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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The Ruined Tower of Zenopus: Printer-Friendly Player's Map file added

Printer-Friendly Player's Map for the Ruined Tower of Zenopus


Just a quick note that I've added a new file to the set of files for The Ruined Tower of Zenopus on DMs Guild. A customer recently requested a printer-friendly version of the dungeon map that was added in the last update to the PDF. I looked in my files, and I had actually already created this sort of map, so I uploaded it as a separate file that can be downloaded with purchase. A preview is shown above.

This brings the set of files included for download to four: (1) the PDF of the adventure, which includes the printer-friendly DM's Map; (2) the new printer-friendly Player's Map; (3) VTT/Roll20 version of the DM's Map with black background; and (4) VTT/Roll20 version of the Player's Map with black background. 

BTW, the adventure itself is currently on sale until March 13th for $1.39 as part of DMs Guild's annual GM's Day sale.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Gygax's "City on the Edge" Adventure


Detail of the World of Greyhawk map by Darlene, showing Veluna west to Zeif
(click on the image for a larger view)

Nearly two decades ago, Gary Gygax wrote the following in a pair of posts on EnWorld:

"...A couple of years back a group from Tennessee visited, and I designed an adventure for them that would indeed take them from Greyhawk all the way west of Zeif, looking for a haunted city there. After eight hours they'd not made it much further than Rel Mord*, so that was the end of the adventure. Pity..."

"...It was indeed a shame thy chaps didn't return as they promised when they left. They brought their own PCs of around 8th level, but one lost a couple of levels to some wights, so they stopped in Rel Mord to have the clerics there restore them.

BTW, I suspect that they didn't come back because their van caught fire and was totally destroyed on the way home. They did save their dice..."

(Obvious typos corrected for readability)
*Likely this was actually Lopolla, as Rel Mord is east of Greyhawk; see below

These comments suggested that Gygax did something rare in his post-TSR years: returned to the actual World of Greyhawk campaign world for an adventure, and not just Castle Greyhawk, which he ran multiple times at conventions and at least one home campaign. As he wrote on EnWorld in 2005: "No, seldom if ever do i run O/AD&D game sessions on the WoG. Once the setting passed from my hands I lost interest in it." And for this game, he didn't just run one of his many older adventures, but actually created a new adventure that further developed the setting, by placing a new adventure location in Zeif. Despite the significance of this, it passed without much notice and has been mostly forgotten for the last two decades.

However, this past week Gene Weigel, who blogs here, found that he had saved an earlier post by Gygax from July 2001, made to another forum since deleted, perhaps lejendary.com. In it, Gygax reveals more about the details of what must be this same adventure, including the mysterious name of the haunted city, The City on the Edge, which predates Zeif itself:

"Most of the group was having a bit of cool refreshment--soda, beer, and a few of those lemon ice drinks with vodka. Four beers or whatever over as many hours is pretty well a wash...room trip or two.

I tried to move things along as much as possible while keeping with requisite roleplay and wandering encounters. The party was traveling west from Veluna City to discover "The City on the Edge" in far-distant Zeif. They had acquired a map, and the 12th level paladin in the group determined to find this lost city, purge it of its evil. A tall order, as I explained it was there when the Bakluni came to Oerik, and it was quickly shunned way back then!

The upshot is that they made Lopolla as noted, traveling with a band of dervishes randomly encountered, most fortuitously for them and me as DM. With the assistance of the Rhennee they made Thornward by river, then trekked over the Penwilds (the hills below the Bramblewood Forest--those further west and south at the foot of the Barrier Peaks being the Pennor Hills/Pennors.

The barrow with the super-specter was in the Bramblewood. Thereafter the party made it to the river hamlet the dervishes knew of, purchased dugout canoes, and went down the Tuflik to Lopolla.

Sadly, it was then near 11 PM and we had to quit--about half-way to the place where the shunned City of the Edge lies on the shore of the Dramidj.

Gary"

(Obvious typos corrected for readability)

You can trace the journey from Veluna to Lopolla that he describes here on the World of Greyhawk map excerpt that I placed at the top of this post.

The materials that Gygax created for this adventure are not completely lost to time. In a reply to a post Gene made in the Gary Con FB group, Paul Stormberg, Creative Director of the Gygax Archive revealed:

"I did indeed run across the materials for this campaign with maps for Lopolla, the Plains of the Paynims, and details on the City on the Edge and its strange ruler and inhabitants."

So with luck perhaps we will one day learn more about the mysterious City on the Edge, such as why it has its name. Is it merely because it is on the edge of the world (i.e., the Greyhawk map), or is it something more sinister, like the edge of another plane of existence?

Besides just sounding like a fascinating adventure, this work is significant in that it is some of the last development work that Gygax ever did for the World of Greyhawk. To this short list we might add the pseudo-Greyhawk Yggsburgh region for Castle Zagyg.

* * * * *

Gary Gygax's World of Greyhawk boxed set (1983), which includes Darlene's maps, is available as a pdf from DMs Guild here (affiliate link included).