Halloween

Halloween
5% of All Sales go to Support The Tavern

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Greyhawk is "Better" than the Forgotten Realms

Why is Greyhawk is "Better" than the Forgotten Realms?

Simple - less canon.

The more canon one has built into a setting, the more restricted the paths of the players and the greater the chance they will be overshadowed by the setting's named NPCs.

Also, the more canon there is built into a setting, the greater the chance the players will know more than the DM about the setting, and that can never lead to a good ending. Going off the "canon tracks" can lead to push back.

Still, it does make the Forgotten Realms more ripe as a shared fiction world than Greyhawk, because there is enough canon to keep various writers on the same page.

Stupid shit that seeps into one's mind while trying to sleep at night...

18 comments:

  1. Maybe, but what about Garweeze Wurld or Tellene? It's loaded with canon facts. However they aren't part of an ongoing narrative in novels, and I think that it's the time spanning that precludes stuff. This is also why I'm not big on Living _____ campaigns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An ongoing narrative's definitely the major problem with some settings, though canon in general can cause some issues. There could be a lot to remember, both facts and their various connections, and one might forget or overlook something. A 32-page gazette would be far easier to study than a 200-page sourcebook plus supplements

      It's silly, but the fact that you mentioned Tellene (positively) has absolutely made my day! It's probably my favorite campaign setting, even if some elements are no longer my cup o' tea, but nobody ever seems to talk about it unless to say it's dry and boring

      Delete
    2. I dig most of "Jolly's" work, I thought the Garweeze Wurld Gazetteer/Atlas. There's real trade and political information in there, even free traders and protectionists in Barcelona. I basically consider Garweeze World Greyhawk in spirit but fat more mature in execution (Gary Gygax couldn't organize an alphabet logically). Tellene is a very different setting, but it makes for good reading and would work great for a grittier system like Harn or RuneQuest. I like the fact that the humanoids have actual civilizations and the history isn't OMFG MILLION YEAR OLD EMPIRE RULED THE WORLD THEN A DRAGON ATE IT.

      Delete
  2. I liked Mystara the most as far as official settings go, but always prefer the home brew. If you've built the world yourself you don't have to worry about "But this book said..." ever coming up. Because, in all honesty, eventually your hand just got tired slapping sense into those people :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Frog God games wrestles with this concept frequently. We want t put out a campaign, but don't want to tell people how they have to play. It's a balance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could always model it on Hârn. Give the players a setup that exists on a specified date, then never advance the timeline in published products. Leave advancing the timeline to the Referees.

      Delete
    2. I just want to see someone run Greyhawk with Harn. Talk about nuts.

      Delete
    3. Rob, I am convinced you have run every old school setting with every old school system in some combination or another. LOL

      Delete
    4. I've done Harnmaster with Greyhawk

      Delete
  4. You make a valid point. But I still prefer FR, mainly because it is so freaking huge that there are still hundreds of places that are unexplored. And, in every edition I've seen, they always set aside a few places that are deliberately details-light. Sembia was it for 1E and 2E, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with you. I know that really each DM can shape and change the FR (or whatever setting they have) to suit the group's needs. However, there is a tendency to fall back onto canon, either out of laziness or perhaps concern about what others will think of his version of the setting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had more games go longer in the FR than in Greyhawk, using the FR boxed set and some early supplements. Why?

    Really simple - the maps. Hexless non-glossy maps with a smaller scale, and came with a hex-based distance overlay. I could draw on the maps and put in roads, mark spots, etc. and only put down hexes and distances as they mattered - between two actual points. Greyhawk's maps are beautiful, but they are glossy (can't easily mark them up) and the scale was big enough that I needed to draw a new map to really play in a given area. Which was time consuming, so I didn't do it often. I think that contributed in a major way to my play in the FR.

    Other things might have helped, too - Greyhawk felt like a broad, sweeping wargame map to me. Kings and states, with adventures along the seams. FR felt like a playground of adventures, with kings and states laying on top of a rich layer of dungeons.

    The thickness of the later canon could be a problem, but Greyhawk came with later canon too. I just killed off Elminister (who needs another person's Mary Sue?) and let the players run around doing crazy crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. for similar reason I went with Judges Guild's Wilderlands. I call it "The howling emptiness of the 30 mile hex".

      Delete
    2. Wilderlands is one of the best.

      Delete
  7. I wholeheartedly and emphatically disagree. Canon is a sign of bad gaming, not bad writing. Players who insist the GM should be a slave to canon are not welcome at my table when I GM, and GMs who are slaves to canon are bad GMs, period.

    Greyhawk is better because it is written to actually give you, the reader, a sense that time passes and things change. Forgotten Realms is a rather static prism despite how many "world changing" events they've had.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you just single-handedly nailed the real difference between those two campaign settings. The hardest problem I had with GH when I was considering using it was the 'WHEN' of it not the where..

      Delete
  8. Bah! Nothing "stupid" about it! This Greyhawk fan is always ready to talk Greyhawk, no matter the subject.

    For me, Forgotten realms has too many high powered NPCs that show up "uninvited," as it were. Not to mention the fact that there's a God around every corner, walking Faerun. Too much interference.

    As for the Canon getting in the way, that's how I view Pathfinder's Golarion. I do not like science in my fantasy game. How do you tell a Player he can't have a light saber or gunpowder weapon when they are so prevalent where "he" comes from?

    I avoid Faerun and Golarion . . . for those reasons.

    ReplyDelete