Try as I might, gentle reader, I never could get into the beloved 'Megadungeon' or heavy dungeon-crawling. It is probably because of my background: I never started with D&D. I began with the World of Darkness games, and then went to D&D, yet, despite my ultimate dislike of the utter bleakness of games like 'Vampire the Requiem', I can't say they ever influenced me. If that makes me a story gamer, then so be it. Now we come to my use of Castle Greyhawk here. Before we go further down these steps, reader, I must thank Jack Shear over at Tales of Grotesque and Dungeonesque for publishing his book 'Morbid Fantasies'. This primer helped a lot in writing this adventure sketch.
Precis: The players (or player) stumbles upon the relationship between two magicians in their quest. The two magicians are Mordenkainen, the Archmage and his suffering apprentice Iggwilv.
The Role of the Players?
Why are the players involved? There could be a number of reasons, but a sample of ideas include:
-The players are on a main quest to deal with something arcane in nature. They have obtained an item of power, a cursed artifact, or spellbook written in an ancient tongue. They have arrived at Castle Greyhawk to seek Morenkainen's counsel and during they stay notice the issue.
-A local creature is terrorizing the population. The party has been hired to stop this creature, but they are unsure what they are dealing with. They seek out Morenkainen for assistance.
-The player (for a duo game): Is a fellow apprentice of Mordekainen and a colleague / friend of Iggwilv. To further the plot, the player is somewhat Byronic in execution: He is sympathetic and sensitive to Iggwilv, but he also has ambitions to gain Mordenkainen's secrets and is willing to be cold, cruel, and perhaps murderous in order to get that what he thinks he desires most: magical power.
Sitting in his tower, upon a throne crafted from silver is the Archmage of Greyhawk. His eyes are piercing, with a bluish glow to them that gives only a hint of the arcane power that swirls within him. He is and knows he has the powers of an Archmage, and has no problem lording over the nobility who rule the area of Greyhawk. Despite his coldness, he does have a passion for his apprentice: Iggwilv. He teaches her little, partially because Mage's live under the credo of 'Suffer no Rivals' but chiefly he is worried that he shall lose Iggwilv when she leaves, and he has become very use to the idea of seeing her as his.
Iggwilv is a combination of things: beauty, poise, and a gift for the arcane. She has the talent, but lacks the training or access to the greatest of powers. To this, she has entered in apprenticeship to the Archmage Mordenkainen to learn. While she has learned a great deal, she has also learned that Mordenkainen has started seeing her both as a student and as someone to keep his bed warm. So far, our heroine has resisted his advances. But what can she do? She is technically bound as an apprentice, but also knows if she leaves he shall sully her reputation to other Mages whom she might offer her apprenticeship too. Upon meeting the heroes she is charming, but visibly strained or sad due to her treatment.
How the Adventurer's Influence the Plot
We talked about what brings the adventurer's to Castle Greyhawk and why they seek his audience. But how might the player's influence the plot between these two.
-Rescue the Heroine: The Players seeing the sad state of Iggwilv decide to rescue her from her fate. This could include asking Mordenkainen to release her, challenging him to a duel, or taking something of his in order to force an exchange: Her freedom for his object. Trifling with Morenkainen is ill advised and it is very clear his passion burns very hot for his apprentice.
To further this point, in a duo game, the play may in fact also love Iggwilv. If this is in a 'Champion' sort of way. Then he will seek to end her unhappiness by defeating or forcing Morenkainen to release her so they can go off separately. The two could also conspire to murder their Master (again, very hard task, he is an Archmage).
-Spurn the Heroine: The player's can also be indifferent or in fact, fiends to Iggwilv. If they so choose, then they should get their just deserts- they get what they want from Mordenkainen, but also see Iggwilv plunge into some form of madness: Perhaps attacking Mordenkainen in a futile attempt or plunge from the tops of the tower. Either way the party will be haunted by her vengeful ghost for not rendering aid.
For the Byronic Hero (in a duo game): The player either reveals he does indeed love Iggwilv, but desires magical powers or the esteem of the Archmage even more. He also may get what he wants (as in, Mordenkainen dies or retires and names our hero as his heir) but as the hero takes the roll, he finds he also is loathe to reveal any major secret to Iggwilv. As always: A mage suffers no rivals, when an apprentice learns to much they must be sent away. How can he stand sending something lovely out into the world?