Castle Greyhawk lies some two leagues west of Greyhawk in the Cairn Hills, on the western bank of the Selintan River, across a single stone arch, about six miles north of the farmlands that surround the Free City of Greyhawk. 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.
Notable Locations of Castle Greyhawk:
Getting to the Ruins
The ruins of castle 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.
The Surface Ruins
The ruins of Castle Greyhawk stand crumbling atop three steep hills. The path that leads to the ruins passes by an ancient stone raven, lying on its side, before ending at a narrow stone arc that connects to the central hill and the Tower of Zagig. The raven has been here for many years and is said have been magically transported here from one of the lower levels of the dungeon. Across the bridge, the Tower of Zagig lies in ruins, surrounded by an old stone wall that has also fallen to the ravages of time. The holes in this wall are now so numerous and large that breaching the wall is a simple task
The Tower of Magic, on the west pinnacle, and the Tower of War, on the east, are connected to the central pinnacle by simple stone bridges the base of which is fenced in by a largely tumbled octagonal curtain wall pierced by three gates (facing south, east and west). Aside from their height, these towers have no real barriers to access, although the dwarves who keep watch outside the Tower of War demand a portion of any treasure recovered from “their” tower. The towers, however, appear gutted and ruined shells, long since picked clean of loot by generations of looters.
History: For more than two hundred fifty years, the ruins of 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.