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

Emirikol

Adventurer
It doesn't need to publish to enforce its copyright.

As far as trademarks are concerned, there is all this on DriveThru - - | Greyhawk | AD&D 1st Ed. | DriveThruRPG.com - and WotC is currently litigating to try and argue that these sales are sufficient to establish its rights as TM owner in relation to the material it is licensing to DriveThru.
Its like pro-NFL team ownership.

Its best when its simple.

Ed Greenwood sold his rights to TSR for what? $5 grand. Hes been incredibly decent about it.

Wotc has rights to Greyhawk, but not Gary's old stuff--Gail is holding onto that until she dies and her son (not Luke or Ernie--shes made sure that Gygax mag could never be produced for example--will get to decide that fate..that fella has my sympathies..).

Anyway, yes there's plenty of GH stuff on dtrpg, et. The only thing left to do is ruin it. It is a completed setting already. Selling us an advanced timeline with already-obsolete modernisms Ohhhh..yea..no..not..excited.

Give me a 1-page sheet of rules updates that say (among other things), 'You're the DM. You can do what you want.'

The biggest takeaway from Riggs' book's statistics: settings books were the wrong start, lost shittons of money, and divided fans into FR or GH camps.

IF adventures that shoehorn into multiple settings are the future.
What will that look like for GH?
 

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Emirikol

Adventurer
I think the market for Gary Gygax's personal materials is pretty small, and irrelevant to whatever WotC's plans for GH might be.
I agree with that.

Starting first with the evolution of the game: a giant dungeon crawl about Zagyg isn't really of interest (except to us hardcore Greyhawkers anymore, and even then Id be hard pressed to bother to run it.)

I really like the new approach of a good, long adventure campaign hardback with multiple campaign setting adaptation ideas in the back.

Of course being done with old reprints would be good.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The playtest for 2024 lists the following descriptions for the alignment planes.

Good = Celestial
Lawful Good = Heavenly
Neutral Good = Idyllic
Chaotic Good = Exalted

Evil = Fiendish
Lawful Evil = Infernal
Neutral Evil = Chthonic
Chaotic Evil = Abyssal

Where Infernal and Abyssal are already languages, the other names might function as alignment languages as well.

Note the playtest mentions "Celestial" as a language, meaning any Good alignment speaks the same language. Perhaps Heavenly, Idyllic, and Exalted are alignment dialects?

Oppositely, Abyssal and Infernal remain separate languages.



The term "idyllic" relates to the Greek eidúllion, a short poem, sometimes called an idyl in English. The English term idyllic connotes charming, simple, rustic, ... even lazy. This feels a less appropriate jargon for NG "eternal compassion".

"Chthonic" again comes from Greek, khthṓn. It literally means "soil", including the land surface generally. In English, the term refers to the underworld, and should probably mean the Shadowfell. The jargon feels less appropriate for NE.

"Exalted" for CG seems to work. It does have an individualistic vibe to it, and associates both elevation and great joy.

"Heavenly" appears to replace "Supernal". It seems odd that "Celestial" doesnt refer to "Mount Celestia". But otherwise, its fine.
 

Devin Parker

Explorer
I'd certainly start with the HUMAN cultures: Flan, Oeridian, Suel, Baklunish, Rhenn, OA-Asian, Erypt, Amedioan, Hepmon, etc.

[snip]

View attachment 254829
Oh, hey! I colored and labeled this. It's fun to see it pop up in the wild! :giggle: (The original b&w illustration is by Vince Locke, from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer for 3rd Edition, 2000)

I think in regards to a Greyhawk setting book, I'd like to see the principles of Arcanist Press's Ancestry & Cultures applied, splitting up inherited traits and cultural tendencies in order to get away from old bio-essentialist concepts and make things more interesting.

Sensitivity readers would be a must; given the number of cultures in Oerth that are based on real-world ones, knowing harmful tropes to avoid in the text is a necessity going forward. So many of the things in Greyhawk were inspired by pulp-era novels (the famed Appendix N from the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide) and adventure films (WG6 Isle of the Ape), and while there is a discussion that can be had about Gygax's personal views on such things, to what degree he was a product of a bygone era, etc., that's a topic I'm not educated enough about the man himself to drill down into. As far as the gameworld he created is concerned, I think we can strip out any offensive stuff (unintentional or otherwise) without losing anything that makes the setting fun.

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.

[snip]

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!

This is a fair amount of what I mean. This is a case study in why I think sensitivity readers should be a priority for any future publication ambitions. I'm reminded of Professor Tolkien's annoyance at the N*zis' erroneous and racist use of the words "Aryan" and "Nordic" and how he responded to a German publisher during that time asking about his ancestry before publishing The Hobbit (short version: he politely let them know they were ignorant racists and wanted nothing to do with them).

I've interpreted the Suel Imperium as something akin to Moorcock's Melniboné — probably between the decadence and cruelty of the late Imperium and the physical resemblance of the Suel to Elric himself — that ended up effectively destroying itself over its long-running hatred/rivalry of the Baklunish Empire. As a child growing up in the 80s, the Mutually-Assured Destruction aspect of the Twin Cataclysms always felt like a grim warning about the Cold War to me (present in many other RPG publications at the time to one degree or another), and certainly not an act being celebrated in the text. It also struck me as a necessary "Civilization Collapses" historical note that you would need in order to mirror the historical collapse of Rome leading to the Medieval era Greyhawk tries to emulate. With the old empires in ruin and their peoples scattered to the winds, you have a world that's filled with lost artifacts and haunted ruins of a bygone age of power lost to myth.

But even the Imperium wasn't necessarily always decadent and evil, and perhaps it would be good to mention that fact in the text, if for nothing other than to serve as a pushback against bio-essentialist notions.

As far as the Scarlet Brotherhood goes, I appreciate having them as a villain organization in the gameworld for the same reason there are N*zis in the Indiana Jones movies. The Suel as a distinct people spread out across the Flanaess during the Great Migrations and settled down all over the place, intermarrying into other ethnic groups and creating new cultures from the blending. Gygax's choice of wording about "purity" in the old publications is not something I'm going to defend, but the Scarlet Brotherhood paint themselves as the preservers of the old Imperium, and I don't see any reason to give them the benefit of the doubt about their claims. Given the circumstances of the Twin Cataclysms and Great Migrations, I think it's reasonable to conclude that their understanding of the Imperial culture they're trying to preserve is as much of a fiction as the N*zis' beliefs were. In my campaign I ultimately plan to have my SB antagonists confronted by a lich from the old Imperium who denounces them as delusional and corrupt before trying to destroy them, demonstrating to everyone through as authoritative a voice on the subject as still exists that these guys are fooling themselves.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
As far as the Scarlet Brotherhood goes, I appreciate having them as a villain organization in the gameworld for the same reason there are N*zis in the Indiana Jones movies. The Suel as a distinct people spread out across the Flanaess during the Great Migrations and settled down all over the place, intermarrying into other ethnic groups and creating new cultures from the blending. Gygax's choice of wording about "purity" in the old publications is not something I'm going to defend, but the Scarlet Brotherhood paint themselves as the preservers of the old Imperium, and I don't see any reason to give them the benefit of the doubt about their claims. Given the circumstances of the Twin Cataclysms and Great Migrations, I think it's reasonable to conclude that their understanding of the Imperial culture they're trying to preserve is as much of a fiction as the N*zis' beliefs were. In my campaign I ultimately plan to have my SB antagonists confronted by a lich from the old Imperium who denounces them as delusional and corrupt before trying to destroy them, demonstrating to everyone through as authoritative a voice on the subject as still exists that these guys are fooling themselves.
I would rather these fantasy racist supremacists be strictly on behalf of a fantasy race, like an insect race, like Thri-kreen.

I dont want reallife evil polluting my D&D experience.

Moreover, I am Norwegian, and we are Nordic, the WW2 Germans were not.

I cannot tolerate D&D demonizing a "race" that overtly associated with vikings or so on. Such would merit reallife lawsuits and defamation cases.
 

Devin Parker

Explorer
I would rather these fantasy racist supremacists be strictly on behalf of a fantasy race, like an insect race, like Thri-kreen.

I dont want reallife evil polluting my D&D experience.

Moreover, I am Norwegian, and we are Nordic, the WW2 Germans were not.

I cannot tolerate D&D demonizing a "race" that overtly associated with vikings or so on. Such would merit reallife lawsuits and defamation cases.
Understandable, and you're not the first person I've heard say this. I admit that my ability to enjoy such elements in a game plot is born of privilege to have not been the target of racism or worse in real life. I make use of safety tools in my games — stuff like Consent in Gaming and Entreat the Darkness covers — and I've read well-reasoned articles written by other gamers expressing their dismay, frustration, and dislike toward the ways people who look like them in fantasy RPG settings have been portrayed in the past.

So this sounds like a detail of the setting that would have to be re-examined in any formal publication; again, by someone with more experience and education in the subject than me.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
But even the Imperium wasn't necessarily always decadent and evil, and perhaps it would be good to mention that fact in the text, if for nothing other than to serve as a pushback against bio-essentialist notions.

As far as the Scarlet Brotherhood goes, I appreciate having them as a villain organization in the gameworld for the same reason there are N*zis in the Indiana Jones movies. The Suel as a distinct people spread out across the Flanaess during the Great Migrations and settled down all over the place, intermarrying into other ethnic groups and creating new cultures from the blending. Gygax's choice of wording about "purity" in the old publications is not something I'm going to defend, but the Scarlet Brotherhood paint themselves as the preservers of the old Imperium, and I don't see any reason to give them the benefit of the doubt about their claims. Given the circumstances of the Twin Cataclysms and Great Migrations, I think it's reasonable to conclude that their understanding of the Imperial culture they're trying to preserve is as much of a fiction as the N*zis' beliefs were. In my campaign I ultimately plan to have my SB antagonists confronted by a lich from the old Imperium who denounces them as delusional and corrupt before trying to destroy them, demonstrating to everyone through as authoritative a voice on the subject as still exists that these guys are fooling themselves.
I think the various people writing Greyhawk materials have been of varying minds on this sort of thing. Invoking devastation on a rival nation isn't exactly good, but it serves as more of a trigger for the post apocalyptic migrations than any moral insight to the Suel culture and its values. That said, as of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, the Suel-descended nations of the north east seem to stand in contrast to the Scarlet Brotherhood in the sense that they descended from a more common people and leadership than the ones who went south under the old aristocracy and they deliberately separated from them for a reason. They may not have gotten along with the Oeridians or Flan, which is why they're at the geographic fringes, but they seem more along the lines of cultural separatists than supremacists. That old aristocracy that eventually became the Scarlet Brotherhood is indicated as following some politics that predate the Twin Cataclysms. So, I think it sounds like there is a thread of truth to the imperial culture they think they're following.

This isn't to say that there's any bio-essentialism in Suel white supremacy or separatism. There are examples of Suel cooperation as well as separatism - such as Keoland, pretty much the single longest-lived human state on the Greyhawk map. One reasonable explanation might be that the Suel groups that migrated to the northeastern fringes came from Suel borderland regions most likely to be affected by or take part in conflicts with their neighbors and so developed more belligerent and individualistic social values than the Suel from more stable, interior regions. As a result, when disaster struck, they fought longest, went farthest in maintenance of their own social cohesion while the social groupings more interested in stability went to the Sheldomar Valley and were willing to make common cause toward prosperity with their Oeridian neighbors.
 

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