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    Canonfire :: View topic - Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)
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    Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:23 am  
    Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    Wotc has announced it product schedule for 4e for the next year -

    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4dnd/20080815

    Perceptive readers will note that, while Greyhawk as a setting is nowhere to be found (thank Pholtus!), Greyhawk does appear in bits and pieces.

    Acererak?

    Revenge of the Giants "a homage to Against the Giants"? etc.

    This kind of "utilization" occurred in 3rd Edition and 3.5 but at least in those cases there was the fig-leaf of Greyhawk being the "core" setting and Living Greyhawk was the RPGA setting du jour. Nothing of the sort exists presently. The "utilization" of Greyhawkisms is then more purely "naked."

    Personally, I find this a frustrating and unhappy development, although I suppose it should be expected. Most unhappy, for me, is that this use of Greyhawk material suggests that a full on 4e GH setting treatment might not be complete fantasy.

    Presenty, as far as I can divine, it looks like 4e will see the following setting development (each setting getting a core book, DM book and player book):

    2008 - Forgotten Realms
    2009 - Eberron
    2010 - Dark Sun or Ravenloft
    2011 - Ravenloft or Dark Sun

    2012 might then be the first year a 4e GH setting might appear. Previous estimates had it possibly as soon as 2010 but Gencon info puts that in some doubt (No. I did not go to Gencon. But I have some friends who are there). Of course, nothing is concrete here.

    The "problem" with a 4e GH boils down, IMO, to two issues:

    1) Forced changes to the cosmology. These are well documented, so I won't repeat them. I will note that the idea that GH would be allowed to retain the Great Wheel cosmology seems somewhat wishful thinking when 4e FR has been forced to adapt to the new cosmology. GH without the Great Wheel, after all this time, just strikes me wrong; and

    2) Forced timeline advance and setting remapping to account for 4e rules changes. The Forgotten Realms 4e campaign setting is out. The timeline advances 100 years. Loads on NPCs are dead or missing. The very geography has changed so the map looks quite different. Races and nations have literally "teleported" into the setting, replacing what was there before. I would not want to see GH undergo a similar "revision."

    The Nyr Dyv and Gearnat Sea virtually dry up? A land bridge unites the Pomarj and Onnwal? The Rift Canyon expands to encompass almost all of the Bandit Kingdoms? Celene teleports to the "Feywild" as do the Iron and Kron Hills? Tenh is a wasteland after the "Ether Theat" is made canon? Medegia is replaced by a nation of Tieflings? The Yeomanry is replaced a nation of Dragonborn?

    Far out? Impossible? So said FR fans before 4e redid the Realms. Before dismissing the above compare the 4e Realms with what came before. Now, think Greyhawk. Changes in any 4e Greyhawk are not a question of "if" but a question of "how much" and "where?"

    Enough speculating and worrying. For now. Let me turn positive and proactive for a moment.

    I have been thinking about a 4e GH for sometime, sort of wargaming scenarios. Everyone will have their own take on how to incorporate 4e GH "canon" but this is mine:

    If as suspected a 4e GH will make BIG changes to the setting on a scale with what has been done to the Realms, there seems to be only three possible responses:

    1) Ignore it as if it never was published;

    2) Accept the changes; or

    3) Try to explain the changes and harmonize the 4e GH with all previous editions.

    I'm going for Option No. 3 - Explain and harmonize. Here's how I plan to do it:

    1) GH will experience a temporal/dimensional "rift" wherein, much like Fading Lads, two realities overlap and may briefly touch in places.

    2) "Core" GH (1e-3x) will be one realty and "Rift" GH (4e) will be the other.

    3) Both will be "legitimate" and "canon" but as seperate "realities." This should not be too hard to rationalize as 4e cosmology is SOOOO different from the Great Wheel.

    4) The two versions of GH will "touch" in places where Core GH can actually benefit from (hypothetically) a change inaugrated in Rift GH. This, I think, might actually be cool in a silk purse from a sows ear sort of way.

    The first test of this theory will likely be Revenge of the Giants next year. "Geoff to see the Wizards! The wonderfuly Wizards of the Coast!"

    woo. hoo. Confused
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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:36 am  

    4e GH takes place on Dearth
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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:26 am  

    I like the idea of utilizing fading lands on a mass scale. As far as I can tell the idea was a retcon explanation of a natural phenomena to explain the creation of the Demi-Plane of Dread.

    There are a few things that I do like about the changes brought about by 4th ed.

    #1 Advancing the timeline by 100 year in the realms was a good thing. I see no reason why it can't be done with GH. However, I don't think that it is necessary to have entire oceans dry up. In advancing the time line we shouldn't be required to have another cataclysm. Changing the map doesn't mean progress, it just means changing something that doesn't need to be changed.

    #2 Races of Tieflings in Medegia? Yeah, all those Hell Knights left over from Ivids land grab probably did a lot or rapping along with their pillaging along their way but what about in Iuz? (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know "always with the Iuz" but its GreyHawk what do you want?) When all those demons were summoned by the Old One for his own little party, not all of them went back. In fact I believe that the region is plagued by demons now. It stands to reason that a large number of them would have went on to birth a slew of unholy offspring. Or father rather...

    #3 The new races need not be retconed into anything. Eladrin for example are very neatly fit into the role of Valley Elves. Reclusive xenophobic people with magic powers that live in a Hidden Valley known not for its Ranch Salad dressing but rather for the rapidity in which its inhabitants poke holes into outsiders? Perfect.

    Dragonborn. Yeah, thats easy. Lizard Men. Or rather the Lizard Kings that rule them. I don't care for their description as an "Ancient Race" but thats not really that big of a deal. Really I don't think that they fit into Greyhawk all that well but you need not include them into the game.

    The Great Wheel Cosomolgy fits with Greyhawk. It so-so fits within the Realms but it doesn't have a place at all in Eberron. The problem isn't that the cosmology doesn't work. The problem is when people start trying to merge different game settings. There really isn't any reason why you should allow, saw Warforged into a Greyhawk game, so why include an alien cosmology.

    I would love to see them bring back DarkSun and Ravenloft. I just hope they don't screw it up.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:43 pm  

    I have been less then impressed with the WOTC management of GH and I am aware from a commercial pov change makes it easier to create content.

    Many of the changes proposed seem to be for the sake of change with little thought or care of the long term ramifications for the setting. If the company simply wants to milk the setting in the short term and cast it aside it makes sense but not the long term.

    The more I read the more I hope they don't have GH in the 4ed.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:04 pm  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    GVDammerung wrote:
    The "problem" with a 4e GH boils down, IMO, to two issues:

    1) Forced changes to the cosmology. These are well documented, so I won't repeat them. I will note that the idea that GH would be allowed to retain the Great Wheel cosmology seems somewhat wishful thinking when 4e FR has been forced to adapt to the new cosmology. GH without the Great Wheel, after all this time, just strikes me wrong;


    Why would you say that? The Great Wheel is used to show how belief shapes reality. But Greyhawk normally uses planar connections simply as a fantastical adventure location without worrying about the core concept of the Great Wheel - using belief to shape reality.
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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:44 pm  

    I don't even see why WotC has to be included into playing Greyhawk. I have been using the same rules and products for years and never even considered anything WotC has produced in a long while. I mean, all of your old books simply won't stop working after a certain date (though I am sure if WotC could make that happen, they would).

    Paizo's Pathfinder Beta sold out of copies in 9 hours on the first day. A friend of mine waited in line forever to get one for me.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:15 pm  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    I don't even see why WotC has to be included into playing Greyhawk. I have been using the same rules and products for years and never even considered anything WotC has produced in a long while. I mean, all of your old books simply won't stop working after a certain date (though I am sure if WotC could make that happen, they would).

    Paizo's Pathfinder Beta sold out of copies in 9 hours on the first day. A friend of mine waited in line forever to get one for me.


    You don't. Theres so much material out there for Greyhawk in 1st ed alone you could play for years and not cover every module. But thats not the point.

    When a game world is dropped it loses any official forward moving momentum. True, you can move the plotline ahead yourself but that only goes well for one group. Changes that you, as an individual DM, will invariably make will not have any effect on that which is understood by everyone who plays Greyhawk. However, when canonical changes are made it gives something that is shared by a large group of people.

    It means a lot goes towards adding to the depth campaign. I, like most DM's probably, have a couple of friends that I talk to about my plot lines and discussing them with other people helps me realize little details about those stories that I can improve on before my players ever see them.

    If you can wow your players without doing this then you are a better DM then I, but being able to discuss a plot line over with my friend is one thing, being able to discuss a plot line over the web with people on the other side of the country, or even world for that matter is another thing entirely.

    It's not even a matter if WoTC continues the campaign world, its a matter of whether or not SOMEONE does so. By having a mutually understood campaign history, it continues the flow of the story. Over the years its been fun to discuss the details of the hows and whys and having a continually progressive timeline is important to that.

    Its been fun to discuss whether or not it was stupid that Vecna was made into a God or whether or not it was that real Rary that betrayed the Circle or a rouge clone but if the official time line ends there, then the discussion ends there. End of Story.


    Last edited by manus-nigrum on Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:32 pm  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    I don't even see why WotC has to be included into playing Greyhawk. . . . I mean, all of your old books simply won't stop working after a certain date (though I am sure if WotC could make that happen, they would).


    What manus-nigrum said.

    I guess you could also call me a "completest" or "trivialist" in that, if its GH, I'm interested. Even if its tangental, I'm interested.
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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:05 pm  

    manus-nigrum wrote:
    #2 Races of Tieflings in Medegia? Yeah, all those Hell Knights left over from Ivids land grab probably did a lot or rapping along with their pillaging along their way but what about in Iuz?


    Dear God, doesn't the poor Flanaess have enough problems without the introduction of rap music. Smile
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:18 pm  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    OleOneEye wrote:


    Why would you say that? The Great Wheel is used to show how belief shapes reality. But Greyhawk normally uses planar connections simply as a fantastical adventure location without worrying about the core concept of the Great Wheel - using belief to shape reality.


    Uhhh, no. The Great Wheel does not have anything to do with "Belief Defines Reality". BDR and all the cosmological factionalism came into being with the Planescape setting, which is wholly independent of Greyhawk (except in that Planescape claims to include all other settings in it).

    The original Great Wheel in the old 1e materials was intended to show that alignment was a concrete "fact" of existance. Cultural relativity didn't exist because cosmic rays from the Seven Heavens told everyone what "Lawful Good" was.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:03 am  

    If moving canon forward means getting the beating that Forgotten Realms took to their canon, I'm happy being stuck in the past, thank you very much. 8)
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:38 am  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    manus-nigrum wrote:
    #2 Races of Tieflings in Medegia? Yeah, all those Hell Knights left over from Ivids land grab probably did a lot or rapping along with their pillaging along their way but what about in Iuz?


    Dear God, doesn't the poor Flanaess have enough problems without the introduction of rap music. Smile


    Well they are from hell aren't they? Laughing

    Actually I meant raping, as in rape and pillage, not rap as in bust'n a cap in dem ho's.

    SUPrUNown wrote:
    If moving canon forward means getting the beating that Forgotten Realms took to their canon, I'm happy being stuck in the past, thank you very much. 8)


    And I believe that we all hope that the changes are for the better, but no matter what changes there are going to be the detractors. What I don't want to see happen is WoTC maintain a stranglehold on the Lic and let it languish in obscurity while an ever dwindling group of fans try and keep it alive only to be ignored. I mean lets face it, even though it was supposedly the "Default Setting" of D&D they didn't do anything substantial with it except rip off the deities and transplant them into other settings.

    With the exception of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer and the Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk there really hasn't been anything comprehensive put out for the Greyhawk campaign setting in 3.x edition. Sure there are lots of source books that make mention of things in the world, but not a lot that deals extensively with the world without being a member of the RPGA.


    Last edited by manus-nigrum on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:25 am; edited 3 times in total
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:55 am  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    Wasn't Dungeon's "Kingdom of the Ghouls" set in GH? That title also appears on the list.

    Otto Zequeira
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:02 am  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    Vormaerin wrote:
    OleOneEye wrote:


    Why would you say that? The Great Wheel is used to show how belief shapes reality. But Greyhawk normally uses planar connections simply as a fantastical adventure location without worrying about the core concept of the Great Wheel - using belief to shape reality.


    Uhhh, no. The Great Wheel does not have anything to do with "Belief Defines Reality". BDR and all the cosmological factionalism came into being with the Planescape setting, which is wholly independent of Greyhawk (except in that Planescape claims to include all other settings in it).

    The original Great Wheel in the old 1e materials was intended to show that alignment was a concrete "fact" of existance. Cultural relativity didn't exist because cosmic rays from the Seven Heavens told everyone what "Lawful Good" was.

    Fair enough. So what does the planes having concrete alignments have to do with Greyhawk?
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:51 am  

    Are you asking if I agree with GVD that the whole edifice of Greyhawk will crumble without the Great Wheel? No, I don't. Don't use it in my campaign in the first place.

    But it is the way Greyhawk's metaphysical politics was envisioned by the creator, as particularly evidenced by his books. Its just that such matters are only relevant to high level characters for the most part. And, in practice, most players and authors interested in such matters signed up to the Planescape overwrite.

    It does make a subtle difference if alignments are reflections of the gods' nature rather than gods being champions of the alignments, but Greyhawk would still be Greyhawk either way.
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:03 pm  

    Anything too far removed from the extant material will be all but useless to me, so I'm not very likley to buy anything Greyhawk that isn't contiguous with the Geyhawk material that we already have.
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:39 pm  

    If I think I might like something I'll probably just buy it and adapt it to GH like I do with anything else that isn't GH (and some stuff that is). If it's already set in GH, even if it does use the new cosmology or dragonborn (Which I am NEVER going to accept in my GH) same dif to me. I've never met anything that I didn't want to make some changes to for my own campaign.
    Now am I going to bother to reference any of the new stuff for articles I write for CF? Probably not, unless I figure out a way to make it work without the material I find objectionable.
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    Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:46 pm  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    oteta wrote:
    Wasn't Dungeon's "Kingdom of the Ghouls" set in GH? That title also appears on the list.

    Otto Zequeira
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    Yeah, it'll be interesting to see what they do with this.
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    Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:39 am  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    oteta wrote:
    Wasn't Dungeon's "Kingdom of the Ghouls" set in GH? That title also appears on the list.

    Otto Zequeira
    Father of a kid with poofy pants


    Wolfgang Baur's Kingdom of Ghouls from Dungeon #70 was at best set loosely in GH similar to the Night Below.(BTW there's also an accompanying Dragon article about True Ghouls) Recently Wolfgang did publish the 3E Empire of Ghouls as an Open Design project. I wonder if Wolfgang will have anything to do with WotC E2 Kingdom of the Ghouls.
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    Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:56 am  
    Re: Greyhawk Through a 4th Edition Darkly (Gencon)

    Thanael wrote:
    Wolfgang Baur's Kingdom of Ghouls from Dungeon #70 was at best set loosely in GH similar to the Night Below.


    "Kingdom of the Ghouls" is much more solidly Greyhawk than Night Below. The ghouls worship Nerull, the treatment of the Sunless Sea is much more in line with GDQ canon (there are multiple references to GDQ encounters and geography), there's an encounter with exiled drow from House Eilserv in Erelhei-Cinlu, several NPCs are linked specifically to the Flanaess (one is a Suel lich), the adventure begins specifically in Loftwick, and the White Kingdom of the Ghouls is mentioned later on in the Living Greyhawk Journal in Dragon #300 and an Age of Worms adventure in Dungeon #129. All in all, it's solidly Greyhawk (unlike the accompanying "Ecology of the Ghoul" in Dragon #252, which was completely generic).

    Night Below, on the other hand, was deliberately generic. There are no references to the GDQ series other than the name "Sunless Sea," the evil deities are given multiple possible identities in the Greyhawk, Mystara, or Forgotten Realms settings, and the surface locations weren't Greyhawk-specific. Making the maps mesh with GDQ is possible, but somewhat problematic.
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    Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:03 am  

    One issue with advancing the Oerthian timeline is that we know that the future of Oerth has very little magic, at least compared to the current (i.e. CY 570's-590's) era. I can't remember when the Greyhawk Gazette was actually penned by Smedger the Elder, but I know the v3.5 Dragon article on the clergy of Boccob mentioned the prophecy of the decline of magic. Perhaps, the toning down of the wizard (to be more "balanced") and the elimination of problematic (i.e. non computer gamey) spells in 4e could play into this though.
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    Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:31 pm  

    IronGolem wrote:
    One issue with advancing the Oerthian timeline is that we know that the future of Oerth has very little magic, at least compared to the current (i.e. CY 570's-590's) era. I can't remember when the Greyhawk Gazette was actually penned by Smedger the Elder


    The World of Greyhawk boxed set states it was compiled by Pluffet Smedger, the Elder of the Royal University of Rel Mord C.Y. 998.

    So Rel Mord still exists and is still prosperous enough to have a "Royal University" in 998, a mere 400 years after the current era.

    He spent "several decades" reworking the Savant Sage's work. My guideline for using vague counting words

    1=a
    2=a couple of
    3=a few
    4+=several
    5+=some
    6+=many

    So several decades is say 40 so, he began working on it around 968.

    Riftcanyon, where the work was found was still around at the time of the work being discovered as were illithid (or at least remains of their lairs)
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    Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:11 am  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Are you asking if I agree with GVD that the whole edifice of Greyhawk will crumble without the Great Wheel? No, I don't. Don't use it in my campaign in the first place.

    But it is the way Greyhawk's metaphysical politics was envisioned by the creator, as particularly evidenced by his books. Its just that such matters are only relevant to high level characters for the most part. And, in practice, most players and authors interested in such matters signed up to the Planescape overwrite.

    It does make a subtle difference if alignments are reflections of the gods' nature rather than gods being champions of the alignments, but Greyhawk would still be Greyhawk either way.


    The Great Wheel is a neat idea. Thats it. True, it is a (meta)physical proof of sorts of the true existence of alignments, but keep in mind it is actually part of an overlying belief structure. There really isn't anything that makes the cosmology of the planer realms incompatible in the new edition with the old because it deals with underlying belief structures.

    Its mostly a matter of being able to look at it from another point of view. We tend to think of things in terms of 'Known' and 'Unknown' when it is just as valid to say that the methodology of the magical ritual depends on the belief structure of the caster.

    It allows you (as a DM) to create spells that work for NPC's but do not work for players. By exposing the players to magic that 'shouldn't work' it can help to reintroduce that element of the unknown into your game.

    I would suggest using the new cosmology. Not because it is better, but by adding an additional view point on cosmology it can be used to create more depth to the game.
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