Greyhawk setting material

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I hear good things about Carl Sargent's stuff? I am nostalgic for the 3E Greyhawk of my youth, too...
In all honesty, I think that my original comment stands (at least for me). But I guess it depends on what you want out of a campaign setting?

For my purposes, the 1983 Boxed Set was absolutely perfect, because, well, the Darlene Map (still gorgeous!) and because the information was absolutely perfect in terms on providing information and hooks ... it gave all sorts of ideas for adventurers and plots and ideas, without forcing any on me.

I still do not think I have ever read a better example of that- something that felt like it was calling on you to make the adventures. It was like the world's most wonderful coloring book, waiting for me to fill it in.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
I miss it a lot, but I don't want a "jump the shark" like Dragonlance 5th Age.

I am afraid that setting is not ready to be added new things, races and classes for example, from last edition.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
For my purposes, the 1983 Boxed Set was absolutely perfect, because, well, the Darlene Map (still gorgeous!) and because the information was absolutely perfect in terms on providing information and hooks ... it gave all sorts of ideas for adventurers and plots and ideas, without forcing any on me.
as someone said earlier, it depends on what you want (and how much free time you have). Your reasons for liking WoG are pretty much the same as mine... bare bones outline of most stuff, lots of 'make up your own stuff'... basically, a sandbox setting. Compared to the FR, which is a lot less bare bones and fills in a lot of details. If that's what you like, then FR is for you; not everyone has a lot of free time to plan out stuff...
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
The funny thing for me is that, while I actually approve of them setting Ghosts of Saltmarsh in original era Greyhawk (I only got the 1983 boxed set a couple years ago, but it is fantastic—how a campaign setting should be done), my ongoing campaign was already set in the 3e era, so I have to find a way to adjust the Scarlet Brotherhood material to fit a post Greyhawk Wars setting. A sentence or two would help with that, since I’m kind of at a loss.

But that gives me an idea. What they should do (and should have for Forgotten Realms, but they botched it in 4e and then put out so many novels and such supporting the unpopular timeline adjustments that they didn’t feel like they could just reboot in 5e...very very unfortunate because it means I have to “fix” every single 5e Forgotten Realms book I buy, or just skip it) is to set all campaign settings in their original classic eras, and then provide a few paragraphs in an appendix explaining how to update the setting to various later eras, with links to DMsGuild products that provide the best additional overviews of those eras. That would be totally doable. It is substantially easier in my opinion to advance a timeline for personal use than to regress it. Waterdeep Dragon Heist is useless to me, for example, as is the world overview material in SCAG. Even Out of the Abyss is requiring a lot of creativity to fit Blingdenstone as presented into an earlier era (and that’s as far as I’ve read, I don’t know how much other stuff I’ll have to fix).
 

MockingBird

Explorer
Just picked up the Greyhawk box set pdf. I've only skimmed over it so far. I am/was a FR fan. It was my first setting. I'm fairly familiar with it and I can ignore the things I dont care for (4e stuff). I still enjoy it but my version is a bit gritty (as gritty as i can make the stock setting). Saltmarsh caught my interest in Greyhawk and I may be wrong but it gives me a gritty vibe that FR didnt. Am I correct with this initial feel or am I projecting that on to it? I plan to read some when I get ready for bed. Those of you who are more familiar please feel free to give me your synopsis and your take on this classic setting.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Just picked up the Greyhawk box set pdf. I've only skimmed over it so far. I am/was a FR fan. It was my first setting. I'm fairly familiar with it and I can ignore the things I dont care for (4e stuff). I still enjoy it but my version is a bit gritty (as gritty as i can make the stock setting). Saltmarsh caught my interest in Greyhawk and I may be wrong but it gives me a gritty vibe that FR didnt. Am I correct with this initial feel or am I projecting that on to it? I plan to read some when I get ready for bed. Those of you who are more familiar please feel free to give me your synopsis and your take on this classic setting.
Yeah, I'd say that's fair. The Forgotten Realms started out as a location for a young Ed Greenwood's fan fiction, whereas Greyhawk was a grizzled veteran wargamers sandbox from Day One.

The starting year in Greyhawk by default is in the 500's, whereas in the FR it was in the 1300's for a long time. For me, as a Medievalist, the difference between 6th century Europe and 14th century Europe reflects on how I'd view the two settings by default: Greyhawk is more Arthur & Charlemagne, Attila & Muhammad, Vikings & Byzantines. Forgotten Realms is more Da Vinci & Machiavelli, Henry V & Joan of Arc, Ottomans & Sweden, and so on.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
{snip} and I may be wrong but it gives me a gritty vibe that FR didnt. Am I correct with this initial feel or am I projecting that on to it? I plan to read some when I get ready for bed. Those of you who are more familiar please feel free to give me your synopsis and your take on this classic setting.
So, here is where Greyhawk and FR are similar- both of them are "generic" "kitchen-sink" campaigns that, theoretically, allow you to easily put in almost all standard D&D tropes.

Where they are different tends to be subtle, but I think you are identifying it; it's not just that it's grittier (necessarily) but it evokes a different feel entirely. Greyhawk calls back to classic swords and sorcery- it is Leiber and Howard, Fafhrd and Conan. FR, on the other hand, is more akin to High Fantasy.

You see this in the classic extrapolation of stories; GH stories (at least, the classic ones) are rarely about adventurers "saving the world from evil," they are about money, and the balance of power, and general mishmash of genre weirdness (the spaceship crashed in the Barrier Peaks, the lost civilization buried in the Sea of Dust that caused their own destruction).

Finally, I think there is a difference in the way that the settings were provided that also explains some of the differences. GH was a home campaign of Gygax- so he chose not to provide the whole thing, instead providing some sketched with the assumption that the home DM would fill it in (this from a person who did not understand, at first, why home players would want modules or campaign settings, since people were supposed to do that themselves!). In fact, he deliberately changed many aspects from his home campaign to the published material.

FR, on the other hand, is an exuberant Greenwood sharing (and sometimes oversharing) with you.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Just picked up the Greyhawk box set pdf. I've only skimmed over it so far. I am/was a FR fan. It was my first setting. I'm fairly familiar with it and I can ignore the things I dont care for (4e stuff). I still enjoy it but my version is a bit gritty (as gritty as i can make the stock setting). Saltmarsh caught my interest in Greyhawk and I may be wrong but it gives me a gritty vibe that FR didnt. Am I correct with this initial feel or am I projecting that on to it? I plan to read some when I get ready for bed. Those of you who are more familiar please feel free to give me your synopsis and your take on this classic setting.
Yeah that's fair. GH is a lot less cartoon like than FR and it's more gritty in tone with evil cults etc.

Tech wise it's more 14th century than FR which is more 16th.

They're similar in a lot if ways but if I was DMing them I would try and make the tone very different.
The Zhentarim are a bit cartoon like compared with say the Scarlet Brotherhood who are basically Nazis.

FRs also a bit more cosmopolitan. Things like Dragonborn, Droe and Tieflings should not really be running around.
 
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MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
Yeah Greyhawk is indeed more of a Swords and Sorcery setting. While FR is Heroic Fantasy.

The 2e book from the Ashes decided to go father into it and made the setting bleaker even.

Yeah that's fair. GH is a lot less cartoon like than FR and it's more gritty in tone with evil cults etc.

Tech wise it's more 14th century than FR which is more 16th.

They're similar in a lot if ways but if I was DMing them I would try and make the tone very different.
The Zhentarim are a bit cartoon like compared with say the Scarlet Brotherhood who are basically Nazis.

FRs also a bit more cosmopolitan. Things like Dragonborn, Droe and Tieflings should not really be running around.
I think you are losing cartoon wrong.

Zhentarim are a criminal/mercenary group, so yes they would be quite different to the Racial Supremacist Scarlet Brotherhood.

I would say Greyhawk is more cosmopolitan, it has more actual Kingdoms and Nations then FR. And why should Dragonborn, Drow and Tieflings not be running around?
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Yeah Greyhawk is indeed more of a Swords and Sorcery setting. While FR is Heroic Fantasy.

The 2e book from the Ashes decided to go father into it and made the setting bleaker even.


I think you are losing cartoon wrong.

Zhentarim are a criminal/mercenary group, so yes they would be quite different to the Racial Supremacist Scarlet Brotherhood.

I would say Greyhawk is more cosmopolitan, it has more actual Kingdoms and Nations then FR. And why should Dragonborn, Drow and Tieflings not be running around?
Greyhawks humanocentric, anything to exotic shouldn't exist or at least be available as PCs.

They've been watering down Drow for example every edition now they're just another race.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
Greyhawks humanocentric, anything to exotic shouldn't exist or at least be available as PCs.

They've been watering down Drow for example every edition now they're just another race.
I think you are overestimating it's humanocentricness. While Human Nations are dominant. There are non human nations and tons of weird shit around.

The Drow are around just like in FR Underground in creepy evil cities. And teiflings and dragonborn are not that weird.
 

Quartz

Explorer
If I ever run Greyhawk again, dragonborn will be the inhabitants of the oriental-style empire that is supposed to exist beyond the Sea of Dust. There's a reason that the Suel and Baklunish fled to the Flaeness.
 

Hussar

Legend
Yeah that's fair. GH is a lot less cartoon like than FR and it's more gritty in tone with evil cults etc.

Tech wise it's more 14th century than FR which is more 16th.

They're similar in a lot if ways but if I was DMing them I would try and make the tone very different.
The Zhentarim are a bit cartoon like compared with say the Scarlet Brotherhood who are basically Nazis.

FRs also a bit more cosmopolitan. Things like Dragonborn, Droe and Tieflings should not really be running around.
Except, right in Saltmarsh, you've got a Tiefling emisary from Iuz buying supplies and shipping them out regularly. Plus a half orc working in the cemetary. The modules introduces you to sea elves pretty early on. The bad guys are working with humanoids and 2/3rds of the modules are dealing with non-humans. And not just in an adversarial mode either.

This notion that Greyhawk is humanoicentric is an odd one. I'm not sure where it got started.

I have to admit though, because I loved Paizohawk, I've set my game about 598 CY. Also because the Anna B Meyer maps are just so frigging GORGEOUS. I just have to use those in my game. :D Which means that places like Cauldron and The Isle of Dread (which, some of my players played through the Savage Tides AP with me) and Sasserine all exist in my Saltmarsh game. Dramij has an underwater lair nearby (well, near ish :D ) and the Scarlet Brotherhood is a major player a short day's boat ride away in Monmurg.

To me, for this area of Greyhawk, it's a much, MUCH richer background than if I stuck to the original timeline.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
This notion that Greyhawk is humanoicentric is an odd one. I'm not sure where it got started.
Gygax, who was quite open about his campaign being human-centric, with non-human PCs being a rare exception.

The actual campaign setting was quite vaguely defined though, so there is plenty of room to increase non-human representation, which is what GoS has done. The sea elf was in the original module, but that wasn't written by Gygax.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I don't recall the Tiefling in the original.

I'm a lot more open to things being NPCs. If Greyhawk is everything goes why bother playing it over FR? At least adding Tieflings makes some sense and they tied it to Iuz so they made an effort.

Or if Nerath is everything goes along with Eberron there's not really that much point in the individual settings unless they have unique mechanics in some way.

Greyhawk was one option I gave a new group. They picked Midgard, but I was thinking of adding the AD&D alignment and racial restrictions back into the game.

One player asked why and I pointed out Ehlona and Hieroneous alignment. They were actually fine with it as it's a reason in game.

Unless you are the world's best DM for inter kingdom politics how would you make GH distinct to FR? Ban everything after 1983 as player options.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Unless you are the world's best DM for inter kingdom politics how would you make GH distinct to FR? Ban everything after 1983 as player options.
Heh.

I think you're absolutely correct about the humano-centric nature of Greyhawk. Sometimes, I think the confusion that people have is that they see people (such as me, unfortunately!) refer to both GH and FR as "kitchen sink settings" and they don't understand that there is a vast difference between them.

The difference is based on two major distinctions; one from the origin, and one from the evolution:

First, the difference in origins. As already noted, Greyhawk started as a Gygaxian, humano-centric campaign, largely based off of pulp genre stories with a heavy wargaming influence (Swords and Sorcery). FR was Greenwood's longtime fantasy campaign (High Fantasy).

More importantly, after the ouster of EGG, FR became an omnivorous dumping ground for TSR (and later, WoTC). In many ways, this is good- additional "flavors" (Al Qadim, Maztica, Kara Tur) became subsumed in the greater FR brand, anything new for D&D was assumed to be included in the FR, there was a LOT of FR lore for people to obsess over (if you're into the whole canon thing).

Of course, that also brought disadvantages- fewer areas to color in, problems with consistency and tone over time, constant retcons and reboots and PlagueSunderings, etc. What it gained in versatility, it lost in focus. There is no free lunch.

So I think it helps to understand those aspects that (to me, at least) makes for "classic" GH:

1. It's humano-centric. This doesn't mean that all PCs are humans, just that humans are the overwhelming default, and that great care has to be taken when deciding on non-standard options given the likely choices for adventuring.

2. It's small in scale. You aren't saving the Realms; you're making a buck.

3. There's always something bigger, badder, and more mysterious. You will never have the power of the Mages who destroyed the Sueloise civilization. There will always be the past glories or dangers, the stories of Vecna and of giant ships crashing from the sky, of beings that strode across the landscape, that are told around the fires at night.

4. Civilization is tenuous, at best. The great powers and empires are in decline and their best days are in the past, and it is always questionable if the forces of civilization will hold off the entropy and darkness. Progress is not assured.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
Maybe Greyhakw needs its own Kara-Tur, Al-Qadim and Maztica, but not in the same planet, but in the same crystal sphere.... or using ideas from Chronomancer and the time spheres with a different timeline.

Greyhawk is now a world what has become too "little" for all new things, monsters, classes and races from later editions.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Maybe Greyhakw needs its own Kara-Tur, Al-Qadim and Maztica, but not in the same planet, but in the same crystal sphere.... or using ideas from Chronomancer and the time spheres with a different timeline.

Greyhawk is now a world what has become too "little" for all new things, monsters, classes and races from later editions.
Traditionally, if you didn't like Greyhawk, you just traveled to a different world. The walls of the multiverse are porous in Oerth.
 

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