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Sunday, March 6, 2022

Gygax's "City on the Edge" Greyhawk 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 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 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.


(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).


  1. "City on the Edge of Forever?" Time travel, changing the past and returning to "Mirror Greyhawk?"

    1. That is a possibility. He did watch the OS ("I did watch most of the Star Trek programs, preferring the more recent ones to the original season" as he said on DF). If nothing else, the episode name may have stuck in his head.

  2. very cool. Thanks! I think Baron Greystone must be correct. City on the Edge is almost certainly an allusion to the Star Trek episode.

  3. Very cool - so nice to hear Gary's conversational tone. Thanks for reproducing his comments!

    I wonder if it's known who the players were?

    1. I did look to see if he mentioned the players anywhere else, but didn't turn up anything. I wonder how they convinced him to run a game set in the World of Greyhawk again.

    2. Has anyone ever tried to do an open call out for people who played with Gygax in other than published adventures (or in, really) to pool their knowledge and recollections so as to have the best basis for reconstructions, knowledge of what house rules he ueednover time, etc.?

      I could see questions being answered and maybe a couple of "illusory grails" laid to rest...

  4. In the Doomsday Games forum thread that I linked above, GR Welsh points out Gord travels through some of this same territory, i.e., the Pen-Wilds to Hlupallu (Lopolla), in the Sea of Death, on pages 70-71.

  5. There was also an episode of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon called The City at the Edge of Midnight. That might also be a source of the name.

    1. Thanks for mentioning that. I came across that when I was searching the name of the city in association with Gygax. He wasn't a write of the episode, but definitely a possibility there is some kind of association.

  6. Over the Piazza, Night Druid suggested that the City on the Edge is reminiscent of the Nameless City by Lovecraft, which I think is an excellent observation, checking several of the same boxes, including a Near-East inspired location, an unknown origin predating current civilization, and shunning by the locals.

  7. So cool! Being a native Tennesseean, it really makes me want to track down who those gamers were.