Maure Castle

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Maure Castle is a massive castle and dungeon complex located in the Duchy of Urnst. "Maure Castle" is also the title of an adventure from Dungeon #112.

Maure Castle stands to the east of the Cairn Hills at the western edge of the Duchy of Urnst, not far from the town of Pontyrel. It is a tall obsidian keep surrounded by a curtain wall.

History

Maure Castle was first established by the Maure family in the Urnst area shortly after the escape of the last refugees of the Suel Imperium under Slerotin over a thousand years ago. The Maures built the castle as a massive obsidian stronghold where the family could safely conduct magical research meant to recreate the prowess of the Suel Mages of Power. A number of these mages met one last time on an eight-pointed star at the entrance to one of the castle's dungeon complexes, outside a set of unopenable doorrs, and from there transported themselves and their knowledge to parts unknown.

Over the centuries, succeeding generations of House Maure have built dungeons underneath the complex, none more busy than the generation led by a man known only as "Uncle", the leader of the family at the time of its collapse centuries ago. It is Uncle and his relations who dug many of the currently-existing and explored dungeons. Uncle also initiated or continued the worship of a being that is known only as "Y", and devoted, along with the other Maure, much time and energy on attempts to summon him, her, or it.

In the 550s CY, a group of Seekers under Eli Tomorast were able to enter through the Unopenable Doors and began a systematic search and ransacking of some of the outlying complexes. However, Tomorast had an ulterior agenda as well, having previously discovered a book known as the Tome of the Black Heart, he wanted a concealed place to summon a minor demon lord known as Kerzit.

In the 560s CY, Mordenkainen and his companions Bigby, Riggby, and Yrag delved into the dungeons to face off against Tomorast and his Seekers, seemingly killing Tomorast and several of his men and making off with many of the choicest treasures of the subcomplex.

However, Tomorast was not dead for long -- he was raised by a cleric of the gnoll demon lord Yeenoghu. Soon, with a revamped Seeker organization, Tomorast began delving deeper into the secrets of the castle, recently even finding some communication between the outlying complex he has occupied and the main dungeon complex under the castle proper.

Known Levels

The Great Hall

The Great Hall was an outlying "villa" meant for entertaining guests of House Maure in debauched ceremonies that were part religious service, part Bacchanalia. Centuries after the family's fall, the area was taken over as a headquarters for the Seekers under Tomorast who were looting the three levels of the complex.

The southern portion of the level was devoted to a gladiatorial arena where constructs and living beings fought for the amusement of House Maure. Among these was a massive stone golem.

Tomorast's Hold

At one time, the area now known as Tomorast's Hold was a center of worship for esoteric Suel cults, including one dedicated to Malcanthet. The most important of the four was one that worshipped the prophetic powers of a purple stone that had survived the Rain of Colorless Fire. It was the power of these cults that caused House Maure to erect the unopenable doors and seal off the complex, fearing a threat to their power and existence.

In more recent times, this location has become the personal domain of Tomorast.

Kerzit's Fane

This level was not built by House Maure, instead it was constructed by Tomorast from a warren of caverns, and is used as a place to summon and worship the demon Kerzit. Also there are a clan of gnolls who worship Yeenoghu, and who only refrain from attacking the Seekers and the Kerzit cultists due to the intervention of the gnolls' priestess.

The Statuary

This level, unlike the previous three, is a true adjunct of the castle proper, as opposed to being an outlying bunker set up by the Maure with no direct access to the castle grounds. Here was a private place of worship and reflection for House Maure, where they kept a shrine to their gods (including "Y") as well as statues of famous Maure of the past. After the fall of the house, the region also became infested with an entity known as the "Id Core" a psychic manefestation of the Maure family. It is now the private demense of Aeltoqq, a lich and former general of House Maure's private undead army (created by the necromancer Afelbain Maure centuries ago).

The Chambers of Antiquities

The Chambers of Antiquities was a magical research level for the Maure, where "Uncle" stored interesting magical artifacts that he had discovered while traveling across the Oerth. Guarding the (already otherwise perilous) level is an immense construct hydra.

The Greater Halls

This level served a dual purpose: One portion was given over to Bersteck Maure who maintained several alchemical laboratories, while other portions of the level were used as "barracks" for Afelbain's undead army. However, with Afelbain removed from the picture, the chambers have become chaotic and are ruled by gangs of undead with differing agendas. The area also contains specially-enchanted portraits of numerous deities and demons (including the aforementioned "Y") and seems to hold the interest of Malcanthet as well. The level leads to an as-of-yet unwritten level, a reliquary devoted to "Y."

Warlock's Walk

This level is detailed on Rob Kuntz's website[1] in 1st edition AD&D terms an in the Oerth Journal #23 in 3rd edition D&D terms.[2]. The level was set up by "Uncle" as a test for the members of the Maure family.

Publication history

Maure Castle first appeared in print as the central location of WG5, Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure in 1984, which saw the epynonymous mage and his companions (supplied as pre-generated characters) recreate their fight against Tomorast. The module was written by the dungeon's original creator, Robert J. Kuntz, after the notes of the original campaign played by him and Gary Gygax in the '70s. The environs of Maure Castle were also detailed in Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins.

In 2004, Kuntz and Gygax returned to Maure Castle in the pages of Dungeon, authoring "Maure Castle" an updated version of WG5. New levels of the dungeon by Kuntz appeared in two subsequent issues of Dungeon, hinting at the motivations of the Maure family who had built the complex and castle. With the cancellation of Dungeon, material that Kuntz had submitted to Paizo before the license expired is in the custody of Wizards of the Coast, and their plans for the material remain unknown. Kuntz has, however, stated that he will continue to release chapters of the dungeons for free, both on his website and through the webzine Oerth Journal.

The latest level, "Warlock's Walk," was debuted in August, 2007 at Origins UK.

Creative origins

Maure Castle grew out of Kuntz's "Castle El Raja Key" location in the original Greyhawk campaign.

Bibliography