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This week on the Vintage RPG Podcast, we visit Greyhawk, one of the earliest RPG campaign settings. Despite being Gary Gygax’s own homebrew world, Greyhawk struggled to capture the public’s imagination. We talk through the various attempts by TSR to tweak the setting, some dull, some interesting, all weirdly in the shadow of other D&D campaign settings.

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5 thoughts on “Greyhawk

  1. You do realize that Greyhawk was left vague originally on purpose so that DM’s could flesh it out and make it original themselves? The original mindset wasn’t to do everything for a DM but to give them a jumping-off point for making it their own world. This is even outlined in an article in Dragon Magazine #46.

      1. TSR didn’t even remotely take the same barebones approach to other settings that they did with Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance.

        1. Posted that too quickly. TSR took a barebones approach with Greyhawk. They didn’t even remotely take that approach with Forgotten Realms.

  2. Castle Zagyg was subtitled The Upper Works. It was just the first of an intended series of boxed sets detailing the slightly-disguised-to-avoid-litigation Castle Greyhawk. Gygax passed after only that box and the hardcover Yggsburgh (sort-of-but-not-exactly City of Greyhawk). So the reason you don’t hear much about it is because the bulk of the dungeon itself remains unpublished. There has been a lot of fan-driven speculative work done in trying to construct a facsimile of the original. This includes the use of material done by Gygax’s co-DM, Rob Kuntz, reminscinces of Gygax’s players, as well as detective work like forensic studies of convention photos of pages in Gygax’s DM binder. Dungeon of the Mad Mage is one speculative work that is available. Allan Grohe/grodog has an ongoing website project detailing his own painstaking work in pulling together all the known info about Castle Greyhawk. He reveals a lot of truly bananas stuff was deep within the dungeon, so it’s worth Googling his site.

    You mentioned Isle of the Ape. Other published Castle Greyhawk tie-ins are EX1: Dungeonland and EX2: Beyond the Magic Mirtor. It’s also worth noting that there was a portal to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom in Castle Greyhawk.

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