|World of Greyhawk Gazetteer, 1980|
Over on ENWorld, the user Snarf Zagyg started an interesting conversation in response to some discussion about Greyhawk that arose as fans learned about the release of the new 5e book, Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.
Snarf Zagyg entitled the thread "For the Love of Greyhawk: Why People Still Fight to Preserve Greyhawk" and it offers some good food for thought for Greyhawk fans, and for D&D players in general. This reproduces my reply in that thread:
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 05:55:16 -0400Reply-To: Greyhawk <[log in to unmask]>Sender: Greyhawk <[log in to unmask]>From: Taras Guarhoth <[log in to unmask]>Subject: The Future of GreyhawkComments: To: Greytalk <[log in to unmask]>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"Out of chaos, order forms. The civil war winds down in the Sea Princes, and the land coalesces into two stable states. Westkeep was held by the Keoish, but barely, and at great cost to their armies. Now two hostile nations, ruled by former Olman slaves, stare at each other across the lower Javan plains. But as much as they hate each other, they hate those to the north even more. And so it begins.And out of renewed order, chaos and evil are born. Sterich, retaken from the giants settles back into it's daily life. But something is amiss within the land. A corruption rots at the heart of the old Earldom. A bloody coup is staged, and the Margrave is killed, some whisper sacrificed to foul gods, and the land begins to change. Keoland watches from across the Javan, sending in a token force that it quickly dispatched, their forces spent in the campaigns in the south.Farther north, the Gran March and Geoff squabble endlessly over the city of Hochoch. Their attention is myopically focused on a tiny chunk of river land, and their resources are quickly dwindling. They fail to notice developments farther to the north, beyond the plains of Bissel. The lands of the Bakluni have been enflamed. A new leader has arisen among them, and demanded that they expand. A horde forms, and sweeps through the hills and vallies of Ket, and then presses beyond, into Bissel, swiftly destroying what resistance that land could muster. But they do not stop there. They press on, into the Gran March and Veluna, thrusting into the hearts of both lands.Across the Yatils, the Wolf and Tiger nomads join their Bakluni bretherin, riding on Perrenland and Iuz. Although their gains are more modest, they do succeed in keeping the famed mercenaries of Perrenland home, and Iuz from pressing in upon his southern neighbor while Veluna distracts it. And distracted Furyondy is. The cities are scoured and fields emptied to push back the Bakluni horde. Veluna and Furyondy finally reunite, in a hasty attempt to shore up both lands against their invaders, and Ferrond is reborn. The horde is stopped, and pushed back to the Fals Gap...but not quite back through it.All is not quiet elsewhere, however. Turrosh Mak, barely holding onto power, makes a renewed surge to the north, into the lands of Celene. None stand with the Fey Queen, remembering her refusal to stand with them. None can afford to, either, for war is breaking out. The elves fight hard and fiercly, but, in the end, they fail, and their land is overrun. But not only their land. Narwell and Safeton are ripped from the grasp of Greyhawk. Riots break out in the free cities as refugees flood into Verbobonc, Dyvers, Greyhawk City, and Hardby and chaos reigns in the lands south of the Unknown Depths.The Pale strikes hard into Tenh, and pushes the Fists and a distracted Iuz from the land, claiming it in the name of He of the Blinding Light. The expanded Theocracy becomes even more repressive and institutes an inquisition across the whole of their land to root out the remnants of Iuz and other non-Pholtine religions, whether good or evil, lawful or chaotic. All will be stamped out in the name of Pholtus, while Nyrond teeters on the brink of collapse to the south, starvation and taxation and warfare having taken a heavy toll on the land.The lands of Aerdy have not been quiet, either. Old North Province and Old South Province finally settle their scores within the heartlands of that formerly Great Kingdom. Warfare rages, cities burn, and in the end, Xavener takes his rightful place on the Malachite Throne, ruling a reunited empire that stretches from Idee in the south to North Province in the north. The land is awash in humanoids and mercenaries, a new round of civil war ready to sweep the land after it's Second Turmoil Between Crowns...but Xavener has something else in mind...Aerdy's forces march on Almor, and that ravaged land swiftly returns to the fold of Imperial Aerdy as troops march across the land, sweeping through the near-rebellious Nyrondese. Nyrond rapidly gives ground to the Aerdi, suddenly feeling a dagger in it's side. The Pale. Revolts erupt in the north and west as the renewed warfare brings even greater hardship. Midmeadow openly rebells, and invites Palish troops in. Nyrond finds itself disintegrating rapidly. When the dust settles, the lines have been round to a halt. Rel Mord stands on the border, and Womtham has fallen. Nyrond is a much reduced nation and pleads with the Urnst states for help, which they grudgingly give, allowing the fallen kingdom to keep itself from being swept from the face of the Oerth.Xavener also sends his troops south...and while Irongate withstands even more years of seige easily, Sunndi is not so lucky. For the second time in under two decades, the land finds itself fallen to Aerdy...and this time, there is no Osson to liberate them. The "king" of Sunndi is executed for treason, and Aerdy sets about occupying the land. But their occupation faces an unexpected setback. Bullywugs and lizardmen and other creatures from the Vast swamp pour out in all directions, slaughtering the forces of Sunndi and Aerdy alike. They claim half the Pawluck valley before they are finally ground to a halt by humanoid troops. The short-lived Kingdom of Sunndi is no more.But is this all? Or is there more?============================Ok. Yes, there was a reason to all of that. A revelation hit me tonight. Greyhawk is stagnant. It is bloated. It is everything we accuse the Forgotten Realms of being, and then some.Why do I make these outlandish claims?Let us take a look. It has been a decade since the Wars were published, and like them or hate them, they were the last major change to the Flanaess. Nothing of real note has happened since then. A few borders shifted a little bit, a few faces changed, a few titles changed. But no real change happened. The Flanaess remained in the exact same place it was in 10 Real Life years ago.And since then, we've sat around doing nothing of note. We've contemplated the scent of Otto's toejam, and what color Mordenkainen's belly-button lint is, all based on obscure passages from books so long out of print they aren't worth worrying about anymore or based on some utterances of some half remembered events that may have actually happened handed down from various creators, which, of course, are at odds with everything published.And in doing so, we've locked out two simple things.New People. And New Ideas.We've let ourselves become every bit as decadent and decrepid as Imperial Aerdy under the last of the Raxes and the Naelaxes. We chained ourselves to our precious "Canon" for so long that we refused to accept the existance of anything not already mentioned in it. Hell, we codified it, in the form of NiteScreed's essay.And so we damned ourselves.How did the Forgotten Realms survive for years on a constant stream of product, which is probabily easily triple or quadruple what was produced for Greyhawk? They weren't afraid of change. They weren't afraid to shake things up. They weren't afraid to introduce a fresh face into the halls of power or use a fresh idea. But Greyhawk was. We demanded that villans be heavily tied to the setting, and so we forced the same tired faces to be reused. We never killed our enemies. Doing so would drastically reduce our options.Greyhawk, if it is to survive, needs to change. It needs to burn, and then rise like a phoenix from it's ashes. It needs to shed itself of the foolish notions of rooting everything in something that came before.Above was one possibility of how to do this...but there are others...I know, I've heard them. They came from the ancient and near-mythical time of TSR on the AOL boards. I have dim recollections of such things as a Rennisance in Keoland, and a Plague sweeping out of Celene. This is what Greyhawk needs now.The question is...can we get it from anywhere?Taras Montand GuarhothCanonfire! http://www.canonfire.com/Submit Early, Submit Often...but make no mistake, you Will Submit!