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    Canonfire :: View topic - If you could buy Greyhawk, what would you do?
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    If you could buy Greyhawk, what would you do?
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 13, 2002
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    From: Orlane, Gran March

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 4:10 am  
    If you could buy Greyhawk, what would you do?

    I have often wondered what I would do if I owned the rights to Greyhawk. I have some fairly detailed ideas, but I thought I would see what everyone else thinks. This is not an argument thread, as you would be the sole owner and have the right to change it as you would. So... what would you do?


    PS. This assumes you have the money to hire a staff and develop the product.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: Ulek

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:04 am  

    I'd probably go out of business, but this is what I'd do:

    1. I wouldn't publish anything causing dramatic, area altering events or advance the timeline. Greyhawk is an established setting with a long history, especially in the home campaigns of its fans. I'd instead focus on developing a few existing areas with "fluff" books useable by fans regardless of the edition they play.

    2. Modules. I'd try to put out a few, Greyhawk specific, modules per year. I'd try for some "introductory: style modules in hopes of picking up some new fans by showcasing some of the great things about the setting. I'd try to strike a deal with TLG to release the modules using the C&C system, this would allow fans who still played 1st and 2nd edition AD&D to use the modules with very little need to convert.

    3. Reprints. I'd try to do small print runs reprinting classic Greyhawk modules so new fans can see what the hype is all about without having to ebay for them. Plus it'd allow old fans to replace their worn out copies if desired.

    4. City Books. I'd publish detailed city sourcebooks with maps and all the good stuff giving a good overview of some of the major cities and the land immediately surrounding them.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:54 pm  

    I'd separate the various human deities into separate pantheons along their ancient cultural lines(i.e. Flan, Baklunish, etc.)

    The current "core deities" ala 3rd/3.5ed implies (falsely) that the various gods are all part of one huge Mega-pantheon. (Hmm... in a sense I suppose they are...)

    What i mean is; it should make a HUGE cultural difference if your human character is a member of the Orthodox Oeridian Church or a Flan pagan! How you are viewed (and treated!) by others should be dependent on your professed religion.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:20 pm  

    Rewind and start over in 576 CY, and write specifically on the low magic item count, the lack of industrialization, and the rarity of high-level characters. If we're going to be playing 3E, it'll be 3E with a 1E mentality, dammit!

    Play up the elements of political incorrectness and shades of gray-"good" nations like Onnwall, Sterich and Furyondy can be very repressive towards women, other "good" countries mistreat demihumans, every state having a checkered history, with good ones having skeletons in their closet and evil ones having rare moments of better times and beliefs.

    Develop the rest of the Oerth, ensuring that the rest of the world has demihumans and humanoids spread around just as are humans. Develop non-European bases for the states in the rest of the world; we have seen how Europe translates into this milieu, so what about the rest of the world? How would a country inspired by the Empire of Mali get along with elves? How would the Blackfoot Confederacy get along with orcs? How would ancient China get along with gnomes? How would these demihumans and humanoids influence and be influenced by non-European-based cultures?

    Some parts of the world would be more directly based off fairy-tales and mythology, fitted into the D&D framework. Everything from ancient Chinese, Aboriginal, Nordic, Celtic, African, Arabic, and Saxon myth to more recent fairy tales by authors like Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Baum would all have influences in this way, although in all cases it would be within the D&D framework.

    Other parts of the world, while technologically on par with the Flanaess as far as swords and armor go, would be politically based off the Dark Ages rather than feudal Europe; thus tribes like the Goths, the Huns, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Picts, the Bulgars, and the Mongols would replace fully organized kingdoms like England, France or the Holy ROman Empire. Instead of leaders similar to King Richard the Lionhearted or Phillip the Fair, the likes of Attila the Hun, Alaric of the Goths, and Emperor Claudius of Rome would inspire these leaders.

    Finally, I'd write my own role-playing novels. Good ones, that break the stale cliches we've come to expect. Instead of a typical sneaky halfling thief, how about a halfling who uses her hat of disguise to seduce foolish human and dwarven men and manipulate them to her own ends? Instead of a jolly prankster gnome, what about one who suffered Vietnam-like experiences in the Hateful Wars, and still suffers flashbacks and erratic personality changes based on them? Instead of a stoic ranger who's more comfortable in the wilderness than the cities, what about one who's both a womanizer and an alcoholic?

    And of course, most of the stuff I've written would be "canon" as far as 576 CY goes, insofar as society, history and stuff, although there would be no rigid changes as in more recent years. And there sure as hell wouldn't be any radical, sudden "blowing up" as what happened with the Wars.
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:08 pm  
    Simple thoughts

    Howdy All,

    I think I would first develop books for each country. Goodness knows that if FR can do it, Greyhawk certainly deserves its shot. I'd start with the Wild Coast. Wink Seriously, as CSL said, I'd develop novels to promote the campaign world too. WoG is a great campaign vehicle that doesn't need a lot of maintanance, but it does need a good wash and lube job every now and again. The great thing about it is that certain areas were left open to allow for DM creativity and customization. Do we really know everything that is going on in the Rift Canyon? The Suss Forest? Dyvers? Nope and that's the way it should be, but some input to give such places a better feel would be nice.

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:59 am  

    If I Ran the Circus...er...Greyhawk
    I would do the following. For examples, I may to refer to some of the other settings which have been published in 3E/3.5E. If this seems like being a copycat, well, nothing beats success like success. Else this thread would be about reviving the Forgotten Realms.

    1.Create the Identity - This would be the necessary first step. This would be development of all the nagging details that other games or campaigns settings have. These are:

    A.Themes, moods, and direction of the Greyhawk Campaign Setting -
    If one had to "pitch" Greyhawk in one sentence, what can one say?
    Now take away any reference to Gygax, Kuntz, Arneson, the first D&D campaign and other RPG industry or RPG history references , what could you now you say about Greyhawk in one sentence?
    Many of the other settings have a distinct "feel" to them that can exist independently of its original designers. One of Eberron's ptiches was being "D&D with Indiana Jones and the Maltese Falcoln thrown in". Ravenloft is "gothic horror". Kalamar is about "realistic" fantasy, Traveller20 was "Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Far Future", Birthright was about kingdoms and so on.

    B.Art Style - Many games have a distinctive art style. Based on the themes and moods of found above, the distinct art style to represent Greyhawk would have to be found. I don't have the training to state what I would want to see, but I have the appreciation to know that this step must be done.

    C.Accept the existing timeline and push the timeline forward years - You think you guys have trouble arguing the various flavors of Greyhawk? Ha!
    My favorite sci-fi game Traveller has had such a divisive arguments over the seminal events that launched the second and third versions of that game, that the next two versions that were published took place in the past history of the the first game, perhaps in part to avoid the arguements brought by the Civil War and Virus (go look it up). Also an "alternate history" version (yes, that is how it was sold) was published by GURPS. It did not sell well enough partially because the other half of people were not satisfied either. Just this month, after 10 years of bickering, have many of the issues been reconciled. Of course, they did it by killing trillions/quadrillions of sentients, glassing hundreds of planets and pushing the timeline forward 40 years. Perhaps we may be more forgiving.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:26 am  

    IMO, the things that made GH great were the classic modules and the boxed set, so I would make more of those with very similar artwork.

    Along the lines of what CSL wrote, there would be boxed sets for other areas of Oerth, but not everywhere and not too detailed. Keep some things mysterious. Like the GH boxed set, there would be plenty of room for development. While tSB did a fair job, a boxed set for the Amedio and Hepmonaland would be nice as would be one the near West and maybe one or two more.

    The modules would be the source of most new crunch and fluff. Forget accessories or mega modules. The old module encounter backgrounds and appendices are full of stuff, as can be new ones. DL was way to long and forced, but 2-7 modules is not bad and can develop areas quite well and with what everyone wants … adventure and flexibility. Most 2e modules that I have read are crap, so I would make sure the authors gave them the love they needed (maybe even a Gygax approved stamp), and even though it would be hard on my aging eyes, none of that jumbo font and half empty pages.

    The artwork would be a critical element. The cover art of the old modules and the Darlene map are what got me hooked. I would have a lot more of the same. You change those and you change the feel of the world. Even though I now think they are great modules, I did not buy UK2 and 3 back in the day because the cover art sucked. If they had look like Village of Hommlet, White Plume Mt and Vault of the Drow, I probably would have forked over the money. When it is shrink-wrapped, you have to judge a book by its cover.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:59 am  

    2.Develop a proper Campaign Setting Book.
    A.The hard choices would be: OGL, D20 liscenced, Dungeons and Dragons license & official WOTC licenced product, another game system, or rules light? - My choice hovers between Dungeons and Dragons licensed or OGL. Right now, Kalamar and World of Warcraft are the only ones who took all the licences and have developed decent game worlds, despite the "restrictions" these licenses may contain. For those interested in 1E/2E/Hackmaster, sorry. I have to go with what sells...

    B.Get canonistas to write - If I locked Gygax, Kuntz, Holian, Reynolds, and Mona in a room with typewriters/word processors, would I eventually get Hamlet? If they were interested in writing. But they might not because I would have to insist on......

    C.Must be consistent with chosen rule system - If this means rewriting some of Greyhawk history, so be it. A campaign is meant to be played, not to be a display case item never to be touched.


    3.Make RPGA Living Greyhawk more accessible to the casual gamer - The one frustration I have about staying interested in GH is in the one area where growth is continuing, that is Living Greyhawk within the RPGA. With a full time job and family, I personally do not have the time go off to play at conventions. But I have time to read about the far off Flanaess on the web. Many of the LG websites are closed off to the casual observer either because you are not an RPGA member or not part of that region. I would make this accessibility easier. I understand that contact information and character information should remain private. I also understand that modules currently in tournament play should be closed off to remain secret. But my job as "IP holder of Greyhawk" is to push Greyhawk. I would want more name recognition, not less. I feel the current stance on many of the sites holds Greyhawk back. As part of this ideal, I would rewrite arrangements with RPGA to able to take ownership of retired modules and make all other resource publically accessible.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:14 am  

    4.Republish/rewrite some of the classics -
    I would rewrite some of the "classic" modules. First on the list would be Against the Giants. Q1 would have to be 20th/"epic level" and would be scaled so you might be able to fight a proxy(Divine Rank 1) or avatar(DR7) of Lolth at the end. Hey if Kyuss can be fought, so can a proxy of Lolth...
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:24 am  

    Ah, fantasy IP holder for a day. Happy By the numbers -

    1) I would advance the timeline, between 25 and 50 years. To fascilitate this, I would release The Greyhawk Atlas. It would describe and map the historic development of the Flanaess from the Twin Cataclysms forward, placing in clearly evident context the events (which would be described) advancing the timeline. No "rabbit out of a hat" development. This one runs 240 pages.

    2) A new core Guide to the World of Greyhawk would follow, describing in 83 Box/FtA level detail, the advanced setting, particularly in terms of the Flanaess. This one runs 240 pages.

    3) Thereafter, an Oerth Gazateer would follow, setting forth the realms beyond the Flanaess, with an emphasis both on explorations from the Flanaess outward and contacts from states outside Flanaess with the Flanaess. In other words, exploration and first contact, both ways. This one runs 360 pages

    4) Following up would be A Planeswalkers Guide to Oerth, which would a) look at the gods but also b) the role of the various planes and their denizens on Oerth. This one runs 360 pages.

    The overriding design goals would be three -

    1) Undo the polarization of the Greyhawk Wars and get back to a more balanced or neutral setting where opposing forces are not so monolithic that PCs can hardly shape events;

    2) Create a setting that generates adventues of all sorts without the need to "explain away" this or that meta-development.

    3) Recognize that the setting is not "mine" nor "yours" and should then not involve so much highly specific development as to preclude or impede other visions. Empower the DM. Do not get in his or her way. Get back to Gygax in terms of setting the stage and then getting out of the way of the DMs.

    Of note each of the above titles would include -

    1) One low level (Lvl 1-3) and one medium level adventure (Lvl 6-9), with area _and_ site maps; and

    2) At least 16 new monsters, not necessarily connected to the adventures.

    In this way, there would be no need for separate adventure modules or a monster manual. Think Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth meets The FR or Eberron campaign setting books in terms of layout. There would also be the "common experience" factor.

    If the first 4 titles sold well, one released every 9 months, there would naturally be followups.

    And to ensure the 4 titles sold well, I would want a Kalamar style "Official D&D" designation, along with occasional support in both Dragon and Dungeon.

    Convention support would also be critical. At a minumum - Origins, Gencon, Dragon Con, Gencon Europe, Gencon SoCal. Demos, of course, with product giveaways. Seminars with giveaways of product. Major, "you can't miss it," signage.

    RPGA support much along the lines of Ravensbluff merged with Living Greyhawk. Probably use the City of Greyhawk and its Domain plus surrounding area as the campaign focus area. Alternatively, the Wild Coast. Matter of fact, I like the Wild Coast idea better.

    Website support would also be integrated. Think Canonfire with the resources/glitz of the Wotc websites. Regular creative/design contests would be a feature with product giveaways as prizes.

    Ah, if only . . . Happy

    NB - Almost as fun would be putting together the team to bring this off. Happy
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:40 am  

    Just a few comments on things brought up.

    Wolfsire wrote:
    The artwork would be a critical element. The cover art of the old modules and the Darlene map are what got me hooked. I would have a lot more of the same.


    I agree 100%. That should be an important thing to remember. Something about the "old school" look to a book is always a draw for me.

    Wolfsire wrote:
    The modules would be the source of most new crunch and fluff. Forget accessories or mega modules.


    Another thing I could really get behind.

    GVD wrote:
    Undo the polarization of the Greyhawk Wars and get back to a more balanced or neutral setting where opposing forces are not so monolithic that PCs can hardly shape events;


    Usually, I'm against the idea of advancing the timeline but when I read your reasoning, it makes sense.

    GVD wrote:
    And to ensure the 4 titles sold well, I would want a Kalamar style "Official D&D" designation, along with occasional support in both Dragon and Dungeon.


    See, I differ there. I'm a bit jaded about WotC though. Wink
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 12:10 pm  

    One thing I've seen a couple of times in this thread, and I'm curious about...

    Do you really think that having the "Official" liscence and use of d20 would really aid in marketing?

    As much as I'd like to think otherwise, I don't believe even an agressive relaunch of the setting would increase the fan base that much. I'd like to think that such a thing would sway new people towards Greyhawk, but the reality of the number of settings out there and the view of the project as "just rehashing the old" I just don't see it picking up a large number of new fans.

    So, instead wouldn't it be better to focus on ensuring sales to the existing fan base? Heh, that can be difficult enough on its own given the diversity.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:41 pm  

    A few things I forgot:

    -I'd take whatever steps I could to actively discourage Epic-level play. The setting isn't meant to support that level of power, except in a few extreme circumstances, IMO. When 6th level marks a character out as someone of note, being Epic-level dramatically skews the power balance.

    -No messing with avatars, divine ranks, or anything like that. If anyone is stupid enough to take on a god like Iuz (as opposed to a demon prince like Orcus, Demogorgon or Lolth), he/she should be able to annihilate them with a simple sneeze. There's no need to stat deities out; any creatures without very powerful inherent magical or psionic abilities dumb enough to take them on will be crushed like flies. Besides which, canon already established that the gods cannot simply manifest in avatar form whenver they like; on the rare occasions when they meet (Iuz and St. Cuthbert in the Temple of Elemental Evil), they offer some divine aid to their servants, and then vanish to take their fights elsewhere.

    -No weird and wacky prestige classes. The "prestige" classes, such as they are, such as knighthood in an organization like the Watch or the Hart, membership in a group like the Silent Ones of Keoland or the Old Faith, bring additional role-playing advantages that are actively described, and some few additional special benefits, such as being able to use certain magical items or skills restricted to members of those orders and organizations. Instead of an excuse for even more min/maxing, prestige classes now become status symbols, and something to develop the characters and their interactions with the setting, more than anything else.

    -My idea of Greyhawk's identity is one that has lots of ugliness, lots of political incorrectness, racism, slavery and discrimination. There's corruption, shades of gray, people, organizations and states not living up to the reputations they have. There are no organized blocs of good or evil-the "villains" and "heroes" can be at each other's throats just as much as against opposed alignments; Urnst is as likely to invade and attack Nyrond, if the circumstances were favorable, as would be Ahlissa or Northern Aerdy. Political expedience and simple reality usually trump abstract considerations of alignment, which IMO is very open to a wide variety of interpretations anyway.

    However, it isn't all grim and ugly. Evil priesthoods can be relatively benign, even offering a fascinating RPing experience if they're played right. If priests of Incabulos are more concerned with interceding on the behalf of penitents and donators to their god to ease off on the plagues and nightmares, or if Nerull's priests are simply interested in tending to the dead among the homeless or lonely, rather than actively planning conquest, dispatching plagues or raising legions of zombies, they can establish temples in cities like Greyhawk, Niole Dra, or Radigast City, and be tolerated by the populace, if not loved.

    The Flanaess is also a place where good can prevail, even if it's in some small ways. The Flan can recover from the horrific losses and suffering they suffered during the Great Migrations, regaining their culture and heritage. Furyondy, for all its flaws, still struggles for goodness and right. Paladins of Hieroneous, despite the disdain many of their fellows hold for the peasantry, can stand up on behalf of the oppressed...sometimes paying heavy political prices for doing so. Despite whatever gains the likes of Iuz, the Horned Empire, Turrosh Mak or the Scarlet Brotherhood may achieve, other people will continue in their struggle. Villains can be defeated, peace restored, enemies reconciled.

    Greyhawk has a lot wrong with it, but it still has its good points and shining moments. I wonder what world that reminds me of?
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:20 pm  

    DangerDwarf wrote:
    One thing I've seen a couple of times in this thread, and I'm curious about...

    Do you really think that having the "Official" liscence and use of d20 would really aid in marketing?

    As much as I'd like to think otherwise, I don't believe even an agressive relaunch of the setting would increase the fan base that much. I'd like to think that such a thing would sway new people towards Greyhawk, but the reality of the number of settings out there and the view of the project as "just rehashing the old" I just don't see it picking up a large number of new fans.


    Hm.. I guess I should give my mission statement:
    "I will publish and maintain the Greyhawk setting , keeping the previous history of the Oerth intact, but adapted for the XXXX rules. By keeping the full history, we will keep the interest of old players and the adaptation for XXXX rules will bring in a new generation of players."
    where XXXX is the new rules.

    Will I succeed? I have every confidence. (Spoken like an entrepreneur...)
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 19, 2006 9:26 pm  

    Alright, so I get a kick out of dreaming how I would accomplish this. Here's some of my plan in a little more depth.

    Here are the core books I would produce:

    The Flanaess: This would be my opening product and it would be a monster. This would be a massive 500 page beauty (like the Talislanta 4th edition book, it looks like a textbook its so big!). There'd be no d20 logo or D&D logo, just a massive work of campaign setting/world info. Sort of like the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting book.

    It would open with a detailed history of the Flanaess and cover the various races in regards to the setting. Some other areas to be included would be calendar, holidays, etc.

    The Gazateer section would be divided into two parts. First would be a pre-war gazateer, then the post-war gazateer. The gazateer entries would be expanded, not to over do an area, but to give the DM ways to make that particular region seem distinct. Discussion on flora and fauna of the area, perhaps some local customs in regards to holidays. Maybe some short entries on a couple of the larger cities in the area, etc.

    This would be an editionless book. Something that would be handy regardless if you played 1st edition AD&D or 3e. Nothing but high quality fluff.

    Atlas of the Flanaess: I'd outright steal Kenzer's idea with their KoK atlas as well. A beautifully done, hardback atlas of the Flanaess.

    The Demonic & Divine: This book would break down the faiths of the Flanaess by pantheon and give detailed write-ups of each deity. Things discussed would be differences in the faith by region, holy tides of the faith, etc. It would also cover demon cults and their practices.

    This would be the first book I would place any "crunch" in as well in the form of new spells and perhaps some new critters (demons and what not). However, I would do it differently than most. I'd work a deal with Troll Lord Games and have this be an officially liscenced Castles & Crusades product and the new spells, etc. would be done in that system. Why? I know I'd be taking a gamble in doing so but I think it would bump up the sales for one simple reason. Doing so would make the spells pretty much 100% compatible with 1st or 2nd edition players and would better the chance for sales with the older edition die hards. 3e Greyhawk fans are the most likely fan base to purchase items of other editions so the sales should do well with them too. Plus, the amount of information provided in the book would be useful to 3e players anyways.

    With those three boks published I'd move on to modules. Not super-mega modules either. I'm talking 24-32 page works. These modules would introduce more "crunch" in my line through perhaps a few new monsters in the back, or some new spells. But again, I'd publish these as Castles & Crusades modules to make them easily adoptable regardless of the edition played. Any "world developement" that went on after the core books would be done through the modules.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:58 am  

    This might sound like blasphemy, but I'm going to utter it anyway:

    The Greyhawk MMORPG.

    Let's face some facts. Our starting assumptions need to have added to them:

    "This assumes you have the money to hire a staff and develop the product...and don't mind making almost zero return on investment."

    The paper RPG industry is and always has been (except for a few years in the 70s and 80s) a fairly low-margin business. Producing 360 or 500 page glorious colour books is expensive business (which means you have to charge a high price to recoup your costs, which in turn affects your sales).
    that's not a problem if you're Citizen Kane and don't mind losing a million or two year (or making just enough to afford beans on toast), but for most people it's not a viable business situation.

    There's also the matter of marketing. The pen and paper RPG market is getting greyer (and not in the 'Hawk sense). This is good in one sense, because older folk tend to have a bit more income to spend (they also have more expenses though...) On the other hand, it's bad, because real-life tends to relegate gaming to boxes in the attic. The market you really want is young 'uns - time and often reasonably cash rich. Young 'uns have grown up with computer games. A lot of the people who would have in the past been pen and paper gamers are now into computer RPGs (Oblivion for example) and MMORPGS (WoW; EveOnline; D&D online).

    If you want to make Greyhawk relevent and profitable, then use its incredibly rich texture and background for an MMORPG.

    You can then use the cash and marketing pull to support the pen and paper goodness.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:28 am  

    This thread has appeared in one form or another time and again.

    Add to Woesinger's MMORPG a line of fairly gritty adult novels. Most kids of ages 12 & up who actually read do so at a level usually much higher than their own grade level. Keep the sexual content and harsh language light or non-existant as necessary, but the high adventure and daring do at a premium. The Game of Thrones series is a good example, yet stories need not be as politically oriented as those are.

    And no valley girl faeries!!!

    Good Greyhawk fantasy fiction would reach the whole fantasy readership.

    Of course there would be the standard books and modules. As modules do not have much of a turn-around you can always publish them on-line for a nominal fee. Also, license the GH name to third parties but retain some quality control so that there is money coming in for little outlay on your part. Sort of how Dragon and Dungeon have a certain amount of creative control over submissions.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:29 am  

    I think I've said it before that if Greyhawk had've had a decent (or at least big enough) novel line, it would have survived instead of Realms. Even on the pulp level of your average FR novel, novels have a far wider reach than modules and supplements. I'd add helping to consign GH to the OOP pile onto Rose Estes' sundry crimes against the written word (EGG's two original GH novels weren't exactly high literature, but they had enough atmosphere to capture my 12 year old imagination).

    A Game of Thrones style GH novel...now that'd be a thing. :)
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 21, 2006 6:56 am  

    Woesinger wrote:
    A Game of Thrones style GH novel...now that'd be a thing. :)


    Maybe GRRM should be hit up for a GH novel *after* he finished ASOIAF, in a few decades. Smile
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    Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:35 am  

    CruelSummerLord:
    I would like to know what you considered "epic level" in your vision of GH and in the context of what rules system? I ask since you mentioned 6th level and "epic level" as limits of play.

    I have played most different versions of D&D (except the original yellow/white box) and have found that the numeric indicator of level means different power levels to different games.

    "Epic Level" has a specific context in 3E/3.5E (Level 21+, epic spells, new options, etc.) that was not used in other versions, just as "Name Level" has a specific context in 1E (self training, set up a stronghold, followers, etc.).
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    Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:04 pm  

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    CruelSummerLord:
    I would like to know what you considered "epic level" in your vision of GH and in the context of what rules system? I ask since you mentioned 6th level and "epic level" as limits of play.

    I have played most different versions of D&D (except the original yellow/white box) and have found that the numeric indicator of level means different power levels to different games.

    "Epic Level" has a specific context in 3E/3.5E (Level 21+, epic spells, new options, etc.) that was not used in other versions, just as "Name Level" has a specific context in 1E (self training, set up a stronghold, followers, etc.).


    Epic level is anything with the actual Epic Level in 3E as you mention. No epic spells (except in very specific, plot-related circumstances, such as the Invoked Devastation/Rain of Colorless Fire), all sorts of weird prestige classes, excessive min/maxing, monsters with too many levels, etc.

    Another change I'd make is to remove the various magic item feats (Craft Wand, Staff or Rod, Forge Ring, Forge Wondrous Item, etc.) and replace them with several other feats:

    -Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion would only be available at 7th level, the time when they are available in 1E.

    -Create Charged Item would only be available at 13th level (that's 13 levels of one class, so if you're a 7th level fighter/12th level magic user, no dice), which is about when, IIRC, the original Enchant Item spell would be available in 1E.

    -Create Permanent Item would only be available at 18th level (that's 18th level in a single class, folks), right at the same time when Permanency is available.

    Such changes have several advantages. It becomes much, much harder to manufacture magic items; it discourages constant multiclassing and min/maxing; players are encouraged to stay in one class and not diversify into a thousand and one prestige classes; no one can manufacture magic items for profit.

    Like I said, if we're going to be playing 3E, it'll be with a 1E mentality. The above rules don't just apply to heroes-villains will also be damn grateful for simply having a humble +1 hand axe to call their own. And yes, that means that many villains won't have huge magical arsenals at their disposal...which is exactly as it should be.
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    Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:47 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Rewind and start over in 576 CY, and write specifically on the low magic item count, the lack of industrialization, and the rarity of high-level characters. If we're going to be playing 3E, it'll be 3E with a 1E mentality, dammit!


    Its interesting when a thread about dreaming what you would do with a GH license becomes more of a tirade on how to play D&D. Low magic count? Module S2. Lack of Industrialization? I dont see that any edition has pushed Greyhawk nearer to the Industrial Age over another. I would like to see the mentality of 1st Edition put into the World of Greyhawk as a way to enhance play not stifle creativity.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I'd take whatever steps I could to actively discourage Epic-level play. The setting isn't meant to support that level of power, except in a few extreme circumstances, IMO. When 6th level marks a character out as someone of note, being Epic-level dramatically skews the power balance.


    Discouraging a certain style of play to fit your own personal bias is best done at the gaming table rather than at the publishing level. IMO playing low level characters clutching a +1 hand axe like their family jewels can only go on for so long before boredom sets in, but too each their own. In that vein if someone of 6th level is noteworthy, then someone of 20th level is even more noteworthy. As long as its challenging, having players wanting to play to levels 20+ is its own reward, not a burden on the setting.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Create Charged Item would only be available at 13th level (that's 13 levels of one class, so if you're a 7th level fighter/12th level magic user, no dice), which is about when, IIRC, the original Enchant Item spell would be available in 1E.


    It's an established part of the genre and the game that spellcasters are able to make enchanted items at some point. In previous editions of the game, the character you mention in the example is quite capable of casting Enchant an Item, even with 7 levels of fighter to deal with. How does creating artificial limits too fit 1st Edition AD&D rules concepts spliced into a 3e rules mechanic make it any more Greyhawk than one that runs by normal 3e rules?

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Like I said, if we're going to be playing 3E, it'll be with a 1E mentality. The above rules don't just apply to heroes-villains will also be damn grateful for simply having a humble +1 hand axe to call their own. And yes, that means that many villains won't have huge magical arsenals at their disposal...which is exactly as it should be.


    Looking back at how 1st Edition AD&D rules ran and trying to impliment those 'ideals' in a 3e game is of course an option if you owned the GH license, but it seems that you have less of a concept of where to take Greyhawk creatively as a world and seem more interested in making it into a bully pulpit to pound home your own style of how a game should be run in the World of Greyhawk.
    Prior editions aside, the way Greyhawk 'should be', is one that allows the DM too use the setting to make adventures that draws on its background, cultures and history rather than make Greyhawk a dictorial statement on HOW you should play in it.
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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:40 am  

    I'd sell the property to Gary Gygax for $1.00. Merry X-mas, Gary.

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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:45 am  

    Dethand wrote:


    Its interesting when a thread about dreaming what you would do with a GH license becomes more of a tirade on how to play D&D. Low magic count? Module S2. Lack of Industrialization? I dont see that any edition has pushed Greyhawk nearer to the Industrial Age over another. I would like to see the mentality of 1st Edition put into the World of Greyhawk as a way to enhance play not stifle creativity.

    Prior editions aside, the way Greyhawk 'should be', is one that allows the DM too use the setting to make adventures that draws on its background, cultures and history rather than make Greyhawk a dictorial statement on HOW you should play in it.


    (sighs)

    Chances are this is my reaction at seeing giants with 15 hit dice and ten levels of fighter, a game system that makes magic items easy to create and acquire (and, according to someone who posted on this thread, relies on magical equipment to balance encounters out), excessive min/maxing, common assassins all having +1 swords, and seeing characters who gain levels and change classes to maximize their power level and ability to do damage in combat, without really explaining how, when or why their characters gained such powers.

    The discussions on mechanics I've seen on the Net (where people tell me that having a mature adult green dragon count on its SR to fend off spells is a bad tactic because wizards appropriate to that level of encounter have a 50% chance of hitting it, or saying that magic wands are not very useful at higher levels because of their limited damage capacity, even though to most characters in the game world, a wand is a wand and as such something valuable) really rubbed me the wrong way, too.

    I suppose, then, that I would still retain the 3E rules, but simply state that being 6th level is noteworthy, magic items aren't that common, and certain race/class combinations can bring social difficulties, without any hard and fast rule mechanics to enforce these statements. Like everything else (and truer to the spirit of GH, I admit), DMs can ignore these things if they like. I suppose that I'd keep all these things (which I associate with a 1E mentality) as just fluff, without any hard and fast mechanics to back them up, and only available by reading between the lines, as opposed to simply stating outright "this is how it is". That's more in line with Jeff Grubb-style Forgotten Realms, I see now.

    Naturally, the things about shades of gray, skeletons in the closets of good nations, developing the rest of the world, and a line of good novels (that actually have some artistic value, as opposed to being simple hack and slash fests that actively describe game mechanics like five-foot steps), could all stand with or without these rule changes.
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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:38 am  

    CSL,

    I'm going to opine that, based on what I have read, I think your difficulty is not with epic level play but with the 3X rules themselves.

    You have noted that 3x _requires_ the acquisition of magic items, especially at high levels. This is true and is part of the 3x encounter system - the game assumes that higher level characters will have "appropriate" magic items -and mechanically builds off this assumption in a way prior editions did not. This is only part of the story.

    3x has flattened the XP climb to higher levels resulting in a faster climb to 20th Level. In 1e or 2e, if someone told you about their 20th level character, you probably rolled your eyes because the XP cost of getting to that level was so high that it would have taken huge amounts of play to get the XP necessary to _earn_ 20th level. In 3x, just complete an adventure path - 1st to 20th Level in 12 or so adventures, "earned" or not. 20th level characters are then altogether more "reasonable," "accessible" and "common" in 3x.

    Putting one and one together, leaving aside anything else, 3x characters are altogether more powerful and more powerful more quickly than in any prior edition. The nay sayers when 3X was announced have been proven right. In many ways, 3X is not AD&D or D&D at all but its own game that bears some resemblance to the AD&D or D&D. Note - this is not knocking 3X just stating the relatively obvious.

    Epic level play is part and parcel of 3X. It is literally in the rules but it is more than that. Because 20th level is so much more achievable in 3x, the question "what comes next?" is a natural one. Epic play, as described in the Epic Level Handbook (ELH), is the "official" attempt to answer the question. There are, however, other "answers." Fantasy Flight Games introduced the concept of "Legendary Classes" as an alternative to the ELH. As well, many players find the ELH wanting and, taking a page from OD&D, simply keep advancing 3x characters normally after 20th level, or, capping base class advancement at 20th level, allow the aquisition of further levels in other classes/PrCs. It is all "epic level" play by 3x in the sense that it is play beyond 20 levels. It is however a natural outgrowth of the 3x rules, however you choose to go about it.

    All this, as you note, will impact the setting. Characters with higher levels than in any other edition will be running around in numbers unless to one arbitrarily caps level advances within the setting. Does make this "unGreyhawk?" Yes and no, I think.

    On its face, more 20th or better level characters breaks the prior mold for GH. I think, however, there is another way of looking at it.

    Consider, if a 3x character had to earn all the XP that a 1e or 2e character had to earn to reach 20th level in 1e or 2e - what would the level of that character be in 3e? Consider this question both in terms of raw XP and in terms of number of adventures. Arguably, by either XP or number of adventures, a 20th level 1e or 2e character would work out to a 3x character of between 40 and 60 levels in terms of "effort" (measured by XP necessary or number of adventures necessary)!

    If you are following me, then, epic level play in 3x is not that big of a deal from the standpoint of impact on the setting using 3x. While the raw levels are up, the effort is the same or much less. When 3x characters commonly start sporting 40 plus levels, then there is more to get antsy about, I think.

    Sure. It takes getting used to to see a 20th level 3x character as no big shakes and more akin to a 10th or 12th level 1e or 2e character in terms of effort but such a view can help put the 3x level escalation into some more soothing perspective. By this measaure, "translating" from 3x to 1e or 2e, 3x epic level is no big campaign rending deal.

    YMMV
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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 11:50 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    CSL,

    I'm going to opine that, based on what I have read, I think your difficulty is not with epic level play but with the 3X rules themselves.

    All this, as you note, will impact the setting. Characters with higher levels than in any other edition will be running around in numbers unless to one arbitrarily caps level advances within the setting. Does make this "unGreyhawk?" Yes and no, I think.

    On its face, more 20th or better level characters breaks the prior mold for GH. I think, however, there is another way of looking at it.

    Consider, if a 3x character had to earn all the XP that a 1e or 2e character had to earn to reach 20th level in 1e or 2e - what would the level of that character be in 3e? Consider this question both in terms of raw XP and in terms of number of adventures. Arguably, by either XP or number of adventures, a 20th level 1e or 2e character would work out to a 3x character of between 40 and 60 levels in terms of "effort" (measured by XP necessary or number of adventures necessary)!

    If you are following me, then, epic level play in 3x is not that big of a deal from the standpoint of impact on the setting using 3x. While the raw levels are up, the effort is the same or much less. When 3x characters commonly start sporting 40 plus levels, then there is more to get antsy about, I think.

    Sure. It takes getting used to to see a 20th level 3x character as no big shakes and more akin to a 10th or 12th level 1e or 2e character in terms of effort but such a view can help put the 3x level escalation into some more soothing perspective. By this measaure, "translating" from 3x to 1e or 2e, 3x epic level is no big campaign rending deal.

    YMMV


    And that is very soothing for me. I don't like some of the new 3E changes for precisely the reasons you've mentioned: they break the mold I'm used to in Greyhawk. The 1E texts, especially Gygax's early works, and the "feel" they gave me (or at least the way I interpreted them) were instrumental in forming the way I would think of Greyhawk and D&D in general. 3E's changes are, for me, jarring. To be fair, however, the LGG did a wonderful job in mitigating my problems, what with a spread of high-level characters that isn't much different than what might have come from Gygax's pen.

    That said, I think a lot of what I've said about gray areas, developing the rest of the world, rewinding the timeline, and so forth still works regardless of edition.

    I also forgot one advantage of rewinding the timeline: redoing the Greyhawk Wars the right way. Instead of simply releasing a From the Ashes boxed set (not Sargent's fault, he had to clean up after Grubb's blunder), how about a series of interlocking adventures detailing the events of the wars?

    Players might be able to try and stop Iuz from gaining control over Sevvord Redbeard and defend Tenh, thwart the giants before they can ever attack Geoff and Sterich, find the Crook of Rao or even Prince Thrommel to give Furyondy a fighting chance, thwart the Scarlet Brotherhood's agents in the south, or all of these at once, with the individual results applied to the DM's home campaign. This borrows a page from Dragonlance's book; there is "official canon", but with the adventures having been released before said canon is established, DMs and players can muck around with it to their heart's content. Weis, Hickman and company all but admitted that if something happened contrary to the novels (if Kitiara was killed in the final battle, for instance), then things would be very different from the way official canon portrays them.

    As a result, players can directly establish the results for their home campaigns, which is more within the GH tradition anyway. Better still, releasing a series of modules instead of a single boxed set translates into higher sales, I would think. Players can get the whole set to play out the whole of the Greyhawk Wars, they can get some, or none. It's their choice. Players who absolutely have to have the whole story are obviously going to go for the set...
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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 1:40 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I also forgot one advantage of rewinding the timeline: redoing the Greyhawk Wars the right way.


    Not meaning to be prejorative but your rewind thought strikes me as susceptible to being called "Gygaxian," in the sense of a more or less strict adherence to EGG.

    I consider myself a Neo-Gygaxian.

    I think Gygaxian GH was far superior to FtA era GH in almost every respect - in other words the classic Gygaxian position. However, I accept that FtA happened and that for continuity reasons it should not be ignored or pretended not to ever have happened or rolled back via the timeline. I also acknowledge losts of cool stuff in FtA and post-FtA. However, I want to advance the timeline and see the advance take a more Gygaxian turn while not abandoning FtA, GH98 and the LGG. Hence the Neo-Gygaxian motto - Advance the timeline and get back to Gygax! In other words, incorporate the best of everything GH not just the best of Gygax-Hawk. EGG did not have a corner on great GH design. Sargent and those coming after more than had their moments.

    While I think we agree in the main, I think our point of departure is how to optimize those things we agree about in a new GH. If I controlled GH's future, I think we could do business. Wink Happy
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    Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:33 pm  

    I love this 20/20, rose-colored glasses, hindsight.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    (sighs)

    Chances are this is my reaction at seeing giants with 15 hit dice and ten levels of fighter,


    As opposed to just hill giants fighting as frost giants, frost giants fighting as fire giants, and fire giants fighting as cloud giants?
    Or are you just upset that a hill giant won't randomly appear with just 16 hit points and do only 2 damage on a hit?

    Quote:
    a game system that makes magic items easy to create and acquire (and, according to someone who posted on this thread,


    While create is a significant change, acquire is not. I've pointed out the raw mass of magic available in older adventures, such as two daern's instant fortresses and 3 rods of smiting, among much more in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Indeed, both times I ran it with parties of 6 PCs, they soon found themselves hiring every available man-at-arms (or equivalent) prisoner, and outfitting them with magical armor, shields, and weapons.
    Then of course there is the G series, with flame tongues, frost brands, giant slayers, and yes, a hammer of thunderbolts, with gauntlets of ogre power and girdle of giant strength also present, for the enterprising party to gain.
    Or shall I review all the magic available in L1, an adventure for characters of 2nd-4th level?
    No, all the change in 3.5 does is give players more of a chance to do something with the hundreds of thousands of gp of ordinary loot they might otherwise come upon, as well as give them some say in what items they have available. Even with that, it is all too often the "unusual" item that is of more use to them than the toys needed to enhance their particular archetype.

    Quote:
    relies on magical equipment to balance encounters out),


    This is perhaps the most absurd given how lack of a magic weapon of a particular power level would make a creature immune to any physical damage a party might inflict. Indeed, I recall that was something I cited as a major flaw in Return of the Eight, that the vast majority of creatures encountered required +3 weapons to damage, yet the adventure was only for 11th level or so characters.
    Magical equipment has long been a significant factor in the difficulty of encounters. 3.5 merely ackowledges just how significant it is.

    Quote:
    excessive min/maxing,


    Min/maxing didn't exist in 1st and 2nd ed?
    It was somehow less?

    Quote:
    common assassins all having +1 swords,


    Since to be an assassin, common or otherwise, one has to be 6th level in 3.5, why is that such a problem?

    Quote:
    and seeing characters who gain levels and change classes to maximize their power level and ability to do damage in combat,


    As opposed to characters gaining levels and minimizing their power level and ability to do damage in combat?

    Quote:
    without really explaining how, when or why their characters gained such powers.


    Which is a function of the campaign, not the rules.

    Quote:
    The discussions on mechanics I've seen on the Net (where people tell me that having a mature adult green dragon count on its SR to fend off spells is a bad tactic because wizards appropriate to that level of encounter have a 50% chance of hitting it, or saying that magic wands are not very useful at higher levels because of their limited damage capacity, even though to most characters in the game world, a wand is a wand and as such something valuable) really rubbed me the wrong way, too.


    As opposed to a mature adult green dragon having what? less than 50 hp, no magic resistance at all, a less than 50% chance of being able to use spells, and a set chance of being asleep so a party can casually slip up, smack it goofy, and gain a servant or super gold bonus?
    And perhaps I missed it, but did magic wands do more damage at higher level, or saves not get better at higher levels in 1st ed? Is there some shame in analyzing the game system, and using that analysis to make decisions about how to play combats better?

    Quote:
    I suppose, then, that I would still retain the 3E rules, but simply state that being 6th level is noteworthy,


    It is already noteworthy. At 6th levels you:
    1. Can take the Leadership feat.
    2. Can qualify for most prestige classes.
    3. Gain an iterative attack for a fighter.
    And more.
    That sounds rather noteworthy to me.

    Quote:
    magic items aren't that common,


    If they aren't, then you definitely aren't playing 1st ed Greyhawk.

    Quote:
    tain race/class combinations can bring social difficulties,


    You mean the way they do in LG Keoland?

    Quote:
    without any hard and fast rule mechanics to enforce these statements.


    Then why even have them?
    What is the use of background and flavor if it is just ignored at whim? That is precisely what you accuse 3.5 of doing to Greyhawk. Why would you want to copy it?
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:48 am  

    CruelSummerLord, thank you for your input. I respect your opinion because it is consistent with your base assumtion which is to change the rule system to fit the setting you have come to know. Fair enough. I cannot agree with you because my base assumption is to make the setting fit the rules system used.

    As GVDammerung detailed, 3.0/3.5 rules and play are much different from 1E/2E. The trappings of 1E/2E are cetainly in place, but it plays much different. That is why I prefaced my quesition by asking about the rule system you use. There may be a bit too much to change to retrofit 3.5 rules to make it "feel" like previous GH material. Monsters, as well as characters, would have to change.

    The "feel" of the rules is always important. My favorite example of this is Basic RolePlay (aka Runequest and Call of Cthulhu) vs. any version of D&D.
    In general (I am not concerned about cases that break the rule):
    A.In D&D you get 2 players with studly 20th level fighters and duke it out. Because of the hit point system, it will be at least a few rounds before one or the other might decide to retreat. You hit points act as an indicator to make decisons (I have a chance, maybe I should not retreat).
    B.In Runequest, you get 2 players to duke it out with say 85% attack in your primary weapon (takes months if not a year of play to get there). Every single round, on the first round or even first swing, either might die even though they are at full hit points on a crit or good damage roll. Yes, there are body locations and things like that. And you can still make you decision. But, death on the first swing after years of playing you character leaves a different impression on how to play a game especially if it the first or only RPG you have ever played.

    So yes, I agree 3E is jarring. Unfortunately, 1E/2E as set of rules is not coming back anytime soon either, well not as "officially" supported anyways.
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:21 am  
    What...

    What I'd do is team up with Troll Lord Games and Goodman Games to produce new Greyhawk material. Troll Lord has Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz. Goodman has Erol Otus and Jeff Dee. Get them all working together again and how can you go wrong?

    If the RPGA wanted to keep Living Greyhawk, I'd require them to submit their material to me and I'd publish a Best of Living Greyhawk book yearly that would weed out the slush and get some of that material into the public's hands.

    I'd publish Oerth Journal as a best of fandom compilation, quarterly.

    I'd publish mechanics-neutral material with appendices suggesting modification to various systems. No wasted pages and pages of stat blocks for a system I might not use.

    As has been mentioned, Greyhawk has always needed a really good novel line. I'd hire Lawrence Watt-Evans.

    Naturally, I'd quit my dayjob and start writing full-time.
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:15 pm  

    If I could buy Greyhawk? Hmmm, difficult.

    The first thing would be to hire a good team with both Greyhawk sages and creative people like Mona, some people from this site etc. Of course Gygax will be contacted and offered a place as creative consultant or something. The artists should be those that can present a more sword and sorcery feel than dungeon-punk, more medieval than spikey armor and manga swords. As mentioned in this thread a novel-line will be started, the stories will be more sword and sorcery with recognizable (Greyhawk) cultural archetypes than epic.

    The next problem would be that during the last 30 years or so different Greyhawk books and boxes have been published with much of the same material. A relaunch of the setting would require a new book with losts of old stuff so new DM's and players don't need to hunt down OOP books to start their campaign. However, current fans wouldn't want to buy a book (or books) with material they already have. So new material should be included and old material should be presented in a well organised way. To entice the "old" fans to buy the new books they should be better organised, complete and (almost most importantly) have indexes. With these book one should not have to feel like being a sage pooring over multiple tomes to look up something. For completeness the LGG gazetteer is hard to even equal but as for organising the information there is much to gain compaired to the older books. The books will be based in the 3.X/4 edition, that's where the new players can be found.

    The first 3 books would be a Greyhawk Atlas, a Greyhawk DM Guide and a Greyhawk Players Guide.

    The Atlas would contain both the postermaps from dungeon and have internal maps. Each chapter would focus on a broad region detailing the geography, tradegoods and overall emnities or alliances beteween countries. Also there should be some information of the culture, dress, militairy, common monsters/humanoid (encounter tables), rough CR/EL and some city maps and art depicting locales and people. Off course there will be a chapter about the underoerth.

    The DM guide would first present the overall description of regions, people and feel of the setting. Another chapter will present the history of the flanaes, with are more light canon view. Most apparent inconsistencies should be presented as competing historic data, some jarring inconsistencies might have to settled though. They possible outcome of most old published adventures should be less ingrained in the history, this to allow DM's that have them to use without much problems. Maybe enough info could be given to allow players to play in bygone era like the before, during and just after the twin cataclisms. Another chapter would be about the gods, which would be organised mostly by race. The main message should be that most gods don't interfere directly and that as a result the doctrine and creed of temples and priests of the same god can differ significantly from area to area, even adjacent ones. Some pruning of the panteon shall be needed and maybe the concept of different cultural manifestations of the same power resulting in different gods in different pantheons expanded. Avatar info except for those gods that are known to walk the Oerth is not needed. A fourth chapter would be about political intrigue and groups/nations. However no concrete information as invasion plans and clear goals should be presented. There should be enough info for the DM to create campaign ideas but not enough to restrict. A fifth chapter would be about artifacts, dungeons and locales, again with skeleton info which should need the addition of flesh from the DM. The sixth chapter would present a Hommlet, Diamond lake like locale to get the DM started with a 1st level campaign. This locale will, outside one small adventure and some encounters and lairs, provide hints and suggestions for further adventures.

    The Player Guide will have a lot of information about the races the PC's can play and the regions where the PC's might hail from. Maybe some differences in race and region can be presented with small skill bonusses. There will be a table with the regions and which races are prominent there and some suggestion on playing optional non-standard races (in a non-disallowing but second-thought provicing manner). Another chapter will deal with the prevalence and roles of the different classes, some info and maybe in-game prequesites can be presented for some of the prestige classes. Another chapter will have the Greyhawk regional and other (like the paladin) feats, finally presented together. Another chapter with the updated spells from the old Greyhawk hardcover. And maybe a chapter with some example first level characters where the possible difference between a Suloise and Flan, Keolise and Ahlissan Oeridian and/or Celene and Highfolk elf is illustrated.

    Although modules have not proven to sell well modules will be published. The most important thing about these modules is that there will be different tastes of adventure (exploration, dungeon, city etc.) for same level ranges. The main plot and main adversary can be adapted to link to other modules so the DM can choose his or her own adventure tree and/or use the module seperately. The evil wizard or slaver operation might be linked to the Scarlet Brotherhood, Iuz, Ivid etc. according to the need of the DM. The bulk of the encounters will be with the original D&D monsters/humanoids (used creatively).

    In short Greyhawk will be presented as a sword and sorcery setting with enough possibility for (grey) intrigue, a firm historic, geographic and demographic base with enough possibility for adaptation. It will be rooted in Dungeons, Dragons, Orcs, Giants, evil wizards and petty lords, creative use of what you know and people recognize instead of drowning your players in newcoolphat orientaldungeonsteampunk with multilimbedslaveringfaroomagins. Finish your orc before you get your half-celestial vampiric geriauflim spellthief/assasin/shadowdancer (I'm a bit conservative that way)
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:22 pm  

    alissenberg wrote:

    In short Greyhawk will be presented as a sword and sorcery setting with enough possibility for (grey) intrigue, a firm historic, geographic and demographic base with enough possibility for adaptation. It will be rooted in Dungeons, Dragons, Orcs, Giants, evil wizards and petty lords, creative use of what you know and people recognize instead of drowning your players in newcoolphat orientaldungeonsteampunk with multilimbedslaveringfaroomagins. Finish your orc before you get your half-celestial vampiric geriauflim spellthief/assasin/shadowdancer (I'm a bit conservative that way)


    Amen, brother. Amen.
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:01 pm  
    Fueling the fire

    If it helps, I look at 1st ed "epic" beginning at 10th level, when the "named" levels ended. I haven't done the math, but I would submit that the amount of experience (not points) is a better indicator of relative strength than level number.

    Put another way: In each setting, if an adventuring party of four always faces a series of individual characters of their level (i.e. second level party always faces a single 2HD opponent), then the total number of encounters for each party is a better indicator of their relative power in the campaign setting than their level.

    That said, it is damned difficult to run Greyhawk "as written" with d20 D&D rules "as written". One or the other needs to change. There's too much magic, too many classes, too much power, and too many inconsistencies in the current D&D ruleset to work with what most of us know as Greyhawk.

    If "owning" Greyhawk meant that I could change the parameters of the game to fit the setting, so be it. Advancement would be severely slowed, combat-types would be less dependent on magic items for their power, and casters would be more fragile. You wouldn't see Dwarf Wizards or Halfling Barbarians, except in the most extreme circumstances. Unusual races would risk the Angry Mob almost everywhere they went.

    To state that you can't change the game to fit the setting flies in the face of what many have done. If you've ever seen the Midnight campaign setting, it's exactly what they did - no clerics, no magic item creation, etc. Bring the "average" d20 D&D character to Midnight (complete with the expected magic items), and watch him die a very gruesome death. The only saving grace is that the Dark Lord's Legates will quickly sniff out his magic, and he will not spend long running.

    :D

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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:42 pm  

    I think the problem with 3.5e Epic level play and the relative ease of leveling up is that it leaves a very bad taste in most people's mouths when considering the following comparison:

    "Hiyee!!! I'm Cheeky the Sorceress! I'm just 19 years old now and after only just one year on an adventure path, and another year of Epic level play, I'm 27th level! Teehee!"

    "Hi. I'm Mordenkainen. I've been studying magic for well over one hundred years, and I'm 27th level. Yeah, I've really been slacking off for the better part of a century or more."

    Under 3.5 xp, you'd expect Mordy and company to be about 100th level or so with all the time and experience they have under their belts.

    The "upstart punk" factor of rapid leveling to Epic level play is a huge influence in peoples' reactions to it in my opinion, particularly when considering the levels of the various GH npc's of reknown.
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    Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:21 pm  
    Re: Fueling the fire

    Telas wrote:

    That said, it is damned difficult to run Greyhawk "as written" with d20 D&D rules "as written". One or the other needs to change. There's too much magic, too many classes, too much power, and too many inconsistencies in the current D&D ruleset to work with what most of us know as Greyhawk.

    If "owning" Greyhawk meant that I could change the parameters of the game to fit the setting, so be it. Advancement would be severely slowed, combat-types would be less dependent on magic items for their power, and casters would be more fragile. You wouldn't see Dwarf Wizards or Halfling Barbarians, except in the most extreme circumstances. Unusual races would risk the Angry Mob almost everywhere they went.

    To state that you can't change the game to fit the setting flies in the face of what many have done.


    Just the point I was trying to make. 3E's power levels just don't mesh with what most people have come to associate with Greyhawk. I don't think there should be hard-and-fast rule restrictions on non-standard race and class combinations, but instead work it into the setting with role-playing sanctions. Want a dwarf wizard? Fine-and the next time you walk into a dwarf hold, be prepared to be ritually executed and flung into the holy forges in the temple of Moradin for committing what is the dwarven equivalent of bestiality or incest; studying non-dwarven magic. Remember the witch hunts in the 16th and 17th centuries IRL? Well, dwarven wizards have it even worse.

    I would still mention that most characters aren't particularly high level, that 6th level stands out, and that magic items are uncommon (the 25% of encountered characters have permanent items, 35% have charged/one-shot items like wands, potions and scrolls, 40% have nothing at all), but without trying to do it in a "bully pulpit" manner like Dethand criticized before. FR has every Fire Knife assassin owning a cloak of elvenkind, and characters with amazing powers that are well beyond what we're used to in GH. It works better for FR because that's what it's been associated with GH for a long time.

    I have to stick with Telas, Cebrion, and alissenberg on this one. Various aspects of the 3.5 rules are just too jarring when it comes to what we've associated Greyhawk with. The rules need to be changed, or at least tinkered with, to bring the setting back to what we've associated it with. Not to make it a bully pulpit, but to give Greyhawk its individuality, a way to stand out from other settings, and to make sure it maintains its identity among all the various other RPing products out there. After all, Dragonlance messed with the standard AD&D rules to make it fit, and look how rabid its fanbase is.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 2:53 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    I think the problem with 3.5e Epic level play and the relative ease of leveling up is that it leaves a very bad taste in most people's mouths when considering the following comparison:

    "Hiyee!!! I'm Cheeky the Sorceress! I'm just 19 years old now and after only just one year on an adventure path, and another year of Epic level play, I'm 27th level! Teehee!"


    In GDQ..or if you were around before those mods were put into compilations, the G and D series of modules concluding with the Q1 adventure, they put you at, near or around Mordy and gangs levels (18+) in about 3 months of campaign time when you concluded the last adventure. Thats more or less on the same scale as the Dungeon AP's pace, which fits pretty well to the 'old school 1st Edition style'.
    In any case justifying the case GH v. the ELH using an analogy of a PC's speedy accension to levels 20+ is missing the point. There is no glass ceiling in Greyhawk. If Mordy did it, well so can you. If you want Mordenkainen put on a pedastal as special and beyond what other PC's can ever hope too accomplish then he becomes more like Elminster and thats not good.

    Telas wrote:
    That said, it is damned difficult to run Greyhawk "as written" with d20 D&D rules "as written". One or the other needs to change. There's too much magic, too many classes, too much power, and too many inconsistencies in the current D&D ruleset to work with what most of us know as Greyhawk.

    If "owning" Greyhawk meant that I could change the parameters of the game to fit the setting, so be it.


    We all started somewhere in the various editions of D&D playing in the World of Greyhawk and considering Living Greyhawk's role now, for better or for worse, more people know about and play in GH than perhaps at any other time. Changing the parameters of the rules too make the setting fit a paticular frame of mind only closes Greyhawk to further development. I have realized that this thread isnt so much about the role of Greyhawk as a campaign setting as it is defining the way too play Greyhawk both in rule and form. Thats rather chilling because I've thought of the World of Greyhawk as a campaign setting and not a manifesto.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Just the point I was trying to make. 3E's power levels just don't mesh with what most people have come to associate with Greyhawk. I don't think there should be hard-and-fast rule restrictions on non-standard race and class combinations, but instead work it into the setting with role-playing sanctions. Want a dwarf wizard? Fine-and the next time you walk into a dwarf hold, be prepared to be ritually executed and flung into the holy forges in the temple of Moradin for committing what is the dwarven equivalent of bestiality or incest; studying non-dwarven magic. Remember the witch hunts in the 16th and 17th centuries IRL? Well, dwarven wizards have it even worse.


    3e's power levels aside I don't see your example of dwarven arcane inquistion in any Greyhawk canon. It's a personal preference that might make Greyhawk more correct to an earlier editions rule but, its not making the setting any better because of it.
    The World of Greyhawk has seen 3 (4?) editons and rulesets. There have been changes with each one and it will continue as 4e inevitably comes out. Each edition has changed the way the game is played and as those changes are either used or discared with the next edition there is the question of; "where did all the monks go?" and "when did the clerics start using edged weapons" and "when the hades did dwarves start casting fireballs?". I dont think that using a previous editions rules makes Greyhawk any better, it just dates it.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I have to stick with Telas, Cebrion, and alissenberg on this one. Various aspects of the 3.5 rules are just too jarring when it comes to what we've associated Greyhawk with. The rules need to be changed, or at least tinkered with, to bring the setting back to what we've associated it with. Not to make it a bully pulpit, but to give Greyhawk its individuality, a way to stand out from other settings, and to make sure it maintains its identity among all the various other RPing products out there. After all, Dragonlance messed with the standard AD&D rules to make it fit, and look how rabid its fanbase is.


    Again, as above, Greyhawk should not be a setting for the preservation of a ruleset. If you associate Greyhawk with those previous editions, then play those previous editions. Greyhawk began as a campaign to play the D&D game in, not as a way too play D&D.
    In Dragonlance's setting you changed the way you played the AD&D game to fit its writer's dictates as written in the novels and modules. Comparing the way DL changed the rules too fit the setting only showed that they valued their story over the rules, which is fine for a literary resemblence, but Greyhawk is not about a place to write novels, its about a place to game. Thats Greyhawks individuality.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:32 am  

    I am sure that part of the confusion here is that the published modules did not actually subscribe to the philosophy espoused in various writings of EGG's, such as the reams of advice in the DMG.

    Gary's campaign, the precursor to GH, tended to wrap up around lvl 10 for most characters. A few exceptions continued to be used in occassional one shots and so on. He wrote his advice based on those experiences.

    But there are many adventures written for well beyond that power level and most 1e modules are veritable piggy banks, even at low levels. The amount of magic is Keep on the Borderlands or Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is hardly negligible. I don't own any 3e modules, so I don't know how they compare. But I've always had to cut down on the treasure in published materials to suit my gameplay.

    The GDQ series of moduels did not bring the characters to Mordenkainen like power levels, though. It was generally about five levels worth (from 10 to 15). That's still pretty severe for seven adventures, granted. But there is no way you can compare the advancement rate of the old game to the new one.

    I don't think its necessary to change the rules to fit GH. It has always been possible to powergame in GH and in the rules. I don't enjoy that game play and would publish material to suit the original advice given in the DMG and other places. However, sidebars or appendices would discuss alternative set ups. I don't have any interest in Duicarthan's version of the NPCs, but many people would and always have. Even in GH.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 5:11 am  

    I have to second Dethand in this. One shouldn't confuse the 1st edition with Greyhawk. When some of you played Greyhawk you played with the 1st edition ruleset, your experience of playing in Greyhawk is mixed with playing with the 1st edition. Greyhawk was created for 1st edition AD&D (even before) as it was the only edition available (apart from basic D&D). The rules for D&D you used to play in Greyhawk were 1st edition because they were the rules available at this time.

    I only played 1st edition for a small time, just after a year of basic D&D (that was translated into Dutch) and just before playing AD&D 2nd edition. I even only started playing and DMing Greyhawk with the 3rd edition. I got grabbed by Greyhawk by reading the artifact of evil as a mid teen, before playing D&D, was intriged by the mention of Greyhawk in the 1st ed DM Guide. But as I live in the Netherlands, where D&D only caught on early 90's, there weren't many of the older Greyhawk books available, new or second hand . I scrounged material from Dragon magazine and some of 2nd ed modules and books I could find.

    Suffice to say that most of my experiences of Greyhawkiness does not include differences in rules between the 1st, 2nd and/or 3rd edition. What is does include makes me like the setting most compared to other settings and it is this what I want newer players to experience, without having them having to locate the OOP books and modules (they will do that, I'm sure).
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 5:53 am  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    The GDQ series of moduels did not bring the characters to Mordenkainen like power levels, though. It was generally about five levels worth (from 10 to 15). That's still pretty severe for seven adventures, granted. But there is no way you can compare the advancement rate of the old game to the new one.


    Your milage may have varied, but in all the same you will gain several levels and end the adventures as a very powerful character. In my experiences in 1st Edition we ended around 17-18 level after leaving the Demonweb Pits (thars XP in them thar planar portals!). I feel its about par for course with the pursuit of Eclavadra from the Giants to fighting Lolth on her home plane in the Abyss too make a comparison to the current AP's published in Dungeon.

    In any case its worth noting that the amount of experience points gained during that series of adventures is enough to put you at the high end of experience without much problem. On the same level as Mordenkainen?
    Again your milage may have varied on that but 17-18 levels isnt out of the realm of possibility and the whole series runs just several months of game time. Thats not far off from many of the AP's that raise you from lowly 1st level nobody too someone important in a years time.
    The key point is that characters, mainly through play advanced a storyline that affected the World of Greyhawk setting without NPC's like Mordy and Co. bigfooting the action and thus subjecting the PC's too a lesser role.

    Thats the type of 1st Edition feel that I personally enjoy in gaming in Greyhawk and its one I would like too see continue.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 6:09 am  
    What I would do...

    Thanks for all the excellent replies....

    Here is what I would do in MY Greyhawk:

    1) Hire a staff of exceptional writers from among the many fans and professionals to progress the setting. Many of you would be among them. These would be generally part time assignments, as you would be asked to assist in the regions you love. The regional need will be explained below.

    2)Approach Canonfire about being the official site, and try and develop some rosy friendships with other sites such as Enworld, Paizo and Dragonsfoot. This would be where publishing of PDFs would occur.

    3) Approach some of the established quality fandom works and derivative works about purchase and becoming official. This would particularly include reference works such as Zavoda’s encyclopedia and DUI’s NPC catalogue. If a DM wants to explore Greyhawk, make it as simple as possible. These items would be online and available all the time. Also, make most of the out of print works available either in PDF or in retyped form so that the History of GH can be searched and used.

    4) Approach several of the “Old School,” members of CF and Dragonsfoot about creating back conversion standards for WoG. Statistics for each new publication would be converted and posted in a PDF for each module/setting/atlas, etc., for OD&D, 1st, and 2nd ed. Those that play Palladium or HQ Greyhawk will have to wing it. This would be lightly compensated work, and the conversions would be web supplements. If they were willing these enhancements would also be published on Dragonsfoot.

    5) Establish a “Canon,” so that people know what we are moving forward on. This may include a few works from outside the Absolute Canon, such as overlapping Planescape/Mystara works. It may also include a few quality Fanworks, provided they agreed to sign over IP and accept nominal compensation. We would encourage disussion and dispute, but this would be the documents upon which official publications would be based and with which they would have to be consistent. There would have to be a Canon consistency review of any work. Rather than haggle over canon, however, people would be encouraged to create works that operate within the framework of what exists.

    6) Issue a Player’s Guide/ Flavor Document. Softcover for sale, PDF’s distributed freely and widely. This would be something that I do not think has really been developed for GH. It would be art heavy… lots of landscapes and quality art. No more pen and ink sketches casually included. The goal would be the most attractive/riveting GH issuance ever. This would also establish a consistent visual image for GH.

    7) Reissue the LGG in an expanded and hard back format. This would include the Atlas and DM’s portion as several people alluded to above. The Calender would be advanced to 596 CY, and would advance one year with each calendar year forever. There would be no advancing the Calender 50 years, etc.

    The LGG would also include several additions: a) game mechanic guidance section. This would be included so that readers can have some expectation for the future of what the world will look like. For example, it would explain that the highest average level of an npc in a Greyhawk village is 6th. It would also include a new mechanic for level advancement by age (see this thread: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1938&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 ).

    It would establish 3.5/OGL as the eternal system for Greyhawk. There would be no future releases converted to new editions. It would also establish some basic “canon,” guidelines for dealing with high levels in “canon,” work. I.e. you will not see modules or source work with 40th level NPCs or Demigods walking the land. But it will NOT say that a DM could not do it himself. The goal would be to give a DM a relation to the world as presented in source material. If they want to change it, we want to facilitate the use of the material, not limit a DM’s imagination. We would try and give a scale and a frame work, and everyone can use it as they will. If they want to blow the world up with Demi Gods and Arch Devils, god bless. If they want a low magic setting, where a potion of healing is a life long goal, godbless. The purpose would be to provide a setting with some consistency, which is something I think GH has never had. It has been pulled by whim and fancy as the owners have change.

    8) The Flaness would be broken up into 5 or 6 broad areas. These areas would include the Baklunish West, the Sheldomar, the remains of Aerdi, and others, though I don’t have that clear in my head yet. Each of these would get a regional source book. These would be hard back books, with one issued each year. This way, a DM who likes Nyrond (for example) will only have to purchase a hardback book every 5 or 6 years. If they want to purchase one per year, they may, but will not be railroaded into.

    9) Have an annual PDF supplement to each region that can be purchased for a lower cost. This will detail broad regional trends and changes. There would be 5 or 6 of these. These will be the basis of the Hardback books listed in 8, but the hardback will be much more thorough.

    9) Pick several nations or regions to develop extensively, while leaving the broader area “Grey,” enough to be useful to the average DM. The areas that seem obvious for broad development are in and around the remains of the Great Kingdom, Greyhawk, and the Sheldomar. This would be a work which goes into more detail and be where modules, supplements and Adventure Paths would be set.

    10) Item 9 may go so far as to detail one or two more obscure nations very extensively. Gran March is a nation that no one ever really mentioned, and it probably has a counterpart in the East, maybe Old Almor. Detail these down to specific hexes, populations and persons. Make high quality maps of a hex, and show just how much can be contained in 30 mile hex.

    This would start to give size and scope to the world. Players (and DMs) would start to realize that a trip from Niole Dra to Greyhawk is an epic adventure unto itself, even for characters who can fly or teleport. It is a 1600 mile trip by road. That is 100 days by cart, without stopping for food or rough terrain. In an adventure, the trip could be interesting and take over a year.

    The other thing this would do is allow DMs who do not have time to create a world a place to set an on again off again campaign.

    11)Seek support of Dungeon and Dragon… encourage adventures and adventure paths. However, nevermore will there be Oerth Shattering events that affect and ravage the course of all inhabitants lives. Those are better left for the home campaign.

    12) Begin to develop special releases…. Such as “The Underoerth, the Vaults,” “Hepmonland, the Lost Continent,” and “The Far West, a Travelers Guide,”

    13) Create Adventure Paths that are intended to be small regional releases. These would be 1st to Epic levels, but they would not affect the whole world. IT could well be an Epic Struggle to save Mitrik from the control of Kostiche.

    14) Encourage the publication of novels. These would have to be of reasonable quality and consistency with canon... no more contrarian works. However, these should and would protray the atmosphere an character of the WoG.

    The purpose of all of this would be to re-enchant people with the WoG, and more specifically their chosen region or local. The Caves of Chaos and the Village of Hommlet served the purpose for me. I think everyone wants a place like this… their fantasy home.

    But of course, this is just what I would do
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 7:50 am  

    Very good ideas getting tossed out here.

    My thoughts:

    The WoG campaign setting would include city and country stats, primarily aimed at 3.5, but also amenable to other systems. The CS book would contain everything needed to start adventuring in GH. The Eberron CS book is a good example of what I'd hope to see (expanded slightly, and with more information on the setting as opposed to the rule changes). Purchase of the CS would allow one to download a free watermarked PDF which would countain a starting village and its surroundings, kind of like Hommlet or the Keep on the Borderlands. The 'catch' is that there would be a number of variants of the PDF. The village would be the same, but the surrounding dungeons/adventures would change from variant to variant. (Obviously, this keeps player cheating to a minimum, but it also encourages replayability.)

    Regional sourcebooks would take a more detailed view of the area, with more-detailed descriptions of major cities, features, etc. There would be a LOT of gray (grey?) area left for the DM to work with (you listening, FR?). Sidebars would present alternate versions of events/situations, or variations and their ramifications.

    I also envision a racial/cultural sourcebook, detailing the various Human races, their histories, and how they view each other. Demi-Humans would also be covered here, and the various pantheons would receive more detail.

    Each sourcebook would come with a free watermarked PDF download that only contains player-level information (basically a decent Knowledge (local) check). This would be something you could print out or post to a website, and not all the information would be entirely correct.

    That said, the details of the campaign follow: The GH Wars have ended, and we're in the current RPGA 'year'. Since I own GH, the RPGA's "Oerth-shattering" events would be reined in sharply, and there would be a move towards stability. This is not to say that nothing will change, just that the roller-coaster ride will stop. The campaign will progress as the RPGA does; 1 year=1 year. A "year in review" PDF will be made available for a small fee at the end of every year, and will include hints on how to integrate whatever ejecta WotC spews forth rules-wise.

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:44 am  

    [quote="Dethand"

    The key point is that characters, mainly through play advanced a storyline that affected the World of Greyhawk setting without NPC's like Mordy and Co. bigfooting the action and thus subjecting the PC's too a lesser role.

    Thats the type of 1st Edition feel that I personally enjoy in gaming in Greyhawk and its one I would like too see continue.[/quote]


    Well, I don't see anyone opposing that. I don't even see anyone objecting to characters reaching the same level as those guys (low to mid 20s in the 1e rules, IIRC). But doing so in 8-12 adventures? I think that's bad form. I dunno, maybe hoovering up every bit of xp would have something like that effect if you played the fifteen module T-A-G-D-Q storyline retroactively created with the supermod reprints (thought that did toss in two more adventures for transition and a recommendation to do other adventures in between A & G). Regardless, 3rd was explicitly designed to advance faster than previous rules.

    But! That's just a rules system effect. It doesn't really affect the setting at all. High level campaigns have always taken place, either because folks played the character for years or because they just started them at high level. And there is plenty of GH adventures to support it, though not as many as for the low to mid level range.

    You don't have to suddenly boost all the NPCs into the stratosphere just because PCs could reach that point far easier. You just need to make mention of the fact that PCs will be of noteworthy power at a lower level than one might be used to in other settings. Its up to the setting designer to establishe the feel of the world: its culture, peoples, power structure, etc. Its up to the individual DMs to decide where he wants his PCs to fit in that culture and power structure.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:51 am  

    Dethand wrote:


    In any case its worth noting that the amount of experience points gained during that series of adventures is enough to put you at the high end of experience without much problem. On the same level as Mordenkainen?
    Again your milage may have varied on that but 17-18 levels isnt out of the realm of possibility and the whole series runs just several months of game time. Thats not far off from many of the AP's that raise you from lowly 1st level nobody too someone important in a years time.
    The key point is that characters, mainly through play advanced a storyline that affected the World of Greyhawk setting without NPC's like Mordy and Co. bigfooting the action and thus subjecting the PC's too a lesser role.

    Thats the type of 1st Edition feel that I personally enjoy in gaming in Greyhawk and its one I would like too see continue.


    I and no one else ever said anything like that. In fact, that was what concerned me about the rule changes, especially with only four characters as opposed to the six or more that might make up a 1E/2E party. I have a hard time seeing only four 6th level characters surviving the Steading, let alone fighting through the Hall. Having to rise up to those Epic/high levels to take on powerful villains isn't something that appeals to me, or a lot of other people. Iuz only entrusted a 9th-level cleric to the Temple; Eclavdra was only 10th level as a cleric and fighter, which would only make her a 12th-level character if multi-classed characters are counted as being two levels above their stated number, as EGG suggested; the high priestess of the Fane of Lolth was 14th level; the Slave Lords were 9th to 12th level; all of these threats could be easily crushed by the likes of Mordy.

    Besides, advancement could be a real you-know-what under those old rules. When 10 coins weigh one pound, that really caps how much treasure a character can carry. And some of those treasures were a pain to find-how many parties might make it to Snurre's treasure cavern, or mistake the gold and silver urns therein to be the richest prizes in the whole palace? Players get XP only for treasure taken out of a dungeon, not whatever they find but decide not to carry.

    With who knows how many players in a given party, the actual XP shares might drop considerably rather than the simple four-person party that 3E's mechanics are built on. Advancement can be much slower, especially if henchmen and hirelings come along for the ride.

    What I don't like is the assumption under 3E that you have to be 18th-level or higher to seemingly attain a level of fame. With the mechanics designed for high numbers of magic items, and monsters with CRs that go through the roof because of their classes, it becomes that much harder to assume that characters who are 6th-12th level could stop threats like the Temple of Elemental Evil, the giant incursions, or strike at the Fane of Lolth. While under previous editions a certain level of powergaming could be supported (especially if you look at FR, for example), it seems much harder to support lower-scale play in 3E. It just seems that, to be a real mover and shaker, you need prestige classes, a potent arsenal of magic, or some other high-level addition. A simple 13th-level fighter with a humble +2 sword just doesn't have the same level of clout anymore.

    And, despite the increasing power levels that come with 3E, the setting is still firmly based on heroes and villains who for the most part attain levels of power that the PCs can aspire to. The king of Furyondy is a 15th level paladin; the king of Keoland a 14th level ranger; the Overking of Ahlissa is a 14th-level rogue, IIRC. Most of these characters would still have a rough time of it against the more radical power levels we can see in other 3E products. Canon, even in 3E under Holian, Weining and Mona, still has a healthy mix of lower-level characters in positions of authority. Many of the major rulers do not have Epic levels; there's probably at most two dozen characters over 18th level in the LGG.

    I doubt I, Cebrion, ahlissenberg, or Telas would ever try and dictate how Greyhawk should be played. Perhaps I overstated my original points, but the stats presented in a game product affect the "feel" of the world. FR, with the image that Elminster and company have given it, has affected perceptions of that setting for better or worse. By having lower-level characters with fewer magic items, and it being harder to manufacture magic items (but not impossible; I never suggested that it should be), we're in keeping with at least some elements of the Greyhawk tradition and past. I mean, whatever S2 and the like might have had in the way of powergaming, no one would ever mistake it for what they might expect an FR module to look like, would they? There's still room for power gaming if the DM wants it; but unless we want a world where every single member of an assassin's guild can have a cloak of elvenkind (like the FR Fire Knives in 3E), then we need to scale things back a bit.

    For better or worse, people have associated FR with the major power-gaming, incredible abilities being available, and general super-strong play. Greyhawk has its own identity; even though we're still bickering over it, we'd never mistake it for FR. And we'd never make a totally radical departure from the setting's past just to appeal to a new set of players; if all we do is attract new players while repelling our old fanbase, then why don't we just go write for Eberron or FR, then?

    I doubt that you need (and hope you don't need!) l337/pnwed/00ber prestige classes and magic items to attract new buyers these days. I personally would like to include more fluff than anything else for the DM to use, and then he/she can incorporate whatever kind of crunchy bits they like. General statements about how the world works still exist-FR mentions, for instance, that wizards are more common than in other worlds-and no one would mistake these, I would think, for hard-and-fast rules.

    I think I overdid it with things like the proverbial +1 handaxe and actively discouraging Epic-level play, but I think my reasoning still stands. Besides, I can accept a fair amount of non-permanent magic; it's just the idea of +1 swords being casually thrown aside because everyone already has a magic weapon, or everyone turning their nose up at some other permanent magical treasure because they don't want it (as opposed to being unable to use it), that annoys me.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:19 pm  

    Quote:
    8) The Flaness would be broken up into 5 or 6 broad areas. These areas would include the Baklunish West, the Sheldomar, the remains of Aerdi, and others, though I don’t have that clear in my head yet. Each of these would get a regional source book. These would be hard back books, with one issued each year. This way, a DM who likes Nyrond (for example) will only have to purchase a hardback book every 5 or 6 years. If they want to purchase one per year, they may, but will not be railroaded into.


    I've considered the same thing. It has one problem though, the same one Warhammer has. That being, depending on the cycle for reviewing and updating the rules, several sourcebooks will be "obsolete" shortly after being published.
    Of course, avoiding excessive rules material in the sourcebooks, or extreme rules revisions, will reduce this as a problem, but the impression will be there.
    (And yes, new rules editions are needed every 3-7 years. No matter how good the first version is, new issues arise, and new material worthy of inclusion shows up.

    As for the level issue, why must Mordenkainen and others be of a level that is somehow permanently out of reach of the players? Where did this rule come from? I don't recall ever seeing it anywhere, and I think it is a major load of hooey, and one of the reasons I strongly advocate advancing the timeline to a point that the Circle of Eight, and any other "iconic" NPCs are long dead.
    Even if Mordenkainen never shows up to complete missions and snatch glory away from the PCs like Elminster, having him, or any similar NPC, looming over the campaign like some grand overseer of power, and hanging their names around the necks of PCs like noisome albatrosses preventing them from achieving greatness in their own right, is even worse. At that rate, why not just turn him into the Lich-Queen of the Githyanki, and declare he consumes the souls of any PC who dares achieve 12th level so they can never challenge his dominance?
    I can imagine very little less in the spirit of the "original" game than such a "rule."
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:42 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I and no one else ever said anything like that. In fact, that was what concerned me about the rule changes, especially with only four characters as opposed to the six or more that might make up a 1E/2E party. I have a hard time seeing only four 6th level characters surviving the Steading, let alone fighting through the Hall.


    The Steading was originally designed for 9th level characters. Obviously a group of 6th level characters would have a very hard time surviving the Steading.

    Quote:
    Having to rise up to those Epic/high levels to take on powerful villains isn't something that appeals to me, or a lot of other people. Iuz only entrusted a 9th-level cleric to the Temple; Eclavdra was only 10th level as a cleric and fighter, which would only make her a 12th-level character if multi-classed characters are counted as being two levels above their stated number, as EGG suggested; the high priestess of the Fane of Lolth was 14th level; the Slave Lords were 9th to 12th level; all of these threats could be easily crushed by the likes of Mordy.


    You are expected to be 9th level by the time you reach the lowest level of the Temple. That is the level the NPCs that would help you are. (And why I don't think the A 1-4 supermodule can properly be used as a sequel to T 1-4.)
    A party is supposed to be 10-12th level to take on Eclavdra.
    A party is supposed to be 14th level to take on the Fane of Lolth in the vault of the Drow.
    The Slave Lords were always an improperly balanced encounter, with forced defeat of the PCs, followed by an improbably victory.
    And yes, they could all be crushed by a 20th+ level Mordenkainen. Why would Mordenkainen be fighting them?

    Quote:
    Besides, advancement could be a real you-know-what under those old rules. When 10 coins weigh one pound, that really caps how much treasure a character can carry. And some of those treasures were a pain to find-how many parties might make it to Snurre's treasure cavern, or mistake the gold and silver urns therein to be the richest prizes in the whole palace? Players get XP only for treasure taken out of a dungeon, not whatever they find but decide not to carry.


    Which is why smart parties use true seeing to spot all hidden doors or illusion concealed treasures, as well as detect magic to ferret them out, or detect metal for lead that would hide anything.
    And why smart parties will secure enough bags of holding to loot a Federal Reserve Bank, acquire a portable hole, or use Floating Disc. And if all the still fails, simply polymorph into a giant long enough to carry everything away.
    Never underestimate the creativity that raw greed inspires.

    Quote:
    With who knows how many players in a given party, the actual XP shares might drop considerably rather than the simple four-person party that 3E's mechanics are built on. Advancement can be much slower, especially if henchmen and hirelings come along for the ride.


    Except it doesn't slow it down significantly. There is enough raw loot in the Temple of Elemental Evil for a party of 15 to advance at a reasonable rate.

    Quote:
    What I don't like is the assumption under 3E that you have to be 18th-level or higher to seemingly attain a level of fame.


    I wouldn't like that either - if it were true.

    Quote:
    With the mechanics designed for high numbers of magic items, and monsters with CRs that go through the roof because of their classes, it becomes that much harder to assume that characters who are 6th-12th level could stop threats like the Temple of Elemental Evil, the giant incursions, or strike at the Fane of Lolth.


    Having run the 2nd and 3rds parts of the Night Below Campaign, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and now being in the Giants series, I can assure you that it shoud not be hard to assume that at all.
    The group for the Giant series is currently quite oversized at 3 PCs and 6 NPCs, and with an average level of 11th, giving a 3.5 party level of 13th as we move into the Glacial Rift. I have given very few levels to various giants, instead just using the Elite stat array, and selecting different feats. I see no reason to expect this won't be challenging and enjoyable.

    [quoteWhile under previous editions a certain level of powergaming could be supported (especially if you look at FR, for example), it seems much harder to support lower-scale play in 3E. It just seems that, to be a real mover and shaker, you need prestige classes, a potent arsenal of magic, or some other high-level addition. A simple 13th-level fighter with a humble +2 sword just doesn't have the same level of clout anymore.[/quote]

    And yet it is easy to support lower-scale play in 3.5.
    As for a 13th level fighter, if all he has is a +2 sword, he isn't going to move or shake anything.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:48 pm  

    We ended GDQ at 14th level, and that was with the added "bonus" xp of having 1/3 of the party getting off’d. I guess if you are able to collect every gp and item (magical and non) and manage to cart it all to some place you can sell it AND the dm awards you xp for gp values then perhaps you could make it out of there 18th level. Or if the dm somehow allows you to take out every drow house enclave commando style without raising the entire city's attention, then you might come out of it 18th level. Or if you went in at max level and massacred every thing in there, including the alternate worlds of the demonweb, then just maybe you'd be 18th under the 1e xp system. Well the thieves have the best odds at that point, only needing 880,000 xp to get to rom 14th to 18th level. It could happen.

    The main point is that Mordy and company didn't just go on the equivalent of one adventure path and a few epic adventures to get where they are. Those characters were played for literally years in what would equivocate to probably dozens of adventure paths to get them to the levels of power they had attained. In 1e you had to do a heck of a lot of stuff to get to those stellar levels. 3.5e is not even slightly comparable in that regard.

    We played campaigns for literally 6 years before our characters got to 15th level, and we certainly played through more than 12 adventure parts that could be played at a single sitting each. There was felt a level of accomplishment that is lacking form 3.5e.

    There is a quote from the 1e dm's guide that sums everything up for me with regards to how things were intended to be applied not only to GH, but D&D in general, and it is an intention I agree with. I'll paraphrase the quote as I remember only the gist of it(but the level number I definitely remember).

    "Such npc's will be of an unthinkably high level (at least 6th!)."

    6th level = "unthinkably high level"

    When the level of Mordy and friends is viewed in comparison to the above quote, they are definitely badasses.

    It is not that I think pc's should never reach the heights of Mordy and friends, they just ought to actually have to DO SOMETHING to get there. 16-20 game sessions = Mordy levels just doesn't cut it in my book. I'd imagine that playing through the adventures neccesary to be of the levels to even contemplate taking on the GDQ series would themselves take more than 16-20 sessions, let alone the GDQ series itself, which would probably require as many more. It took us quite some time, and our campaign didn't lean overly towards the roleplaying side of things, but was very balanced between role-playing and hack-n-slash. My personal campaign continues in that fashion, and the level advancement has required some tweeking of the 3.5e xp rules to get the desired effect. Even still, the first 3.5 characters that we ran began to rocket in levels more quickly than I realized they would. Even the players were commenting on it. When that happened, I went back to a system more close to 1e, and all is right in the world of GH again(at least my GH that is). Wink

    Going to the topic of the thread, one thing that really needs to be done is to develop the Flan and Baklunish(and the lands where they have the most influence) at least somewhat close to what has been done for the Suel and the Oeridians. Once the Flanaess was generally covered (emphasis on "generally") I'd introduce some info on the outlying lands of the western portion of the continent of Oerik. Another thing that I would personally want to see would be a book on the various organizations of influence spread throughout the Flanaess such as thieves’ guilds, wizards’ guilds, powerful cults, knightly orders, Gnarley Rangers, the Safeton Forces, and also clandestine groups with their own agendas like the Seekers. Of the things that FR did that I thought were the most useful were things like this, particularly info on the villainous groups that pc’s would most likely come into conflict with. Some of the GH groups are covered in desultory fashion in the LGG, but I'd dig a bit deeper into them.
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:54 pm  

    If ever ther should be a quote of the week on CF, this should be the first one.

    Advice for the dm regarding players finding a means to cart off any and all treasure:

    "Never underestimate the creativity that raw greed inspires."

    ---Samwise

    That just cracks me up. Laughing
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 5:43 pm  

    I've just gotta throw this out there...

    I DM'd AD&D 1e for four years in Jr/High school. We met weekly for at least six hours a session, and the party got to about 8-9th level. This was in a mild version of the the typical "new DM / Monty Haul" phase.

    I currently play in a 3.5 FR campaign. We meet weekly for about four hours a session; in about eighteen months of play, my barbarian made it to 17th level. (It's been two years real time, but the DM's wife had a kid, and we took a 6 month hiatus.)

    "Character level" is not comparable in either system. A 10th level d20 D&D character does not compare to a 10th level AD&D character. Mordenkainen should be at a level that would require Joe Gamer to put in years of weekly sessions, not just a year's worth of intense playing. Whether or not that's what the LGG calls him is of no consequense, because we own this setting, right?

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    GreySage

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 6:07 pm  

    I think the strength of Greyhawk is the setting, not in its ruleset. If you asked me to make a list of things I like about it, "slow character advancement rate" would not be on that list, not even on the bottom. That's a matter of play style, not setting, and Greyhawk works just fine for people who like faster advancement, more magic, or other bugaboos mentioned in this thread.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 6:41 pm  

    How the individual campaigns are run certainly isn't of much concern to the game world's developer. It still does matter what level they set the NPCs and so on. Since 3rd edition is, without major DM intervention, a fast leveling system (and explicitly designed to be so), a new publisher for GH should consider whether to keep the NPCs in the sort of level range of the past or up the ante to match the new rules.

    Where the players are in the power scheme of things is up to the DM. But the feel of the setting is determined in part by how the NPCs are established. In the LGG, there is mention of maybe half a dozen very high lvl mages (lvl 17+) in the Sheldomar Valley (The Mage of the Valley, The Wyrd of the Silent Ones, Lashton, Drawmij, maybe a couple others). In the FRCS, it mentions minor cities of 10000 inhabitants that have at least that many. That makes a major difference in the setting and what is expected.

    Similarly, the amount of magic in circulation is relevant. Not as a check on the DM, but as a base line. If everyone in a large thieves' guild has a magic weapon and stealth cloak, that says something different to the reader than if important NPCs are show to have magic items but most grunts don't.

    IMHO, an important component of the GH feel is that the players are highly relevant in a way they aren't in some other settings. The published adventures are often major league ramifications type adventures. Important lords and churches have agents in the area to look into the ToEE, becuase its a big threat. The Slavers were an even bigger deal. And the Giants/Drow yet more so. Yet the characters doing that sort of thing were 8-12th lvl. In other settings, those sorts of groups are bigger, better equipped, higher level, and pretty much just out of the league of an adventuring party. No single adventuring party is going to whack the Zhentarim or the Fire Knives or the Harpers or whomever. The groups have too much "stuff" and many of their leaders are just ultra bad **** (up to an including being directly empowered champions of various gods).

    Its a valid discussion point whether to keep the old school scheme of relative NPC levels or whether we should "sex them up" like Duicarthan and others like to do so they stay the same relative power to the PCs despite the new rules. And that is not a "telling folks how to play" issue.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 7:45 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    How the individual campaigns are run certainly isn't of much concern to the game world's developer. It still does matter what level they set the NPCs and so on. Since 3rd edition is, without major DM intervention, a fast leveling system (and explicitly designed to be so), a new publisher for GH should consider whether to keep the NPCs in the sort of level range of the past or up the ante to match the new rules.

    Where the players are in the power scheme of things is up to the DM. But the feel of the setting is determined in part by how the NPCs are established. In the LGG, there is mention of maybe half a dozen very high lvl mages (lvl 17+) in the Sheldomar Valley (The Mage of the Valley, The Wyrd of the Silent Ones, Lashton, Drawmij, maybe a couple others). In the FRCS, it mentions minor cities of 10000 inhabitants that have at least that many. That makes a major difference in the setting and what is expected.

    Similarly, the amount of magic in circulation is relevant. Not as a check on the DM, but as a base line. If everyone in a large thieves' guild has a magic weapon and stealth cloak, that says something different to the reader than if important NPCs are show to have magic items but most grunts don't.

    IMHO, an important component of the GH feel is that the players are highly relevant in a way they aren't in some other settings. The published adventures are often major league ramifications type adventures. Important lords and churches have agents in the area to look into the ToEE, becuase its a big threat. The Slavers were an even bigger deal. And the Giants/Drow yet more so. Yet the characters doing that sort of thing were 8-12th lvl. In other settings, those sorts of groups are bigger, better equipped, higher level, and pretty much just out of the league of an adventuring party. No single adventuring party is going to whack the Zhentarim or the Fire Knives or the Harpers or whomever. The groups have too much "stuff" and many of their leaders are just ultra bad **** (up to an including being directly empowered champions of various gods).

    Its a valid discussion point whether to keep the old school scheme of relative NPC levels or whether we should "sex them up" like Duicarthan and others like to do so they stay the same relative power to the PCs despite the new rules. And that is not a "telling folks how to play" issue.


    Exactly. But, by the same token, as Dethand pointed out, we can't simply manifest a "bully pulpit" or hearken back simply to previous editions without acknowledging the timelines of the new. With that in mind, I think a broad consensus could be achieved here, based on all the discussion...

    -Shades of grey in the setting. I don't think anyone will argue with this, especially when it comes to history and morality, something I've tried to specifically do in my own writings, by emphasizing political incorrectness, skeletons in the closet, racial and sexual discrimination, and slavery in countries where these things are not expected. I think this both contributes to Greyhawk's identity (at least as it's been developed among fans), and differentiates us a little from other, "cleaner" products on the market. Nothing too explicit or warped would be openly present, just hinted at. It might be hinted at, but nothing and nothing at all would be explicit. DMs and players can fill in the blanks if they want.

    And, of course, in doing so we avoid the problems of polarization as GVD pointed out. We'd also be setting up the "flavor" of the setting, as suggested by NathanBrazil.

    -A novel line to add flavor to the setting, and give DMs and players ideas. Note that, unlike FR, our novel line would not be canon, and would simply serve both as a source of entertainment for non-roleplayers and a way for DMs and players to get advice. Individual authors could go nuts without wrecking the feel of the setting for others. And these novels would, as Woesinger pointed out, be grim, gritty and adult. Cebrion also further developed this, and another point that shows us what not to do in a novel-IOW, no valley girl fairies.

    -Details for the rest of the Oerth. As Wolfsire mentioned, we can offer maps and general oversights for the rest of the world, but details that might be openly contradictory. Why openly contradictory? They'd be designed so DMs could "pick and choose" which details they like to make it fit with the rest of the world. This "pick and choose" method I'll explain later when I address the thorny issues of power levels and magic item counts.

    Detailed sourcebooks on the Flanaess itself. DangerDwarf and GVD both offer excellent ideas; perhaps one sourcebook that details the history and politics of the Flanaess, with various famous dungeons (including the ones I've posted on here :D), the personalities of the rulers (again, me :D), politics and history (such as offfered by Samwise and Kirt on Keoland and Perrenland, respectively), and other interesting bits on this site. Anced_Math suggested incorporating a lot of good fanworks from this site into our sourcebooks-a good idea is a good idea. Further development on the Flan and Baklunish can be pursued, as offered by Cebrion.

    alissenberg suggests one book that recaps a lot of the "old" stuff that works for DMs. I agree and think that this sourcebook could also incorporate the stuff on human gods in different pantheons (courtesy of Arn), demons and gods (suggested by DangerDwarf), and could weigh in at 400-500 pages, as DangerDwarf pointed out. This major book would also leave in plenty of grey areas as Telas suggested, while supplements could fill in the blanks for DMs who are too lazy/stuck for ideas to develop certain areas themselves.

    This would be the source of the central "Canon", that everyone agrees on, as Anced_Math suggested. Further regional supplements can be added on, but are not necessarily needed for DMs and players to enjoy the setting. History can be delved into further here, with a more subtle explanation of the roles demihumans and humanoids play, birth tables, social classes, genealogies of the ruling families, and other business that DMs and players can delve further into, but can otherwise ignore. The further details on humans and demihumans envisioned by Telas can be incorporated here too.

    Canon is advanced through modules rather than massive supplements. Players thus have a golden opportunity to influence oerth-shaking events themselves, and modify them to suit their own campaigns. And, as DangerDwarf pointed out, they would be gradual, and none of the roller-coaster business described by Telas. This would also prevent such heated controversies as those that emerged from FtA; a series of interlocking modules, as I suggested, can allow DMs and players to work these affairs out for themselves, rather than simply imposing them the way FtA did. Besides, more adventures=more sales, don't you think?

    And as such, I would advocate rewinding the timeline to 576 and starting over; that way, players and DMs can start with a clean slate, and people who lament certain events (like my deploring what's been done to Tenh in both FtA and the RPGA online adventures with that alien invasion business). I'm sorry, but too much has happened that I don't like to really be comfortable with making them hard-and-fast canon.

    The system would be 3E/3.5, but with optional rules and suggestions on slowing down advancements, lowering the power levels, and in general offering a lower-key style of play than what's been expected of 3E. A few "Dungeon" modules I've seen have offered suggestions on scaling the various adventures for higher or lower level parties, or ones with more than four characters. The main sourcebooks would offer suggestions on slowing player advancement (alternate XP tables), making magic items more difficult to create (making the various item creation feats inaccessible until a higher level), and other rules would be offered for guys like me, Cebrion, Telas, alissenberg, and Vomaerin, who have issues with the speed of player advancement, the power levels of characters, the amount of magic they own or carry, and the other various points we've illustrated.

    NPC stat blocks in modules would have both "regular" stats according to normal 3E standards, and scaled-down ones for this lower-level style of play preferred by others. As Vomaerin pointed out, we need to discuss whether to keep the old school style or "sex them up", like Vomaerin pointed out.

    To me, it's a compromise but one that works: Folks like Duicarthan who like player advancement fast and to have NPCs and power levels "sexed up" are free to do so, while people like me, Telas, Cebrion, Vomaerin and alissenberg can use the lower power levels if we choose to do so. Heck, we could even include notes on converting them back into 1E/2E format!

    In response to Dethand's concerns about it being a bully pulpit to dictate a certain level of play, it would be stressed that these alternate rules and stat blocks are optional, and not necessary to enjoy the setting. As Vomaerin and others have described, the levels of power in canon products affects player perceptions of the setting, and we only need to explain that for many, Greyhawk is associated with a certain feel that means that NPC levels and magic item counts aren't necessarily as high as players are used to. As a result, the magic item counts are lower than some might expect, although suggestions for adding or decreasing the arsenals and power levels of NPCs are available so DMs can scale things to suit their tastes.

    These optional rules are there for DMs and players who want to recreate that feel, and as an alternative option for those who want to try a different campaign style. As a result, we are not dictating the feel of the setting to anyone, as Dethand and GVD expressed concerns about. We are simply offering some "back conversion" options, as Anced Math put it, for those who prefer a different feel and who still want to use HackMaster/older editions in their gaming.

    It would give ideas and suggestions for those who want to change the system to fit the setting, while leaving the bulk of it intact (me, Telas, alissenberg, Vomaerin, Cebrion) for those who like things the way they are. I would also suggest keeping NPC stat blocks within the core canon to a minimum, so DMs can fill in the stats themselves to suit their own campaigns.

    All this is cobbled together from what I think are some of the best ideas gleaned from this thread. I've tried to use contributions from as many people as possible, while still trying to offer a usable framework that can satisfy everyone, if not make us all jump for joy.

    Thoughts?
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    GreySage

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 8:35 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    It still does matter what level they set the NPCs and so on.


    That should vary depending on what kind of campaign you and your group want to run (which should be decided when a campaign begins). Lots of people, even in 3e, decide not to drag the campaign all the way to 20th level.

    In any case, it's not really important whether the Wyrd of the Silent Ones is 15th level, 20th level, or 25th. He's whatever level "high level" is in your campaign. It's a matter of scale, not "anything above 15th level doesn't feel like Greyhawk." 15th level is high level if your group wants it to be; if they want to go much higher, then 15th level isn't particularly high and won't feel like it is.

    Quote:
    a new publisher for GH should consider whether to keep the NPCs in the sort of level range of the past or up the ante to match the new rules.


    That's up to the gaming group, not the publisher. The publisher should probably stick with the DMG baseline (which isn't very high - I think the LGG fits with it pretty well), and people can raise or lower it as they see fit.

    Quote:
    If everyone in a large thieves' guild has a magic weapon and stealth cloak, that says something different to the reader than if important NPCs are show to have magic items but most grunts don't.


    That's an extreme example; if you use the DMG baseline, more than 90% of characters in a large thieves' guild are going to be first level and won't have any magic items.

    I think you're worrying over nothing.

    Quote:
    Its a valid discussion point whether to keep the old school scheme of relative NPC levels or whether we should "sex them up" like Duicarthan and others like to do so they stay the same relative power to the PCs despite the new rules.


    It seems that the the discussion here is actually whether or not Greyhawk should be explicitly labeled as a "low magic, low level" setting. I think it should just be assumed to be standard, whatever that means to each individual group. Naturally it shouldn't be assumed to be "epic," but I don't think anyone argued it should be.

    I just don't think it does anything to enhance the flavor of the setting to use up precious space on rules for lowering character advancement - those rules are already in the DMG (3.5, page 40), and people who want to use them are already using them. It doesn't make the setting any more "Greyhawk" to me if you advance a level in five adventures instead of one.

    The same with multiple stat blocks for each NPC. I don't even think there should be one full stat block for each NPC - the LGG just gives classes and levels, and while that's grossly insufficient for actually running a character, it's sufficient for the purposes of a gazetteer which has to cover an entire setting. There are premade stat blocks elsewhere.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 8:58 pm  

    I like how you spanned the spectrum of the various ideas thrown out here and meshed them together.

    Just a few comments:

    Novels: I agree that novels would be great. I wouldn't even have a problem with novels being cannon IF it were done correctly. By that I mean, keep it simple. You don't need massive world spanning and groundshaking plotlines to make a good novel. I wish more authors would realize that you don't need a doomsday to tell a good story.

    Modules:

    CSL wrote:
    Besides, more adventures=more sales, don't you think?


    I agree but the popular consensus right now says otherwords. Why, I have no idea. Sales would seem to go against the popular view. d20 companies who made their money on sourcebooks are now scrambling to find other things while the companies who primarily publish modules are still trucking along as normal. *shrug*

    I think modules would be a GREAT idea (plus lend themselves to the nostalgic feeling).



    The 3e System: I disagree that that is the route to go but readily admit that it's for personal reasons. I've grown a bit jaded with the whole 3e thing, and not because I haven't played it either. I switched editions when it came out and its my familiarity with it that has me grumbling about it these days.

    Oh, and one thing I think you forgot to mention. The Art. Please no more full color crappy pictures. Old school art to evoke that nostalgic feeling plus reduce printing costs.
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:23 pm  

    alissenberg wrote:
    I have to second Dethand in this. One shouldn't confuse the 1st edition with Greyhawk. When some of you played Greyhawk you played with the 1st edition ruleset, your experience of playing in Greyhawk is mixed with playing with the 1st edition. Greyhawk was created for 1st edition AD&D (even before) as it was the only edition available (apart from basic D&D). The rules for D&D you used to play in Greyhawk were 1st edition because they were the rules available at this time.


    Exactly! This is what I was trying to point out. Part of the look and feel for many individuals' interpretation of GH is based on the rule system they played under as well as the flavor of the setting itself.

    I played GH up thru GDQ, Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, and Isle of the Ape using 1st Ed rules as pure hack and slash with one DM and a set of made up modules with heavy roleplay in the Wild Coast with another. I would never say that the game ended at 10th level since nothing in the folio or boxed set said that because the 1st ed PHB clearly had spell progression set up for a wizard up thru 29th level.

    I also played Dragonlance in 1st ed. There the book clearly stated retirement after 18th level....
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:41 pm  
    Just a thought...

    Just a quick thought here...

    Why do we *need* stat blocks for Mordenkainen? Are you actually going to fight him? This is (to me) the same as statting out deities or trying to stat out Neo from the Matrix movies.

    There is no need to stat a deity, because they will not fight other deities, and they will snuff the life out of any mortal who dares challenge them. (That said, I can see statting out various Aspects or other representatives of deities.)

    For the same reason, the various rulers don't need stats, because they have others to do their work for them. A ruler's strength lies not in his sword arm, but in his ability to lead. If you need stats for the Mage of the Valley, they should be in the Valley of the Mage module, not thrown out in the campaign setting like so many baseball statistics.

    NPCs that may actually be encountered should be statted in the setting that introduces them as such. I have no reason to know Prince Thrommel's level until the PCs are going to actually run into him (at which point I'll probably change it anyway).

    Sorry for the rant, but isn't it enough to say "Mordenkainen is not only probably the most powerful wizard on Oerth, but he is an accomplished fighter, and is rumored to speak directly with certain gods of magic."? That way you leave the details up to the DM (which is not only the way it should be, but is the way it works out in the end anyway).

    Telas
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    Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:53 pm  

    Well, its possible to publish the material stats light. Never actually say what the various characters are like "officially" in terms of stats.levels/whatever. Just describe them in terms of their impact on the campaign (or lack thereof). I've no problem with that.

    However, its the sort of thing that's looked for by a lot of folks who actually buy the stuff we are pretending we'll be selling. And it does impact the nature of the setting if there are "canon" stats for the Boneheart and whatnot. There are lots of folks, like me, who really don't care what stats are given "officially". But there are lots more, I suspect, who do. Look at how much argument we get over things like Demon stats and whatnot.

    The thieves' guild comment was essentially just a response to the above mentioned Fire Knives. I don't know if the FNs are actually equipped as the example states. I'm just saying that if they are, that is the sort of thing that has ramifications throughout the campaign if there is any attempt at consistency.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:53 am  

    A couple of thoughts... advancing the Canon through modules not source books is a great and terrible idea. It is great for the reasons cited, but it is a cut off to DMs trying to explore and get comfortale with the setting.

    ALso, one of the problems with modules is that Dungeon does such a good job. Even if the module has a little more material, with the websupplements Paizo puts out it is hard to justify the extra cost.

    In 1st ed/my early days there was a much brighter line between DM and Player material. I think this should be emphasized in any future works. TSR understood that the PHB was for players and the DMG was for DMs. WOTC seems to want to blend these sections in all books so that they can sell all books to all participants. This is a mistake IMO, that removes the mystery and wonder and reduces the quality of the experiance. I love the D20 works by others because I am positive my players have not read it. So, in any product, clearly label thestuff that players should not read.


    I would give some guidance on levels in any book. It allows a cohesive and believable setting. I think there are two different things going on in the gaming world. What I think we need are a reasonable spread of levels and locals that justify the higher levels. The court of Aerdy or Keoland both justify a large number of high level people. The Court of Gran March should justify a few high level warrior types. The court of Barony xyz might have a few 9th or 10th levels. The Village of Hennet should (IMO) cap out at 6th or 7th.

    I do like how this thread is bringing out cohesive quality cooperative thoughts.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:19 am  

    Good point; You or I may not care about stats, but the Market will... :-\

    I calculate XP per norm (for monsters/obstacles overcome), then award the party 2/3 of it. They're usually at about half or two-thirds of "expected value per level". There have been some grumblings (especially with the leveling), but it seems to work so far. Problems I've run into include the balance between classes (monks and wizards become more powerful as magic items become more scarce), and the balancing of certain monsters (3.5 doesn't care what "plus" an item is to hit a critter, just that it's magic). I've helped this out by creating items that are low-powered, like a sword that doesn't have a plus but can strike a critter resistant to all but magic items, and additional levels of "masterwork" (esp. for armor). Another 'nerf' of the casters is to make them "hit" the square they're aiming for. This is generally pretty easy, but there's always that "oops moment"...

    Assuming GH is written as a "light magic/low power" campaign, perhaps there should be a brief page or two detailing how to convert to a "rules as written" campaign? "Mordy should be Level 40 or so, not 20+; most of the other named NPCs should rise commensurately. Assume any nobility has at least 150% of 'expected value per level' on P.135 in the DMG; more powerful nobles should have access to just about anything they want."

    Hey, if the PCs can order magic items for mere gold, who's to say the Overking can't? :D

    A couple of pages reinforcing "why higher level characters should behave themselves, and what happens if they don't" is probably also in order. If this is a pseudo-Eurpopean setting, we should also have pseudo-European intrigue, blackmail, murder, executions, revolutions, and other not-so-proud elements of history. (I'm reading Neal Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy, and life back then just plain sucked.) IF the PCs behave, then they've less to worry about.

    Telas, with another random series of thoughts...
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:48 am  

    Anced_Math wrote:

    Also, one of the problems with modules is that Dungeon does such a good job. Even if the module has a little more material, with the websupplements Paizo puts out it is hard to justify the extra cost.


    I disagree there. I don't dispute the quality of Dungeon's work but I dont buy them for 1 reason. I prefer modules over a magazine with adventures in it.

    I'd wager I'm not the only one either. Look at Goodman Games DCC line, they've got what, at least 20 modules published and still going strong? There is defineately a market out there. This is far from scientific data but while looking at the Noble Knight Games site today I noticed Palace of Shadows and the Adventure Begins both listed in their "Most Popular"sidebar. So they are selling.

    Necromancer games started with small 24-32 page modules as well and now while they prouce larger ones, many of their fans want the low page count modules to come back.

    I think that the line of thought that small modules can't compete with Dungeon is a myth. They just need to be quality modules.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:08 am  

    Telas wrote:
    Good point; You or I may not care about stats, but the Market will... :-\

    Assuming GH is written as a "light magic/low power" campaign, perhaps there should be a brief page or two detailing how to convert to a "rules as written" campaign? "Mordy should be Level 40 or so, not 20+; most of the other named NPCs should rise commensurately. Assume any nobility has at least 150% of 'expected value per level' on P.135 in the DMG; more powerful nobles should have access to just about anything they want."

    Telas, with another random series of thoughts...


    This is what I was trying to achieve in a compromise/consensus with my multiple stat blocks. Preambles can point out that DMs can use either the "current rules" stats, the "lower power" stats, or make up their own dependent on what's present in a campaign. That generally fits in with the modules more than the core sourcebooks, which I feel should be mostly statsless, allowing DMs to fill in the blanks as needed. Samples might be included for some characters, but they are not hard-and-fast rules.

    By making many of the characters lower level and with fewer magic items, we'd at least put the ideas in players' minds of a low power campaign. Hence we'd have stat blocks as needed for market purposes, while simultaneously avoiding the problems that Telas, alissenberg, Cebrion, Vomaerin and I have described. At the same time, we'd also avoid the "bully pulpit" problems described by Dethand and NathanBrazil, and aren't automatically rewinding everything back to 1st Edition. Backwards conversion might be available for 1st Edition diehards, but can otherwise be ignored.

    Telas wrote:


    A couple of pages reinforcing "why higher level characters should behave themselves, and what happens if they don't" is probably also in order. If this is a pseudo-Eurpopean setting, we should also have pseudo-European intrigue, blackmail, murder, executions, revolutions, and other not-so-proud elements of history. (I'm reading Neal Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy, and life back then just plain sucked.) IF the PCs behave, then they've less to worry about.

    Telas, with another random series of thoughts...


    This is something I've also tried to illustrate with my "shades of grey" comments and notes on slavery, skeletons in the closet, racial and sexual discrimination, etc. etc.

    I'm trying to respond to the legitimate and good ideas everyone has, while also considering their points of view. I think a broad consensus can be found here.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:15 am  

    Modules should be available in an electronic format. The problems with paper modules are availability, and the difficulty for DMs who tend to run paperless games (mine, and the two games I'm in are all as paperless as possible). I would have no problem at all with a sub-$10, 20-page module of at least decent quality. Since there's no printing, distribution, or buyback costs, the prices are much lower than paper. (Someone correct me if my assumptions are wrong, please!)

    Paper modules should still be available, but at a higher price that recognizes their higher associated costs.

    Additionally, keeping lines of communication with other third party publishers is a good idea. I think it would be great if the Goodman, etc modules could have a line like "This module easily fits into the World of Greyhawk setting in the Cairn Hills, at the southern end of hex S-42." (No, I don't have a map handy.)

    I still think that year-to-year updates should be done similar to an encyclopedia's yearbook, available electronically for a low cost. Every five years, the major events could be combined into a general update. The modules could still "drive" the campaign, but the DM wouldn't need every module made available.

    Telas, still not addressing content...
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:20 am  

    Personally, dictating to people what power level or style they should play in Greyhawk sounds like madness. Equally going back to a dead game system (sorry, but that's what 1e AD&D is) and 1970's artwork - madness and more madness.

    Just present the world in all it's shades of grey glory in a way that'll be attractive to new players (meaning nice colour artwork!), with well-written adventures and hook-some adventure supplements that'll fire their imagination and do it in a game system that people are widely familiar with. Trying to turn GH into Grognard World is the best way to marginalise GH than it already is.

    Does that mean no old skool? No - old skool has its place, but pure nostagia 'Hawk is a dead end (aside from in retirement homes where it'll be very popular in 20-30 years). GH is a big enough world to cater to old skool, new skool and pre-skool roleplayers. Just present the world with hooks and opportunities for both and let the player decide what they want to do. It's what they've always done.

    If you pigeon hole your world as this or that, you're just reducing your potential market before you even ship product #1.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:25 am  

    Telas wrote:
    Modules should be available in an electronic format. The problems with paper modules are availability, and the difficulty for DMs who tend to run paperless games (mine, and the two games I'm in are all as paperless as possible). I would have no problem at all with a sub-$10, 20-page module of at least decent quality. Since there's no printing, distribution, or buyback costs, the prices are much lower than paper. (Someone correct me if my assumptions are wrong, please!)

    Paper modules should still be available, but at a higher price that recognizes their higher associated costs.


    Print modules from Goodman games are running about $10-12. 24-32 page modules for C&C are already lower than $10 ($8.95).

    I agree that you could do them in PDF format as well, but I'm the type of gamer that likes a paper product in hand.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:29 am  

    Woesinger wrote:
    and 1970's artwork - madness and more madness.

    Just present the world in all it's shades of grey glory in a way that'll be attractive to new players (meaning nice colour artwork!)


    Art is easily one of the more expensive parts of producing a product. Color art adds even more with the printing costs. As a consumer, I'd rather have a cheaper product with well done non-color art than a more expensive book with color art. It's the words that I'm buying it for.

    Besides, color art doesn't make for a better looking product. Look at WotC's splat books. With the exceptions of a few pieces, most of the art is horrid. Give me classy black and whites over the colored eye sores that have been hitting some pages any day.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:15 pm  

    Cebrion wrote:
    We ended GDQ at 14th level, and that was with the added "bonus" xp of having 1/3 of the party getting off’d. I guess if you are able to collect every gp and item (magical and non) and manage to cart it all to some place you can sell it AND the dm awards you xp for gp values then perhaps you could make it out of there 18th level. Or if the dm somehow allows you to take out every drow house enclave commando style without raising the entire city's attention, then you might come out of it 18th level. Or if you went in at max level and massacred every thing in there, including the alternate worlds of the demonweb, then just maybe you'd be 18th under the 1e xp system. Well the thieves have the best odds at that point, only needing 880,000 xp to get to rom 14th to 18th level. It could happen.


    Why wouldn't the DM award you xp for gp? That is part of the 1st ed rules, and, according to one of EGG's columns in Dragon, the main source of xp to advance by the design of the system. I suppose if you want to deliberately deny your players xp that would be a great way to do it, but it comes across as rather odd to appeal to the old rules then refuse to play by them.
    As for brutally slaughtering everything in existence, as with greed, don't underestimate the raw savagery of players, not to mention the raw ability to weasel random encounter tables. (Roll up a week's worth of encounters and see how large a freed slave army you can amass. A few charm spells that can last a month back in 1st ed, tons (by weight) of arms and armor from slain patrols, and it is break out the mass combat rules baby, Erelhei-Cinlu is burning tonight!)

    Quote:
    The main point is that Mordy and company didn't just go on the equivalent of one adventure path and a few epic adventures to get where they are. Those characters were played for literally years in what would equivocate to probably dozens of adventure paths to get them to the levels of power they had attained. In 1e you had to do a heck of a lot of stuff to get to those stellar levels. 3.5e is not even slightly comparable in that regard.


    Mordy and company also wandered around with a subdued dragon in a covered wagon, waiting for bandits to show up on the random encounter tables so they could cash in on that type A treasure.
    As for how many or few encounters they fought to gain those levels, I doubt we will ever really know. As far as we know, there were only 2 major plot lines they ever engaged in - the Greyhawk dungeons and the Temple of Elemental Evil. Most of the "legendary" adventures of the past had nothing to do with the overall campaign, instead just being tournament adventures later adapted for the setting.

    Quote:
    We played campaigns for literally 6 years before our characters got to 15th level, and we certainly played through more than 12 adventure parts that could be played at a single sitting each. There was felt a level of accomplishment that is lacking form 3.5e.


    Most people who talk about the adventure paths say they take significantly more than a single sitting to play each part.
    As for a difference in level of accomplishment, most players I run games for are thoroughly satisfied with what they accomplish in 1-3 years of game play.

    Quote:
    There is a quote from the 1e dm's guide that sums everything up for me with regards to how things were intended to be applied not only to GH, but D&D in general, and it is an intention I agree with. I'll paraphrase the quote as I remember only the gist of it(but the level number I definitely remember).

    "Such npc's will be of an unthinkably high level (at least 6th!)."

    6th level = "unthinkably high level"


    But what about the context?
    Wasn't that in reference to patrons for 1st level PCs?
    Indeed, 6th level PCs would be of unthinkably high level - to those 1st level PCs. To other PCs?

    Quote:
    When the level of Mordy and friends is viewed in comparison to the above quote, they are definitely badasses.


    Or a weight on the campaign that should be expunged.
    The more time passes, and the more they are used the way they are, the more I think Zeb Cook was right trying to slaughter the Circle in Vecna Lives!
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:25 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Canon is advanced through modules rather than massive supplements. Players thus have a golden opportunity to influence oerth-shaking events themselves, and modify them to suit their own campaigns. And, as DangerDwarf pointed out, they would be gradual, and none of the roller-coaster business described by Telas. This would also prevent such heated controversies as those that emerged from FtA; a series of interlocking modules, as I suggested, can allow DMs and players to work these affairs out for themselves, rather than simply imposing them the way FtA did. Besides, more adventures=more sales, don't you think?


    Except . . .
    Players will still resolve adventures differently. So in the end, any change to the setting will still only be presented in a sourcebook that references the "default" resolution of the adventure.

    And the problem with adventures is that only the DM and cheating players buy them. That is a significantly smaller base than for sourcebooks and rules books. The reason smaller companies can manage to publish them and survive is because of scale. They can make money off of smaller product runs, as well as having significantly smaller product lines overall.

    So no, advancing the setting only through adventures simply won't work.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:28 pm  

    I don't disagree that bad colour artwork is about as much use as bad B&W artwork, but good colour art will trump good B&W everytime. If you want a compare and contrast - look at the colour depictions of the various priests for in the FR books and then look at the B&W drawings in the back of the LGG. Rubbish art was one of the chief criticisms of the otherwise excellent LGG.

    If you've got quality, colour art is worth the expense. You'd be amazed how many people will buy a book for the "wow" factor of good art.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:22 pm  

    Samwise wrote:
    The reason smaller companies can manage to publish them and survive is because of scale.


    Which, if any of us were able to buy the rights to Greyhawk, that is exactly what we would be.

    A smaller company.
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:45 pm  

    Woesinger wrote:

    If you've got quality, colour art is worth the expense. You'd be amazed how many people will buy a book for the "wow" factor of good art.


    Yes, well done color art is pretty. But it is also pretty expensive. If I had money to throw away, or a stable of pet artists then sure I'd add it.

    But as you yourself said earlier:

    Woesinger wrote:
    Producing 360 or 500 page glorious colour books is expensive business (which means you have to charge a high price to recoup your costs, which in turn affects your sales).
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 11:18 pm  

    My comments are geared towards the relative power of individuals npc's of reknown in GH, and are not in any way a comment on what power levels people prefer to play their games at. My comments are more my own observations regarding 3.5e and how the new more rapid level advancement doesn't "jive with" the stated levels of GH npc's of reknown. Those npc's of reknown are comparatively wusses.

    As soon as you put that level number next to a name, you've set a power level relative to the game system it was published for. Sure, it's one that can be adjusted up or down as the dm chooses, but the level has been set in the minds of the community relative to the rules set. When you can see pc's rocket in levels so fast that they catch up to such luminaries as Mordy in little game world time compared to the supposed century+ time is required for these luminaries, you'd think that Mordy and friends must be some fat lazy bastards not to have reached 50th level at least and taken out any statted avatar(once again, stupidly setting a power level, and this time on deities) or villain that was stupid enough to screw with their precious Balance.

    The major factor that contributes to this in 3.5e is the inherent escalation factor regarding magic items. AC's go way up, saves go way up, save dc's go way up. Nothing ever bottoms out. You need more more more more more of everything always. For instance, a save vs. breath used to top out eventually regardless of how old the dragon was. Now, you'll never get an edge up on the dragon breath save because the save dc continues to rise. There is literally no effect for going up a level. The pc has more hit points and a better save bonus, but the dragon breath does more damage and has a higher save dc. Nothing has changed, except that the pc might gain access to items that fill every available slot to give them a bonus. Butt plug +20 vs. dragon breath anyone? Yes, all holes are filled with rock-hard magic items, and if not your butt is par-broiled.
    This leads to an inherent change to the campaign world environment unless certain steps are taken as a dm.

    This mainly comes from the point of writing material for new folks who do not have the experience of having played past editions which definitely gave a guiding feel for the campaign world on some basic level. I guess I would be more concerned about the message sent to such folks.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:57 am  

    Rather than worrying about whether 3e is "compatable" with the WoG as presented in canon or getting into cycles of NPC or god/archfiend level inflation - just have a small paragraph at the start of the campaign book saying that the WoG is best suited to low to mid level play and that level 10+ PCs are likely to be fairly major figures of note in the Flanaess. Please adjust your game accordingly.

    Simple as that. If GM's and players want a grim and gritty low-magic/low-level slog, they'll cut back on the rewards. If they want to zoom up to reasonably high level play, they'll do that too. If they want to play vanilla D&D, but also want to stay low level - then have generations of PCs. Your first PC's topped out? Retire him and play his new up and coming protege. Let the players decide.

    P.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:03 am  

    Woesinger,

    Excellent idea... let them decide. However, such a statement, and maybe some reference points as I attempted to explain earlier, will let a DM tailor (or not, at their discretion) their campaign to modules, adventure paths, etc. They wont find their characters dead on the bottom floor of Maure Castle becuase they lacked magic, and they wont have to rework the module or their campaign after they purchased it. THe goal being a happy customer.

    Another thing that we have gotten sidetracked from in our discussions of system/levels/mechanics is that the strength of GH has always been story. The stories were unique and engaging, if not always pulitzer level writting. THat is one of the things that must be present.

    As we discuss a CF adventure path, I think the people at this site have the creativity to accomplish the last. Decide story first, scenerio second, then craft the adventure in 3E and convert, adjusting as seems fitting.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:33 am  

    *confused* How would we avoid them having to rework modules and the like? The only reason why we need to establish the stat basis of NPCs is for module purposes.. Once we set a standard for GH via the modules, then everyone who doesn't follow that standard has to rejig anything we publish to suit their campaign. We as publishers need a baseline for how we expect the campaign to be played so there is consistency in the module design and so on. If we say "oh, this is generally a lower level campaign" and publish a bunch of SCAP style supermodules that have PCs blow through the levels, then we are talking out our rears. If everything we publish is designed for characters in the 1-12 range, then folks who are used to the standards set by the APs are going to need to rework things to suit their gameplay.

    Reworking modules and the like to suit the DM's campaign is a given, I'd think. The only question is whether we, as publishers, are supporting a "standard 3rd edition" advancement rate or a slower one (via our advice text and choice of adventures).
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:20 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    As soon as you put that level number next to a name, you've set a power level relative to the game system it was published for. Sure, it's one that can be adjusted up or down as the dm chooses, but the level has been set in the minds of the community relative to the rules set. When you can see pc's rocket in levels so fast that they catch up to such luminaries as Mordy in little game world time compared to the supposed century+ time is required for these luminaries, you'd think that Mordy and friends must be some fat lazy bastards not to have reached 50th level at least and taken out any statted avatar(once again, stupidly setting a power level, and this time on deities) or villain that was stupid enough to screw with their precious Balance.


    Well there are some (not enough) limits. In the 3.5 standard xp tables, you stop getting xp awards for creatures that are 8 levels below your character, so after a while, the latest kobold/orc/goblin army is not much of a challenge. Getting XP for the leaders of said army is a different matter entirely. Mordy and the rest are not necessarily fat and lazy, they are just keeping in practice and need better challenges...
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:32 am  

    Random synapses firing -

    Edition and Feel

    Dethand wrote:
    Greyhawk began as a campaign to play the D&D game in, not as a way too play D&D.


    IMO, this is one of, if not the, single most important note made in this thread. While the quoted statement certainly was true, and may still be true, I am not certain. Has GH become a "way to play D&D" through its association with a style of play encouraged by a particular, and now no longer supported, ruleset - 1e/2e? I am not sure. I am sure the question cannot be blythly dismissed or affirmed save by adherants of this or that rules edition. I think the question is quite open.

    This said, if I ran GH, there would be no question but that GH used the rules set current at the time, assuming I had that license as well as the GH IP.

    People play by the current rules. If you want new players, you must keep up with the newest rules set. Having GH tied to a prior rules set is publishing suicide and a waste of the money invested.

    Having a GH book be "rules neutral" doesn't really work either as the rules impact the setting - what level is X NPC? Players and DMs will want to know and the answer will come from the rules set being used.

    Rules sets also include assumptions about how a game will play in actual practice and thus influence the feel of the experience of playiong in that setting. Simple example - Attacks of Opportunity (AoO). 3x rules introduce AoO's. If utilized, combat feels noticeably different in 3x than in prior editions because of the AoO's, to say nothing of other rules, combat or noncombat. 3x heavy reliance on skills has a similar effect. Perhaps the most noticeable example of how a rules set influences the feel of a game comes in the form of the Thief/Rogue class. 1e thieves feel somewhat different to play that 2e thieves and massively different than 3e thieves. This is not a value judgment just a note of nebulous feel - some will be more insensate to feel than others, while some will be more sensitive to feel.

    Looping back to Dethand's note, quoted above, this doesn't mean GH has become "a way to play D&D" through long association with prior rule sets but it does hold out that possibility. Still, I would always go with the whatever current rules set. Yet, sensitive to the "feel" issue, I would look for flexibility in the rules set to replicate that "feel." As 3x demonstrates, this can be quite difficult but I think the onus is then appropriately on those looking for the feel, as rules currentness is the only way you will reliably get new players interested.

    High Level NPCs & the Elminster Syndrome

    Should PCs be able to advance to challenge notable NPCs in a setting? I think this depends on whether the NPC is used to define the setting. If the NPC does not help to define the setting, there is no reason that the PCs should not be able to rise to challenge that NPC. If, however, the NPC is definitional to the setting, ie the setting would not be the setting without the NPC by some large measure, then the PCs should probably not be allowed to challenge that NPC by rising to its level.

    Elminster, IMO, has become (even if he was not intended to be initially) definitional to FR, by way of example. Too many metaplot threads run through Elminster to allow PCs to challenge him. If you play in FR, you tacitly agree to always play under Elminster's eye to one degree or another. Elminster is then the ultimate DM sanction to "preserve" the Realms as the Realms. Is this bad? Not if you want the Realms absolutely preserved in the form presented.

    I think a similar situation now exists in GH. Mordy, as the preserver of the Balance, and secondarily a Circle of Eight (even if the membership changes) has become definitional to GH. It is how the Balance is maintained or adjusted. Interestingly, however, Mordy is not El, as Mordy now has a good aligned, Tenser, and an evil aligned, Rary, equal. This is dissimilar to El - particularly because Mordy, in maintaining the Balance, could work with either Tenser or Rary, just depending on the state of the Balance. Or all three could be at odds. And Rary and Tenser will, by alignment and inclination, always be at odds.

    IMO, PCs should not be allowed to rise to challenge Mordy, and to lesser extents the Circle, Tenser and Rary. If you play in GH, you tacitly agree to always play under Mordy's eye et al to one degree or another. Mordy et al is then the ultimate DM sanction to "preserve" GH as GH. Is this bad? Not if you want the GH absolutely preserved in the form presented. Mordy is also much more subtle and variable in his allegiences than Elminster, so it is much easier not to have him hog the spotlight, while still staying true to his character. Mordy by preference lays in the weeds and prefers not to let you see him coming, while Elminster is dispatching Harpers, Chosen, PCs etc. all in the name of good (which is far narrower a concept that Balance).

    Given this opinion, Mordy et al are ultra Epic characters. And even a timeline advance will not slow them down as they have the capacity to extend their own lives. I'd make Mordy a permanent fixture, Tenser and Rary as well, with the Co8 changing membership.

    If I developed GH, I would look to more prominently set Mordy, Tenser and Rary against each other in the metaplot, giving each a "circle" after a fashion. I would have each largely cancel the others out, thus letting PCs manuver but preserving te metaplot tools for need.

    Regional Sourcebooks

    I despise this idea. Way to take the gray out of Greyhawk. I would never want to isolate and define any region of the Flanaess for special treatment in the detail necessary to support a regional sourcebook.

    Agreed Upon Canon

    I despise this idea even more. Way to take the gray out of Greyhawk. I would never want canon marching forward in lockstep with declarations of "right" or "wrong" or "true" or "false" as such is the antithesis of grey, to say nothing of straightjacketing DMs. I love the gray areas. I love that GH fans can argue and support in canon varying interpretations. I think it is inherently part of GH's charm and appeal. You can intellectually engage the setting, not merely understand ot comprehend it.

    Whose Hawk?

    I would want a GH that could be everyone's GH, not one that forbid this vision or that. This means GH must be presented flexibly, vaguely and contradictorily. Firm development, certitude and conformity are great for a DMs game and vision but would kill a published GH. GH and GHers are rugged individualists - like the old colonial flag "Don't Tread on Me." Any conception that would change this is, IMO, anathema.

    I think one needs to keep two mindsets separate in this hypothetical discussion - DM and IP holder. The two are different as should be the mindsets, IMO, and what is good for an individual DM may be bad for the IP holder trying to make a go of publishing GH.

    YMMV
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:50 am  

    Part of the problem in power level is what canon has established.

    Consider:
    Most players, though not all, want their rules to work on the basis of "If Mordenkainen/Elminster/Robliar could do it, how can I do it?". Once you say, they can't players want a good reason. These days it is not enough to simply say "that was in the past of the world". Well what changed? And is there a story/game mechanic to change things that is sufficient to explain away the past.

    Two examples and comparisons from other games.
    1.Epic Level spells - You can say they don't exist in GH. But clearly the Invoked Devestation/Rain of Colorless Fire occurred. So from a rules standpoint you must explain why it cannot be done with the current rules system. In Forgotten Realms, the was worked around in 2nd ed with the concept of Mythals and ancient Netheril and why 13th level spells existed at one time, but they don't in the current Realms. You can say the ID/RoCF drained magic away or something, but it must be there.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:10 am  

    2.Canon adventures - retro fitting or even explaining how they work in the world within the context of the adopted rule system.
    For the moment, remove the rule system and summarize GDQ.
    "The party tries to save Istivin from some inpenetrable globe fighting Hill Giants, Frost Giants, Fire Giants. Along they way they find that the drow are involved and fight Drow Patrols, encounter aquatic humanoids called Kuo-Toa, and enter a Drow City. They fight at the temple of the Drow goddess Lolth. Finally they might have to fight the goddess Lolth herself."

    Did the event occur in Greyhawk? Most would say yes, I think. Most if not all players would say, "Wow, that sounds cool. Maybe we can have an adventure like that."
    (OK I did not make it exiting above, but you get the idea here)
    If it happened, then your adopted rules should be capable of statting it or explain storywise why such a thing can no longer happen. Storywise, perhaps the party was misteken. "Lolth" was an avatar, proxy, trusted aide, or whatever, not the goddess herself...
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:36 am  

    Some campaign books are written rules lite, but those books work because levelling and balance are not an issue. The example that comes to mind are the latest books/PDFs for Traveller. That is because the rules did not change sufficiently to matter, and when they do, the term is specific and applicable to all versions of the game. A Jump 6 starship travels the same distance regardless of game. A duke commands a specific level of power and so on. Many of the "terms" may work differently in the various rules systems, but they have a specific applicability.

    I do not think this is possible with Greyhawk, specifically because AD&D/D&D provides makes characters and "monsters" alike rated in level based context consistent within its own rules system(we hope). If you toss out the numeric values involved, then you can write rules lite. Such a book would not be fun for me in D&D...
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:40 am  
    My mind is a-glow with whirling transient nodes of thought..

    Until GVD mentioned that the grey areas are the defining characteristic of GH, I didn't realize how powerful and flexible that really is. Nice post; I should have recognized that...

    (Background: At GenCon last year, I was at an Eberron seminar with Keith Baker and others; I asked if they'd leave grey areas in the setting, "unlike some unnamed campaign settings". The SRO crowd applauded the question, some very vocally. Keith and co. seemed a bit taken aback.)

    I run a GH campaign with a number of non-canon changes to it. I won't get into the details here (players tend to Google), but some would cause a minor flamewar among grognards. If some of the members here were to honor my table with their presence, they'd find quite a few of their assumptions to be challenged, and some of them to be flat wrong. This cannot gracefully happen in the Realms ("Where innovation/improvisation is Forgotten!").

    And there's the advantage of Greyhawk. It is what you make it, not what someone tells you it is. There's enough information on websites like this for any DM worth his screen to run it, without tying his hands or forcing storyline changes on him.

    I can play in just about anyone's Greyhawk campaign, and certain things will remain the same: The Suel are blonde and arrogant, the Great Kingdom is really neither, Iuz is a mean old bastard, and someone unexpected is behind the plot you're unraveling.

    However, the actual details vary from DM to DM. What is the connection between the Scarlet Brotherhood and Tharizdun (if any)? Did the Overking really make his entire court some kind of undead? Who really was behind the ToEE? What's a soul husk, and how do you use it? And what the hell DID happen to Prince Thrommel?

    At the same time, I think there is room to clarify and update a few things, and would make those changes in a GHCS. Personally, I'd like to see a thicker campaign setting than the LGG. I don't think it needs to run 500 pages (at what, $75?). Regional sourcebooks could be paperback and about 100 pages each, mostly on the bigger picture of the region. A "Cultures" book would cover races, subraces, pantheons, and some monsters, but there's no need for a "Magic of GH" or other silliness. Finally, have available an inexpensive 20-50 page paperback "Players Guide", also available on PDF, that does not include DM-level information. For the lazy or busy DM, make up a large Web Enhancement with a detailed village and its surroundings.

    The total cost for a DM would be $40 for the GHCS, $15 for the regional paperback, $30 for the CoGH book, and maybe $10 for the PGtGH, for a grand total of under $100 for a complete campaign setting.

    The writing should be light on detail, heavy on atmosphere and story, with plenty of advice on how to change it to fit your gaming style, and possible answers for the above questions (and more). While a new GHCS can't be a rehash of 1980s gaming, neither can it be what the current incarnation is: an attempt to provide something for everyone. With that in mind, there will be some rules restrictions (no/few Dwarf Wizards), there will be some guidelines on character values and level progression, and there will be some "player be cool" ammunition for the DM.

    Telas[/b]
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:28 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    The major factor that contributes to this in 3.5e is the inherent escalation factor regarding magic items. AC's go way up, saves go way up, save dc's go way up. Nothing ever bottoms out. You need more more more more more of everything always. For instance, a save vs. breath used to top out eventually regardless of how old the dragon was. Now, you'll never get an edge up on the dragon breath save because the save dc continues to rise. There is literally no effect for going up a level. The pc has more hit points and a better save bonus, but the dragon breath does more damage and has a higher save dc. Nothing has changed, except that the pc might gain access to items that fill every available slot to give them a bonus. Butt plug +20 vs. dragon breath anyone? Yes, all holes are filled with rock-hard magic items, and if not your butt is par-broiled.
    This leads to an inherent change to the campaign world environment unless certain steps are taken as a dm.


    Except the advancement of all such effects is not linear.
    And the effect of other magic, specifically protective spells, is not linear.
    An encounter with dragons at median level can become thoroughly irrelevant from simple energy protection spells. (Which happened in an LG game I ran. I figured the party of 3 druids and 1 cleric would walk through most of the encounters, and get slaughtered by the dragons. Instead, between energy resistance, and summoned critters, it was probably the easiest encounter of the adventure.)
    Likewise barring an overwhelming focus on AC enhancement, which usually has devastating effects on attack bonus enhancement, at a certain point critters are simply going to hit everyone except the super-AC PC. (Which has happened repeatedly in LG, and is happening right now as I run the G series. The PCs simply can not boost their AC enough to affect the ability of the giants to get in return shots, except for the dwarves.)

    No, nothing ever tops out. There is always another critter, with another feat, and another high stat modifier, that can unleash a power with a higher DC. I fail to see that as a problem, except when it comes to death effects, and the destabilization caused by death effects. Aside from that, and the related "initiative or die!" effect, it keeps the game playable at higher levels. It is adding another 0 to every bumper on a pinball machine.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:56 am  

    GVD wrote:
    Having a GH book be "rules neutral" doesn't really work either as the rules impact the setting


    Nathan Brazil wrote:
    Some campaign books are written rules lite, but those books work because levelling and balance are not an issue.


    Nathan Brazil wrote:
    I do not think this is possible with Greyhawk, specifically because AD&D/D&D provides makes characters and "monsters" alike rated in level based context consistent within its own rules system(we hope).


    Uh. '83 box set isn't really what I'd call rules intense. What's it have, comliness and stats for gods? A few mentions levels. Hardly ground breaking "crunch" there. The setting is what made that piece, not the rules. A classic piece useful for any edition.

    The LGG again, I don't have it in front of me, but i don't think it has any crunch in it either. Excellent book, can run a campaign for any edition using it.

    But given the above quotes, how can that be possible?
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:48 am  

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    "Lolth" was an avatar, proxy, trusted aide, or whatever, not the goddess herself...


    Considering Lolth is still alive, it seems that the party lost. In that case, there's no reason not to assume that they fought Lolth in her true form - it's just that she killed them all.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:58 am  

    Woesinger wrote:
    WoG is best suited to low to mid level play


    That's not true, though. A plausible campaign arc could begin with killing goblins and end with thwarting a demonic invasion - or battling Iuz himself. Or it could end battling a great wyrm dragon, or Dragotha, or Kyuss, or Demogorgon. Or a solar, if you want to swing that way.

    There's no reason to claim Greyhawk is better suited to low to middle levels when it clearly isn't.

    The hullabaloo about NPC levels is misguided; unless you want to run a campaign where the PCs slaughter their way up the feudal system, the rulers of the Flanaess aren't going to be the primary antagonists. It's unlikely Mordenkainen will be either. If the PCs become higher level than most NPCs, that's fine - there are still great challenges to face.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:18 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    NathanBrazil wrote:
    "Lolth" was an avatar, proxy, trusted aide, or whatever, not the goddess herself...


    Considering Lolth is still alive, it seems that the party lost. In that case, there's no reason not to assume that they fought Lolth in her true form - it's just that she killed them all.


    Exactly how it happened in my campaign, except that Lolth was temporarily weakened/banished. There was a major civil war in the Vault when Eclavdra's house rebelled and began openly worshipping Graz'zt. Lolth's clerics could not regain spells, and only a desperate alliance with the Illithid won the day for them. Eclavdra was slain, and her only surviving daughter Liith fled to the northern Hellfurnaces, where she began experimenting on crossbreeding Drow with the Goblin races to strike back at the Spider-worshippers. One ill-fated pre-emptive strike at the Yeomanry later, Liith is licking her wounds and trying to figure out how to get back at the adventuring party that foiled her plans, while the surviving Drow in Erelhei-Cinlu learn to welcome their new mind-flayer overlords...

    Yeah, off-topic as usual,

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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:41 am  

    rasgon wrote:

    The hullabaloo about NPC levels is misguided; unless you want to run a campaign where the PCs slaughter their way up the feudal system, the rulers of the Flanaess aren't going to be the primary antagonists. It's unlikely Mordenkainen will be either.



    *applauds*

    Well put.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:40 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    NathanBrazil wrote:
    "Lolth" was an avatar, proxy, trusted aide, or whatever, not the goddess herself...


    Considering Lolth is still alive, it seems that the party lost. In that case, there's no reason not to assume that they fought Lolth in her true form - it's just that she killed them all.


    And my suggestions allow for both the survivors to be "right", have Lolth still exist, and the tale still be told. The adventurers succeeded in their goal to remove the expanding black sphere from Istivin. The nature of of the threat was determined to be Lolth and the Drow blight. How the tale was told to make it to the Gazeteer, ah that begs the bigger question.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:23 pm  

    GVD brings up a good summary of points.

    Use the current rules set, mindful that it will be what new players are already exposed to, and that the rules set does impact the feel of the setting. Write from the point of the new player; long-time players are probably experienced enough to change anything they want to anyways.

    I would like to expand upon the mention of hard cannon and gray areas. In any of the campaign books the writers might summarize the features of many lands and the people therein and maybe in great detail. Some of that detail may be based firmly in what most of us would call cannon laid down in the past. Some of the prior cannon might be tossed out or rewritten due to a lack of agreement or just being poorly written, but that is neither here nor there. What would be important to me is that whatever actually would make it to print would do so under the terminology that the 83' boxed set used in the title of its main booklet: "A Guide to the World of Greyhawk". This title to me has two meanings. The obvious one is that the book is an overview of the campaign world. The less obvious meaning is that the book is "only a guide", to be followed or deviated from as the dm wishes.

    Most people will want some background info, but how they implement that info is up to them. Even still, this should not deter writers from filling out that background material as they see it in their minds. Others can change it if they want to, but they do so in the full knowledge that future products may not be in agreement with the changes they make, and so more changes will be necessary. This is a choice of the individual and cannot be placed upon the heads of the writers. The writers are supplying a baseline for new players and those not really interested in drastically changing any aspects of the campaign world. This of course does not mean that anybody shouldn't feel free to do so, and I would make a point of specifically mentioning that somewhere in the introduction of the initial booklet. At least anybody who actually does want to change anything is blatantly forewarned and should not be complaining about the structure of any future products that are in disagreement with changes they personally made to their own individual campaign.

    I myself would be predisposed to seeing a future GHCS start at the auspicious point of the turn of the century, CY 600. A time of new beginnings, but not so far removed from the current campaign date that those playing in it couldn't make use of the new material with just a bit of finnegling.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:46 pm  

    I personally would ignore the Flanaess, at first.

    Publish materials for the rest of the world, and leave the messy canon of the Flanaess itself to fan development, perhaps publishing some sort of journal or collection of the better materials now and then.

    Revamping (entirely) the Amedio, Hepmonaland and the waters and islands around them would be priority number 1, straying away from standard euro-fantasy and utilizing the vast "core d&d" resources to create unique and interesting adventuring settings.

    First book (softcover, perfect bound, why waste money on hardbacks?):
    Amedio/Hepmonland Gazetteer, rules light, detail the regions, their history, peoples, geography, etc. About as rules heavy as the LGG, in otherwords, statblocks for NPCs and Priesthoods, that's about it.

    2nd book:
    DM's Am/Hep guide, extensive coverage of how to use the 3.5e rules within the setting, covering all the available sourcebooks from WotC, lengthy section on monsters, magic, and a decent chapter of adventure hooks and ideas.

    3rd book:
    Player's guide, new classes/pr classes, decent sized chapter on using existing classes/pr classes, new/modified skills and feats, new/modified spells, and enough background info to give a new player, or one new to the setting, a solid idea of what is going on, think D&D Gaz level detail.

    Further books:
    Adventure Collections: to defray costs, as well as give more value per dollar to the customer, I'd go with yearly or twice yearly collections of adventure modules, rather than publishing them individually. 4 to6 full sized modules in a 130 odd page book.

    Yearly "Apocryphas" : basically updates to the 3 main books, introducing new material.

    Web freebies : IMO, this is the best part of WotC's site. go nuts with the web enhancements, exclusive material (along the lines of the article columns some of the FR and Eberron author's have on wotc) and mini-adventure downloads.

    Later on, I'd move on to other areas of Oerth; Fireland, the Baklunish west, a possible "oriental" region, etc. Eventually moving back to the flanaess itself.

    Why ignore the core of the setting? Well, imo, focusing only on revamping the flanaess would hurt sales. GH fans are fickle, and you're bound to alienate large chunks of the fanbase no matter what version of the flanaess, existing or new, you choose to adopt. Also, you need to attract new fans, and the sad reality is, most people view GH as "Yet Another Generic Fantasy Setting". FR, DL, Everquest D20, and a dozen or more lesser known settings for 3e/d20 fill that niche, and are backed by companies with deeper pockets than you or I have.

    Start off with products that are solidly GH, but also distinctly not "YAGFS", and you stand a better chance, imo, of gathering a loyal fanbase, who will be more likely to buy your flanaess material when you get around to doing it.
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