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

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I could see players options in a GREYHAWK campaign settings book to contain things like;

New subraces such as Human Backlunish, Flanae, Oeridian, Olman, Rhennee, Suloise and Touv

New Snow and Valley Elf subrace

New Furchin Halfling subrace

New Thilronian Primal Path for Barbarian

New College of Olidammara for Bard

New Old Faith Druid Circle

New Zuoken Monastic Tradition for Monk

New Knight of Holy Shielding Sacred Oath for Paladin

New Gnarley Forest Ranger Archetype

New Suel Sorcerer origin

New Tharizdun Pact for Warlock

New Backgrounds such as Knight of Hart, Knight of the Watch, Scarlett Brotherhood, Prophet, Zealot,

Unique Dieties and new Domain such as Pestilence or Entropy

New languages such as Baklunish, Flan, Oeridian, Rhopan, Suloise and Touv

Gazeteer of the Flanaess

New monsters such as sons of Kyuss, Suel liches, froghemoths, vegepygmies, valley elves, grugach elves, spell weavers, animuses, sussuri, xvarts, norkers, varrangoins, losels, gingwatzim, manscorpions, Scarlett Brotherhood cultist, Greyhawk dragons, blood golems of Hextor, swordwraiths, grungs, qullans etc
 

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Voadam

Legend
Greyhawk has a diverse range of kingdoms with different strong classic themes that can easily be modified to fit into other worlds, so if you have a new player option for the elven kingdom of Celene it can probably work fairly easily for elves of Evermeet in FR.

I can see doing pirate stuff, thief/thief guild stuff, viking style barbarian stuff, Mongol type barbarian stuff, various orders of knights stuff, Warlock pacts to fit in with Tharizdun/Horned Society/Demon Lords (Grazzt in particular but also Fraz Urb Lu as prominent Greyhawk history ones), various Greyhawk gods related stuff. Maybe some old powerful magics tied to the Ancient Bakluni empire and Suel Imperium.

The most unique player oriented things for Greyhawk are going to be specific organizations and gods. Orders of knighthood, the specific god and cleric type stuff that has come out before, etc. Greyhawk Adventures introduced a ton of wizard spells tied to the themes of the Greyhawk iconic wizards (Rary, Otto, Tenser, etc.)

Most of the Greyhawk unique things that come to mind though as a Greyhawk fan are DM oriented evil stuff, Scarlet Brotherhood, Iuz, the Great Kingdom (and post From the Ashes the animuses), Tharizdun, etc.
 
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pemerton

Legend
/Demon Lords (Grazzt in particular but also Fraz Urb Lu as prominent Greyhawk history ones), various Greyhawk gods related stuff. Maybe some old powerful magics tied to the Ancient Bakluni empire and Suel Imperium.
These are all very GH. Though Graz'zt has been a bit genericised via Planescape, perhaps.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In the City of Greyhawk, and some other locales, these gods are important: Boccob, Celestian, Cuthbert, Ehlonna, Fharlanghn, Icabulos, Istus, Ius, Nerull, Pholtus, Ralishaz, Ulaa.

That said, other locales have different religions.

Oerth the planet that Greyhawk is on, is a vast diversity of different cultures − deriving from and inspired by reallife cultures.

I hope 5e world of Greyhawk, namely Oerth, has an Eberron-style approach to religion that embraces the different kinds of ways that humans express sacred concepts and customs.

The formative emergence of the Greyhawk setting is during the 1980s. Since then, many reallife cultures have spoken up about how the setting, and the D&D game generally, portrays them.

For example, most of the Indigenous American "Flan" need to be animistic, rather than polytheistic.

The Nordic peoples need to downplay the incorrect and sometimes offensive "barbarian" stereotype. Also, they are animistic too.

The Rhenee must avoid derogatory "gypsy" stereotypes.

5e must sensitively scrutinize and vet everything − especially each and every culture. Even doublecheck the portrayals of creatures such as the "beastman".

Reductionism − to reduce an entire culture to a handful of character traits − is always stereotyping and problematic.

I feel having several cultural backgrounds for a single culture can transmit the setting flavors in a reallife sensitive way. Backgrounds call attention to the diversity within a culture, more can be added, problematic ones can be deleted. And individuals can do whatever they want. Backgrounds need to depict the diversity, some roles connote high Intelligence, some high Strength, and so on. A culture must be a HUMAN culture, inherently diverse.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In planet Oerth, the Flanaess continent includes portrayals of the reallife North American Viking Period Norse settlements. refers to them as "Snow Barbarians", "Ice Barbarians", and "Frost Barbarians".

The use of the term "barbarian" here is sensitive for any culture, and especially so, in the context of Norse cultures. The historical berserkar are less that 1% of the population. The rest of the populations are normal diverse human cultures.

That said, if these cultural communities, go by the names "Snows," "Ices", and "Frosts", it is actually ok.

Within the larger map of planet Oerth, the Nordic peoples correspond to NW Oerik, namely Finland, Sweden, and Denmark are in the locales in and near the Fey Realm of Fallen Leaves and Ravilla. Compare the Fey Realm with historical Alfheimr on the Swedish southern coast bordering Norway. Norway and Saami correspond to the Domain of the Giant King that bridges the continent of Oerik with arctic Hyperboria. That Nordic peoples live among the Jǫtnar giants is how it is. Iceland is Fireland albeit splicing together various Nordic islands, including British Shetland and arctic Svalbard.

Despite the presence as "barbarians", the Nordic peoples lack an ethnic family name in Oerth. I propose to call them "Jotnum", relating to the "Jotnumheim Sea", that connects Fireland, Hyperboria, Giant King, Fey Realm, and Ravilla. In Norway, several prominent families are understood to descend from Jǫtnar giants, and other animistic beings, so the concept fun. One family descends from Logi, a manifestation from fire.

"Snow Jotnum", "Ice Jotnum", and "Frost Jotnum".

Keep in mind. Altho a Jǫtnar socalled "giant" individual can manifest to be the size of a mountain (even the size of a continent!), most Jǫtnar manifest as a normal human size. They are nature beings, the animistic minds of various mountains, rivers, glaciers, and so on. To reduce all Jǫtnar to "D&D frost giants" is problematic. But to call attention to how different one Jǫtnar can be from an other is good. Generally, these are sapient elementals but are native to the material plane. They are the actual particular mountain, river, glacier, etcetera.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
In planet Oerth, the Flanaess continent includes portrayals of the reallife North American Viking Period Norse settlements. refers to them as "Snow Barbarians", "Ice Barbarians", and "Frost Barbarians".

The use of the term "barbarian" here is sensitive for any culture, and especially so, in the context of Norse cultures. The historical berserkar are less that 1% of the population. The rest of the populations are normal diverse human cultures.

That said, if these cultural communities, go by the names "Snows," "Ices", and "Frosts", it is actually ok.
There already are proper names for these people.

Cruski, Fruztii, and Schnai
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
There already are proper names for these people.

Cruski, Fruztii, and Schnai
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.
 


AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
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.
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.
 

Yaarel

Mind 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.
 


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.
 

Yaarel

Mind 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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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Maybe.

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.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

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.
A0BE51E4-A1B4-4B9A-8CD5-892BB51119FB.jpeg
 

Yaarel

Mind 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.
Siberian-eskimo-Nabogatova-.PNG



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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Yaarel

Mind 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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Yaarel

Mind 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!
 

Emirikol

Adventurer
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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