forum discussion regarding a recent comment by D&D brand director Nathan Stewart where he said, "The Forgotten Realms is the universe that we at Wizards of the Coast are focusing our storytelling in for the foreseeable future"
Taken at face value this quote can crush the hopes of a Greyhawk fan looking for new stories and published material in the 5E era. There are conflicting or complimentary statements from other people at Wizards of course but only time will tell if they amount to anything except minor updates. For example, as many of you already know by now, a short PDF document with 5E Eberron material was released in Wizards' Unearthed Arcana column. The blurb seems to indicate more is to come:
"The material presented in Unearthed Arcana will range from mechanics that we expect one day to publish in a supplement to house rules from our home campaigns that we want to share, from core system options such as mass combat to setting-specific material such as the Eberron update included in this article. Once it’s out there, you can expect us to check in with you to see how it’s working out and what we can do to improve it."
A compilation book built off of system articles is nothing new to Wizards, while setting specific compilations would seem quite different to me and I'd like to see one if they are serious about returning to the D&D multiverse. Naturally no compilation could do any one setting justice. In the end it'd all be crunch anyhow and not fluff, which is what Mr. Stewart refers to in his quote. The fluff or, stories are entirely focused on the Realms adventures, league play, novels, video games, etc. Outsourcing aside, and given their tendency to cut employees I don't think Wizards currently has the manpower to do two full time settings if they wanted to. Furthermore, given the status of their greatest competitor why should they?
Paizo's Pathfinder setting has been going strong for more than a few years now. Paizo does one setting in all media formats (usually ahead of the curve). There is no outcry or even suggestion for Paizo to do a whole new campaign world (yet). Obviously Wizards has been trying to play catch up since 4E to the point of replicating Paizo's model. Focusing all their energy on one setting (Forgotten Realms) makes complete sense when you put D&D side by side with Pathfinder. There may simply be no time or room to do more settings.
This post does make me feel like a kind of defeatist (if not realist) but that won't stop me from hoping to see new published stories about Greyhawk (or Dragonlance, Darksun, etc). Yes, outsourcing to 3rd parties may be the white knight we need, but if Wizards does decide to handle it in-house I have a radical idea how it could be approached. More on that another day...