Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Greyhawk Setting Blues On the Fourth of July For Old School Campaigns

The Fourth of July is officially here & I've got campaign ideas on my mind. Because work has been so busy we've broken the game this week until after the holiday. Most of my players want to spend their time with their families. So I'm playing catch up wit one of my all time favorite campaign settings Greyhawk. Greyhawk is the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons world setting that we played in growing up.

Sure we did all kinds of variations to the setting to make it our own but it remains iconic to this day with old school players. Even with the inclusion of any number OSR settings Greyhawk remains the starting point setting. This was Gary Gygax's world setting & we continued to explore, adapt, & modify it as the years rolled on. Oerth was the home campaign world of Mr.Gygax from his own home campaign;
"As the players began to explore more of the world outside of the castle and city, Gygax developed other regions and cities for them. With play sessions occurring seven or more times a week,[27] Gygax didn't have the time or inclination to create the map for a whole new world; he simply drew his world over a map of North America, adding new cities and regions as his world slowly grew through ongoing adventures.[28] The city and castle of Greyhawk were placed near the real-world position of Chicago, his birthplace; various other places were clustered around it. For instance, the rival city of Dyvers he placed in the area of real-world Milwaukee."

I don't think that there's an old school game that I haven't tied into my version of Greyhawk from mounting expeditions to the OSR Hyperborea from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition setting.

Most recently there have been several crossovers with the Dark Albion setting & skirmishes between Albion forces & the knights of Greyhawk. These were due to dimensional bridges & mysterious Fairyland ruins on the edges of Albion along with the incursions of certain cults of Chaos. There is now a complement of knights guarding the gate way into Albion in the ruins of certain dungeon in Greyhawk.

The very nature of Greyhawk being build upon the blue print of North America makes it a perfect opportunity setting to mess with the European model of Albion. Other connections include the dark influence of the Chaos of my version of Fairyland which messes with both settings on regular basis. Certain dungeons in Greyhawk link up through the underworld with many OSR settings as a homage to the insane

"Gygax also continued to develop the dungeons underneath the castle. By the time he was finished, the complex labyrinth encompassed thirteen levels filled with devious traps, secret passageways, hungry monsters, and glittering treasure. Although details of these original Greyhawk dungeons have never been published in detail, Gygax gave some glimpses of them in an article he wrote for the European fanzine Europa in 1975:
Before the rules for D&D were published, "Old Greyhawk Castle" was 13 levels deep. The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the "participants" had ever played such a game before. The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie pool and a fountain of snakes. The third featured a torture chamber and small cells and prison rooms. The fourth was a level of crypts and undead. The fifth was centered around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles. The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs... in inconvenient spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars. The seventh was centered around a circular labyrinth and a street of masses of ogres. The eighth through tenth levels were caves and caverns featuring Trolls, giant insects and a transporter nexus with an evil Wizard (with a number of tough associates) guarding it. The eleventh level was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle: He had Balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridors which was full of poisonous critters with no treasure. Level twelve was filled with Dragons.
The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took the players clear through 'to China', from whence they had to return via "Outdoor Adventure". It was quite possible to journey downward by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the likelihood of following such a route unknowingly didn't become too great until the seventh or eighth level...
Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls continually warring with each other, a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a Giant's home, and a garden of fungi."

The Greyhawk setting seems to have a special hold over old school players of a certain age. It spins its magic across time & space inviting in players while slaughtering PC's by the score. The setting does not broke fools easily but it does love to use heroes for its own whims. There are several reasons why Greyhawk still evokes very large bouts of adventure, fortune, & glory to me:
  1. Greyhawk is an incredibly flexible setting with all of the material laid out at the dungeon master's feet in the folio or box set. 
  2. It has such a strong following among old school players it feels like home & to many people it is the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition setting. 
  3. Greyhawk has a well established history & its easily accessible for players & dungeon masters with a huge number of classic adventure module locations within the world. 
  4. Its easy to make Greyhawk your own & add or subtract world or adventure elements as necessary. 
  5. The setting's history is easily incorporated into your own home adventures for players. The players feel they have a real stake in the world of Greyhawk. 
  6. Lots of online support with a ton of OSR adventures that can easily be adapted to your version of Greyhawk.

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