Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End is Nigh!

I'm sure I don't need to tell any one this news, and by now it may be too late, but there are some who predict that today will usher in the end of the world....of Greyhawk! Yes, there is no better time than now, to "enrapture" you by looking back on one of the worst executed ideas in the history of Greyhawk canon. The Doomgrinder by Steve Miller, is part three of the Lost Tombs series. Published in 1998, this module followed up on hooks originated in From the Ashes, about an apocalyptic stone windmill near Greyhawk City. What was once a quirky, mysterious place with potential, became a ridiculous campaign-altering blemish on the setting. Those who have read or played the Doomgrinder, you have my sympathies, for those who know little about it, I won't spoil it in case you want to wreck your Greyhawk campaign yourself someday. Until then I'm willing to share some common knowledge and rumors about the Doomgrinder with you. Enjoy!

"What Everyone Knows About the Doomgrinder"
  • Doomgrinder stands in an exceptionally fertile valley east of the Cairn Hills. The structure looks like a windmill made entirely of black stone. Even its sails are stone.
  • No one knows who built the structure or why.
  • On an irregular basis- every few years or so- the stone sails move. When they do, there's always a massive lightning storm. sometimes the ground moves.
  • Lots of people think that Doomgrinder indicates the approach of the world's end. When one of the sails reaches its zenith, the world will end.
  • Doomgrinder's sails only have to move one more time before one reaches the zenith.
"Doomgrinder Rumors" (my favorite picks)
  • Doomgrinder is home to fairy folk, who steal children and teach them foul magic.
  • The Circle of Eight knows how to stop the Doomgrinder, but they are going to let Oerth be destroyed so they can gain more power!
  • When Doomgrinder reaches its zenith, Vecna will rise again and take dominion over Oerth!
  • Doomgrinder was built by Zagig the Mad Archmage...when it's done, the entire world will be shifted into his dimension of madness.
  •  Iggwilv has returned to Oerth, and reclaimed her old seat of power - Doomgrinder!
  • Doomgrinder was built by invaders from another world.
  • Rary knows the truth about doomgrinder. That's why he turned against the Circle of Eight years ago.
Those all sound pretty cool, yeah? Well my adviceto DMs then is to take this information from the module above and make it your own. As Greyhawk publications go, the Doomgrinder is best "left behind."


Anonymous said...

Something being "mysterious, enigmatic and interesting" seemed to be a red rag to a bull with a lot of GH contributors over the years with the Scarlet Brotherhood being the best example.

The first rumour should read "home to hairy folk, who steal ideas and turn them into foul and implausable plots."


Mike Bridges said...

Hah, good one Ragr.
"Hairy-folk"? Do you mean halflings? ;)

Dethand said...

Ah, Doomgrinder. We barely knew ye.

Tragic that something so 'Mysterious, enigmatic and interesting' could be rendered inane, insipid and useless.

Harold Camping could do no worse than Steve Miller.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you all about it sucking...but, have any of you ever developed it differently? I for one have always been enamored with the place, but like you, the module left a sour taste in my mouth.


Dethand said...

It's always easy to poke holes than propose actual fixes. That said, I can't really propose fixing much of anything without spoiling the module.
Suffice it to say that while some elements of Doomgrinder straight out are bunk or fall flat, the overall concept of the module fits fairly well with the style of and flavor of Greyhawk, at least in my opinion.
GH has always been grounded in the past era of gaming and it stumbles when attempts to bring it up to date with new editions, rule changes and current prevailing gaming themes of the day are then handled with poor or indiffernt editorial direction and oversight. Too often to increase sales or interest in GH product lines TSR and WotC have trotted out popular themes or past 'vintage' adventures that were hackneyed or half hearted attempts at breathing new life into an old line.
Few GH adventures and supplements have managed to do it well and others...just are poor examples of the potential that they once held as vague premises. This is one of them.

That all said, Doomgrinder can work.

But, not as written.

Valkaun_Dain said...

I seem to recall we had fun doing Doomgrinder. Jay attempted to move the sail himself, to hasten the world's demise.

Mike Bridges said...

Good to see ya Dethand! Ya I agree, Doomgrinder -does- fit with the flavor of Greyhawk which has always had equal parts of strange. Most of those however stay in the fringes. Your assessment is pretty spot on.

Mike Bridges said...

Valkaun: I'm glad to hear we had a good time. I'm sure its because I distilled alot of the repetitiveness out of it and jumped to the good parts. What possessed me to run it in the first place I can't recall.