Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Woeful Ignorance

I've played in and run quite a few campaign settings in my time.  During high school and very early college -- and arguably even know -- I suffered from an acute case of Gamer ADD.  My old flames includes the Forgotten Realms, Rokugan (the 3.x version), Eberron, Ravenloft, The Wilderlands, and Warhammer's Old World.  With the exception of WFRP, I used 3.x to run all of these settings, since that was the system I was most comfortable with at the time.  There are other settings I've read but never run or played.  I've read a smattering of Dark Sun, EPT, Blackmoor, Harn, and a few others.

However, there is one setting I have neither run no read anything about: Greyhawk.  Aside from vague references in 3e, such as the deities and spells like Mordenkainen's Shit Covered Hovel, I don't really have any grasp on what Greyhawk is and what makes it tick.  If there is a single D&D topic I'm ignorant of it's Greyhawk.

There are multiple reasons for this.  First of all, there wasn't a very clear "buy this product to learn about Greyhawk" for 3e.  Sure there was the D&D Gazetteer, but at that time I was more interested in making my own milieus (read: filing the serial numbers off of Erathia).  It also isn't terribly clear from the title that it details the World of Greyhawk.

The other major reason is that whenever I do go through my periods of Gygax idol worship, I'm more interested in emulating what he did than playing in his world.  He made his own milieu, so the the most Gygaxian thing one can do is not play in Greyhawk but make your own damn Greyhawk.  This is obviously an overzealous and flat out stupid opinion, but it's one I hold on to nevertheless.

Due to comments to my recent post, I can't help but feel that I may have missed something.  While the game I run is more or less based on B/X D&D, there is a certain ineffable quality to 1e that attracts me.  It is both highly fantastic and gritty and dirty all at the same time.  Perhaps that's why the Dark Country campaign has incorporated an ever increasing amount of AD&D material in recent weeks.  Something in me thinks that looking at Greyhawk would help me get closer to defining the je ne sais quoi of Gygaxian AD&D in a way just the core books do not.

Of course, I don't really know where to start.  So I ask you gentle reader: is there some product or place where I might find out about Greyhawk in its most interesting form?


  1. I like my 83 boxed set, but most grogs swear by the original 1980 folio. For a good list of web resources, try my post, here:

    Zagyg and the Cheap DM

  2. I'd also say the '83 box :

  3. The original World of Greyhawk folio is the best product to introduce the setting, if you can find it.

    Also check this thread for more reasons: the setting is so beloved:

    There's also this old post (dated 2009 but actually from years earlier) about "putting the grey in Greyhawk":

  4. What are the relative virtues of either the box set or the folio over the other?

  5. Basically the box set has more information and the folio has less information. It is up to you which is the virtue.

    The extra information is mostly about the gods; it also gives you the names and levels of the rulers of the regions.

  6. I'd go for the 1980 folio. It's got just enough information to get you started without undue bloat, and it does not have Jeff Easley art.

  7. The gods are easily found on the wiki I linked in the post I mentioned above, or on Grendelwulf's site, also linked. He's been doing a series detailing all the deities. From Dragon, I think, another source for the deities.

  8. I posted a similar question on the Piazza back in December and got some good advice

  9. Second on grodog's site, cruise through some of that stuff and you find the weirdness that Scott alluded to the other day (specifically with some of the Clark Ashton Smith and Lovecraft stuff mostly through Rob Kuntz).

    I got a copy of the Folio for $4 the other day off of Ebay (no maps). The Folio is much for of the Keep thing: no names for rulers, no deities, no specific discussions of alignment. I had both back in the day and they complement each other, but I think I lean to preferring the look, feel, and more DIY attitude of the Folio these days.

  10. The folio also makes it cognitively easier to do weird shit like making the Suloise into thinly veiled Egyptians or Melniboneans, the Flan into Celts, the Great Kingdom into Romans, Iuz into a demonic Kang the Conqueror type, etc. In fact, I don't any of that seemed weird at all when the folio version was the only version. It's *extremely* customizable.