Castle of the Mad Archmage Update

You have spoken, and I have heard you.

I confess I did not expect the outpouring of support and love for my humble attempt at creating a mega-dungeon that followed my announcement last Tuesday that the Castle of the Mad Archmage project would be suspended. Both in the comments and in private emails, folks have expressed not only their love of the product itself, but a willingness to actually support the effort financially.

I am honestly, truly, overwhelmed. Thank you, my friends, for the vote of confidence and support.

So, I’m willing to reverse myself and complete at least the initially-planned levels 2-12. However, there is a catch. You will note a “donate” button is now firmly ensconsed in the upper-right corner of the blog. As donations come in, levels will go out. I don’t want to tie things to a specific dollar amount per level, because I have absolutely no idea what the response will be to this experiment, but rest assured that if there is donation activity, I will most definitely be spurred on to keep writing.

So if the spirit moves you to do so, please consider making a donation to keep the Castle of the Mad Archmage project alive. Details to come once I see how this experiment plays itself out. And thanks again; this development is beyond my expectations.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

22 thoughts on “Castle of the Mad Archmage Update

  1. Actually, I was of the personal opinion that you did a good thing by suspending this and focusing on your own endeavors, because of the following reasons.

    1) I always felt doing this project, while you had good intentions, didn't sit right with me. Gary had always grumbled about WoTC doing the wrong version, etc. While he never attacked the designers, I have a feeling he would have been irritated by somebody else trying to do another erstaz version of it, however well intended it is.

    2) A lot of people are using CoTMA to sort of "get revenge" on Gail Gygax / Gygax Games and her plans for Castle Zagyg. I've heard a lot of people say that on message boards, etc. Somehow I doubt that's a good way to honor either the man or his creations, and while I won't say there isn't legitimate criticism deserved, I have become disgusted at the treatment of Gail by Gary's so-called "fans". (And it makes me wonder what people wanted–if you didn't want to read Gary's own writing (or at least the core that got fleshed out) or get it from the source–what was the point of buying the TLG project in the first place?)

    3) I feel the best way to honor Gary is not to retread/rehash Greyhawk or even D&D, but to actually create your own world and game system. That's the true measure of creativity. I think rather than focusing on the Castle you can start fleshing out your own worlds or systems, much like Gary did several times after he left TSR.

    I mean nothing against you Mr. Bloch, and I don't think this project was in any way meant to be mean-spirited, but I did feel this had to be said. I do hope you get to focus on other endeavors that surpass this.

  2. Have you considered using Fundable (or similar)? A project based donation escrow both motivates content creation and allows supporters to confidently target their preferred content.

    Just a thought.

  3. I put my money where my mouth is.

    I understand what John is saying but I am glad that someone is completing a version of the Castle in the style Gygax laid out. I don't think if I did my own that it would do it justice.

    I intend to use it with the TLG-CZ products and if Gygax Games ever does produce its version of the Castle, then I intend to buy it too.

    With Gary gone and a version of his Castle still not out, I think the odds are worse for us seeing a version of it. So, I'm glad that Joe has been able to delve at a release rate of a level per month and if PPP Games releases it's contributions to the Castle, I'll buy those too.

    Respect to everyone all around and "cheers" as some say,


  4. I just like to see a big dungeon project finished, so I donated a few dollars. I'm a bit afraid that money makes for poor motivation (I heard there are studies to prove this?) but what do I know. If it works, awesome! 🙂

  5. John, bear in mind that CotMA is not intended to "honor" Gary Gygax. It is to fill a hole he left behind (in my own campaign, originally). I'm sure he would be quite irritated by it, and thus I didn't even consider doing anything like it until he was no longer with us. You've noted your displeasure (more than once, and in more than one place, if I recall). Now please move on.

    Rainswept, it's definitely an idea once (if) the system and setting stuff gets off the ground. At the moment, I'm still having fun discussing the theoretical stuff. I think I can probably coax PayPal into doing the sort of targeted donations you're talking about, too…

    Raymond, most appreciated!! I've got to say I'll be buying anything that GG comes out with, too, and the PPP material as well (naturally). Nobody's losing any of my money, I can tell you that.

  6. This is great news, and I will be donating come payday. I was really, really hoping you'd keep this going, Joseph. It's been one of the most exciting projects of the year.

  7. Joe, I'm not sure where you got that idea, I only remember saying something about it in an old ENWorld thread, and I apologized there for my tone there.

    And I don't believe I targeted you directly. I'm not one of those old schoolers who spend time bitching and moaning about the "scabs" at TSR, etc, or proclaim how dare anybody else write for D&D/Greyhawk.

    I just thank your honesty and clearning up that particular point–the only thing that ever gets me mad is people who say they are "honoring" Gary and then doing stuff I know he wouldn't like.

    Moving on…

  8. My spirit agrees with many of the comments preceding mine. But, I just couldn't wait 'til payday.

    Your CotMA Project & Blogs have given much inspiration and entertainment to me. And if you hopefully will be inclined to continue, I will donate again.

    Thank you.


  9. Great news! It made my day. I'll be shooting a little money your way in a few.

    Thanks for dusting yourself off and climbing back in the saddle.

  10. Donation made this morning. I appreciate what you've done so far and I hope to see more Castle of the Mad Archmage goodness.

  11. "lot of people are using CoTMA to sort of 'get revenge' on Gail Gygax / Gygax Games and her plans for Castle Zagyg."

    What a horrible accusation. For most of us, it's just a very, very well-produced AD&D megadungeon that continues in the spirit of Upper Works.

    And I'm of the opinion that Gary Gygax wanted players and DMs to make the Greyhawk setting their own, up to an including the Castle dungeons mentioned so often in Dragon, the folio and boxed set, etc.

  12. FYI Will, it's not an accusation, it's a fact that some people HAVE done that. It might not be the majority, but there are a few.

    As for "opinion", it does not change how EGG would feel. It's one thing to create your own, it's another thing to actually share a product as an "unofficial sequel". Joe admits above that he knows Gary would have been annoyed. (I was originally thinking Joe did this as a tribute, so I know now this has been cleared up).

    Just as an FYI–I tend to speak out about this a little bit–not this project, but when people quote Gary and interpret things, I try to correct them if I see errors. There's a tendency now that he's dead to quote and invoke his name, and I don't mind so long as its accurate. But if it's inaccurate based on the years I got to know the man, I do think it's my duty to correct misinterpretations, especially if he's not around to do it himself. I don't want to see misinterpretations become "canon" and become an Internet meme.

    For instance, one old schooler is putting a quote Gary made and emphasizing the fact that "Piracy" helped D&D in his signature, when in actuality there are several public and private statements he had criticizing the OGL and he would never sell electronic PDFs because of that. That's a case of misinterpretation–either accidental due to ignorance or a deliberate self-delusion or hypocrisy to back up the quoter's own opinion.

    That's the kind of thing I don't think I should ever remain silent on.

  13. Donated.
    Well, i use COtMA for it's own sake, not for "honoring" Gygax, but for my campaign. I'm also waiting for the TLG project and CZ, I respect the original envisions. I'm also looking forward PPP. In the meantimes I feel COtMA as a good project and therefore I help it.

  14. Oh, so you're telling me that you, "John", are a bonafide practicing Necromancer capable of communing with the spirits of the dead?

    And, furthermore, you've determined via your esoteric sorceries that one J. Bloch is out of line in presenting his Greyhawk fan materials, despite the fact that he has never, and I mean not once EVER, preseted that same material as "Gary Gygax's Offical Castle X?"

    Do you have any idea what a clown you are?

  15. Will,

    My full name is John R. Troy. I have worked with the man since the Dangerous Journeys days, since 1993. I got to know the man well in the later half of the 90s, and you will see my name on most of his products, including Yggsburg.

    I am not capable of "communicating with the dead", but I can say I can more accurately can estimate (not 100% mind you, I think only Gail gets a 95% or higher) how he would react based on getting to know him, probably a lot better than some people who just knew him on the message boards.

  16. This stops NOW.

    John, find another venue to present your opinion. Coming in here and essentially saying "you're wrong for doing what you're doing" is rude enough, but to argue your point after already being asked to "move along" is trollish.

    I don't care to hear your opinion on this subject any more, John.

  17. Donated within my means.

    Nothing said here has dissuaded me of my opinion that Joe is doing the community a service.

  18. Carry on, Joe!

    "The Revenge of Gygax" will best be seen whenever a release of further materials materializes.

    It is truly unfortunate a fleshed out core of the legendary castle never reached fruition. A void was left after the passing of our Great Inspirer. I admire Joe's attempt at filling the void for himself. He shared his own inspirations as a motivating impetus for us all. How many of us are taking what he has provided and making it something uniquely their own. No one ever EVER uses an adventure as given. Not really.

    We all have our own turn at the brush to paint our own masterpiece, even if we start with the same canvas.


  19. Joe, your brainchild is a worthy successor to the UW, don't let anyone tell you any different. I feel quite certain that the DM of DMs would only smile on this endeavour. (Oh yeah, donated.)


  20. It's great to see this project continuing. I think it's one of the most inspiring adventures to come out in the old-school vein, and more importantly, it gives me something to use in tandem with Upper Works. This is awesome.

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