Saturday, January 3, 2015

New D&D Story Arc Reactions

Over at ENWorld they are previewing the covers for 2015's next big D&D story arc concerning Elemental Evil. The two products listed are an Adventurer's Handbook and Princes of the Apocalypse. The comments section of this news item yields some interesting reactions; in particular to the story being set in the Forgotten Realms and involving the Elder Elemental Eye (originally of Greyhawk).

"So, it's official now. The Elder Elemental Eye has been somehow released from The World of Greyhawk to unleash havoc in the Realms. No fantasy world was described in more detail than the Forgotten Realms, and they still manage to produce not one, but two storylines in a row with themes and antagonists that have nothing to do with the Realms. Good job, Wizards." -Giltonio_Santos

That certainly sums up my initial thoughts too. It's almost as if those in charge (who are largely fans of Greyhawk) want to do Greyhawk storylines but can't bring themselves to stop making Forgotten Realms because it sells no matter what.

"Yeah, had these not been set in the Realms, they would have been an almost sure-fire sell to me.
In the Realms? No interest.

 For Christ's sake, the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Elder Elemental Eye and the whole elemental evil cult thing are all huge fixtures of Greyhawk. Sigh." -the Jester

In defense of this storyline I don't think the product blurb linked above mentions the Temple of Elemental Evil. Stripping that out of Hawk for Faerun would indeed be Grade A heresy sure, but to say Greyhawk has some sort of claim over elemental bad guys and cults is sketchy at best. Anything elemental related, including the Elder Elemental Eye is multiversal in scale at this point.

"I have to agree with this sentiment.

They've said they'll do other settings IF they have a story, and then they pull stories from other settings to force them into the Realms.

Which also isn't nice on the Realms. It's taking an established setting and forcing a story into that world, changing lore to accommodate the storyline. Like how they had to radically change the motives and plans of the Cult of the Dragon for their first storyline. That's not how you tell a story set in an established world. The story is meant to fit and compliment the world and if a bit of lore doesn't mesh then the story has to change to accommodate the world, not the other way around." -Jester Canuck

Now this point does kind of worry me. If a trend does in fact develop where Greyhawk or any other setting's best material is co-opted to use in the default Realms I would start rail against it too. It's still too early to say. And yes he is right, FR fans should be worried too. I'm not well versed in the setting, but what happened to the Sundering? Is the Realms "fixed"? Are these storylines a sign it is played out?

"I hope it works for Wizards, but I didn't see the appeal with the Dragon Queen stuff, and I'm just not seeing the appeal here either. If I want Realms action, I'm busting out the Zhentarim; Manshoon; Halaster Blackcloak; Karsus and the Netherese Shades; Orcus; Moander or Tyranthraxus. I don't care about Tiamat (belongs to Krynn, really) or Tharizdun (belongs to Oerth in my mind). I kind of share Giltonio_Santos' sentiments in that respect." -Henry

It never occurred to me that Dragonlance may have the strongest claim on Tiamat, but yeah I see his point and about the more Realmsy villains.

"IM ok with it.

Takes the best of Greyhawk, gods and badasses, and puts it in the Realms, which had better locations and flavors." -Astrosicebear

Debatable but it's a nice diplomatic response to the over-reactions. If both settings are lagging from age, perhaps a novel approach could be to be put Greyhawk in production alongside Forgotten Realms so Wizards could GASP do epic cross-over storylines across both worlds. Anything goes and no arguments about which setting owns what.

"Keep in mind the storylines will also tie into the organized play program, affecting the villains and themes of those adventures. So they have to be in the Realms until that establishes themselves or they develop a method of moving between worlds. So the first real non-Realms adventure might be a Planescape/ extraplanar affair to allow PCs (or plots) to easily move between worlds." -Jester Canuck

Yup, that's what Planescape and Spelljammer were made for, let's cross over those worlds like in the old days! Oh well enough of this for now. More next time.

Update 06/07/2021: Broken link removed. This news isn't as controversial in retrospect as I hoped.


Mystic Scholar said...

My dislike for the staff running WotC grows by leaps and bounds.

Samuel Van Der Wall said...

I think there is a large portion of gamers that don't know the difference. WotC is going to cater to the masses and attempt to bring in newer players. If that means pulling the best elements from different settings in order to tell a great story, they will do it. This may upset the more "hardcore" setting enthusiasts, but probably is better for the hobby (and D&D) overall if it can bring in more players.

Mike Bridges said...

Mystic: Well what can you do? ;)

Samuel: That is a great point. They're doing the most they can in the shortest amount of time/space. Less is more. Can't disagree that this works.

Jason Zavoda said...

This is a good thing for a company trying to sell frozen hot dogs but speed and quantity are not the hallmarks of a quality product. This isn't about 'hardcore' it is about adhering to a high level of quality that independent DMs have been able to produce but the professional game designers at WotC have no clue about how to create given their demands for speed and mass appeal.

Doc Savage said...

"storylines"? I thought players and GMs made the storylines. Didn't realize publishers were telling us what the story will be.

Mike Bridges said...

Well my best answer is apparently people were fatigued by sourcebooks and splat books and wanted published adventures like in the old days, except now the adventures are a long "storyline" event that all the focus is put on instead of just making a bunch of stand-alone modules (paizo's successful APs are surely the model).
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Unknown said...

Takhisis is from Dragonlance.