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Greyhawk setting material

Mort

Community Supporter
...although, if you said that Castle Greyhawk (WG7) was your favorite, then I would be forced to hunt you down.
Hey, who doesn't want their PC to meet Asmodeus in a low level adventure?

This trainwreck of a mega module was my introduction to the world of Greyhawk, and can actually be pretty fun of approached correctly (and heavily modified and cleaned up).

I didn't learn of the modulus somewhat ugly intent and history (essentially as a middle finger to Gygax) until much later.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Hey, who doesn't want their PC to meet Asmodeus in a low level adventure?

This trainwreck of a mega module was my introduction to the world of Greyhawk, and can actually be pretty fun of approached correctly (and heavily modified and cleaned up).

I didn't learn of the modulus somewhat ugly intent and history (essentially as a middle finger to Gygax) until much later.
Oof. Dog star hat for a minute.

WG7 was the last straw for me. I still remember my disappointment with each new hardcover after OA in 1e; it wasn't that they were bad, necessarily, but increasingly inconsequential.

And then, WG7. I still can remember my excitement when I bought it. When I took it home. When I opened it and started reading. And I may not always be the brightest bulb on the planet, but I immediately saw two things-

1. The ugliness. I didn't get all the inside jokes, but I got enough of the gist. Not. Cool.

2. The bad pop culture references. I love me some jokes and pop culture references with the best of them (Hill Sector Blues, anyone?), but these just weren't that funny.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Oof. Dog star hat for a minute.

WG7 was the last straw for me. I still remember my disappointment with each new hardcover after OA in 1e; it wasn't that they were bad, necessarily, but increasingly inconsequential.

And then, WG7. I still can remember my excitement when I bought it. When I took it home. When I opened it and started reading. And I may not always be the brightest bulb on the planet, but I immediately saw two things-

1. The ugliness. I didn't get all the inside jokes, but I got enough of the gist. Not. Cool.

2. The bad pop culture references. I love me some jokes and pop culture references with the best of them (Hill Sector Blues, anyone?), but these just weren't that funny.
If you wanted a Greyhawk adventure, particularly the promised legendary Greyhawk Castle exploration, I can see how this would be like a punch in the mouth.

They got their act somewhat back together with Greyhawk Ruins which was, at least, a serious attempt.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
I wonder about WotC working in something like the battleworld from the last Secret War event by marvel comics or the Convergence event by DC. A megacrossover whose end would be the reboot of the D&D multiverse, maybe adding ideas from other Hasbro's franchises. The hook would be the chronomancers and the time dragons, and maybe Vecna, god of secrets, and something linked to the demiplane of dread (Ravenloft).

Other options it a hidden metaplot. This has just happened, but fans dodn't know yet but some clues in internet appear. We would find a "mosaic" world created with piece of other settins, for example the island of Jankandor and a kingdom ruled by a sorcerer-king from Dark Sun would be neighbours, or a fantasy version of Gamma World being visited by the aliens from d20 Future, and arcanepunk spelljammers.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I wonder about WotC working in something like the battleworld from the last Secret War event by marvel comics or the Convergence event by DC. A megacrossover whose end would be the reboot of the D&D multiverse, maybe adding ideas from other Hasbro's franchises. The hook would be the chronomancers and the time dragons, and maybe Vecna, god of secrets, and something linked to the demiplane of dread (Ravenloft).

Other options it a hidden metaplot. This has just happened, but fans dodn't know yet but some clues in internet appear. We would find a "mosaic" world created with piece of other settins, for example the island of Jankandor and a kingdom ruled by a sorcerer-king from Dark Sun would be neighbours, or a fantasy version of Gamma World being visited by the aliens from d20 Future, and arcanepunk spelljammers.
If they are, it is Tharizdun, and probably Mordenkainen rallying folks against Tharizdun in Greyhawk.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
If they are, it is Tharizdun, and probably Mordenkainen rallying folks against Tharizdun in Greyhawk.
Oh, please no. Please please please.

Remember when you could, you know, save a village? Or maybe not? Maybe just loot the ruins of an ancient civilization or two?

Then someone was like, "Hey, buddy, let's Elminster it and save the Realms!"

But apparently now even that's not enough? What, we have to save the multiverse?

Sheesh. Thanos was right.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Oh, please no. Please please please.

Remember when you could, you know, save a village? Or maybe not? Maybe just loot the ruins of an ancient civilization or two?

Then someone was like, "Hey, buddy, let's Elminster it and save the Realms!"

But apparently now even that's not enough? What, we have to save the multiverse?

Sheesh. Thanos was right.
I dunno if they will, but if they are, that's where it is for Mearls.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Too many pronouns. ;) Specificity is the soul of narrative.
Mike Mearls is the evil genius "Franchise Creative Director" for Wizards of the Coast, i.e. in charge of story direction with license partners and across the game line. He is vocally obsessed with Greyhawk, Mordenkainen and Tharizdun. The last two came up in a recent D&DB video, even. I think they might go...somewhere...with that. Or want to.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
Or "our" Tharizdun is killed and eaten by "its" (saner) twin from a different timeline, this one didn't want to destroy everything, only to recreate everything, and it is more popular among mortals, trying to fix all by the wrong way. And after leaving its original timeline there throne is empty and the supreme powers and the lictors fight for this because their Demiurge has dissapared, bored because its "utopy" isn't enough challenge.
 

grodog

Adventurer
I hear good things about Carl Sargent's stuff? I am nostalgic for the 3E Greyhawk of my youth, too...
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.
The notion of local vs epic fantasy is a pretty solid difference between FR and Greyhawk. Looking at the modules, by and large, in Greyhawk, you have pretty local problems being solved by mercenary PC's. Forgotten Realms is a lot more epic in scope - cast of thousands, large, sprawling events, that sort of thing.
While I largely agree with the characterization of GH and FR I quoted you can definitely play either setting with a different set of assumptions for your own campaign, and both campaigns would support a grittier tone as well as a high-fantasy tone. Similarly, you can run both settings with a old-school vibe, or a more contemporary approach to the game, too---it all varies based on what kind of game you and your players want to play. Greyhawk setting is fairly open-ended, and you can safely ignore any and all canon/fanon content that you'd like in either setting, in order order to shape the your campaign how you want to play.

That said, if you're interested in some A/B comparisons between GH and FR, there's an old '90s essay called "Grey in the Hawk" by Nitescreed that speaks to some of the common themes/differences in playing a Greyhawk campaign vs. FR in particular, and it might be useful as a touchstone or jumping off point. It's similar to Matt Finch's "Old School Primer"* in that it assumes a certain late-2e playstyle that was common in FR and other 2e products BITD, and suggests how/why Greyhawk is different. You can read it here on ENWorld @ Tell me about Greyhawk

These further discussions may also be of interest:

* Finch's essay assumes a 3e baseline playstyle and contrasts that with a more old-school 0e/1e playstyle; you can download it for free @ Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew Finch (eBook) - Lulu if you're interested.

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.
All true! :D

Speaking of rare items. Is Greyhawk magic item heavy? I like that 5e toned this down a lot. I also like to award magic items and the rare occasions seem to make the item more special to my players. The list of magic items in GoS is rather slim and I like that. Just curious how it was setup when the setting was "the setting".
The notion of local vs epic fantasy is a pretty solid difference between FR and Greyhawk. Looking at the modules, by and large, in Greyhawk, you have pretty local problems being solved by mercenary PC's. Forgotten Realms is a lot more epic in scope - cast of thousands, large, sprawling events, that sort of thing.

But the fantasy part isn't what differentiates the settings. Greyhawk featured some pretty gonzo stuff.
I can't compare GH or GoS in 5e terms (I went back to 1e AD&D after 3.5), but while GH is often positioned as a low-magic setting, its baseline isn't low-magic unless you decide to run it that way: many of the famous artifacts and relics from the 1e DMG are native to Greyhawk, and standard magic items are very common in published 1e adventures (but those adventures were also written with the assumptions that item saving throws would be failed with some frequency too....); Iuz, a demonic demigod, rules an entire country in Greyhawk and wages war on the world from his home, a la Sauron; Vecna's rise to power as a god was checked by Iuz and St. Cuthbert, who hate each other; etc.

And, really, since I mostly got back into Greyhawk with Paizohawk, the destruction of cultures in the north don't really faze me. I just don't care since I never played there and never ran anything in that area. Having the Scarlet Bros in the open makes it a lot more interesting when you're centered around the Azure Sea and southwards.
Agreed: run with what you like, and ignore the rest! :D

If you're a fan of the Azure Sea environs, you should definitely check out Mike Bridge's south seas regional map @ New Greyhawk Map: South Seas and Greyhawk Map: Azure Sea

The issue with Greyhawk is because it was the original default setting for all published models it accreted lots of content created by lots of different authors with lots of different visions (Saltmarsh being dumped in Keoland is a prime example). As such, it became a muddy mess.
Given that there's less content to deal with than many of the other settings, it is somewhat easier to peel off the layers you don't want in a particular campaign.

No reason you can't strip it back to something more Gygaxian if you want, but there is no "One True Greyhawk", it's whatever you want to make of it.
Couldn't agree more!

Allan. (apparently .sigless atm...)
grodog@gmail.com
Greyhawk, grodog Style for my Greyhawk site
 

Parmandur

Legend
While I largely agree with the characterization of GH and FR I quoted you can definitely play either setting with a different set of assumptions for your own campaign, and both campaigns would support a grittier tone as well as a high-fantasy tone. Similarly, you can run both settings with a old-school vibe, or a more contemporary approach to the game, too---it all varies based on what kind of game you and your players want to play. Greyhawk setting is fairly open-ended, and you can safely ignore any and all canon/fanon content that you'd like in either setting, in order order to shape the your campaign how you want to play.

That said, if you're interested in some A/B comparisons between GH and FR, there's an old '90s essay called "Grey in the Hawk" by Nitescreed that speaks to some of the common themes/differences in playing a Greyhawk campaign vs. FR in particular, and it might be useful as a touchstone or jumping off point. It's similar to Matt Finch's "Old School Primer"* in that it assumes a certain late-2e playstyle that was common in FR and other 2e products BITD, and suggests how/why Greyhawk is different. You can read it here on ENWorld @ Tell me about Greyhawk

These further discussions may also be of interest:

* Finch's essay assumes a 3e baseline playstyle and contrasts that with a more old-school 0e/1e playstyle; you can download it for free @ Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew Finch (eBook) - Lulu if you're interested.



All true! :D



I can't compare GH or GoS in 5e terms (I went back to 1e AD&D after 3.5), but while GH is often positioned as a low-magic setting, its baseline isn't low-magic unless you decide to run it that way: many of the famous artifacts and relics from the 1e DMG are native to Greyhawk, and standard magic items are very common in published 1e adventures (but those adventures were also written with the assumptions that item saving throws would be failed with some frequency too....); Iuz, a demonic demigod, rules an entire country in Greyhawk and wages war on the world from his home, a la Sauron; Vecna's rise to power as a god was checked by Iuz and St. Cuthbert, who hate each other; etc.



Agreed: run with what you like, and ignore the rest! :D

If you're a fan of the Azure Sea environs, you should definitely check out Mike Bridge's south seas regional map @ New Greyhawk Map: South Seas and Greyhawk Map: Azure Sea



Given that there's less content to deal with than many of the other settings, it is somewhat easier to peel off the layers you don't want in a particular campaign.



Couldn't agree more!

Allan. (apparently .sigless atm...)
grodog@gmail.com
Greyhawk, grodog Style for my Greyhawk site
Man, got into the weeds on your site reading Rob Kuntz's old annotated bibliography lots of cool stuff that never really saw the light of day...
 

grodog

Adventurer
Man, got into the weeds on your site reading Rob Kuntz's old annotated bibliography lots of cool stuff that never really saw the light of day...
Some of it definitely has been released, although much as manuscript scans thus far. Here's a quick run-down of Rob's works printed over the past 6 years or so (I should update the bibliography, I suppose ;) ):
  • Dave Arenson's True Genius available from Three Line Studios, Rob's personal publishing company (and Black Blade if you're attending GaryCon or the North Texas RPG Con): Dave Arneson's True Genius by Robert J. Kuntz
  • El Raja Key Archive - USB/DVD archive with over 1000 pages of manuscripts; available from TLB Games (and Black Blade if you're attending GaryCon or the North Texas RPG Con): El Raja Key Archive Graphical Interface
  • K1 The Sunken City (1975 GenCon tourney adventure), from TLB Games: K1 Sunken City: First Print by Rob Kuntz
  • Bottle City - stats expanded and normalized to AD&D standards, errata fixed; available from Black Blade (my publishing company): Black Blade Publishing
  • Dark Druids - re-edited and errata fixed, new material added; available from Chaotic Henchmen (and Black Blade if you're attending GaryCon or the North Texas RPG Con): Dark Druids by Robert J. Kuntz
  • Cairn of the Skeleton King - stats expanded and normalized to AD&D standards; available from Black Blade (my publishing company): Black Blade Publishing
  • Tower of Blood - reprinted by Black Blade at the same time as CotSK
The Three Line Studios Facebook account @ Three Line Studio is your most-current source for RJK news, along with his blog @ Lake Geneva Original RPG Campaign

If you're interested in ordering from us, you can PM us via Facebook or email per my blog post @ How to Order Tales of Peril (and other books) from Black Blade Publishing

Allan.
grodog@gmail.com
Greyhawk, grodog Style for my Greyhawk site
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
Ghosts of Saltmarsh rolls back the metaplot to Year One, but Mearls included a bunch of stuff from Living Greyhawk as hooks on the regional Gazeeter. I reckon this is what they will do with any further products.
Not necessarily. Iuz has acess to sea trading routes in Ghosts. And I don't think his nation did not have this access back in 1e. But once they took over the Horned Society lands they did.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Not necessarily. Iuz has acess to sea trading routes in Ghosts. And I don't think his nation did not have this access back in 1e. But once they took over the Horned Society lands they did.
The Scarlet Brotherhood is a secret society plotting to take over the Hold of the Sea Princes in Ghosts of Saltmarsh: pre-Greyhawk Wars.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Ghost iirc had Vecna as a god. It's not year 0 but it's not to over the top, it's fairly easy to set it year 0.
 

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