The Rise of Zagig
In the first half of the fourth century CY, one Zagig Yragerne became Lord Mayor of Greyhawk. He was to change the city’s destiny forever.
Zagig had spend most of his youth in Hardby with his mother, Eileme, the despotrix of that city. There, he had learned the magical arts and proved himself an able dweomer-worker. When he came of age, he quit the city for a life of adventure, taking up with such legendary characters as Murlynd and Keoghtom. It is said that he braved the perils of the Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad and proved so charming that the ancient lick personally tutored him in magic. Having earned his fortune, Zagig returned to Greyhawk and in 320 CY began work on the opposite side of the Selintan. the stronghold soon came to be known as Castle Greyhawk.
The archmage Zagig Yragerne built Castle Greyhawk more than two hundred fifty years ago after a long and prosperous adventuring career. As his architects and masons raised three splendid towers at the edge of a rocky crevasse in the Cairn Hills, Zagig became increasingly political, exploiting direct ties to ancient nobility and bribing his way into a seat as Lord Mayor of Greyhawk.
Upon becoming lord mayor, Zagig immediately set about transforming Greyhawk from a squalid, corrupt frontier town into, as he described it, “the Gem of the Flanaess”. He immediately reformed the legal code and transformed the corrupt militia into an efficient fighting force. He quickly put it to good use, inflicting stinging defeats on the brigands who had plagued the Cairn Hills and the road to Urnst. Establishing several mines in the hills, Zagig now took the boldest step yet – setting up a mint to issue coins bearing not the head of the overking, but the arms of the City of Greyhawk. Though this was a gross act of treason, it is doubtful tidings of it ever penetrated the debauchery of the imperial court to reach the ear of the overking.
Having restored a measure of prosperity to the city, Zagig set about a vast program of building. He replaced the city’s stinking open sewers with a network of underground channels. IN 342 CY, he purchased a manor and estate between the Grand Citadel and what was then known as Clerkburg. Zagig bequeathed the man to a group of scholars, thereby founding the Grey College, the oldest of Greyhawk’s many famous schools.
By 370 CY, Zagig had ruled as lord mayor for over forty years. However, in that time he had changed hardly a bit – physically at least. As time went on, however, his behavior became increasingly erratic and strange until it was generally acknowledged (though never openly admitted) that Zagig had gone mad. He is said to have attended one meeting of the city council accompanied by a black dragon, a small army of homunculi, and a flesh golem dressed as the overking!
Nonetheless, he continued with his grand plans for the city – constructing the Free City Arena and, then in 393 CY, founding the Guild of Wizardry. Zagig’s building work in the city were matched by his constructions and excavations at Castle Greyhawk. Atop three mighty rock pinnacles, he raised three soaring towers, the shining tops of which were visible from Greyhawk itself. Not content with building up, the Mad Archmage burrowed into the rock beneath the towers, creating a labyrinth of tunnels and dungeons filled, it is said, with all the strange magical artifacts and wonders that he was wont to collect – and, of course, his vast treasury.
As the fifth century CY and the eight decade of Zagig’s rule dawned, the archmage’s behavior became downright bizarre, even by the high standards he had already set. Over the next twenty years, he enacted trivial laws, forbidding such heinous crimes as fondling ducks on the Processional, the city’s main avenue. Zagig also proposed a set of walls to encompass the rapidly expanding city – but mad from earth, fire, wind and water instead of stone.
Then one day, he was gone, never again to appear in the city of Greyhawk. From time to time he issued bizarre proclamations from his subterranean laboratories in the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk, where he toiled over esoteric experiments meant to grant immortality. Eventually he abandoned the city altogether, falling deeper and deeper into his obsession. For a hundred years Zagig schemed in his darkest dungeons, until at last his delving reached its goal—the Obelisk, a natural obsidian formation infused with pure magical energy. With great effort and assistance from Boccob and St. Cuthbert, Zagig cut a shard from the Obelisk, using the power to entrap nine demigods in specially prepared prison (see Prison of Zagig) meant to siphon their deitific energy. So infused, Zagig achieved apotheosis. “ Zagyg” thereafter withdrew from the Material Plane and his dungeons to serve in the court of Boccob the Uncaring, Archmage of the Gods.
Fortunately, for the people of Greyhawk, he never go to finish his grand plan. On Coldeven 8th, 421 CY, Zagig Yragerne failed to appear for a meeting of the city oligarchs. No-one has seen him since. Those sent to investigate found Castle Greyhawk abandoned but guarded by an array of fierce creatures and terrifying magic. After several expeditions into the castle failed to return, the people of Greyhawk quietly ignored the site and enjoyed the comparative luxury of living in a normal, peaceful life.
Even before his strange experiments, Zagig showed signs of madness. The dungeon levels of Castle Greyhawk served as death traps for three lifetimes of enemies who sought to lay him low. Portals to diverse demiplanes adorned his subterranean dungeons like windows into realms both magnificent and absurd. When the “Mad Archmage” abandoned the world, his clockwork beasts and murderous illusions became rulers of the castle, and Zagig’s great architectural marvel became a death trap without a master—a treasure-gilded proposition too tempting to ignore, but too treacherous to escape from unscathed.