Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ghosts of Saltmarsh Thoughts

Howdy Greyhawkers! It's a lazy weekend, so all I have is some quick commentary on some early reviews of Wizards' release of nautical themed rule/adventure hardcover Ghosts of Saltmarsh. There's a good one on ENWorld by Beth Rimmels. And there's an excellent post by NewbieDM with pictures. I'm sure you've read the contents and seen the maps. I'm stoked, you're stoked. Here is my observations:

First off, the word going around from the Wizards staff is that Saltmarsh will be considered a "setting" and Greyhawk won't for purposes of DMsGuild content creation. Think about that for a second. Had they said sure, writers you can do Sword Coast but not the rest of Forgotten Realms then there would be grumbling, Barovia but not the rest of Ravenloft, grumbling. Sharn but not the rest of Eberron, grumbling. Why should Greyhawk fans be any less offended then? That said it's smart, because as I've analyzed before, the adaptation of Greyhawk classics in 5E is coming up to a crossroads. It will soon have to delve into actual Greyhawk story lines before long or be forced to switch to another classic setting like Dragonlance or Planescape. Futhermore, Saltmarsh was never an integral part of the World of Greyhawk yet it attained this classic status despite being canonically invisible. So, good on Saltmarsh as the choice for a setting to develop on its own. I take it as a sign Wizards knows its burning through IP too fast and is pumping the brakes.

Even so, from the photos shown in NewbieDM's post, we see Keoland, the Sea Princes and King Skotti are mentioned. This is fantastic exposure. The SW of the Flanaess is a popular area with a wealth of history and much open sea to explore. I should know, I've spent the last several years developing the Sea Princes and South Seas. Those DMs looking to start a high seas campaign in Greyhawk, check out my map HERE.

I am very intrigued by the factions in this book, Traditionalists, Loyalists (to Keoland) and the kicker, the Scarlet Brotherhood! This is a huge addition. The SB is a secret organization early in Greyhawk lore, who then jump into the spot light and begin conquest during the Greyhawk Wars. What era GoS is representing will definitely tip off fans where the future of published Greyhawk may be heading. The SB were never featured in any of the original modules featured in Ghosts AFAIK, so this faction addition like I said, is a big nod to setting development.

There is mention made in the pictures of at least THREE Greyhawk deities, one of which, Procan is entirely appropriate since he is the god of the seas. This is notable because Procan is not listed in the scant section of Greyhawk gods in the 5E PHB. I can only hope fellow nautical deities Xerbo and Osprem sneak into this module as well.

I've ran Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh before, it's wonderful, but not the other constituent modules (a couple which are Dungeon Magazine classics). I'm sure this book along with the rules section on seafaring will be amazing. I wish it had come out three or four books ago! So yes, I cannot wait to get this book. I also cannot wait for Greyhawk to be turned loose for real on DMsGuild. Until then, enjoy the Saltmarsh "setting".


Lord Gosumba said...

This is at least a "start" for Greyhawk! We can all be hopeful!

Unknown said...

I've read the background chapters and I think GH fans will be pleased at how they bring the setting and factions to life. They do more than they needed to to root it on Oerth. Procan is detailed. There are characters from Ket and Iuz and a wicked ship of st. Cuthbert. References to Vecna and Tharizdun and erythnul and obad-hai. A good description of the Scarlet Brotherhood and characters from the sea princes and Keoland. Lots of political intrigue append morally split factions. No whitewashing of the moral questions either, the sea princes are slavers but some in keoland profit from this. Keoland trades with iuz because it hurts their rivals even though they are "good."

Also, they do a good job of reconciling the 5e elements with GH, there is an instruction that Tieflings and Dragonborn would be met by curiosity and fear in keoland, and the only Tiefling is from Iuz. Also a throwback to the temple of zenopus in the blue basic box, which is now retconned into Oerth (which is a natural place for it of course). Keoland's history is explained and Saltmarsh is as fully fleshed out as any GH city has been in an official publication except the Free City itself.

And the art is the best GH art we've had.

All in all a good launch of GH 5e.