[novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

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[novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Big Mac » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:45 am

I've been discussing the Quag Keep in another topic, and Ripvanwormer suggested I'd be better off reading the Gord the Rogue novels. I replied in this post, but then the off-topic mention got so interesting, that I'd like to split it off and talk more about it. Rip quoted me, so you don't really need to review the Quag Keep topic:
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I already have those on my wishlist. I've only read the first one, so far, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the interaction between the Beggar's Union and the Thieves Guild and thought it made a very interesting contrast to the side of Greyhawk shown in Nightwatch. (We should really have a Gord the Rogue topic in this forum, but I don't really want to talk to much about the series until I've bought them all. I've already found out one or two spoilers! :shock: )
The first one is the best one, in my opinion. The second one adds a number of characters from Gary Gygax's home game. The first two are both basically canon (at least, Erik Mona said they were). The third one was pretty good and adds to the detail on the Baklunish lands and the Sea of Dust. The next two venture into the planes and have much less to do with Greyhawk.
I'm trying to read them in order, and don't have the second one yet, so I've only read the first one. The first two are TSR, so should be Greyhawk. I suppose the changes forced onto the rest by the Gygax/TSR split must turn the rest into a modified "Gordhawk". I bet it would take an expert, like yourself, to go through them and infer what would have happened if the rest were written with Gary Gygax still at TSR.

The stuff on the planes could be interesting. It makes me wonder if those later novels map well onto the Great Wheel/Planescape cosmology or if the cosmology used ("Gordscape" ;) ) is totally different from Planescape.

Do you think the books depict Gary's concept of the D&D planes, in a nudge-nudge "this is an alternative name for a well known outer plane" way?

Or is this something that Gary totally rebooted to make it seem different enough from

Or do you think this is the cosmology he always used in his home games?
ripvanwormer wrote:Gord himself is briefly mentioned in Nightwatch, as the notorious thief Blackcat.
There is an excuse the re-read that section (or maybe the entire novel).

I've always loved the contrast between Gord the Rogue and Nightwatch. If they ever bring back the Greyhawk novels (and I personally think they should), I'd love to learn more about both Blackcat and Garett Starlen.
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:54 pm

Been a bit since I've read these, but I still own them all, and I used to reread them every couple of years, so I still know them pretty well. I'll echo rip's contention that the first book- "Saga of Old City" is still far and away the best of the series; quite possibly the best book TSR publishing ever put out, IMO.
Big Mac wrote:I'm trying to read them in order, and don't have the second one yet, so I've only read the first one. The first two are TSR, so should be Greyhawk. I suppose the changes forced onto the rest by the Gygax/TSR split must turn the rest into a modified "Gordhawk". I bet it would take an expert, like yourself, to go through them and infer what would have happened if the rest were written with Gary Gygax still at TSR.
Gygax didn't have to make any changes to Greyhawk, actually. Part of the conditions of his split were that he was still able to continue writing and publishing the Gord the Rogue series. I don't know if it was something that was negotiated on his behalf, or if it had to do with the arrangements that were already in place with the publisher (ie, "you guys are still under contract for x number of books, so you'd better let him continue doing what he's doing"), but the world of Greyhawk as depicted in the post-Artifact of Evil books by Gygax were/are the same world of Greyhawk that he had created.
Do you think the books depict Gary's concept of the D&D planes, in a nudge-nudge "this is an alternative name for a well known outer plane" way?
Not sure how well it would map onto Planescape, per se, except in a general way. The planes there are still the planes as we know them, and utilize familiar characters and figures from AD&D/Greyhawk mythos. For example, Graz'zt, Iuz, Zuggtmoy, and Iggwilv are major enemies in the novels; Gord visits several layers of the Abyss, the Plane of Shadow, etc.

Planescape shuffled things around a little bit from the AD&D cosmology, IIRC, so that's they only place where some modification would need to be made.
Or do you think this is the cosmology he always used in his home games?
Absolutely. As noted, he didn't really change much of anything at all that I can tell from his original Greyhawk campaign setting. If anything, there were changes to later products in the Greyhawk line that differed from the novels (and, ironically, some that used information from the novels during the 3E era, such as the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, which- among other things- noted that Ratik was ruled by Evaleigh, a character Gord meets in Saga of Old City.)

About the only difference I think that Gygax might have made to the series if he had still been with/in charge of TSR is the ending. (About which I won't say too much more since I'm not sure you're there yet.)
ripvanwormer wrote:Gord himself is briefly mentioned in Nightwatch, as the notorious thief Blackcat.
There is an excuse the re-read that section (or maybe the entire novel).
Dang. I just finished reading Nightwatch (finally) and I missed that reference entirely! I'll have to go back and check. Although I will say the novel just wasn't terribly good; certainly not as good as I'd gotten my hopes up over the years and difficulties of trying to track down a copy...
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:07 pm

Big Mac wrote:The stuff on the planes could be interesting. It makes me wonder if those later novels map well onto the Great Wheel/Planescape cosmology or if the cosmology used ("Gordscape" ;) ) is totally different from Planescape.

Do you think the books depict Gary's concept of the D&D planes, in a nudge-nudge "this is an alternative name for a well known outer plane" way?
It's not Planescape (though there is a Sigil of sorts in the form of "Weird Way"), but it's basically the same Gygaxian Great Wheel with a few additions. The planes aren't renamed (with a few exceptions), but there are a few new ones and some new planar races. You can see a summary of the Gord the Rogue planes here and here.

Most of the differences from Planescape lie in the fact that Jeff Grubb, when he wrote the Manual of the Planes in 1987, made some decisions different from what Gary Gygax would have. But it's essentially the same cosmological base.

I think that for the most part the Gord books wouldn't have been that different if they'd been published by TSR (except for the ending of Dance of Demons), but TSR's planar stuff would have been pretty different if Gygax was still in charge of the company.
Or do you think this is the cosmology he always used in his home games?
Gygax's conception of the multiverse was a continually evolving thing. For example, there were initially only four para-elemental planes, but in later Dragon Magazine articles he added eight quasi-elemental planes and renamed the para-elements, and this was incorporated into the Manual of the Planes and Planescape. You can see how Gygax's conception of the multiverse was evolving further as early as the first TSR-published Gord the Rogue book, Saga of Old City, where the seeds of some of the ideas he'd later incorporate into his Dangerous Journeys RPG can be seen. In Saga of Old City, page 71, one of Gord's teachers lists the "nine known dimensions of the multiverse" - length, breadth, height, astrality, ethereality, time, probability, extra-conceivability, and nonconceivability - and claims that technology is "the counterpart of magic within the dimension of probability and works in inverse proportion to it." There's no further explanation, though, and none of this is really important to the plot of the later Gord books. In Appendix H of Dangerous Journeys: Mythus, Gygax goes into further detail on these nine dimensions, which in Mythus appear as length, breadth, height, time, probability, aethereality, non-dimensionality, extra-dimensionality, and conceptuality. There's a complete map of this post-TSR multiverse on page 21 of his Mythus Magick. The plane of lawful good is referred to, as it is in the later Gord books, as the Empyreal, and the plane of chaotic good is referred to as the Celestial. The Inner Planes are renamed the "preternatural planes" and the Outer Planes are renamed the "supernatural planes." The Positive and Negative Planes are also called Yang and Yin, as in the later Gord books. Finally, there are four Entital Planes: Temporal, Pan-Probable, Astral (a plane of ultimate good and the source of positive magic, not to be confused with D&D's Astral Plane or with the Upper Planes or with the Positive Energy Plane), and Abyssal (a plane of ultimate evil and negative magic, not to be confused with D&D's Abyss or with the Lower Planes or Negative Energy Plane). Altogether, these planes comprise a system for accommodating parallel worlds, time travel, the elements, and philosophical planes in the same nine-dimensional system. It's a little different from how TSR would do it, and I think it's a little unnecessarily complex and jargon-heavy, but it does the same basic thing.

About the alleged Gord reference in Nightwatch: I'm going off of ten-year-old memories, here, and I may be wrong. It's possible that I was thinking that the old seer, the Cat, was a reference to Gord, but rereading it I think it clearly isn't.

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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Big Mac » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:03 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:Been a bit since I've read these, but I still own them all, and I used to reread them every couple of years, so I still know them pretty well. I'll echo rip's contention that the first book- "Saga of Old City" is still far and away the best of the series; quite possibly the best book TSR publishing ever put out, IMO.
I really enjoyed it too. :cool:
Cthulhudrew wrote:Gygax didn't have to make any changes to Greyhawk, actually. Part of the conditions of his split were that he was still able to continue writing and publishing the Gord the Rogue series. I don't know if it was something that was negotiated on his behalf, or if it had to do with the arrangements that were already in place with the publisher (ie, "you guys are still under contract for x number of books, so you'd better let him continue doing what he's doing"), but the world of Greyhawk as depicted in the post-Artifact of Evil books by Gygax were/are the same world of Greyhawk that he had created.
The "arrangement" might be something to do with D&D books that were "Copyright Gary E. Gygax" rather than "Copyright TSR Inc". :?
Cthulhudrew wrote:Absolutely. As noted, he didn't really change much of anything at all that I can tell from his original Greyhawk campaign setting. If anything, there were changes to later products in the Greyhawk line that differed from the novels (and, ironically, some that used information from the novels during the 3E era, such as the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, which- among other things- noted that Ratik was ruled by Evaleigh, a character Gord meets in Saga of Old City.)
After TSR took New Infinities Productions, Inc. to court, I believe they ended up owning the company. That might mean that the later Gord the Rogue novels are owned by Wizards of the Coast now. Maybe WotC could reprint the entire series (or other New Infinities products). :?
Cthulhudrew wrote:Dang. I just finished reading Nightwatch (finally) and I missed that reference entirely! I'll have to go back and check. Although I will say the novel just wasn't terribly good; certainly not as good as I'd gotten my hopes up over the years and difficulties of trying to track down a copy...
I quite liked the book, and I used to find a lot of D&D books a bit two-dimensional.

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The stuff on the planes could be interesting. It makes me wonder if those later novels map well onto the Great Wheel/Planescape cosmology or if the cosmology used ("Gordscape" ;) ) is totally different from Planescape.

Do you think the books depict Gary's concept of the D&D planes, in a nudge-nudge "this is an alternative name for a well known outer plane" way?
It's not Planescape (though there is a Sigil of sorts in the form of "Weird Way"), but it's basically the same Gygaxian Great Wheel with a few additions. The planes aren't renamed (with a few exceptions), but there are a few new ones and some new planar races. You can see a summary of the Gord the Rogue planes here and here.

Most of the differences from Planescape lie in the fact that Jeff Grubb, when he wrote the Manual of the Planes in 1987, made some decisions different from what Gary Gygax would have. But it's essentially the same cosmological base.

I think that for the most part the Gord books wouldn't have been that different if they'd been published by TSR (except for the ending of Dance of Demons), but TSR's planar stuff would have been pretty different if Gygax was still in charge of the company.
Nice resource you have there. I wonder if anyone has worked from the other end and tried to tie things like "Weird Way" into their Planescape game. :?
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Or do you think this is the cosmology he always used in his home games?
Gygax's conception of the multiverse was a continually evolving thing. For example, there were initially only four para-elemental planes, but in later Dragon Magazine articles he added eight quasi-elemental planes and renamed the para-elements, and this was incorporated into the Manual of the Planes and Planescape. You can see how Gygax's conception of the multiverse was evolving further as early as the first TSR-published Gord the Rogue book, Saga of Old City, where the seeds of some of the ideas he'd later incorporate into his Dangerous Journeys RPG can be seen. In Saga of Old City, page 71, one of Gord's teachers lists the "nine known dimensions of the multiverse" - length, breadth, height, astrality, ethereality, time, probability, extra-conceivability, and nonconceivability - and claims that technology is "the counterpart of magic within the dimension of probability and works in inverse proportion to it." There's no further explanation, though, and none of this is really important to the plot of the later Gord books. In Appendix H of Dangerous Journeys: Mythus, Gygax goes into further detail on these nine dimensions, which in Mythus appear as length, breadth, height, time, probability, aethereality, non-dimensionality, extra-dimensionality, and conceptuality. There's a complete map of this post-TSR multiverse on page 21 of his Mythus Magick. The plane of lawful good is referred to, as it is in the later Gord books, as the Empyreal, and the plane of chaotic good is referred to as the Celestial. The Inner Planes are renamed the "preternatural planes" and the Outer Planes are renamed the "supernatural planes." The Positive and Negative Planes are also called Yang and Yin, as in the later Gord books. Finally, there are four Entital Planes: Temporal, Pan-Probable, Astral (a plane of ultimate good and the source of positive magic, not to be confused with D&D's Astral Plane or with the Upper Planes or with the Positive Energy Plane), and Abyssal (a plane of ultimate evil and negative magic, not to be confused with D&D's Abyss or with the Lower Planes or Negative Energy Plane). Altogether, these planes comprise a system for accommodating parallel worlds, time travel, the elements, and philosophical planes in the same nine-dimensional system. It's a little different from how TSR would do it, and I think it's a little unnecessarily complex and jargon-heavy, but it does the same basic thing.
I suppose there are a number of ways that the Great Wheel could have been built. Maybe the "Gord Cosmology" could be taken to be the Greyhawk interpretation of the Great Wheel (to go with what 3e FRCS and 3e DLCS did). :shock: ;) :)
ripvanwormer wrote:About the alleged Gord reference in Nightwatch: I'm going off of ten-year-old memories, here, and I may be wrong. It's possible that I was thinking that the old seer, the Cat, was a reference to Gord, but rereading it I think it clearly isn't.
Maybe Robin Wayne Bailey sneaked in some details (even if it wasn't Gord). Is Robin still on the scene? Maybe we could ask. :)

But even if the Cat is not Blackcat. Garett Starlen and Gord can still be interacting with each other in our minds (or on our gaming tables).
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:33 am

TSR sued GDW over Dangerous Journeys, and Mayfair over RoleAids, but to my knowlege they never sued New Infinities.

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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by JasonZavoda » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:46 am

ripvanwormer wrote:TSR sued GDW over Dangerous Journeys, and Mayfair over RoleAids, but to my knowlege they never sued New Infinities.
I thought that Saga of Old City was reprinted by Paizo? (Which was one of the TSR novels by Gygax from when Gygax was still involved with TSR).

As for 'Greyhawk' novels.

There are just the two by Gygax from TSR.

Saga of Old City
Artifact of Evil

The story continues published by New Infinities
Sea of Death (My favorite of all the novels)

City of Hawks - Seems to retell the Saga of Old City story but with major changes.
Night Arrant - is a collection of short stories

The last two novels start dealing with very high level character, demons, devils and demi-gods

Dance of Demons
Come Endless Darkness

The other novels set in Greyhawk just don't feel like any Greyhawk campaign I want to bother with.

Rose Estes 4 Greyhawk novels were very bad.

There is one novel set about 100 years after the folio or boxed sets date, that just seems like a generic fantasy novel.

There were several novel adaptions of famous modules, of these Against the Giants was the worst since the author had no idea how D&D magic worked (of any edition) and just made up a bizarre system of their own. The other novels, if I remember correctly, were tongue-in-cheek stories which just didn't seem actually related to any of the various Greyhawk settings other than using elements from some of the modules.

At this point I just stick with Gygax's fictionalized work on the setting whether from TSR or New Infinities, but just for reference work. These are great books for setting information and atmosphere, but I've grown to dislike the Gord character, which is a damn shame.

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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:45 pm

JasonZavoda wrote:
ripvanwormer wrote:TSR sued GDW over Dangerous Journeys, and Mayfair over RoleAids, but to my knowlege they never sued New Infinities.
I thought that Saga of Old City was reprinted by Paizo? (Which was one of the TSR novels by Gygax from when Gygax was still involved with TSR).
I believe Troll Lord Games owns the rights now and were the ones who reprinted Saga of Old City recently, though I'd have to double check.
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by rol-oeste » Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:30 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
JasonZavoda wrote:
ripvanwormer wrote:TSR sued GDW over Dangerous Journeys, and Mayfair over RoleAids, but to my knowlege they never sued New Infinities.
I thought that Saga of Old City was reprinted by Paizo? (Which was one of the TSR novels by Gygax from when Gygax was still involved with TSR).
I believe Troll Lord Games owns the rights now and were the ones who reprinted Saga of Old City recently, though I'd have to double check.
In 2008 was the last reprint, i think.
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Raymond » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:22 pm

If your looking for Greyhawk settings to add to your campaign, you might want to check out this compilation:

http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/greyhawk.html

I like the documentation of each stair in Gravestone's Headquarters.

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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:53 pm

That is a good link; I'd nearly forgotten about that page.

Also, on another note- I absolutely loved EGG's notes in the back of Saga of Old City about his Greyhawk and campaign. It has some really cool things like giving stats for Gord and his friends; his breakdown of Greyhawk's economics, etc. The notes in the back of Artifact of Evil weren't as good- I'm not even sure if there were any, sadly.
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Big Mac » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:28 pm

Raymond wrote:If your looking for Greyhawk settings to add to your campaign, you might want to check out this compilation:

http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/greyhawk.html

I like the documentation of each stair in Gravestone's Headquarters.
Wow. Those extraplanar stairs are pretty weird.

I wonder if they could be accessed any other way, like via the Great Wheel cosmology. :?
Cthulhudrew wrote:Also, on another note- I absolutely loved EGG's notes in the back of Saga of Old City about his Greyhawk and campaign. It has some really cool things like giving stats for Gord and his friends; his breakdown of Greyhawk's economics, etc. The notes in the back of Artifact of Evil weren't as good- I'm not even sure if there were any, sadly.
I recently bought a copy of Artifact of Evil, but have not read it yet. I took the risk of flipping to the back of the book* and there isn't an appendix there.

* = Not easy to do without reading something, but I had one eye shut. ;)
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Re: [novels] "Gordhawk" vs Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:29 am

Big Mac wrote:I recently bought a copy of Artifact of Evil, but have not read it yet. I took the risk of flipping to the back of the book* and there isn't an appendix there.
Ah. Been a while since I've read it (although I've read them both so many times, you think I'd remember.) Could be why I didn't find them as good as the appendix in Saga of Old City, though. :oops:
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