Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Castle of the Mad Archmage

To paraphrase an old adage: “Disappoint me once; shame on you. Disappoint me twice; shame on me. Disappoint me more than that and I’m going to take matters into my own hands.” Which is exactly what Joseph Bloch of Greyhawk Grognard has done.

After years of being told that the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk would eventually be published and the half-assed attempts and aborted efforts to fulfill that promise, Joseph has finally had enough and decided to make good on that empty promise once and for all. In a recent post, Joseph declared that he was going to write up his own fan version of the legendary dungeon and, as of tonight, he’s undertaken to first steps to complete that promise. Labeled as WG-13: The Castle of the Mad Archmage, the first level of Joseph’s homebrew version of Castle Greyhawk is now available.

While this is assuredly not the first time someone has decided to flesh out Gary and Rob’s dungeon for personal use, I’ve got to give Joseph a hell of a lot of credit for not only undertaking this project, but for making his work available to the world at large. There’s no way that any one man’s view of this famed subterranean locale is going to meet the expectations of every Greyhawk fan now that Gary has passed away, but Joseph didn’t let that stop him. After having has a chance to read this first installment, I must say that, while nobody but the Dungeon Master himself could achieve complete success at such an attempt, Joseph does a damn fine job of channeling Gary in his fan version.

For the sake of full disclosure, I’m not a Greyhawk buff and possess only the knowledge earned by a long-ago reading of the World of Greyhawk boxed set and the various module published that were set in that milleau, so Greyhawk maniacs might form other opinions. I’m also one of the people listed in the “Special Thanks To” section of the work, but that didn’t color my opinion. It’s a solid, classic dungeon in the old-school style and well-worth the time to examine for yourself.

I congratulate Joseph on his successful first foray into Gary and Rob’s playground and wish him continued success in the months to come. I’m certainly going to be watching this with great interest.


Anonymous said...

So... apparently "Greyhawk Ruins" didn't do it for your friend?

I thought that was a fairly serious attempt at making Zagyg's Castle and the dungeons beneath a reality.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

I have a lot of respect for anyone that takes on a pillar of a community and publishes their view of it. I'm going to definitely give it a look - I'm not of Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms or Blackmoor heritage - all of my childhood D&D was from homebrew, so all of this seems new to me.

Joseph said...

So... apparently "Greyhawk Ruins" didn't do it for your friend?

I'm afraid it didn't. I mentioned some of the reasons for my choice not to use it for my version of the Castle on my blog, but the short-short version is that it has too much plot and not enough Greyhawkiana. Almost none of the features that fans would normally expect to see in the Castle dungeons are present; the Black Reservoir, the Jeweled Man, the Great Stone Face Enigma, etc. etc.

Don't get me wrong; it's a fine megadungeon in its own right, but it just doesn't fit the bill when it comes to what I expect to see in a Castle Greyhawk.

Anonymous said...

Don't have and don't want a Google account to post on the Greyhawk Grognard blog, so I'll do so here.

Wow and thanks! Looking forward to upcoming installments. Would that it was the early 80's and I could more easily find more people to play.

One suggestion, how about listing the level's major inhabitants along with a table to roll up their relationships/alliances (just to keep it random for any sneaky players reading the module).

rainswept said...

Based on the first paragraph I thought that Joseph had disappointed you more than once. Luckily I read on :)