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What is Greyhawk?


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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Mild quibble. When survival is tenuous, societies tend to have very strong rules of hospitality. So, suspicion, sure. Mistreatment without direct cause, less so.

But that is a good bullet list. Someday I may understand the appeal of grim gritty “no good guys and little to no hope for something better” fiction.

I’m curious to see what others see in the setting, though. I know from experience that some see it in a wholly different light from yours.
 


Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
Greyhawk is a world in which evil is winning. It has just a grim atmosphere. It's not about heroism, it's about power.

The forgotten god was sundered in three, and the parts will be united again in the Day of Wrath.

It's the land of Mordenkainen and Robilar, Vecna and Iuz, Eclavdra and Dragotha, Gord and Zagyg Yragerne.

P.S. for me, the true feeling of Greyhawk can be only found in Gygax' Gord novels. Nothing compares.
 




Wolfpack48

Explorer
Mild quibble. When survival is tenuous, societies tend to have very strong rules of hospitality. So, suspicion, sure. Mistreatment without direct cause, less so.

But that is a good bullet list. Someday I may understand the appeal of grim gritty “no good guys and little to no hope for something better” fiction.

I’m curious to see what others see in the setting, though. I know from experience that some see it in a wholly different light from yours.
I'd agree. In a harsh world, if you verify that the person you are working with is an ally, you are going to treat them VERY well. It's important to have as many friends as you can get when civilized areas are spread out, and there are enemies everywhere.
 


Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
So ... I remember (back when they were published) reading Saga of the Old City. And it was .... fine. I mean, Gygax wasn't a great novelist, but I like it, at the time.

And Artifact (I think?) was next. I vaguely recall it being ... not as good. I almost didn't finish it.

And after that, I think I tried to read the next one after he left TSR. And I wanted it to be good. Because GORD! GYGAX! SEA OF DUST!

It was terrible. I couldn't finish it. I really tried.
They aren't literary masterpieces, that's clear.
But I was a teenager when the Italian translation came out. I remember that I was conquered by the figure of Gord, I loved his adventures and companions, I absolutely adored the fiendish politics aspect and the Theorpart metaplot.
I imagine we like different things!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That's actually a really good point, esp. w/r/t tribal societies. However, this isn't always a universal, and if the survival is tenuous due to (for example) humanoid raids, then there would be a strong suspicion of any non-standard humans.

In addition (and this is mere speculation, now) I think that when people have some limited knowledge of monsters, humanoids, and magic working against them, they might tend to be more on the "verify, then trust" rather than the other way around.
That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that knowledge verified by direct experience creates a wholly different reaction than superstition does, but that is a choice one has to just make and trust oneself when designing a world with magic.

For me, what I enjoyed about Greyhawk (when I did enjoy it. Even more DM dependent than other settings IME), it was the same thing I enjoyed in Dark Sun. We weren’t out for ourselves, just trying to make a buck and amass power. It’s a world where the bad guys seem to be winning, and we played characters who refused to accept that, and challenged others to similarly refuse.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'd agree. In a harsh world, if you verify that the person you are working with is an ally, you are going to treat them VERY well. It's important to have as many friends as you can get when civilized areas are spread out, and there are enemies everywhere.
Yep. Tenuous survival does not breed individualism. It breeds tight social bonds and a willingness to cooperate. But that isn’t the right kind of fun for the type of setting that depends on tenuous survival, ironically.
 





Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
2. It's small in scale. You aren't saving the Realms; you're making a buck. I say that partially in jest, but this is partly the aspect of Swords and Sorcery that needs to be played up in a Greyhawk setting. Small scale DOESN'T mean small stakes, however. You can save (or destroy) the village; but there should be a lot less of the "saving the world."

3. There's always something bigger, badder, and more mysterious. This is related to (2). You will never have the power of the Mages who destroyed the Sueloise civilization. There will always be the past glories or dangers, the stories of Vecna and of giant ships crashing from the sky, of beings that strode across the landscape, that are told around the fires at night.

4. Civilization is tenuous, at best. The great powers and empires are in decline and their best days are in the past, and it is always questionable if the forces of civilization will hold off the entropy and darkness. Progress is not assured. The forces of destruction are constantly howling and looking for a way in, and, more often than not, they are about to succeed.
We should realize there's a bit of illogic in this combination. Things stronger than you that will destroy civilization (either in one shot, or by defeat-in-detail) are about to succeed, but you should not expect to beat them? And the status quo of continuing threats has been around.. for centuries, right?

Statistically, then... shouldn't civilization be gone by now? The scale of actual threats to civilization has to cap out at roughly the scale of threats you expect people in the world to be able to handle, or the whole things falls apart in short order.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was thinking more about the tenuous survival. I think it might depend on the type of tenuous survival.

Usually, when you get situations of isolation or deprivation (islands, deserts) breeding a culture of hospitality, it's because of the issue of survival. But I don't think that holds if the survival issue is due to, for example, war. Maybe I'm wrong on that one. Not my wheelhouse. ;)
True. War never changes (I guess?), but it does tend to change things around it.

One thing that might screw with things as well, is the existence of mind control magic, which IMO is objectively more “evil” and terrifying than a simple fireball.

If I invented a device that could be pointed at someone and used to make them do whatever you wanted, that would be much, much, much worse than a gun.
 


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