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What didn't people like about Greyhawk From the Ashes?

I'm Cleo

First Post
It seems like there are several arguments put forth, some of which are matters of taste, and others which can stoke antagonism. I'll try to set them out:

1. I had a campaign that was "ruined". This certainly applies in a "well, if they were going to spend money producing something, I'd really rather be able to use it" sense, but I still don't see how anyone's bound to use any particular supplement in their games at home. If you're regularly bringing in new players and replacing old ones, and those new players have expectations about how Greyhawk is "supposed to be", I could see how this plays a larger role.

2. I didn't like the feel. Fair enough.

3. I don't like metaplots. Fair enough (and this relates to #1), though I think the arguments from the perspective of a gaming company, as presented by several posters here, are pretty compelling explanations for why they did it, if not justifications.

4. It was low quality. Fair enough.

5. It made it detailed, like the (dreaded) Forgotten Realms. Really? There's still a lot of detail left out of the FtA-era Greyhawk. I don't think DMs are restricted in their setting development generally, and certainly not specifically with FtA-era Greyhawk. This also carries with it the "you're a lazy DM" stigma (expressly stated, sometimes), which annoys people who liked FtA.

6. It's not Greyhawk. I find this one problematic. There's "I don't like it," and there's "it's not Greyhawk". In the latter case, you have to define "Greyhawk" in such a way that your statement isn't equivalent to "I don't like it." Nitescreed attempted to do so, and I think he succeeds in some areas, but creates a tradition out of thin air in others. I.e., your "tradition" has to be differentiated from your home campaign (see #1) or your personal conception of the game world. But to people who play in Greyhawks that don't resemble yours, "It's not Greyhawk" comes across as an awfully arrogant thing to say.

I'm Cleo!

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Ripzerai said:
From the Ashes was great on many levels, but it was very much Carl Sargent's vision, not Gary Gygax's, and some people are so consumed with Gygax's role in creating the setting and the game or with the screwed up shenanigans involved with his leaving the company that they're not interested in giving his successors a chance.
I first seriously read Greyhawk materials in the early 90s, from both the Gygax and the Sargent eras. It took me a while to realize that what I liked about the setting was Gary's world-building sensibility, and that Carl's was very different and, in the context of Greyhawk, much less appealing to me.

(The difference is complex, but one strand of From the Ashes is not so much darkness -- WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun and the later Gord novels are as dark as D&D gets -- as grey, grinding geopolitical realism in place of swords and sorcery.)


First Post
00Machado said:
The above thread/quote got me to wondering. I've seen a lot of people who didn't like the Greyhawk Wars and From the Ashes material, and I'm wondering why?

I think you kinda need to treat Greyhawk Wars and From the Ashes separately; the former was a big world-changing event, and played out in a fairly railroady fashion. The latter looked at the setting after that event, with at least as much scope for DM's to customize the world as the early 80s Greyhawk products. It's not too hard to find people (like me) who think Greyhawk Wars was kinda dumb, but also feel that Sargent's work is pretty darn good.

Thinking about them that way, the Wars are pretty easy to dislike - it's a major event that doesn't give players much (if any) ability to affect the outcome. It also gets away from the pseudo-medieval feel of earlier Greyhawk, by presenting a massive continental war orchestrated by superspies rather than a more historically plausible conflict. So it didn't appeal to fans of the setting, and it didn't provide any real hook to draw in new fans. I thought the Greyhawk Wars boardgame was kinda fun, but otherwise it's not presented as a particularly gameable situation.

From the Ashes, OTOH, presents an interesting setting with a lot of different possibilities. There's lots of things for PCs to do, lots of ways for players to make a real difference and for DMs to make it their own world. The major problem it ran into was that it was Carl Sargent's vision of Greyhawk, and most existing fans were drawn in by Gary Gygax' vision of Greyhawk. So it never really developed its own customer base, and TSR dropped the line.

If FtA had been a brand new setting, it might've done better; certainly would've had more of a chance, at any rate. Greyhawk Wars, IMHO, doesn't really have much upside potential.


First Post
Korgoth said:
Ultimately, you want your contribution to the campaign setting to give all the DMs out there more to play with, not less. You want to create additional potential, rather than closing off existing potential by actualizing it.

This, I think, is an excellent point. Although what may inspire one is different from what may inspire another. For me, the plot nuggets, mysteries and even some of the logical extensions of the wars themselves, plus the "state of the world" with all it's licking it's wounds and powder keg tension that the FtA material introduced made me inspired to want to run campaigns in the setting. It made me want to run things in the FtA era as published, previous to that during the wars, and before the outbreak of the wars that maybe introduced ideas the setting would see later. YMMV

I think though that it helped that I didn't have something running that I had labored over that was disrupted because of a compulsion and/or desire to use the new material, to "stay current", etc.

I also agree that if I'm in mid campaign, then optional adventure (plots), and optional locations (exploration/mysteries), are going to be more useful to me than a setting overhaul. I'm in the middle when it comes to the benefits of gazeteers and development of the regions within a settion. FR has more development than I can handle as a GM. I like some of it, don't like other bits as much, but even the stuff I like - there's enough to be overwhelming. I'm not opposed to the idea, but the volume of it is too much for me. On the flip side, I appreciate the way Iuz the Evil, Marklands, and Ivid the Undying developed some key regions in more detail. In my opinion, this detail added, rather than detracted from the usefulness of the setting, and it got my creativity flowing rather than stifled it. They fleshed out mysteries in my opinion more than resolved them. They introduced NPCs and plot hooks for me to build on and take in my own direction. The elaborated, but didn't inundate. I might feel differently if the releases had progressed and they got to one per region like FR eventually did. But the amount of material they did provide ended up being just right for me. Again, others may prefer more or less setting material.


First Post
S'mon said:
I guess my favourite version of Greyhawk is that hinted at in the 1e DMG and other pre-1983 sources; the 1983 box is great but started taking it away from sword & sorcery towards a more medieval-fantasy approach, I prefer the former.

Which books had the more sword and sorcery version besides the 1e DMG? Now I want to track them down and take a look.


First Post
Krolik said:
The problem with Greyhawkers is that they do not want their timeline advanced. Most of them have been gaming in Greyhawk for over 20 years and they have advanced the timeline in their own way over the years. Then when you get new published material that changes something they have had in continuity for decades they start jumping up and down and swearing it's not Greyhawk. It's great if you bought Greyhawk back in '81 and have been using it ever since but that does nothing for newbies looking for a new world to game in. 25 year olds have different game expectations then the 45 year olds currently playing Greyhawk. It's called the generation gap.

Good point. I think maybe it's related more to how long they've been using the setting, more so than expectations from different age groups. A 40 year old reading FtA might have the same expectations more or less than a 25 year old, if it's their first introduction to the setting. A 40 year old who has been running campaigns in the setting for 10 years will likely have different expectations than that other 40 year old who is new to it.

Mean DM

Sorry if this is thread-jacking, but I don't know if my question warrants its own thread. This conversation caught my interest in that I have FtA in a box somewhere in storage and have been itching to run it as a campaign. My question is this, out side of the current Gazetteer, what products do folks recommend picking up to have the essential core material? Or is the Gazetteer sufficient? I have been eying the older supplements, but don't know if the are worth it (not monetarily wise, since I can get the pdfs cheap). I also ask this because I was thinking of running at an earlier time (prior, during or just after the Greyhawk Wars).



First Post
Mean DM said:
Sorry if this is thread-jacking, but I don't know if my question warrants its own thread. This conversation caught my interest in that I have FtA in a box somewhere in storage and have been itching to run it as a campaign. My question is this, out side of the current Gazetteer, what products do folks recommend picking up to have the essential core material? Or is the Gazetteer sufficient?

The current Gazetteer advances the timeline beyond FtA and resolves some of the FtA nastiness, so if your plan is to have your PCs do that kind of thing I wouldn't recommend much beyond the FtA set. Going that route, you can find Ivid the Undying, an unpublished supplement that covers the mess that used to be the Great Kingdom, on WOTC's downloads page. That should give you an idea as to whether you like the style well enough to track down The Marklands, City of Skulls, or Iuz the Evil, the published supplements.

If you're more interested in current Greyhawk, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer is (IMHO) more than enough on its own. In fact, I personally prefer the D&D Gazetteer, which was an overview booklet similar in spirit to the original Greyhawk gazetteer. But if you want more detail, the place to go is the RPGA - the Living Greyhawk campaign has detailed quite a bit of the setting.


First Post

One of the things about GH that left us in a weird position was the publication, after a time, of material that always should have been there...

Detailed IS fine, sketchy IS fine: making a detailed setting out of an officially and deliberately sketchy one, well, creates unnecessary discrepancies.

Our original pantheon, within that campaign, was the Norse standard. Other (mostly off map) areas my have had a different set, as was the norm for Olde Earth. Meshing whatever our pantheon might be, in the beginning, with myths, legends and tidbits from the DMG was fine. There were no great, unexplainable contradictions. Iuz could fit in as a demigod enemy easy enough.

Having to ditch the Norse pantheon which we'd been using when the GH deities started to appear caused one such contradiction. We wanted more. We wanted WAY more than what was available, but the material we wanted SHOULD have been carefully thought out to avoid touching upon previous DM prerogatives. A supplement named Gygax's GH, with the GH deities as a campaign option instead of cannon, would have been great. And other material should not have relied upon such options unless stated "If using GH deities, Olidammara priests rule in this area".... Whatever...

Lack of forethought, hindsight or any freaking thought, for that matter...


00Machado said:
Which books had the more sword and sorcery version besides the 1e DMG? Now I want to track them down and take a look.

"Ghost Tower of Inverness" has been mentioned, also Gygax's "Saga of Old City". I don't know much about the early AD&D scenarios, there may be others apart from Ghost Tower.
Even the book Quag Keep, I guess.

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