Thursday, June 7, 2012
D&D Next: Time For The Dead To Rise
Could the signs point toward a World of Greyhawk content revival?
Consider first: Greyhawk never really got passed up during the last edition, technically. Sure other settings got entire production runs dedicated to them, but how well did they do in truth? How well is Living Forgotten Realms doing? But Greyhawk? Unlike Dragonlance for example, Greyhawk saw consistently frequent nods in the form of borrowing (deities, magic items, iconic dungeons, etc), online content adaptations (For those who were willing to pay for D&D Insider) and organized play homages (D&D Encounters liberally uses Greyhawk themed events). All of this of course is academic. Now onto the speculation.
Love it or hate it, ever since the release of the D&D Essentials rules for 4th Edition, Wizards has been on a clear trajectory towards reliving the past. On their website, you can see it in everything from re-released collectors books to impassioned articles about uniting D&D fans. Wizards desperately wants to appeal to all fans with this next iteration of their rules and so far in the open playtest we've seen a return to classic races, classes and even minor old school elements like ring mail and electrum pieces. Heck, they used the Caves of Chaos. They can rework the rules till the end of time, however at the end of the day people want content to go with their newly bought rules and I think Wizards is going to play it safe. Not safe like putting out Forgotten Realms again, that's a given. I mean tapping on the only setting that spans all editions and fanbases. Yes, it's time for Greyhawk to rise from the dead again.
The timing makes sense. Despite being fractured, the Greyhawk community overall has never gone away. The goal of D&D Next is bringing together all facets of players. What better place to start? Old school, hardcore Greyhawk fans might not fully buy into the "new" rules set, but there should be more than a passing interest in the setting if the original source material is handled with respect (I'm thinking a classic boxed set). Newer players who might be daunted by Greyhawk's extensive past would actually benefit from getting in on the ground floor of a new rules set that compliments a refreshed classic setting. Then there's the host of former Living Greyhawk and Dragon/Dungeon Magazine fans; many whom went over to Pathfinder, due to Paizo's knack for organized play, setting development and adventure paths. Wizards could hardly do worse than trying to lure these fans back by supporting Greyhawk with as much effort. Naturally, this means the Greyhawk setting needs stronger support than they offered game worlds during 4th Edition. A one year run with a few books and online supplements is nice but only in the short term. If it's brought back at all, Greyhawk (and for that matter FR or any other world) should remain actively in print if not updated online indefinitely.
Mind you this doesn't necessarily mean a reboot or timeline advance is the only way forward. The very least they could do is bring back the originals in some fashion. Wizards has shown they are able to reprint old material (1st edition core books coming soon) and there's also been a strong call for them to sell PDFs of their out of print material. Any or all of these things could be done easily and even if people don't use D&D Next rules, there is still nothing to lose and everything to gain. That's enough rambling from me for now. Your thoughts are appreciated.