Castle Greyhawk

This article is about the castle. For the module of the same name, see Castle Greyhawk (module).
The approach to Castle Greyhawk, as depicted on the cover of Greyhawk Ruins (1990). Art by Fred Fields.

Castle Greyhawk is one of the central dungeon settings in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. The Castle was originally developed by Gary Gygax for his own campaign and later detailed for publication. Castle Greyhawk is also the name of a 1988 Dungeons & Dragons adventure module that offered a tongue-in-cheek treatment of the Castle. In 2005, Gygax announced the release of Castle Zagyg, his new treatment of the dungeon.

Contents

Location

Castle Greyhawk lies north and slightly west of the Free City of Greyhawk, across the Selintan River. The Free City of Greyhawk is located centrally in the Flanaess, the eastern portion of the continent of Oerik, the greatest of Oerth's four continents.

History

Construction on the Castle began 320 CY, by the wizard Zagig Yragerne. Known as "The Mad Archmage," Zagig was elected Lord Mayor of Greyhawk approximately the same time, and ruled over the Free City from the Castle for approximately the next 100 years, after which he abandoned the Castle and mysteriously disappeared.

Over the centuries, the Castle's three towers decayed into ruin. The main tower is called the "Tower of Zagig," and the two lesser towers are known as the "War Tower" and the "Tower of Magic" (alternately the "Power Tower"). An extensive dungeon complex lies below the towers.

In the initial years after the Castle was abandoned, few if any adventurers approached the Castle because of rumors that it lay under a powerful curse. Eventually, a group of northern barbarians forayed into the area and pillaged a large amount of treasure. The story of their success attracted groups of dwarves, elves, and other adventurers to the area, and over time the Castle's dungeons became a major site for adventuring in the Flanaess. The influx of trade, travelers, and treasure associated with this phenomenon has provided significant economic benefits to the nearby City of Greyhawk.

An adventurer approaches Castle Greyhawk, as depicted in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (2007).

Sometime during this period Zagig reappeared and, with his apprentice Tasha, managed to imprison the demon lord Fraz-Urb'luu in the dungeons beneath the Castle. The fiend was imprisoned there for over 100 years, but was eventually freed by a wizard and a cleric (probably Erac's Cousin and his adventuring companion Ayelerach).

In CY 505, Zagig then captured and imprisoned the evil demigod Iuz in the Godtrap beneath the Castle. Iuz was one of nine demigods so trapped, and this accomplishment was instrumental in Zagig's ascension to become the demigod now known as Zagyg. Other deities imprisoned in the dungeon included Merikka, Rudd, Wastri, and Zuoken. The remaining four demigods have never been canonically identified, although the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer states that the nine were of "opposing alignments."

In CY 570, the warrior Robilar freed Iuz from his prison, and subsequently most of the other eight demigods (save Zuoken) escaped as well.

Note: The 1992 publication From the Ashes (FtA) provides some contradictory dates to those given above. First, it states that construction of the Castle did not begin until 375 CY. The adventure module Greyhawk Ruins, however, provides the CY 320 reference for the start of construction. Greyhawk Ruins is both an earlier work and more specifically focused on the Castle itself, and thus would seem to be a more definitive source. Second, FtA suggests both 505 CY and 507 CY as dates for Iuz's initial imprisonment. Given that all other references to Iuz's imprisonment in official game publications use the CY 505 date, the CY 507 anomaly is usually considered to be an error.

Known levels

The Tower of Magic

  • Surface ruins. The surface ruins are mostly abandoned. They include a temple to Boccob, barracks, storerooms, mess halls, and guest quarters. A large band of kobolds currently dwells in the southern half of this ruin, and elves guard the entrance. During Castle Greyhawk's heyday, the Regalia of Neutrality were evidently stored in the Temple of Boccob here, and were the goal of countless pilgrimages. They are now gone, but something of their power still remains. This level is coded P100 in Greyhawk Ruins.
  • Zagig's Gauntlet (P200). This is a twisted maze designed by Zagig to vent his eccentricities, test the mettle of his apprentices, and guard the crypts below.
A map showing the exterior of Castle Greyhawk, as depicted in The Adventure Begins (1998).
  • The Ochre Crypts (P300). This level contains the crypts of Zagig's apprentices and family members. Living as he did for hundreds of years, he outlived a lot of people. The stonework is a distinctive ochre hue. Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk removed the passageway that led to stairs from the surface ruins, connecting the crypts only to Zagig's Gauntlet.
  • Apprentice's Walk (P400). This level was originally built as dormitories for Zagig's apprentices. For a time this and many other of the levels beneath the Tower of Magic were used for an experiment conducted by the Ring of Five on the impact of magic on the three philosophies of evil. Staircase 2 in the surface ruins has evidently been changed in Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk to lead here instead of to the Ochre Crypts, while staircase 4 on this level has evidently been changed to lead from either the surface ruins or Zagig's Gauntlet instead of from the crypts.
  • The Sanctum Arcanum (P500). This level is a complex of classrooms and laboratories.
  • The Vaults of Creation (P600). This level was intended for golem creation and research, but never finished. The map was changed extensively between Greyhawk Ruins and Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, but a few of the rooms match up. P612 matches F12, P601 matches F11, and P602 matches F15, but the destinations of the staircases and tunnels leading from those rooms have been altered or blocked.
  • Master's Walk (P700). These were Zagig's personal workshops and libraries.
  • The Earth Cradle (P800). This was a system of traps designed to protect the Earth Stone, an artifact of tremendous power.
  • The Halls of Beckoning (P900). This was home to eight chambers, empowered by the obelisk below, designed to enhance the eight schools of magic. Summoning chambers said to be able to call demigods against their will were located here. The map in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk corresponds very closely to a small section of the map in Greyhawk Ruins, approximately P901-P909. It was the headquarters of the apprentices of the Ring of Five in Greyhawk Ruins, but later became the headquarters of the wizard Vayne.
  • Caverns of the Obelisk (PB00). The obelisk discovered here was one of Zagig's primary reasons for building his castle on this spot.

The Tower of Zagig

  • Surface Ruins (Z100)
  • The False Crypts (Z200). This level was constructed by Zagig in order to delude potential looters and adventure-seekers into not exploring the dungeons of the Tower of Zagig any further. It's one of the most thoroughly-explored parts of the castle dungeons, controlled by the illusionist Shodei.
Castle Greyhawk, as depicted in the Spellfire card game.
  • Zagig's Promenade (Z300). This level was entirely remapped in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, but certain features from the Greyhawk Ruins version were retained, such as the Fountain of Vim and the black pyramid/ziggurat.
  • The Hall of Memory. In Greyhawk Ruins this was the home of Zagig's Godtrap, but in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk it's a place where Zagig's adventuring loot is stored, as well as the location of the portals to the Isle of the Ape, Fraz-Urb'luu's layer of the Abyss, and the Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (all of which were located on other levels in WGR1: Fraz-Urb'luu's former prison was in P207, the Land Beyond the Magic Mirror was in Z632, Dungeonland was in P833, and the Isle of the Ape was in P826). The map is entirely different.
  • Zagig's Workshop. As the name implies, this is a series of laboratories created by Zagig Yragerne.
  • Zagig's Prison (Z400). This is the level on which Zagig's Godtrap can be found, though it was located several levels up in WGR1. The map was entirely redesigned.
  • Zagig's Crypt (Z600). The deepest part of the Tower of Zagig dungeons, this is where Zagig's closest family and friends were interred, as well as the mortal body of Zagig himself.

The Tower of War

  • Surface Ruins (W100). The area mapped in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk is identical to the map in WGR1, though the barracks of the Wartower Wardens has been expanded.
  • The Hungry Halls (W200). The Hungry Halls contained a kitchen for Zagig's private army, as well as many hungry monsters.
  • The Silent Barracks (W300). Monsters have taken over what were once barracks for Zagig's private army.
  • Crypts of the Forgotten (W400).
  • Shatterstone (W500). This is the first of two levels that have been largely destroyed by an earthquake. They're named after Vaprak's layer of the Abyss. The map in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk corresponds to rooms W525-535 in WGR1.
  • Shatterstone (W600). This is the second of the two levels known as Shatterstone.
  • The Arena (W700). In Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, this level has been split by an earthquake and mostly closed off. The arena itself corresponds to room W733 in WGR1, and the rooms nearby are still recognizable.
  • The Foundry (W800). This level originally contained the forges used to create armor and weapons for Zagig's army. It's presently inhabited by monsters from the Underdark.
  • The Derro Mines (W900). This level originally contained mines used to gather raw materials for the previous level. It's presently inhabited by monsters from the Underdark.
  • Nerull's Gate (WB00). A large pyramid here covers a shaft leading to the Underdark. The map in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk is nearly identical to the one in Greyhawk Ruins, though the pyramid and giant statue of Nerull has been shattered by the earthquake between 580 CY and 597 CY, exposing the opening within.

Publication history

In 1972, Gary Gygax was writing dungeon levels for the Greyhawk campaign at the rate of one per week. The castle and its dungeons were the central location for his campaign at the time. He described these in a 1975 article entitled "Adventure at Greyhawk Castle" in the Diplomacy fanzine El Conquistador.

Castle Greyhawk (TSR, 1988), a humorous/joke treatment of the Castle.

Also in 1975, TSR published the Greyhawk supplement to the original Dungeons & Dragons rules, although this booklet provided no significant detail regarding Castle Greyhawk itself.

In 1978, TSR then began publishing adventure modules set in the World of Greyhawk, although these early adventures did not directly concern the Castle. Similarly, TSR's The World of Greyhawk 1980 folio and 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set provided information regarding the campaign setting at large, but no detail regarding Castle Greyhawk.

Between 1983 and 1985, TSR published three modules linked to Castle Greyhawk. These were the 1983 adventure Dungeonland and its sequel The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, as well as 1985's Isle of the Ape. All three were originally conceived by Gygax as extra-planar extensions of the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk. As published, however, the modules again provided no information regarding the Castle itself or its dungeons.

The Castle was first detailed for the general public in 1988 in TSR's adventure Castle Greyhawk. However, as the module was steeped in humor and featured numerous references to 20th century culture (such as the character the Amazing Drider-Man), most Greyhawk fans consider the module to be a non-canonical "joke-version" of Castle Greyhawk.

In 1989 The City of Greyhawk boxed set expanded on the detail available for the Free City of Greyhawk and its environs for the second edition D&D rules. The Castle itself received only a minor mention.

The Castle finally received serious treatment in 1990, when TSR published Greyhawk Ruins, a 128-page adventure which examined the Castle in great detail.

In 2005, Troll Lord Games began publishing Castle Zagyg in a number of volumes authored by Gary Gygax and Jeffrey P. Talanian. The Castle Zagyg series is written for the Castles and Crusades game, which aims to reconcile the feel of First Editon Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with d20 rules. These adventures were written by Gygax and others in imitation of the original Castle Greyhawk campaign, however they do not represent a recreation of the original castle as used in the original Lake Geneva campaign, instead being an approximation written to evoke as much of the sprawling complex as possible yet still be managable to DMs. As the modules were not licensed by Wizards of the Coast, the current holder of the Greyhawk property, they could not legally use the Greyhawk name or any elements of the Greyhawk mythos. Instead, a few veiled references were inserted, such as the use of the "Crimson Monks" as an antagonist in place of the probably intended Scarlet Brotherhood.

In late 2007, the first volume of the castle proper was published, detailing the castle's upper works and the first level of the dungeon complex, known as the Storerooms. However, shortly after Gary Gygax's death on March 4, 2008, the license given to Troll Lord Games was revoked by Gygax's estate, and Castle Zagyg was allowed to fall out of print.

In August, 2007, Wizards of the Coast released Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, a 224-page hardcover book that revisits the material from Greyhawk Ruins and updates the site for 3.5 edition D&D rules.

Gallery

Greyhawk Ruins01.jpg Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk01.jpg

Maps

Castle Greyhawk02.jpg

Bibliography

  • Mobley, Blake, and Timothy B. Brown. Greyhawk Ruins. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990.

External links

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