I have a real love-hate relationship with Greyhawk. On the one hand, Supplement I introduces lots of things that I like a great deal or that I strongly associate with D&D, but it also introduces lots of things I don't like and that I think, taken as a whole, narrow the possibilities of the game rather than expand them. For once, I'm not thinking of the Thief class (my opinion of which is in a state of flux at the moment, but more on that later). No, instead, I'm thinking about dragons.
One of the oddities of the old days was that, in a game called Dungeons & Dragons, dragons were actually very rarely encountered. I know I rarely use them in my games and I don't ever recall encountering other referees who used them much either. Of the old school modules I have a strong memory of, I recall dragons only in Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and Queen of the Demonweb Pit, although I am sure they did appear in other adventures I'm just forgetting. True or false, the impression even at TSR was that dragons had been under-used in published material, hence the need to emphasize them further.
Prior to the release of Greyhawk, dragons came in only six varieties: white, black, green, blue, red, and golden. Of these varities, only golden dragons were non-Chaotic. Supplement I filled out the ranks of the Lawful dragons, for the first time grouped the Chaotic dragons under the name "chromatic dragons," and introduced us to the King of Lawful Dragons and the Queen of Chaotic Dragons. While I'm actually a big fan of the full Gygaxian schema for dragons, I don't think this schema did anything to make dragons more attractive to use as opponents. If anything, they probably made them less so, because they helped lay the groundwork for the now nearly-universal belief that dragons ought to be "special" in some way. That is, they're not just ordinary monsters you encounter in a dungeon and kill because they're probably asleep on a big pile of loot.
Dragons are now seen as "story monsters" and, as such, can't be encountered without a good -- and probably lengthy -- understanding of who they are and what they want. Please make no mistake: I don't think this is a bad thing in and of itself. One of the tenets of Gygaxian naturalism is that monsters do have lives and interests outside of being killed by whatever adventurers who happen to stumble upon them. Where the problem sets in is when a monster's having a life and interests of its own prevents its being used effectively in play, because the referee starts to think the monster in question is "too good" to be a mere opponent. Dragons aren't the only monsters that suffer from this problem -- demons and devils do too -- but dragons are such iconic creatures that it bugs me all the more to see them placed on a pedestal and thus exempted from the slaughter due all such beasts.
I suppose I shouldn't lay all the blame with Greyhawk. Like everything associated with OD&D, it's just a collection of options that one can take or reject as one wishes. Unfortunately, the schema it presents, complete with draconic rulers at the top of it all, was so powerfully suggestive that it took hold over many people's imaginations, my own included. Dragons very quickly ceased to be ravenous, scheming beasts but members of a larger "society," one that inevitably was seen as ancient, wise, and potent beyond the ken of mere mortals. That's the image that's stuck and I don't have anything against it; it's just not the one I favor these days. I've lately been in the mood for dragons who are more solitary and bestial, the slaying of which, at least for smaller versions, isn't necessarily unheard of or the stuff of legends. In short, I'd like my dungeons to have dragons in them again.