D&D 5E Greyhawk: Why We Need Mo' Oerth by 2024

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The Mystara Gazeteers were a really cool thing, I remember reading them cover to cover (even if Mystara's geography and cultures were...interestingly placed). While it wasn't exactly a supplement, "The Voyage of the Princess Ark" was one of the best ways to convey a setting I've ever encountered.
 

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Staffan

Legend
At the very least, I'm sure that WotC closed any loopholes when they bought D&D.
My understanding is that after buying TSR, Wizards made overtures to at least some of the old guard in order to mend fences. Just as an example, you'll note that the 3e core books say "Dungeons & Dragons" and not "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", and that one of them is the "Monster Manual", not the "Monstrous Manual". That's because they made some kind of deal with Dave Arneson, probably along the lines of "Hey, the current situation is not ideal for either of us. We can't/won't use the D&D name because of royalties, and you're not getting any royalties because we can't/won't use it. How about we buy you out instead so you get a bunch of money up front, credit as co-creator of the original game, and we get free title to stuff?"

They likely did similar things with other creators where ownership was wonky one way or the other.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Explorer's Guide to Wildemount (in my opinion, probably the single best written/designed D&D 5e setting book) has a giant gazetteer for Wildemount in it. Every single town and settlement that it details gets at least one adventure hook for the party if they visit it. Many of them can be the basis for a full campaign.

In my opinion, every D&D 5e setting book should do this in their gazetteer section.

I understand that people LOVE gazetteers, and it is very similar to a format used in previous editions that folks are fond for... but my (controversial) opinion is that I think it a complete waste of space.

1654296469115.png


I can't stand how Wildemount goes out of it's way to detail every settlement. Especially the nuances of population breakdown... and I hate it. Leaves so little space for me to make up my own setting material within a place.

And I know why Wildemount has all this and other 5E settings don't... Matt Mercer literally wrote all this down, thinking it's important know-how when his PCs may get to that place. And he converted those notes into this text.

But I'm not Matt Mercer, and I'm not running Critical Role. I don't have those players, I don't want to run his game. So it's very stifling to have all of this irritating detail that makes me feel obliged to use. It doesn't feel like a sandbox, it feels like a LEGO set... and someone already built the thing.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I understand that people LOVE gazetteers, and it is very similar to a format used in previous editions that folks are fond for... but my (controversial) opinion is that I think it a complete waste of space.

View attachment 250192

I can't stand how Wildemount goes out of it's way to detail every settlement. Especially the nuances of population breakdown... and I hate it. Leaves so little space for me to make up my own setting material within a place.

And I know why Wildemount has all this and other 5E settings don't... Matt Mercer literally wrote all this down, thinking it's important know-how when his PCs may get to that place. And he converted those notes into this text.

But I'm not Matt Mercer, and I'm not running Critical Role. I don't have those players, I don't want to run his game. So it's very stifling to have all of this irritating detail that makes me feel obliged to use. It doesn't feel like a sandbox, it feels like a LEGO set... and someone already built the thing.
Yes, and Mercer being an old school 2E/3E DM, he likes those details.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I understand that people LOVE gazetteers, and it is very similar to a format used in previous editions that folks are fond for... but my (controversial) opinion is that I think it a complete waste of space.

View attachment 250192

I can't stand how Wildemount goes out of it's way to detail every settlement. Especially the nuances of population breakdown... and I hate it. Leaves so little space for me to make up my own setting material within a place.

And I know why Wildemount has all this and other 5E settings don't... Matt Mercer literally wrote all this down, thinking it's important know-how when his PCs may get to that place. And he converted those notes into this text.

But I'm not Matt Mercer, and I'm not running Critical Role. I don't have those players, I don't want to run his game. So it's very stifling to have all of this irritating detail that makes me feel obliged to use. It doesn't feel like a sandbox, it feels like a LEGO set... and someone already built the thing.
I don't see how it prevents you from doing what you want. I mean, you just do what you would do if you didn't have the book. You make it up. You're allowed to change anything, think of that as an example or starting point.

If Forgotten Realms Adventures tells me that a town is protected by a standing army of Cormyrian soldiers, with multiple 7th level War Wizards, you better believe I'll dial those levels down if the PC's are adventuring there.

OTOH, if I don't have the time to make an NPC (or even better, there's a potentially entertaining one already there, like a CG Halfling Priestess of Tymora, of all things, running a saloon), the fact that one is stated to be present is just a nice option.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I don't see how it prevents you from doing what you want. I mean, you just do what you would do if you didn't have the book. You make it up. You're allowed to change anything, think of that as an example or starting point.

If Forgotten Realms Adventures tells me that a town is protected by a standing army of Cormyrian soldiers, with multiple 7th level War Wizards, you better believe I'll dial those levels down if the PC's are adventuring there.

OTOH, if I don't have the time to make an NPC (or even better, there's a potentially entertaining one already there, like a CG Halfling Priestess of Tymora, of all things, running a saloon), the fact that one is stated to be present is just a nice option.

I'll tell you why... if I change those details, there is always the risk a Wildemount fan will tell me I'm "running the game" wrong. If I want to create my own NPC for the mayor of this small town, I have to use this specific halfling or else I'm playing "contrary to the author's intent."

Bah. Now I know that mature players won't care, but these threads have taught me that I lot of people do care if you run something contrary to their expectations. Better if those expectations are set with something vague.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I don't see how it prevents you from doing what you want. I mean, you just do what you would do if you didn't have the book. You make it up. You're allowed to change anything, think of that as an example or starting point.

If Forgotten Realms Adventures tells me that a town is protected by a standing army of Cormyrian soldiers, with multiple 7th level War Wizards, you better believe I'll dial those levels down if the PC's are adventuring there.

OTOH, if I don't have the time to make an NPC (or even better, there's a potentially entertaining one already there, like a CG Halfling Priestess of Tymora, of all things, running a saloon), the fact that one is stated to be present is just a nice option.

Here's a far better explanation on my own opinion on setting design;


1654297686398.png
 


deganawida

Adventurer
Seems like a confirmation that the secret "Ed Greenwood sold the Realms to WotC under the promise they must print an FR book every year to the end of time," was complete boompf.

And of course it is, no company, even an incompetent one, would be crazy enough to sign a contract like that.
Um, DC did. That was the stipulation for publishing Wonder Woman, that they had to publish her comic every month. Not sure if it’s still in effect, but was still active in 2000 IIRC.
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I'll tell you why... if I change those details, there is always the risk a Wildemount fan will tell me I'm "running the game" wrong. If I want to create my own NPC for the mayor of this small town, I have to use this specific halfling or else I'm playing "contrary to the author's intent."

Bah. Now I know that mature players won't care, but these threads have taught me that I lot of people do care if you run something contrary to their expectations. Better if those expectations are set with something vague.
But you could always invent a new town and place it on the map. Or change it. I don't think any Critical Role fan has the entirety of the Wildemount Gazetteer completely memorized, down to its population percentages and every settlement's mayor.

And if they somehow do notice you changed something . . . introduce it as a plot hook or something. Maybe they're the new mayor after the last one was assassinated or stepped down because of some scandal. Maybe the reason there are more Gnomes in this specific city than usual is that they're actually refugees from a gnomish settlement that was destroyed.

And if they still aren't fine with that . . . talk with them. Make it clear that this is your own version of the setting and not everything will fit Matt Mercer's specific vision of it. Say that you're pulling an Eberron.

I love having gazetteers like this. They are extremely worth the space and money to me. Otherwise I'd have to make that stuff up, and I would prefer to just search the book than have to come up with something. It's extremely worthwhile to me. And if it isn't to you, you're absolutely free to change it.

(Oh, and the reason the percentage population matters is for the Heroic Chronicle in the Player Creation section. You can roll to generate random NPCs and characters using that information.)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
But you could always invent a new town and place it on the map. Or change it. I don't think any Critical Role fan has the entirety of the Wildemount Gazetteer completely memorized, down to its population percentages and every settlement's mayor.

And if they somehow do notice you changed something . . . introduce it as a plot hook or something. Maybe they're the new mayor after the last one was assassinated or stepped down because of some scandal. Maybe the reason there are more Gnomes in this specific city than usual is that they're actually refugees from a gnomish settlement that was destroyed.

And if they still aren't fine with that . . . talk with them. Make it clear that this is your own version of the setting and not everything will fit Matt Mercer's specific vision of it. Say that you're pulling an Eberron.

I love having gazetteers like this. They are extremely worth the space and money to me. Otherwise I'd have to make that stuff up, and I would prefer to just search the book than have to come up with something. It's extremely worthwhile to me. And if it isn't to you, you're absolutely free to change it.

(Oh, and the reason the percentage population matters is for the Heroic Chronicle in the Player Creation section. You can roll to generate random NPCs and characters using that information.)
Maybe check out some of the older Greyhawk material on the DMsGuild: tons of juicy stuff like that, easy to pick up and transplant.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Um, DC did. That was the stipulation for publishing Wonder Woman, that they had to publish her comic every month. Not sure if it’s still in effect, but was still active in 2000 IIRC.


1654298341124.png


I guess some companies were crazy enough to sign such contracts though... even if in this case, they did eventually buy WW outright.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
But you could always invent a new town and place it on the map. Or change it. I don't think any Critical Role fan has the entirety of the Wildemount Gazetteer completely memorized, down to its population percentages and every settlement's mayor.

And if they somehow do notice you changed something . . . introduce it as a plot hook or something. Maybe they're the new mayor after the last one was assassinated or stepped down because of some scandal. Maybe the reason there are more Gnomes in this specific city than usual is that they're actually refugees from a gnomish settlement that was destroyed.

And if they still aren't fine with that . . . talk with them. Make it clear that this is your own version of the setting and not everything will fit Matt Mercer's specific vision of it. Say that you're pulling an Eberron.

I love having gazetteers like this. They are extremely worth the space and money to me. Otherwise I'd have to make that stuff up, and I would prefer to just search the book than have to come up with something. It's extremely worthwhile to me. And if it isn't to you, you're absolutely free to change it.

(Oh, and the reason the percentage population matters is for the Heroic Chronicle in the Player Creation section. You can roll to generate random NPCs and characters using that information.)

I will refer to comment #367 which does a better job of explaining why Wildemount IMO is not nearly as engaging a product as something more vague.

This below to me is of far more usable quality, when ironically it uses a very similar format (though not content) as Wildemount.

1654298575213.png
 

MGibster

Legend
And if they still aren't fine with that . . . talk with them. Make it clear that this is your own version of the setting and not everything will fit Matt Mercer's specific vision of it. Say that you're pulling an Eberron.
This is a risk for just about any published setting. When I ran a game set in the Warhammer 40k universe, I explained that canon could vary depending on what story you read. So if you see something in my campaign that contradicts a source you're familiar with, just roll with it.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I will refer to comment #367 which does a better job of explaining why Wildemount IMO is not nearly as engaging a product as something more vague.

This below to me is of far more usable quality, when ironically it uses a very similar format (though not content) as Wildemount.

View attachment 250203
Setting books aren't supposed to try to tell a story. Adventure books, sure. But not setting books. Setting books are supposed to provide the details necessary to run a campaign in the setting, giving adventure hooks, providing gazetteers that cover major sections of the setting that the PCs can go to, and explaining how the races/monsters in the setting differ from the PHB/MM versions.

I don't want a setting book to be vague. I want it to be specific. A few mysteries are fine, like who the Dark Powers of Ravenloft are, or who/what destroyed Cyre, if Eberron's Gods are real, or if the First World/Progenitor Dragons actually existed. That's all fine. But being vague when describing places that the PCs can go is not helpful. If I wanted to worldbuild, I would have homebrewed a setting, not bought a setting book.

To me, a setting book being vague in its gazetteers is bad book design. Imagine a Planescape book that doesn't explain the Lady of Pain or Factions of Sigil. Or if the Eberron book didn't explain how to run a game in Sharn or anything about the rulers of the Five Nations of Khorvaire.

That's not useful. Setting books should explain their settings and give instructions for what to do/what could happen if the players visit a specific location. Not shrug and just explain the theme/genre of the place.
 

I'll tell you why... if I change those details, there is always the risk a Wildemount fan will tell me I'm "running the game" wrong. If I want to create my own NPC for the mayor of this small town, I have to use this specific halfling or else I'm playing "contrary to the author's intent."

Bah. Now I know that mature players won't care, but these threads have taught me that I lot of people do care if you run something contrary to their expectations. Better if those expectations are set with something vague.
No one is going to memorize the populations of each and every settlement in a setting, or memorize who runs what inn. Even I, in my 2e Realms era moments, didn't do that. If you actually do end up playing with someone so extremely pedantic, well, gently remind them that there will be some changes just by the nature of the game. If they are still insistent on complete setting purity, well, they might not be the best fit for your group...
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Setting books aren't supposed to try to tell a story. Adventure books, sure. But not setting books. Setting books are supposed to provide the details necessary to run a campaign in the setting, giving adventure hooks, providing gazetteers that cover major sections of the setting that the PCs can go to, and explaining how the races/monsters in the setting differ from the PHB/MM versions.

I don't want a setting book to be vague. I want it to be specific. A few mysteries are fine, like who the Dark Powers of Ravenloft are, or who/what destroyed Cyre, if Eberron's Gods are real, or if the First World/Progenitor Dragons actually existed. That's all fine. But being vague when describing places that the PCs can go is not helpful. If I wanted to worldbuild, I would have homebrewed a setting, not bought a setting book.

To me, a setting book being vague in its gazetteers is bad book design. Imagine a Planescape book that doesn't explain the Lady of Pain or Factions of Sigil. Or if the Eberron book didn't explain how to run a game in Sharn or anything about the rulers of the Five Nations of Khorvaire.

That's not useful. Setting books should explain their settings and give instructions for what to do/what could happen if the players visit a specific location. Not shrug and just explain the theme/genre of the place.

Ah, I couldn't disagree more... a setting book should not be a history book. It is a vehicle for you to run games, a location for you to run stories.

Does it really matter if the population of Sharn is 100,000 or 1 million? I'd say no... it's supposed to be a big city, and supposed to hit certain themes, but it should be as big (or small) as it needs to be for the GM's purposes.

And I do think it is really, extremely important for elements to be quite vague or unknown. Eberron does this extremely well, creating several setting concepts like the draconic prophecy or the very existence of gods as mysteries. It leaves it to the DM to use these to create stories.

The Wildemount book trades a lot of mystery and vagueness for details. I get why some folks like or want that, but it's utterly useless to me.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Ah, I couldn't disagree more... a setting book should not be a history book. It is a vehicle for you to run games, a location for you to run stories.
I never said anything about "historical".
Does it really matter if the population of Sharn is 100,000 or 1 million? I'd say no... it's supposed to be a big city, and supposed to hit certain themes, but it should be as big (or small) as it needs to be for the GM's purposes.
Yeah, it kind of does. I need to know how many people live in a city/town in order to properly run it. I don't need it to say that its population is exactly 1,034,791, but I do need to know whether its population is in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
And I do think it is really, extremely important for elements to be quite vague or unknown. Eberron does this extremely well, creating several setting concepts like the draconic prophecy or the very existence of gods as mysteries. It leaves it to the DM to use these to create stories.
Yeah. Leave the big hooks vague. Not whether the town is populated by Humans, Halflings, Elves, or Dwarves (or a mix of two).
The Wildemount book trades a lot of mystery and vagueness for details. I get why some folks like or want that, but it's utterly useless to me.
The book still has mysteries and vagueness. What are the Dwendalian Empire doing with the Luxon Beacon they stole and the newly discovered Dunamancy? What actually is the Luxon? What's with Aeor? Where are all of the Lesser Idols? What's Vecna up to now that he was banished and achieved apotheosis? How can the curse on the monstrous races be broken? What's up with Ruidus? What's up with that river of fire in Eiselcross? What's up with Tharizdun? What was the Age of Arcanum like?

None of its mysteries are as major as Eberron's, but the setting is more like the Forgotten Realms than Eberron. But there still are mysteries. Just not simple ones like "who lives in this town"?
 

I broadly agree with your every point, except a return to the 576CY timeline. Let the past plotlines stay in the past (adding "new" stuff to the 576CY period will just set off much wailing & gnashing of teeth amongst the grognards, anyway). I think advancing the timeline to 601CY for a new release would free up a lot of creative space for both the WotC writers & DMs everywhere, without stepping on any toes.
 

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