Sunday, December 14, 2014

New DMG: Crossing the Streams

I recently got my copy of the newest edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide and boy, it sure is a throwback to the old AD&D DMG. Ah, but that's a review for another day. No what I want to highlight today is the section of the book titled Flavors of Fantasy which I'm sure most Greyhawk fans with this book have already picked up on, cause I think it's worth pointing out to the masses who aren't sure what Greyhawk involves. When it comes to describing Greyhawk the setting it isn't as easy as saying medieval fantasy; that's because, as this book explains, Greyhawk "crosses the streams."

To preface, the section gives the Forgotten Realms setting as an example of Heroic Fantasy, Darksun is mentioned among Sword and Sorcery examples and Dragonlance is a prime example of the DMG's take on Epic Fantasy. There are more flavors such as Ravenloft's Dark Fantasy and the War backdrop for Dragonlance. Astute Greyhawk readers will already note that our favorite setting comprises all of these flavors and more:

Crossing the Streams
"The renowned paladin Murlynd, from the world of Oerth, (as featured in Greyhawk novels and game products) dresses in the traditional garb of Earth's Old West and wears a pair of six-shooters strapped to his waist. The Mace of St. Cuthbert, a holy weapon belonging to Greyhawk's god of justice, found its way to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1985. Somewhere in the Barrier Peaks of Oerth, the wreckage of a spacefaring vessel is said to lie, with bizarre alien lifeforms and strange items of technology on board...

...It's okay to send your characters hurtling through a magic mirror to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, put them aboard a ship traveling between the stars..."

Great stuff, especially the reference to the 1985 module City Beyond the Gate from Dragon #100. Though many don't realize it or under-utilize it, Greyhawk back in Gygax's heyday was really just a testing ground for every imaginable genre. To plainly compare Greyhawk with the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance is to hold back on a lot of what makes the setting special, namely it's quirky, anything-goes side. Sure, crossing the genre streams may not be for every DM, but it's good to know that Greyhawk is flexible enough to allow these odd elements (even as one-shot adventures) without breaking the campaign world in the process.

How is this relevant in today's RPG gaming? One only needs to look at one of the hottest games out there now by Monte Cook, Numenara (and spinoff The Strange). These games host worlds that are genre mashups to the extreme. Surely nothing that can be found in these wildly popular settings could not be done to a lesser extent in the World of Greyhawk. To each their own of course. It is good to see Greyhawk given such a unique slant in this DMG and I hope this may inspire DMs to try an alternative Greyhawk campaign someday.

No comments: