From the mad Malachite throne in Rauxes to the bejeweled city of Chendl in Furyondy, the Flanaess is at war! In the east, Overking Ivid V thirsts for conquest. Vatun, Great God of the North, meanwhile unites the barbarians and Fists into a fearsome force. Not to be outdone, the dread Iuz masses humanoids and fiends in the northwest. And the Scarlet Brotherhood in the south hangs over all the Flanaess, pulling the strings of war like a mad puppeteer.
Take command of the armies yourself and change the dark course of history!
Between two and six players can battle, deciding the Flanaess's fate in diplomacy and war, and leading armies and heroes across two full-color maps. Muster your armies from over 300 counters, ranging from light infantry to dragons -- with your favorite demihumans and monsters as well! With over 150 cards, you can search for treasure or mercenaries and receive the gods' blessing (or curse) through special events. When the battles come--the times that try the souls of all--you'll want your armies backed with the wisdom contained in the 32-page history of the actual war. The set also includes an easy-to-read 8-page book of rules, with optional advanced rules for hard-core wargamers.
The Flanaess awaits an heroic deliverer--or an oppressive overlord! Which will you be?
Greyhawk Wars (1991), by David "Zeb" Cook, is a boxed board game that changes the face of Greyhawk. It was published in December 1991.
Origins: The End of a Trilogy. In 1991, TSR published the first two adventures in what they called an adventure trilogy, WGS1: "Five Shall Be One" (1991) and WGS2: "Howl from the North" (1991). By the end of the second adventure, the barbarians of northeastern Oerik were united under the leadership of Iuz, who was masquerading as their Great God Vatun.
Greyhawk Wars was originally advertised as the third supplement in that trilogy of adventures. It's been widely speculated that it was intended to be an adventure coded "WGS3" that would have let players take on dramatic roles during the Greyhawk Wars. TSR instead decided to publish a small, boxed board game of the Greyhawk Wars that lists the canon events of the Wars in a special "adventurer's book". Otherwise, it doesn't actually continue the trilogy — nor does it claim to do so.
Combining the Wars' official canon with a board game was a somewhat uncomfortable combination, since the official events of Greyhawk's history aren't necessarily the most likely results of the game. Nonetheless, some Greyhawk GMs recount that they used Greyhawk Wars to determine what happened in their own Greyhawk … showing how this sort of supplement can be great for personal campaigns, but less helpful when metaplot gets involved.
Metaplotting Around. By the early '90s, TSR was pushing metaplot in their Forgotten Realms setting with events like Avatar (1989) and Empires (1990), which advanced the setting's timeline while also making major changes to it. Though some notable Greyhawk events had occurred in WG8: Fate of Istus (1989) and the Falcon adventures (1990), the "WGS" series really marked the beginning of metaplot in the Greyhawk setting.
The "WGS" adventures started that metaplot by advancing the Greyhawk timeline to 582 CY. Otherwise, the supplements' metaplot events were pretty small, just depicting the beginnings of the Greyhawk Wars. The boxed Greyhawk Wars was the release that really updated and changed the setting — albeit in a very unusual format.
A Continuing History of TSR's Fantasy Games. TSR published fantasy board games throughout their history, but 1986 marked a major change when they published DL11: "Dragons of Glory" (1986), their first fantasy board game with connections to one of their roleplaying settings. TSR repeated this linkage a few times in the '80s, with a second Dragonlance (1988) board game and The Great Khan Game (1989), which purported to be set in the Realms — if you believe there really are Whamite Isles in the Sea of Fallen Stars.
However, Greyhawk Wars was more like the original "Dragons of Glory", with its tight link to roleplaying. By including crucial information on the background of the setting, these board games sold to roleplayers and board gamers alike and created some of the earliest multimedia crossovers for the D&D game.
Exploring Greyhawk. Greyhawk Wars</> advances Oerth's timeline from 582 CY to 584 CY. It describes the results of a massive series of wars; this information would later be synopsized in From the Ashes (1992), but Greyhawk Wars remains the best source on the events. The most notable developments were: the rise of Iuz to conquer several nearby countries; the unification of the Pomarj; and the revelation and rise of The Scarlet Brotherhood. The Great Kingdom tried to take advantage of the chaos to its own deficit, while many good-aligned kingdoms were weakened.
The overall result was a darkening of Greyhawk, creating a grittier setting that was more appropriate for the '90s, in which several mediums were darkened — from bloodthirsty superheroes at DC and Marvel to the beginning of the grimdark fantasy genre with series like Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy (1995-1997) and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire (1996-Present).
NPCs of Note. Greyhawk Wars highlights three major rulers and potential villains. The most important is the demigod Iuz. He was a classic Greyhawk foe who'd been increasing in importance since the "Falcon" adventures, and now took center stage. He would be the face of the darkened Greyhawk that followed the Greyhawk Wars. The Father of Obedience similarly represents the evil forces of The Scarlet Brotherhood, while Ivid V is the face of the Great Kingdom.
The use of four classic Greyhawk NPCs was far more controversial. At the end of the Greyhawk Wars, Circle of Eight member Rary assassinates two of his fellows, Otiluke and Tenser, then goes on the run with fellow conspirator Robilar. The killing of two classic characters and the darkening of two others was not well received — and is probably still the least loved part of the Wars metaplot.
Future History. The next few Greyhawk supplements were set in the immediate post-War period. From the Ashses would then advance the timeline to spring of 585 CY while providing a new foundation for Greyhawk gaming.
About the Creators. Cook was a long-time TSR employee who had recently designed the second edition of AD&D (1989). In 1991, he was also kicking off the new Dark Sun adventure line with DS1: "Freedom" (1991).
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 email@example.com.