortmils;
  • Pirates on the Wild Coast;
  • A political although not geographical suggestion of northern Middle Earth and Angmar - human lands fallen to Orcs - in the Pomarj;
  • The Bright Desert, with Suel nomads and sand-buried treasures;
  • Hardy hill-folk in the Abor-Alz;
  • At least a hint of knightly knights in and around Dyvers and Verbobonc;
  • Military naval engagements on the Nyr Dyv.

I don't know what this tells us about player-facing options, but to me this is what is distinctive about GH as a FRPG setting. Just about every S&S and Tolkienesque trope is accommodated in that modest geographical area.
 

Saracenus

Always In School Gamer
It really depends on whether they are going to publish Greyhawk as a campaign setting or just an adventure set in Greyhawk. I really don't see them doing the former unless they were going to concentrate on a particular area (e.g. The city of Greyhawk, The Great Kingdom, etc.). The rest of it would be filled in by the rabid fandom in DMs Guild. An adventure, IMO, is more likely. The question becomes what is the theme of that adventure? Either way it opens the floodgates with DMs Guild...
 

GuyBoy

Hero
It really depends on whether they are going to publish Greyhawk as a campaign setting or just an adventure set in Greyhawk. I really don't see them doing the former unless they were going to concentrate on a particular area (e.g. The city of Greyhawk, The Great Kingdom, etc.). The rest of it would be filled in by the rabid fandom in DMs Guild. An adventure, IMO, is more likely. The question becomes what is the theme of that adventure? Either way it opens the floodgates with DMs Guild...
Defeating the plans of Tharizdun?
This could include Tsojcanth, with Drelnza to free to assist the players (for her own motives) and the the Temple of Tharizdun with the expanded cyst as the endgame.
Front load some new lower level intro adventures to link to Tsojcanth, then some further new adventures to link to the Temple.

A bit like Return to the Tomb of Horrors from 25th Anniversary.
Might just be my dream though.......
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
The question becomes what is the theme of that adventure?
Working from my prior post:
If L1-L3 is about shutting down the Temple of Evil-Chaos, the endgame could be foiling a plan of Iuz -or- breaking one of his toys* -or- taking out a chief henchman.

No bonus points if Mordenkainen shows up on the very last page of the adventure to tell the PCs "Thank you for saving me that time and effort."

* or placing an artifact Iuz wants, within the wards of Castle Greyhawk for safekeeping
 

pemerton

Legend
When we talk about a GH-specific adventure, do we mean one that uses GH images and tropes - Tharizdun, Iuz, Mordenkainen, etc - or one that evokes something distinctive about a GH theme/ethos?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Looking at the 2e Monstrous Compendium 5 − Greyhawk Appendix:

The Greyhawk setting seems to emphasize many different kinds of sprites. These wee folk are "faerie-folk", and in 5e presumably Fey.

• Atomie Sprite
• Booka
• Buckawn Brownie
• Gremlin
• Grig Sprite
• Norker Hobgoblin
• Mite
• Quickling Brownie
• Sea Sprite
• Snyad Mite
• Spriggan Giant-Kin

Plus in the MM, MC 1 and 2

• Boggart
• Boggle
• Brownie
• Goblin
• Killmoulis Brownie
• Korred
• Leprechaun
• Nixie Sprite
• Pixie Sprite
• Sprite
• Xvart

Etcetera.



Compare the wee folk that already exist in 5e now.

• Boggle (MMM)
• Darkling (MMM)
• Derro (Out of the Abyss)
• Gnome
• Goblin
• Halfling
• Jermlaine (Mordenkainens Fiendish Folio 1)
• Korred (MMM)
• Mite (Mordenkainens Fiendish Folio 1)
• Nilbog (MMM)
• Norker (Mordenkainens Fiendish Folio 1)
• Pixie
• Quickling (MMM)
• Redcap (MMM)
• Sprite (Basic Rules)
• Svirfneblin Deep Gnome
• Xvart (Volos)



In D&D, the term "sprite" is a term for a specific creature. But it is more helpful if "sprite" can mean any Fey or Fey-like creature that is Small or Tiny.

The Greyhawk setting makes the various sprites a prominent trope.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Looking at the 2e Monstrous Compendium 5 − Greyhawk Appendix:

The Greyhawk setting seems to emphasize many different kinds of sprites. These wee folk are "faerie-folk", and in 5e presumably Fey.

<snip>

The Greyhawk setting makes the various sprites a prominent trope.
I think that that is a bit misleading. The only prominent fey I can think of in GH material is the Drow - which I know you're well aware of, as a GH element. (I don't think Xvarts are fey in the context of GH. They're goblin variants.)

Bullywugs and other frogfolk are more prominent than sprites, I think.
 

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