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grodog's Greyhawk Castle Archive -
Sources Details (Chronological)

Gary Gygax - "How To Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign - And Be Stuck Refereeing It Seven Days Per Week Until The Wee Hours Of The Morning!" in Europa #6-8 (April 1975), from page 19:

(Before the rules for D&D were published 'Old Greyhawk Castle' was 13 levels deep. The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the participants had ever played such a game before. The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie pool and a fountain of snakes. The third featured a torture chamber and many small cells and prison rooms. The fourth was a level of crypts and undead. The fifth was centered around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles. The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs (3 dice) in inconvenient spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars. The seventh was centered around a circular labyrinth and a street of masses of ogres. The eight through tenth levels were caves and caverns featuring Trolls, giant insects and a transporter nexus with an evil Wizard (with a number of tough associates) guarding it. The eleventh level was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle. He had Balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridors which was full of poisonous creatures with no treasure. Level welve was filled with Dragons. The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took the players clear through to China, from where they had to return via 'Outdoor Adventure'. It was quite possible to journey downward to the bottom level by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the likelihood of following such a route unknowingly didn't become too great until the seventh or eight level. Of the dozen or so who played on a fairly regular basis, four made the lowest level and took the trip: Rob Kuntz, now a co-referee in the campaign went alone; and three of his fiends managed to trace part of his route and blunder along the rest, so they followed him quickly to the land of China. - Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hobgoblins anf Gnolls continually warring with each other, a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a Giant's home, and a garden of fungi.)

Gary Gygax - "Dungeons & Dragons - The Magician's Ring" in Wargamer's Digest (Volume 2, Number 8; McCoy Publishing Enterprises, June 1975)

Those who have explored the countryside between the bustling city of Greyhawk and the castle ruins of the same name which lie on the hill not a league to the east of the city will testify to the fact that there are a number of strange tunnels and wells about. Wise folks avoid them, for they know that these are but entrances to the fiendish maze of dungeons, pits, labyrinths, crypts, catacombs, and caverns which honeycomb the hill and the rock far beneath it. There are those, however, who eagerly seek these ways, for it is likewise well-known that incalculable treasure also rests within these twisting mazes...

Lessnard chose one of the outside entrances to the lower levels of the dungeons, knowing it would save both time and the risk of unwished for encounters with wandering monsters....

Gary Gygax - "Sanctum of the Savant" column in Realms of Adventure newsletter #1 (New Infinities Productions: Volume 1, Number 1; Summer 1988)

The whole of this special fantasy milieu will be published by New Infinities in stages. Eventually details will be revealed in novels as well, but the main information will come to you in various accessory and game scenario products. We hope to have the first installment ready by late summer or early fall [1988]. Two collaborators are working along with me to create an up-to-date version of the campaign I began in 1972. That's right, Perceptive Peruser, the fantasy milieu from which the D&D and AD&D game systems sprang will be revealed to you, beginning then. My two (extremely able) co-workers will help me get together full details of the original Castle and Dungeon setting used in those halcyon days, the original City setting ditto, and Atlas/Gazatteer books detailing the complete world.

It might interest you to note new material regarding rules and mechanics in these works, for I will include appropriate new concepts drawn from the system that I am designing now. Scenarios which are not directly connected to the immediate vicinity of the castle and city will be done occasionally, too. These will be identified as belonging to the campaign, and as with all of the products, will be offered to you under the FANTASY MASTER logo. Now underway is one called NECROPOLIS. If you liked the module I wrote called TOMB OF HORRORS, you'll love this one!

The same is true of works of general or generic fantasy sort. I have one or two such books in mind, even roughly outlined. Time constraints are such that they'll not be done soon, unless I find a co-author (the right one!). The work I am most anxious to do would cover the planes of negative/evil existence. Even though there is a work of such nature available, what I plan is something with a lot more blood and thunder -- and new ideas, including magical powers and items, of course. Coupled with new thoughts on the subject of magic, and a more extensive statistics treatment, I am convinced fantasy game buffs will find it worthwhile.

Games. I am working on a new game, as well as doing some preliminary development in the fantasy genre too, as I mentioned above. What is the genre of the new game? What is it called? That I must keep quiet about for now. As all Wise Readers are aware, this is a competitive field, and somehow I have a sneaking feeling that what I am doing is watched. Anyway, between that and the FRP game, my current work in design is pretty well covered. [Gary Gyagx, "Sanctum of the Savant" column in Realms of Adventure newsletter (Volume 1, Number 1; Summer 1988), from New Infinities Productions]

 

Greyhawk Castle Details

A Note About Sources

I've compiled the sources for all of the details on this page on my Greyhawk Castle Sources page.

  • Entrances: 
    • the castle ruins (as go up into towers, etc., level of difficulty rises
    • an old dry cistern
    • under a pool of quicksand
    • a simple hole in the ground---all from Joe Fischer’s article "Hints for D&D Judges - Part 3 The Dungeons" in The Dragon 2 (August 1976):
    • When judges of D & D, new and old alike, think of an entrance
      to the dungeons, the greater percentage think of an old
      ruined castle somewhere outside their town. And many of this
      same group have the mistaken impression that there is only one
      entrance to every dungeon. Both these ideas are wrong. True, the
      famous game of Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz is built around and
      under Greyhawk Castle, but this is far from being the only entrance.
      Besides the castle, I have discovered an entrance through
      an old dry cistern and another entrance that is under a pool of
      quicksand, and even an entrance in a simple hole in the ground.

    • Greyhawk city sewers, via an underground stream (connects to the Temple of the Elder Gods, which may connect to the Castle [the Temple is half-way between the City and Castle], and a hollow stump with a hole downward also connects to the Temple (all from RJK's stuff)
    • I added a large cave in the side of the hill (lair of a black dragon, with direct or indirect ties to dungeon levels 1-4);
  • Exits:  as above, plus the chute to China, cursed scrolls (to Starship Warden [TD17], Mars, Wonderland [EX1, EX2], King Kong [WG6], etc.)
  • from EX1 Dungeonland
    • Introductory comments (page 2):  "This module, while originally conceived for and used in the Greyhawk Castle dungeon complex, is such that it can be added to virtually any campaign.  It has an "EX" designation to indicate that it is an extension of a regular dungeon level.  In the case of this module, it is a far-removed extension level where all adventuring takes place on another plane of existence that is quite unusual, even for a typical AD&D Universe.   This particular scenario has been a consistent favorite with Adventurers new to the overall GREYHAWK CAMPAIGN, and it is presented here for the amusement and delight of jaded players everywhere!"
    • Dungeon Master's Preface (page 2):  "At a convenient point---for you, not for the party---have them fall info a pit or have a passageway suddenly become a perpendicular shaft.  Then have them descend, ever so slowly, into the 'front door' of Dungeonland."
    • Afterword (page 27):  "A similar scenario was an early part of Castle Greyhawk.  The adventurers came upon it quite by accident after about a year of play.  They were ready for it:  not only did they thoroughly enjoy the change of mood, but they were very much tested by the encounters in the place.  (I DMed this strictly and in a very touch manner.)  They came back time and again for more adventures, going from Dungeonland to The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror and back again quite a number of times.   Eventually the original players---Ernie Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Terry Kuntz, Don Kaye, Mike Mornard, Don Arndt, Chip Mornard, Skip Williams, Brian Blume, and quite a few others---began to slip away to other campaigns and other pursuits (I was running the campaign only sporadically then, for business demanded most of my time)."
      • Allan's comment:  this dates these levels to c. 1974-1975?? [check timeline from Dragon Annual and Jolly Roger book]
  • from EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror
    • Introductory comments (page 2):  "This module is the companion to Dungeonland and was originally part of the Greyhawk Castle dungeon complex.  It is designated so that it can be added to Dungeonland, used alone, or made part of virtually any campaign.  It has an "EX" designation to indicate that it is an extension of a regular dungeon level---in the case of this module, a far-removed extension level where all adventuring takes place on another plane of existence that is quite unusual, even for a typical AD&D universe.   This particular scenario has been a consistent favorite with adventurers new to the overall Greyhawk Campaign, and it is presented here for the amusement and delight of jaded players everywhere!"
    • Dungeon Master's Preface (page 2):  "The entry point for The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror" will be shown on the proper level of the Greyhawk Castle Dungeon sereis when it is finally done.   As that is likely to be years from now, it is probable that you will be inserting this module into your existing campaign."
    • Afterword (page 26):  "Years ago this particular area was a part of a special level of the Castle Greyhawk dungeon.  When the players finally came upon the place, they were ready for a change and came away refreshed"
  • from S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
    • Preface comments (page 2):  "This module was begun early in 1976 when TSR was contemplating publication of a science fantasy role playing game.  Jim Ward had already shown us some rough notes on METAMORPOSIS ALPHA; I thought it would be a splendid idea to introduce Jim's game at Origins II, and introduce the concept to D&D players by means of the tournament scenario.  I laid out the tournament from old "Greyhawk Castle" campaign material involving a spaceship, and Rob Kuntz helped me to populate the ruined vessel.  Both this scenario and METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA proved successful, but whlie the latter has been continually available since mid-1976, only a few copies of the tournament dungeon used for Origins II have been around."
  • from Dungeon Masters Guide
    • The Ongoing Campaign comments (page 112):  "But if serious purpose is integral to a successfully ongoing campaign, there must be moments of relief as well.  Such counterplots can be lesser and different themes within the whole, whether some side dungeon or quest, a minor altercation between petty nobles, or whatever.  Occasional "pure fun" scenarios can be conducted also.   That is, moments of silliness and humor help to contrast with the grinding seriousness of a titantic struggle and relieve participants at the same time.  After all, ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is first and foremost a game, a pastime for fun and enjoyment.  At times the fun aspect must be stressed.  Thus, in my "Greyhawk Campaign" I included an "Alice in Wonderland" level, and while it is a deadly place, those who have adventured through it have uniformly proclaimed it as great fun because it is the antithesis of the campaign as a whole.  Similarly, there are places where adventurers can journey to a land of pure Greek mythology, into the future where the island of King Kong awaits their pleasure, or through the multiverse to different planets, including Jack Vance's "Planet of Adventure", where they hunt sequins in the Carabas while Dirdir and Dirdirmen hunt them."
    • Mutants & Magic (page 113):  "Readers of THE DRAGON might already be familiar with the concept of mixing science fantasy and heroic fantasy from reading my previous article about the adventures of a group of AD&D characters transported to via a curse scroll to another continuum and ending up admist the androids and mutants aboard the Starship Warden of METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA."   This refers to the Gygax article from The Dragon #17 (date), "Faceless Men and Clockwork Monsters" (pages ), and Jim Ward's follow-up article in The Dragon # , "".
  • level 2 has a magic pool that continuously emits snakes
  • At least 12 levels down with at least 12 sub-levels; caverns under all of the levels (one with a gate to WG6)
  • Living Room
  • Machine Level (see Jim Ward’s description in TD 17 and S3 intro): "The Future or Machine Age: While some steady readers might
    think that I harp on this topic too much, the first time I came in contact
    with a level of this type was in the “mighty” castle of Greyhawk; run
    by Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz. Imagine conveyor belts that force players
    to travel in one direction or another, a cellophane machine that
    wraps you up no matter how big or small you are and puts you in a
    Vol. III No. 3
    holding area for as long as it takes to rip yourself out, how about a die
    press that shapes anything in its path into a bottle top (Boy, can that
    hurt!), or a row of blades that cut in a pattern on the belt with a 25%
    chance that any given blade will cut you? Try a slot machine that takes
    only large sums of gold and with the flip of the handle takes a random
    magic item from the party, and how about a lever that turns on something
    way off in another part of the level (like a robot or level clean up
    machine) that you can’t know about until you travel to that part of the
    level? The treasures of this level could easily be more fun than the level:
    imagine bottle tops made out of mithril on wine bottles; how about
    guns and pistols that work; a set of chain mail made out of a super hard
    and light alloy that acts like plus 5 armor and shows no magical traits;
    how about a huge pile of gold dust in a large plastic bubble that isn’t
    small enough to get out the door and can’t be cut by anything less than
    a plus 5 sword?
  • Garden of the Plant Master
  • Bottle City (created by Kuntz, see auction/bibliography)
  • museum from another age
  • underground lake (this is quite likely the Black Reservoir: http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_castle_black_reservoir1.html) (note:  adits to/fro the Nyr Dyv via the Black Reservoir?  may link to Selintan?)
  • caverns with giant fungi
  • bowling alley for 20’ tall giants
  • area of evil
  • crypts
  • central shaft
  • Vancian Dir Dir level
  • Greek mythology level
  • Mars
  • modern age ("From the Sorcerer's Scroll" in The Dragon #30 (October 1979):
  • “ Mugger” points out that there is also a battleground out on the dark metropolitan streets. If the criminals are combined with the police, the challenge to the safety of a group of hapless adventurers thrown into
    such a setting would be interesting indeed — especially when the danger of speeding traffic, high-voltage wires, machinery, and the rest of modem technology we take for granted is considered.

    With these thoughts in mind, I have prepared a special scenario which will put the adventurers through a short “routine” adventure in a “ World of Greyhawk” city. This will lead them to a cellar and a tunnel which in turn brings them to a sewer and up to a subway tunnel. The power which brings the party to this place will probably cause a blackout in the city, so for a time the players will be uncertain where they are. If it all works as well as I think it will, the report of the game will be submitted for publication in a future issue.

    In the city setting, magic will work, although cleric spells above third level will not. Of course, firearms also work. The perils of the place— police, street gangs, muggers, criminals of other sorts, citizens with karate training or able to box, those with guard dogs, etc. — will be numerous and different. Weapons aren’t difficult to rate according to damage. Electricity will be interesting — low-tension AC giving but 1d6 damage (4d6 if the party is well grounded), low-tension DC doing 1d6 each segment until the victim is freed, and high-tension DC doing 1d20 in the same manner. Cars will inflict 1d4 damage for each 10 mph of speed. Small trucks will get a d6, large ones a d8, and trains a d10 for each 10 mph.

    Each special character (guard, policeman, street tough, mugger, etc.) will be given a level roughly corresponding to those of AD&D characters, although the type of dice used will be non-standard. If the adventurers survive and manage to return to their own place in the multiverse, they will have little in the way of treasure — at least in all probability.

    Gunpowder and explosives will not function on the World of Greyhawk. Lighters and flashlights must be garnered. Perhaps things such as aluminum arrows, metal bottles (canteens) and plastic containers might prove useful. There will be a jewelry store or two, and an art galley, but trying to loot them will certainly bring police and possibly a SWAT team. What should prove the real fun of this whole scenario is discovering the perils of the modem world as DM and seeing how the players handle them in their roles as fantasy world adventurers. If you have DMed or played settings of this type, by all means tell me about the experience, so I can pass it along to the other readers!

    • Dungeon Level names: 
      • from Dragon Annual #2 (1997):  The first version of Castle Greyhawk had dungeon levels enumerated "something like this" (according to Gygax):  Barracks, Storerooms, Cells, Torture Chambers, Maze, Labyrinth, Catacombs, Crypts, Arena, "Invisible Monster" bottom level.
      • from Horsemen of the Apocalypse (2000):  Ruins/Upper Works, Vaults, Dungeons, Lower Dungeons, Crypts, (and so forth), Catacombs, Labyrinth, Lesser Caves, Greater Cavers, Caverns, Maze = level 13 where Zagyg was manifest and where Robilar/Terik/Tenser sent to Cathay/etc.
      • from Up on a Soapbox Lesson #5 (January 2002):  Dungeons, Catacombs, Crypts, Lesser Caves, Greater Caves, Lesser Caverns, Greater Caverns; the Labyrinth = level 6
  • RJK levels:
    • Rob's Temple of the Elder Gods/etc.
    •  

Miscellaneous Castle Greyhawk Notes

Entrances: the castle ruins, an old dry cistern, under a pool of quicksand, a simple hole in the ground (all from Joe Fischer’s article in TD#2); Greyhawk city sewers, via an underground stream (connects to the Temple of the Elder Gods, which may connect to the Castle [the Temple is half-way between the City and Castle], and a hollow stump with a hole downward also connects to the Temple); I added a large cave in the side of the hill (lair of a black dragon, with direct or indirect ties to dungeon levels 1-4);

Exits: as above, plus the chute to China, cursed scrolls (to Starship Warden [TD17], Mars, Wonderland [EX1, EX2], King Kong [WG6], etc.)

level 2 has a magic pool that continuously emits snakes
At least 12 levels down with at least 12 sub-levels; caverns under all of the levels (one with a gate to WG6)
Living Room
Machine Level (see Jim Ward’s description in TD 17)
Garden of the Plant Master
Bottle City
museum from another age
underground lake (this is quite likely the Black Reservoir: http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_castle_black_reservoir1.html)
caverns with giant fungi
bowling alley for 20’ tall giants
area of evil
crypts
central shaft
Vancian Dir Dir level
Greek mythology level
See OD&D Vol 3 and 1e DMG for sample traps/tricks, as well as the separate Dungeon Geomorphs Sets 1-3 (not the collected set), as well as the Outdoor Geomorphs: Walled City for some details about Greyhawk City; as does the Europa article

Use the Unseelie Court as inspiration.
Gary recently mentioned on his EN World thread that there was a demi-plane connected to the Greyhawk Dungeons he titled A Midsummer's Night's Nightmare that was populated by dark faerie types.
Scott

Note: I haven’t mined the columns in “Up on a Soapbox” written by EGG and RJK for additional materials yet.

So, how do you put all this Greyhawk Castle lore to use, fleshed out, in an actual game?  Continue on to grodog's Version of Greyhawk Castle.


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