part two of Shannon Appelcline's retrospective history of D&D when it comes to creating cultures and settings. You can read art one HERE. Beyond Feudalism: Innovative Settings covers a dazzling array of settings from the late 80's up till 2000. Among them he mentions From the Ashes' place in this era:
"From the Ashes (1992) offered a new take on the Greyhawk setting. It was still a feudal, medieval world, but like so many of the settings of the 2nd Edition era, it adopted one of the genres that TSR had played with in the 1970s and ’80s; Greyhawk was now a world of dark fantasy, where evil had advanced to become a dominant force. Unfortunately the change wasn’t enough to save the old setting. After a short run (1992–1993), From the Ashes was retired; when Greyhawk returned it would once more be a gonzo Medieval world."
That's an apt description of things I guess. Strangely after reading this I realized that I never talk much with friends and other gamers about FtA being a dark fantasy theme. It felt like a timeline advance to me, but not really any darker. Was Greyhawk trying to imitate the utterly dark Warhammer setting (which given the writer I could believe)? We all knew the Wars advanced things in evil's favor, but the changes were so temporary or tenuous that those DMs who concentrated on just adventures could easily ignore FtA altogether, so that by the time 2000 and the Living Greyhawk Campaign came along things were rolled back to a degree of how they were in Gygax's era. Gonzo though? I hardly think 21st century Greyhawk compares to the Greyhawk of Gygax's day. I'd love to hear others' assessment of Greyhawk's dark fantasy turn.