I'm still here. I'm basically waiting until things begin to take some more shape, and all of my spare energy is going into prepping for the Greyhawk campaign I really want. Not owning any of Gary's C&C publications, I'm reading up on what others have said, particularly regarding Castle Zagyg: Upper Works. Joe Bloch, Grodog, MerricB at enworld, the dragonsfoot and knights & knaves forums, have proved indispensible- thanks guys. Time is brief, but I will offer this summary of my intended plans for the Upper Works:
1) I for one love the idea of the Mouths of Madness- Keep on the Borderlands is a favourite of mine, and I think a more sedate set of dungeon forays might stabilise the PCs as an adventuring party. Dealing with squabbling humanoids piecemeal is great for setting a tone of determined, intelligent play, and will help to build confidence in the group. I briefly considered simply redrawing the maps for the Caves of Chaos to fit the bluffs around Castle Greyhawk, but I think I'll enjoy the challenge of "working to order", so to speak, with my own take on the Kobolds, Gnolls, Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, Ogres and exotic monstrous fauna included in that now prohibitively expensive tome,. I like it. I think things will be hard enough for the PCs downstairs, and I want a sandbox, as opposed to a 'the dungeon's over here' type of campaign.
2) I've definately settled on Castell Coch as my model for the ruined Castle Greyhawk. It is smallish, but I feel it has just the right atmosphere for the Mad Archmage's above ground demesne. At one time austere, self-contained and lavish, I imagine this as the Castle wherein a powerful but not yet irredeemably mad wizard might conduct the research that sends him, as Gary put it, "zany". The unfathomable depths of the labyrinth he subsequently constructed beneath gives the measure of Zagyg's insanity- I like the idea of the dungeon being a representation in three dimensions of the twisted, contradictory mental byways pursued by a peerless wizard pursueing knowledge best left alone. Castle Coch feels right to me. I want some Castle action in my game, but not enough to distract from the awesome catacombs that lurk below.
3) I've been working on a map of the surrounds. Here is what I've done so far:
There'll be a lot more trees/bracken/brambles. The Mouths of Madness will occupy both the castle-bluff and the gateway hill. I think the shattered first bridge might prompt exposure to the caves at the feet of these crags for the PCs. The pagoda gatehouse will be on the gateway hill, the pylon gate on the other side, by the castle. I'm also considering placing an overgrown meditative garden on the gateway hill, rustling with menacing carniverous plants and perhaps a bored faun...