Farewell to Living Greyhawk

As some of you may know, this year will be the last for Living Greyhawk.  It is being retired and the campaign will come to an end with the close of 2008. 

This is a sad thing; I was one of the original Living Greyhawk Triads that helped launch the campaign along with the advent of D&D 3e at Gen Con in 2000.  Greyhawk had always been my favorite campaign setting, and I welcomed the chance to help develop it.  I helped run the Yeomanry, which represented the real life states of TN, AR, LA, KY, AL, and MS.  The Yeomanry League is a cool nation; a proto-democratic state where military service grants citizenship.   

Even worse, it doesn’t appear that they have any plan to further Greyhawk after this point.  Many volunteers wrote hundreds of adventures and put lots of work in developing details of every region, and every indication is that work will just be lost.  That’s a shame and a waste.

I hope that Wizards knows what they’re doing.  In the name of Fourth Edition, they are giving us lots of reasons to mourn.  They killed off the very popular Dungeon and Dragon magazines (and not incidentally their Greyhawk support; Erik Mona from Paizo was a big GH booster).  They are killing off Living Greyhawk and, it appears, Greyhawk in general as they are militantly replacing all Greyhawk references in 4e core with new “generic” ones.  They pulled back all their other licenses – Ravenloft, Dragonlance.  The only campaign setting we know about is the Forgotten Realms, which they are advancing 100  years in timeline and inflicting a “spellplague” upon it.   With all of this, they are also hurting hobby shop sales.  I spoke with a local game store owner and this year-long interim period where they’re not putting out much usable product is severely affecting their profitability.

And I’m not really sure why.  The previous Greyhawk incarnation, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, had little rules content in it.  They could take a tack like Green Ronin is with their Freeport line – publishing a rules-free book that’s a guide to the setting and then publishing separate books that are full o’rules.  And most of the work is already done for them – they own all the derivative Greyhawk work done for Living Greyhawk; there’s no legal questions there (as a former Triad, believe me, we signed our lives away).  Failing to support Greyhawk and even not letting someone else support Greyhawk (Paizo, for example, would probably jump at it) seems more spiteful than anything else.

In the meantime, Canonfire! will carry the torch, but those community submissions are random by their nature.  Greyhawk was the home of the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Slavelords, the Giants and the Demonweb Pits, the Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain – practically every “top ten” adventure location in D&D history.  Let’s see it given a real treatment again!

2 responses to “Farewell to Living Greyhawk

  1. F0und this through a Technorati search string. I’m very new to LG and D&D in general but it’s basically all I’ve ever known of this iconic role-playing game. Instinctively, I felt confused and betrayed by the advent of 4E with just a year’s notice to wrap up our storylines and our characters.

    I’m glad to see some of the older players have reason to miss this setting and the structure and worry about the future. It makes me feel that I’m not just a neophyte crying for my first loss but that we are losing something special and significant.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. Just came across this, and I have to agree with almost everything you’ve said.

    The only thing I disagree with is that they (WotC) are replacing Greyhawk references with “generic” ones. The replacements aren’t generic; they’re arbitrary fluff that will actually make it *harder* for third-party developers and home-brew GM’s to make anything original.

    For instance, magical schools of effect are gone, replaced by guild-like groups that are all blasters or controllers.

    Instead of taking a cue from Paizo and giving people a quality product that’s full of stuff players and GM’s want, they’re trying to set it up so that you *have* to buy only from them again.

    It just galls me… Greyhawk material was popular (as evinced by Paizo), so why kill it? They wouldn’t dare give away the property now, since it might end up more popular than the WotC fluff. Again. I suppose that looking at plans for the Realms and Eberron, it’s a blesing Greyhawk didn’t get a 4E “facelift”.

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