"As is obvious, the Oerik continent is the major center of the world, and the easter portion, the Flanaess, is the center of enlightened humanity. Oerth has four great continents and countless islands, and four great oceans and countless seas which surround these bodies of land. Little is known about the lands of the western portion of Oerik, less still about the savage inhabitants of the other continents, but such knowledge is, of course, of little use anyway and of no importance to humanity."
This simple yet elegant introduction was enough to keep fans of the setting focused inside the boundaries of the Flanaess for decades. For game purposes there was never any need to know more. For characters, it's common knowledge the Twin Cataclysms destroyed the old world and the survivors rebuilt their civilization in the east. End of story? Perhaps not. Since the world of Oerth was unveiled (surprisingly there is still room for mystery) the game's boundaries have been chipped away gradually over the years in everything from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer to Dungeon Magazine. The point of all this is, as world development progresseses, how long can we continue to accept that the Flanaess is the center of enlightened humanity and the lands outside it are not important?
This attitude is easily explained in game, for sages and scholars don't necessarily have the means to explore beyond their confines yet. Oerth is literally the center of the universe, so it comes as no surprise then that the Flanaess is also considered the center of civilization on Oerth. The quote above is supposed to be based on the perspective of the Savant Sage who lived at the end of Oerth's Epoch of Magic, an undefined future point where the Flanaess is still thought of as the center of civilization while the rest of Oerth is of little importance! Outside the game, how can this be reconciled with the wealth of information we now have about the rest of Oerth? The fact that the Guide is said to only be volume three of seven might explain their omission within the setting's narrative but it still downplays their importance. Could the mountains, seas and deserts of Oerth be enough of a buffer between the Flanaess and beyond to keep global centers of civilization apart for the next few centuries? Is arcane magic and divine interference factors?
The caveat for authors and artists developing areas "beyond the Flanaess" thus, is inadvertently creating a new scene that might exceed the so-called center of enlightened humanity we already know and love. Vast regions of untapped potential like the Celestial Imperium (Suhfang), Lynn, Zindia, etc. beg to be populated with their own cultures and stories, but as they add up and interconnect like Western Oerik, the result is that the Flanaess starts to look smaller. Indeed, shouldn't the perspective of those "little known" lands be that they are the center of civilization and the Flanaess is the isolated backwater? It's an interesting exercise in game balance and world building; one that I hope Greyhawk fans take into consideration so that the importance of the Flanaess setting isn't diminished.