One of the worthies over at EnWorld posted the following:
I’m sure that many of us have played at some point or another in the world of Greyhawk. This was Gygax’s world, home to some of the greatest classic dungeons in D&D. It is for that nostalgia factor that we hold it in such high regards.
Yet as time has gone on and the hobby has evolved, I have to wonder if it still holds up all these years later.
One of the questions I ask is why WotC would ever want to re-release Greyhawk. They might get some sales based on nostalgia, but what really sets it apart enough to draw in a new crowd? My fear on this is that, as a generic setting, it will be outshone by other generic settings, most notably the Realms. It doesn’t offer the wide range of cultures that other settings do. There’s nothing geographically or culturally that really sets it apart.
But what of the classic dungeons? My guess is that they’d rather release those in books like Tomb of Horrors. Rather than put out a setting about dungeons, put out books on dungeons.
Does GH need reinvention? I would say yes. It needs to be set apart somehow.
I don’t know what Greyhawk needs, or how to make it more relevant to the modern-day gamer. I wish I did. I would hate to just see it fade away, yet that seems to be what’s happening. Should it be another continent on the same planet as the Realms? Does it need a makeover?
As you might imagine, gentle readers, I do indeed have a thought or two on this subject.
First off, the question of relevancy depends on the context. Is Greyhawk relevant in terms of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, and those who play it? Not really, unless folks have taken the older material and converted it for use in the new version (and many certainly have, and nothing’s wrong with that, if 4E is your thing, it just happens to not be mine). So if you define relevancy by product sales, Greyhawk probably isn’t very relevant right now (that could always change, of course, if WotC ever decides to release a 4E version of the setting, Istus forbid!).
That being said, 4E sales are not the be-all and end-all definition of relevancy. New material is still being created for the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting, by myself and many putting out better stuff than I. Many more people, by several orders of magnitude, still play in the World of Greyhawk setting despite the fact that WotC isn’t putting out new product. So in terms of actual use, Greyhawk is indeed “relevant”, because people are actively using the material that’s out there, and making new material of their own.
I suppose it all comes down to how one measures relevancy. Sales, or fun?
Some of the comments in that EnWorld thread are well worth reading, btw. Some excellent insights, especially the bits about how the various nations of the Flanaess should be constantly skirmishing with one another, rather than all engaged in a continent-wide conflict. Precisely how I envision the Flanaess, and a vision that I think meshes with Gygax’s Dragon magazine articles from the early 1980’s on the subject.