"Red Box" Developer Frank Mentzer To Produce Empyrea Setting For D&D

Some great news for <I>Greyhawk</I> fans! Frank Mentzer, who designed the 1983 edition D&D Basic Set (known as the "Red Box") along with its sequels, co-wrote The Temple of Elemental Evil with Gary Gygax, and more, is to launch a Kickstarter soon for a 5th Edition and Red Box compatible region of a continent east of the well-known Greyhawk setting, known as the realm of Empyrea, a continent described in the adventure Egg of the Phoenix in 1987. He is working with Ted Fauster (World of Faerel), and is inviting famous artists of that era of D&D to join the project, such as Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, and Erol Otus. He's doing this based on written permission from Gary Gygax dating back to 1981.


Here's the full announcement from Frank Mentzer:

Historic Dungeons & Dragons® Campaign Returns
Loxley, Madison WI, August 11 2017

Legendary game designer Frank Mentzer, famed for his worldwide version of the Dungeons & Dragons® game, has teamed with fiction author Ted Fauster to revisit one of the earliest known D&D® fantasy worlds. The game continues to be one of the most popular of all time, and Mentzer’s version is still available in fourteen languages, on every continent.

In 1981, Mentzer was given written permission from E. Gary Gygax (co-author of the original game in 1974) to establish and develop this little-known portion of Oerth, one of the game’s original settings. This new realm of Empyrea has a 40-year history (starting with simple materials from Judges Guild) and is still actively used. The artist Darlene, who painted Gary’s maps in his 1980 product, will create similar maps for this one. Other famous artists of that era -- including Caldwell, Dee, Diesel, Easley, Elmore, Holloway, Jaquays, and Otus -- are being invited to join the project.

Empyrea is on the mysterious and isolated continent of Aquaria, east of Gygax’s World of Greyhawk™ setting. Until now, knowledge of this portion of the world has remained largely a mystery, as the broad and dangerous Solnor ocean separates the two. The continent is briefly described in the Advanced D&D® adventure “Egg of the Phoenix” (Mentzer & Jaquays, TSR Inc., 1987).

“It’s time to share this Dungeons & Dragons® world with hobby gamers,” Mentzer says. “Unlike others, Gary approved this personally. Empyrea combines both traditional fantasy and science fiction elements. Magic is dominant, but technology lurks. And it’s one Realm… this isn’t a cluster of medieval city-states like Greyhawk.”

Author Ted Fauster has accepted the role of Creative Aide, which was Mentzer’s original title when he worked with Gygax at TSR in the 1980s.Mentzer and Darlene will finance the set through crowdfunding, with support from Judges Guild. It will be compatible with the most recent Fifth Edition D&D® game (D&D 5E) as well as Mentzer’s own world-famous "Red Box" edition of the game.

An official start date for the Kickstarter will be announced shortly after the GenCon® 50 Game Convention in August.

For More Information, contact:
Loxley LLC
Mentzer: LoxleyKey@gmail.com
Fauster : ted@tedfauster.com

(Ownership of trademarks indicated is not disputed)


In 1987's Egg of the Phoenix, by Mentzer and Paul Jaquays, the PCs save Empyrea from the Lords of Elemental Evil. It was produced for AD&D 1st Edition, and was designed for characters of levels 5-9. Mentzer made a few other comments about the project:

  • "Most artists are responding favorably. All are VERY busy, so we're gonna build around their schedules; a win/win."
  • "I plan to double-stat throughout (won't take much room) and issue free Stat Supplements for other systems, including DCC, S&W, C&C, and even Runequest."
  • "We'll mention Greyhawk in the historical section (just the facts ma'am) but it will not be used in promotion or actual play. Gary wanted it that way."
  • "Aquaria is a continent, Oerid is a continent. Greyhawk is a city in the latter, Empyrea in the former. WotC will receive advance copy of the historical section long before publication, and we anticipate no serious issues. We give them all due credit of ownership, we will not promote use or infract upon Gary's original. This was created before and after my TSR employment, and all I wrote 1980-86 belongs to them. So we'll work around that. But I do have Gary's original handwritten note of approval, and that's a zinger."
  • "We plan zero Stretch Goals. There may be a Deluxe version with special maps & overlays."
  • "Straightforward production project, no stretch. Possibly another 10-50 supplemental products if it's successful, tho (adjacent territories, Colonial play, Post-War play, and a pile of my adventures & others)."
  • "I also want non-English editions; want to work with gamer/fan translators and place it with Euro publishers (avoids all kinds of taxes and stuff). I'll be in touch."

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Yes, please.

Imma be at Dragon Con in a few weeks and I'll be sure to give Larry Elmore a big thumbs up about this when I stop by his booth.


If this is as close to Greyhawk as we get then ok I am in. Still, would like to see a Greyhawk setting up date as well.


He mentioned this in his talk at Gary Con last year. He made a point of mentioning the letter from EGG placing it to Greyhawk. I am a huge fan of Greyhawk and it is nice to see it getting some love from Mentzer.


First Post
It is definitely a wait and see, since I started with Greyhawk. I am not sure about magic and technology since Eberron hit that on the spot. The one thing I did like about Greyhawk was a simple setting in comparison to forgotten realms.


Elder Thing
I'm curious to see how this plays out. I'm not sure a letter from Gary Gygax will hold up as legal right to produce material involving an intellectual property not owned by Gary Gygax.

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