Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Importance of Evil

I think I agree about the ‘creation by evil’. But you are more free with the word ‘creation’ than I am. Treebeard does not say that the Dark Lord ‘created’ Trolls and Orcs. He says he ‘made’ them in counterfeit of certain creatures pre-existing. There is, to me, a wide gulf between the two statements, so wide that Treebeard’s statement could (in my world) have possibly been true. It is not true actually of the Orcs – who are fundamentally a race of ‘rational incarnate’ creatures, though horribly corrupted, if no more so than many Men to be met today. — J.R.R. Tolkien Letter No. 153
Implied in this quote about orcs is a cultural critique of modern man divorced from God. The “rational incarnate” creature is one that has replaced God with reason, and having done so has rid the world of Good and Evil. Fundamentally, this is why I have a real problem with WotC and its new approach to orcs.

Evil, like cold, is an absence of something. In the case of cold, it is an absence of heat. In the case of evil, it is the absence of good. In a Biblical context, God is the source of all goodness, because Christ Himself tells us:
“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” —Mark 10:18 
Thus, when humanity elevates rationality to the point that it thinks God is no longer necessary, a biblical critique would argue that the society built on that foundation is evil. From a practical point of view, good and evil cease to make any sense.

To go back to the heat/cold analogy, imagine that we have lived our entire lives near the arctic circle and have never seen a world without ice and snow. In such circumstances, it is impossible to describe what it might be like to live in the Sahara, because we have never experienced that kind of dry heat in our lives. In the same way, if we live a life without good, we have no reference with which to understand evil.

The consequence of such a world-view is catastrophic on many levels. The first half of the 20th century saw the rise of what Tolkien might call rational incarnate societies. They murdered others and their own in the tens of millions. Absence any concept of good, rationality justified mass murder. The level I am concerned with today, however, is in the realm of stories…specifically about how we construct them in context of an RPG.

The most universal and archetypal stories that have cultural significance and last through the ages are those that at some level pit good versus evil. In my lifetime, Star Wars played with these archetypes brilliantly. Homer, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, the Bhagavad Gita, King Arthur, Shakespeare, etc. all meditate on Good versus Evil. Good yarns have good characters who have complex and interesting motivations inspired by the classic conflict of good and evil.

In context of RPGs, especially classic versions of D&D, character motivation becomes a central feature of the game. Every player has to wrestle with why their character does what they do. Every player has to wrestle with what has the most value. This is particularly true when XP isn’t exclusively given for combat. In older versions of the game where 1xp=1gp, and a goblin was worth 5 xp, getting the 500gp treasure guarded by the goblins became an exercise in weighing values. In campaigns where 1xp=1gp spent, gaining a level became an exercise of literally putting your money where your mouth is, and then living with the consequences.

In this context, orcs are the personification of the absence of good. Whether physical manifestations of sin, spawn of the fallen world, or a humanity that has turned its back on God, orcs allow us to have a reference point for what is good. Without them, every character is an orc. They may look like a human, gnome, or elf, but without the reference point of evil, everyone may as well be an orc.

In a world where everything is an orc, good stories become impossible. Archetypes disappear, because the only character motivation left is selfishness. Without evil, why do anything? When selfishness is the motivation for everyone, everything become normative. Killing millions becomes rational.

Telling stories and playing RPGs become boring and pointless.

So, for me, having a world where orcs are evil is essential for not only understanding the game, but being able to actually play it.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Orcs of My Greyhawk Campaign

Given the fact that the etymology of the word orc includes such definitions as hell-devil, evil spirit, and underworld corpse (literally, the corpses of Orcus), I (unlike WotC) have no problem calling the orcs in my version of Greyhawk evil. In fact, I have always been attracted to the idea of using Gygax’s suggestions for orc and hobgoblin tribe names to represent various different types of orcs in one of my campaigns. Thus, I am going to take several human(oid) monsters and re-skin them (with a few minor adjustments) as different types of orcs.

For the sake of practicality, every orc tribe is primarily made up of orcs by-the-book:  HD 1; AC 6; Atk 1 by weapon; Move 9; Special: -1 penalty on attack rolls in sunlight. Also for practicality, all of the following variations of orc can be found in any tribe; however, these variations are more likely to be found in certain tribes, described below.

The Skull Smashers are a haven for the Swift Orcs, for which I am going to use the stats of a goblin but up the move from 9 to 12. Thus, they survive by outmaneuvering their bigger cousins and by gathering in large enough numbers.

The Rotting Eye Orcs have figured out a way to overcome their weakness in sunlight. Their strongest warriors are infected with a magical disease that rots out their eyes and increases the other senses. One of the side-effects of this process is a lust for violence that results in a battle-frenzy. Frenzied Orcs use the same stats as berserkers.

The Slow Killers get their name, not just from their talent for torture, but from the fact that they can take their time to move either at night or day because Dusk Orcs do not suffer from the sunlight penalty of normal orcs. The Dusk Orc uses the same stats as a gnoll.

The Flesh Renders get their name from the claw-like hands of Talon Orcs. Like Dusk Orcs, Talon Orcs have no penalty in sunlight; however, they prefer to engage in unarmed combat in order to take advantage of their claws. They use the same stats as an ogrillon.

The Death Moon Orcs have a reputation of being silent killers. This is due to their heavy use of Ghost Walker Orcs, who are surprisingly nimble and quiet on their feet. They use the same stats as bugbears.

The Dripping Blade Orcs are widely feared for their reliance on Rivener Orcs. These huge orcs are strong enough to cut normal troops in half with their large blades. Rivener Orcs use the same stats as ogres.

The Leprous Hand Orcs are notorious for their use of undead. This is made possible by their heavy use of Necromancer Orcs who are able to summon skeleton warriors to bolster the ranks of the Leprous Hand. Necromancer Orcs use the same stats as a Tusken Ogre; however, instead of Mirror Image, they are able to cast Monster Summoning I (skeletons only).

The Flayers are literally feared because they are led into battle by Flagellant Orcs, who use blood magic and self mutilation to cast the spell Fear. They use the same stats as a Tusken Ogre; however, instead of Mirror Image, they are able to cast the aforementioned Fear spell.

The most powerful orcs, the Priests of Orcus, are normally only found within the Vile Rune Orcs, who are fanatic followers of the Prince of the Undead. The Priests of Orcus use the same stats as an Ogre Mage; however, instead of having the ability to shape-shift, they have the ability to cast Monster Summoning II (zombies and skeletons only).

Finally, the Long Spears is a mercenary company made up of orcs, half-orcs, and humans. Normally, their leader types are half-orc and they instill a level of discipline in their troops that make them very dangerous on the battle field. Normal troops of the Long Spears use the same stats as hobgoblins, but also gain the Special Ability that as long as they fight in formation, any damage done to one is distributed among all the Long Spears in the formation. For example, if a PC is fighting four Long Spears in formation and does 8 damage, instead of one Long Spear taking all 8, each of the four in formation will take 2 damage each.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Gazetteer for My Greyhawk Campaign

Political Divisions

Current Leader: His Majesty King Pepin I of the House of Rax, Altmeister of All Aerdi
Major military and religious power. More concerned about eastern borders than the wilderness of the campaign map.
Notes: I changed the heraldry from suns to stars because I liked the look better than the original. I am assuming that this is the Crest of the House of Rax and a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Great Kingdom. This rivalry explains the relative disinterest the Kingdom has in the campaign map. I chose the name Pepin after Pepin the Short, founder of the Carolingian Dynasty which would go on to found the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne. I want the Kingdom to have that kind of vibe. 

City State of Scant
Current Leader: His Honorable Authority Mechert Szek of the Iron League
Major naval and economic power. Most influential human political entity on the campaign map.
Notes: I changed the heraldry from the knot to a cross in order to cement the major cultural difference between Civilization (represented by the Oerid, the Kingdom, and the Iron League) from the Wilderness (the rest of the map). The current seat of the Szek is in Scant, which has been relabeled as a City State. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of both sailors and merchants, so he will serve as a place holder as the Patron Saint of the Iron League until I come up with an analogue. 

Wild Coast

Disputed territory that no one bothers to control because it is resource poor. Widely known as a place of sanctuary, if a dangerous one.

Free City of Elredd
Current Leader: Mayor Morvia the Albino
A safe haven for ships trading with Highport. It is also a safe haven for pirates.

Free City of Fax
Current Leader: Mayor Rosgor the Old
While Fax does offer safe haven for most ships, it is out of the way for most trade routes; however, it is a primary destination for people who want to disappear from the rest of the world. Its residents know this and respect it.
Notes: I really like checkerboard patterns in heraldry. So, I decided that the checkerboard is to the Wild Coast as the Tricolor is to Europe. In other words, most things on the Wild Coast use a checkerboard to identify themselves, and the distinguishing feature is the difference in colors in the same way that Italy, France, Ireland, etc. all have the same flag except for the color scheme. 

Drackensgrab Peninsula (Formerly Pomarj)
Overrun by humanoid hordes. Once one of the richest areas on the campaign map. Among survivors, except for a few aristocrats in exile, this crest is not very popular. It is a reminder of past failure, death, and loss.
Notes: The hand is one of my favorite heraldic devices. Thus, I look the creative liberty to include it on my map as the symbol for The Pomarj. It is also a nod to the fact that one of the major orc tribes in Drackensgrab is called the Leprous Hand. The cross on the gauntlet is the Cross of St. Cuthbert.

The arid hills east of the Bright Desert are controlled by nomadic, wild, and warlike tribesmen. They don’t much care for interaction with outsiders.
Notes: The crest is representative of the kinds of symbols used by various tribes. I want them to have a Pictish feel about them — they are covered from head to foot in patterned tattoos.

Bodies of Water

Azur Sea

A major seaway for commerce and piracy.

Sea of Gearnat

Major storms during Spring and Fall make this a dangerous place to sail, but it is a major artery for trade, especially as the access point to the Nesser River. Raiders from the Wild Coast and the Drackensgrab Peninsula frequent these waters during the high trade months of Summer.

Woolly Bay

The original name for this body of water has been long forgotten. These waters are often foggy and telling friendly ship from foe is often difficult, thus sailors often feel as if they are woolly-headed as they sail the bay. Despite this, it is a major waterway because of the trade possibilities north of the campaign map.

Duntide River

Flows southward into the Gnatmarsh where it connects with the Nesser River.

Jewel River

About 150 miles of this winding river is navigable by large craft starting where it empties into the Azure Sea. Large sections are under control of the humanoids of the Dracuhengrab Peninsula.

Nesser River

This wide and deep river can be navigated by most seafaring ships with the right navigator. Thus, despite its relative remote location, is still a major waterway. River raiders are a constant problem.

Geographic Features


Rich in valuable minerals, these hills are arid, rough, and difficult to navigate. They are also home to hostile tribesmen that are not welcoming to outsiders.

Bright Desert

Rumored to be filled with riches and to be the location of a hidden city built by the ancient Suel, its harsh climate and native nomads turn away would-be explorers.

Celadon Forest

The southern tip of this forest is on the campaign map. It is an other-worldly place of sylvan elves and treants. Locals dare not cut trees down and only hunt with permission.

Dracuhengrab Hills

Rich in valuable minerals and the home of many terrible monsters. There are legends of a hidden resting place of one or more powerful creatures who are waiting to awaken.


These treacherous wetlands and bogs are home to a myriad of ghastly creatures and spawn clouds of biting insects in the summer months.

The Headlands

These form the central spine of the Onnwal Peninsula and form cliffs along the Azure Sea. Home to both dwarves and gnomes.
Note: Despite my dislike of the name, I decided to keep Onnwal as a name for the geographic area if not the country.

Suss Forest

A dreary, hateful place full of thorn trees, brambles and thickets. Filled with an oppressive evil atmosphere. Home to all kinds of orcs. It is used at a staging area for raids on the Wild Coast. There is a rumor that there is a lost, ruined city hidden within, but few have ever dared to try and find it.


Trees here grow to unnatural sizes, with many towering to more than 100 feet. It is the home of hardy woodsman, elves, hunters, and adventurers.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Beginnings (My Greyhawk Campaign)

Now that I have established the map I am going to work with, it is time for me to take my own advice and read through the relevant parts of The World of Greyhawk, note what inspires me,  ignore the rest, and make changes where needed. In other words, if you are a Greyhawk purist, this series of posts is not going to be your cup of tea.

First, lets go over the things I like:

  • Three of the four main human peoples can be found on the map. The Oerid are well represented in the Kingdom of Nyrond and in Onwall. The Suel can be found on the Wild Coast and it can be assumed were the people that populated The Pomarj before the humanoid invasions. Finally, it is suggested in the text that the Wildmen found in the southern part of the Albor Alz are Flan.
  • It is implied that the current King of Nyrond is a member of the House of Rax and the rightful heir to the thrown of the Great Kingdom. The usuper and demon-infested House of Naelax currently controls the throne of the Great Kingdom.
  • The leader of Onwall is called a Szek, which is a Hungarian word for seat or chair — as in Chairman of the Board.
  • Onwall is part of an alliance called the Iron League.
  • Pomarj was overrun 63 years ago.
  • While demi-humans are mentioned in passing, they are portrayed as largely uninterested in human affairs. One possible exception may be the dwarves and gnomes of Onwall. Another is that Nyrond has demi-human troops, but they are explicitly called "scouts" and are only used in times of need.
  • There are two lost/hidden cities on the map. One is in the Suss Forest and the other is in the Bright Desert. Both appear to be built by the Suel.
  • The Wild Coast is largely ignored because it is resource poor.
  • Pirates are major factors in every single major body of water.
  • The Caledon Forest is a no-go zone for non-elves.
  • The Gnatmarsh is filled with “ghastly” creatures.
  • The Drachensgrab Hills are supposedly the home of one or more very powerful creatures that are waiting to be awakened.
  • There are several knightly orders throughout the land (though none are directly related to any place on my map).
  • Finally, I realize that they aren’t explicitly on the map, but I love the idea of the Scarlet Brotherhood.

Now, to things I will specifically change:

  • I realize that this technically isn’t a change, since there really is no real information about religion in the first edition of WoG, but given the history of the campaign setting and the game itself, it still feels like one. St. Cuthbert is the same saint that exists in our history. He was transported to WoG and introduced people to the God of St. Cuthbert. Colloquially, people tend to call Christians followers of St. Cuthbert and leave off “’s God.” As the Point of Light on the map, the Kingdom of Nyrond is the main political entity that champions St. Cuthbert’s God. Given the fact that the Iron League sees the Great Kingdom as their enemy, and that they share a common culture with Nyrond (Oeridian), The Iron League is heavily influenced by St. Cuthbert and his God, if not outright followers. This allows me to add some fuel to the fire of a cultural clash between the Oerid and the Suel and Flan by having the latter be primarily Old Believers.
  • Nyrond will simply be referred to as The Kingdom. It is the only kingdom on the map and it serves the polemic purpose of dismissing the claim of the House of Naelax as the leaders of the Great Kingdom.
  • I don’t particularly like the name Onwall, but I love the name Iron League. So, Onwall will simply be the Iron League, which rather than a group of nations is a group of City States (with some tacit support of the dwarves and gnomes of the Headlands).
  • I want to play up the naval prowess and power of the Iron League. Given that their leader is a “Chair” suggests that their organizing principle is far more interested in economic power than political power. Given the constant pirate problem in the area, it would make sense that the Iron League would take matters into their own hands and protect their business interests. As such, they may be far more influential in the area than the Kingdom, especially at a practical level.
  • The name “The Pomarj” doesn’t refer to the geographical area that contains the Drachensgrab Hills. Rather, it is an old Suel word meaning city state. It specifically referred to twelve City States that used to exist on the peninsula. The geographic area is called the Drachensgrab Peninsula or simply Drachensgrab.
  • The Pomarj were some of the first Suel to officially adopt Christianity, though many Suel remained Old Believers. The leaders converted (some for political reasons), but not necessarily the people.
  • The Scarlet Brotherhood came into existence after the fall of The Pomarj. It was started by Old Believer survivors of the Pomarj who blamed the destruction of their homes on Christianity and the failure of other Christian nations to come to their aid. Thus, they seek revenge and they seek to found a great Suloise Empire that will bring the Christian nations to their knees. To achieve this, they are willing to use any strategy or tactic no matter how vile.
  • The great magics that brought about the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire are long forgotten; however, it is rumored that some powerful artifacts from that period were in the possession of the Suel when the Suloise migrations began. Not coincidentally, the Suel are more natural arcane spell casters than either the Oerid or the Flan.
  • There are going to be two knightly orders that have a presence on the map: the Order of the White Hart (a play on the Order of the Hart in WoG) and the Order of the Red Rose (a play on one of the later developments in the WoG version of St. Cuthbert). The Order of the White Hart is based off of the hagiography of St. Eustathios (who will go by St. Sylfaen in my version of WoG) who had an encounter with Christ while hunting a deer and St. Gobnait who went on a quest to find nine white deer. The Order of the Red Rose is dedicated to the Mother of God because the rose is often associated with her.
  • I plan on re-skinning various humanoids as orcs so that I can use them almost exclusively as my humanoid baddies. I have always wanted to run a campaign where Gygax’s suggested names for orc tribes gets used. As a consequence, all of the various tribes that now occupy Drachensgrab are all orcs: The Death Moon Tribe, The Dripping Blades Tribe, The Grinning Skull Tribe, The Leprous Hand Tribe, and The Long Spears,
  • For the purposes of placing the A-series onto the map, the most important orc “tribe” is going to be the Long Spears. They are actually going to be a mercenary company consisting mostly of half-orcs (at least in the leadership) that have been hired by merchants of the Iron League (through the suggestion of agents of the Scarlett Brotherhood) to take control of Highport. They maintain a neutral port that does business with human and orc alike. While they will turn a blind eye to the slave trade if it is out of sight, the Long Spears make sure the city has the appearance of being above board. This justifies why the Slave Pits of A1 are hidden and not out in the open.
  • I plan on re-working the heraldry of the area so that it suits my proclivities (that’ll be another post).
  • Finally, I plan on incentivizing players to play humans. I want this to be a human-centric campaign where elves, dwarves, etc. are alien cultures that might interact with the human world out of curiosity, but rarely do anything to influence it.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

My Greyhawk Campaign

As someone who tries to practice what he preaches, I have started working on making The World of Greyhawk into a sandbox campaign that I would actually like to run.

A little history is needed here: Greyhawk was never really part of my D&D experience. I never ran it. I never played in it. Modules explicitly set in the Greyhawk world were stand-alone adventures or ported over to another gaming world. Most campaigns I have run have either existed within worlds I created from scratch or from one of the many Judges Guild products I have used throughout the years. As a player, in the pre-3e era, every campaign was a home-brew. When I finally did play 3.5/Pathfinder my DM used Paizo’s Golarian almost exclusively.

By the time I had an interest in doing something related to Greyhawk, it had developed such a large canon that I felt overwhelmed at the idea of ever running a campaign there. Then I got a .pdf of the first edition of The World of Greyhawk. At a mere 32 pages, it is far more akin to something Judges Guild produced back in the day. In other words, there is enough information to get you started, but it leaves a whole lot of room for you to make the world your own. It is actually really inspiring.

Know also that I have had a long time love/hate relationship with the A-series of modules (Against the Slave Lords). I own the hard cover reprint that includes A0 and have long wanted to make them work. The one time I did run them as a campaign was both a blast and a complete disaster. I would love to have them on the map of a sandbox to allow them to organically happen within context of a good campaign.

The first thing that I need to do in order to make this work for me is to radically narrow the scope of The World of Greyhawk to a map that can easily fit on a single sheet of 8.5 x 11. Given the fact that A0 is set on the shore of the Sea of Gearnat in the Kingdom of Nyrond and that the other modules in the A-series all take place in The Pomarj, here is the map I came up with:

What I really like about this map is that except for a few hexes on the east side of the map, virtually everything is Wilderness. I am actually excited about this . . .

Friday, July 17, 2020

An Open Letter to WotC

Dear WotC,

Since you have felt the need to apologize for ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that may or may not exist within your legacy products, might I suggest the following statement rather than the one that appears on DTRPG and DM's Guild. It will not only protect you and those who play the game, but promote an ethos that has existed since the very beginning of this hobby and that has welcomed players from all walks of life:
Seeing that Dungeons & Dragons has been in publication since 1974, we are acutely aware that there are a variety of things contained within legacy products that some might find offensive. From the beginning, Dungeons & Dragons has entertained millions of people around the world, regardless of edition, adventure module, or campaign setting. Since 1974, and especially since WotC released the OGL in 2000, the game has invited players to change what they don’t like about the game. We at WotC firmly stand with players from all walks of life and encourage everyone to play the game the way that brings them the most joy.
If you insist on warning people about content that may or may not exist in your legacy publications, I believe the above is a better representation of the game and the people who play it.

In contrast, the warning label currently placed above legacy products utterly fails to do both. Until such time that your current statement is removed or changed to better represent the game and the people who play it, I will not be purchasing any of your products and I will actively encourage others to do the same.



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Following up on the Unsavory Past

It seems that my last post has caused some confusion. There are those that don’t quite grasp why I take issue with the weak and subjective language used by WotC in regards to their legacy products:
Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.
This leaves a tremendous amount of room for interpretation, which might very well be the intent. “There is nothing here in The World of Greyhawk that suggests anything wrong, therefore I can ignore it,” is what some seem to say, and what I believe WotC is hoping we say.

As I stated in my last post, I am a trained historian. As a consequence, I tend to see patterns in behaviors and the pattern of behavior I see in the weak and subjective language used by WotC is not a pretty one. I could simply go to the first half of the 20th century to illustrate my point, but I think it will be much more useful tell a story from the 4th century.

There was a charismatic priest in the city of Alexandria (Egypt) by the name of Arius who started to preach that there was a time when the Son was not. He and his followers represented an existential crisis for the early Church. Known today as Arianism, the theology espoused by Arius was biblical, trinitarian, and philosophically sound. Their view of God, however, absolutely destroyed the soteriology of the Church.

As a consequence, the First Ecumenical Council was convened. Their ultimate goal was to clearly define what was Orthodox and what was Arian. In the end, they created what is today known as the Nicene Creed. In process, they made a very controversial move by using the word ὁμοούσιος — a word that is not anywhere in Scripture.

The reason they used ὁμοούσιος and not a word found in Scripture was that every time a word from Scripture was used, both Arians and Orthodox could say the same words and mean two very different things. By choosing the word ὁμοούσιος, they made it impossible for there to be any misunderstanding. Everyone had to choose: are you Orthodox or are you Arian? Without this choice, human freedom and our clear understanding of who God and what His salvation is was in serious jeopardy.

In our present, words have been weaponized. People can and have lost their reputations, their jobs, and their livelihoods over the use of mere words. Yet, most of these words are ill-defined and largely subjective. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with how quickly the meaning of words can change.

In such an environment, clarity is needed. We very much need to follow in the footsteps of the First Ecumenical Council. In order to understand each other, to talk with each other, to accomplish anything positive we need to define terms. Nothing gets done when people have different definitions of words. This reality can only lead to chaos.

Indeed, the very reason people have been able to weaponize words is due to the fact that their definitions are fluid and subjective.

Thus, rather than placing our small community on a solid foundation to move through and beyond the chaos of the moment, WotC has empowered chaos and those who wish to weaponize language.

The very fact that WotC has used such weak and subjective language has made everyone who ever played this game a potential target. Anything and everything that has ever been published for this game now officially may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice. In other words, literally anything from the legacy products of WotC can be weaponized to declare any of us as bigots that were wrong then and wrong today. It doesn’t matter that you and I understand that Gary Gygax did not intend his game to promote prejudice. Because WotC has admitted that such prejudice exists (why else would they need to make such a statement if their weren’t), anything and everything can, and probably will, be weaponized.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Unsavory Past

As someone who originally went to school to become an historian, I have learned over the years that human nature is the same no matter the location or the time. As a consequence, every people, in every place and every time, are capable of soiling the image of God and are capable of revealing the image of God. Good and evil emerge from each of us every single day. Everyone sins.

The first time this was driven home to me was when I read Thucycides and his History of the Peloponnesian War. At the time, the Cold War was still raging and I was shocked at how similar the opening chapter was to the behaviors of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Indeed, had I read a transcript of Thucydides where the names of places were swapped out for the U.S., the Soviet Union and their satellite states I would have been hard pressed to tell the difference.

It should be no surprise, then, that I am not fond of the recent disclaimer by Wizards of the Coast on their legacy publications. When we make blanket condemnations about entire histories and peoples, we condemn both the good with the bad.

For example, I recently was going through the first two editions of The World of Greyhawk because I am contemplating how I would set up a sandbox campaign using the original material found therein. I happened across this statement by Gygax about the fantasy races that inhabit his world:

In general, the skin color of an individual is of no particular importance.

Since we have been informed that legacy products, and The World of Greyhawk specifically:

…may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time

and that

These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today

Wizards of the Coast have opened the door to declaring that the racists position of judging someone exclusively by the color of their skin is proper and correct. Is that really what you wanted to say WotC?

As a serious aside, for those unfamiliar with the history of the Soviet Union, they played fast and loose with history, bending it to their will in order to justify the starvation and murder of millions of their own citizens.

The path taken by Wizards of the Coast will end up having us consuming ourselves.

BTW, this nonsense was announced just as I was contemplating getting the 1st edition of Greyhawk in POD. I won't be buying that or anything from WotC anytime soon.