5E Revising Castle Grayhawk for 5e


This infamous dungeon is known for some good, a lot of bad and a lot of "great gravy what were you thinking."

So throwing this up for the good folk on enworld in how would you revise it for 5e.

What worked?

What didn't?

What should be simply tossed aside?

What should you lean into?
 

ninjayeti

Explorer
No. Just No.

The problem isn't that this is a joke dungeon - the problem is it's a joke dungeon that's about as funny as Tomb of Horrors.

IIRC (and I trashed my copy decades ago so I am reaching way back) much of the humor was pop culture figures translated into D&D - e.g. a hafling with a floppy hat and long scarf named "Dr. What." There was another part where chefs were cooking up Black Puddings (get it - 'cause the're puddings! ROTFLOL!) These are literally the BEST jokes I remember from the module. As a 13 year old I found the humor too stupid to be funny, and at that age I though fart jokes were refined satire.

The article you link calls it a "a puerile, unfunny collection of shlock." That's pretty generous IMHO.
 

Nebulous

Hero
I LOVE the cover though. Keith Parkinson! I might have owned this eons ago but I don't remember it. I certainly never used any of it if I did. But damn that cover is cool. I wish I had some miniatures that look like these guys.

 

uzirath

Adventurer
So throwing this up for the good folk on enworld in how would you revise it for 5e.
Start over. Entirely. This thing was such a monstrous insult. I don't really know the Gygax lore around this, but even if notes to his original ideas exist, I don't think they would make a good 5e adventure. If someone were to seriously tackle this—as a way, perhaps, of bringing Greyhawk into 5e—I would recommend honoring the legacy of EGG by creating a truly marvelous, fresh adventure. It should have plenty of Greyhawk lore and pay respects to things Gygaxian, but it shouldn't just appeal to the OSR crowd. It's a tall order.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
So throwing this up for the good folk on enworld in how would you revise it for 5e.
To quote Johnny the Fire Elemental from said adventure FLAME ON! Seriously, just toss it into a bonfire and forget about it. It was never meant to be a good adventure, but to be an insult to Gary Gygax. I didn't even like the 2E version, but at least that one treated it with some respect.

This is just a pile of gags thrown together with no rhyme or reason. There's nothing that resembles a plot, and is instead meant to mock the standard dungeon crawl. The only potential use would be as a surprise April Fools adventure to piss off your players.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
While most of it was execrable, I did like the Island of Unused Monsters, where loads of critters (mostly from the FF) that DMs never used in adventures all lived together, and ate flumphs to get by....
 

Coroc

Adventurer
No. Just No.

The problem isn't that this is a joke dungeon - the problem is it's a joke dungeon that's about as funny as Tomb of Horrors.

IIRC (and I trashed my copy decades ago so I am reaching way back) much of the humor was pop culture figures translated into D&D - e.g. a hafling with a floppy hat and long scarf named "Dr. What." There was another part where chefs were cooking up Black Puddings (get it - 'cause the're puddings! ROTFLOL!) These are literally the BEST jokes I remember from the module. As a 13 year old I found the humor too stupid to be funny, and at that age I though fart jokes were refined satire.

The article you link calls it a "a puerile, unfunny collection of shlock." That's pretty generous IMHO.
This ^^, while I greatly love the classical greyhawk stuff and many of it is easily converted to 5e, castle greyhawk, although I own the book, is one of the things which I will not bother with.

On the humor (Spoiler) one thing is really funny, the stone faces which all boost an attribute by one point , which was a big boon back then, but one of them, looking very odd, only gave the character face the ugly look of the face and reduced his charisma by two or so.
 

QuentinGeorge

Adventurer
This ^^, while I greatly love the classical greyhawk stuff and many of it is easily converted to 5e, castle greyhawk, although I own the book, is one of the things which I will not bother with.

On the humor (Spoiler) one thing is really funny, the stone faces which all boost an attribute by one point , which was a big boon back then, but one of them, looking very odd, only gave the character face the ugly look of the face and reduced his charisma by two or so.
If you want an official product that, go and convert Greyhawk Ruins (2E) or Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (3E). If you want an unofficial product that is probably as close to a complete Castle Greyhawk as you will get, pick up Castle of the Mad Archmage.

Stay far away from the module called "Castle Greyhawk" unless you want to run it as a weird dream or portal within a better version of the Castle.

(Hilariously though, Wizards seems insistent on using the apprentices that this module gave Mordenkainen - see, most recently Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. I believe there is some commentary from Xort).
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
(Hilariously though, Wizards seems insistent on using the apprentices that this module gave Mordenkainen - see, most recently Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. I believe there is some commentary from Xort).
Actually, Mordenkainen was originally a PC.
Mordenkainen - Wikipedia

That's the case for most (if not all) of the wizards whose names are on official spells. IIRC Melf was named so because he was a male elf.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
If you want an official product that, go and convert Greyhawk Ruins (2E) or Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (3E). If you want an unofficial product that is probably as close to a complete Castle Greyhawk as you will get, pick up Castle of the Mad Archmage.

Stay far away from the module called "Castle Greyhawk" unless you want to run it as a weird dream or portal within a better version of the Castle.

(Hilariously though, Wizards seems insistent on using the apprentices that this module gave Mordenkainen - see, most recently Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. I believe there is some commentary from Xort).
Well I know only the 2e version (WGR1 it is I think), all my comments still stand, The 2e version is everything else than a castle (or cellar levels of a castle). It has some of the fun stuff within and it is highly illogic in what monsters it contains and where and why at different levels of the structure.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So throwing this up for the good folk on enworld in how would you revise it for 5e.
I would get a copy.

I would get a sharpie.

I would blacken all the pages so they couldn't be read.

I would then tear out all the pages.

I would put all the pages, including the cover, through a shredder.

I would take the shredded pages and burn them into ashes.

I would bury the ashes on a deserted island.

I would salt the earth where I buried the ashes.

...and then I would tell people that the island was the location of the longest-running debate between people that like, and don't like, the new Star Wars movies.



This module was my last purchase from TSR (and my last D&D purchase) for quite some time. Even thinking about it makes me feel Hulk-levels angry in a way that few things in pop culture, except perhaps the series finale of Dexter, do.

If you enjoy this module, you are a bad, bad person.
 
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JeffB

Hero
If you want to stick with TSR versions- then GH Ruins is the way to go. But overall it's not muh like the actual CGH. It's mostly TSR designer works with a few of the names/locations from the actual CGH.

If you want to get as close to Gary's as possible then you need to try to find, and then shell out cash for Castle Zagyg products from TLG. It's not Castle GH exactly as it was in say 1973 but it's Gary's version of Castle GH as it was played over the years/expanded/modified.

Sadly he never got to complete it (with Jeff T's help) and Gail pulled the contract from The Trolls after his death- it seems unlikely we will ever see a CGH that is as true as CZ was unless Gail grants someone a contract or sells the rights.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Hi, I am Jasper! Have we met?
So, on a serious note. The actual issues with the module.

1. It wasn't Castle Greyhawk. This may seem like a small thing now ... but you have to remember that this was the culmination of the 70s to the 80s, in the low-information era wherein people mostly received D&D updates from either conventions, Dragon Magazine, or from someone at the FLGS saying that a "friend of a sister's cousin heard that their dad was talking to a guy and ..." So Castle Greyhawk was something that was rumored, and hinted at, and generated genuine excitement. So the disparity between what people WANTED (the most sought-after dungeon of all time from EGG) and what people RECEIVED (a terrible parody module) was the greatest of any product in D&D history. I mean ... let's see. Do you remember when South Park aired the Canadian Terence and Philip episode as an April Fool's joke instead of resolving a cliffhanger? It was kind of like that, except add in someone coming to your house and punching you repeatedly. Yeah, like that. Do I exaggerate? Eh, probably not.

Point is- if you had any love for Greyhawk at all, this was an insult.

2. It was incredibly mean-spirited. A lot of the "jokes" inside of it were at the expense of other people in the industry, including Gygax. Look, say what you want about EGG, but using his own most famous property to insult him? Not cool. And this nastiness shone through- even if you didn't fully "get" what was going on, you kinda grokked it. You bought it hoping for one thing, and you read it realizing, "Hey, looks like they are just kicking the guy gratuitously now that they've kicked him out of the company."

3. The jokes weren't good. Humor is subjective, as I well know. But ... this was like someone was trying to re-create a Paranoia adventure, badly. Really badly. There was no there, there. No cohesion. No real humor. It's not fun to read, and (even worse) the few meager jokes in it don't translate well to play. So even if it didn't already suffer from being terrible because it wasn't Castle Greyhawk, and being nasty & mean, it's just a really bad module with flat humor that reads poorly and plays worse.


ARGHHH! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME RECALL THIS!


 
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Nosaje

Villager
Shades, you can just burn that module as other have said. Unless you are using it run a comedic type of adventure. It has nothing to do with Castle Greyhawk. Pick up Ruins of Castle Greyhawk or Expedition, they at least try to be Castle Greyhawk. Also you can always try to find a copy of Gary's work with Troll Lord Games. Unfortunately there will never be a Castle Greyhawk at this point, RPG vaporware. :(
 

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