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    Canonfire :: View topic - Oerth's Gutenberg?
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    Oerth's Gutenberg?
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:42 pm  
    Oerth's Gutenberg?

    (I hope this is the proper area for this query)

    In my campaigns I have had the printing press as a recent invention; wildly popular in places like Greyhawk and Dyvers, etc., forbidden in places like The Pale or N. Aerdy, and unknown in less developed places.

    The broadsheet is another development, so far exclusive to Greyhawk, Dyvers, Verbobonc, (and never to be thought backward) Hardby). This allows the PCs to get "the news" in a way. Of course yellow journalism, muckraking, wild innaccuracies are the norm, but it has made for some really fun adventure hooks, feuds and infamy for the players.

    My question to you: do you have printing press in your Greyhawk campaign? If not, why not? Has it changed anything?

    Thanks!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:56 pm  

    I don't. Not that I don't have any other RW 15th century technology. Most of the ships in my campaign are equivalent to RW ships of the 15th century, as is dress for the most part. The reason I don't have printing presses is that it just doesn't seem to fit with my campaign. Can't really explain it any other way.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:01 am  

    Broadsheets do exist, but they are produced using woodcuts. I think the Scribes Guild murdered the inventor of moveable type, and the invention subsequently disappeared from the evidence lock-up. Ink smears were found at the scene of the crime, but also some small wood chips, so it could have been the Woodcutters Guild instead. We'll never know. Too many suspects, and they are too busy copying books/making woodcuts to have time for answering inquiries anyways.

    And the nobility doesn't seem to be all that interested in supporting any endeavor to look for the culprit(s), citing that such public funds could be better spent on the poor, trickling it down to them from the wealthy (as only the wealthy know how to properly handle money- poor people are poor for a reason you know). Besides, we can't have too many ideas spreading around among the common folk now, can we. They might start to get...ideas about things, and then we'll just have to get out the swords and take care of it. Peasant uprisings. Such a bother, or so it says right here in this book of mine which was laboriously copied by a half blind Pholtan monk.
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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:44 am  

    In a game (D&D) where everyone short of barbarians are literate, paper/parchment costs a g.p. and a wizard's best friend is his spellbook, mass produced broadsheets should have an effect on those things. Consequently printed copies might also help justify the high ingame price of mundane handwritten books that are so common in Greyhawk canon.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:12 pm  



    Last edited by BlueWitch on Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:00 pm  

    Perhaps my take on Greyhawk influenced my decisions...I see the Gem of the Flanaess to be more about the Merchant class than the Nobility.
    I can see a feudal noble class absolutely stomping on increased literacy. But for the moneygrubbers, I think they'd see the huge potential. And the dynamics of a moveable type press are such that it would produce plenty of jobs for the guilds.
    Now, my vision was that the printing press took years to A)catch on and 2)get past sabotage, clerical (scribes') opposition. Only since the Wars losened things up a bit did the press catch on in GH. And sure, The Greyhawk Sentinal-Observer-Herald-Evening Edition gets the occasional paving block through its window...
    My players actaully had a short adventure bodyguarding the Founder and Editorationist Glabbo Scarpenkrindle...but that's a story for another day.
    Need it be said that The Pale, The Scarlet Brotherhood, the UKA, Furyondy...well...most every state run on a theocratic or feudal system has banned the concept?
    I thank you all for your views! Love to hear more!
    Paladin

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:15 pm  

    As Big C already pointed out ( most humorous by the way)
    I think your perspective is "spot on", As is conversed elsewhere in the world of "realism"... there are many (as you noted) reasons the upperclass would be opposed from a realism stand point.
    From a fantasy setting it is only futher re-inforced. We have collectively mentioned the normal means, but even for the novice wizard wishing to make a buck there are numorus support spells that can also be applied.

    It is as I tell my players.... technoligical advances are usually brought on through need and education. While there is certainly a case for autos, trains, airplanes, to ease travel, why would they EVER be invented in a world that has magic carpets, fly spells, and teleport? The only reason is mass movement. Which is in opposition to "control of the masses" in a medeval realm.

    The desire for the written word by the masses is not high in their wants list.. land to tend, food on the table, a peacful existance, would certainly be more inspiring to the "unwashed" so to speak.
    Even from some semi-educated, there are also magics that further communication without such "mundane means". Magic Mouth, Message, etc, just to name a few.
    just my 2cp
    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:18 pm  

    Quote:
    In a game (D&D) where everyone short of barbarians are literate, paper/parchment costs a g.p. and a wizard's best friend is his spellbook, mass produced broadsheets should have an effect on those things.


    I am not so sur eabout universal literacy. As I understand it, at least through 2nd edition, reading and writing any language required a proficiency slot to be expended. I would submit that most tradesment and laborers are not going to waste their limited skills on something without an immediate reward.

    That being said, I have never had a printing press in a game. It just strikes me as too "modern" and too upsetting. As DLG pointed out, there has to be some sort of demand signal for a printing press to be created. Since education is a rarity, at least the way I envision Greyhawk, there is no demand signal for it.

    If a press was invented, I do not see the nobility or anyone else cracking down on it. In fact, they would probably try to take advantage of it. Imagine the propaganda potential!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:46 pm  

    tarelton wrote:
    Quote:
    In a game (D&D) where everyone short of barbarians are literate, paper/parchment costs a g.p. and a wizard's best friend is his spellbook, mass produced broadsheets should have an effect on those things.


    I am not so sur eabout universal literacy. As I understand it, at least through 2nd edition, reading and writing any language required a proficiency slot to be expended. I would submit that most tradesment and laborers are not going to waste their limited skills on something without an immediate reward.


    This is my point of view also, but without the proficiency slots, even if it is explicitly stated that everyone is literate. I take "everyone" to mean "all PC's." Players are special people with special skills, one of which is being literate. They also all speak Common, which is not spoken by everyone. IMC it's sort of like speaking Latin or French, although not as rare as that. Most people in a town with any kind of trade can speak at least a little Common, although you may run into some isolated villages where only one or two people do.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:29 am  

    And remember, adventurers are not your average folks. Average folks are fairly downtrodden. Besides, universal literacy in later rules sets for any language a character knows is only a convenience for players, not indicative of the situation in any particular campaign setting.
    bugsy wrote:
    And the dynamics of a moveable type press are such that it would produce plenty of jobs for the guilds.

    Not quite. Guilds maintain power by controlling technical knowledge (and its use), not by disseminating it. Disseminating information does not lead to further empowerment of guilds, or of oligarchies for that matter. It does quite the opposite. Soon you have people able to do things for themselves, or who start to get ideas about unsavory things like "free thinking", or...[shudder]..."democracy", and we can't have that. Wink
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:40 am  

    IMC, wizards, priests, and occasionally paladins are the only characters that bother to take reading proficiencies. Thieves usually scrape by on their reading languages skill. The Gord books and Sargent works (especially the description of peasants in the Flanaess in Ivid) seem to indicate that literacy is very rare among commoners. GH doesn't even have full plate armor; it's hard to imagine a printing press unless the priests of Murlynd are running it or a DM is incorporating the slew of technology in the Yggsburg setting.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:02 pm  

    I'm very glad to see this as a topic, as I've wondered this myself and I'm running a campaign that is meant to have the beginnings of a burgeoning Renaissance period centered in the city of Greyhawk. So I suppose it depends on what kind of campaign you are running because, like the others have said, a printing press is a game changer. It could potentially change social class structures.

    In fact, as soon as the PCs get back to the city, I'm embroiling them in a storyline that starts with a public unveiling and subsequent theft of a dwarven printing press, which they get framed for.


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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:08 pm  

    I don't see a problem with either view. It all comes down to what kind of campaign your running. IMC common tongue is simply a trade language local languages still exist different dialects and all. Most commoners will speak the local tongue and dialect, though many never learn to read. Heck some nobility don't bother to learn either thats what their scribe is for. Many churches require their priests and lay-priests to learn scripture so the church is a good source for many non-nobility, and nobility alike to learn the written word.

    Later

    Argon
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:58 am  

    Quote:
    Players are special people with special skills, one of which is being literate.


    I actually like to have some characters illeterate... it adds depth to them, and makes them cooperate with the more educated characters, typically wizards and priests. This adds to those characters value in the party, and helps make the party more interdependant. If Charlemagne was illeterate, why not Alex's fighter?
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:56 am  

    bugsy wrote:
    ...In my campaigns I have had the printing press as a recent invention; wildly popular in places like Greyhawk and Dyvers, etc., forbidden in places like The Pale or N. Aerdy, and unknown in less developed places...

    My question to you: do you have printing press in your Greyhawk campaign? If not, why not? Has it changed anything?
    Thanks!


    -For general technology, I assume that CY 576 = AD 1445, and that technology progresses on a 2:1 basis (i.e., CY 578 = AD 1446, CY 580 = AD 1447, etc) on the theory that technological progress is slower in the Flaneass due to the use of magic/fantasy as a substitute. If Guthenberg built the first effective printing press ca. AD 1449, then it would be due ca. CY 584. With the possible exception of a scenario in Alhaster at the beginning of CY 577 which I'm considering, my campaign is currently up to late CY 577 to early CY 579 (depending on the exact place). So the printing press is in the future, but the inventor is probably working on it now. Perhaps he'll be delayed by the Greyhawk Wars.

    vestcoat wrote:
    ...GH doesn't even have full plate armor...


    -I do IMC, but it's new, and therefore expensive (double price).

    vestcoat wrote:
    ...it's hard to imagine a printing press unless the priests of Murlynd are running it...


    -There's a candidate! Maybe a gnome or dwarf. Or maybe a bored vintner...

    bugsy wrote:
    ...I can see a feudal noble class absolutely stomping on increased literacy... Now, my vision was that the printing press took years to A)catch on and 2)get past sabotage, clerical (scribes') opposition...


    ...and...

    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    ...there are many (as you noted) reasons the upperclass would be opposed from a realism stand point...

    The desire for the written word by the masses is not high in their wants list.. land to tend, food on the table, a peacful existance, would certainly be more inspiring to the "unwashed" so to speak...


    ...and...

    Cebrion wrote:
    ... Disseminating information does not lead to further empowerment of guilds, or of oligarchies for that matter. It does quite the opposite. Soon you have people able to do things for themselves, or who start to get ideas about unsavory things like "free thinking", or...[shudder]..."democracy", and we can't have that. Wink


    -You could have made the same argument for The Real World, but it didn't stop the printing press at all. This is for two reasons. One, even the most totalitarian government only has so much power (even in the Flaneass). Two, governments want and need to exploit the potential a new technology offers, lest they be left behind by other powers. It would depend on how well they can restrict the technology. The Soviets were about as totalitarian as you can get, but accepted fax machines, which often ended up being used for Samizdat. Same deal now with the internet.

    I don't think the dynamics would be much different in the Flaneass.

    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    ...It is as I tell my players.... technoligical advances are usually brought on through need and education. While there is certainly a case for autos, trains, airplanes, to ease travel, why would they EVER be invented in a world that has magic carpets, fly spells, and teleport...


    -I'm with you on this (thus my 2:1 rule of thumb on technological progress). The big advantage is cost. No one, even the wealthy, want to pay more for something than they have to, and that includes governments. Convenience, too.

    tarelton wrote:
    ...If a press was invented, I do not see the nobility or anyone else cracking down on it. In fact, they would probably try to take advantage of it. Imagine the propaganda potential!


    -Yup, that too, as I mentioned above.

    bugsy wrote:
    ...Need it be said that The Pale, The Scarlet Brotherhood, the UKA, Furyondy...well...most every state run on a theocratic or feudal system has banned the concept?


    -I don't see Furyondy trying ot restrict it at all. Ahlissa would only be concerned with making sure no one trashes the Powers That Be. I don't think the Pale would care, as long as it doesn't trash the Palish sect of Pholtus worship or promote other deties (or sects). The Scarlet Brotherhood would actually love it for their citizens, but would be restricted to the Tilvanot Penninula (as if).

    tarelton wrote:
    Quote:
    In a game (D&D) where everyone short of barbarians are literate, paper/parchment costs a g.p. and a wizard's best friend is his spellbook, mass produced broadsheets should have an effect on those things.


    I am not so sur eabout universal literacy. As I understand it, at least through 2nd edition, reading and writing any language required a proficiency slot to be expended. I would submit that most tradesment and laborers are not going to waste their limited skills on something without an immediate reward...


    -I think Mort' is using the D&D 3.0/3.5 standard (which is where I am).

    I used to allow PCs and NPCs to be illiterate in return for 2 extra skill points (the Barbarian standard). Now, with Unearthed Arcana 3.5, a player can accept "Illiteracy" in return for 1 extra skill point. I have since changed to that standard, and I use the option liberally:

    Using the EGG 9 tier socio-economic class system, I assume that almost everyone who is Lower Middle Class (LMC: master craftsmen, very well off farmers, low-level civil servants, junior officers) is literate in much of the Flaneass. Upper Lower Class (ULC: independent journeyman craftsman, better-than average farmers, etc) people are typically literate if their INT score is 8 or higher, MLC if 10 or higher, and LLC if 12 or higher. Since the average person in much of the Flaneas is MLC, with quite a ULC, followed by ropughly equal numbers LLC on one end and LMC+ on the other, I figure the average adult litercy rate in places like Keoland, Furyondy, Greyhawk, Nyrond and Irongate is something over 50% (I've never figured it out precisely by place).

    tarelton wrote:
    ...I actually like to have some characters illeterate... it adds depth to them, and makes them cooperate with the more educated characters, typically wizards and priests. This adds to those characters value in the party, and helps make the party more interdependant...


    -Back in my AD&D1 /AD&D2 days, one of my players would never spend a slot or two on literacy. Boy, did he pay...

    tarelton wrote:
    ...If Charlemagne was illeterate, why not Alex's fighter?


    -You see that all that time, but in medieval parlance, Charlemagne was "illiterate" because he didn't read Latin very well, either the language or the script (i.e., the type you're reading now). He could read German in Merovingian script. Anyone who can decipher that chicken scratch is not illiterate... Laughing

    BTW, that brings up the difference between "illiterate" and "non-literate".
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:56 am  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    Cebrion wrote:
    ... Disseminating information does not lead to further empowerment of guilds, or of oligarchies for that matter. It does quite the opposite. Soon you have people able to do things for themselves, or who start to get ideas about unsavory things like "free thinking", or...[shudder]..."democracy", and we can't have that. Wink


    -You could have made the same argument for The Real World, but it didn't stop the printing press at all. This is for two reasons. One, even the most totalitarian government only has so much power (even in the Flanaess). Two, governments want and need to exploit the potential a new technology offers, lest they be left behind by other powers. It would depend on how well they can restrict the technology. The Soviets were about as totalitarian as you can get, but accepted fax machines, which often ended up being used for Samizdat. Same deal now with the internet.

    I don't think the dynamics would be much different in the Flanaess.

    The Medieval-esque Flanaess would be very different from Soviet Russia, but that is besides the point. I think you missed my point, that being that the printing press (well, that and moveable type) existing does not equivocate to more powerful guilds. So, let me use a real world example of an actual trade equivalent to a guild, say, the trade of a plumber, electrician, automotive technician, or any other trade with an organization which oversees certifications, just like guilds do- heck, some of the trades still even use the old guild terms "apprentice", "journeyman", and "master". And so here we go...

    So now there is this thing called the internet filled with all kinds of information that is accessible by anyone. But, before the internet there were these things called libraries (which are more to our point), and they were filled with books. And some of these books were "how to" books- books that tell you how to do things. And some of them were about various trades. Anyone could access them, and if they did read them, they might learn how to do things that, say, an automotive technician would really rather not have everyone able to learn how to do, because the necessity of their everyday services, and thus their value, would be massively downgraded. And everyone would not only be able to teach themselves how to do simple things, like change the oil, brakes, air/oil/fuel filters, and belts on cars, they could learn to do other things which they would quite easily find out are really not that hard to do, nor require exceedingly expensive proprietary tools, like change out a transmission (or even rebuild a transmission), change out a transaxle, swap out drum brakes for disc brakes, and literally dozens of other things. And now with the internet, dissemination of information is immediate- you don't even have to leave home to get a book any longer.

    And that example (which I do know a little bit about, because I have done most of those things, and more besides, without any "guild" training thanks to books Wink) can be applied to most trades. Net result? In our everyday lives, we are not nearly as reliant on automotive technicians and other trade workers than we would be if we didn't have access to nearly all of their *trade secrets*.

    So, if a wagon wheel breaks in Greyhawk, does a wheelwright want everyone to know how to make a proper wheel, or would they rather people have to come to them to buy a decent one? And how about the Wheelwrights Guild? Do they want everyone to be able to make their own wheels, such that their cut would be eliminated altogether too? I am pretty sure that neither would be all too happy about such a development. And that is just one trade. Imagine it happening to all of them.

    So, my argument is not with the existence of the printing press at all, but with the idea that more people knowing how to do stuff, due to the dissemination of knowledge, which is made easier/more affordable because of the printing press (and also assumes that people can read), strengthens guilds. It does not. It does very much the opposite.
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    Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:18 pm  

    While magic can certainly hold back some science (for example, why bother investigating how to stop diseases from spreading if you can simply go to your cleric and become instantly healthy?), it has to be really prevalent to hold it all back, and magic isn't that common on Oerth. The average person does not use it or have access to it, nor can they afford to pay a wizard to do everything for them.

    So some technological advancement happens, because unless you're in a high magic setting, there's just not enough magic to go around.

    On the other hand, there is a precedent of Oerth's deities intervening and preventing some technology from working on their world, such as firearms (specifically, they render gunpowder/smokepowder inert in Oerth's atmosphere), so there's always that option if you want to prevent such a thing from your campaign, although that can be heavy-handed if you resort to that too much. I imagine even in this case, clerics of Murlynd could still use them, though.

    I can see a printing press being of use in a world like Oerth, and it would be of benefit to magic-users. Think about printed spellbooks and scrolls.

    Bear in mind that technology can be enchanted as well, so magic and technology are not always at odds. So for example, a wizard could have an enchanted printing press that works with minimal human involvement. Of course this can lead to the world becoming too fantastical, so you need to be careful with this, too, lest you turn your setting into another Eberron.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:12 pm  

    Given the fact that at least two cities in Greyhawk have serial publications, the Sinchaser Report in Alhaster (Dungeon #131) and the Greyhawk Grumbler in (Living) Greyhawk City, some sort of mass-printing technology surely is available.

    If this seems anachronistic, note that Greyhawk has astronomical telescopes, which were invented some 150 years after Gutenberg.

    On a side note, one can always attribute technology which seems to early for a quasi-medieval world to non-human races, such as gnomes and dwarves.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:25 pm  

    Robbastard wrote:
    Given the fact that at least two cities in Greyhawk have serial publications, the Sinchaser Report in Alhaster (Dungeon #131) and the Greyhawk Grumbler in (Living) Greyhawk City, some sort of mass-printing technology surely is available...


    -I wasn't aware of the Greyhawk Grumbler. Do tell! But I think the scenario in which the Sinchaser is mentioned (of the Tyrilanti series Wink Evil Grin ) occurs in CY 597? It could be very new technology. Either, that, or someone is busy an an quill (IIRC, there are a lot of copies).

    I'm smuggling this in from the "Realism" thread:
    jamesdglick wrote:

    ...Up until now, the only big difference from one DM's version to another DM's version is the hoary Gunpowder issue.

    (I don't buy the "Chemistry is Different in the Flaneass" line:

    http://greyhawkery.blogspot.com/2012/01/blackpowder-weapons-in-greyhawk.html

    1. Dragon Magazine #71/1983 Glossography: Murlynd, an original character from Gygax's own home campaign is a quasi-deity with "6-shooters" (acquired from another plane) that only function on Oerth due to his "magical aura".
    2. Murlynd is promoted to hero-god of Magical Technology in 2nd edition's Slavers. He has few priests but they can take a firearms proficiency and those who gain high level may use smokepowder normally implying they acquired the same aura as Murylnd.
    3. 3rd edition's Dragon Magazine #306 introduced the paladin variant, White Paladins who can take the feat "Secret of the Firebrands" which is essentially the same ability open to 2e priests of Murlynd. There is a note in the article about Murlynd struggling against St Kargoth (the main death knight in Greyhawk) over an item called the "Quannon".
    4. Dragon Magazine #263: One depiction of Delleb, Oeridian god of reason and intellect is of an armored warrior on a warhorse, carrying a sabre and a "strange projectile weapon of metal and wood". Delleb is also said to have invented the crossbow, a weapon of metal and wood that is not strange to any race of the Flanaess.
    5. Daern, the Oeridian hero-deity of defenses and fortifications was sponsored to godhood by Delleb. She is known mainly for her magic item Daern's Instant Fortress,
    but in Dragon Magazine #82 she is also said to have authored a book titled, "Components and Reactions of Phosporous".
    6. Lastly, just for fun, the 1980 Folio/1983 Guide: Both covers of these books show the heraldry for the Feif of Ahlissa (once Flan now Oerdian) with three fuse-lit blackpowder bombs...

    You can argue that #1 is an exception, #2, #3, and #4 are later "corruptions", and perhaps #6 is meant to be burning oil rather than gunpowder, but #5 is from the golden era (back when I had a Dragon subscription), and (I don't have Dragon #82 on me, but...) is probably from the hand of EGG...


    ...although IMC, the only gunpowder weapons currently on Oerth have been brought in from elsewhere. I figure a Cleric of Murlynd will invent the first one sometime during the Greyhawk Wars, probably to fight the Pomarj invasions (I have something in the works...).

    Robbastard wrote:
    ...If this seems anachronistic, note that Greyhawk has astronomical telescopes, which were invented some 150 years after Gutenberg...


    -I have a list of "exceptions" to the CY 578 = AD 1446.

    I don't have Gem of the Flaneass on me. I remember the observatory outside the town walls, but is it an astonomical telescope, or just an observatory?
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