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From the Ashes (2e)
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From the Ashes (2e)

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The dust has settled. The smoke has cleared. The war machines of Greyhawk's armies have ground to a halt.

In the aftermath of the great war, the people of Oerik piece together, some struggling to retain their homes, others pilgrimaging to the cities, searching for opportunities. And searching for answers.

Who is in power? Which borders still stand, and which have been dissolved? Can anyone be trusted, or have Scarlet Brotherhood agents infiltrated every inn and tavern?

The lands of Greyhawk are forever changed, but provide more opportunities than ever for adventure and danger. Characters of all levels will find challenges and intrigue lurking in every alley and behind every tree.

This boxed set includes three poster maps of the Greyhawk lands, five new monsters, twenty cardsheets, two 96-page booklets describing the recovering nations and the Powers of Greyhawk, and endless opportunities and adventure.

Product History

From the Ashes (1992), by Carl Sargent, is the boxed Greyhawk set that revamped the setting for a new generation of players. It was released in October 1992.

Catch the Wave! To date, Greyhawk has seen four major waves of releases. The first wave of Greyhawk publication displayed Gygax's vision of the setting, beginning with G1: "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" (1977). Following that, the second wave of Greyhawk publication was a less unified period after Gygax's departure from TSR, beginning with Greyhawk Adventures (1988).

The third major wave of Greyhawk publication once more offered a unified vision for the world, which was largely be the work of Carl Sargent. You could say it began with the two meta-plot adventures that led into the new era for the setting — WGS1: "Five Shall Be One" (1991) and WGS2: "Howl from the North" (1991). Roger E. Moore says it began with the board game Greyhawk Wars (1991), which fully moved Greyhawk into the new era. However, the definitive RPG publication for the new era was From the Ashes (1992).

Laying Out the Boxed Set. In the late '80s and early '90s, TSR's rule for box sets was that they should have two 96-page books, up to four poster maps, and a pile of cardboard sheets. From the Ashes generally matches these expectations.

Though it only has three maps, two of them are new versions of the maps by Darlene from the original World of Greyhawk (1980, 1984) boxes — which are generally some of the most lauded maps in fantasy roleplaying. The third map is a new "From the Ashes Campaign Map", which covers a more constrained adventuring area. The cardstock sheets are a hodgepodge of reference cards, adventures, and Monstrous Compendium entries.

Dark Fantasy Inspirations. The early World of Greyhawk lay somewhere between a Medieval realm — as seen in supplements like T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979) — and a gonzo fantasy world. However when Sargent remade the world in From the Ashes he also reached for a new inspiration: dark fantasy. In his new Greyhawk, evil had triumphed: Iuz ruled many lands, and the Scarlet Brotherhood was on the move.

TSR had occasionally played with dark fantasy previously, particularly in the Nehwon supplements that began with Lankhmar: City of Adventure (1985). However it was still a relatively unexplored genre for TSR, and so an interesting new direction for their original campaign world.

Love It or Hate It? The reviews for From the Ashes were mixed. Many old-time fans of the setting felt like it had been changed too much, particularly since metaplot hadn't seemed important to the setting prior to the third wave of Greyhawk development. On the flipside, the book also presented a more dynamic and adventurous world.

Mind you, the idea of evil advancing across Greyhawk originated with Gary Gygax himself, long before Carl Sargent came onto the scene. Way back in Dragon #56 (December 1981), Gygax revealed that Iuz was conquering new lands to the south, in conjunction with Elemental Evil forces. So, Sargent may have been following in Gygax's footsteps, both by giving Iuz a chance to (evilly) shine and by introducing metaplot to Greyhawk. Heck, Gygax might have done it himself if he hasn't been exiled to California shortly after a scant few metaplotty articles in 1981-1982.

Expanding Greyhawk. Prior to 1992, major campaign material for Greyhawk appeared mostly in the World of Greyhawk (1980, 1984) boxes, which provided a broad overview of the world. A few attempts had been made to detail more specific locales in The City of Greyhawk (1989) and WGR3: "Rary the Traitor" (1992) — the latter set after the Greyhawk Wars. However, Greyhawk was still a remarkably pristine world for development, despite 15 years of adventure publication.

From the Ashes expanded on this foundation without going too far afield. Its first book, "Atlas of the Flanaess", provided a broad overview of Greyhawk and its gods, similar to the original box. The big difference was that it was set in the From the Ashes era. The second book, "The Campaign Book", was a bit more expansive. Though it began with update of the City of Greyhawk, it also detailed many nearby lands such as Hardby, the Cairn Hills, the Gnarley Forest, and the Wild Coast. In doing so, it (for the first time ever) turned Greyhawk from an abstract set of countries into a large but constrained setting that could be used to actually run a roleplaying campaign.

Future History. From the Ashes led into a series of geographic setting books for Greyhawk, similar to those books that had been written for the Forgotten Realms and Mystara starting in 1987. Unfortunately, only three were ever published: WGR4: "The Marklands" (1993), WGR5: "Iuz the Evil" (1993), and WGR6: "The City of Skulls" (1993). A final book, "Ivid the Undying" (1995), was later released by TSR as a free text file.

About the Creators. Sargent had been actively freelancing for TSR since 1989, but the From the Ashes books were his magnum opus for the company. Afterward he would author a few final books before (literally) disappearing.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews
-
April 15th, 2014
I've always liked FTA simply because there is adventure here and bucket loads of it. Both books are crammed with adventure hooks, high intrigue, mystery and wonder. The post war Greyhawk setting is a dangerous place but is somewhere that adventurous so [...]
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November 1st, 2006
The essential boxed set for Greyhawk 2nd Edition, a gem of the Dungeons&Dragons history. It provides a lot of historical, geographical, racial, religious information covering Flanaess as well as the expanded lands around the Free City of Greyhawk [...]
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April 29th, 2005
2nd edition, bought for the maps which are not translated well.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br> [...]
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Product Information
Silver seller
Author(s)
Pages
286
Edition
1.0
ISBN
1-56076-341-8
Publisher Stock #
TSR 1064
File Size:
143.77 MB
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File Last Updated:
April 14, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on April 15, 2014.