Greyhawk, Greyhawk Wars Research, The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set

Let’s Read The City of Greyhawk, Part 2: Climate

The text states:

The city is not subject to the extremes of the weather across the Flanaess. This fact is important to the poorer denizens of the Slum Quarter, who often must sleep without a roof over their heads . . .”

Niles, 3

This seems to imply that the City of Greyhawk is home to a mild and somewhat comfortable environment year round. However, we’re then given the following facts:

  • for 10 – 16 weeks a year the temperature at night regularly dips below freezing.
  • some nights by as much as 20 degrees below freezing
  • there is a 25% of rain every day for a 1/2 of accumulation

The image of a year-long, mild, comfortable climate is dispelled.

Understanding the climate of the world of Greyhawk is often a difficult task. In the World of Greyhawk boxed set it was noted that:

The Flanaess is particularly blessed in regard to its weather. Except in the northern latitudes, the winter temperatures seldom dip below freezing except during the two winter months, and at night during early spring and late autumn. In the depths of winter, there will be a few days when the temperature reaches 0, and then gradual warming begins. The northeast and central northern regions tend to be considerably colder, as the seas of those regions cause winter to linger about twice as long. An important exception to this is the Dramidj Ocean; its warm currents tend to moderate the climate of the lands which border it, to a degree similar to several latitudes further south . . .”

Gygax, 5

What makes things so difficult to understand is that none of the published maps I have seen have ever used longitude and latitude lines to delineate where in the world your characters actually are. We don’t really know where the continent Oerik (of which the Flanaess is a part) is located on the planet. So if you don’t know where the continent is in relation to the planet’s equator and prime meridian how can you determine what qualifies as the “northern latitudes?”

Like most players I make an arbitrary guess by vaguely gesticulating at the upper region of the map and calling it the “North,” but I sometimes wonder if we’re not looking at it wrong. What if the world is actually supposed to be viewed at an angle with the Flanaess jutting out in a northwesterly direction?

If we view the world under those circumstances where is the line where we cross into the harsh winters?

Would it be reasonable to mark the line as I have above? Or should we assume that it runs at a sharper angle? There are no good answers to these questions but they’re fun to ponder for a few moments.

Anyway, here are two charts you can use to determine rain in the City of Greyhawk.

Works Cited

Gygax, Gary. A Guide to the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting. TSR, Inc. 1983. pg 5

Niles, Douglas. Book 1: Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess A gazetteer of the Free City of Greyhawk and the surrounding area. TSR, Inc. 1989 pg 3


8 thoughts on “Let’s Read The City of Greyhawk, Part 2: Climate”

  1. I believe there are latitude lines in the Glossography. I remember northern Furyondy about equivalent to Iowa. Anna Meyer has done a lot of work on this.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wait, I just looked at the Glossography from the boxed set. Where are the longitude and latitude lines? There are numbers and letters but these are used to find locations on the map, not to denote longitude and latitude as best I can tell. Is there somewhere else that it shows?

        Did I look in the wrong place?


  2. What Yolande said.
    Tilting north toward the barbarian lands could help the Dramidj Ocean issue. It makes things very interesting to look at!. Although its easier just to say “magic” cause west to east you go from warm to glacier to icy sea. Darn that Gygax!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m pretty sure that the boxed set adopted the conventions of the “Weather in the World of Greyhawk” article, in which Greyhawk city was set at a latitude approximating Chicago on our Earth, with north being toward the top of the map. I don’t think anyone has dealt with the implications of what projection the Flanaess map might be using, though.


      1. Also check the full article in Dragon magazine #68, since the assumptions there affect the numbers in the abridged version of the article included in the boxed set.


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