10 August 2017

The Many Levels of Castle Greyhawk - Part 2

In part 1 of this article series, I examined the Castle Greyhawk::El Raja Key relationships reveled in Rob Kuntz's El Raja Key Archive, released last fall. 

In this article, I share an unpublished letter between Gary Gygax and Stephen Chenault of Troll Lord Games, concerning the initial development of the Castle Zagyg project.

Letter from EGG to Stephen Chenault, 14 January 2004

Afternoon Steve:)

Seems as if my email and yours is going to take up a considerable portion of this day, eh? If this goes on much longer I'll phone you +_+

> Thanks for this.  I thought that might be it but then
> looked at the color coded guide and confused myself.

Those colors were put in so as to lessen my own confusion...

> So to recap, does this look roughly online:
> Castle Zagyg
> Part I  Yggsburgh - City and surrounding area

Right, and you have the extent of this super-module set.

> Part II  Dark Chateau - Castle (?)

Well, I suppose a castle-like chateau, more of a cross between a mansion and a fortified dwelling with many outside areas and buildings according to Rob.

> Part III Upper Works - Castle Ruins


> Part IV Beneath the Ground (first three levels)

Storerooms, Cellars, and Dungeon, plus one sublevel, the Arena.

> Part V  The Laboratories, Menagier, Museum (five levels)

The two side levels being the Catacombs and the Upper Crypts.

> Part VI The Deeps (six levels)

These being the Lairs and a side level, the Lower Crypts accessed only from the Upper Crypts above; the Labyrinth and a side level the Warrens that can be accessed from the Labyrinth, the Warrens accessing the Lower Crypts above and the Vaults below; and finally the Endless Rooms with a side level, the Grand Mausoleum, but no entry to the Vaults.

> Part VII The Caverns - grotto, maze (six levels)

Proper order is Maze, Grottos (small caves) and the sublevel Pools of Chaos*, Caves with the Burrows sublevel it connecting to the level below, and Caverns.

* I envision normal connections to the Burrows and Caverns, also transporter pools on level and to various other dungeon level locations on a one-way basis.

> Part VIII Zagig's Way - Lightless Lake, Inferno (three
> levels)

Again, proper order is the Lightless Lake, the Little Inferno, and then Zagyg's Zone (or some such name).

> I've added some working title names that aren't written
> in stone, obviously.



The Levels of The Original Castle Greyhawk (as seen through the lens of Castle Zagyg)

The text from EGG's letter clarifies the original, intended scope for the Castle Zagyg project, and the "Part" designations from Stephen's initial note align to Troll Lord Games' original release schedule for the Castle Zagyg product line (thankfully preserved by Joe Bloch on his Greyhawk Grognard blog), for which Castle Zagyg: The Upper Worksmerely served as the introductory product in a far-grander vision.  A vision that was never realized, unfortunately.

Breaking out the levels from their CZ book groupings yields the following list:
  1. The Storerooms
  2. The Cellars
  3. The Dungeon 
    1. The Arena (sub-level)
  4. The Laboratories
  5. The Menagerie
  6. The Museum 
    1. The Catacombs (sub-level)
    2. The Upper Crypts (sub-level)
  7. The Lairs 
    1. The Lower Crypts (side-level; accessible only from The Upper Crypts above)
  8. The Labyrinth
    1. The Warrens (side-level; accessible from the Labyrinth, while the Warrens also accesses The Lower Crypts above and The Vaults below)
    2. The Vaults (side-/sub-level?)
  9. The Endless Rooms 
    1. The Grand Mausoleum (side-level; no access to The Vaults)
  10. The Maze
  11. The Grottos 
    1. Pools of Chaos (sub-level; accessible to The Burrows and The Caverns, and with transporter pools within this level and to various other dungeon levels' locations on a one-way basis)
  12. The Caves 
    1. The Burrows (sub-level; also accessible to The Caverns below)
  13. The Caverns
  14. The Lightless Lake
  15. The Little Inferno
  16. Zagig's Zone

Next up:  slotting the above information into what we already know about Castle Greyhawk's levels.



  1. Great stuff. Where'd you come up with that letter from Gary to Stephen?

    Glad I kept those descriptions of the planned CZ releases!

    1. Joe: the letter was part of a trove of original manuscripts and correspondence that was in the possession of and lent to me to study by a collector. The 14 January 2004 letter wasn't the only juicy piece of content in the papers, by any means! :D


  2. Leave it to you to present us with "the seldom seen" aspects of Gary. Thanks Allan!

  3. Very interesting, and useful to fan homages.

  4. Great article Allan. I just purchased El Raja Key Archive so I'm looking forward to reading more on this. I just love seeing these nuggets of lore

    1. Thanks guys, I'm a bit more than halfway through the third post in the series, which will hopefully come together over the next week or so.

      EOTB: agreed, and that'll likely spawn some additional pieces later. I've always planned to incorporate some of Gary's and Rob's levels into my version of Castle Greyhawk @ http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_castle_grodog.html and this'll spur me to finalize some selections!



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