Greyhawk for a New Generation


Its happening, Greyhawk is getting official attention and products again. It was a quarter of a century ago since an official Greyhawk product was released in the form of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer in 2000. Ghosts of Saltmarsh was Greyhawk but too low key to really register. To get a Greyhawk chapter in the 2024 Dungeon Masters Guide will most likely be a milestone for the setting.

Here is a link to EN Worlds article about this:

and Gameinformer's post: 

When reading the comments this news have generated, it seems there are a large part of the community who see this mile stone as leading down the wrong path. Myself I'm causally optimistic, and at the same time bracing for the changes that will probably come to our community. Now I will try to speculate, and as a creator in this field to try to understand what it will mean for me and other creators who are making Greyhawk content.

As Greyhawk fans we have different ways to approach the setting and the products that have defined it. For me I see the World of Greyhawk more like a concept or a phenomenon that depicts a place that I know doesn't exist but I like to treat it like a real place where I love to go and adventure with friends. Pouring over old books, maps, blog posts and everything else created for the setting is like archaeology where you can't be sure what to find, but its is so much fun to connect the dots into a deeper understanding of the world of Oerth and its stories. Other Greyhawk creators I se as friends and colleagues who are sharing my joy in doing the same, and their effort helps me build my own vision of the place.

Having WotC now joining this effort I thought I would see as intrusive, but to my surprise I'm leaning more towards the positive. Many of the designers who are working on the new DMG are people I've met, some I even worked with on other projects and they are some of the best in the world at what they do. I see them as colleagues with different set of circumstances compared to myself. They have the resources to work as a team ordering art, editing and a lot more by professionals, I'm just a single person. With big publisher support also comes obligations and limitations.

WotC needs to make products that are profitable, meaning they need to reach a wide audience wide enough to offset production costs and deliver an handsome return on investment. Me in the other hand only need to please a small number of dedicated fans to hand over a small amount of money each moth to make it possible for me to work on greyhawk content instead of other things. When it comes to source material both WotC and me have access to pretty much the same source material, what we decide to include and how differs a lot since our goals varies immensely. Enough comparing myself to WotC, never thought I would even think this way but new official Greyhawk content does weird stuff to us in the community as seen around the interwebs today.

Time to try to not be a big corp sellout. Will this ruin my Greyhawk, or yours? No it shouldn't, more content (even official) just means that there are more to be inspired by. Will the the new content contradict old content? I'm sure it will in places, and a lot of the old content will be left out. Some of the new Greyhawk material will be be deliberately designed to adjust the setting to new sensibilities and ways to do things. Will Rary be gay? Its definitely a possibility, and to be honest the setting could make use of a bit more diversity in my opinion, and a bit of "secret gossip" being created can be fun. But it needs to be done with both an understanding of the setting and a respect for it. This is a delicate balance, it is impossible to please everyone.

Being more interested in the setting and its lore than the game aspect and its rules probably helps me to not getting upset each time a new edition comes around. The rules I've used have changed drastically roughly every decade I've been running Greyhawk games. I've come to the conclusion that the only way to get them the way I want them is to create my own version of them, which is very popular these days. In my defense I have to state that I started to do this several years ago, before it became

Greyhawk seems to spawn generations of dedicated fans each with a fixed view of what the setting is. Its kind of an irony that one of the worst things that can happen is if the new generation of Greyhawkers become as stubborn as the old, there will be a lot of hostile unnecessary arguments flying. The good about this is that it shows the love for the setting, the bad is that it also show our tendency to gatekeep and be excluding. I have left a toe in the old school gaming, a foot in the 3E era and now sliding into what feels like a parallel new school way of gaming. Another irony is that I'm very interested in politics, both real world and love to introduce the fantasy variety in my campaign. The other side of that coin is when the game and setting is being used as a tool to use against those you disagree with politically. Many of us in the community are guilty of this, me included, which we need to temper in these contentious times. There are many ways to enjoy roleplaying and Greyhawk, and my opinion is that as long as everyone involved is having fun you're doing it right. Just like a game setting is better with diversity, so is the gaming community.

I hope they are creating inspiring content for a new generation gamers, and make them more interested in Greyhawk. Old gamers who have been around sine the early days of the setting now have both a golden opportunity and a huge responsibility. We have the advantage decades to digest thousands and thousands of pages of text, maps and illustrations. To make sense of it, and in many cases contribute to it with our own creations. I see it as my job to try and do my best to welcome a new generation Greyhawk fans making the setting theirs as much as it has become mine over the years.

Of all the ways Greyhawk could have been reintroduced back in the D&D center again, presented as an example on how to world build and make your home brew content sounds very positive. As a professional Greyhawk home brewer having a DMG chapter dedicated to my passion is promising indeed. Now I need to think realistically about this, what the chapter contains might be saying I've been wrong the whole time. Horned Society might be into deviltry and those cute Tortle people are everywhere. I'm sure there will be some of these new takes I detest, but they can be ignored the same way I've ignored things I've disliked in earlier material.

There is going to be a poster map included with a setting map on one side and the city of Greyhawk map on another. Its going to be very interesting to see how they have handled this, will we get a Darlene reprint or something new. My guess is something new, and my hopes is that we will get a Fransesca Baerald take of Greyhawk. She is an amazing artist and her maps are truly works of art, it would be a great way to keep the Greyhawk publishing tradition of very artistic setting maps. This also leaves the more cartographic approach open for Greyhawk creators like myself to fill.

This move from WotC might also open up DM's Guld for Greyhawk content which will means I have to consider if I want to publish content on that platform. It is too early for me to have an opinion, I need to study their terms in more detail and wait until WotC have given us all the facts surrounding the DM's guild and Greyhawk. As things stand now probably not, I want my stuff to be used as a something Greyhawk gamers use, tweak and share which might be limited going through DM's guild, time will tell.

Another possibility is that they will change their Fan Creation Rules which are what I rely on for most of my Greyhawk content. If that becomes more restrictive that might force me to reconsider what I do and how I do things. Hopefully that is not the case, and the fact that WotC lost the OGL fight should make them stay on the open side. Releasing the new rules under Creative Commons is a good sign, but corporate short term greed might come back again and risk ruin things for us again. Lets hope that WotC have learned their lesson and realizes that a strong welcoming community of gamers and creators embracing their properties are good for both them and us in the Greyhawk community!

Now is the time to both hold WotC to their promise if an open game, and hold ourself to be open and welcome a new generation Greyhawk gamers. Tell them about all the cool stuff to see, do, learn and experience in the setting!