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What is Greyhawk?

S'mon

Legend
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.
Sea of Death I finished, though it has issues - but - Leda-Eclavdra was every teen's fantasy. :D. I also managed to get through world-trashing Dance of Demons, which was pretty bad in places, terrible "buy my new setting!" finale, but ok for adolescent reading. Years later Upper_Krust sent me the one before DoD - Come Endless Darkness - but I couldn't get through it.

On the bright side, IMO the Gord books are way better than his Egyptian detective books! :p
 

S'mon

Legend
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.
Although Greyhawk's corrupt rulers have mostly a listed Good Alignment - part of GH's swords & sorcery motif, Gygax always seemed to favour Neutrality/Balance over Good, which seems to be associated with organised religion and stifling conformity. Where Neutrality is freewheeling and Fun.
 

S'mon

Legend
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.
Well my players seem to enjoy my non-canon FR games - I just treat the Lore as a buffet to choose from. I set Red Hand of Doom in 1491 DR in its FR location just north of Halrua without changing any names (so still Brindol & the Elsir Vale); I set it in 5e era, use Dambrath and the half-drow Crinti, but kept Halrua spellplague-destroyed, got rid of the expansion of the Great Rift (something I hated in 4e - we have such rifts on a smaller scale IRL - they're called Seas!) and worked off the 3e era maps with 4e elements. Anything I don't want does not exist IMC. And the bad guys worship Takhisis from Dragonlance! :D

 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
3E FR maps look good, I still use the Paizo ones.
Think I just reset back to 1E or early 2E. Basically ignore current events.
 

S'mon

Legend
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...
I loved the derro as degenerate Suel; and the dust-travelling ship. And Leda (I was young). :D
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
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.
I would say that, at least in my case, the opposite is true. I use FR because I know it lore very well. It means I can drop in random details and background without having to make them up on the spot and then try to remember them later. But it is my FR. I use the bits I like, and ignore or change the stuff I don't.

I'm planning on setting my new campaign in Eberron, but I am finding it hard work to bring myself up to speed on all the lore and names.
 

S'mon

Legend
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.
One thing FR has is noble Tolkieny Better Than You elves with an heroic past. Greyhawk's elves are more Midsummer Night's Dream fey, and a very minor part of the setting.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
One thing FR has is noble Tolkieny Better Than You elves with an heroic past. Greyhawk's elves are more Midsummer Night's Dream fey, and a very minor part of the setting.
Does that really go back to original Greyhawk though? I have noticed a general trend in recent years away from Tolkien elves towards more Shakespearian elves and fey. The Feywild didn't used to be a thing.
 

Coroc

Explorer
I don't remember that from the 1980s.
Seelie and unseelie court, Oberon Titania ?Pan? It is all stuff faerie sprites brownie satyrs pixies etc- I cannot recall right now it, is detailed in 2e monster mythology which is one of the best d&d products ever made.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Seelie and unseelie court, Oberon Titania ?Pan? It is all stuff faerie sprites brownie satyrs pixies etc- I cannot recall right now it, is detailed in 2e monster mythology which is one of the best d&d products ever made.
Sure. But I don't think any of that was in 1st edition, which is what I mean by Original Greyhawk.

Edit: brownies, satyrs and pixies did appear in the 1st edition Monster Manual.
 

S'mon

Legend
Does that really go back to original Greyhawk though? I have noticed a general trend in recent years away from Tolkien elves towards more Shakespearian elves and fey. The Feywild didn't used to be a thing.
Celene and its queen in the 1983 WoG box set are definitely more Shakespeare than Tolkien. Titania not Galadriel. Same in the Gord stories.

Or take a look at the depictions of elves in the 1e PHB DMG & MM.
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
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.
I think this is spot on. As teens, our DM bought the AD&D Realms boxed set. 1989? We liked it. The world seemed big and open and fairly uncharted.

Oh how this changed! Later we find a crowded place with scores of active superheroes. The novels piled on new editions piled on products led to this.

Looking at my old grehawk boxes set I see regions and generalities (much more to my liking!).

For me Greyhawk felt more organic in a sense...you could predict what might happen in a region or make a good story up. In the realms it feels (to me) more restrictive. God, can we say this here? The people here don't like x and the magistrate y does z...scrap that story...or wait for a superhero to intervene.

Clearly I prefer one setting over the other but ironically have little play time in it!
 

Hussar

Legend
It's low powered in terms of monsters. Level 13 to 14 is effectively epic levels and Lolth has 66 hitpoints.
That's an artifact of the system, not the setting. 1e monsters really were pretty weak compared to high level PC's.

But, that also might account for the notion that you have all these high level individuals in Forgotten Realms but not GH. In GH, name level (1e AD&D) characters were a couple short steps away from godhood. A name level group in AD&D could, by and large, depopulate a moderate sized country if they chose to. Forgotten Realms, in comparison, was generally created using 2e rules where the monsters got a pretty big bump in power, meaning that being "name level" (ie, around 9th or 10th) meant that you were a big deal locally, but, there were still lots of things out there that could stomp you into the curb.

3e changed the power dynamic again, which muddies the water even further.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Celene and its queen in the 1983 WoG box set are definitely more Shakespeare than Tolkien. Titania not Galadriel. Same in the Gord stories.

Or take a look at the depictions of elves in the 1e PHB DMG & MM.
Maybe, I had the earlier folder WoG, not the box.

The elves depicted in the 1st edition books where short, slight and humanlike, with modest pointed ears. Which was certainly not identical to Tolkien, whose elves where taller than average humans with "leaf shaped" ears. But I think that was the influence of the adjective "elfin" which was popular in the 1960s.

It was 3rd edition that retconned Greyhawk elves into the much more alien looking creatures with huge pointed ears.
 

S'mon

Legend
That's an artifact of the system, not the setting. 1e monsters really were pretty weak compared to high level PC's.

But, that also might account for the notion that you have all these high level individuals in Forgotten Realms but not GH. In GH, name level (1e AD&D) characters were a couple short steps away from godhood. A name level group in AD&D could, by and large, depopulate a moderate sized country if they chose to. Forgotten Realms, in comparison, was generally created using 2e rules where the monsters got a pretty big bump in power, meaning that being "name level" (ie, around 9th or 10th) meant that you were a big deal locally, but, there were still lots of things out there that could stomp you into the curb.

3e changed the power dynamic again, which muddies the water even further.
It was more that Ed Greenwood inserted a lot of level 20+ NPCs and had them interact with PCs. Where Gygax statted realm rulers at 10-18 in the 1983 WoG box, Ed tended to stat them 20-28 in the FRCS.

Ed didn't see it as an issue because he takes a storytelling approach to GMing where Gygax is gamist - eg Gygax assumes NPCs are there to be fought/killed, where Ed sees them as part of a narrative. IMO. Ed doesn't want PCs killing the King of Cormyr and would frown on attempts to do so. Gygax is happy to let PCs try to bump off Belvor of Furyondy.
 

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