Wednesday, March 5, 2014

D&D 5th: A Greyhawk Perspective

By now everyone in the gaming blogosphere (is that still a word?) knows that next Gencon will see the long awaited and playtested release of D&DNext or 5th Edition, whatever. What can a grizzled Greyhawk fanbase expect in the coming year or so? Here's one guess:

Reprint Mania: The last couple years, Wizards' reprints of AD&D rules and classic Greyhawk modules have been a deliberate attempt to reconnect with old school fans and from my own anecdotal point of view it seems to have worked, in at the least got everyone's attention back on them. Along with the protracted release of many out of print books for sale on PDF, this has kept the D&D brand alive while 4th Edition was largely a lame duck outside Dungeon and Dragon (also defunct currently). My opinion is they should and likely will continue to trickle out more Greyhawk reprints (mainly since there are still plenty to go) and PDFs. This coinciding with their own "retro" rules edition makes sense, that is until 5th Edition is established (and Forgotten Realms has jelled again). Sooner or later reprint mania will end.

My wish? While they are so busy reprinting already written publications, why not ACTUALLY print the one Greyhawk book that didn't get to paper, Ivid the Undying! I guarantee a real printing of ItU would end up being the biggest selling Greyhawk book of the last 10-15 years. And who knows? If it was successful they might consider doing more sourcebooks again.

Revived Setting: Every Greyhawk fan's favorite topic during an Edition launch. We got snubbed (or lucky depending) during 4th Edition. Plenty of articles and cameos in other books. Mordy even got a book of magic items in his name. There hasn't been any substantial talk yet of doing campaign worlds in 5th, though it looks to me like the climate is better for that to happen to Greyhawk. The very fact it was skipped in 4e tells me they were saving Oerth for something more fitting, like say, a retro-rules system. Of course any relaunch of Greyhawk would be daunting for those in charge. In past eras it was easy to just advance the timeline a bit and continue writing. Now you have an ungodly amount of Living Greyhawk material to consider, Paizohawk (Paizo's wild run on Dragon and Dungeon magazines with Greyhawk info) and also a near 15 year span since the last Gazetteer. It might be easiest to wipe the slate clean and start over sans those sources.

I wouldn't bet on Oerth being rebooted however, since that would confuse all the prior published material that Wizards has been steadily re-releasing. Their impulse to remake things like Temple of Elemental Evil or the Tomb of Horrors with new endings or plots would be a natural move and likely lead to two parallel timelines with subtle yet growing differences. The farther I look into the catalogue however I see opportunities to right wrongs in Greyhawk canon. The prospect sounds both exciting and troubling to me.

Community Voice: One of the reasons Greyhawk got picked up and dusted off at the turn of the century was a strong fan community proved to the company that they deserved to be published. In this day and age, there's plenty of avenues online for people to support Greyhawk and if we're lucky, crowd-sourced for our input. In my opinion, the window for a true Greyhawk revival is closing. 5th Edition wants to harken back to the D&D we all loved when Greyhawk was iconic. If this edition is a repeat of the last, then who will be left to care when 6th Edition rolls around?


Joseph Bloch said...

I think releasing Ivid the Undying as a pdf on is a *brilliant* idea.

I have a copy of the free one, but I'd buy it just to send the message that "I like Greyhawk."

Anonymous said...

A proper Greyhawk re-release would, for me, actually justify 5th edition. Imagine (pie, meet sky. Pie, sky. Sky, pie) a Greyhawk boxed set that included a full quickstart formatted as a 32 page module.

Encounter 5th edition through Greyhawk. Yeah.

Greyhawkwar said...

Glag to see the articles!  I just wanna say that if all the living Greyhawk stuff was reintroduced It would be epic!  I wish I printed all the material I used instead of storing it on hard drives that crash.
 Take care,
Mathew Douvikas

mortellan said...

Joseph: Exactly! I know a lot of people who would buy one. I'd be more excited about Ivid in print than any reprint.

V: If only...too bad that's what they essentially have already done through FR. Again.

Matthew: Printed LG material would dwarf all but maybe FR in page count. I'd be happy with a gazetteer of every region that summarized their stories.