Monday, March 18, 2013

Welcome to Hyborean Greyhawk!

I’ve been on an Astonishing Swordsmen &Sorcerers of Hyperborea kick ever since I picked it up during RPGNow’s GM Week Sale (Brought to my attention by +Erik Tenkar). It first caught my eye at the unveiling of the Gygax magazine at the Brooklyn Strategist, and hasn’t really left. It didn’t help that my wife found a dirt cheap copy of the Mongoose Conan RPG at a thrift store for dirt cheap. So, I’ve got AS&SH now and I’ve been reading it for about the last two weeks and I really, really dig it. It’s basically D&D houseruled the way I want it to be. That means it edges out Adventures Dark & Deep and Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox thanks to the minimal fiddling I’d have to do with it. Basically, anything I want to do with it is setting and fluff, not system.

So what do I want to do with it? Two words:

Hyborean Greyhawk.

I’ve made no secret of my love for Greyhawk. It’s pretty much what I look for and love in a D&D trope setting. The Old World of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, particularly the first edition version, has a pretty high place in my heart, but it still doesn’t compete with that original D&D setting. I’ve tried Forgotten Realms (and only really enjoy the Grey Box version, from the Avatar Crisis on, it just got too cartoony for me), Dragonlance, Ravenloft, and even third-party settings like the Judge’s Guild Wilderlands or Glorantha, but none of them ever really resonated the way Greyhawk did.

I probably never would have considered reconciling Greyhawk and a Hyborean style D&D game but for +Chris Kutalik's post on the Hill Cantons describing the “HowlingEmptiness of the World of Greyhawk.” While +Joseph Bloch (one of my go-to guys for all things Greyhawk as well as the author of the excellent Adventures Dark & Deep) disagreeswith Chris’s assessment, I did find the article “Population and Power Scales inGreyhawk” on Canonfire, which backs up Chris’s ideas and provides a neat map as an example of how it would look.

So, I decided to make Hyborean Greyhawk my new project. This blog will serve as the notebook of that project, which may or may not culminate in something downloadable.


  1. Your introductory article struck a chord and I hope to see more as time goes by. I have recently kicked off a Greyhawk campaign using Mongoose's Legend system. Not a Sword & Sorcery campaign but would love to run one in the future.

    Good luck with the project.


  2. Hail, fellow adventurer of Hyperborea (or, Hyborea) ;)

    Very nice blog you got here. I can't wait to see how your Hyborean Greyhawk develops. Greyhawk holds a very dear place in my heart as well, but I just couldn't seem get into the right mode to combine the two realms. Maybe because AS&SH grabbed me so strongly and I want to give it a bit of a run on its own.

    Not that I can't imagine Hyperborea ripped from Oerth's northern area leaving a gaping hole above the Lands of the Black Ice. Hm, or maybe that's why it's black afterall?

    Whereas travellers from the Flanaess are possible, were you planning on digging Greyhawk's talons in further? Such as: elves, halflings, gnomes, etc. and their cultures instead of the Hyperboreans and races of humanity alone? Are the Ixians actually more Suloise survivors?

    Best of luck!

  3. I've been tinkering with a more human-centric GH for a couple years. It never occurred to me to AS&SoH, but I find that an intriguing possibility.

    I had planned on leaving a large portion of the demi-humans in place, but changing them considerably. For example, all elves would be weird, malicious, xenophobic creatures much more akin to the elves in Poul Anderson's "The Broken Sword". Several large forests would simply be off limits for humans.

    Dwarves would be similar, but much less malicious, and dealing with humans in all things mineral (gems, gold, iron ore). Essentially, the dwarves would own the mountain ranges and would extort humans for all they could by selling them ore, gold, etc... at inflated prices.

    Gnomes would be similar to how they are in GH already but reclusive, and halflings would pretty much not exist (I'd just replace halflings with humans where needed.)

    I wouldn't need to really stat out the demi-humans, as I intend this to be a human-only campaign. The bottom line would be if you messed with them, you were basically dead meat, and meddling in the affairs of the demi-humans just isn't done.

    Well anyway, good luck with your endeavor, Dennis.

  4. I will be following this project with great interest since I too thought that it would be great to mash-up my all time favourite setting of Greyhawk with the flavour of AS&SoH.

  5. Sounds like a fun endeavor, Dennis, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about your game :D