Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, Greyhawk, Ray Winninger

Make Greyhawk in Your Own Image. Gary Said So.

In the fall of 1979 Gary Gygax gave an interview with White Dwarf magazine before the publication of Greyhawk Boxed set that came out in 1983 in which he described the way the world would be presented:

[White Dwarf] . . . We understand that your own game-world of Greyhawk is to be published on which the Modules are to sited. What will this consist of?

[Gary Gygax] . . . THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK will be released this summer, if all goes well. The package will consist of two large colour maps and a “Gazeteer” of the world. The history is given briefly, and most states are only outlined generally so as to allow as much personal input as possible from DMs who decide to acquire and use it . . .”

White dwarf magazine Staff, 1979

The world of Greyhawk, unlike the Forgotten Realms, has been purposely designed to allow for each Dungeon Master (DM) who decides to run a game there to adjust it as much as they like for their personal campaigns. This is an aspect of the setting that often gets forgotten about when it’s being discussed today as often we’re conditioned by the marketplace to believe that there is a single, solitary version of the setting that is the ‘real’ version and all others are pale reflections of the world.

I’m as guilty as anyone of this over the years as I’ve spent hours reading through forums trying to parse out Gary’s true vision for the setting when that was never what he wanted us to do to begin with. He wanted us to make the world our own. We’re supposed to manipulate it, to bend it, to break it. We’re supposed to make it into something special that our players talk about fondly and dream of exploring again, and again. It’s high time we embrace an understanding of the game that we’ve lost.

. . . The Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide aren’t full of rules in the conventional sense – they’re more like suggestions. AD&D players are expected to take these suggestions and use them to create their own games ideally suited to their own tastes . . . As a result, each AD&D session can be a unique and rewarding experience. It’s isn’t just a game; it’s an educational experience, a social event, and an outlet for creative energy. Because there are no absolute rules to fall back on, however, the AD&D game is only as much fun as the players can make it . . .”

Winninger, 1999

We’ve forgotten to take full ownership of our games, and of our hobby, far too often in recent years. So let’s stop that and go back to doing the fun stuff. Let’s get to modifying and breaking worlds. Let’s bring in laser guns, tanks, and earth shattering monsters. Let’s blow up the worlds we’re supposed to play in and do everything our way.

Let’s get back to having fun.

Works Cited:

Staff. “White Dwarf Interviews Gary Gygax.” White Dwarf. August, 1979. pp 24

Winninger, Ray. “Dungeoncraft.” Dragon Magazine. January, 1999. pp 18


3 thoughts on “Make Greyhawk in Your Own Image. Gary Said So.”

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