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

00Machado

First Post
MerricB said:
FtA had a big problem in that it turned Greyhawk from a "fill in the blanks" setting to a "blanks filled in setting". And what was worse was that the blanks that were filled in were often at odds with that had gone before. (To say I am unfond of 'Ivid the Undying' understates it somewhat).

I can see the argument for the first, though I don't personally agree that the blanks being filled in are to the level that it exists in FR. My take on it is that it opened up as many or more blanks for GMs to fill as the material filled in for us. But I know the level of detail is a personal preference.

What I'm not sure I agree with, is that changes were at odds with what had gone before. Can you elaborate on what broke from established continutiy (so to speak)?
 

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00Machado

First Post
Cthulhudrew said:
A similar thing happened to my favorite TSR world- Mystara- wherein the introduction of a metaplot and subsequent annual event packed almanacs really made the world a living interesting place, but the whole metaplot was far too rushed and sudden for my tastes (especially as they ended up putting it so close to the "standard" year of the previous Gazetteers- even the original design notes had the whole of it stretched out over a longer and more believable period of time. Don't know why they condensed it.)

What was the Mystara meta plot/where was the timeline introduced?

And, where might I find the original design notes for comparison?

Thanks.
 


Cthulhudrew

First Post
SWBaxter said:
Going that route, you can find Ivid the Undying, an unpublished supplement that covers the mess that used to be the Great Kingdom, on WOTC's downloads page.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 can track them down, there were a number of articles (by Carl Sargent as well, I believe) in Dragon Magazine that followed up on events introduced in FtA and provided a lot of interesting information and hooks. Don't know if those articles have been collected anywhere, but they should have been.
 

Cthulhudrew

First Post
00Machado said:
What was the Mystara meta plot/where was the timeline introduced?

Wrath of the Immortals was the metaplot. It involved the Immortals (gods) riling up the mortals of the world into a mass war (ostensibly Glantri vs Alphatia, though practically speaking it was more Thyatis vs. Alphatia). Changed a lot of things.

And, where might I find the original design notes for comparison?

Bruce Heard, the product manager for Mystara at the time, posted them on the Mystara Mailing list a number of years ago. They can be viewed here, as well as a general overview of where the product line of Mystara was going to go. Most of it actually came about in some fashion, though there are many things that didn't.
 

rogueattorney

Adventurer
00Machado said:
What was the Mystara meta plot/where was the timeline introduced?

And, where might I find the original design notes for comparison?

Thanks.

Wrath of the Immortals was the name of the product. I think Bruce Heard (who has posted some at WotC's OOP Mystara board) has made some references to the published campaign portion of WotI (there was some significant setting and rule content, too) being a pretty different animal from its original conception.

As to the topic at hand, I was not a Greyhawk fan during the Wars/Ashes period of Greyhawk. I was, first a Forgotten Realms fan, and then a Known World (pre-Mystara) fan. In both cases, it was a great big world blowing up meta-plot (Time of Troubles and Wrath of the Immortals) that drove me out of being a customer of new game product for those campaigns.

Such meta-plots basically require DMs to keep up or to give up buying new product, and in many cases, after the great big meta-plot the only new material that comes out is "updates" on the old material. (Karameikos, Kingdom of Adventure, I'm looking at you!)
 

Thulcondar said:
From my perspective, FtA simply seemed... unnecessary.

It was a blatant attempt to wrench away the WoG from the material that Gyax wrote (remember, the Wars and FtA came about right after his departure from TSR). The original (1980/1983 books) presented a fantasy world in the "old school" tradition. A place for a DM to set adventures; a sketched-out starting-point that the DM could fill in as needed and desired. FtA tore that asunder; all of a sudden, a DM with a years-long Greyhawk campaign was faced with a decision; go with the "canon" history, or the one he had carefully created as the game play proceeded?

That was bad enough, but in addition the post-FtA Greyhawk started filling in all sorts of details that were similarly previously the demesne of the DM. Products like "Iuz the Evil". It was a reaction to the success of the Forgotten Realms products, where everthing was set up and presented in nauseating detail, for the benefit of lazy DMs who either couldn't work up those details on their own or couldn't think them up on the fly as needed. There was no room for individual DM creativity any more.

Greyhawk was at its best when it was a framework upon which the DM could imprint his or her own creative stamp. A place where you could plunk a "generic" dungeon. The Post-FtA Greyhawk was too much like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance; everything laid out following an inexorable path, or detailed to the point where the talents of setting design were no longer needed.

This post kept nagging at me.
The argument, summarized, is that DMs who use the setting now have too much information and have to either ignore it or their campaigns because "lazy DMs" can't make stuff up.

But if the DM is not lazy then why is he using a published campaign setting instead of a homebrew, even thought "up on the fly as needed"?

The main problem is if the setting has few details there is NO choice. You have to make stuff up. So if you are a "lazy DM" (read: rushed, distracted, etc) even though you're paying for the world you still need to invest a large amount of creative energy and time into background. But if the world is detailed (or has sections of detail in-between the blank patches) you can choose to use as much or as little as you want.
And, as someone who has made his share of homebrews, in addition to reading published settings, I know there's also an brainstorming effect. Other writers will ALWAYS think of ideas that would never, ever have occurred to you. These ideas are not always good but can start you thinking in different directions.


Reading through this thread, as a relative newcomer to Greyhawk and the argument, much of the dislike seems to boil down to change=bad.

Most of the posters here who hate GW and FtA seem to be old school players (often retired from D&D:\ ). The two updates seem to be receiving the condensed, concentrated vitriol of the setting's change, the change of what people want in a published world, a change in the game and industry, etc. There's probably some residual feelings of the edition changes (OD&D to 1st AD&D to 2nd AD&D) mixed in there as well, further tainting memories and opinions.

Meanwhile, most of the people who have admitting to like one or both of the accessories, were newcomers to the setting.
 

IanB

First Post
Speaking for myself, I think Carl Sargent is probably the most talented designer to work on D&D during the TSR years, and I find his work to be consistently high-quality and useful.
If anything, his Greyhawk is more consistent and logical than the original. From the Ashes is a great supplement, IMO. His other stuff is pretty good too, but I think FtA is the highlight.

That said I do dispense with some obvious errors and some of the "meta-plot" elements, and my GH has diverged from both his and the original.
 

CruelSummerLord

First Post
Some of the points have already been made here:

-No chance to affect the outcome: Boom, it happens, there's exactly two things players can do to stop it: Jack and squat. They nuked many interesting nations (Tenh, Geoff, the Bandit Kingdoms, the Wild Coast, the Horned Society, etc.), all in the span of just a few years, and there's nothing that could even be done to stop it!

A lot of spits in the face of what went before: How can the giants successfully invade if the players thwarted their plans in the GDQ series?

-Sense of desperation: I don't like how everything seemed in danger of falling apart. Sure, that's enjoyable in some parts of the continent, but not the whole blasted thing. I quite enjoy having some stable kingdoms: that's the place where political intrigue can develop. I don't like having every country be economically spent and poor; danger is a good thing, of course, but what happened to being able to players being able to pursue their own political projects or goals without worrying if the kingdom is going to collapse?

-Roller coaster syndrome: Since FtA, Greyhawk has been repeatedly plagued by one oerth-shaking event after another, whether in canon or Living Greyhawk. I myself prefer slow, stable growth, only bringing out the really "Big Bang" events every once in a while. When they keep happening, how are the economies or social structures of the settings supposed to stay coherent? Trade is disrupted, diplomacy is broken, all that stuff. How can rulers pay attention to regular policy decisions if massive events keep happening over and over?

-Wrecking a lot of good countries: Tenh, Geoff, the Bandit Kingdoms, and other places seemed pretty interesting. If you have a campaign set in one of those areas, how can you continue on with a campaign?
 

Thulcondar said:
From my perspective, FtA simply seemed... unnecessary.

It was a blatant attempt to wrench away the WoG from the material that Gyax wrote (remember, the Wars and FtA came about right after his departure from TSR). The original (1980/1983 books) presented a fantasy world in the "old school" tradition. A place for a DM to set adventures; a sketched-out starting-point that the DM could fill in as needed and desired. FtA tore that asunder; all of a sudden, a DM with a years-long Greyhawk campaign was faced with a decision; go with the "canon" history, or the one he had carefully created as the game play proceeded?

That was bad enough, but in addition the post-FtA Greyhawk started filling in all sorts of details that were similarly previously the demesne of the DM. Products like "Iuz the Evil". It was a reaction to the success of the Forgotten Realms products, where everthing was set up and presented in nauseating detail, for the benefit of lazy DMs who either couldn't work up those details on their own or couldn't think them up on the fly as needed. There was no room for individual DM creativity any more.

Greyhawk was at its best when it was a framework upon which the DM could imprint his or her own creative stamp. A place where you could plunk a "generic" dungeon. The Post-FtA Greyhawk was too much like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance; everything laid out following an inexorable path, or detailed to the point where the talents of setting design were no longer needed.

This post kept nagging at me.
The argument, summarized, is that DMs who use the setting now have too much information and have to either ignore it or their campaigns because "lazy DMs" can't make stuff up.

But if the DM is not lazy then why is he using a published campaign setting instead of a homebrew, even thought "up on the fly as needed"?

The main problem is if the setting has few details there is NO choice. You have to make stuff up. So if you are a "lazy DM" (read: rushed, distracted, etc) even though you're paying for the world you still need to invest a large amount of creative energy and time into background. But if the world is detailed (or has sections of detail in-between the blank patches) you can choose to use as much or as little as you want.
And, as someone who has made his share of homebrews, in addition to reading published settings, I know there's also an brainstorming effect. Other writers will ALWAYS think of ideas that would never, ever have occurred to you. These ideas are not always good but can start you thinking in different directions.


Reading through this thread, as a relative newcomer to Greyhawk and the argument, much of the dislike seems to boil down to change=bad.

Most of the posters here who hate GW and FtA seem to be old school players (often retired from D&D:\ ). The two updates seem to be receiving the condensed, concentrated vitriol of the setting's change, the change of what people want in a published world, a change in the game and industry, etc. There's probably some residual feelings of the edition changes (OD&D to 1st AD&D to 2nd AD&D) mixed in there as well, further tainting memories and opinions.

Meanwhile, most of the people who have admitting to like one or both of the accessories, were newcomers to the setting.
 

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