Return to Castle Greyhawk in a new adventure book that gives you the adventure tools you need to get started on a grand expedition. You can do a few preliminary explorations of your own by reading our excerpts from Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk.
HISTORY OF CASTLE GREYHAWK
For more than two hundred fifty years, Castle Greyhawk has perched in the Cairn Hills north of the Free City of Greyhawk, a crumbling testament to its enigmatic creator, the Mad Archmage Zagig Yragerne. Construction began in the summer of 320 CY, with the intent to build a keep from which Zagig, the soon-to-be Lord Mayor of the city, could govern and conduct his research. For the following one hundred years Zagig ruled from the castle, expanding the dungeon beneath it while extending his life through powerful magic. During this time, his experiments ranged from the creation of powerful artifacts to the imprisonment of the demon prince Fraz-Urb'luu.
After ruling the city for so many years, the Mad Archmage vanished from public sight in 421 CY, retreating to his ever-expanding dungeons to continue his research and explore the planes. The castle towers above were left to rot and eventually fell into ruin. Few dared approach the place, for fear of its being cursed. Eventually, the brave and the treasure-hungry did begin to venture into the dungeons below. Legends of great success and hoards of treasure soon buried the tales of failure and death, and the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk became one of the most renowned sites for adventure in all the Flanaess.
Although numerous groups of adventurers plundered the upper levels of the dungeon, their efforts did not disturb Zagig's work in the lower levels. In 505 CY his studies yielded the results he sought. Trapping nine powerful demigods, including Iuz the half-demon son of Iggwilv, Zagig fueled his own ascension, becoming the demigod Zagyg. Not soon after, he vanished and has not been seen on Oerth since.
In the years since Zagig's ascension, much has happened to the dungeons. A pair of unwitting adventurers released Fraz-Urb'luu from his prison in 562 CY. Iuz was freed from his prison in 570 CY by a group of adventurers, including Riggby, Robilar, and Tenser, who had hoped to destroy him. The attempt failed, and Iuz has harbored a deep hatred for all the members of that group and the city of Greyhawk ever since. Most of the remaining trapped demigods, except for Zuoken, have subsequently escaped from their prisons as the magic holding them has waned.
Other power groups have struggled for dominion in the vast dungeons, including a cabal of wizards calling themselves the Ring of Five, a large group of Nerull cultists, and a horde of humanoids and giants dedicated to Vaprak. The latter two groups destroyed one another in numerous battles that raged throughout the Tower of War. The wizards of the Ring of Five have all vanished, most likely the result of one of their experiments gone wrong.
The current year is 597 CY. Minions of Iuz, led by the wizard Vayne, have been hiding in the depths of the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk for over six months, having traveled here undetected through an Underdark tunnel leading to the bottom of the Tower of War. After wiping out the remains of the Vaprak and Nerull cultists, the group loyal to the Old One has spent its time preparing for Iuz's invasion force while exploring and securing an ever-growing portion of the dungeon. Although it is far from finished, recent events have accelerated the timeline, and the invasion force is on its way.
THE SURROUNDING AREA
Castle Greyhawk lies in the Cairn Hills, about six miles north of the farmlands that surround the Free City of Greyhawk, across the Selintan River. The farmers and craftsmen who call this area home live in small groups of buildings, usually surrounding a well or spring. Some are willing to allow adventurers and other groups to stay overnight in stables or other outbuildings for a small fee and a few tales of their exploits. These hardy folk do not fear the ruins, but they do not visit them either. Children sometimes dare each other to approach close enough to touch the old raven statue that sits on its side only a few hundred feet from the ruins.
Although this area is usually free of monsters, bandits and lone thieves roam these lands. They avoid the local militia patrols and hope to rob those who come back treasure-laden from the dungeon's haunted halls. Occasionally, some beast from the depths makes its way to the surface to terrorize the local folk. The Greyhawk militia is quick to act on any such arrivals, and it does not hesitate to call for assistance from adventurers if the challenge is too great. Leaflets proclaiming bounties on loose monsters litter the signposts of many taverns and inns in the city.
The area surrounding the castle consists of steep rocky hills and patches of scrub clinging to life. Rodents and other small game are plentiful, as are the birds of prey that hunt them. Few trees dot this landscape, and water is sparse but not impossible to find.
GETTING TO THE RUINS
The ruins of Castle Greyhawk are clearly visible in the distance from the parks north of the city, but there is no direct path to them from these woodlands. Those wishing to explore the ruins must exit the city through the Marsh Gate, located in the River Quarter. From there, a path leads west to the banks of the Selintan River and Zagig's Bridge, a great expanse of stone that crosses over the water. Once across, a well-worn path leads north through farmlands and rolling hills. After four miles or so, all settlement stops as the hills become steep and rocky. After three more miles of winding, sometimes steep paths, the trail ends at the doorstep of Castle Greyhawk.
Rumors persist throughout the city that other, more secret, ways exist to reach the ruins. During Zagig's reign a number of passages did exist, some of which connected to the sewers and underground redoubts of the city. All of these, except one, have since collapsed or are otherwise blocked off. That lone passageway might become available to the characters during the course of this adventure.