I was wondering the other night if it would be possible to rework Oerth to use as the backdrop for a d20 Modern setting. As I'm new to Canonfire!, I apologize if this is the wrong forum for this.
The big problem that keeps Greyhawk mired in fantasy is the presence of Old Wicked. Remove him, and Oerth can stagger towards a modern setting. With Iuz removed, the gods can retract even further from Greyhawk, lessening the power of divine magic. Likewise, the disappearance of a power walking the land reduces the need for arcane magic, so over the years the wizardly traditions would decline. The more powerful wizards would likely leave to travel the planes, or simply die out.
Technology would take the place of magic, and cities that were once a day's ride by horse apart would begin to exist in a more symbiotic relationship. My personal favorite example is Dyvers and Greyhawk. Two major economic powers a mere 65 miles from each other would necessitate one of them subsuming the other. I look at Greyhawk as New York and Dyvers is New Jersey (right down to the disdain Greyhawkers give Dyversians).
The Flanaess would eventually look outward, and discover continents other than the one we're intimately familiar with. This sense of scope would give the kingdoms a reason to unite, forming the United Nations of the Flanaess, or UNF. A kind of USA/EU parallel would be very appropriate here.
Though the gods have a far lesser role in the UNF than they do in 595CY, that's not to say they've disappeared entirely. The Church of the Holy Trinity exists, amalgamating the worship of Pelor, Heironeous and Rao all under one roof. "May the light shine on truth and justice forever," is their credo. The Church of Cuthbert (his sainthood excised somewhere in the intervening years) also exists, but as a more politically motivated theology.
The dark gods would be around as well, in much the same respect. I'd like an Ebon Triad cult to be around, as well as a few demon worshippers (Graz'zt, Demogorgon, etc.). Naturally, a cult of the upper class would exist, one that exists behind the scenes to manipulate events that the common folk would like to believe they have control over. Much like the Skulls, but I'm thinking more of a hand and an eye...
I'd also like to think that around certain long dormant dungeons, tourist sites have sprung up. "Come visit the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth! Home of the Big Behir Burger!" or "My parents visited the Ghost Tower of Inverness and all I got was this crummy T-shirt!" (white, of course).
PCs would likely work for Department-7, a secret task force that handpicks UNF citizens with necessary talents and sends them in when suspected mystical events occur. My first inkling for a longterm plot would be one where a cult would try to bring about the resurrection of Iuz...but that's in the future.
Canon problems. The Manual of the Planes (the first one) discussed this with attributes for alterate material planes. Its system used whatever the prime was in the campaign as the baseline, or 0. The example used Greyhawk. At 0, Greyhawk had usable magic, but no combustion. Changes in on area usually had an inverse effect on the other. So, without significantly changing the metaphysical of Greyhawk, many modern inventions wouldn't exist. YMMV
Intriguing. I throw up a post for imagining a future Greyhawk, devoid of any rules question, and the first thing someone does to shoot down my idea is toss out antiquated rules at it. Oh well. If rules is what you want, rules is what you'll get.
Digging out my own copy of the 1E MotP, I found the section on alternate Primes most enlightening. For those without the book in front of them, here it is in a nutshell. There's three factors defining alternate Primes: physical (how rational/irrational is the plane?), magical (how magic rich/magic devoid is it?), and temporal (how closely related to the zero point is it?). The scale goes from 10 to -10, with (0,0,0) being the baseline; or, as Andy calls it accurately, Greyhawk. A typical 20th century world would have (5,-4,5).
As Andy points out, a Prime with a physical factor of 0 cannot have combustion; that particular physical property doesn't begin until PF 5, which also restricts bipedal creatures over 10', and flight to small hollow-boned creatures. (Never mind the fact that saying combustion can't exist until this stage breaks several laws of nature; I'm willing to ignore that for the sake of this argument.)
Let's look at the last two sections first, as I think we'll have the least amount of friction on them. Barring that nearly a millennium has past, and while geographic features wouldn't change that much, enough social conventions have changed that a citizen of Greyhawk finding themselves in Greyhawk City circa 1200CY would be lost. Tenatively, I'd place the temporal factor of this at -6; not quite a millenium, but enough that the century of TF-5 wouldn't cut it.
As I previously stated, while magic wouldn't disappear from Oerth, people's reliance upon it would lessen as technology replaces it. Since d20 Modern and Urban Arcana support magic up to 5th level, I'd also place the MF at -4, with occasional forays into higher magical areas.
Which leaves us with the contested realm of PF5. My solution is this: while it was PF0 at the time of Iuz's height, his removal from Oerth began a centuries-long slide into a more rational Oerth, in which the MF dropped and the PF rose. As the PF rose, creations that couldn't exist years before would now be physically possible. Certain parts of Oerth would remain higher in MF (for example, the area around Tovag Baragu, while no longer showing images of alternate Primes, is still a mystic site), and around these areas, mystical creatures thrive.
There is nothing in the MotP that states a plane's factors can't change over time, so I don't see any problems with this.
Now, if anyone would like to comment on other ways Oerth would have changed in the intervening years, you're more than welcome to do so.
As time passes from the fall of Iuz to the present, stories of the Time of Heroes would become intertwined and muddled, sometimes contradicting each other. (This would explain how, for example, Lareth the Beautiful survived to Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, when so many people claim to have killed him.) While the fine details have gotten lost in the annals of time, the broad strokes have not. There were obvious powers for good and evil (as well as in-between), and their names have not been forgotten.
Take, for instance, the name of Murlynd. Long speculated to be the missing link between the twin sciences of magic and technology, his personage inspired many a thinker, mad and otherwise, in the intervening years. Naturally, any group of like-minded individuals will soon realize there is strength in numbers, and in time the hero-god's name had spawned a society devoted to free thought: The Six-Pointed Star.
The Star's membership had a grandiose vision of the Flanaess: that technology, in magic's absence, could create a Utopia. Every advance they made and shared led them to this belief. With the strides made in eradicating disease, improving crop harvests and creating better means of communication, would it not be possible to cure all maladies, feed the world and connect humanity? Of course, such a panacea never arose. For every advancement made, the dark side of invention reared its head. While the Star remained opposed to the use of their works as weapons, they often found their creations used for just that.
A century ago, however, the Star's mission changed. Using the most advanced navigation methods available, a Star team was able to make a second expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Therein, they found what few technological wonders had survived the passage of time and the plundering of a ill-prepared band of adventurers. While the machines found within were far advanced beyond anything the Star had encountered before, they were able to make sense out of some of the more basic devices, notably the language translator. Teams were periodically dispatched to the Barrier Peaks site, and after a few years of experimentation, the Star managed to bring enough power to the ancient computer banks that they could access them. This also took a great deal of time, but after much trial and error, the Star gained a piece of information that changed them forever.
The Barrier Peaks ship was not the only one that had crashed upon Oerth.
The Star now knew they had to accumulate the machines of the Marooned (as the Star referred to the ancient pilots of the ship). Creations as dangerous as the ones found on the Barrier Peaks site could not be allowed to fall into innocent hands. The White Paladin (the title given to the accepted leader of the Six-Pointed Star) decreed that same year that no longer could the members sit idly by and exist as a society devoted to passive social construction. Instead, any and all leads into the fate of the other Marooned ships would be investigated, and any technologies discovered would be returned to a Star safehouse for later dissemination. About two decades into the Star's search for Marooned artifacts, they began to replicate this advanced technology themselves, and soon became a true power in the Future Flanaess. As they understood more of the science behind the Marooned devices, more innocuous creations would be released to the masses, slowly creeping up the technological sophistication of the Flanaess.
Today, the Star exists as a group devoted to changing the face of the world by completing their understanding of the Marooned: who they were, where they came from, and what means we have of contacting them. They still hold to their misguided belief of a technological Utopia upon Oerth, but have incorporated the Marooned Mission into that. While they do not enjoy fighting, they realize strikes sometimes have to be made for the greater good, and bring their considerably advanced firepower to bear, later "cleaning up" any evidence of their passing. The stories of "Men in Black" that some tell may have ties to this group, as one of their devices includes a pitch-black body suit of a spandex-like material that has photoreactive qualities, helping Star agents to blend into their surroundings. They sometimes also carry small units, no larger than a walkie-talkie, that analyze the sounds coming from an agent's footsteps and emit an antiwave, helping to "zero" out footfalls that might give away his position. The Star is also quite aware that this technological advantage could be taken from them should their equipment become lost or stolen. All technology given to Star agents employs biometric safeguards to ensure only the team given the Star devices can use them. Additionally, if a Star device is seperated from the leader of the team for longer than eight hours, the device is hardwired to destroy its inner workings (and in the case of weapons, this is usually done violently).
Don't forget that in the original Gazeteer it was pretty much implied that the modern world was looking back on the old through a "game simulation" of how things were in lost era of history. Also, there was an issue of Dragon (shortly after 3rd ed first came out) that dealt with WoG after the defeat of the Old One moving forward into the Age of Steam. If a DM wants to go there, it would be easy to do. Don't forget you could use the WoG setting (maps, names, et al) with the d20 Urban Arcana - magic and tech. Above all, have fun!
Bruendor_Cavescouter's posts are some of the most creative that I've ever read.
Other gods Oerthwalk. Fharlanghn, and his brother might return. While Vecna has been in many planes reportedly, it too might complicate matters beyond Iuz the Old. Also, one should imagine Ehlonna, Beory's, and Obad-hai's situations.
Because I've never reviewed the d20 Modern setting, I can't help much with reference to that work specifically. However, some of what Bruendor wrote reminds me of White Wolf's old Mage: The Ascension game.
What really makes it hard for me to imagine how to contribute to this thread is the lack of a reference to an analogous Earth century. I watched Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm last night, which was redolent of a relatively recent film about Sleepy Hollow that featured Johnny Depp.
Are you imagining a campaign setting in the 20/21st centuries or one a few "behind?"
I may not be remembering this correctly, but I believe one of the wizards from the "mythic Europe" Ars Magica game setting survived until modern times to become a Methusaleh vampire of Clan Tremere in Vampire: The Masquerade(previous edition I believe).
It is an interesting idea to have something similar happen in Modern Greyhawk. Unless you don't want too much weird stuff running around in your Modern Greyhawk campaign that is. Old era stuff surviving into the new era might make things intersting though, whether it is simply Barrier Peaks or City of the Gods technology/techno-mancy, or some character. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Oh, I've no problem with "weird" stuff in my Modern Greyhawk setting. I looked into the Greyhawk 2000 article in Dragon, but found it a bit too fantastic. Magically-guided missiles are a bit too outlandish, even for me.
My core concepts for the Modern Greyhawk setting:
1. The fantastic races still exist. Urban Arcana describes how a modern setting could have dwarves and elves; Shadow exists to shroud these races from too much scrutiny. I don't like this explanation for Greyhawk. There's no reason why the demihumans shouldn't be living openly, since they've done so for a very long time. Reimagining an elf's role in modern society is more interesting to me than why traditional elves haven't evolved. (Although, this brings up some more material for use...survivalist guerilla elves that reject modern advancements...)
2. Magic exists, but its practitioners have dwindled to a mere handful. The d20 Modern magic rules are about the level I'd like in the Modern Greyhawk setting. Your average Greyhawker could go for their entire life and never run into a mystic ritual. PCs, of course, are hardly average. Magic should be uncommon, but not out of the hands of the PCs (and definitely not the NPCs!).
3. Monsters still exist. Those that can blend into societies have had a much easier time than those who haven't. Dopplegangers, vampires, lycanthropes, even a Greyhawk dragon or two are all superbly fitted to move throughout modern society with few problems. Those creatures that cannot are at a greater disadvantage. Some of them may have fled into the UnderOerth. Some may have been broken and destroyed by the advancement of society. Others still might have been enveloped by society, and have become minority citizens. Kobolds, for one, would be easily amalgamated into modern society, although they'd probably be living in ghettoes in large cities. (Racial harmony storylines could easily come through this.)
4. Names and faces change, but powerful groups remain the same. Would Greyhawk be the same without the Scarlet Brotherhood? Or the Horned Society? Or the Knights of the Watch? Or the Circle of Eight? These groups would still be around, but in vastly different forms, and in some cases, different purposes. The Scarlet Brotherhood allowed their nation to be overrun with the purpose of starting again elsewhere, and pressing their racial purity agenda clandestinely. The Horned Society would once again be trying to resurrect Iuz, but perhaps their leadership has a different goal in mind. Not all of this has to be serious; one of my current thoughts is to have a cult of Pholtus attempting to bring a demon over to the Flanaess, having misread the tales of Pholtan priests releasing demons into the world.
Bottom line: the tech level of Modern Greyhawk is analogous to our own, but I don't rule out certain groups having access to futuretech. Magic exists, although much lower than it used to be. (Shadowrun's a good feeling for the game, just lower tech, lower magic and not nearly as oppressive.) Modern day adventurers are operatives for a shadowy governmental body that operates off the books of any public body. Naturally, the PCs wouldn't be able to throw any bureaucratic weight around or draw too much attention from street-to-street gunfights.
Assuming a dwindling of magic would UA style incantations exist? For those unfamiliar with the UA setting or D20 Modern, magic tops off at 5th level spells. The hedge around that is incantations, which anyone even non-spellcasters can attempt. The system is like the Epic Level seeds (or 2nd Ed Mythals) with fairly hefty Arcane Lore and Knowledge ranks, with multiple DC checks (DC30+). Would you see that the powerful magic is gone outright or still available thru incantations
I will go ahead and admit my ignorance of incantations. I'm not completely against high-level magic spells being cast in Modern Greyhawk, but they should be suitably rare. Certain parts of the Flanaess are definitely still magically rich, so perhaps a correllation can be made there.
Must read up on Urban Arcana stuff...it's been awhile on that. :D
I have a variant on this: typical GH (591 CY), but with certain races and groups using technomagic or higher-than-normal levels of tech. I have an underground black market of TM devices in cities with populations over 25,000 (I figure a Gather Information check of DC 25 to even find out anything about it, with massive bribery involved). If someone using TM lets its' existence slip to the regular folks, the rest of the TM underground will hunt the betrayer down to kill him. The TM is made by spellcasters, who make everything from new armors, weapons, and other magic items, to totally new devices, such as computers, robots, and items that works as many of our modern-day conveniences. The dwarves and gnomes use steam and clockwork technology in their enclaves, but rarely use it among outsiders, unless they can sell it for MAJOR profit!
Also, I have an extradimensional conglomerate (think Wal-Mart spread across the multiverse over a few millenia!) with its' eyes on Oerth. Originally made by a retired wizard/scientist in another plane, this megacorp has since spread all throughout the planes, and has even set up shop in Rel Astra. Yes, like the company I modeled them after, they wish to conquer the planet economically (and militarily (with orc shocktroops) if necessary).
Beyond those additions to GH, most other peoples are ignorant that such wonders exist in their midsts. They are relegated to medieval-level technology, and the occasional spell or item, with myths of artifacts and powerful beings. If regular Oerth residents saw any of this new technology, they'd be either mysitfied or scared.[/list][/b]
Sorry for the length, but this is something Iíve been toyin with in my head for awhile now ever since that Dragon article came out and got me thinking.
To have major technological advancement you are going to need a few things.
1. A significant kill off to drive up the costs of labor to make it worth while to look for simple, easy to use labor saving devices. Otherwise you end up with situations like 12th century rice farming in 21st century SE & E Asia. But it canít be TOO big or you are hozed. The black plague actually did Europeans a favor in this regard.
2. A couple of philosophical paradigm shifts akin to first the Renaissance and especially the Enlightenment. At the basics, this lays the ground work for the Scientific Method and revolution that comes later. Without it, you get what happened in China, India, and the Arab World. Areas that were ancient and so because of that age were comparatively advanced to outsiders, but because they did not embrace fundamental philosophical changes on a WIDE scale continued to piddle along getting only very slow gradual change, if not outright regression.
Note: this is also what is responsible for freeing cultures from the domination of faith and tradition and turning it towards logic & reason.
3. A hell of a big economic base. It should be no surprise that the greatest homes of technological innovation were also the economic power houses of the day. And there are a few routes too this, a couple areÖ
First, Location location location. You have to be in a position to get into the long distance ocean going trade if you wanna mimic the real world. You gotta be able to make your cheap stuff at home and easily and CHEAPLY ship it 3000 miles to someone else who wants to buy it. Distance from the source of a commodity dramatically increases its value, but you gotta be able to ship it cheaply or it doesnít matter how cheap you make it cause the transportation costs will pooch the whole thing.
Second, having a democratic or republican form of government. Sorry Monarchists, Totalitarians, Dictators, and CommunistsÖyou fail in the game of global domination. Democracies & Republics gives you the most ďrationalĒ (try not to laugh to much) form of government and gets your middle class invested in things and rams through domestic policies that favor them. And itís your middle class that generates the wealth for you and allows you to expand. Occasionally you can get a middle class friendly monarchy, but they are exceedingly rare and _VERY_ prone to backslide and kill the deal over successive generations.
The third option is taking advantage of a big dumb neighbor who wins the proverbial lottery. In Europe, the big dumb neighbor that won the lottery was Spain. They struck it so rich it actually destroyed their economy cause they didnít invest the gold & silver they plundered, instead they just used it to buy what they needed. So instead of the money comin to Spain and staying in Spain, it came to Spain and weight right over to England, the United Provinces, and others and gave them a monsterous big economic boost.
The combination of all 3 is what turned two of Europeís smallest countries into two of the worlds greatest empires.
4. Location...once again. You need a location thatís just right. Not too defensible and not too weak. If it's too defensible you get lazy and don't feel the drive to expand If it's too weak then you have to spend all your money on keeping an army up and get bogged down in endless, and viciously expensive land wars. Itís all about having to stay a bit paranoid, but not TOOOO paranoid about the neighbors.
In the Flanaess, no one really meets all of these.
Finally, you arneít gonna get the most important one, the Enlightenment because the Gods are real. Period. The Enlightenment happened because men got interested in books and learning again during the Renaissance and so they went looking for god in Nature and examining nature with logic and reason to try and figure out Godís plan. If you read anything remotely scientific from the 18th century it is all about Laws because they were looking for God in nature.
But in the Flanaess this has no chance of happening because to look for god you walk down the street to the village priest and listen to a sermon. And during that sermon instead of asking you to take things on faith, he SHOWS you godís power. There is no looking for god, godís on every corner.
Another reason you wonít get a modern world in Greyhawk is Magic. Letís say hand wave and get past the whole Godís trusted representative being able to demonstrate that Godís real and say that smart fellas with lots of time on their hands get the money they need to go looking for how things work. They donít look to science, they look to magic. Magic is real, itís there, no questions asked. Zord the Magnfiicent can level the neighbors mansion with a fireball kinda in your face magic.
But regardless of this letís say you do some how get the confluence of time, smarts, and money together and direct it towards learning, magic is going to get in the way of your ďreal worldĒ technological progression again and youíll get basically Ebberon with Magic cheapened and practiced on an industrial scale. Folks will find a way to apply economies of scale to magic and instead of mass produced plows 5 bladed plows pulled by a tractor, you get 5 bladed plows pulled by an elemental. Or you get one guy with a stick with a constant effect of soften earth/stone that just drags it along behind him plowing the furrows. You get the idea. Take any modern world technological application and put a magical spin on it. Thatís what the Greyhawk Future article did and itís a pretty reasonable thing.
But you didnít want that. So no biggy, lets hand wave again and say magic dies out too along with the gods. It wonít be forgotten, its too damn powerful, in your face, and WAAAAYY to much evidence of it left laying around. So Magic itself has to die or at the very least get a _LOT_ harder to practice.
So, kill the gods, kill magic, and you get a mundane world. But we are still missing another thingÖthe concept of democratic and/or republican government. Do some more hand waving, encouraging people not to look behind the curtain, and have some large group of rich, well placed folks get nostalgic for that great form of government in the Yeomanry or Perrenland that died out oh so many years ago. A great tragedy that, but look hwo good it worked! Letís lop of the kings head and give that a go, shall we?
So have a nifty revolution or two, the godís die, magic ends, and then center it all in say Sunndi or especially the Scarlet Brotherhood lands. Both are reasonably geographically defensible and offer easy access to all the important bodies of water for local and long distant trans-oceanic trade. You could also jump up and down and hand wave some more and say center it out of the barbarian lands cause they are pretty defensible too and got a fine maritime tradition.
OhÖand the rest of the Flanaess will resemble anything from France (North Kingdom/Ahlissa) w/ large trackts of land but indefensible borders and crappy monarchies, to Russia (Furyondy / Iuz / Urnst ) with no useful ports and so are stuck being backwards peasant/serf traps, to the Holy Roman Empire (Nyrond/Keoland) with very limited and easily interdicted water access and bad locations in regards to neighbors, or Venice (Greyhawk) prime local location but a crappy international location. Places like Zief, the nomads, etcÖ arenít even worth mentioning they are so geographically isolated that you can only get stuff there on a wagon and that is appallingly expensive to the point that you could never make the money off of it that you need for making the big, expensive technological leap.
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