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    Canonfire :: View topic - Comets & Astrology
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    Comets & Astrology
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:00 am  
    Comets & Astrology

    I have a player in my game that wishes to use astrology. He asked if there was any reference to comets in a Greyhawk product. After doing some research, I came up empty-handed. I assume that comets are covered in Greyspace, but I lack that product. Are there any specific comet references? Does Greyhawk's space even have comets? Have you ever used them and how?

    Are there any known astrologers in Greyhawk? I assume Celestian's church jas a few.

    Thanks to all in advance for any input. Happy
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:21 am  
    Re: Comets & Astrology

    198 CY: A comet appears over the Flanaess. Selvor the Younger prophesises an Age of Great Sorrow for the Great Kingdom. The next decades and centuries see the gradual reduction in the influence of The Great Kingdom, with, among others, the realms of Ferrond and Nyrond declaring their independence.
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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:27 am  
    Re: Comets & Astrology

    Skech wrote:

    Are there any known astrologers in Greyhawk? I assume Celestian's church has a few.



    From Ivid the Undying (on Prince Anxann of Kaport Bay, in what was then North Province):

    Quote:
    Anxann is convinced that astrology is the only way to predict when, and how, Ivid can be overthrown. He has become very reliant on a complete charlatan, Zwingell, who makes all manner of predictions pertaining to "The Dancer of Swords in the Heavens", "The Singing Sisters of Revenge in the constellation of the Druid," and the like.
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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:09 pm  

    Also, the Core Beliefs article on Boccob a few issues of Dragon back noted that the priests of the Uncaring One have a considerable interest in "true" astrology (i.e., the kind that works, and not that practiced by the likes of Zwingell).
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:33 pm  

    My earlier reference to Selvor the Younger in CY 198 is from Greyhawk Adventures, page 91. He actually prophesizes that the shooting star signifies "wealth, strife, and a living death" - this is probably a reference to the curse suffered by Clan Highforge, not the Age of Great Sorrow. Selvor was banished from the court, a laughing stock. The ball of fire that Selvor spotted apparently crashed into the Abbor Alz, where it became known as the Pits of Azak Zil.
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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 5:20 pm  

    Hmm, Selvor the Younger. In the 83 guide they reference (without date) Selvor the Elder. Elder would mean preceding 198 CY then. He is noted for writing the text "Secrets of Ye Sky Revealed", then it goes on to mention Yestro Bilnigd, who wrote "Astrology, Divinity, and Mankind".
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    Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:01 pm  

    This isn't Greyhawk specific, but issue 340 of Dragon is all about astrology, so if your player is looking for things for their character (spells, feats, ideas) its a great resource. It covers the influence of the sun, the moon (moons in the case of Greyhawk), the constellations and gives fantasy versions of the zodiac (stuff like the sign of the beholder,the stirge, that sort of thing).
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    Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:42 am  

    Does Tenser's castle on the Nyr Dyv feature an observatory at the top? I have hazy memories that it does, but I lent my copy of Return of the Eight to a friend a while back, and have not reclaimed it.

    In the Age of Worms Adventure Path (which can be Greyhawk if you want), Diamond Lake also has a ruined observatory. No more on that, for reasons of spoilers (in which I have a vested interest, as I am still chugging through it as a player).
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    Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:49 am  

    Greyspace is a VERY ordered and regular place.

    All orbits are perfect circles, and almost all of them lie along the celestial equator. Orbital times (periods of revolutions) are pefect multiples of Oerth days, and the Oerth's rotation (IIRC) even have a 4 minute offset so that it compensates for the revolution of the sun to make a perfect 24 hour day on Oerth.

    Thus, comets are very rare events (unpredicted, highly eliptical orbits, etc.). The appearence of a comet is almost certainly a manefestation of some divine force trying to make a statement, or a foreign object that has entered Greyspace recently, or both.

    That the comet seen by Selvor crashes to the Oerth, to me implies that comets and metoers are effectively the same thing in Greyspace. Thus to the list of canon comets we can add the Warden, and, if you like, the metor in "When a Star Falls."
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    Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:02 pm  

    Rary's tower in the Bright Lands has an observatory on top. And if I recall correctly, there's a observatory of Celestian just outside Greyhawk City.
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    Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:12 am  

    I'm not sure about specific comets but Celestian is a god associated with astrologers so many of his clerics may well be astrologers also and I have always imagined his churches to look a little like observatories or at least have an observatory linked to them.

    Although not GH specific in the Complete Arcane (I think) is a prestige class called the Green Star Adept...they seek out fragments of a specific comet and use it to enhance themselves.
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    Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:05 am  

    Kirt wrote:
    Greyspace is a VERY ordered and regular place.

    All orbits are perfect circles, and almost all of them lie along the celestial equator. Orbital times (periods of revolutions) are pefect multiples of Oerth days, and the Oerth's rotation (IIRC) even have a 4 minute offset so that it compensates for the revolution of the sun to make a perfect 24 hour day on Oerth.

    Thus, comets are very rare events (unpredicted, highly eliptical orbits, etc.). The appearence of a comet is almost certainly a manefestation of some divine force trying to make a statement, or a foreign object that has entered Greyspace recently, or both.

    That the comet seen by Selvor crashes to the Oerth, to me implies that comets and metoers are effectively the same thing in Greyspace. Thus to the list of canon comets we can add the Warden, and, if you like, the metor in "When a Star Falls."


    IMC, Greyspace is the "common wisdom" among the more dogmatic intelligensia (Pholtics especially) but does not reflect the scientific facts. IMC, Greyspace is the equivalent of the medieval insistence that the earth was at the center of the universe. IMC, the Greyspace view of the cosmos is increasingly challenged and a common source of discussion among the educated and religious. This approach adds grist for roleplaying theological/scientific debates and helps reconcile the "canon" of Greyspace with GH canon that suggests another sort of cosmos (Barrier Peaks, Tamoachan etc.), sans spelljamming.
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    Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:15 am  
    Re: Comets & Astrology

    Skech wrote:
    I have a player in my game that wishes to use astrology. He asked if there was any reference to comets in a Greyhawk product. After doing some research, I came up empty-handed. I assume that comets are covered in Greyspace, but I lack that product. Are there any specific comet references? Does Greyhawk's space even have comets? Have you ever used them and how?

    Are there any known astrologers in Greyhawk? I assume Celestian's church jas a few.

    Thanks to all in advance for any input. Happy


    If you postulate that Oerth is Earth-like, there would be comets and meteors in the ordinary course, even if few are precisely mentioned. IMO, Oerth is Earth-like. Oerth has had ice ages. Oerth has had an age of dinosaurs, now gone extinct. Just as Earth's age of dinosaurs was brought to an end by a meteor impact event, I see Oerth's age of dinosaur's similarly concluding. If you like this thought, the end of Oerth's age of dinosaurs (see Rune Skulls of the Abbor-Alz article in Dragon and the Temple of Demogorgon adv in Dungeon) is then evidence of meteor impacts, in addition to the comets mentioned in text.
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    Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:58 pm  

    A module in the UK series(I think) titled "When a Star Falls" features a meteorite/comet as a foretold sign of portent, as well as an observatory and astrological sage(who I chose to make a follower of Celestian of course!). It is a lower level adventure, so It might be worth seeking out as it would be a geat way to highlight the character's interests. It is a good adventure anyways, but that extra bit which further involves a personal aspect of a pc is a great added bonus.
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    Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:24 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:

    IMC, Greyspace is the "common wisdom" among the more dogmatic intelligensia (Pholtics especially) but does not reflect the scientific facts. IMC, Greyspace is the equivalent of the medieval insistence that the earth was at the center of the universe. IMC, the Greyspace view of the cosmos is increasingly challenged and a common source of discussion among the educated and religious. This approach adds grist for roleplaying theological/scientific debates and helps reconcile the "canon" of Greyspace with GH canon that suggests another sort of cosmos (Barrier Peaks, Tamoachan etc.), sans spelljamming.


    While I like the idea of an Age of Copernicus/Galileo/Bruno type setting with religious-political-scientific conflicts, it is not my cup of Greyhawk, for two reasons.

    First, along with Gary Holian, I wrote a large piece on Astronomy and Astrology of Oerth. If one takes Greyspace to be correct, you have something to build on. If it is all just stories, you have to design your own system. Which is fine for your own campaign, but not as good if you are writing for the community. If you are writing for the community, I prefer to build on canon.

    Second, the presence of divination magic for me means it is hard to have large, persistant errors about basic physical facts. The ancient greeks and renaisance europeans could argue about the composition of the heavens and come up with theories that were completely incorrect because they lacked easy ways of varifying them (and, for the greeks, there was no need to verify them - thinking being superior to experiment). But in a world with priests of Celanan with access to Commune, I doubt no one has ever asked "Does the sun go around the Oerth?" before. Given the availability of replicable, yes/no confirmation on questions of basic physical principles, I don't see why a astronomy that was simply made up would persist. Unless you want to go the conspiracy theory route and say that the gods don't want people to know the REAL answers.
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    Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:33 pm  

    Kirt wrote:
    Unless you want to go the conspiracy theory route and say that the gods don't want people to know the REAL answers.


    IMC, this is almost so; the gods do not easily or plainly answer questions. The gods are remote and their "answers" cryptic at best. Arcane magic, IMC, is even more restricted in being able to provide "answers" one might find in an analog to the Encyclopedia Brittanica (or Oerthica). IMC, there is no such encyclopedia. No one has an accurate map of the globe showing the outlines, let alone details of the continents. No one has an accurate map of even Oerik. Much less is there knowledge of the cosmos. I have had players urge that through divine or arcane means they should be able to learn "what's over there?" or "how does such and such work?" and I resist all such attempts for too much knowledge, I feel, removes mystery and wonder to too great a degree. YMMV.

    Beyond this, I find Spelljammer in general silly and not in easy accord with early canon that allows for starships (not spelljammers), human colonization of space, blackholes etc.. Accordingly, IMO, Greyspace is canon but it is not uncontradicted canon. My solution is as stated. YMMV.
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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:49 pm  

    If you accept Greyspace/Spelljammer
    A.Comets could come from the "Grinder" asteroid field. Objects knocked out of orbit, could crash into Oerth at high speeds
    B.Objects dropped from space might appear as comets. In one Greyspace game, we threw large bulls and cows (Yes one ton) out of our ship to slow other spelljamming ships during pursuits. Some of these could have hurtled back to Oerth. We called it the Holstein/Anti-Holstein Drive. The milk from some might be seen as comets...

    Yes, we did do this in a Spelljammer game...
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    Sun May 27, 2007 3:58 am  

    Kirt wrote:
    ...along with Gary Holian, I wrote a large piece on Astronomy and Astrology of Oerth. If one takes Greyspace to be correct, you have something to build on.


    I'd be very interested in reading that. I've tried searching Cannonfire, but can't find it. Is this online? Can someone give me the URL, please.

    Kirt wrote:
    If it is all just stories, you have to design your own system. Which is fine for your own campaign, but not as good if you are writing for the community. If you are writing for the community, I prefer to build on canon.


    I think that building on canon is the only way to go. Otherwise all fans pull in different directions and nothing gets finished.

    GVDammerung wrote:
    I find Spelljammer in general silly and not in easy accord with early canon that allows for starships (not spelljammers), human colonization of space, blackholes etc.. Accordingly, IMO, Greyspace is canon but it is not uncontradicted canon. My solution is as stated. YMMV.


    I do think that the Greyspace suppliement for Spelljammer was not as good as it could have been, but do think it is the best thing out there. I'd like to see fans of Greyhawk and Spelljammer work together to make fan material that brings a Greyhawk feel to the entire crystal sphere.

    What sort of descriptions does early material provide for starships? Spelljamming ships can probably be explained to be just a new name for starships.

    There is already human colonisation of space in Spelljammer. How would you like it to be different?

    As for "black holes" they are called "spheres of annialation" in D&D and The Spelljammer (the big manta-ray shaped ship) creates big versions of this spell as a defensive weapon.

    So space is pretty much the same as you describe. Spelljammer just rearranges things into a slightly different order that helps to isolate individual campaign settings from each other. I tend to prefer this cosmology as it allows the gods of Greyspace to control the part of the material plane within their own crystal sphere (and explains why other gods can't "get in").

    Is there any tweaks that you could make to Greyspace to make you feel that it was more compatible with earlier material?

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    If you accept Greyspace/Spelljammer
    A.Comets could come from the "Grinder" asteroid field. Objects knocked out of orbit, could crash into Oerth at high speeds


    That makes sense, but I would expect a Dragonlance style cataclysm if anything really big hit Oerth.

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    B.Objects dropped from space might appear as comets. In one Greyspace game, we threw large bulls and cows (Yes one ton) out of our ship to slow other spelljamming ships during pursuits.


    Hmm. Sacrificing animals sounds a little bit evil. I hope you didn't have any druids onboard. Did the gods of nature do anything about this or did they ignore it?

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    Some of these could have hurtled back to Oerth. We called it the Holstein/Anti-Holstein Drive. The milk from some might be seen as comets...

    Yes, we did do this in a Spelljammer game...


    Did you make any new material for your Spelljamer/Greyhawk crossover game?

    If you have you might want to consider donating it to the Greyhawk page on Beyond the Moons (the official Spelljammer website).
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    Sun May 27, 2007 8:59 am  

    Quote:
    What sort of descriptions does early material provide for starships? Spelljamming ships can probably be explained to be just a new name for starships.


    If you are interested in this, take a look at Barrier Peaks, module S3. You can also look at Jim Wards Metamorphasis Alpha, a separate space ship world, but the basis of the ship in S3. It is also the basis of a tiny ship, only amounting to a one liner, in module C1 for Tamoachan. These are the things GVD was referencing. I have not gotten into reasearching it yet, but Blackmore also has a sci-fi element, indeed, I am fairly sure there is a whole city that is a spaceship. I have a vague recollection of other sci-fi elements, but they do not come to my mind now.

    I think the major differences are style. Older work has less of the organic feel (ex: manta ray space ships and techno-magic). More mechanic. I think the differences is also a matter of the difference in feel between 1e and 2e.


    Quote:
    Hmm. Sacrificing animals sounds a little bit evil. I hope you didn't have any druids onboard. Did the gods of nature do anything about this or did they ignore it?


    This is very much a matter of opinion. IMO and IMC, only sacrificing people is non-good. It could be neutral or evil and sacrificing animals could be good. Druids can do either or neither, depending on different things. But that is a separate topic, one that I do not particularly want to get into now. I just wanted to give you a heads up that their are differences of opinion on the matter given that you asked.
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    Tue May 29, 2007 7:17 pm  

    bigmac wrote:
    Is there any tweaks that you could make to Greyspace to make you feel that it was more compatible with earlier material?


    Yes.

    Spelljammer is science-fiction cum fantasy. And it is canon both via Greyspace and a Dragon article about some atoll trading post and I'm sure probably in something about the City of Greyhawk or its environs.

    Also canon are blackholes, starships etc., "hard" science fiction as compared to Spelljammer (or at least harder science fiction elements).

    Reconciling the two, IMO, must allow for Spelljamming vessels pretty much as written and Greyspace too. What I think needs to go most is the notion of "crystal spheres" to be replaced by actual astronomy and astro-physics, thus allowing for the harder science fiction elements that Spelljammer either ignores or replaces/limits with fantasy elements. Thus, a merging of concepts.

    Off the top of my head, I'd have Oerth's crystal sphere having long ago "cracked" then more recently "shattered" leaving the solar system otherwise intact but for putting Oerth's sun in the center of the solar sytem. The phlogiston would become more diffuse and difficult to traverse but would not simply float away. Spelljammer fantasy then coexists with "hard" science (fiction).
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    Wed May 30, 2007 7:03 am  

    I'd just use gates. I am not up on canon here, but IMO there are prime material planeS. So having both spheres and system are compatible.
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    Wed May 30, 2007 7:22 am  

    There were two generic adventures published in 2ed that mentioned comets, "Night of the Comet" and "Gates of Firestorm Peak" if you want to plug them into WoG, although the in the former the comet turns out to be a spaceship... Before the "Greyhawk Player's Guide" came out I had worked up a twelve sign zodiac, and that book has a ten-sign one (page 43, based on the seasons). Mine was more or less a sraightforward, traditional astrological zodiac, albeit with different constellations. You could take the zodiac as presented in Sword & Sorcery's "Relics & Rituals II", or even just use the real-world zodiac and constellations. Hope this helps somewhat.
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    Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:14 am  

    Sorry for the delay. I've been very busy.

    Wolfsire wrote:
    If you are interested in this, take a look at Barrier Peaks, module S3. You can also look at Jim Wards Metamorphasis Alpha, a separate space ship world, but the basis of the ship in S3. It is also the basis of a tiny ship, only amounting to a one liner, in module C1 for Tamoachan. These are the things GVD was referencing. I have not gotten into reasearching it yet, but Blackmore also has a sci-fi element, indeed, I am fairly sure there is a whole city that is a spaceship. I have a vague recollection of other sci-fi elements, but they do not come to my mind now.


    Blackmore has been set in the past of Mystara, so if these are Blackmore products they don't specifically relate to Greyhawk (although a GM is free to add them or anything else into their campaign).

    If you do like the way that Blackmore did space travel, then you should visit Vaults of Pandius (the official Mystara website). The Mystara fan community have made fan rules and conversions that could interest you.

    Wolfsire wrote:
    I think the major differences are style. Older work has less of the organic feel (ex: manta ray space ships and techno-magic). More mechanic. I think the differences is also a matter of the difference in feel between 1e and 2e.


    I think that Spelljammer put the emphasis on science-fantasy rather than science-fiction. There is some technology, but it mostly comes from the (Dragonlance) gnome community and is said to be unreliable.
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    Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:17 am  

    Thanks for the info.

    Quote:
    Blackmore has been set in the past of Mystara, so if these are Blackmore products they don't specifically relate to Greyhawk (although a GM is free to add them or anything else into their campaign).


    That is true, but it is a crossover setting. There is some development specifically for GH, check the Oerth Journal, and of couse the the description of that nation in the box set and LG Gaz. The creator of the setting also has it developed independat of Mystara and GH for a different game.
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    Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:48 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    bigmac wrote:
    Is there any tweaks that you could make to Greyspace to make you feel that it was more compatible with earlier material?


    Yes.

    Spelljammer is science-fiction cum fantasy. And it is canon both via Greyspace and a Dragon article about some atoll trading post and I'm sure probably in something about the City of Greyhawk or its environs.


    IMO Spelljammer contains no more sci-fi than Greyhawk does. It has an Age of Sail feel. The gravity works via fantasy logic rather than science. And the ships are moved by magic.

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Also canon are blackholes, starships etc., "hard" science fiction as compared to Spelljammer (or at least harder science fiction elements).


    Can you remember the product that has blackholes in it? I've seen Mystara/Blackmoor stuff with sci-fi elements, but that is OD&D rather than D&D/AD&D. I'd be very interested in seeing any D&D and AD&D products that deal with space (especially ones that are specifically Greyhawk products).

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Reconciling the two, IMO, must allow for Spelljamming vessels pretty much as written and Greyspace too. What I think needs to go most is the notion of "crystal spheres" to be replaced by actual astronomy and astro-physics, thus allowing for the harder science fiction elements that Spelljammer either ignores or replaces/limits with fantasy elements. Thus, a merging of concepts.


    I've met other people that dislike Spelljammer's crystal spheres. However, I think it is hard to get rid of crystal spheres without "breaking" Spelljammer. (Although if your primary focus is Greyhawk, that might not matter to your own game.)

    Crystal spheres provide a religious barrier that separates the pantheons of Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms (and any other D&D campaign setting that you want to tack on). Take them away and you need to find another sort of barrier. (The old logic of having different material planes was another way of doing things, but if you do that then you can't spelljam from Oerth to Toril without plane-hopping.)

    Crystal spheres also provide a barrier that separates the special "laws of nature" that different D&D campaign settings introduce. The shadow-weave of Forgotten Realms and the Moon Magic of Dragonlance's Wizards of High Sorcer don't exist on Greyhawk and the barrier provides a convineint logic to explain why. If you want to ditch the crystal spheres you need another explanation for why things like this don't work on Oerth. (Again the older multiple-material planes provided another logic that held up, but if you can sail from one world to another then they wouldn't appear to be in different planes.

    As for actual astronomy, I'm assuming you are meaning that "stars" in your game universe are actually like real stars in that each has its own star system (as opposed to Spelljammer, where stars are objects on the inner walls of crystal spheres).

    The problem with "real astronomy" is that the constellations of stars are three dimensional shapes made up of stars at totally different distances from us. Some are close to us (in astronomical terms) and some are further away. So if we had real stars then some stars would be in the same position if you looked up from Oerth, Krynn or Toril. This means that some constellations would look fairly similar (when viewed from planets around stars that are neighbours) while others would look totally different. You would need to plot star positions in three dimensions to get an accurate idea of how the sky would look as you moved around.

    Worse that that, some settings (Dragonlance for example) have the gods sending omens, by making stars vanish. If Dragonlance can have two constellations suddenly vanish, and we also know that those stars have worlds around them, then what happens to the people living there?

    As for astro-physics, what is astro-physics in a universe where dinosaur sized dragons can fly, and people can ride flying carpets.

    I think the best way to explain the D&D universe is to say: "pay no attention to the man behind the DMs Screen"! Laughing

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Off the top of my head, I'd have Oerth's crystal sphere having long ago "cracked" then more recently "shattered" leaving the solar system otherwise intact but for putting Oerth's sun in the center of the solar sytem. The phlogiston would become more diffuse and difficult to traverse but would not simply float away. Spelljammer fantasy then coexists with "hard" science (fiction).


    You will need to change the phlogiston if you do that. Phlogiston is supposed to be highly explosive and if you didn't have something to keep it out of Greyspace it would cause the sun to explode.

    Some of the other people who ditch the crystal spheres also ditch the phlogiston at the same time.

    But don't forget that the concentrated areas of the phlogiston (called phlogiston rivers) allow rapid movement between different crystal spheres. If you loose or dilute the phlogiston you are going to reduce the speed that ships travel at and increase the travel time.

    I suppose you could keep the phlogiston and create some sort of natural or magical force that keeps it away from Greyspace, but wouldn't that just be exchanging a physical crystal sphere for a non-physical one?

    Mind you, the concept that the Greyspace crystal sphere could crack and then shatter is an interesting one and I can see how overcoming the sort of issues I've touched on could make things fun for the GM working them out.

    Good luck.
    GreySage

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    Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:28 pm  

    Greyspace in general ought to have more evidence of the technological invaders that seem to have crashed onto Oerth from time to time; we also need to know more about their sphere of origin and what exactly they're looking for in Oerth's crystal sphere. There could also be a native resistance movement of some sort, causing them to crash and resisting their colonization attempts. These things would make Greyspace in general more interesting.

    I don't think, however, that there's anything in Spelljammer that's as incompatible with S3 or anything else as GVD implies. There's no reason at all that a technological ship couldn't enter Greyspace through a portal in the crystal shell, as spelljammers do. The ship's sphere of origin might well operate by more "realistic" physics than Greyspace does; one theme Gary Gygax played with in the Gord books and elsewhere is that Oerth exists in a more magical and less technological reality, where our "science" works poorly but magic works well, while on our own world (Earth) the reverse is true.

    The S3 spacecraft and the like might actually come from a parallel Material Plane rather than another crystal sphere. Perhaps there's some kind of rift in space, like the Belching Vortex of Leuk-o on Oerth itself, where one reality is bleeding into the other.
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    Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:07 pm  

    From the Living County of Urnst[i] adventure: [i]Exposing Kyuss - The hunt is on, a cleric of Celestian asks a few questions to the players:

    1) Altough many Flan call it "the Sun", what is our star's proper name?
    A: Liga

    2) Arrange the following planets in their order from Liga: the Moth, Edill, Oerth, Greela, Gnibile, Conatha, Borka, the Specter and Ginsel
    A: The Moth, Oerth, Edill, Gnibile, Conatha, Ginsel, Borka, Greela, and the Specter

    3) Which two planets in this system are 'Sister Planets'?
    Edill and Gnibile

    4) Which planet is completely crescent-shaped?
    Ginsel

    5) Which two planets are spherical air worlds?
    Edill and Gnibile

    6) Which planet is the water planet?
    Conatha

    7) What is the name of the dense asterod field in our star system?
    The Grinder

    8) Which planers are made up of cluster of several thousan rocks?
    Borka and Greela

    9) Which planet is commonly called 'the Wink'?
    The Specter

    10) What is the name of the nine star constellation that forms a perfect octagon with the ninth star in the exact center?
    The Sisters

    11) What is the proper name of Luna?
    Raenei

    12) What is the proper name of Celen?
    Kule

    Don't know if that helped.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:06 am  

    The Oerth Journal #22, which just came out, has a very nicely detailed article on the astrology of Oerth. You can download it here:

    http://www.oerthjournal.com/oj22.html
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    Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:17 pm  

    bigmac wrote:
    Kirt wrote:
    ...along with Gary Holian, I wrote a large piece on Astronomy and Astrology of Oerth. If one takes Greyspace to be correct, you have something to build on.


    I'd be very interested in reading that. I've tried searching Cannonfire, but can't find it. Is this online? Can someone give me the URL, please.


    Sorry, I haven't been following the forums in several months.

    No, there is no online version AFAIK. There is not even an electronic version. At one point there was, and it was rejected by Dragon (this was before the Holian had clout).

    System upgrades and new machines meant that both Holian and I lost our e-copies, but I have the paper version. One of these years I will post it, until then I'd be happy to field specific questions.
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    GreySage

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    Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:31 pm  

    As I noted on the WotC boards, Howl From the North mentions a constellation of the Swan in the northern winter skies (page 27).
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:03 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Also canon are blackholes, starships etc., "hard" science fiction as compared to Spelljammer (or at least harder science fiction elements).


    This is an old thread, and I already replied to this, but I didn't have a copy of either S3 or Greyspace when I replied to it originally.

    The relevant text from S3 is thus:
    Quote:
    Sometime else, a large exploration-colonization expedition of
    human origin was overtaken in the course of its journey by a
    deadly plague. In a vain effort to halt the spread of the virus, the
    modular sections of the vessel were sealed and then separated,
    each left to its own fate. The section concerned here was drawn
    through a black hole and spewed into the universe where the
    World of Greyhawk fantasy setting exists. Chance brought it
    to that very planet, and its computers and robotics brought it to an
    intact landing.


    So the black hole doesn't exist in Oerth's universe, but in a parallel one. Obviously a ship isn't going to come out of a black hole - the nature of a black hole is that it pulls things toward it. The ship went in a black hole; it must have come out of a "white hole" or the equivalent.

    Greyspace actually offers an obvious place for the ship to have emerged from: the Sisters, a constellation of nine star-like objects with a mysterious repulsive gravity. Those who venture between the Sisters are transported elsewhere or elsewhen, often ending up in another crystal sphere or another time. Having it connect to a parallel universe, more technological and "scientific" than Oerth's, would be a reasonable alternative possibility.

    I love it when things fit together. Greyspace is kind of a bad product in other ways (most of the planets and cultures they describe aren't very interesting), but it's very compatible with S3, at least.

    As an aside, I wonder if the Sisters are connected to Istus and her mysterious plane.
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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:51 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    GVDammerung wrote:
    Also canon are blackholes, starships etc., "hard" science fiction as compared to Spelljammer (or at least harder science fiction elements).


    This is an old thread, and I already replied to this, but I didn't have a copy of either S3 or Greyspace when I replied to it originally.

    The relevant text from S3 is thus:
    Quote:
    Sometime else, a large exploration-colonization expedition of
    human origin was overtaken in the course of its journey by a
    deadly plague. In a vain effort to halt the spread of the virus, the
    modular sections of the vessel were sealed and then separated,
    each left to its own fate. The section concerned here was drawn
    through a black hole and spewed into the universe where the
    World of Greyhawk fantasy setting exists. Chance brought it
    to that very planet, and its computers and robotics brought it to an
    intact landing.


    So the black hole doesn't exist in Oerth's universe, but in a parallel one. . . . Greyspace is kind of a bad product in other ways (most of the planets and cultures they describe aren't very interesting), but it's very compatible with S3, at least.


    Um. No. Black holes exist. Crystal spheres do not. Black holes have a basis in physics. Crystal spheres do not. Black holes and the effects of passing through one may be generally classifiable as "hard" science fiction because there is at least a speculative basis for the idea in real science. Crystal spheres are pure science fantasy as there is no, not even speculative, basis for the existence of such a thing as a "crystal sphere."

    S3 is then in its "hard" science fiction elements starkly different, even opposed, to the science fantasy of Spelljammer's Greyspace. One can except one or the other as "true" very easily based on personal preference. To accept both as equally true stretches credulity and verisimiltude, although such can be overcome by a willingness to accept the incongruity.

    I think rather than try to fit square pegs in round holes, it is better to try to reconcile the two as I suggested upthread.

    On the other hand, since making that post, I've been doing some studying up on Blackmoor which introduces more "hard" science fiction elements. Acknowledging that Greyspace is "canon" perhaps it is best to explain it away as a non-scientific people's attempt to explain actual science. The science of spelljamming would then be an exercise in force field manipulation and gravitics, dressed up as magic. Or magic duplicating science, given that magic is a given (while also admitting that this begs the question of what exactly is "magic," a misunderstood "science" perhaps in its own way if it is subject to certain laws and has effects that may be replicated and subject to analysis and quantification). At a certain point, however, I don't suppose it matters as the Spelljammer-isms in GH are mercifully few and unlikely to ever become prominent. That and there is Arthur C. Clark's famous observation to the effect that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear as "magic" to those not as technologically advanced.

    Personally, I prefer to explain Spelljammer away as simple folk tales and ignorance, misinterpretation of actuality. I take this position based on personal preference and in recognition that the "hard" science fiction elements in Greyhawk are far older and far more prevalent in GH than the by comparison relatively recent and limited Spelljammer-isms.

    YMMV
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    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:50 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Black holes exist. Crystal spheres do not. Black holes have a basis in physics. Crystal spheres do not.


    Agreed. Greyhawk's universe is more fantastic than the universe that the spaceship from S3 came from. This was true in Gygax's original vision, too; that's why Gygax made it come from another universe, rather than having it come from the same universe.

    The universe of the ship's origin has black holes. Greyhawk's universe may well not have any. Certainly, S3 gives us no indication that there are any black holes in Greyhawk's universe.

    On the other hand, the Spelljammer cosmology might well have something like black holes in it. Planets exist, and Spelljammer has those. Spelljammer also has comets, moons, suns, and humans. The presence or absence of black holes is not relevant here.

    Quote:
    S3 is then in its "hard" science fiction elements starkly different, even opposed, to the science fantasy of Spelljammer's Greyspace.


    Yes, S3 deals with two separate universes, starkly different from one another, and an improbable interaction between the two. It seems like it would be difficult to use the physics of a separate universe to claim "hard" physics in Greyhawk's universe - or, indeed, to claim anything about Greyhawk's "outer space," since S3 gives us no information about the stars and space above Oerth at all.

    Quote:
    To accept both as equally true stretches credulity and verisimiltude


    Uh, no. It merely requires we accept that there is more than one universe. Which there is, according to the module in question.

    The whole point of S3 is that the ship is something that doesn't belong in Oerth's universe; it's the clash of genres that gives the module its effectiveness. The more fantastic Oerth's system is, the more dramatic this core theme becomes.

    The idea that magical and technological universes are at odds with one another is a common theme in Gygax's work. See, for example Saga of Old City, page 71:

    Quote:
    "How can you explain technology?"

    Gord took a shot at that one. "It is a myth of the ignorant used to fool gullible folk and frighten children!"

    "Nonsense!" the elderly scholar retorted. "It is the counterpart of magic within the dimension of probability and works in inverse proportion to it."


    Of course, this was originally the difference between his worlds of Yarth, Oerth, Uerth, Aerth, and so on, with Earth and Uerth being more "realistic" worlds where technological development is possible, while Oerth and Yarth are more fantastic places where magic is possible. On Oerth, gunpowder doesn't explode and massive creatures like dragons and pegasi can fly without magical aid. Contra Clarke, magic and technology are readily distinguishable, incompatible principles (which is part of what makes Murlynd such a singular being).

    The 1st edition Manual of the Planes also has good examples of these varying universes in its alternate material planes appendix.

    The Blackmoor module "Temple of the Frog" postulates technological aliens from the same universe as Blackmoor's world. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks postulates technological aliens from a universe different from Oerth's. The two are dissimilar in intent.

    While you are of course welcome to dislike Spelljammer, one cannot rightly claim any conflict between Spelljammer and any part of Greyhawk canon.

    My own biggest problem with Greyspace is that the worlds in it are populated by mostly the same races that Oerth is, making them less exotic than Oerth's other continents, and the societies in it tend to be rather humdrum. On the other hand, it's filled with a number of provocative mysteries that I appreciate, the Sisters being one of the better ones.
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    Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:50 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    The Oerth Journal #22, which just came out, has a very nicely detailed article on the astrology of Oerth. You can download it here:

    http://www.oerthjournal.com/oj22.html


    Nicely detailed doesn't begin to describe it, there is even a map of the constellations!

    It's playing an important roll in my current campaign. 5 stars are in motion completely against all known astrological facts toward a point directly overhead the Scarlet Brotherhood on the spring equinox next (game) year (it's October now, in-game). Three (Locus Opacit and the Fire-Eyes) are going to be there a week early, unleashing...something...on the world. The other two are Pumalli...

    And the Dark Star, Tharizdun. Shocked
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    Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:32 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    . . . Yes, S3 deals with two separate universes, starkly different from one another, and an improbable interaction between the two. It seems like it would be difficult to use the physics of a separate universe to claim "hard" physics in Greyhawk's universe - or, indeed, to claim anything about Greyhawk's "outer space," since S3 gives us no information about the stars and space above Oerth at all.
    . . .
    Uh, no. It merely requires we accept that there is more than one universe. Which there is, according to the module in question.

    . . .

    The idea that magical and technological universes are at odds with one another is a common theme in Gygax's work.


    In Game:

    S3 postulates that two distinct universes can interact, that their physics are sufficiently similar for a naturally occuring phenomenon to link them. This similarity (particularly as expressed in a naturally occuring phenomenom rather than a man-made event), IMO, establishes the primacy of "hard science fiction" in Greyhawk's astrophysics.

    The entire Spelljammer idea is freighted with highly specific and unique requirements - crystal spheres, phlogiston etc. - that are at odds with actual science. While nothing in canon states that the two cannot coexist, they are incongruent on their face. This incongruency is at the heart of why S3 and Spelljammer are incompatible; its oil and water, science and fantasy etc. Yes, you _can_ force them together but it is on its face just that. The more natural or obvious thing is to choose as between them.

    That magic and technology are, in GH, seen at near opposite ends of a spectrum only enhances the incongruity. According to GH future history, in the 83 Box or in GH2000, technology will eventually supplant magic. Magic fades. What is left is technology or actual science. So, however much magic may appear primary, in the end it is a chimera, an illusion - it fades and "harder" science prevails. The incongurity is ultimately resolved against the fantasy.

    Ex Game:

    IMO, the "hard" science of blackholes, white holes, worm holes, string theory etc. offers much more dramatic posibilities than the science "fantasy" of crystal spheres, phlogiston, spelljamming etc. What we are discussing here, either way, is space travel and how space travel can best be presented to develop the setting. Actual science holds many more possibilities as it is evolving and unlimited, as compared to the hard "reality" of the spelljammer celestial mechanics that have been set down and are now static. This is born out within GH canon.

    EGG introduced "real" science in S3. Dave Arneson did so, as well, in Blackmoor. Then there are a host of lesser referenes by less luminal figures. In comparison, Spelljammer was a one shot, new setting that then had to be retconned into a variety of other settings in an attempt to sell the core Spelljammer line of products. After its initial run, Spelljammer terminated, failed, as a product line and survives only (barely) in its setting specific by-blows like Greyspace, Krynn Space, Realms Space etc. Which then has a greater claim to be applied setting wide - the "hard" science set down by the game's founders or the failed setting whose gimic -spelljamming - never caught on?

    And lets ask why spelljamming never caught on, as it relates to why EGG and Arneson choose to tap real science as opposed to making up some fantasy for space travel. Real science resonates with the audience because it is familiar even as it is exotic in its theoretical particulars like black holes (at the time), string theory etc.. It certainly has more currency and resonance than the invented idea of spelljamming that requires familiarity with an artificial and highly localized set of "givens" to be understood or appreciated, if it can even be appreciated by many when real science is more readily accessible and is often as fantastic in what it demonstrates to be actual reality.

    In an area like space flight, sheer fantasy like spelljammer will always have a rough road to hoe as compared to to fiction that leverages actual science. Star Trek, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Farscape, Battle Star Galactica etc. There are no space flight fantasy equivalents. Spelljammer failed because its designers did not understand that postulating stark fantasy in an area like space flight dominated by "real" science seems odd to the point of sillness.

    GH should not now be beholden to the failed marketing of the by-blow of Spelljammer that is Greyspace - a knock off product that tried to leverage GH's popularity and acceptance within D&D to the advantage of the then new Spelljammer. See then Kyrnn Space and Realms Space that attempted similar tricks to leverage the popularity and acceptance of those settings.

    Ultimately:

    Canon is split. There are hard science fiction elements and there are purely fantasy elements as relates to space travel. One can accept both and canon cannot say anyone nay. One can choose and cannon cannot say anyone nay. Ultimately it is personal preference.

    What is not personal preference is the inherent incongruity between "hard" science fiction elements and pure science fantasy elements as relates to space flight. It is incongurent beyond argument to set, side-by-side, an S3 type technological spacecraft and a flying Spanish-type spelljammer galleon. The two just cry out their stark differences.

    What is not personal preference is that GH's future, as presently depicted in canon, resolves the magic versus technology debate affirmatively in the favor of technology.

    What is also not personal preference is how the settings leading luminary figures chose as between depicting spaceflight as akin to actual science or pure fantasy. They choose actual science.

    What is also not personal preference is that Spelljammer is a late retcon into GH and that it was retconned into GH (as well as Krynn, the Realms etc.) not to enhance GH but to try to enhance and then sell the failed Spelljammer setting.

    Canon lets you do whatever you want as regards space flight. Any closer examination suggests that if Spelljammer were even marginally an issue in the overall setting, it would go the way of "funny" Castle Greyhawk - written out as a bad idea then and a bad idea now. But even bad ideas have their fans, of course. Cool That doesn't make liking Spelljammer wrong, no more than putting lipstick on a pig is wrong. Just don't ask me to kiss that pig! Wink
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    Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:03 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    S3 postulates that two distinct universes can interact, that their physics are sufficiently similar for a naturally occuring phenomenon to link them.


    How do you begin to make any sort of judgments about what sort of compatibility would be required for such things? Since we've never explored any parallel universes in the real world, it seems like any sort of assumption you make will be arbitrary. All that's required is some sort of fantasy-universe equivalent, which Greyspace provides us with. S3 itself ventures no opinion on what sort of structure the ship might have emerged from.

    As much as I hate to cite what isn't the best work of literature, Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series offers a good example of two universes, a technological and a magical one, where technological elements transform into their magical equivalents when they move into across the (as far as I can recall, natural) planar boundary. In this way, a "scientific" black hole becomes an arcane constellation on Oerth's side of the boundary.

    In my defense, Gary Gygax cited the same series in his book Master of the Game (on page 80).

    Quote:
    Multiplicity of settings is a useful device for a designer. Refer to Piers Anthony's superb book Split Infinity as an example. The protagonist is confronted with a parallel world, dual existence, magic and technology, game play, and more. The story is so different, presents so many unique features, that if it were presented in adventure scenario form for RPG interaction it would be quite sufficient to fill a demi-campaign work. Its subsequent portions (Blue Adept, Juxtaposition) complete a whole campaign within a mindboggling milieu. In using this devide it is important to remember that there must be some corresponding losses and gains as one moves from place to place in order to enhance the uniqueness of the device. That is, the approaches to the problems in the initial setting must be no longer appliccable in the new settings. This fosters fresh approaches.


    I'm using this guideline here to suggest that just because you can cross from the hard sci-fi universe to Greyhawk's universe through a black hole doesn't mean you can return the same way. To return, one would need to find another mechanism, appropriate to the milieu in which it is found.

    Oerth's universe is not a hard sci-fi one. Even if you don't wish to take it to the level of the pseudo-Aristotlean physics of the Spelljammer setting, it's a place where size doesn't limit flight ability or intelligence, where gunpowder doesn't react explosively with air.

    Quote:
    The entire Spelljammer idea is freighted with highly specific and unique requirements - crystal spheres, phlogiston etc. - that are at odds with actual science. While nothing in canon states that the two cannot coexist, they are incongruent on their face. This incongruency is at the heart of why S3 and Spelljammer are incompatible; its oil and water, science and fantasy etc.


    Exactly! Because the ship from S3 is from a separate universe, one ought to expect and desire a high level of incongruency; as Gygax pointed out, there's not much point or much fun in a separate universe where things are much the same as in the standard one. One need not go as far as Spelljammer went in presenting what Carl Sargent called "fantasy physics" (in Top Ballista),

    Quote:
    According to GH future history, in the 83 Box or in GH2000, technology will eventually supplant magic. Magic fades. What is left is technology or actual science.


    This is incorrect and misleading. There's no mention of advanced technology in the 1983 box's future history. In Gary Gygax's original vision, technology beyond a certain level is actually impossible on Oerth barring special circumstances. See the Glossography, page 35: "His [Murlynd's] special aura enables these devices to function even on Oerth, for instance." So if magic fades (an idea that must be attributed to Steve Winter and Allen Hammack), it is replaced by only the simplest of technology, unless the underlying physics of the world also change. This is, admittedly, possible, but is a separate consideration from the depletion of magical energy.

    In Greyhawk 2000, magic is still alive and well, and most of the "technology" is based on magical items (dimensional accelerators and the like).

    Quote:
    IMO, the "hard" science of blackholes, white holes, worm holes, string theory etc. offers much more dramatic posibilities than the science "fantasy" of crystal spheres, phlogiston, spelljamming etc. What we are discussing here, either way, is space travel and how space travel can best be presented to develop the setting. Actual science holds many more possibilities as it is evolving and unlimited, as compared to the hard "reality" of the spelljammer celestial mechanics that have been set down and are now static.


    There's nothing in "real" science that we can't dream up magical equivalents for. Our imaginations, surely, are at least as evolving and unlimited as science.

    The contrast between evolving science and static canon is a canard. If the Spelljammer boxed set had based its rules on the cutting edge of astrophysics as it was known in 1989, as you seem to be advocating, those rules would now be as fixed and static as the rules they actually went by. That wouldn't prevent us from changing them in our own campaigns, or prevent WotC from changing them in subsequent supplements - both things that might as easily happen with more fantastic rules. So there is no real difference in the "static" quality of the two approaches.

    Quote:
    EGG introduced "real" science in S3. Dave Arneson did so, as well, in Blackmoor. Then there are a host of lesser referenes by less luminal figures. In comparison, Spelljammer was a one shot, new setting that then had to be retconned into a variety of other settings in an attempt to sell the core Spelljammer line of products. After its initial run, Spelljammer terminated, failed, as a product line and survives only (barely) in its setting specific by-blows like Greyspace, Krynn Space, Realms Space etc. Which then has a greater claim to be applied setting wide - the "hard" science set down by the game's founders or the failed setting whose gimic -spelljamming - never caught on?


    1. As above, Gary Gygax did not set down "hard science" in the campaign setting he created. Dave Arneson did, but Greyhawk is not Dave Arneson's creation.

    2. Spelljammer was not a "one shot" setting. It spawned several dozen modules and supplements, was resurrected for a second "shot" in Polyhedron for d20, and elements from it continued to be referenced (for example in Bruce Cordell's illithid sourcebook and module trilogy and in Lords of Madness and elsewhere in 3rd edition.

    3. The core of your argument seems to be that vague references to non-Spelljammer sci-fi elements imply a "hard sci-fi" universe as strongly as explicit references to Spelljammer's fantastic universe. We can discount S3 or Temple of the Frog as being among those references, since in both cases the technology emerges from a universe entirely separate from Greyhawk's. What, then, are you talking about?

    4. You also seem to making an argument from popularity, an idea if taken to its extreme would suggest we should all be playing Forgotten Realms, which after all is still in print and the center of an upcoming RPGA campaign while Greyhawk has been canceled for the nonce. Clearly this argument can be ignored.

    Canon is not split on this issue. Spelljammer is "canon" and "hard sci-fi Greyhawk" has never existed, was not intended ever to exist, and its existence is not remotely suggested in any Greyhawk supplement. Spelljammer elements are found in From the Ashes, Greyhawk Ruins, Treasures of Greyhawk, and The Adventure Begins, all of them solidly Greyhawk books, the last of which was written long after trying to sell Spelljammer products was an issue.

    Personally, I am absolutely in favor of making fantasy fantastic. Extrapolating from real-world science is well and good in a hard sci-fi setting and certainly has its value, but in a fantasy world with unicorns and genies it's a needless shackle on our imaginations, and the dichotomy of insisting your dragons and angels behave according to Einstein's rules approaches the parodic. They can be forced to fit together, but the stitch marks are painfully evident. Alternate physics are a wonderful exercise of our creativity and enable the possibilities to explode. Richard Garfinkle's novel Celestial Matters and Greg Keyes' Age of Unreason series were both brilliant explorations of science (and, in the former case, space travel) in a universe governed by ancient or medieval chemistry and physics. David Brin wrote a Hugo award-winning short story called "The Crystal Spheres" which postulated a universe where every solar system was surrounded by a crystal orb much as in the Spelljammer campaign. Other examples of "fantasy space" in roleplaying games include Space: 1889, the Sons of Ether faction in Mage: The Ascension, and the recent RPG Etherscope.

    Does this mean I'm insisting that you play Spelljammer? Of course not! I think it's a flawed setting in many ways. I just wish you would just say, "I ignore Spelljammer because I don't like it." Make Greyhawk what you want it to be! It's your setting too! Just don't be blind to what is.
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    Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:31 am  

    Well. You have your preferences, opinions and reasons therefore, while I have mine. I don't think either of us is going to persuade the other. I am happy to agree to disagree with you. Happy

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