Excerpts 08/12/2007

Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk

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.


In the Cairn Hills north of the Free City stands a monument to madness, a crumbling palace of trap-laden halls packed with treasure beyond imagining: Castle Greyhawk. The archmage who built it vanished nearly two hundred years ago, and the castle has beckoned adventurers from around the world ever since. They come seeking the wizard's treasure and legendary lore, to explore demiplanes attached to the castle's deepest dungeons, and perhaps to follow in the footsteps of the Mad Archmage Zagig Yragerne.

For when Zagig departed Castle Greyhawk, he did so as a living god.


Four decades have passed since Mordenkainen first delved Castle Greyhawk. In the company of his apprentice Bigby, the fearless Lord Robilar, and the willful cleric Riggby, the wizard relentlessly explored the ruins of Zagig's castle, charting its secrets and plundering its priceless treasures. Before his adventures, Mordenkainen knew of Zagig as an eccentric, the long-lived former Lord Mayor during the City of Greyhawk's renaissance. He was the founder of the city's world-renowned Guild of Wizardry and one of the greatest adventuring mages ever to cast a spell. Mordenkainen would come to learn that Zagig had cheated death by becoming a deity, piecing together the legend over several forays spanning thirteen years.

At the culmination of his research, in the shadow of a dozen lost companions, Mordenkainen finally discovered Zagig's Prison, an entire dungeon level designed to imprison nine demigods encountered by Zagig on his travels. In his final act as a mortal, Zagig carved an essence of their divine power and claimed it as his own, departing the Material Plane as the newly divine "Zagyg" to serve in the court of Boccob, Archmage of the Gods. But the nine prisoners remained.

Among them was Iuz the Old, the half-demon son of the Witch-Queen Iggwilv and the demon prince Graz'zt. The fiendish tyrant had vanished from his northern empire in Mordenkainen's youth, leaving savage humanoid hordes and diabolical societies in the ensuing power vacuum. Over the years a handful of lesser demons and shapeshifters appeared on the scene claiming Iuz's Throne of Bone, whipping the fractured cult of the Old One into temporary frenzy until being dispatched by rivals. These false Iuzes threw the nations into turmoil and brought savage armies across civilized borders. If the real Iuz returns, the disaster could be incalculable. With the discovery of Zagig's Prison, Mordenkainen decided to try to prevent that return from ever happening.

Iuz remained imprisoned just as Zagig had left him sixty-five years prior. But Mordenkainen knew that the archmage's prison would not last forever. If Mordenkainen could find the deity trap, so could someone else. Only a final solution would suffice, and a final solution required the enlistment of Lord Robilar.

The gregarious fighter lord thrilled at the audacity of Mordenkainen's suggestion. The fearless swordsman chased adventure with the enthusiasm of an addict, often venturing into Castle Greyhawk on highly dangerous solo missions, facing every challenge with a wide grin and a clever rejoinder. In the company of his orc henchman Quij and the cleric Riggby, Robilar confidently set into motion Mordenkainen's grand plan to save the future of the Flanaess.

Then everything started to go wrong.

Just as Robilar dispelled the barriers keeping Iuz at bay so that he might be slain, the wizard Tenser appeared with Bigby and the warrior Neb Retnar at his back. The trio had come to stop the dangerous gambit, but arrived too late. The six adventurers were no match for the enraged Iuz, who escaped certain death in the clutches of Bigby's notorious crushing hand by plane shifting to the Abyss. That magical warp freed the additional gods and caved in many of Castle Greyhawk's deepest dungeon complexes. After it was all over, safe on the skull-adorned battlements of his grisly palace, Iuz swore vengeance upon the adventurers who had attempted to kill him, dedicating a portion of his eternal rage to plotting their destruction.

Twenty-seven years have passed. To the west, in the not-so-distant city of Verbobonc, Riggby has escaped Iuz's vengeance by dying of natural causes in his twilight years. His body now travels by sacred procession along the Western Road toward Greyhawk, drawing the cleric's former companions from their sanctuaries and schemes to the city that once bound them together in long-dead friendships and alliances.

Iuz's patience for the perfect moment to smite his enemies grows thin, and Riggby's funeral provides all the excuse he needs to initiate a scheme designed to bring Greyhawk to its knees and deliver his enemies into the hands of his torturers. Already his soldiers have tunneled into the lowest levels of Castle Greyhawk from the Underdark, and although their ranks have not yet swelled enough to besiege the city, the time will shortly arrive. Everything is in place for Iuz's final vengeance against the adventuring heroes of the last generation.

But time does not stand still in Greyhawk, and the demon-god of the north has not accounted for the city's next generation of heroes.


In Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, your player characters become the next great heroes to explore the world's most famous dungeon. In the process of their fantastic adventures they'll also explore the treacherous City of Greyhawk, where politics and thieves can do away with you just as easily as a falling stone block or guardian golem can. Iuz's machinations against Mordenkainen and the City of Greyhawk are just part of the backdrop playing out behind your players' exploration of the castle. Plenty of reasons can tempt the players to keep delving into Zagig's dungeons, not the least of which is the promise of thrilling adventure and fascinating rewards. Rumors dating back centuries suggest that the treasures waiting to be claimed below Castle Greyhawk will make the danger worth risking, the exploits of its heroes worth remembering forever.

Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk provides the framework for a major campaign arc featuring several delves into the castle itself and numerous side quests situated in the Free City. The adventure is intended for 8th-level characters, who should advance to about 13th level by the time they "complete" it. Finishing the events outlined in this volume does not mean that the PCs have finished exploring Castle Greyhawk, however, because the dozens of dungeon levels and associated demiplanes of Zagig's castle provide a limitless source of adventure well beyond the scope of a single book. A general overview of the known castle levels (and certainly several more remain to be discovered) appears later in this book, but only those locations pertinent to the present campaign have been elaborated upon in detail. A series of random encounters allows you to treat the journey from the castle's front door to more important locations as wilderness travel, and these encounters can be used freely when the PCs decide to venture "off map" and away from the outlined adventure.

A general summary of Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk follows.

Chapter 1 The Free City of Greyhawk: Castle Greyhawk owes much of its renown to the eccentricities of the Mad Archmage Zagig Yragerne, and Zagig owes much of his fame to the city he once led, a sordid metropolis of opportunistic adventurers, crooked merchants, and fools delving in magical secrets best left undisturbed. An overview of the city's districts provides the background you'll need to make this exciting locale come alive for your players. Several adventure hooks in each city quarter aim to get the PCs into Castle Greyhawk or provide them with fun city-based encounters to fill in the gaps between dungeon delves. An overview of the Green Dragon Inn ensures that the PCs have a fully fleshed-out base of operations in the city and sets the scene for several key meetings. A brief encounter on the road to the Free City puts the PCs on the trail of the Green Dragon Inn and sets them on the path to Castle Greyhawk itself.

Chapter 2 The Castle and the Dungeons: This chapter provides a rough outline of the castle's history and structure, with a basic map of its levels and some suggestions on what dangers and treasure each contains. Special attention is given to the structure of Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, with numerous tips aimed at making the adventure easier to play and at keeping the PCs from wandering too far off track. The chapter also features notes on Castle Greyhawk's upper ruins and the surrounding region.

Chapter 3 The Tower of War: When the PCs finally arrive at the gates of Castle Greyhawk, they find that the only way inside is through the front gates of Zagig's Tower of War, where the Mad Archmage once housed his considerable army of servitors, soldiers, and attack monsters. These days it is home to the cunning General At-Ur Rehmat, who has turned several levels into the barracks and training ground for an army of enslaved savage humanoids set to assault the City of Greyhawk at the behest of the demon-god Iuz the Evil. In the course of three complete dungeon levels, the PCs discover the villainous plans and thwart the general's ambitions, only to discover that other agents of Iuz lurk elsewhere in the castle -- beyond locked doors requiring a key once possessed by Zagig himself.

Chapter 4 City of Hawks, City of Thieves: The PCs begin this chapter knowing that they need a key to enter Castle Greyhawk's imposing Tower of Magic, but knowing nothing of the key's location. Fortunately for them, their forays in and out of the castle bring their plight to the attention of the city's infamous Thieves' Guild, which has long held the secret of the key's location. The guild members too seek entrance to the Tower of Magic, but are forbidden by treaty to steal the key from its guardians -- Greyhawk's Guild of Wizardry. The wizards keep the key in a special office at the apex of their mighty pyramid, held ready should Zagig Yragerne return to the world he left behind more than two centuries ago. With the thieves' aid, the PCs penetrate the ensorceled halls of the guild, risking encounters with invisible beholders, magical guardians, and an army of angry wizards. Key in hand, they meet the angriest wizard of all, Mordenkainen, and his special message for the PCs will serve them well in the Tower of Magic and beyond.

Chapter 5 Wrath of the Old One: Within the Tower of Magic, the PCs delve deeper into Zagig's madness. They discover remnants of the Mad Archmage's mortal experiments while negotiating deadly traps meant to protect his secrets forever. Here they discover lost shrines to Boccob, Zagig's divine patron, and learn the hard way to appreciate the archmage's notorious sense of humor. In darkened chambers deep below the crumbling tower they encounter the ringleader of Iuz's pending invasion, the preening, megalomaniacal wizard Vayne, a conniving lieutenant who cannot afford to fail Iuz again. The PCs discover that Vayne holds a secret weapon against the Old One in the form of a simulacrum of Iggwilv, Iuz's witch-queen mother. Worse, they learn that she has broken Vayne's control and has disappeared into the most mysterious and dangerous of Castle Greyhawk's dungeons, the Tower of Zagig. It was there that the Mad Archmage imprisoned nine demigods to carve a sliver of divinity for himself nearly a century ago, and it is there that the maddened simulacrum of Iggwilv learns more about her past and dreams godly dreams of her own.

Meanwhile, the PCs return to the Tower of War and seal the passage to the Underdark, preventing the arrival of the Old One's army and incurring the wrath of Iuz. The demigod abandons caution and manifests in the lower dungeons of Castle Greyhawk to punish the PCs for their treachery, only to be magically drawn through a nearby wall and into the waiting prison of Iggwilv's simulacrum.

Chapter 6 In Zagig's Shadow: On the trail of the false Iggwilv, the PCs explore the Tower of Zagig, the personal demesne of the Mad Archmage of Greyhawk. In the process they learn a great deal about Zagig's past and the obsessions that bade him to dig deeper into the earth. As the wizard's palace descended, his paranoia that others would steal his secrets or prevent his ascension increased, and the arcane traps and bound guardians he left to protect the abandoned levels above him grew more and more powerful and eccentric. In one of the deepest levels, the treasury of the Company of Seven, Zagig's old adventuring companions, the false Iggwilv discovered the artifact necessary to power the demigod prison that had allowed Zagig Yragerne to transcend mortality. After using the artifact -- a shard from a magic-infused obsidian formation called the Obelisk -- to trap Iuz in a bid to gain true sentience as a living being, Iggwilv's simulacrum sundered it into three pieces, which she has placed within three foreign planes in phase with the castle. Only by uniting the three fragments of the Obelisk shard and destroying Zagig's Prison -- thus releasing Iuz from captivity once more -- can the PCs destroy the empowered Iggwilv and escape from the dungeons with their lives.

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