Friday, January 13, 2017

BRW Games Greyhawk Product Announcements (sortakinda)

Going through the Great Greyhawk Survey really got me thinking about what might happen if my favorite RPG setting* is ever opened up in Wizards of the Coast's Dungeon Masters Guild. Specifically, there's a line in the FAQ that opens up the possibility:
Q: Is this going to remain Forgotten Realms only, or are other settings/IPs to be considered in the future??
A: We intend to open up additional settings and IP as time goes on. However, for the time being, we will remain focused on the Forgotten Realms.
So it's definitely possible, even likely (especially considering they brought Ravenloft into the fold), that Greyhawk will be an option someday. I have to reiterate that I have no idea when that will happen, or even if it ever will, but I am basing all this on the (admittedly speculative) idea that it will. Eventually. I'm guessing within two years, but it could be next week for all I know (in which case, boy am I behind schedule!). 

With all that said, here are the sortakinda product announcements, dependent entirely on whether or not WotC ever adds Greyhawk to the list of settings in the DMs Guild. Even if I just end up writing them for my own game, they'll get written.

Players Guide to Greyhawk. A collection of new class options, backgrounds, spells, magic items, etc. etc. etc. Basically fleshing out all the options the game currently has, with Greyhawk-specific material. This is more than half written right now, for my home game, and some of it has been published here on the blog.

Central Flanaess Gazetteer. A complete overview of the central Flanaess south of the Nyr Dyv in CY 576, from the Kron Hills to the Wild Coast, allowing sandbox-style play across the region. This has actually already been in the works for my own personal use for more than a year now, especially a very detailed, small-scale map of the whole region, and in the "mostly already written" category. I'll proceed to be much more systematic in filling in the pieces. Will have information on history, politics, and economics; notable NPCs; settlements and natural features; and of course plenty of adventure hooks. There will be stuff in there that sets up the Greyhawk Wars and beyond, but a DM wouldn't need to go in that direction by any stretch of the imagination. Would be written for 5E, because that's what the DMs Guild wants.

Temple of Elemental Evil 5th Edition Conversion and Campaign Expansion. This one is also mostly written, again for my own use. Not only would it include 5E stats for all the NPCs and monsters, but a revised (fixed) map and a brand-new dungeon level four, for DMs who want to end the adventure more in line with the original intention, including a link to the Elder Elemental God (and thus tie-ins to Vault of the Drow). Will also include brand-new material detailing other old Temple outposts (including the Watchtower at the border of the Suss and Gnarley forests), Sobanwych, which Temple agents have thoroughly infiltrated, and those two "danger, evil!" symbols on the High Road in the original maps:

Verbobonc. A complete sourcebook detailing this critical town and surrounding Viscounty commanding the Velverdyva River, set in CY 576. Will detail the city itself, with a large map, plus lots of separate adventure hooks too, of course. Obviously this city could loom large in a ToEE campaign, and so fits in nicely with the above. This is something I haven't started writing at all yet. 

Dyvers: City of Sails. A full treatment of Greyhawk's greatest rival (echoing the rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee), standing at the western end of the Nyr Dyv, as of CY 576. Will include a full-sized map and sourcebook detailing each quarter of the city, notable NPCs, and the like. This is something I'll have to write from scratch. I've got a map roughed out, but that's about it. 

I might also do a couple of stand-alone adventures in the region, just to flesh out some of the potentialities.

But of course this is a weird situation, as I'm going ahead with the work of writing even before I know for sure that there will be able to ever sell the damn things. But the way I figure it, this is as much an excuse to sit down and get the work done for my own campaign; a 5E sandbox stretching from the Wild Coast to the Nyr Dyv, the Mistmarsh to the Kron Hills. 

Consider it being written "on spec" (and I have one or two projects that are on deadline and must be finished first), and setting me up to be ready out of the gate if and when WotC ever opens up the DMs Guild to Greyhawk products. Look for announcements about Kickstarters right after that happens (for art and editing, as always), but I've always had products written and in-hand before I went that route in the past, and I will want to do the same here.

* This blog isn't called Greyhawk Grognard for nothing. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Great Greyhawk Survey - Results

First off, thanks to all of the 640 (as of this writing) people who took the time to respond to my little survey. It's great to see folks are still interested in Greyhawk after all these years of, shall we say, not being at the forefront of the official D&D game. Let's dive right in; for each graph, click to embiggen.

1. For which rule system would you like to see new Greyhawk material written?

The results here were unambiguous, if a little surprising given my (presumed) audience. 48% said they'd like to see 5E Greyhawk while 40% said 1E was their preferred system. Nothing else even came close, although there was a notable number of "Pathfinder" responses in the "other" category (but again, not even close to 5E or 1E). Nothing else broke the 17% mark.

2. What is your favorite Greyhawk timeframe?

Again, this wasn't even close. The 565 CY timeframe (the same as the original folio and gold box) was the runaway winner with just over 50% support. Nothing else came close.

3. What types of new Greyhawk products would you be interested in purchasing?

Here the results were a lot more diverse. Five answers broke 50% support, and most of the others were pretty strong, too ("non-rpg products" trailed definitively with 15%). Individual adventures (like “White Plume Mountain”) topped the list, followed closely by Mini-campaigns (like “Temple of Elemental Evil”), Regional sourcebooks (like “Iuz the Evil”), City sourcebooks, and Gazetteer-type books covering other regions of Oerth (which got almost 60% support).

Basically, folks want anything for Greyhawk to use in their RPG games.

4. What types of adventures would you like to see?

Pretty unsurprisingly, combinations of dungeon crawl, wilderness, and urban adventures were more popular than any of those individual choices, and combinations of RP, combat, and puzzle-solving adventures were more popular than any of those.

5. What regional sourcebooks in the Flanaess would you like to see?

This was intended to be a question only for people who answered "Regional sourcebooks" in question 3, but I was somewhat limited by the tool, so included a "not interested" option. Even so, 200 people who didn't say they wanted regional sourcebooks answered. Go figure.

The Central Flanaess had a slight edge, being the only option that broke 60%, but the Sheldomar Valley (Keoland, etc.), West-central Flanaess (Furyondy, Veluna, etc.), and Great Kingdom each beat 50%.

Given that Veluna, the central Flanaess, and Great Kingdom all had regional sourcebooks released (although the latter was a free release, as it was never actually published), I can only conclude that folks want to see pre-Wars versions of all those sourcebooks.

The Great Grinch-hawk Award goes to the guy who answered "none, no new products, thanks" to this and several other questions. I'm guessing he's also the person who left a rather... spirited... comment on the original post that I had to delete because it was little more than self-indulgent name-calling designed to insult any Greyhawk fan who didn't fit in with his personal idea of what the setting should be like. Nightscreed, you are missed. ;-)

6. Which cities would you like to see featured in a sourcebook?

Same notation as on question 5; I included a "not interested" option, but a ton more people answered anyway, despite saying they didn't want city sourcebooks in question 3. Greyhawk, Dyvers, and Verbobonc all broke 50%, and Irongate was a strong finisher as well.

7. Which other regions of Oerth would you like to see featured in a gazetteer-type book?

No question; the Sea of Dust was the clear winner here. Hepmonaland and the Baklunish Basin were somewhat distant also-rans, but folks don't really seem jazzed about western Oerik. Which sucks, because that's really what I want to see, personally.

8. What types of RPG rules supplements would you like to see specifically for Greyhawk?

All of the options here were pretty strongly supported, magic items/spells/monsters had a slight lead, character races/classes lagged a little behind, but everything was within 15% or so.

9. What sort of non-RPG products would you like to see specifically for Greyhawk?

I included this because it's something of a wish of my own to see board games and wargames and such set in Greyhawk, but as noted above, only 15% of respondents wanted non-RPG Greyhawk material in question 3. Fiction did clearly lead the list, with 30% support; still nothing to write home about (heh). Nothing else broke 12%. Alas.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Last Chance - Great Greyhawk Survey

The response to my Great Greyhawk Survey has been great, and I'm getting ready to post the results here, but I wanted to give everyone a last chance to make their voice heard. Just to reiterate, this is purely for amusement/informational purposes, and doesn't reflect any sort of insider knowledge of WotC's plans for the setting.

I'll be collecting and posting the final results on Wednesday evening, so you've got about 48 hours to get your results in. Have at it, and please feel free to spread the word in appropriate places.

You can find the survey here.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thoughts on Post-Apocalyptic Games

I just received Goblinoid Games' wonderful Apes Victorious hard copy book today (I am a HUGE Planet of the Apes fan), and having looked through it, I find myself thinking of a post-apocalyptic sort of game that doesn't seem to be very current, although the concept was pretty alive in the 1970's, when I was earning my sci-fi chops.

I'm talking about the notion that in a post-apocalyptic world, civilization hasn't completely fallen. There are not only pockets of relative civilization (as we see in movies such as The Ultimate Warrior, where a handful of survivors is peaceful and develops new crop strains in the middle of Manhattan), but there are outright civilizations, usually single cities, sprinkled throughout the wasteland. Sometimes we see those cities or organizations sending teams out to restore civilization.

Logan's Run is a great example. We have the City of Domes, a bastion of civilization and high technology in and amongst the ruins of the holocaust. If one goes to the (in my opinion, underrated) television show, there are outposts of savagery and civilization across the blasted landscape.

There's also the pair of made-for-TV movies, Genesis II and Planet Earth, made by Gene Roddenberry as pilots for a potential new series that, alas, never happened. There we see the organization known as PAX, which sends agents to various pockets of savagery to try to elevate them, while at the same time subtly undermining more militant cultures.

Which brings us to Planet of the Apes, the TV series. That featured a planet Earth that was a bit more balanced than the one we saw in the original movie, Humans could still speak, although they were pretty much slaves (or at best serfs) in ape society. But there was also an underlying plot line where there was some technological society that still existed, and that was the hope of the astronauts Burke and Vern; to find that civilization and get their ship back into space, and thus back home.

And the kids television show Ark II, which featured a crew of suitably-multicultural scientists in a super-technological truck roaming across the post-apocalyptic wilderness bringing the benefits of science to the survivors. And they had an intelligent chimp and took every opportunity to use the jet-pack!

The Judge Dredd comics (I omit mention of the movies by choice) have the same set-up. There are the three Mega-Cities, and in between them are the radioactive wastelands (the "cursed earth"), full of anarchy, mutants, and untold dangers.

And let's not forget the Buck Rogers movie and TV show, where the gleaming city of New Chicago arose from the ruins of Old Chicago, where there were still packs of uncivilized survivors running around making trouble for the members of the spacefaring civilization that takes a stroll outside the confines of their enclave.

The Apes Victorious book makes me think along those lines, for some reason. A grand post-apocalyptic campaign where there's a bastion of civilization in and amongst various pockets of semi-civilization, separated by radioactive hellwastes filled with mutants.

I never got the impression from the original Gamma World that its default milieu was so organized. But I'm contemplating a campaign where there's a high-tech city in the Rocky Mountains, and blasted wilderness across most of North America filled with mutants, with an ape civilization in the northeast, a mutant civilization adjacent (with huge brains in jars!), the various Gamma World factions around as nation-states (or something akin to that), the southwest with genetically engineered dinosaur cyborg war machines, and so forth.

I am really liking this idea. Not only does it give opportunities for more role-playing goodness, but it's also a way to slide the apes' milieu into the whole Gamma World-esque post-apocalyptic world. It's just another piece of a huge jigsaw spread across North America. My idea for the Beanstalk could easily be fitted into this sort of concept; indeed, the Beanstalk could be the high-tech center trying to bring civilization back to the Earth.

I want to run this, damnit!