What is Greyhawk?

Wolfpack48

Explorer
The word that always comes to mind when I think of Greyhawk (and Blackmoor and City State of the Invincible Overlord, too) is "primordial." Not just in terms of the aura that hangs over the setting (the formative days of civilization, when lands are wide open and lawlessness abounds), but also the fact that these are the earliest settings for D&D. The players in the game are actually players in that formation, and though much is lawlessness, characters can play a big part in pockets of the world. I remember reading that City State is a Lawful Evil city, and that makes sense. The emphasis is on Law, not good or evil. Chaos rules the land, with vast empty places and enemies and creatures everywhere. The excitement (and practical need) for adventurers, is that there are plenty of places that need taming. Adventurers are in demand, dammit. You can see, then, that civilized areas have authoritarian rulers that provide safe, if corrupt, harbor. This is the Greyhawk that comes to mind, and if it is tackled again by WOTC, the aspect I hope they play up.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
But, apparently, the way... is not the PCs?
So you can look at the past, and you will see great glories and civilizations that have been brought down; an easy example is the war between the Baklun and Suel (Rain of Colorless Fire / Invoked Devastation).

This is a world that contains the echoes of that power that still reverberate in the land.

In other words, I don't think you are correct. The past had that, not the present.
 

Barantor

Explorer
To me Greyhawk is that lighter end of Grimdark. Yeah things are grim, but not quite like Warhammer (though it could be said there are similarities with the Greyhawk Wars and the encroachment of Chaos in the Empire) and not quite as fantastical as Forgotten Realms, where under every stone is a god and magic item of some forgotten empire.

I always liked that the Kingdoms and Countries in Greyhawk feel like they have a reason to exist. Each has a formation story and an evolution it has gone through, from the Sheldomar Valley and it's joining and sundering, to the Great Kingdom of Aerdy and it's falling apart through mismanagement and greed for power.

It lives without the micromanaging details and to me that has always made me want to set games there over other D&D settings.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
For me, a key difference is In order for the DM to run a really effective campaign in FR, they need to be up to speed in FR lore, history, regions, cities, etc, while those aren't needed in Greyhawk, as the DM can easily just insert their own creations into the world and no one would miss a beat.
 

Parmandur

Legend
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!
It's entirely possible that the books were improved by translation.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
some of the points in the OP kinda depend on whether you're going pre- or post- Wars. Pre-Wars, the forces of Evil weren't all that dominant. Iuz had just barely returned, and he had a grudge against the Horned Society next door, who had a grudge against the Bandit Kingdoms next door, etc. The Great Kingdom wasn't that great or much of a kingdom as it was a collection of quarrelsome provinces. The humanoids of the Pomarj were in a giant free for all. The Scarlet Brotherhood was hidden and quiet. Post-Wars.... yeah, Evil got organized in a hurry; particularly Iuz, who established his Space-Filling Empire up north. Except the Great Kingdom, of course, which collapsed, but not before wrecking half the nations around them....
 

David Howery

Adventurer
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.
I didn't think any of the Gord books were good... but I liked the Sea one the best. Not because of the story, but because of the setting, the Forgotten City of the Suel Empire. I stole a lot of stuff from that one and used it in a doozy set of adventures involving the PCs getting there and back again...
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
some of the points in the OP kinda depend on whether you're going pre- or post- Wars. Pre-Wars, the forces of Evil weren't all that dominant. Iuz had just barely returned, and he had a grudge against the Horned Society next door, who had a grudge against the Bandit Kingdoms next door, etc. The Great Kingdom wasn't that great or much of a kingdom as it was a collection of quarrelsome provinces. The humanoids of the Pomarj were in a giant free for all. The Scarlet Brotherhood was hidden and quiet. Post-Wars.... yeah, Evil got organized in a hurry; particularly Iuz, who established his Space-Filling Empire up north. Except the Great Kingdom, of course, which collapsed, but not before wrecking half the nations around them....
Yeah, I don't know if Evil is the right word. Untamed and wild, perhaps is a better description, with plenty of people looking out for #1. The adventurers are more aligned with those who want to bring order and peace.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
The Gord books were/are good in the context of seeing all of those famous NPC names in an actual story. Not for the quality of the story itself. IMO of course
 

Retreater

Adventurer
I entered the hobby in 1989, right at the start of AD&D 2nd edition. That's a long time in the hobby, but not long enough to have been there for the heyday of Greyhawk. I always considered Forgotten Realms the vanilla fantasy setting of D&D, whilst the other settings (Planescape, Eberron, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, etc.) gave a fundamentally different play experience.
From what I've read, Greyhawk is just vanilla fantasy with a slightly different tone than Forgotten Realms. (And tone is easy enough to establish by the DM and the type of game he or she runs.) So my take is that Forgotten Realms has supplanted Greyhawk. I can't see GH as anything other than a superfluous, vestigial setting (with Blackmoor and Mystara).
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I entered the hobby in 1989, right at the start of AD&D 2nd edition.
with a late start like that... the rest of your opinion isn't surprising. By the time of 2E, WoG's best adventures had already been done, and what came after wasn't so great. Not to mention, TSR shifted drastically over to the FR in the process. But WoG is a bit different from FR not just in tone, but in level of detail... where the FR are vastly detailed, WoG isn't.... that's something that appeals to some DMs, not others.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
I entered the hobby in 1989, right at the start of AD&D 2nd edition. That's a long time in the hobby, but not long enough to have been there for the heyday of Greyhawk. I always considered Forgotten Realms the vanilla fantasy setting of D&D, whilst the other settings (Planescape, Eberron, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, etc.) gave a fundamentally different play experience.
From what I've read, Greyhawk is just vanilla fantasy with a slightly different tone than Forgotten Realms. (And tone is easy enough to establish by the DM and the type of game he or she runs.) So my take is that Forgotten Realms has supplanted Greyhawk. I can't see GH as anything other than a superfluous, vestigial setting (with Blackmoor and Mystara).
Forgotten Realms was chosen as the vanilla setting not because it's intrinsecally better then Greyhawk or Mystara, but for other reasons pertaining to the story of the hobby.
TSR moved from Greyhawk to the Forgotten Realms not because FR is Better but for only a reason: they had fired Gygax and they needed a new vanilla setting, not bound to him.
Some years before, after the legal fight between Gygax and Arneson, Mystara was the vanilla setting for the D&D game, which had to pay rights to Arneson, while in AD&D Gygax was free to develop Greyhawk.

The three settings have each a distinct atmosphere, they are not interchangeable.
In my personal opinion, Mystara is Better then Greyhawk, that is Better then Forgotten Realms. But in the end I love the Realms, too.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
I posted a similar question earlier. I really don't understand the FR vs. GH hatred. They both seem like generic fantasy worlds to me, with the same monsters and the gods are reskinned and they both have cool sounding forests and moors and ruins. Is it the huge plethora of FR lore that people take offense to? Or the wildly overwrought magical nature of the Realms? I don't follow the canon at all, I use it as a vanilla base to run games and it work well for me. I could easily swap out Greyhawk for the same setting.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I posted a similar question earlier. I really don't understand the FR vs. GH hatred. They both seem like generic fantasy worlds to me, with the same monsters and the gods are reskinned and they both have cool sounding forests and moors and ruins. Is it the huge plethora of FR lore that people take offense to? Or the wildly overwrought magical nature of the Realms? I don't follow the canon at all, I use it as a vanilla base to run games and it work well for me. I could easily swap out Greyhawk for the same setting.
I've DMd in both; I don't get the animosity either. FR is a highly detailed world, GH is not. If you have a lot of time, you can use either. If you don't, then FR might be better. I prefer GH, but I don't really hate any of the settings.
Except Dark Sun. That one just always irked me, for some reason....
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I posted a similar question earlier. I really don't understand the FR vs. GH hatred. They both seem like generic fantasy worlds to me, with the same monsters and the gods are reskinned and they both have cool sounding forests and moors and ruins. Is it the huge plethora of FR lore that people take offense to? Or the wildly overwrought magical nature of the Realms? I don't follow the canon at all, I use it as a vanilla base to run games and it work well for me. I could easily swap out Greyhawk for the same setting.
Greyhawk, drow are bad guys, not PC races
Greyhawk, iconic enemies are dragons, and rot rubs, and otyugh, and Medusa, and type X demons, and vampires, and giants. Not every adventure is somehow tied to a beholder or mind flayer as the big bad guy.
Greyhawk, a creature like a Dragonborn or tiefling would be a monster.
Greyhawk, you neared retirement at name level as a power to be reckoned with, and could build your own strongholds. FR is full of super high level NPCs at every corner cafe, fighting primordials, and you’re barely noticeable at 9th level.
Greyhawk, I drop in my own adventures and flesh out my areas. FR is so famous I can’t do that without being called out by a player how it doesn’t fit lore
.
 

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