Friday, January 13, 2017

BRW Games Greyhawk Product Announcements (sortakinda)

Going through the Great Greyhawk Survey really got me thinking about what might happen if my favorite RPG setting* is ever opened up in Wizards of the Coast's Dungeon Masters Guild. Specifically, there's a line in the FAQ that opens up the possibility:
Q: Is this going to remain Forgotten Realms only, or are other settings/IPs to be considered in the future??
A: We intend to open up additional settings and IP as time goes on. However, for the time being, we will remain focused on the Forgotten Realms.
So it's definitely possible, even likely (especially considering they brought Ravenloft into the fold), that Greyhawk will be an option someday. I have to reiterate that I have no idea when that will happen, or even if it ever will, but I am basing all this on the (admittedly speculative) idea that it will. Eventually. I'm guessing within two years, but it could be next week for all I know (in which case, boy am I behind schedule!). 

With all that said, here are the sortakinda product announcements, dependent entirely on whether or not WotC ever adds Greyhawk to the list of settings in the DMs Guild. Even if I just end up writing them for my own game, they'll get written.

Players Guide to Greyhawk. A collection of new class options, backgrounds, spells, magic items, etc. etc. etc. Basically fleshing out all the options the game currently has, with Greyhawk-specific material. This is more than half written right now, for my home game, and some of it has been published here on the blog.

Central Flanaess Gazetteer. A complete overview of the central Flanaess south of the Nyr Dyv in CY 576, from the Kron Hills to the Wild Coast, allowing sandbox-style play across the region. This has actually already been in the works for my own personal use for more than a year now, especially a very detailed, small-scale map of the whole region, and in the "mostly already written" category. I'll proceed to be much more systematic in filling in the pieces. Will have information on history, politics, and economics; notable NPCs; settlements and natural features; and of course plenty of adventure hooks. There will be stuff in there that sets up the Greyhawk Wars and beyond, but a DM wouldn't need to go in that direction by any stretch of the imagination. Would be written for 5E, because that's what the DMs Guild wants.

Temple of Elemental Evil 5th Edition Conversion and Campaign Expansion. This one is also mostly written, again for my own use. Not only would it include 5E stats for all the NPCs and monsters, but a revised (fixed) map and a brand-new dungeon level four, for DMs who want to end the adventure more in line with the original intention, including a link to the Elder Elemental God (and thus tie-ins to Vault of the Drow). Will also include brand-new material detailing other old Temple outposts (including the Watchtower at the border of the Suss and Gnarley forests), Sobanwych, which Temple agents have thoroughly infiltrated, and those two "danger, evil!" symbols on the High Road in the original maps:


Verbobonc. A complete sourcebook detailing this critical town and surrounding Viscounty commanding the Velverdyva River, set in CY 576. Will detail the city itself, with a large map, plus lots of separate adventure hooks too, of course. Obviously this city could loom large in a ToEE campaign, and so fits in nicely with the above. This is something I haven't started writing at all yet. 

Dyvers: City of Sails. A full treatment of Greyhawk's greatest rival (echoing the rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee), standing at the western end of the Nyr Dyv, as of CY 576. Will include a full-sized map and sourcebook detailing each quarter of the city, notable NPCs, and the like. This is something I'll have to write from scratch. I've got a map roughed out, but that's about it. 

I might also do a couple of stand-alone adventures in the region, just to flesh out some of the potentialities.

But of course this is a weird situation, as I'm going ahead with the work of writing even before I know for sure that there will be able to ever sell the damn things. But the way I figure it, this is as much an excuse to sit down and get the work done for my own campaign; a 5E sandbox stretching from the Wild Coast to the Nyr Dyv, the Mistmarsh to the Kron Hills. 

Consider it being written "on spec" (and I have one or two projects that are on deadline and must be finished first), and setting me up to be ready out of the gate if and when WotC ever opens up the DMs Guild to Greyhawk products. Look for announcements about Kickstarters right after that happens (for art and editing, as always), but I've always had products written and in-hand before I went that route in the past, and I will want to do the same here.

_____
* This blog isn't called Greyhawk Grognard for nothing. :-)

13 comments:

Andy Johnson said...

That ToEE conversion/expansion sounds incredible! Can't wait to see it!

Sqn Cdr Flashheart said...

Um, just yes, my wallet is ready for abuse and those orders!

Juha Makkonen said...

I ran TOEE a couple of years ago. The module raised several questions: How was such an elaborate building project possible so close to Verbobonc unchallenged? Where did they get the skilled workers? Why was the temple not completely erased the first time around? How was such an elaborate project possible in the middle of the woods?

To answer these I started sketching a conspiracy that involved Verbobonc and Dyvers: corrupt bishops (and especially an old bishop who was in the battle 30 years ago), corrupt stone masons guild (some of the prisoners in TOEE turned out to be uncooperative journeyman stone masons) and corrupt river people that smuggled things to the site.

The player backstories and events in the game brought up some clues. Likewise, PC actions resulted in reactions. During the pre-game, the thief gained a key to the temple from a stranger who fell ill and died in a temple guesthouse in Verbobonc. There were tombs with particular ceramic styles around the temple and some in Nulb and the moathouse. The river gang leader had been in correspondence with Dyvers stone mason guildmaster. When the triumphant PCs returned from the moathouse, some days later a prelate arrived from Verbobonc to investigate - in a friendly manner, of course.

The idea was to build pressure from two directions: the temple and from Verbobonc. However, PCs met an unfortunate TPK in the temple of the air element, or well, there was one survivor, but anyway that was that. Good times.

p1r8z0r said...

I too ran TOEE about 5 years ago but never had a chance to complete it due to IRL personal conflicts. Your blog posts were especially important to me as I planned out the relationships and encounters the players would have, and it was brilliant. My take was to have the players start right after the Greyhawk Wars, being sent there on a mission to clear out new inhabitants... only to find out they were sent back in time by Vecna as a part of a larger scheme for him to vie for power over the multiverse. Looooong story short, the players loved it as the rich expansions I gave them upon your blog posts made their choices even more grounded in reality, especially when they started to realize the implications of what their actions would have in the future. Too bad they never got the chance to realize what the true elemental evil of the temple actually was.

On a side note, I invented a few things to make the distinctions between the then and the now makes sense:

1. Verbobonc in the future was actively rooting out and publicly executing cultists within its walls. Verbobonc back then was unaware of the activity coming from the temple.

2. The Temple was originally built to imprison the EEG as a source of power for the worship of evil elementals (the cult in the past was driven by evil druids and humanoid shamen). The Temple was built using ritual magic from the node of evil upon which it now stands.

3. Lolth and Iuz were competing to gain access to the imprisoned EEG as a source of power for their own ends. Iuz wants to use it to power his worldly ambitions on Oerth, Lolth wants to use it to strengthen her power with the Drow across the multiverse.

4. Zuggtmoy had her own plans but found herself trapped in the same prison (albeit only in the mechanism of the prison containing the EEG), and is therefore only a complication to the larger plot between Lolth and Iuz.

5. Vecna, being a time traveler, is using knowledge of future events to attempt to gain control of the node to power his attempt to take control of the entire multiverse. Because Vecna.

There were other things I added too for humorous (Greyhawkish) reasons, like a consortium of gnomish bankers called Gnomes And Sacks, where the players deposited their funds, cashed in jewels, and even engaged in a little financial speculations. No matter where they were, they'd get periodic visits from a gnomish auditor who was just "checking in." I also had a time-traveling mage called "The Professor" who had followed their time-lines and was about to reveal himself to them, but that's when things fell apart. Oh, well.

I can't wait to see what you came up with. I bet it rocked!

Spudeus said...

I just framed Darlene's folio map so that I can gaze upon it! Certainly hope that the Greyhawk IP is opened up (along with the many other settings that folks miss).

mageandsage said...

I really hope you're right. The thought of the return of Greyhawk - even if only in the DMs Guild - would thrill me. But, unfortunately, I feel like there's more reason to be skeptical than optimistic.

Yes, Wizards did initially say that it was their intention to open up the DM's guild to other worlds. However, their product releases seem to voice a different agenda - to mine all the best content from D&D's history and transfer it to Forgotten Realms. Sadly, theres too much evidence of this to ignore.

The book DUNGEONOLOGY - a VOLO book, entirely about FR - lists Acererak in the chapter of iconic villains of Faerun, and says:

"I had heard of the great demilich Acererak in my travels, but I had been under the impression his influence had been limited to realms far beyond Toril. I've begun to hear rumors, however, that he and his legendary Tomb of Horrors - reputedly the deadliest dungeon in this world or any other - have somehow appeared in Faerun"

And with the release of TALES OF THE YAWNING PORTAL...Against the Giants, White Plume Mountain, and other iconic settings from D&D's past will apparently "somehow appear in Faerun." Back when Wizards launched the greatly re-invisioned Elemental Evil concept in Forgotten Realms, I feared that repurposing old material could become a staple of their release schedule. And with these recent announcements, I'm afraid that "somehow appeared in Faerun" will be Wizard's guiding approach moving forward.

This, of course, would not bode well for the future of Greyhawk. Once these iconic properties, and perhaps more, have migrated to the Forgotten Realms, officially reviving Greyhawk becomes an increasingly challenging narrative problem. Of course, they could find ways to weave story around it, but it would take some serious acrobatics. And really, why would they bother? Wizards has worked very hard - with great success - to create a unified player experience around 5E. For whatever reason, Forgotten Realms was chosen as the very foundation of that shared experience. Since it has unquestionably been successful, why rock the boat by splintering their core setting? They obviously won't do it just to open up all their classic content, because that content can "somehow appear in Faerun". Essentially, they can have their cake and eat it too.

Don't mean to be a doomsayer. If I'm wrong, no one would be happier than me! But I can't help seeing the same facts that you do yet reaching the opposite conclusion.

THAT BEING SAID - I love your plan moving forward. I'm passionate about Greyhawk, and want everyone creating content for it, migrating existing content to 5E, etc. Even if that content never sees the DMs guild or is supported by Wizards, it can be freely shared by people like us who have never lost our love for D&Ds first world. Greyhawk Forever!

Anthony Emmel said...

Well, I for one would buy the TOEE Expansion and Verbobonc as well as the Players Guide, at least. And probably the others as well. :)

Michael Gross said...

I love all of these (and regret I did not get to see this blog before reaching out to you via email). I would love to see the editing errors of TOEE cleaned up (removing all mentions of Lolth, as EGG wanted to go another direction after Lolth appeared in the previous Q1 module). I know some will decLareth me off base here. ;)

Anyway, if you need any exhortation, In your man. Goooooo, Joe!

Unknown said...

Sounds amazing, Joe! I would buy every one of these! Back in the summer I started DM'ing my very first Greyhawk campaign, taking my 12 year old son and his friends through ToEE. (They just finished the Moathouse.) I'm doing it using 5th edition rules, so all of the supplements and materials you proposed would be a total boon. Let's hope they open up the DM's Guild to Greyhawk submissions sooner rather than later :)

Vernon Vincent said...

Speaking as someone with more than a passing interest in Verbobonc (and Greyhawk as a whole) - this sounds like 5 kinds of exciting. Looking forward to this

Nicola Ricottone said...

Well, I would love to help :) Great idea :)

Michael Gross said...

The more I think about this, the more I agree with mageandsage. I posted similar thoughts to The Piazza forums not that long ago:

"My suspicion is that they are abandoning Greyhawk. It seems they are stripping it of all of its classic adventures and porting them to Forgotten Realms. I thought it was bad enough in 1986-1989 when things planned for Greyhawk (Underdark, Oriental Adventures) were fleshed out in Faerun instead.

Now, it's worse: they're taking GH adventures and refitting them to FR."

Joseph Bloch said...

Not really sure of the relevance. Are you saying that you think Greyhawk won't be brought under the umbrella of DM's Guild at some point? From a business perspective, that would be an incredibly stupid move on the part of WotC. Remember, they earn a percentage of every sale. By opening it up to Greyhawk, they could potentially make quite a few gold orbs.

Just because they're heavily supporting the Realms officially doesn't necessarily mean they're taking Greyhawk off the table. They know there's a dedicated fan base, especially given the history with Living Greyhawk.