Previews807 zagigIn 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.

CASTLE GREYHAWK: BIRTHPLACE OF ADVENTURE
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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.

106981Among 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.

107003Iuz’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.

Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk

Raven ScottPack Kizan