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Greyhawk, also known as the World of Greyhawk, is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game (D&D).[1][2] The World of Greyhawk includes the Free City of Greyhawk, from which the setting's name was taken.[3] As one of the earliest D&D campaign settings, many of the rules for the game itself were developed in conjunction with game play by Gary Gygax and others in and around Castle Greyhawk and its dungeons.[4][5]

While constructing the milieu, Gygax also incorporated the campaign worlds of his fellow role-players, such as Blackmoor (Dave Arneson's campaign)[6] and the Lendore Isles (a region created by long-time stalwart Len Lakofka).[7] Gygax has described the setting "a sort of conglomorate of history and fantasy."[8]

Historically, direct links between the core D&D rules and any particular campaign setting have been limited. Through all editions of the game however, Greyhawk has had a strong influence over the core rules, such as serving as the source for names of many well-known spells and magic items. The "Core Setting" of 3rd Edition D&D was largely based on Greyhawk, and its default pantheon of deities was largely taken from Greyhawk. The 3.5 edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide pays visual tribute to Greyhawk's influence on the game, featuring on its cover a small map of the continent of Oerik etched onto a globe.

The WorldEdit

Geography and populationEdit

In the Greyhawk setting, the planet Oerth has four continents. Only one of these continents, Oerik, has been officially described in various D&D publications over the past 30+ years, and in fact detailed information is available only for its eastern end, known as the Flanaess.[2]

Although home D&D campaigns can be set in or around the Free City of Greyhawk itself, there are no restrictions with respect to time period or location. The Flanaess can be broken down geographically as follows: the Baklunish Basin in the northwest, the Empire of Iuz in the north, the Thillonrian Peninsula in the northeast, the Sea of Dust in the far west, the Sheldomar Valley in the west, old Ferrond and its southern frontier (including the City of Greyhawk) at the center of the Flanaess, old Sulm and the Aerdy frontier to the east, the old Great Kingdom to the far east, and the Amedio Jungle to the southwest.[9]

Certain elements of Greyhawk's geography are fantastic in nature, such as the Sea of Dust and the Land of Black Ice. Other elements are more closely analogous to real-world Europe, such as the Thillonrian Peninsula's geographical resemblance to Scandinavia.

The Flanaess is home to Oerth's "enlightened humanity," and much of the flavor of the Greyhawk setting arises from the interplay of the various "sub-races" of humanity — Baklunish, Flannae, Oeridians, Olman, Rhennee, Suloise, and Touv in particular — as they have criss-crossed the Flanaess over the last millennium.[2] The setting's fans have debated the exact nature of these sub-races (and their real world analogues, if any) over the years, but key distinguishing features include antagonism between the Bakluni and Suloise (and the ancient war that nearly annihilated them both), the relative primitiveness of the indigenous Flan, and the Oerdians' military conquest of much of the Flanaess.

Various races also populate the Flanaess, sometimes acting as allies to humanity in the same vein as J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Elves and dwarves of different sorts even have powerful strongholds and nations, with gnomes and halflings living in smaller pockets near friendly (and more powerful) neighbors. Even where these races are politically advanced, such as in Celene or the Ulek States, isolationist policies often limit their power to the regions they inhabit. Wicked drow elves often plot mischief against the free world, with other nefarious creatures such as orcs, ogres, giants, and dragons acting as all-purpose enemies. When viewed as a whole, however, the Flanaess appears anthropocentric (or more specifically, humanocentric) despite the presence of so many fantastic species.

Political powersEdit

At the center of this game world, the Free City of Greyhawk is a free city of the Flanaess, originally under the domination of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. The Circle of Eight, a select group of wizards headquartered in Greyhawk, monitor events across the Flanaess, intervening when the balance of power is threatened by extremes of good or evil. Several evil factions still prevail across the sub-continent, including the undead remnants of Aerdy, the wicked demi-god Iuz (who rules his expanding territory, the Empire of Iuz), and the mysterious Scarlet Brotherhood. The orcs and other humanoids of the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj, led by chieftain Turrosh Mak, threaten the Wild Coast and the Ulek States. Among the factions opposing these forces of evil are the major kingdoms of Nyrond, Furyondy and Keoland as well as numerous smaller states, organisations and individuals.

Major personagesEdit

  • Bigby, known mostly for his many hand and fist spells.
  • Eclavdra, the drow high priestess who formented the Giant Rebellion.
  • Edralve, another drow priestess who worked with the Slave Lords of the Pomarj.
  • Gord, a young rogue from Greyhawk who reluctantly became a crusader for neutrality.
  • Iuz the Old, half-fiend tyrant-god of the land of Iuz.
  • Jallarzi Sallavarian, the first woman to join the Circle of Eight, a capable wizard in her own right.
  • Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders, the chief drow goddess of the Abyss.
  • Melf, an elf who violates his queen's isolationist policies to fight wickedness.
  • Mordenkainen the Archmage, leader of the Circle of Eight (one of Gygax's early characters). Mordenkainen is a strong force for neutrality.
  • Nerof Gasgal, the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, a former thief turned politician.
  • Obmi, a deranged dwarf assassin who sometimes works for Iuz.
  • Rary of Ket, also called Rary the Traitor, a former member of the Circle of Eight.
  • Robilar, an evil warrior allied with Rary who sometimes works with heroes for his own purposes.
  • Saint Kargoth the Betrayer, fallen paladin and Oerth's first death knight.
  • Tenser, another great wizard who actively seeks to rid Oerth of evil. Former member of the Circle of Eight.
  • Vecna, Lord of the Spidered Throne, the Whispered One, god of secrets and magic.
  • Yolande, grey elven Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Celene.
  • Zagyg, the mad but benign Archmage who becomes a demi-god. (his name is a play on Gygax, the name of the creator of the setting).
  • Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi and Blight, imprisoned in her Temple of Elemental Evil.
  • Goopbag, Half-Orc Monk who once called the City of Greyhawk his home. Died in the Sea of Dust.

PantheonEdit

See also: List of Greyhawk deities at Greyhawk Wiki

The pantheon of Greyhawk includes the deities of the core D&D cosmology, in addition to a number of other fictional deities. These "core" deities include Boccob, Corellon Larethian, Ehlonna, Erythnul, Fharlanghn, Garl Glittergold, Gruumsh, Heironeous, Hextor, Kord, Moradin, Nerull, Obad-Hai, Olidammara, Pelor, Saint Cuthbert, Vecna, Wee Jas, and Yondalla

PublicationsEdit

Early OnEdit

See also: Publication:Greyhawk
TSR, Inc. published the first Greyhawk product by Gary Gygax and Robert J. Kuntz in 1975 as a supplement booklet to the original Dungeons & Dragons rules. There is no significant campaign setting information in this booklet, however. Instead, the supplement focused on game rules that were used in Gygax's Greyhawk campaign. Many of these new rules became standard parts of the AD&D game, including the thief and paladin classes, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells, classic monsters such as the Beholder, many of the standard magic items, etc.

First Edition EraEdit

In 1980 the Greyhawk campaign setting, the first fantasy setting for the AD&D game, was first publicly detailed in The World of Greyhawk folio,[10] which was superseded by the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting boxed set in 1983.

Beginning in Dragon #30 (October 1979), Gygax began writing a periodic column called "From the Sorcerer's Scroll." This series provided additional background for the Greyhawk setting, focusing on the politics of various countries, the individuals who lived there, and other things which brought life to his world.

Between 1978 and 1987, TSR published approximately 30 adventure modules set in the World of Greyhawk. These included three major Greyhawk campaigns, with the Temple of Elemental Evil series (T1-4) being the best known. The Village of Hommlet began players at first level, with successive adventures of increasing difficulty eventually culminating within the temple itself. This campaign would later provide the inspiration for the 2003 Atari PC video game The Temple of Elemental Evil.

Another favorite campaign, the Slave Lords series, developed out of tournament role-playing games centering around the Slave Lords, a powerful band of pirates and slavers preying upon the Wild Coast. Gygax's own "GDQ" series brought high-level adventurers against bands of ruthless giants, vile underground kuo-toa, and the drow themselves, ending with a confrontation with the Spider Queen, Lolth. All three series have been repackaged as super-modules, while the original folders are prized among collectors.

Other notable offerings include the 1988 Greyhawk Adventures hardback book and The City of Greyhawk boxed set from 1989, which expanded on the detail available for the city for the second edition D&D rules, supplementing the World of Greyhawk boxed set.

While the World of Greyhawk is primarily serious in its scope, one "joke" module, WG7 - Castle Greyhawk includes many references to 20th-century culture, such as characters named "King Burger" and "General Public," as well as "B-Men" monsters that are half-hornet and half-government agent. Other Greyhawk modules such as Dungeonland and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks borrow themes from Lewis Carroll and science fiction respectively.

Greyhawk First Edition ModulesEdit

The Greyhawk Wars periodEdit

In 1987, TSR began to emphasize the Forgotten Realms campaign world, with progressively fewer modules and sourcebooks for Greyhawk - this was regarded by critics as an effort to undermine Greyhawk in order to reduce royalty payments to Gary Gygax. In 1991, however, TSR published the Greyhawk Wars boxed set, followed up by From The Ashes in 1992. These boxed sets detailed the epic Greyhawk Wars between the forces of good and evil in the Flanaess and have a darker tone than previous publications for the setting. These were followed by a series of sourcebooks and adventures by Carl Sargent including The Marklands (detailing the beleaguered Kingdoms of Furyondy and Nyrond), Iuz the Evil and City of Skulls (the latter two dealing with the Empire of Iuz).

This series was soon halted, however, when in 1993 TSR canceled Sargent's sourcebook on the Great Kingdom, Ivid the Undying, prior to publication. However, elements of "Ivid" leaked to the public and were likely responsible for renewing interest in the setting. As the popularity of the internet exploded in 1994-1995, fans of Greyhawk began to “meet” and organize through the various online service providers. The two most well-known being the America Online-centric "Council of Greyhawk" and the LISTSERV "Greytalk." Both are still active today.

Wizards of the CoastEdit

Since Wizards of the Coast (WotC) purchased TSR and the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, they have focused mainly on the Forgotten Realms and Eberron campaign settings. In 1998, however, an attempt was made to revive the World of Greyhawk with the release of Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins sourcebook. This publication advanced the timeline of the World of Greyhawk by six years. The Adventure Begins was followed up by a series of modules and sourcebooks that included The Player's Guide to Greyhawk, The Scarlet Brotherhood and others that detailed sites close to the Free City of Greyhawk.

In addition, between 1998 and 2002 WotC released several adventures and novels linked to some of the earliest and most popular Greyhawk modules. The new adventures included Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Slavers (linked to the original Slave Lords series), Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff, Return to White Plume Mountain, and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. (See below for a list of the novels of this period). The relaunch failed to sufficiently revive the World of Greyhawk's commercial fortunes and the series was discontinued.

From 2001 to 2007, the primary sources of official Greyhawk-specific materials therefore were articles in Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine. A fair amount of fan fiction is also published. Additionally, since 2000 there have been a limited number of third-party licensed offerings including the aforementioned Atari PC computer game and comic books from Kenzer & Company and Iron Hammer Graphics.

In August 2007, Wizards of the Coast released Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, a "super-adventure" set in and around Castle Greyhawk and its dungeons. With the exception of Living Greyhawk-related materials and a handful of module updates on the WotC website, the book was the first official Greyhawk material released since 2002.

FictionEdit

The first novel set in Greyhawk was Andre Norton's Quag Keep. Published in 1979, this was the first novel set in any D&D campaign setting, thereby helping pave the way for TSR's successful product lines of fiction set in the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms campaign settings.

Spurred on in particular by the success of the Dragonlance novels during the mid 1980s, two separate Greyhawk series appeared, penned by Rose Estes and Gary Gygax himself. The latter author's more popular series, beginning with Saga of Old City and The Artifact of Evil, focuses on Gord, a rogue from Greyhawk. After leaving TSR, Inc. for personal reasons in 1986, Gary Gygax continued the Gord series with an independent publisher for a number of years.

Estes took over the TSR series at this point, introducing new characters and going in a different direction than Gygax's independent series. Estes' novels were not completely consistent with the game rules in force at the time, featuring such disallowed combinations as dwarven wizards. The Estes novels also diverged from the setting storyline presented in adventure modules and game sourcebooks. For example, Iuz is slain early on in the Estes series of novels, whereas he remains a primary political force in other TSR products from the period such as Howl from the North and Greyhawk Wars. The last of Estes' Greyhawk books was published in 1989, and the series was put on a decade-long hiatus.

After Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR, the company published seven new novels between 1999 and 2002 under the "Greyhawk Classics" product line. Written by various authors, these books were novelizations of classic Greyhawk adventures from the late 1970's and early 1980's.

NovelsEdit

Adventures SeriesEdit
Gord the RogueEdit
Classics SeriesEdit

Short StoriesEdit

ComicsEdit

  • In the Shadow of Dragons (N°1 to N°8), by Jay Donovan, Tyler Walpole & Hung Mac
  • Tempest's Gate (N°1 to N°4)
  • Black & White (N°1 to N°6)
  • Vecna : Hand of the Revenant, by Modi Thorsson & Kevin McCann, Iron Hammer Graphics

Third EditionEdit

The World of Greyhawk was the basis for the "core setting" for WotC published Dungeons & Dragons third edition. "Core setting" materials that subtly include Greyhawk history have proved popular and Wizards of the Coast continues to produce books in that vein. For example the first of their Fiendish Codex Series, Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, tangentially refers to some of the history of the interaction and conflict between the World of Greyhawk and the abyssal planes and the demons and demon princes that populate them. From the standpoint of WotC publications Greyhawk is 'frozen' at the point the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer was published and there have been no announcements or products that advance the timeline of the setting.[11]

Greyhawk remains popular with gamers. Other D&D campaign worlds have borrowed numerous ideas from Greyhawk; however the setting retains a unique flavor that hews closest to the motifs and themes that dominated the early days of the games as well as a huge assortment of gods and mortals developed over the decades that the setting has existed. The continued popularity of Dungeon magazine adventures set in Greyhawk attest to its longevity.

For example, Adventure Paths, published by Dungeon magazine starting in 2004 are set in the world of Greyhawk by default, and have begun to build a new, but only marginally official chapter in the history of the setting. These campaigns are published as 11-12 individual adventures in Dungeon, the first of which, Shackled City, has been collected as a single book.[12] The adventures have focused on the less developed regions of the Flanaess, but have included a number of well-known items and personalities from the history of Greyhawk (especially in the second Adventure Path, Age of Worms).

In Dungeon's sister publication, Dragon, there are two ongoing series that contain Greyhawk setting information. The first is Demonomicon of Iggwilv which details the demon lords of the setting's Abyss.[13] The second is Core Beliefs which details the deities of the core setting, but includes many details that are Greyhawk-specific.[14]

Wizards of the Coast's RPGA organization also features Greyhawk as its most popular living campaign setting, known as Living Greyhawk.

Some ideas that originated in Greyhawk but have since spread to other settings include the drow, elves who first appeared as villains in several modules set on Oerth, whilst the deities of Greyhawk have become default gods and goddesses in Wizards of the Coast's third edition version of Dungeons & Dragons.

References Edit

  1. Gygax, Gary (1980). The World of Greyhawk. TSR, Inc..
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining (2000). Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1743-1.
  3. Niles, Douglas, Carl Sargent (1989). The City of Greyhawk. TSR, Inc..
  4. Gygax, Gary (1974). "Swords and Sorcery — In Wargaming". Wargames Digest. 
  5. Livingstone, Ian (Aug/Sept 1979). "White Dwarf Interviews Gary Gygax". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (Issue 14): 23–24. 
  6. Arneson, Dave (1975). Dungeons & Dragons Supplement II: Blackmoor. TSR Rules.
  7. Lafkofka, Lenard (1981). Dungeon Module L1: The Secret of Bone Hill. TSR Hobbies.
  8. Gygax, Gary. "Gary Gygax (Interview)". TheOneRing.net. http://archives.theonering.net/features/interviews/gary_gygax.html#maincontent. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  9. Gygax, Gary (1983). World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. TSR, Inc..
  10. "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wizards.com%2Fdnd%2FDnDArchives_History.asp&date=2008-10-04. Retrieved 2005-08-20. 
  11. "2006 Product Releases for Dungeons & Dragons". Wizards of the Coast. 2006. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=products/dndlist&brand=dnd&year=2006&tablesort=1. 
  12. Decker, Jesse, James Jacobs, Tito Leati, David Noonan, Christopher Perkins, Chris Thomasson, Attila Adorjany, Tom Baxa, Peter Bergting, Matt Cavotta, Jeff Carlisle, Christine Choi, Stephen Daniele, Omar Dogon, Tom Fowler, Andrew Hou, Ben Huen, Eric Kim, Chuck Lukacs and Val Mayerick (2005). The Shackled City Adventure Path. Paizo Publishing, LLC.
  13. "Dragon Issue #333". Paizo Publishing, LLC. 2005. http://paizo.com/dragon/products/issues/2005/333. 
  14. "Dragon Issue #338". Paizo Publishing, LLC. 2005. http://paizo.com/dragon/products/issues/2005/338. 

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