How to make a 3.5 Greyhawk campaign fun


3.5/d20/OGL


Hello everybody. English isn´t my first language, so excuse if I mess badly...

I´m thinking of starting a new Greyhawk campaign with some friends using some modified 3.5 rules. I have always thought Greyhawk is the best for low level dungeon-exploring adventures, but, the problem is, when you reach mid-level, it´s impossible not to get entangled with the stupid Greyhawk Wars, which I don´t like, both because I´ve problems understanding how come Iuz doesn´t auto-win (with 2nd edition rules high level characters could fight demigods, but this is not truth anymore) and because they have been done again and again.

The thing is, I would like the group to do something new and original once they reach mid-level, but they are going to roleplay a group of mostly do-gooders, and most of them are going to be well integrated in their local communities (they have family and friends, and maybe even businesses), so it´s going to be really difficult to keep them out of the War.

I guess we could just erase Iuz and the Wars from the campaign, but that would enrage several of the players, who are Greyhawk lovers and want to keep it as canonical as possible...I have also considered to make the campaign happen after Iuz has been defeated and killed, and make him come back as a "mere" uber-lich (like the goddess Arazni of the Pathfinder campaign), much less threatening (and as such, much less a priority), but I feel that would give a sort of "you have lost the really awesome stuff, guys" feeling...

So the question is, how would you make Iuz less of a priority while changing the campaign to a minimum? I know some people have given several reasons for Iuz not to kill the world with an army of bodaks, ghouls, ghasts, shadows, spectres, vampires and other infectious undead (by the way, I would love to do just that if the players ever reached epic level), but they are largely metagame (as a god of pain, he wants humanity to suffer under his thrall, not to be destroyed; also, he is scared of pushing too far the other gods...etc.) and the good PCs would ignore them, so they would feel compelled to join the war against Iuz.

So, what would you do?


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

You can keep the canonical timeline intact by simply choosing to play at a time period in which the Greyhawk wars are irrelevant. Play a couple hundred years before and you won't really have to sweat Iuz very much.


Bill Dunn wrote:
You can keep the canonical timeline intact by simply choosing to play at a time period in which the Greyhawk wars are irrelevant. Play a couple hundred years before and you won't really have to sweat Iuz very much.

Yes I have thought of that...I guess I would have to forget about using most of the information from the Gazetteer, Living Gazetteer Journal, the Oerth Journal and the Dungeon and Dragon magazines...A pity, but I guess you can´t have everything.


I started my Greyhawk campaign at first level, with cannon as of 1983. not to much published by then.


In my vision of Greyhawk, it´s a world that has gone through several apocalypses, each destroying an advanced magical civilization, and that´s the reason it´s literally littered with dungeons and ruins.

Today, magic is rare, mages are few and most only know how to cast low-level spells, and to create very simple magical items, but more powerful items and more advanced spells can be found buried in the ruins of the old great magical empires; most of the stuff of the handbooks can´t be commisioned or bought, but there are people carrying things found in dungeons and that has been passed from hand to hand (exchanged, sold, stolen, or looted).

Clerics have an advantage over mages, since they have all their spells, but the gods are usually reluctant to give them more than they really need to do their jobs, plus they are limited by the power of other gods; most governments are sponsored by a national pantheon whose components have set an agreement, given a general direction to the rulers, but not ruling directly (because none of the other deities of the pantheon would accept the nation being ruled by a direct minion of one of them).

Most powerful adventurers are warrior or rogue types with few magic stuff.

A few wizards (the powerful spellcaster NPCs) have unearthed powerful magics from previous ages, but they are jealous and doesn´t share it; most of them doesn´t go in open campaign of conquest since they prefer to spend their time and resources in their quest for the REALLY powerful magic, so they engage in intriges that provide them with power. influence, riches and resources to further their research, trying to get the greater benefits with the smallest effort possible from their part (since they have better things to spend their time into, like magical research).

A few ancient powerful NPCs have survived the last Apocalypse, but the ambitious ones that tried to become conquerors quickly killed each other, and the rest are devoted to extremely long term projects and remanin hidden; they may rule, but through manipulation and intrigue rather than force.

Most dangerous creatures are almost extinct or locked out of the Material Plane (it´s very difficult to come to Oerth from outside without help from oerthian spellcasters)but the PCs are likely to find things like ancient vampires, liches, demon...etc. trapped in the dungeons they explore.

So, the game would start low level and low magic, but, as the players grow in power, they would start to atract the attention of powerful mages or dragons jealous of their magic, or to disturb the plans of ancient powers, or to unearth ancient evils themselves when exploring ancient ruins. That´s how I would handle the PCs being meaningful at low levels, but finding worthy opponents at higher levels...of course, things like Iuz doesn´t mix well with this kind of game, since for him not to have won the war already, powerful NPCs opposing him are necessary, and those tend to make the heros (PCs) irrelevant.

I would like to give an aura of dread to the remains of ancient empires and the forgotten magics the player seek, throwing ominous hints and prophecies at the beginning, and latter using some of the more exotic things from the Libris Mortis, Book of Madness, Heroes of Horror, like magical diseases, madness and tainting rules...etc.; give a feeling that, when they are pursuing greater powers they are breaking the rules of nature and taking great risks.


You could also start the characters out in an area of Greyhawk which Iuz did not directly afftect during the Greyhawk Wars. For example, you have the remanats of the Great Kingdom as well as the Scarlet Brotherhood. This way you can avoid most of the IUZ issue without changing any cannon events. You also get the opportunity to use other areas of Greyhawk and explore them as well, using new threats that reside in those areas.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
You could also start the characters out in an area of Greyhawk which Iuz did not directly afftect during the Greyhawk Wars. For example, you have the remanats of the Great Kingdom as well as the Scarlet Brotherhood. This way you can avoid most of the IUZ issue without changing any cannon events. You also get the opportunity to use other areas of Greyhawk and explore them as well, using new threats that reside in those areas.

I have thought of Perrenland; I guess I could make that most people still doesn´t know Iuz is a demigod, so I could keep the S**T WE ARE DOOMED! feeling out of the game, because, otherwise, they know they are facing the end of the world and that changes everything...


Vivar wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
You could also start the characters out in an area of Greyhawk which Iuz did not directly afftect during the Greyhawk Wars. For example, you have the remanats of the Great Kingdom as well as the Scarlet Brotherhood. This way you can avoid most of the IUZ issue without changing any cannon events. You also get the opportunity to use other areas of Greyhawk and explore them as well, using new threats that reside in those areas.
I have thought of Perrenland; I guess I could make that most people still doesn´t know Iuz is a demigod, so I could keep the S**T WE ARE DOOMED! feeling out of the game, because, otherwise, they know they are facing the end of the world and that changes everything...

I think its a good idea, is Perrenland well detailed in your campaign? How familiar are the players with it? If the area is not overly developed in your campaign, it could open up some fresh ideas for fluff and exciting places for the PCs to visit.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
I think its a good idea, is Perrenland well detailed in your campaign? How familiar are the players with it? If the area is not overly developed in your campaign, it could open up some fresh ideas for fluff and exciting places for the PCs to visit.

Perrenland is quite untouched for now; I´m thinking of starting in the Yatils, and making a mix of Hammer Films Production´s Transilvania (for the undead and other monsters) and Far West era Rocky Mountains (for the frontier lifestile),with a very traditional clannish culture (think the Highlands or Ireland).

People keep quite a lot of creepy traditions due to Iggwilv influence, like putting a stake through the heart of all their dead just in case they come back as vampires, and there are a lot of tales about licanthropes and cursed, undead-filled caverns and ruins in the mountains; goblins from the mountains make a raid for cattle or two every winter, a troll, bugbear or worg comes and snatches a child or more every twenty years or so (and the locals mount a hunt and usually manages to kill them) and about every century there is a undead outbreak that requires foreign help to be ended.

One of the characters is going to roleplay a local paladin/cleric of Pelor build(starting as Pal 1), very focused against supernatural evil (undead and/or demons) whose work is to patrol the countryside in search of hints of monsters; he is sort of a traditional, religious farmboy turned military man turned sheriff, a peasant paladin, instead of aristocratic one (I like the idea); another, a respected scholar (wizard or archivist) who comes from a more developed country in search of ancient ruins to study; the other two, a ranger or rogue and a fighter or barbarian hired by the scholar as bodyguards.

Grand Lodge

Yeah, what Eileen said -- just play outside of an area affected by Iuz. Or, if in Perrenland or the north in general, just make an adventure that has nothing to do with Iuz or demons or whatever.

My group is currently playing IN Perrenland, the Yatils and Highfolk. Our Campaign Journal on the Boards, if you're interested, is titled, "Return to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth: A Pathfinder Greyhawk Campaign. We're focusing, obviously, on Iggwilv but we've learned enough that Graz'zt & Iuz are peripherally involved. Nonetheless, it would be super easy to play that entire campaign -- high level campaign mind you -- without ever touching upon Iuz and the Greyhawk Wars.

GH is FAR bigger than just Iuz.

In our last campaign, The Wizard of Witchfire Mountain: A Sandbox Campaign in the Sterich March, there was nothing, absolutely nothing to do with Iuz or even the Free City of Greyhawk.

Before that we did a redo of Scourge of the Slavelords -- again, no Iuz, no GH Wars.

And before I joined the group in 2010 they were finishing The Temple of Elemental Evil.

Heck -- I would argue that you could run a mid-level campaign in the City of Skulls that has little or nothing to do with Iuz -- though it would likely have something to do with Zensher or one of Iuz's other thralls.

GH is BIG.
Iuz is little.


As a greyhawk newbie myself I would suggest buying the Shackled city Campaign(on sale now) and using it.

My group knows nothing about greyhawk and we really don't care to learn we started shackled city and were having a blast.
Be warned that it takes place in a jungle environment so if you have a druid a dinosaur animal companion is very possible as well as all the complications from it.

After shackled city we are going into The Age of Worms and finally The Crimson Tide so we will be in greyhawk for years to come and I really don't see us doing a great deal of world exploring.

Good Luck.


Steven Tindall wrote:
After shackled city we are going into The Age of Worms and finally The Crimson Tide so we will be in greyhawk for years to come.

Your PCs got no chance 'gainst 'Bama. Savage Tide they might manage, though.


Kullen wrote:
Steven Tindall wrote:
After shackled city we are going into The Age of Worms and finally The Crimson Tide so we will be in greyhawk for years to come.
Your PCs got no chance 'gainst 'Bama. Savage Tide they might manage, though.

Were not your average PC's. My lawful good priest of wee jas just communed and found out that the temple is behind the assassination attempt so Ike and the others are toast.

We have suffered some losses but so far we have been kicking much but. I don't know who this Bama is but if he's another dragon I doubt I'll be impressed. We have been killing every dragon we come up against with ease, plus that sad excuse for a minotaur/half dragon almost killed a party member but my cleric used blood of the martyr and saved him. then took total cover behind a building to heal himself.


Steven Tindall wrote:
I don't know who this Bama is...

It was a joke. 'Bama is Alabama, "The Crimson Tide." The Paizo AP is called the "Savage Tide."


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Steven Tindall wrote:
I don't know who this Bama is...
It was a joke. 'Bama is Alabama, "The Crimson Tide." The Paizo AP is called the "Savage Tide."

AAAHHH Thanks Kirth. Now I feel silly for getting the title wrong. I did mean The Savage Tide I appreciate the correction.

What is a crimson tide anyway? football? baseball or basketball or soccer? Sounds like a good name for a water polo team.

Grand Lodge

Algae.

That turns red.

It kills shrimp and stuff.


Steven Tindall wrote:
What is a crimson tide anyway? football? baseball or basketball or soccer? Sounds like a good name for a water polo team.

LOL! I think it's a college football thing. I especially love Steely Dan's comments on their song "Deacon Blues," which references the Crimson Tide.

Lyrics:
Spoiler:
They've got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Explanation:
Spoiler:
"I played him that line, and he said, 'You mean it's like, they call these cracker a%@+&$~s this grandiose name like the Crimson Tide, and I'm this loser, so they call me this other grandiose name, Deacon Blues?' And I said, 'Yeah!' He said, 'Cool! Let's finish it!'"

The Exchange

I have more to offer and will return with that in time.

On a more philosophical/esoteric note, how many people picked up that D&D Chainmail game back when 3.0 launched? It came with an in-depth breakdown (not an actual splat book, in depth for a pamphlet) on an alternate continent on the other side of the world of Flanaess.

Imagine if you fast forwarded timeline with the two engaging like say ... WWI style. Interesting, no? Or in a Napoleonic Era Conflict? I guarantee the 80 Year's War or European Meddling in North American Civil-War politics, recast with the nations and societies in question could be INTENSELY interesting immersive, especially for non-history buffs trying to make sense of the chaos within the context of the setting.

My 2 pence worth, for now. More forthcoming later.


Vivar wrote:

Hello everybody. English isn´t my first language, so excuse if I mess badly...

I´m thinking of starting a new Greyhawk campaign with some friends using some modified 3.5 rules. I have always thought Greyhawk is the best for low level dungeon-exploring adventures, but, the problem is, when you reach mid-level, it´s impossible not to get entangled with the stupid Greyhawk Wars, which I don´t like, both because I´ve problems understanding how come Iuz doesn´t auto-win (with 2nd edition rules high level characters could fight demigods, but this is not truth anymore) and because they have been done again and again.

The thing is, I would like the group to do something new and original once they reach mid-level, but they are going to roleplay a group of mostly do-gooders, and most of them are going to be well integrated in their local communities (they have family and friends, and maybe even businesses), so it´s going to be really difficult to keep them out of the War.

I guess we could just erase Iuz and the Wars from the campaign, but that would enrage several of the players, who are Greyhawk lovers and want to keep it as canonical as possible...I have also considered to make the campaign happen after Iuz has been defeated and killed, and make him come back as a "mere" uber-lich (like the goddess Arazni of the Pathfinder campaign), much less threatening (and as such, much less a priority), but I feel that would give a sort of "you have lost the really awesome stuff, guys" feeling...

So the question is, how would you make Iuz less of a priority while changing the campaign to a minimum? I know some people have given several reasons for Iuz not to kill the world with an army of bodaks, ghouls, ghasts, shadows, spectres, vampires and other infectious undead (by the way, I would love to do just that if the players ever reached epic level), but they are largely metagame (as a god of pain, he wants humanity to suffer under his thrall, not to be destroyed; also, he is scared of pushing too far the other...

Just advance the timeline a few years. Everything happened. But start the campaign 5 or 10 years later. The forces of good have regrouped. Iuz's influence is not as overwhelming. I did this in my campaign to great success. Our adventures were held in Greyhawk, Nyrond, Parts of Sunndi, The Amedio Jungle, etc. We hardly touched on Iuz, because he didn't interest me quite frankly. We knew that he was there, and was a powerful evil influence, but the characters advenced to about 13th level. I created my own big bad: a powerful half-orc priest of Incabulos, and used Graz'zt from time to time as an unseen influence in the campaign.

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