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    Canonfire :: View topic - Quintessential Greyhawk Qualities?
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    Quintessential Greyhawk Qualities?
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    Novice

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    Fri Jul 30, 2004 1:17 pm  
    Quintessential Greyhawk Qualities?

    I'm a long time GM, but am just about to run my first games in the Greyhawk setting. For those of you more experienced in running and playing in the wonderful world of Greyhawk, what are the qualities of the world itself that you consider defining?

    In other words, what aspects of the world differentiate it from other published and/or personal game worlds? What should I emphasize in order to give my players a "Greyhawk" experience?

    James.
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    Fri Jul 30, 2004 10:07 pm  

    I'm probably speaking from bias here, but these are, IMO, the essential Greyhawk qualities...

    1) Keep a lid on the number of magical items and high-level characters. This cannot be stressed enough, especially in the 3.5 era with obscenely powerful characters in epic-level play that can push 20th level fighters and archmages around, and every farmer and his ten-year old son having a +1 sword. If you have any Mongoose D20 modules, especially by Jim Ward, they make a handy How-Not-To guide for adventure design in Greyhawk.

    It's not recommended that players can start crafting any sort of permanent items until they're at least 10th level, so make sure they don't acquire feats like Craft Wondrous Item too early, as opposed to Brew Potion or Scribe Scroll. Also, stringently enforce the costs in gold and XP for making magic items-if players try and mass-produce magic items for sale or give themselves an arsenal more suited for FR, then they'll be sorry...

    Most high-level characters (and by high I mean from 10th-20th level, and NOT anything to do with Epic-level play) are either very famous/infamous, with a reputation as great heroes or villains, or are entrenched in seats of power as kings, nobles, independent lords, the heads of powerful guilds, etc. These characters are also the ones to have many magical items, although even for them having as many as seven or eight permanent items is considered an amazing feat. They are the ones who are the movers and shakers of the campaign setting. They might be the heroes who dine with kings, lords and mighty wizards, or could be kings and lords themselves when they set up territories and castles,

    As strange as it may seem to epic-level characters of the 3.5 era, it's quite possible to have heroes of 6th-8th level saving the kingdom and taking on monumental and heroic tasks. A 6th level character might not be a grand master in his profession, but he is at least a capable professional, and by 9th level, will have enough power to develop some sort of reputation. 9th level fighters can actually begin building fortresses and attracting followers, if they follow that route. 9th level thieves might be famous enough to start their own guilds, and wizards of that rank could at least get treated with respect at magical academies and in wizards' guilds.

    2) The players are, of course, the heroes. There are no Elminsters, no Simbuls, no Storm Silverhands that the PCs can run to for help. Most of the wizards in the Circle of Eight, for instance, would be happy to manipulate adventurers, and don't care if the party has to be killed to realize their goals. Those patrons of good who do exist often have their own major concerns to look after, or cannot act for certain political reasons. Few of them can take the field directly, unless it's the climax to a major plot.

    NPCs can drive the plot and manipulate events, but it's the PCs and their actions that should ultimately decide whether they succeed or fail. Also, once players become high-level characters themselves, they can become entwined in these intrigues themselves, and become figures of great influence. Any of Greyhawk's "Name" NPCs can be matched in power by a PC, should the character be well-played, developed, and have lots of experience and contacts, of course.

    3) The "fantastical" aspect of Greyhawk should perhaps be put in perspective. Scheming liches and dragons can and do weave their plots and have influence upon what the human nations do, but the conspirator behind a plot to overthrow the king is far more often a human duke, wizard, or other such person entwined in the country's politics. Rather than many different fantastical races involved in day-to-day affairs, like beholders, drow, or illithids, good and evil humans with their own goals and intrigues are the ones that control events in the Flanaess. Fantastical creatures have their roles to play, of course, but they don't have nearly the same impact they might have in FR, for instance.

    4) This is a personal beef of mine, but political correctness should be avoided as much as possible, political rivalries emphasized, and the world made gray. Furyondy is as likely to be rivals with Keoland as it is with Iuz; the good nations do not automatically cooperate in the fact of a threat. Good nations can trade with evil ones, and can be as ruthless and aggressive in protecting their interests as well. Nyrond could as easily fall into war with Urnst as it could with Aerdy. It's a matter of degrees-Sunndian troops might raze Aerdi villages for supplies and to starve invading armies if they feel it is necessary, but will take little pleasure in it. The Aerdi, OTOH, feel no remorse about resorting to mass murder when it suits their purposes.

    Concerning political correctness, I cannot repeat enough just how much it fries me that 21st century liberal values are automatically applied to every "good" country. Just like in real life, good countries can be fraught with racism problems, regional rivalries, or other types of discrimination. Women might not be allowed to vote in elections in a country like the Yeomanry, or gnomes and halflings might be severely limited in the civil rights they are allowed in Dyvers, as opposed to the humans that run the place. Not every "good" country is enlightened by our modern standards-see my Living Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum entries on this site for some examples of what I mean.

    Gender equality, racial harmony, and all that other good stuff are wonderful things in real life, and can be applied in a number of countries. Just make sure they aren't all like that. Evil countries can also have some types of virtues or another, with friendships and kindness being possible within their borders. Again, it's a matter of degree-good nations tend more towards good behavior and evil nations toward bad, but it doesn't preclude either side acting in the other's manner.

    In short, the world should be a patchwork of shades of gray. It's a good idea to portray it that way.

    5) This is more of a personal preference, but it's also advised that you keep guns and firearms of any sort out of Greyhawk. Whatever other disputes Greyhawk fans have (and God knows there are plenty of them), we pretty much agree that guns are bad for Greyhawk. If you want to go with some sort of 17th-18th century technology like complicated clockworks, seismographs, printing presses, or things like that, that's fine, but it's recommended you keep the supplies of these things limited.

    6) Some Greyhawk fans will advise you to do your homework-look up canon and learn it for the history, maps and all the other things out there. I don't like this myself, since I think there's a lot of steaming piles in canon, but most GHers would recommend it. However, don't feel at all guilty if you decide to override canon and go your own way-that's the whole point, after all.

    7) Keep in mind these are all the suggestions and opinions of a guy who has some very strong opinions on what can and cannot be done in Greyhawk. All of the above is advice, and if you want to ignore it, go right ahead. It's just that these are most of the characteristics Greyhawk fans go for in their games.
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    Sat Jul 31, 2004 2:32 pm  

    Wow, it is hard to go after such an excellent piece as CruelSummerLord gave us. I would just add in brief two things he did not hit upon (but he may want to expand later?).

    Variety in Government is a hallmark of Greyhawk nations. There are a number of places with traditional kings, and some form of feudalism is common nearly everywhere, but there are also theocracies, republics, democracies, city-states, magocracies, matriarchies, despotries, oligarchies, etc. etc. As CSL points out, humanity runs the show, but there are elven, dwarven, and gnome dominated nations or regions with human populartions.

    Nothing is as it seems at first, from the PC's perspective. The plots are often referred to as the layers of an onion or wheels within wheels. Most adventures end with the PC's discovering that this minor bad guy was working in secret for a more powerful bad guy.

    Ultimately these plots often lead to the lower planes. Any number of demons have designs on Oerth: Iuz, Lloth, Graz'zt, Zuggtmoy, Iggwilv, Tu'erny, and so on have all sponsored plots in Greyhawk. Each of them would like to conquer this world, or at least a little piece of it. In contrast, the good powers are active in the support of characters and their efforts to foil the evil plots, but the good powers seem to have made little effort to conquer or unify the world since the kidnapping of Thrommel.

    The Circle of Eight serves as the bastion of humanity combatting both the constant lower planar incursions and the tendency of any one Oerthly power or faction growing too great.
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    Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:35 am  

    For me, what defines the World of Greyhawk is:

    The Lake Geneva play style, with its particular mix of role assumption and strategic elements, and focus on fun and adventure over lengthy histories and rigorous rules. See the original PH and DMG and various of Gygax's later writings.

    A pretty close adherence to medieval/renaissance European norms, which Gary took for granted DMs knew but has now set out in Living Fantasy from Troll Lord Games.

    Fantastic elements inspired by the great mid-20th-century authors of sword and sorcery: Vance, Leiber, de Camp and Pratt, etc. (and not so much by Tolkienesque epic fantasy). Grim at times, but not po-faced -- the streak of wahoo Zagygian humour is important.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:14 pm  

    Referring to the layer-within-layer trait of Greyhawk that Kirt pointed out in his own great post, you can easily convert some of the old classical dungeon adventures with a minimum of fuss. Adventures like the Giants-Drow series, Keep on the Borderlands, the Slavers series, the Saltmarsh series, and the Temple of Elemental Evil.

    What many DMs both inside and outside of Greyhawk seem to overlook is that the "hack dungeons" Gary Gygax and his early contemporaries wrote in the late '70s and early '80s should serve more as blueprints for the DM, something that individual DMs will put their own personal stamp on. He fully expected DMs to rewrite certain parts and tinker with the encounters, treasures, and so forth. The modules are less fully assembled plotlines than they are a basis for the DM to avoid doing the boring drudge work of map drawing and encounter writing when he creates his own campaigns.

    So if you run any of the above scenarios, be sure to give it your personal touch, and see if you can involve more role-playing, intrigue, and character development for the PCs in doing so. It's also entirely possible to expand the dungeon crawls into large-scale affairs that let your players have a major effect on the outcome of the world's politics.

    An example would be the Temple of Elemental Evil series. Right off the bat there are agents of both good and evil in the base village where the PCs first set up shop, and also in the village of Nulb. These people work for important characters like the Archcleric of Veluna and the King of Furyondy. If the players start proving themselves as potential allies against the Temple, these disguised NPCs might reach out to them or give them some aid from behind the scenes, while not giving themselves away. If it comes down to a final showdown with the villains, these characters can also give the PCs some valuable backup.

    Then there are the many different factions within the Temple itself-four separate elemental temples, the servants of Zuggtmoy, the servants of Iuz, and even a few agents of Lolth tossed in for bad measure. How the players react to them could have an important impact-the elemental temples could all end up going at each others' throats if the players say and do the right things to set them at cross-purposes. If the representatives of Zuggtmoy are all slain, or Zuggtmoy herself is banished to the Abyss, Iuz will have no qualms about sending more support to the Temple to try and have all the spoils of victory for himself. If Falrinth takes the Orb of Golden Death back to Lolth, how will that change the balance of power?

    If the PCs find and rescue Prince Thrommel, that by itself has a tremendous impact not only on the campaign of the Temple, but also for the forces of good. With Thrommel now returned and married to Jolene of Veluna, the grand alliance of good could be disastrous for the forces of evil...Needless to say, such a great deed automatically makes the PCs mighty heroes in the eyes of Furyondy and Veluna. That has both its benefits and its problems, needless to say.

    Even little cosmetic changes can be important. If your wood elf player receives a gift of elven chain mail from the elf nobles he rescues, and the chain mail turns out to be a gift from a clan that's a rival to the player's own, what does that mean for him, or his family, or his relations with other elves? Who knows what kind of information or connections to the players one of those slaves freed from the dungeons of the Slave Lords might have to offer an enterprising player?

    In short, use your own creativity to twist the modules around so they fit the personal needs of your campaign. The players benefit by having the campaign become more meaningful for them, and you get the ego benefit of knowing that you've put your personal stamp on a classic.
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    Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:58 am  

    There was an article kicking around for some time, authored by Nitescreed, that very effectively defined criteria that made Greyhawk...Greyhawk. Many here may have read it and know more about the articles origins than I do.

    Years ago, the first time I read this article, it opened my eyes to the qualities that persist through the Greyhawk Campaign setting and has always been a guide anytime I incorporate anything of my own devising into a campaign.

    In the last year or so, I stumbled across the article again here (click on 'General Info' tab) and it seemed just as pertinent today as it did back then. I know this has been bouncing around for awhile so if any have better information on its origins please fill us in.
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    Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:16 am  

    Hmm . . . define Greyhawk?

    Well, it's pure D&D, that's what it is! Well, as "pure" as you can get. Happy

    (For this reason I never bought the 2E Greyhawk Monstrous Compendium Appendix. I thought, "Wait a second, Greyhawk is default D&D and shouldn't have a *unique* set of monsters being pimped for it. I can understand an FR Monstrous Appendix, and a Dragonlance Monstrous Appendix, but not a GH Monstrous Appendix. Indeed, all the critters in the core Monstrous Manual are Greyhawk critters!").
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    Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:54 am  
    Agree & Disagree

    Thank you, Donimator, for refering us to that excellent article. However, I disagree with the final conclusion about From the Ashes/Greyhawk Wars. Yes, there are things that still stick in my craw about the period, but in my mind Iuz, Vecna, Turosh, etc., were not doing these things to please me, the enforcer of neutrality. I actually think that the wars were entirely consistent with the History of Oerth.

    This is an active world, where players can make a difference, if they choose to. And if not, whoops, their land fell to evil menace. From the Twin Cataclisyms, to the rise of Keoland, the ascendance of Aerdy, and its gradual decline, Greyhawk is a vibrant world, one that changes. One that the creators strongly hinted for years and modules, was about to change dramatically. It is the richness of Greyhawk that gives it the magic that we all love. It is that refusal to direct the PC's that makes it special.

    The article is correct about the role of PC's in GH and FR. I did not realize this until I read the article, but this is the problem with some of my group. They were FR players for years, and I cannot get them to take the initiative, and it is driving me mad. In FR, they never had to, they were carrying water for Elminster.
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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:44 am  

    Here's a link to Exceprts from Nitescreed's famous manifesto:
    http://hem.passagen.se/hoglins/greyhawk/greyinfo.htm

    [edit]
    found another link to the whole post:
    http://www.geocities.com/area51/capsule/4344/greyinthehawk.htm
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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 6:10 am  

    Interesting article. I had never read that before. I was around back then but not as active as I am now.
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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 1:12 pm  
    My humble opinion

    Hello,

    I truly hope everyone is doing well. After reading, contemplating, rereading and even more contemplating, I would like to say that I believe the characteristics that make Greyhawk so unique are history and legacy. The kingdoms and nations in the WoG are there because they have evolved into what they have become because of a past (a very rich past, full of true intrigue, warfare, subterfuge and an honest struggle). The characters are created from that history. Their motives, beliefs and attitudes are founded from that history. They are the legacy of that history created by other characters. In turn, they will, through their own actions or inactions, create a history for future generations. The PC's can make a difference in the WoG. Can they defeat Iuz? Probably not, but they can defeat his plans and forces for a short time. Maybe long enough to allow the next generation to live long enough to stop him. Wink

    The Scarlet Brotherhood (thrice damned they be), is a growing evil. The PC's may defeat them at one turn, but the Scarlet Brotherhood (thrice damned they be) may be around the bend, waiting, planning, skulking ready to do in humble dwarves from the Wild Coast who currently reside in Nyrond. Shocked Do agents have plans for the PC's? To what ends? What is this Scarlet Brotherhood (thrice damned they be) and who are they? What have they done and and what do they want to do. It's all a matter of history and legacy.

    These are just two examples of what makes Greyhawk so uniquely Greyhawkish. Other systems have a history and a nice comforting touch that let's eveyone know that "good," in the end, will win (snuggly sigh). Greyhawk let's you know that "good" has the possability to gain the upper hand, but today might not be that day. Orcs are dangerous. There are highwaymen and bandits. There are higher and lower powers at work in the WoG. Elves for all their beauty and compassion have their own agenda. Just because you make it to Verbobonc does not mean that you are free from danger. Furyondy and Veluna may war with each other. All of the choices the PC's have are because there were people before them that made decisions that now affect their lives. The Suel built a castle 300 yrs ago that is now ruined and is being explored by the PC's. There is a past and the PC's are the legacy. I will now humbly step off my philosophical soapbox, er, apple crate and wander home.

    I miss the Wild Coast,
    DwarffromNyrond
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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:24 pm  

    All the posters have offered good and worthy posts on what makes Greyhawk "grey", but I really have issues with that Nitescreed article:

    The first and most obvious gripe is the persistent FR-bashing throughout. There's no need for that crap-it makes us look jingoistic and snotty compared to FR. And give up the Realms-bashing; they've gotten quite a bit better since 3E. Yes, the obscene numbers of magic items and power levels are there, but now they caution DMs to make the PCs the stars, and that they shouldn't assume some great NPC can pop up and straighten everything out if things go wrong. With Bane's return, and the general shifting of the setting towards something grayer, if not completely dark, I think it's made great strides. Cut down the power levels and political correctness, and we actually have the making of a good setting.

    The next thing is the "villainous variety" article. Most GH villains seem to have the same basic desires as any FR villain, and someone like Iuz is not known for his subtlety. And if a villain can't be of the "pop-up" variety, how does one go about introducing new villains and organizations of their own creation?

    The Shades, the Arcane Brotherhood, evil gods like Shar and Malar, and the Cult of the Dragon are tied into the histories of the world, or at least have some backstory to them in their settings. I don't recall them ever appearing out of nowhere to suddenly menace the realm. And any good villain has at least some "on the spot" elements the writer may have invented to better integrate it into the setting.

    And we should also note the "internal historic consistency". What about the gaffes in GH canon that say that Tharizdun and the Elder Elemental God are one and the same? How can Eclavdra become a priestess of Lolth if she struggled for centuries to wrest power in Erelhei-Cinlu from the hated spider demoness? While striving to maintain historical consistency is admirable and should be encouraged, it seems like some (but not all, of course) are more concerned with trying to find canon to explain everything instead of making up details to fill in the gaps as they want, something I myself do on a regular basis.

    Maybe I'm misinterpreting the article. If I am, I apologize. It makes many valid and important points, but the constant FR-bashing gets tedious very quickly, and eventually becomes extremely annoying. I agree with its overall themes, but we should note that the article falls short in other places. I hope this isn't taken as trolling-I'm just sick and tired of the FR-bashing.
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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:20 pm  

    Hola...

    I think that in considering NiteScreed's Gray In The Hawk writings, it's helpful and important to remember that these were originally written some years ago, eight or more if memory serves (and it might not).

    Regardless of the exact time, there was no 3E D&D. None of the improvements or changes in focus evident in the Realms post-3E were anywhere on the horizon. That setting may be much improved. But, I don't expect that 'Screed has offered a revised Gray In The Hawk.

    It's a six or seven or more year old offering and that context should be remembered before one embraces or dismisses the points made therein.

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    Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:45 pm  

    Quote:
    now they caution DMs to make the PCs the stars, and that they shouldn't assume some great NPC can pop up and straighten everything out if things go wrong

    I agree that the FR bashing is a bit old, but...if what you say is true then it seems it WORKED! Happy

    Quote:
    Bane's return, and the general shifting of the setting towards something grayer, if not completely dark

    Once again, the powers that be obviously got the hints and corrected their campaign, must be nice.

    Quote:
    The Shades

    These villains are cool, but isn't their backstory that they just 'popped up' out of nowhere? Wink
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:19 am  

    I just read the "screed" and I have to say that I'm damned proud to be running a Greyhawk campaign right now.

    I agree that there seemed to be some obligatory FR bashing, but if it was from that long ago, it was deserved. Early FR always felt like a computer game, with someone telling me what to do.

    As for the inconsistencies, so be it. If you, as a DM, can't tweak what is necessary, then please do spend hours debating minor details, instead of gaming. (Of course, some aren't so minor...) Personally, I like the way Terry Pratchett puts it, that these tales are remembered differently by different folk, and some inconsistency is to be expected.

    When I think about what 'makes' Greyhawk, the following comes to mind:
    -It has a grittier, more "real" feeling to it, which is ultimately more satisfying than living happily ever after.
    -People are multi-dimensional (sometimes in more ways than one).
    -Humans are the "doers". Not wizards, not gods, not powerful creatures.
    -There is a sense of desperation, that Evil might actually win.
    -The player characters can affect the world. Frankly, if they don't, they're slacking on the job.
    -Magic is a rare and well, magical thing, not found in a shop on the corner.

    I guess it boils down to the difference between watching a football highlights reel, and actually getting out there and straining and sweating in the mud and blood and making a football highlights reel.

    Telas
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 3:41 pm  

    To me, "quintessential" Greyhawk is all about -

    1) Richly layered and textured history in the setting, and

    2) As a player finding your place within that tapestry, while

    3) As a DM working with but also extending that tapestry.

    I know this sounds generic and might be said to apply to any setting but I think the points do not on closer examination and explanation.

    Other settings have lots of detail, some much more than Greyhawk. But no setting I have encountered has such a sense of history. Quick examples. Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure and Maure Castle. TOEE and RTOEE. Slavelords and Slavers. GDQ and Liberation of Geoff. Tomb of Horrors and RToH. White Plume Mt and RWPM. This is history you can play, not just read about!

    And how do these historical modules come about? They come about courtesy of GH83 giving way to FtA, giving way to GH98, giving way to LGG. No other setting has seen such an evolution. Mystara got the Immortal War - one and done. FR got the Time of Troubles but this happened off stage and did not result in a complete setting overhaul like FtA. GH history is living history. You don't just read about what happened. long ago.

    GH history is also not just earth medieval history done once over with magic and dragons. Murylynd the cowboy. Robilar's clockwork horse. The spaceship in the Barrier Peaks. These are "big" examples but the point is there are lots of little tweaks that make GH history quirky and original not just medieval earth plus magic and dragons redux.

    Combined, these factors, and doubtless ones I'm not thinking of, give GH a history no other setting can match, making this IMO "quintessental" GH.

    And when you play and DM within this tapestry you are taking part in something bigger than your PC or campaign. This is where GH's real world history comes in. GH was first. It has been spat upon and killed and it has come back. It has been abused and found ways to advance and prosper all the same. Default GH and LG, say what you will, are introducing GH to thousands of new players who would never have heard of it otherwise. Default GH and LG bring some questions to Old Hawkers' minds but they also bring gamers. When I go to my local game store and look for players for GH there is no problem. Not so in 96. I'll take the issues default GH and LG bring in exchange for gamers any time. Point is, there is a sense with GH that you are dealing with something larger than just any old setting and I think its pretty cool.

    Anyway, just rambling. It the history!

    GVD
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 3:52 pm  
    Re: Nitescreed's "manifesto"

    It's my opinion that Nitescreed's piece, while passionate and rather well argued, is nothing more than arrogant Forgotten Realms bashing. Most of his points don't hold water if examined closely, and therefore I caution against putting too much faith in it as a defense against those who might criticize Greyhawk.

    The only reasons that really matter for liking Greyhawk are yours, not those of other fans. What I like about the setting, you may dislike. When you try to make your case, either to a D&D newbie, or a fan of another setting, focus on what you like about the setting. When you're passionately describing your own opinion, you're more likely to sound honest and convince folks. Repeating someone else's opinion tends to sound forced.
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 3:54 pm  

    Telas wrote:

    I agree that there seemed to be some obligatory FR bashing, but if it was from that long ago, it was deserved. Early FR always felt like a computer game, with someone telling me what to do.


    I disagree slightly. Early FR product, namely the original grey box setting product, were of top notch quality and completely void of the overdetailing and railroading that the setting fell victim to. After the launch of 2e AD&D and more importantly, the wildly successful FR novel line, the products went quickly downhill, though there are still a few gems to be found here and there.
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 9:24 pm  

    Okay, I'll buy that.

    My experiences with FR were from, um (counts on fingers) around 1993-4? I don't remember a lot about the adventure, just some old fart with a beard telling us what to do (or I had a massive upper lip and these are flashbacks from Bakshi's "The Hobbit" Laughing ).

    The "Baldur's Gate" games, while fun, reinforced this "gopher" perception. That's a mistake on my part, because computer games kind of need to be externally driven. (There's another argument over that statement, but not for this site.)

    Ironic aside: I currently play in an FR campaign that has a very gritty Greyhawk-ish feel to it. All the settings are very richly layered, moral conundrums abound, and most of the NPCs are multi-dimensional personalities (including the really bad ones). We haven't seen a Harper or a meddlesome wizard yet.

    It's not the plot, nor the setting, nor even the rule set. The biggest factor in a successful game is the DM. That said, I still prefer Greyhawk. Cool

    Telas
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    Sat Aug 14, 2004 10:08 pm  

    I never thought deeply on why I like GH, this is one in a string of many reasons I guess.

    When I was a kid (before such things as Internet or Console Video Games) I was a regular library fiend. In addition to checking out the Hobbit every year, I was an avid reader of historical warfare. Namely, I loved reading about the Roman Empire, the Napoleonic Era, and WW2. I poured over maps and studied troop movements and had a good grasp of world politics and religion (Yeah I drooled over GH Wars). Then one day I was shown GH and I instantly saw the potentials and parallels for playing out the dramas of the real world combined with the fantasy aspects of the Hobbit.
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    Sun Aug 15, 2004 1:48 am  

    Telas wrote:

    The "Baldur's Gate" games, while fun, reinforced this "gopher" perception. That's a mistake on my part, because computer games kind of need to be externally driven.


    What bothered me most about the BG saga was their use of Xvarts. They took an obscure monster from GH and turned t from a devious little critter than serves raxivort and dwells amongst hordes of rats and turned it into a moronic cannon fodder beastie.

    FR did the same, well similar, for drow. What were once arguably the coolest villains in GH are now almost universally reviled by GH fans.

    Doesn't necessarily mean what FR did with these GH ideas was bad, it just had a bad effect on them in GH, since there was no equally cool GH product (cool in the eyes of the mass audience in the 90s) to offer an alternative.
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    Sun Aug 15, 2004 7:05 am  

    Suffice it to say that a lot of the ideas about the Realms mentioned here are pure Internet canard-hearsay and bear no relation to the published products or the actual spirit of the setting. Nitescreed's divisive, inaccurate, and sloppily thought-out piece is a continuing burden on the World of Greyhawk and those who like it, and want it to be published and to be understood.

    We all regret the commoditization of the drow and others, but it was something done by TSR that happened to coincide somewhat with the Realms, not something the Realms actively did.
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    Sun Aug 15, 2004 11:14 pm  

    Okay, this is my first post, but not my first time at the site. You guys do good work, keep it up.

    I must agree that the article was a straw man attack on the Realms. A well run Greyhawk campaign was compared to a poorly run FR campaign. Realms bashing aside, the positive points have merit. One of the reasons I left Greyhawk was that the box set didn't convey that. It gave a brief ethnographic survey, a general history, and a single column summary on each nation. I understand now that this was done so DM's would be straight jacket, but it isn't a complete setting and that was what I wanted. Sites like this are much stronger advocates of Greyhawk than a lot of official product.

    That being said, I feel that I should correct some misunderstandings regarding the Realms.

    1) Realms is high magic. On average the Realms doesn't swim in magic, but it does have a higher per capita number of mages. This isn't evenly distributed. Thay and Halruaa have lots of magic, the Shar and Vaasa are quit low magic.

    2) The Realms does have more Epic level characters. Greyhawk has them too, but the Realms definitely has more.

    3) The Harpers are as annoying as all hell. I agree completely with Greyhawk players on that point.

    4) High level NPCs whether Tenser or Elminster are handled by the DM or the adventure writer. Blame or credit acrues as is appropiate.

    5) An examination most FR NPCs will show that most of them don't have a lot of magic.

    6) There is a lot of detail on FR history and nations. I found the material in the FR setting much more satisfying than the Greyhawk sett (I'm not trying to bash, just being honest in my reaction.)

    7) I was hooked by Ed Greenwood's Dragon articles. They background material was intriguing and evocative and had me wanting more. The ecology articles and the spellbooks and spells of FR along with the stories that went with them sucked me in. The Grey Box kept me, until I stopped playing 2nd edition. I should mention that I like to play wizards, so I have my own biasis.

    8) There was a lot more material on the Zhents, Red Wizards, Cult of the Dragon, etc. of evil organizations in the Realms. Skim through the Lords of Darkness for lots of detail on FR evil

    9) Yah, some FR stuff sucks.

    10) Both Greyhawk and FR do have persistent evil that isn't going to go away. FR evil is more like a glacier, it isn't going to conquer everything immediately, but it is awesomely powerful and you aren't going to get rid of it.

    11) Drow are cool are found in most D&D world. They were going to get big coverage regardless and Greyhawkers have the advantage of being able to cherry pick all the good stuff for their world and leave the rest.

    12) I have a big soft spot for Isle of the Ape (despite Tenser's overly florid dialogue) and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't respect D1-3.

    13) I would much rather play in a good Greyhawk campaign the a mediocre Realms one. Realms bashing doesn't win you converts, regional feat articles in Dragon and the Oerth Journal do. As long as you make Greyhawk a fun and interesting place to play in, you serve your cause well.
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    Mon Aug 16, 2004 8:17 am  
    The Flaws of Greyhawk

    Alright, I am going to take a stab at this... though emotions seem to run a bit high. I will say this... I loved Vampire the Masquerade, but I quit playing because everyone that I played with wanted to take it far too seriously. I have not played since the first edition of that game. I have not found a group that can play in a relaxed enough atmosphere. My loss.

    It could be a quirk of Geography, but, I do not play golf for the same reason. I would rather sit at the office than go to a Course where all players use their computers to track their bets (yes this really happens here Sad ).

    So, in talking about the Game, I have played both FR, GH and many other worlds/games/settings/etc., and I prefer GH for one simple reason... it is flawed and limited; maybe as the creators were flawed, but definately limited to serve the ends of their games. FR was fascinating when it came out, and the articles in Dragon drove my whole group to want to play it.

    We found the difference to be in the flaws... FR always seemed to have none. It had an air of political correctness or maybe completeness about it that made it seem a creation of a corporation. It seemed to be, not "made up as they went," feeling, so much as a "let's touch all the bases and leave no one out," feeling. Ed's articles were wonderful, and I felt that this was a way for TSR to go after a broader audience, and they did a fine job, starting from a fine source.

    I like Greyhawk, for what it is, and for what it is not. It does lack diversity and universality. Most non-European cultures are pushed to the periphery, if they are present at all. But that said, there is a richness in GH that I did not find in FR. The world is believable, because not all of Earth's cultures are represented on Oerth, and those that are, are often altered selves or oddly blended constructions of Earth's history. I do not find that true of FR, but let me caveat this with the fact that I have not played FR in almost 15 years. But it seemed there is everything, everyone, every culture that one can think of.

    I am not trying to inject some discussion of racism or ethnicity into this discussion, rather, one of method and maybe corporate politics. Greyhawk was designed to be the home for a game a few guys designed. They did not know it would survive, and if it did, I do not think they thought it would reach a world wide audience. It just needed to serve their small group of friends and customers.

    TSR was/is a business, and they needed to build market, entice more players, make money. This is not a crime, it is how we all ended up with the fabulous world that is GH. Without the profit motive, things can get really screwy and you can end up with really inferior products being the only thing available (think Linux here).

    TSR needed a larger audience, and they chose not to alienate their dedicated base (Greyhawk fans would have rioted if this had been placed across the sea). So, they said "Elminster, Waterdeep, and a few other components.... lets create something that a different audience would like." At this point, my preference would have been that this be an extension of Oerik, something across the Sea of Dust, or a different planet in the Solar System, etc. TSR chose not to, they chose to create a new world.

    It was not better, or worse, it just did not seem to have the depth of character that I loved. The character that permeated many of the original modules. GH is a world, as flawed as our own, grey, an odd but real mirror of at least part of our world; large enough to provide a rich experiance and yet limited, and thus real feeling.

    For whatever reason, Greyhawk is still the place for me.

    Greyhawk is a place where the world is as it is, not as it should be. It seems a place that could be real. It was a place where racism and ethnic hatred was often rampant. Most of the tension in the world is among groups that are basically good or at least neutrally aligned, and yet still go to war on a regular basis. There are real threats to the WoGH, and yet, the peoples of Greyhawk still fight among themselves. (Geoff, Gran March, and Keoland for example (1942 Britain, France, USA)).

    Regardless of what you play, remeber that the purpose is to have fun, and that this is a game. If you are violating either of these ideas, maybe it is time to go back to the office.
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    Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:31 pm  

    The race and nationality comments are true to FR as well. While Cormyr, the Moonsea, Sembia, the Swordcoast and the Moonsea are clearly European this contrasts with Tethyr, the Shaar, the Hordelands, Calimshan, Zhakira, Thay, Mulhurond, Unther, Turmish, and Chult aren't.

    Human racial tensions are present in FR, but to a lesser degree than GH for several good reasons. Humanity is not as unquestionably dominate as GH so there is more of a "bunker" mentality of humanity and its allies against non-human enemies.

    The second is the importance of trade and rade routes. In some areas (the Silver Marches, Amn, the Moonsea, the Western Heartlands) human civilization exists in pockets in a dangerous wilderness or has dangerous neighbors. Its the orcs nearby that is the problem not the foreigners who's trade puts silver in your pockets.

    This is an broad generalization and their are exceptions (Thay for example), but it makes both worlds internally consistent.
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    Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:08 am  

    Ok, once more, for your reading enjoyment, chatdemon's detailed rebuttal of Nitescreed's opus:

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 1 Applied Internal Historic Consistency

    Greyhawk has a strong internal sense of history that is consistently applied in all "Greyhawk" products or creations. However, not every product published under the name "Greyhawk" meets this criteria.


    Hogwash.
    One look at the myriad flamewars about canon and the nuances of Greyhawk lore irefutably demonstrates that there is no one cohesive "internal sense of history" to be found in Greyhawk. Sorry 'Screed, it just aint so.


    Quote:
    Greyhawk is a storied realm. It's seminal figures, good and ill, are interwoven throughout the setting. It has a defined history that strongly influences the present and future of the setting. Greyhawk's history is not a footnote but an integral part of the setting that must be understood to truly comprehend the relationships among men, nations and even gods. True "Greyhawk" products or creations build on this history, incorporate it and develop it. The best such products or creations leave enough open ends to allow for further such development. More mediocre attempt closure of every loose thread.


    Again, there's no basis for this claim. Most of the so called "classic"Greyhawk modules had only enough ties to the history of the setting to make them Greyhawk modules. Later Greyhawk modules routinely ignore the (assumed) outcomes of the early modules (what? return to the tomb of horrors? but we killed acererak in '88!). Stories of the early setting (like the SB's role as spies and assassins) are ignored to suit designers whims (hey Dave, we need a naval power!). Sure, the stories of the setting are cool, but claiming they are some sort of sovereign glue that binds designers to canon is nonsense.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 2 Player Resolution of Critical Events

    The seminal events in Greyhawk's current history and development are all presented such that the players may not only take part but play a leading role.

    Players could fight the Greyhawk Wars. Players defeated the hordes of the Temple of Elemental Evil. Players defeated Lolth. Players turned the tide as Iuz aced Vecna.


    But the outcome of the wars was predecided. The hordes from the ToEE returned triumphantly in a rehash module. Eclavdra is still running around causing trouble. Iuz aced Vecna...I can't add much to that one folks.

    Quote:
    In the Forgotten Realms, for example, Ao decrees an event and the players get to clean up in the aftermath. Cyric destroys Zhentil Keep offstage and the players get to delve into the ruins. Gods die to be replaced by mortals and the players watch. Elminster sends players on a mission but ultimately keeps from them the greater goal the mission serves.


    When in doubt, bash FR! Bravo 'Screed!
    Istus decrees an event and players get to clean up the mess.
    Ivid runs Rauxes into ruin and the players get to root around in it.
    Demons kidnap and impersonate Circle mages and the players run a goose chase and essentially watch.
    Jallarzi spurs the characters into helping Tenser and Mordenkainen shows up to steal the glory.

    Yup, them FR sure suck. Greyhawk roolz!

    Quote:
    When you play in Greyhawk, you join in the weaving of a tapestry of which you are a vital part. Greyhawk is about your story in the context of Greyhawk's story. Roleplaying in Greyhawk involves playing your part in the longest running AD&D campaign in existence. It is bigger than you are but you can become as great as it is. That is the essence of Greyhawk's history. It enfolds, informs and connects every part of the setting and all who play there of any length of time.


    Whether you agreed with proposed developments by Mona and Kuntz recently or not, their reaction to the handful of us who objected is profoundly demonstrative of the fallacy of this statement. Nothing you do in your game will have any outcome on the setting.

    What's that? 'Screed was referring to homegames? Well, I'll be darned. You know, I could run a FR game and ignore just about everything Ed writes about Elminster too though.

    Claiming that this is some unique strength of Greyhawk is silly.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 3 NPCs Reward More Often Than They Advise or Direct

    NPC's in Greyhawk are not godlike figures who direct the course of events upon which your character is washed like the tide. Neither do they persistently show up to advise you. They may do both but more often they serve as the measuring stick against which your character's performance can be judged and serve to reward your character by recognizing their accomplishments or otherwise admitting your character into their august company.


    Hmm...
    Ever played the GDQ compilation module? Lashton shows up and sends you on your merry way.

    Ever played Patriots of Ulek? Corond demands you help him, and if you refuse, you're imprisoned!

    Quote:
    The Circle of Eight are aloof. They do not want to be your buddy. Neither do they have a laundry list of chores for you to perform. Rather, in Greyhawk you will find adventure without such NPCs suggesting it.

    In the Forgotten Realms, for example, Elminster is famous for sending characters on their way. The Harpers do the same. Ultimately, Elminster or the Harpers play the directing role and may indeed appear to steal the show or otherwise claim ultimate victory.


    Again I refer to Rot8. Jallarzi spurs you into a quest to save Tenser and herself. Just when you complete said quest, Mordy and his band of hoodlums shows up and steals the glory!

    Quote:
    In Greyhawk, YOU are the hero. Without assistance from the likes of the Circle of Eight and without them acting as a safety net. You can go your own way, in fact, without them ever troubling you. This cannot be so simply said in settings such as the Forgotten Realms and has not a little to do with Criteria No. 2 (Player Resolution of Critical Events in Greyhawk vs. NPC Resolution of Critical Events in FR).


    Again, this is purely subjective and cannot be qualified. It's more a reflection of the way an individual DM runs their game than a judgement of the quality of the setting.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 4 Persistent Personified Evil

    Evil in Greyhawk is persistent. It is halted, checked or imprisoned but it is not defeated with finality for all time. The triumph over evil is a relative thing, ultimately transitory.

    Evil in Greyhawk is personified. Evil has faces and names attached to it that ring down through the setting's history. It is not an evil that pops up purely to give the players something to strive against and defeat before moving on to the next evil that similarly appears out of relative nowhere.

    Vecna, Iuz, Lolth, Tharzidun, the Scarlet Brotherhood, Aerdi, Kas, even Turrosh Mak, all met this criteria. They are highly personified forces that spring from the settings specific history. By comparison, evil in the Forgotten Realms is of the pop-up variety save for the Red Wizards and Zhentrim. Menaces appear from nowhere or with on the spot histories that never before appeared in the setting. Greyhawk allows for this type of toaster villainy but it also established from the first villains of a historic character that transcend the needs of the adventure of the moment.


    MY GOD! He even mentions the Zhentarim and the Red Wizards of Thay. He neglects the Cult of the Dragon, The Shadow Thieves, The Drow Menace, etc.

    Every setting has its persistent villains. Give me a break.

    btw, when's the last time Kas showed up in a Greyhawk product?
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    Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:26 am  

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 5 Villainous Variety

    Villainy in Greyhawk runs the gambit from the cosmic menace of Tharzidun, to the planar peril of Lolth, to the cambion menace of Iuz, to the purely moral menace of Turrosh Mak. Their is variety in the villainy. Villainy in Greyhawk is like a box of chocolates from Hell; you never know for sure what you are going to get (Best Example: The Giant Series). Greyhawk's villains do not announce themselves; you have to figure it out.

    Compare villainy in the Forgotten Realms. The variety isn't there. You have scads of godly villains. The Red Wizards. The Zhents. It is feast or famine. And FR villains have signature trademarks that all but announce who you are facing, unless of course it is an evil toaster pastry.

    Villains in Greyhawk will also turn on each other. The Iuz/Vecna conflict being perhaps the most famous. In other settings, villains are villains, identified by their clearly visible placards, sandwich signs or more "subtly" their black attire. You can count on them to always do the wrong thing.

    Greyhawk keeps you guessing. Like a good Call of Cthulthu adventure.


    Cthulhu is kewl. Pay homage to cthulhu and be kewl too!

    Ahem, anyway. First off, he's contradicting himself here. I thought FR had no persistent villains? Now it has those villains, but they are boring. Alrighty then...

    He shows a profound ignorance of FR. The Red Wizard are a group of affiliated mages, each with their own subtle plots and schemes. The Zhentarim are evil cultists bent on controlling the world by dominating trade routes. The Drow are religious fanatics bent on imposing their goddess' will n the world. The Cult of the Dragon are twisted death cultists living out the spirit of a misinterpreted prophecy. The variety is there if you look.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 6 Heroism With a Price

    Greyhawk's heros rarely slay the evil wizard, who will trouble the land no more, to the full voiced cheers of the crowd. Best Iuz and you are marked. He will be back but you will have to deal with a likely enraged Zuggotomy in the meanwhile. Greyhawk's villains don't exist in a vacuum and neither do Greyhwk's heroes. Everything is linked.

    Heroism has a meaning within the setting that makes it more than a solitary act echoing in the vastness. It attracts attention, good and ill. It is immediate and brings a notoriety that other settings can only talk about. Notables exist to recognize your accomplishments and to measure you against themselves and the foe you defeated. And, they will have likely played little or no role in your victory. Evil too takes your measure for darker reasons.

    This criterion can best be seen in the breach. The interconnection of people and places and the loose ends creates this effect, though few published adventures use it to motivate future adventures. The revised supermodule series provides the greatest opportunity on this score.


    Where is any of this spelled out in greyhawk? I can't find these guidelines.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 7 Militant Neutrality

    On Oerth, the forces of neutrality are arguably at least as powerful as those of good and evil and certainly as active.

    Iquander alone has accurately defined this characteristic of Greyhawk and I acknowledge his work. Greyhawk is not concerned with the triumph of good over evil. The very nature of the evils loose on Oerth makes such triumphs fleeting at best. Greyhawk endures evil and circumvents it. It does not defeat it.

    Evil forces, of course, will attempt to conquer Oerth. And just as certainly they will be opposed by forces who will seek to banish evil from the world. Neither will succeed. Neither in the long history of Oerth has ever succeeded. Good and evil are well enough matched that outcomes are never certain and always close calls one way or the other.

    Moreover, evil on Oerth is not monolithic. Various demon lords and ladies contend with each other. Iuz battles Vecna. Kas seeks Vecna's destruction. Iuz feuds with his mother and father. Evil beings are true to no one save themselves.

    Perhaps accounting for all of this, Oerth has strong and active neutrally aligned forces, working to preserve a balance between good and evil. While hardly organized, these forces nonetheless manage to be quite effective. The Circle of Eight, mighty wizards all, seeks a middle path. Istus, the divine Lady of Fate, tests all but favors none. Druids are a quiet but ever present presence. Indeed, many of Greyhawk's deities reflect a distinct neutral bent.

    Compare Toril. Evil is overmatched by Elminster, the Seven Sisters (good aligned minions of the goddess of magic), the Harpers, the Lords of Waterdeep and activist gods. Evil is on the run and kept that way. It has but few strong holds and is highly transient, rarely surviving long enough to present more than a temporary challenge. Good triumphs on Toril. The dragon is slain, never to rise. The horror you never heard of before yesterday is laid to rest. The bad gods are thrown down!

    The differences could not be more striking. Greyhawk is about struggle against evenly matched and long standing opponents. FR is about victory over transient and overmatched opponents.


    Again, where is this stated? Cite me a book and page where this concept of militant, blanced nuetrality is explained.

    Thought so...

    And again with the FR bashing. Funny though, Mordenkainen causually resolves the Greyhawk Wars and 'Screed doesn't say a word. This idea that Elminster is constantly stealing the show in FR adventures is a fallacy. Show me one example.

    Thought so...

    Novels don't count, of course the hero of the novel will shine, Drizzt and Elminster or Mika-Oba and Gord. Same thing.

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 8 Personal Magics

    Greyhawk is not a low fantasy setting save by comparison to settings on magical overload. Birthright is a low fantasy setting. The Forgotten Realms is a high fantasy setting. Greyhawk falls in between.

    What distinguishes magic in Greyhawk is that it is highly personalized. Look at the spells. Mordenkain's this. Nystul's that. Otiluke's the other. Magic is personalized by any wizard not of the hedge variety. Look at the artifacts for still more proof. What Birthright strives to achieve sparingly, Greyhawk has already accomplished in fair profusion. Spells have a history as due magic items. While there are +1 swords of no certain fame, many are the items with specific histories. Look at the Greyhawk Adventures hardback.

    Similarly magical instruction in Greyhawk is personal. Greyhawk does not know great guilds of wizards but flourishes with a developed system of apprenticeships. One need but look at the Circle of Eight to see this. They, with one, possibly two, exceptions, belong to no guild of mages, and they that do belong do so as patrons at best and more probably as figureheads. Neither can the Circle itself be considered a guild. This mighty example and the utter lack of a single magical guild of any note, fairly well makes the case.

    I will at a later point post more directly on this subject as I found the article in the Oerth Journal about wizardly organizations purest fantasy, out of keeping with the available information on magic in Greyhawk, though the article was still interesting for all that.


    Well, 'Screed's lack of familiarity with FR is showing again. Go read Pages from the Mages or Prayers of the Faithful or Forgotten Realms Adventures or Cult of the Dragon, there's an absolute ton of 'personalized' FR magic out there.

    You be the judge.

    This "essay" is nothing more than a glorified attempt to bash FR and make GH fans feel all warm and fuzzy, but looking at the thing logically, you can see that none of it holds any water.
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    Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:29 am  

    And yall thought I was just a blathering GH fan, huh?

    I'm fairly well versed in FR as well, unfortunately, Nitescreed was not.
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    Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:43 pm  

    Well said Chatdemon. Being much more knowledgable about FR than GH, I couldn't have stated your rebuttals. FR bashing serves no one, particularily in this topic. We aren't doing GH versus FR. We are doing what is quintessentially GH. FR doesn't need to be brought up at all.
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    Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:39 pm  

    One thing I find surprising about Gygax fanbois is that they seem to forget the crux of what Gygax was on about, when it came to DM'ing, which was DO IT YOUR WAY!

    Instead, they do it Gygax's way.

    So in my mind, quintessential Greyhawk, cannot be defined by anyone else but you, the DM. It's your world, do what you want with it. Don't let everyone else tell you that 'this' or 'that' is what Greyhawk is all about, because they're all wrong. Greyhawk is about what you want it to be about. Do you want drow to rule the world? Go ahead! Want to get rid of gnomes and kender-like halflings? Be my guest! Want to have it that the Great Kingdom never crumbled, and in fact spread beyond the borders of the Flanaess and began conquering other nations with superior weaponry, such as cannon fire? Why, by jove, I think he's got it!

    After all, that's what this site is all about, isn't it? Encouraging people to find THEIR Greyhawk and share it with us all. Isn't it?
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    Thu Sep 02, 2004 11:50 pm  

    Quote:
    The Shades

    Quote:
    These villains are cool, but isn't their backstory that they just 'popped up' out of nowhere? Wink


    No, the shades where created when ancient netherial crumbled, a group of wizards and citizens of the great city fell into the plane of shadow.
    They have now returned to faerun and have a city in the Anauroch desert where netheril used to be.
    Thats the reason in a nut shell.
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    Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:02 am  

    Aberdeen wrote:

    No, the shades where created when ancient netherial crumbled, a group of wizards and citizens of the great city fell into the plane of shadow.
    They have now returned to faerun and have a city in the Anauroch desert where netheril used to be.
    Thats the reason in a nut shell.


    Yes. That -is- the background I implied. For someone like myself who only used the grey boxed set for FR, the Shades are quite a new development.
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    Fri Sep 03, 2004 1:17 am  

    oh , sorry . i misunderstood what you meant. oh well my bad. Smile
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    Mon Sep 06, 2004 5:55 am  
    Balance and Neutrality

    Chatdemon,

    No offense guy but, as I was going over some GH material, I kept running across references to Balance and Neutrality in GH. You asked for cites. Try almost any description of Mordenkainen or the Circle of any length.

    City of Greyhawk:Folks, Feuds and Factions pp. 20-22

    Living Greyhawk Gazateer p. 156

    Living Greyhawk Journal 0 p. 4

    Greyhawk Player's Guide p. 21

    Any of EGGs books are rife with references.

    I found these and I wasn't trying.

    Balance and an active neutrality are fundamental to any sense of GH and are unique to the extent displayed. If you say otherwise, you are mistaken, see above. If this is the level of your "refutation," you might want to have another go after you have looked to your sources.

    It seems as if you are more interested in defending the honor of the Realms than in actually debunking the points made about Greyhawk. Sorry if that seems a harsh judgment but it is what comes through to me.

    GVD
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    Mon Sep 06, 2004 1:38 pm  

    Well Rich gave us his version, so here is mine. How about we just call it:

    Samwise Contra NiteScreed


    About that essay and those criteria;

    Criteria No. 1 Applied Internal Historic Consistency

    So you mean there is a canon that Greyhawk follows?
    Well, of course there is. There is a canon to all campaigns.
    Or do you mean it is followed more closely in Greyhawk than other campaigns?
    Well the description given actually says the opposite, that many products released with the Greyhawk banner DON'T follow canon.

    So this seems to be either irrelevant in comparison, or self-contradictory.

    Criteria No. 2 Player Resolution of Critical Events

    Actually, the Greyhawk Wars were fought completely off-stage. Suggestions were given for what players could do during them, but the course and end result were presented as a fait accompli. This was extended in The Adventure Begins with events like the Flight of the Fiends, and continued in The Living Greyhawk Gazzetteer with other critical events.
    This should not be taken as unusual though. Whenever you deal with a published setting you must accept that the NPCs of the people writing the campaign are going to get in the official histories as completing tasks, and not your PCs. That is how it goes with such.

    Criteria No. 3 NPCs Reward More Often Than They Advise or Direct

    Again, not really. This very much depends on who you consider to be in charge of various things. Is the Circle of 8 everywhere? No. But a simple consideration of early modules shows that important NPCs are assumed to direct many things. T1 Village of Hommlett is chock full of NPCs willing to send the party off on their mission. The G1-3, D1-3, Q1 Giant-Drow-Lolth series assumes you are agents of the nobles of the region threatened by the giants. The A1-4 Slaver series assumes employment by important people of the Wild Coast to investigate the problem. The WG modules are mostly direct employment by the Circle of 8.
    So NPCs do a lot of advising and directing in Greyhawk, even if they aren't the Circle of 8, or other major, named groups or individuals.

    Criteria No. 4 Persistent Personified Evil

    First, it seems the main issue is that Greyhawk has more old time villains than say the Forgotten Realms. I'm not sure how that is much of a big deal.
    Second, it seems a good deal of Greyhawk villainy coming from nowhere is ignored.
    The Slavers of the A series? Out of the blue.
    Tharizdun? Introduced wholesale in a single module.
    Vecna? A throwaway reference for a pair of artifacts turned into a nemesis.
    No, Greyhawk villains appear as needed, just like other villains. And it would be boring if they didn't, and we were stuck with just three or four original villains from the folio. That would be boring indeed.

    Criteria No. 5 Villainous Variety

    Again, not really.
    Turrosh Mak is little more than Aerdi writ small, somewhere else. Less, it is just the Bone March transplanted west. Original?
    Tharizdun, Lolth, Acererak, Keraptis, even Iuz. All of extra-planar origin or with extra-planar ambitions. That seems pretty mundane and typical.
    Aerdi and Ivid or the Scarlet Brotherhood? Well, that covers brute military might and sneaking assassins.
    But where is the massive variety? I don't see it, just constant variations on a theme.

    Criteria No. 6 Heroism With a Price

    Actually, the revised supermodules offer the best examples of this not happening, beyond leading into another module series. Defeat Zuggtmoy and . . . the Scarlet Brotherhood has you kidnapped.
    Defeat the Slavers and . . . Lolth tries to use you to empower her plans for conquest.
    Defeat Lolth and . . . have a few token encounters of revenge.
    Or if not, and considering other modules, you are typically leveling out of the range of active campaigning, so any such retribution is typically meaningless.

    Criteria No. 7 Militant Neutrality

    The main problem with this is how it conflicts with NPCs not doing everything. If the forces of Balance are so critical, then what are players but their tools or clean up squad?
    Istus decrees, and the players observe.
    Mordenkainen chooses a side, and the players are hired to enact his schemes.
    I'm not seeing how this can exist in conjunction with those other points.

    Criteria No. 8 Personal Magics

    So a little bit of background for a few items, which any DM might be expected to provide, and slapping a few names on some spells makes Greyhawk unique?
    What about the ton of FR spells named for Elminster, one of his Seven Girls Friday, or some Lord of Waterdeep?
    As for items, Ed Greenwood has provided seemingly endless articles with titles like "X Swords/Shields/Staves/Armor/Dire Space Hamster Home Living Habitat Extensions of the Realms".
    So yet again, I'm not seeing anything particularly unique to Greyhawk about this.

    No, overall this list seems to say much of nothing that is unique about Greyhawk in comparison to its main "competitor".

    So what actually makes Greyhawk unique to me if I deny all of the above points?
    When it comes down to it, absolutely nothing. At the end of the day, it is just another setting, no better or worse, no more or less, than any other. The only thing that can make it any better is me. Combined with an almost total absence of anyone else doing anything with it, that gives me nearly total freedom to do as a I please without having to worry that some future product will require massive reworking for me to add to my game. So indeed, absolutely nothing, in terms of no, or at least extremely few, products for the setting is what makes Greyhawk unique.
    I wanted a world, or at least a starting point for a world. I paid for one called Greyhawk, and I've got it. Now I get to do what I want with it.
    That seems unique enough to me.
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    Mon Sep 06, 2004 7:07 pm  

    Greyhawk has a different feel that the Realms, or most other campaign worlds.

    Greyhawk feels like a world created as a setting for a game. Greyhawk is developed primarily through RPG products. There are a few novels, many of which are based off of existing adventures...

    FR and others feel like a world created for an entire product line. Novels, computer games, etc. The novel line has played an especially large role in developing the campaign world....

    Thus, Greyhawk was originally defined only insofar as was required to game. The Realms and others were more thoroughly defined to support much more than just gaming.

    ::shrug::

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    Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:07 pm  

    Quote:
    Criteria No. 2 Player Resolution of Critical Events

    Actually, the Greyhawk Wars were fought completely off-stage. Suggestions were given for what players could do during them, but the course and end result were presented as a fait accompli. This was extended in The Adventure Begins with events like the Flight of the Fiends, and continued in The Living Greyhawk Gazzetteer with other critical events.
    This should not be taken as unusual though. Whenever you deal with a published setting you must accept that the NPCs of the people writing the campaign are going to get in the official histories as completing tasks, and not your PCs. That is how it goes with such.


    Interesting points :)

    Going back to the original author of the WoG (Gygax), it seems to me that a lot was left up to the PCs. Follow T1 through to Q1, for example. No NPCs ended up going to the Abyss ...

    Agreed that the GH Wars and what has come after has been conducted by NPCs, perhaps this is a difference in author's viewpoints (Cook and Sargent versus Gygax) and not a reflection on the original setting?

    Interesting to point out the Flight of Fiends. Of course, as far as we know Canon Hazel is an NPC, but was he someone's PC? Hard to say one way or another unless one is an industry insider. Also consider the Crook itself was recovered by PCs in the Tenser-sponsored expedition in Isle of the Ape.

    To me, the fact that the most powerful individuals in the WoG setting are forces for Neutralitry as opposed to Goodness is what makes the setting.
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 3:19 am  

    Delglath is spot on, you get my golden DM award Happy

    The essential greyhawk is personal. DM friendly with plenty of grey to develop or leave. Greyhawk was the first mass produced(nods to blackmoor) gaming world. All comparisons are how other worlds differ from greyhawk. Greyhawk set the imaginations of home gamers on fire. All other dungeon products owe their existence to greyhawk.

    Gary gave us a world and said run with it. Others made a world with more magic or less magic. Others used various everchanging systems. Others developed great indepth histories with little grey to develop. Yet others involved more or less or no; elves, dwarves, hobbits, gnomes, half-creatures, humanoids etc.. Greyhawk is the grandfather of gaming, other worlds are but greyhawks children. Some shining, some favored, some forgiven, some forgotten.

    Everyone of us here, in some way has tapped into the magic of this place. We've seen our friends and acquaintances transform into our comrades-in-arms in the good fight against THEM. In a world where a few brave souls with adventuring spirit can change the world for the better. We've become wizards and knights, priests and pickpockets, leaders and storytellers, masters of the game and students of each other.

    Greyhawk will exist until the last group of us is hauled away without our paper, dice, and pencils. And then we will escape our confines and steal our stuff back cause we've been doing that sort of thing most of our gaming lives.


    Long live Greyhawk,

    Muscles
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:11 pm  
    Re: Balance and Neutrality

    GVDammerung wrote:

    Balance and an active neutrality are fundamental to any sense of GH and are unique to the extent displayed. If you say otherwise, you are mistaken, see above. If this is the level of your "refutation," you might want to have another go after you have looked to your sources.


    3 of your "sources" were not available when Nitescreed wrote his article.

    6 pages out of thousands written for the setting? Yeah, that's a fundamental of the setting all right.

    EGG's novels, unfortunately, are not considered by me to be canon.

    You're going to have to do better than 5 or 6 pages of one or two line quotes about Mordenkainen to convince me.

    And if you're going to dismiss my whole post as "realms love", you'll have to do better than rebuking one of my points.
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:53 pm  

    Quote:
    I'm a long time GM, but am just about to run my first games in the Greyhawk setting. For those of you more experienced in running and playing in the wonderful world of Greyhawk, what are the qualities of the world itself that you consider defining?

    In other words, what aspects of the world differentiate it from other published and/or personal game worlds? What should I emphasize in order to give my players a "Greyhawk" experience?

    James.


    Very interesting discussion. I'll refrain from what else has been said and simply point out that if anything has been evident throughtout this thread, it is that there is a certain passion in Greyhawk that is much harder to find in other settings. Or rather, a passion that Greyhawk instills into it's players, DMs, readers, writers, and fans.

    Everyone will have their own views ofcourse, and that fact is represented by the various shades of Greyhawk each individual caters to. This is most evident in relation to an individual's choice of Greyhawk.

    For example, I'm a fan of the Aerdy and Lands of the Rhizia. Aeolius prefers to dwell below oceans. Greyson is an advocate for Nyrond. Mortellan has interest in the Baklunish states. Others like the Sheldomar. Some like the old-school Greyhawkian dungeon crawl.

    On all sides, Greyhawk has touched each individual in a different way. Each 'hawker has their own passion and reason for Greyhawk.

    Once you find your Greyhawkian passion, that will be the "Quintessential Greyhawk Quality" for you, individually.
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 1:44 pm  

    Quote:
    And if you're going to dismiss my whole post as "realms love", you'll have to do better than rebuking one of my points.


    No. I don't. Neither do I need to say anything much when it is offered that Greyhawk has nothing special about it. Res ipsa loquitor. The thing speaks for itself. In this case, it is immediately apparent to a casual reader that there is obviously some agenda or ax to grind here beyond simple personal preference for this or that. The "debunkings" are silly and obviously pretextual.

    The more interesting question is why there is such outrage or distain over an attempt to define the appeal of Greyhawk. And I note that no one has offered any counter proposals, being content to attempt "debunkings" for debunking sake.

    Abysslin has an excellent point when he notes that Greyhawk obviously inspires passion. To me, there has to be something to Greyhawk to inspire this kind of passion and to inspire it after so much time has passed since its creation.

    I do not find it essential to define Greyhawk for myself beyond a certain point; I'll go for history and balance. I find no offense in others attempting to do so, however, and can see the value in the effort, even if that effort doesn't entirely satisfy.

    I don't see the need to debunk, when the debunking challenges a work that is of some vintage and particularly when no alternative is offered. Unless someone can show me where the harm in the attempt is located or can offer an alternative formulation, I fail to see why there is a need to debunk for debunking sake alone and where this thread is going. There are better things to discuss than - "Hey! That guy's wrong about Greyhawk!" - with nothing more.

    Again, Abysslin has the right of it, I think - "Once you find your Greyhawkian passion, that will be the "Quintessential Greyhawk Quality" for you, individually."

    Very well said. And likely the most productive thing, I think, that can be said. Kudos Abysslin!

    GVD
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:54 pm  

    Can we have an actual description of quintessential Greyhawk without bashing another setting? That just tells us what you think GH isn't.

    Passion outside of Earthdawn just tells me you feel strongly. So why don't we leave Passion out of it and tell us what inspires it?
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    Wed Sep 08, 2004 3:05 pm  
    Dont Know, Dont Care

    I think that Kissinger once said that "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

    My wife laughed at me for years over playing D&D. Then, one afternoon about four years ago, she gave it a try, mainly because it was raining and the cable was out.

    She has played almost every weekend since. She loves it. She could care less about the mechanics, but she loves playing in the story. We give her a D20 each time and tell here when to roll. She still regularly rolls the D12 by mistake, and could not care less, but she has the most beloved (and envied) character in every game she plays in.

    I run a GH campaign, in the Gran March region. We also play a Realms game with another DM (much less often), and a homebrew.

    When discussing it she simply stated.. "I like Greyhawk the best, it feels like a real world, like it grew that way, flawed and flaky. Chad's (the FR) campaign has everything, including the kitchen sink. Shane's (the Homebrew) is nice, but it feels like it is scripted, and we are supposed to act, look, or be a certain way. GH is not like that, I get the feeling I can be anything, or anyone, and it would work. The world (GH) does not feel like someone should be anything, but can be anything. It could be a real place."

    This reason does not have nearly the learning, passion, or venom of many of the other answers listed here. I thought you might find it interesting though.
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