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Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure
The cover of the module, with art by Clyde Caldwell, showing Mordenkainen the Mage.
|Rules required||1st Ed AD&D|
|Character levels||9 - 12|
Robert J. Kuntz|
Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure by Robert J. Kuntz and Gary Gygax is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, published by TSR, Inc. in 1984. It originally bore the code "WG5" and was intended for use with the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition rules. Because it is one of the WG modules, it is a module intended for the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. It was later updated in 2004 to the Third Edition Revised rules in Dungeon magazine, issue #112, as Maure Castle. There were subsequently two additional installments in issues #124 and #139. In this module, the Queen of the Succubi, Malcanthet appears.
The module begins when the players are informed that a pair of impassable doors has been discovered under the abandoned Maure Castle. Suspecting that these iron doors lead to fantastic treasures, many have tried to gain access, and all have failed.
The adventure is broken up into physical "levels", the first is entered through the doors. Once the players find a means of bypassing the doors, they are presented with a fairly open dungeon with several rooms placed throughout. Each area includes its own challenge, ranging from images that come to life and attack to pools of dangerous fish to a climactic encounter with an iron golem.
On the second level, the party encounters the first modern occupant, Hubehn and his guards, and eventually his master, Eli Tomorast. Eli is an insane mage, bent on the collection of arcane knowledge at all costs. He is in these dungeons to study them and the treasures which they contain.
The final level is populated by worshipers of a demon named Kerzit, which Tomorast had set up as a false god. These worshipers include a band of gnolls, a group of mages (one of whom is surprisingly trigger-happy) and a pair of torturers.
The climax of the module is an encounter with the demon Kerzit himself.
The first three levels of the new module roughly map to the original three levels in the first module, ultimately encountering the demon Kerzit. However, these were substantially expanded, and the events of the updated dungeon include the ramifications of the first module's invasion by Mordenkainen and his band. In fact, the resurrected Eli Tomorast has been plotting his revenge on the mage for several months, though he is in The Statuary (see below) at this time.
Again, the climax of the adventure is a battle with the demon Kerzit.
The Statuary is a new level of Castle Maure included in Dungeon #112. This dungeon is actually part of the castle itself, where the previous levels were outlying complexes. The ancient magics of the Maure "family" are at play in this dungeon, involving a lich, a reconstructed member of the family and an evil psychic entity known as the Id Core which fuels an endless war between the other two.
This is also the new location of Eli Tomorast, who seeks to eliminate the warring forces and gain access to the secrets of Maure Castle.
Chambers of Antiquities
The fifth level of the dungeon was published as a stand-alone module in Dungeon #124 in 2005. The module involves a storehouse of magical traps, artifacts and other devices gathered by the architect of Maure Castle, known only as "Uncle".
The Greater Halls
The sixth dungeon is titled, Maure Castle: The Greater Halls, and was published in 2006 in Dungeon #139. The Greater Halls is a tour of the Maures' dark connections to the Abyss. This adventure pits the players against the devices of the Maures and the machinations of the Demon Queen of Succubi, Malcanthet.
First mentioned in the listing of additional dungeon levels below Maure Castle in Dungeon #112 (see below), Warlock's Walk is a level designed by Uncle as a magical gauntlet and proving ground for the Maure family members. Rob Kuntz ran this level twice at GenCon 2007 (in Indianapolis), and it was also run at GenCon UK in 2007. Kuntz released Warlock's Walk for free on the Pied Piper Publishing web site. The exact relationship and placement of Warlock's Walk relative to the other published levels of Maure Castle remains unknown.
As detailed in fragments Afelbain's Diary (in Dungeon #112, pages 88-89), the following additional levels exist below Maure Castle: 2nd The Retreat, 3rd Old Laboratories and Testing Chambers, 4th Dark Tunnels, 5th Old Dungeon, 6th Chambers of Antiquities, 7th The Statuary, 8th The Greater Halls, 9th The Family Crypts, 10th The Reliquary, 11th The Outer Sanctum, 12th The Treasury, 13th The Old Caves (?), 14th Elluvia's Pit, 15th Warlock's Walk, 16th The Cells, 17th The Furnaces, 18th Olde Master's Level (?). The titles for levels 13 and 18 are somewhat difficult to read due to the layout of the magazine.
Additional information about the Maure Castle dungeon levels is also revealed in James Jacobs' "Demonomicon of Iggwilv" article on Malcanthet in Dragon #353 (Elluvia's Pit is specifically mentioned).
There are at least 8 portals to other planes as Expedition To The Ruins of Greyhawk states that the apprentices of the last Suel mage of power, Slerotin, left Oerth at Maure castle, each to their own personal demiplane. The key to access one world is a magical device called an Octych. Only one Octych has been discovered (in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk), and another lies in Dragotha's treasure hoard in Paizo's "Age of Worms" adventure "Into the Wormcrawl Fissure" (in Dungeon Magazine 134 [May 2006]), while the others remain lost.
This module, according to the Introduction, was based on the campaign that Robert J. Kuntz ran for Gary Gygax, and they later both worked on. The original version was written in 1972-1973. Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, however, was the first published form of the adventure. This campaign, in its pre-commercial form, was the seed from which much of the World of Greyhawk campaign setting and the Dungeons & Dragons game itself originated. Gygax wrote about his experiences in this game in what would later be called "one of the foundations of our favorite hobby," by Dungeon magazine Editor-in-Chief, Erik Mona. Gygax's article was written for the May issue of Wargamer's Digest, and was later reprinted in the Dungeon issue which acted as sequel and rules update to the original module in July of 2004.
The publication contains versions of Gygax's characters, Mordenkainen the Mage, Yrag the Lord, Riggby the Patriarch and Bigby the Wizard, but is designed to allow the introduction of the players' own characters if they wish.
Some iconic creatures of the Dungeons & Dragons game were first introduced in the pre-commercial version of this adventure in the 1970s such as the Iron Golem which claimed the lives of two of Gygax's characters, and was inspired by the Conan the Barbarian books by Robert E. Howard.
In 2004 the module was updated to the 3.5 edition rules by Robert J. Kuntz, Erik Mona and James Jacobs (with some advisory material provided by Gary Gygax), and re-titled "Maure Castle." Dungeon magazine typically contains 3 adventures and a number of columns. Issue #112 was dominated by the updated module, and contained no other adventures. The module itself was preceded by a reprint of the 1974 article/short story "Swords and Sorcery - In Wargaming" by Gary Gygax, which introduced Dungeons & Dragons.
Dungeon Magazine #112 won the 2005 Gold ENnie for Best Adventure, and was one of the first "modern" issues of Dungeon to sell out, even with a much-larger print-run than usual (per Erik Mona, editor and publisher).
Rick Swan reviewed the adventure in The Space Gamer #73. Swan noted that this module's "action is non-stop and there is no chance for your attention to wander" and felt that the "module is a breeze to run and can accommodate any element you wish to add or subtract. Hack-and-slashers don't come any slicker than this." Swan felt that "Moredenkainen has little to offer experienced D&D players," but it is more appropriate for younger, inexperienced players.
- Gygax, Gary (1974). "Swords and Sorcery — In Wargaming". Wargames Digest. Gygax introduces the Dungeons & Dragons game and discusses the Iron Golem encounter in WG5.
- Swan, Rick (March/April 1985). "Capsule Reviews". The Space Gamer (Steve Jackson Games) (73): 34-35.
- Jacobs, James. "Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Malcanthet." Dragon Magazine #353 (Paizo Publishing, 2007).
- Kuntz, Robert J. "Chambers of Antiquities." Dungeon #124 (Paizo Publishing, 2005).
- Kuntz, Robert J. "The Greater Halls." Dungeon #139 (Paizo Publishing, 2006).
- Kuntz, Robert J, and Gary Gygax. Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure (TSR, 1984).
- Kuntz, Robert J., Erik Mona, James Jacobs & Gary Gygax. "Maure Castle." Dungeon #112 (Paizo Publishing, 2004).