With much interest I've followed several threads about the future of Greyhawk. Previously, I have always been more inclined to go with advancing the timeline of the setting and resolving several issues than some huge catastrophe turning the setting unrecognizable.
So many "cataclysms" in so many worlds, what could I do that was fresh and exciting?
I have played/DMed in Greyhawk since about 1986/7 and admit that in this time I have kept my version pretty stock standard, I feel it is time for a change. However, I am keen to not use any of the already overused ideas. While I am very fond of the classic "uber" baddies; Tharizdun and Iuz etc, I am more interested in going another route for a main antagonist.
Ultimately, my goal would be to drastically change the face of Oerth both from a geographical and political point of view. I think it could be a powerful experience to role play famine, disease, pestilence, etc. within the context of the campaign with a mature group of role players.
My initial ideas are to go with a planar god war, hopefully, removing many of the high level healers from the environment. No details yet but this could spark many mortal nations getting involved as the Theological "debate" spills over to the Prime. The PCs could be hired/coerced in to recovering as much healing magic as possible for their sponsor nation.
Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated as I highly respect the individuals involved here!
My initial ideas are to go with a planar god war, hopefully, removing many of the high level healers from the environment.
Cool. Just be sure not to focus on divine or high-powered beings to the extent where it diminishes the impact of the players' actions. You could achieve the same result and maintain GH's nonintervention theme by simply blocking/distancing the deities from Oerth (or vice-versa) enough for priests to lose their high-level spells, this could also tip the scales for priests of native deities like Beory and Fharlanghn in interesting ways.
These are good ideas. I think however that a planar gods wars is a bit too Krynnish and blocking /distancing dieties a bit too F.R. I used this idea a while back but not with a famine/pestilance thread. After running thru the paladin in hell story the p.c.s make some very powerful nonoerthian enemies. What if these enemies decide to get revenge on the p.c.s planet by creating an exetremely powerful mold/bacteria/virus created by gathering various biological specimans from different parts of Oerth. A fungus from the underdark, a rare plant from the northern mountain ranges, a strange shell fish from the depths of the Nyr Dyv lake etc.. maybe they receive help from native churches like Incabulous and some other pestilant church.(the more conspirators the longer the campaign) maybe these churches aren't even fully aware of who there helping as the most certainly have their own agendas.now because the origin of the disease is outer planar it is immune to Oerthen and divine cures htus eliminating high level priest cures without actually stripping their hard earned powers. By the time the pcs sort thru this tangled mess the face of Oerth will most definatly be changed and finding the cure and exactly revenge will be years away and the the sweeter!
No need to explain, a famine slowly spreads across the land and in its wake disease ravages the weakened populace. The people cry out to the divine but hear silence - mysterious ways and all that. Could be a terrible reason or simply a natural event. The divine could be involved or simply concerned with other issues; the multiverse is a big place after all.
Societies lose faith and crumble as the suffering touches both the righteous and unrighteous alike. Avoid the pitfall of Good vs Evil; evil nations suffer as much if not more so, less concern for public welfare like charities or sanitation. However show their suffering as even "evil people" care about their families.
Personally, I would make it a natural event as players tend to want causes but sometimes there is no uber-baddie to fight. Of course the players must come to that realization themselves. Desperate people tend to create conspiracies and blame each other providing plenty of theories for the players to investigate.
Have the players wander around see the horror and handle its aftermath then try to convince the people that the evil nation over the hill is not the cause, think anyone will believe them
... my goal would be to drastically change the face of Oerth both from a geographical and political point of view. ... My initial ideas are ... planar ... removing many of the high level healers from the environment. No details yet but this could spark many mortal nations getting involved as the Theological "debate" spills over to the Prime. The PCs could be hired/coerced in to recovering as much healing magic as possible for their sponsor nation.
Good Lord, man! You so don't know how close you are to hitting a mark on this one. Lemme throw something out there for ya'. First, let me say, when I first tried this idea, I really didn't like it... and then I warmed up to it alot, and ended up loving it! I've used it in three campaigns over the years with different gaming crews. It's not my own idea, but it's not a published adventure either ... it's an article(s) that presents this fabulous idea.
Dragon Magazine #309, July 2003 "Incursion: A World Under Siege" by James Wyatt wrote:
The sky darkens, and flame rains down. Here and there the smoke thins to provide glimpses of wheeling dragons, and the shouted commands of their inhuman riders are audible above the screams of the people below. From their alien fortresses on the Astral Plane, the githyanki have come. This time, they are not simply raiding, establishing a new hatchery, or pillaging cities for supplies. no, this time the githyanki have come to stay, and the world will never be the same.
The Incursion campaign explores what might happen when war comes to your world. Specifically, the storyline traces the inception. progress and culmination of a githyanki invasion from the Astral Plane.
The Incursion is a really great article, man ... it gives you *SO* much info for writing your own campaign, but, it's this marvelous story. It was actually a massive multi-platform event- Dragon #309 had the main articles (30 pages of material), there was more stuff in Polyhedron #159, and Dungeon #100 had the culmination (18th to 20th) adventure for the Incursion in which the party gets to face off with Vlaakith the 157th, the Lich Queen of the the Githyanki. But, previous to that, it begins when no one even is aware of them, spying, plotting, assassinating ... if you've seen "V" it's a similar concept only done way, Way, WAY cooler. There's political intrigue, there's wonderfully scalable foes (1st to 20th), planar threats and planar travel, small skirmishes, large battles, low-level grittiness, epic saving of the world, "many mortal nations getting involved", ... it's all in this one, man.
Do yourself a favor, take a read of the article, and who knows, even if you don't like the stuff, you may use a good portion of it, just as source material. _________________ Owner and Lead Admin: https://greyhawkonline.com
Editor-in-Chief of the Oerth Journal: https://greyhawkonline.com/oerthjournal
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Last edited by Icarus on Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
The Incursion is a really great article, man ... it gives you *SO* much info for writing your own campaign, but, it's this marvelous story. It was actually a massive multi-platform event- Dragon #309 had the main articles (30 pages of material), there was more stuff in Polyhedron #159, and Dungeon #100 had the culmination (18th to 20th) adventure for the Incursion in which the party gets to face off with Vlaakith the 157th, the Lich Queen of the the Githyanki.
Icarus I have been looking for something different and now thanks to you I have found it BRILLIANT!
Greyspace has just become a little bit darker!
In my version they will come from the astral as well as greyspace, using there Spelljammer Ships. I like it !
Let me tell you from experience-Incursion was awesome! I ran it as a DM about 2 years ago for my homebrew world. I made it one of those big world events. It even crossed over a tad bit into my other games in other worlds (such as Greyhawk).
I planned it way in advance and had various Githyanki show up in pervious games as a bit of foreshadowing. Matter of fact there's a sort of prequel to Incursion in Dungeon #92 which I ran a year in advance. In order to run Incursion properly you need Dungeon #100 (which includes Polyhedron) & Dragon #309
To prep, I bought a bunch of Githyanki mini's, but I mostly used the Githzerai mini's cause they were alot cheaper to buy & there are lots of them out there. Also on Paizo's site there is a pdf you can buy for cheap of Tu'narath (the Githyanki city) on the Astral Plane.
I was able to use Incursion to bring in some of my older players (a return to action for many of their retired characters) and to test new players. I even ran a few 1 on 1 gladiator matches (vs. Githyanki) as a warm up for a couple of players.
Incursion was definitely the biggest and most fun game I've ever run. I remember describing the Astral ships coming in and destroying one player character's Dwarven town. After that he had an outright hatred for anything Githyanki. The Githyanki Lich Queen and her troops are very formidable foes. I worked out some nasty spell combo's for her to pull on my players (setting up a prismatic wall & then using Bigby's fist to slam a player through it...ouch!). Not to mention that the players had to end up travelling to the Astral Plane and they had to be very careful not to bring all of the Githyanki down on them.
Montand on Greytalk but reposted from Greyhawk-l wrote:
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 05:55:16 -0400
Reply-To: Greyhawk <[log in to unmask]>
Sender: Greyhawk <[log in to unmask]>
From: Taras Guarhoth <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: The Future of Greyhawk
Comments: To: Greytalk <[log in to unmask]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Out of chaos, order forms. The civil war winds down in the Sea Princes, and the land coalesces into two stable states. Westkeep was held by the Keoish, but barely, and at great cost to their armies. Now two hostile nations, ruled by former Olman slaves, stare at each other across the lower Javan plains. But as much as they hate each other, they hate those to the north even more. And so it begins.
And out of renewed order, chaos and evil are born. Sterich, retaken from the giants settles back into it's daily life. But something is amiss within the land. A corruption rots at the heart of the old Earldom. A bloody coup is staged, and the Margrave is killed, some whisper sacrificed to foul gods, and the land begins to change. Keoland watches from across the Javan, sending in a token force that it quickly dispatched, their forces spent in the campaigns in the south.
Farther north, the Gran March and Geoff squabble endlessly over the city of Hochoch. Their attention is myopically focused on a tiny chunk of river land, and their resources are quickly dwindling. They fail to notice developments farther to the north, beyond the plains of Bissel. The lands of the Bakluni have been enflamed. A new leader has arisen among them, and demanded that they expand. A horde forms, and sweeps through the hills and vallies of Ket, and then presses beyond, into Bissel, swiftly destroying what resistance that land could muster. But they do not stop there. They press on, into the Gran March and Veluna, thrusting into the hearts of both lands.
Across the Yatils, the Wolf and Tiger nomads join their Bakluni bretherin, riding on Perrenland and Iuz. Although their gains are more modest, they do succeed in keeping the famed mercenaries of Perrenland home, and Iuz from pressing in upon his southern neighbor while Veluna distracts it. And distracted Furyondy is. The cities are scoured and fields emptied to push back the Bakluni horde. Veluna and Furyondy finally reunite, in a hasty attempt to shore up both lands against their invaders, and Ferrond is reborn. The horde is stopped, and pushed back to the Fals Gap...but not quite back through it.
All is not quiet elsewhere, however. Turrosh Mak, barely holding onto power, makes a renewed surge to the north, into the lands of Celene. None stand with the Fey Queen, remembering her refusal to stand with them. None can afford to, either, for war is breaking out. The elves fight hard and fiercly, but, in the end, they fail, and their land is overrun. But not only their land. Narwell and Safeton are ripped from the grasp of Greyhawk. Riots break out in the free cities as refugees flood into Verbobonc, Dyvers, Greyhawk City, and Hardby and chaos reigns in the lands south of the Unknown Depths.
The Pale strikes hard into Tenh, and pushes the Fists and a distracted Iuz from the land, claiming it in the name of He of the Blinding Light. The expanded Theocracy becomes even more repressive and institutes an inquisition across the whole of their land to root out the remnants of Iuz and other non-Pholtine religions, whether good or evil, lawful or chaotic. All will be stamped out in the name of Pholtus, while Nyrond teeters on the brink of collapse to the south, starvation and taxation and warfare having taken a heavy toll on the land.
The lands of Aerdy have not been quiet, either. Old North Province and Old South Province finally settle their scores within the heartlands of that formerly Great Kingdom. Warfare rages, cities burn, and in the end, Xavener takes his rightful place on the Malachite Throne, ruling a reunited empire that stretches from Idee in the south to North Province in the north. The land is awash in humanoids and mercenaries, a new round of civil war ready to sweep the land after it's Second Turmoil Between Crowns...but Xavener has something else in mind...
Aerdy's forces march on Almor, and that ravaged land swiftly returns to the fold of Imperial Aerdy as troops march across the land, sweeping through the near-rebellious Nyrondese. Nyrond rapidly gives ground to the Aerdi, suddenly feeling a dagger in it's side. The Pale. Revolts erupt in the north and west as the renewed warfare brings even greater hardship. Midmeadow openly rebells, and invites Palish troops in. Nyrond finds itself disintegrating rapidly. When the dust settles, the lines have been round to a halt. Rel Mord stands on the border, and Womtham has fallen. Nyrond is a much reduced nation and pleads with the Urnst states for help, which they grudgingly give, allowing the fallen kingdom to keep itself from being swept from the face of the Oerth.
Xavener also sends his troops south...and while Irongate withstands even more years of seige easily, Sunndi is not so lucky. For the second time in under two decades, the land finds itself fallen to Aerdy...and this time, there is no Osson to liberate them. The "king" of Sunndi is executed for treason, and Aerdy sets about occupying the land. But their occupation faces an unexpected setback. Bullywugs and lizardmen and other creatures from the Vast swamp pour out in all directions, slaughtering the forces of Sunndi and Aerdy alike. They claim half the Pawluck valley before they are finally ground to a halt by humanoid troops. The short-lived Kingdom of Sunndi is no more.
But is this all? Or is there more?
Ok. Yes, there was a reason to all of that. A revelation hit me tonight. Greyhawk is stagnant. It is bloated. It is everything we accuse the Forgotten Realms of being, and then some.
Why do I make these outlandish claims?
Let us take a look. It has been a decade since the Wars were published, and like them or hate them, they were the last major change to the Flanaess. Nothing of real note has happened since then. A few borders shifted a little bit, a few faces changed, a few titles changed. But no real change happened. The Flanaess remained in the exact same place it was in 10 Real Life years ago.
And since then, we've sat around doing nothing of note. We've contemplated the scent of Otto's toejam, and what color Mordenkainen's belly-button lint is, all based on obscure passages from books so long out of print they aren't worth worrying about anymore or based on some utterances of some half remembered events that may have actually happened handed down from various creators, which, of course, are at odds with everything published.
And in doing so, we've locked out two simple things.
New People. And New Ideas.
We've let ourselves become every bit as decadent and decrepid as Imperial Aerdy under the last of the Raxes and the Naelaxes. We chained ourselves to our precious "Canon" for so long that we refused to accept the existance of anything not already mentioned in it. Hell, we codified it, in the form of NiteScreed's essay.
And so we damned ourselves.
How did the Forgotten Realms survive for years on a constant stream of product, which is probabily easily triple or quadruple what was produced for Greyhawk? They weren't afraid of change. They weren't afraid to shake things up. They weren't afraid to introduce a fresh face into the halls of power or use a fresh idea. But Greyhawk was. We demanded that villans be heavily tied to the setting, and so we forced the same tired faces to be reused. We never killed our enemies. Doing so would drastically reduce our options.
Greyhawk, if it is to survive, needs to change. It needs to burn, and then rise like a phoenix from it's ashes. It needs to shed itself of the foolish notions of rooting everything in something that came before.
Above was one possibility of how to do this...but there are others...I know, I've heard them. They came from the ancient and near-mythical time of TSR on the AOL boards. I have dim recollections of such things as a Rennisance in Keoland, and a Plague sweeping out of Celene. This is what Greyhawk needs now.
The question is...can we get it from anywhere?
Taras Montand Guarhoth
Submit Early, Submit Often...but make no mistake, you Will Submit!
That's a well-written essay, Grodog, and I appreciate it very much.
I've been guilty of much of what you lament. And, I've been quite happy being of that mindset. For example, I really love my Greyhawk villains - Eclavdra and Obmi, Igwilv and Drelnza, Iuz, Mordenkainen, and the Scarlet Brotherhood. I love the original Oerth with its Bandit Kingdoms and Horned Society. I love the Wild Coast being wild and free. I want all my new players to grow to love them and it as much as I do.
However, your submission above has caused me to realize that it might not be so bad to have a change or two. I never really objected to the Greyhawk Wars, in fact, I wrote up my own version about a decade before the published version appeared. I realize that what I objected to was the loss of some of the things I loved most. Maybe I can begin campaigns for beginning players in 576 CY, but allow experienced gamers to begin new characters later in time. Let them experience the Greyhawk Wars and possibilities beyond them.
Thanks! I'm getting older, but perhaps I'm not too set in my ways yet.
I've instigated a big shake up IMC to accomodate a different game system and to right what I perceive as the wrongs of recent GH history; wrong, as in wrong for me.
Unfortunately I daren't be too specific due to the eyes of my players, and it's to rejuvenate GH for them as much as anything else that's been the purpose.
But, a god was freed. Where it arrived in the Flanaess a wave of entropy laid waste to the land, a plateau, for hundreds of miles reducing it to a wasteland of mutations and secrets. Its empire becomes headless.
Other gods eventually commit deicide to avert the end of existence and then retreat, fading from the lands (and hearts) of men. Throughout the Flanaess there are shake-ups caused by this turmoil that lead to a restructuring of the political map.
Can't say more because.........well, I haven't figured it all out yet. It's 592 CY but it "feels" a lot more like 576 even if it doesn't actually "look" like 576.
That's a well-written essay, Grodog, and I appreciate it very much.
That's true, SirXaris, but just to clarify: that's not my post, but was an exhoratation delivered by Eric/Montand to the Greytalk/GH-L communities in 2001. I just like it enough to bring it up again from time to time :D
Thanks! I'm getting older, but perhaps I'm not too set in my ways yet.
My reply would take some time, Allen.
I agree with most of what that "post" said, but would disagree on the remedy. (I really need to get to the NorthTexas con so you and I can have long talks over beer.)
Sounds good: GaryCon's always an option too (although not until next year now ;) ).
You better save a beer or 2 for me. I am looking for an excuse to headover to yourside of the country.
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