Lost Gary Gygax Castle Greyhawk story
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:59 am 
 

I posted this story to Greytalk awhile back, with Gary Gygax's permission.  I thought you all would be particularly intrigued by this item.

    The story appeared in the fanzine El Conquistador in 1975, and runs about four pages. The title is "The Expedition Into the Black Reservoir; A Dungeon Adventure At Greyhawk Castle" and was authenticated by Gary himself as being a story he wrote to promote the new game, Dungeons & Dragons, which is also advertised in the same issue.  The issue also ran a review of D&D, along with another article by Gygax elaborating the idea and themes of D&D.  This story has never been re-published, and as far as I know is perhaps the first ever Greyhawk-specific short story ever published. It is also very rare, having been published in a small-print run zine having to do with play by mail Diplomacy and wargaming campaigns.  Gary said that he no longer has a copy either, having donated it to WOTC a few years back along with other personal items he had.  Anyway, I will post the series of emails that were made to Greytalk, and the story itself, for historical purposes as much as anything, if anyone is interested.  Here is the series of emails:

Date: 5/28/03 10:59:25 AM Central Daylight Time

From:    [email protected] (GARY GYGAX)
To:    [email protected]

Greetings Seekers!

From: [email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 10:35 AM

  <<<Does anyone in this group have any information about a short story by Gary Gygax called "The Expedition Into the Black Reservoir; A Dungeon Adventure At Greyhawk Castle"?  It was published in a small print run magazine in 1975.  The tale describes an adventure into Castle Greyhawk by Erac and his companions.  It runs about 2000 words (4 pages) and I've never seen it reprinted anywhere.  Maybe some long-time Greyhawk scholars have info on this. >>>

Holy Mackeral!  I've totally forgotten that essay, don't even recall the name of the zine in which it was published:(  Sure would like to read that again myself...

Cheers,
Gary

From:    [email protected] (GARY GYGAX)
To:    [email protected]

Greetings Seekers!

From: [email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 11:33 AM

   <<<Thanks Gary!  I forgot you are running around here, >>>

Generally lurking is more like it;)

<<<I didn't know if you would recall this.  You are right, it's more of an adventure description than a short story.  It looks like it was penned to advertise the "new" Dungeons and Dragons game and the "Long awaited Greyhawk supplement" that is advertised in the issue as being available.  There is also a short article by you entitled "What is the Magic of Swords and Sorcery Wargaming?"  in the same issue, a fun little snapshot of the hobby waaaaay back in 1975 (Quote: "If one assumes a base  year of 1972 for the beginning of growth, and uses sales of Dungeons and Dragons and Chainmail as the bases for estimating numbers of players, the following minimum figures can be offered: 1971, minimal; 1972, 2000; 1973, 4000; 1974, 8000; 1975, 16000. Quite obviously, the number of enthusiasts a  year from now should be about double the present number---over 32,000!" Those must have seemed like heady figures 25 years ago! >>>  

Heh...  Likely I exchanged the articles for the ad.  TSR didn't have much available cash back then for sure.  Those numbers were a tad off, as I was not counting about half those who were playing with pirate copies od D&D or else sans buying the game.  hitting 64K in 1976 was thought to be about maxing out when I wrote the article in 75.

  <<<It was published in a very small amateur press mag called "El Conquistador" out of Chicago that covered play by mail Diplomacy leagues and other general wargaming topics.>>>

I remember the zine and the publisher, but his name escapes me--a good fellow in all, though.  there should be copies of El Conquistador in the archives of WotC, as I gave them to TSR way back when.

<<<I doubt there are many, if any at all, of these still around, it looks very small print run.   I'll have to have a friend scan it in and perhaps I can share more of the contents on this forum, with your permission.  I think a virtually unknown piece of Greyhawk memorbilia would excite a lot of members here. There is also an advertisement for GenCon VIII with an entry fee of $1.50 a day/$3.50 for the entire weekend!  Now one attending GenCon could spend that on one drink at the snackbar.... >>>

You have my permission, so by all means do post the material here;)  The attendance fees for GenCon covered the hall rental costs and provided enough for us to take all the workers out for a dinner after the con. We had canned soda and hot dogs for sale at the event, and those made a fair profit also.  The added income was used to pay for ads, programs, and posters.

 <<<I think everyone would also be interested, if memory permits, to find out who played the various characters indicated in the story/adventure description: Erac, Londlar, Nulfyke, and Ugubb.>>>

Erac was a PC of Ernie's.  I will have to ask him if he recalls the other names, who played those characters.

Cheers,
Gary

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:40 pm 
 

I just found out today while googling that Black Gate did an entire article writeup on this last year. Even spelled my name right! Cool!

Black Gate  » Articles   » The Expedition Into the Black Reservoir: A Dungeon Adventure at Greyhawk Castle by Gary Gygax

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:13 am 
 

That is awesome Mike. I will try and follow that link to read the actual story also. I should read Black Gate more often.


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:14 pm 
 

It's a fun story!

Interesting tidbit:  the Black Reservoir level was originally Castle El Raja Key, and was moved into the Expanded Greyhawk Castle after Rob Kuntz became co-DM of the campaign.  The original map is included in Rob's El Raja Key Archive @ http://www.tlbgames.com/collections/archive

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:00 pm 
 

Here is a link I found:

grodog's Castle Greyhawk Archive: The Expedition Into the Black Reservoir; a Dungeon Adventure at Greyhawk Castle by Gary Gygax

Mike B.


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