Thursday, November 3, 2011
Ring of Five Questions: Allan Grohe
Q1. As a long time Greyhawk fan, you should know the Darlene map by heart. What is your realm of choice in the World of Greyhawk?
Allan: In terms of my favorite place to run Greyhawk campaigns, I really do prefer the central Flannaess: from the Nesser River in the east to the Lortmils and Whyestil in the west, and from the Pomarj in the south to the Rift Canyon in the north. In terms of my favorite places that inspire adventures in Greyhawk, the Valley of the Mage, Rift Valley, and the Land of Black Ice have piqued my curiosity and interest since I first discovered them in the Folio. Carl Sargent's Isle of Lost Souls is equally fascinating!
Q2. If you could be one Greyhawk deity which one would it be?
Allan: Hmmm. I've always had a lot of interest in Olidammara and Phaulkon, and Kuroth once he was promoted. I found Marc Tizoc's portrayal of the priestesses of Wee Jas very compelling, too. So likely one of those four.
Q3. Greyhawk has had it's ups and downs over the decades. What do you think was the biggest mistake made in published Greyhawk?
Allan: Wow. That's a tough one---there are so many to choose from!:
- the failure of TSR to publish Castle Greyhawk and the City of Greyhawk when Gary was still in control of TSR.
- the cancellation of WG7 Shadowlands by Skip Williams, and of Steve Marsh's Starstrands planar modules.
- the publication of WG7 Greyhawk Castle by TSR after Gary's ouster.
- the failure of New Infinities to publish Castle Greyhawk and the City of Greyhawk.
- the decision to stop publishing Greyhawk and focus on the Forgotten Realms during the 2e era, despite the two product lines being nearly equal in sales.
- the "Return To..." series of products, which set the example for 3.x and 4.x's inability to produce quality new Greyhawk adventures (instead relying on the rehashing of old standbys)
- the decision to not follow-up on the popularity of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer with more published Greyhawk products.
- the decision to not publish Living Greyhawk RPGA modules.
- the decision to close the Living Greyhawk campaign at the height of its popularity.
- the decision to mine Greyhawk as a source for names in the multitudes of 3.x rulebooks (and perhaps 4.x, I'm not really in touch there).
- Gary's prioritization of Yggsburgh for Troll Lord Games over the publication of Castle Greyhawk.
The failures to publish Castle Greyhawk probably irk me the most personally, but I think that the most damaging mistake to the Greyhawk setting and fanbase was the 2e era decision to shut GH down in favor of publishing FR content: I think that set the stage for the 3.x strip-mining of Greyhawk NPC and deity names, locations, and such---so, it's a double-whammy of sorts.
Q4. Judging by your writing credits, you know your Greyhawk artifacts. Which is your favorite?
Allan: Hmmmm. That's a tough question, since I like so many different aspects of artifacts: I love the historical snippets in The Codex of the Infinite Planes and the Vecna/Kas items; the mythological and literary ties to Baba Yaga's Hut and The Silver Key of Portals; and the fun in creating new artifacts or adding to the history of others, like Druniazth or Kuroth's Quill. (In my regular column From Kuroth's Quill in Knockspell magazine, I often create new snippets of lore extracted from The Fables of Burdock, The Demonomicon of Iggwilv, and similar sources). In the end, I think that Tenser's Fortress of Unknown Depths captures the spirit of all of these qualities, and it's probably tied with Kuroth's Quill as my favorite artifact.
Q5. If you could publish a new Greyhawk megadungeon where would you place it?
Allan: If I could publish any Greyhawk mega-dungeons, my first choices would be Castles Greyhawk and El Raja Key, of course. Followed by Castle of the Mad Archmage and my own version of Castle Greyhawk. But, if I'm to be publishing a brand-new mega-dungeon, I think some sort of large ruined ice city set in and
below the dusky glaciers of The Land of Black Ice would be quite fun (although pretty remote, of course...).