Monday, March 28, 2022

GC S8/X2?

While flipping through issue #71 of Dragon (March 1983), I came across a strange little snippet of information that either overlooked before or that I'd simply forgotten. At the beginning of his article on the quasi-deities of the World of Greyhawk, Gary Gygax says the following:

From the very beginning, TSR's Dungeons & Dragons modules have carried alphanumeric codes that divided them into series. Each series was, with a few exceptions, focused on a specific subject matter or style of play, such as the B-series for low-level (beginner) characters or the D-series focusing on the machinations of the Drow. 

Starting with the release of The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun in 1982, these designations started to become much less clear-cut. Tharizdun was designated module WG4, the very first module to carry the "WG" code, which presumably stood for "World of Greyhawk." Two more more modules with Gygax's byline followed with this same code (Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure and Isle of the Ape), but there were never any modules with the codes WG1–3. (It's my understanding that The Village of Hommlet is WG1, the never-made Gygaxian Temple of Elemental Evil WG2, and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth WG3, though why this is the case, I have no idea.)

All of that is confusing enough if, like me, you care at all about the minutiae of TSR's production and releases. However, in the excerpt above, Gygax refers to The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror as "module GC S8/X2." Let's leave aside the fact that the actual published version of the module carries the designation EX2. That still leaves me wondering what Gygax's stated designation of the module even means. "GC," I suppose, is a reference to "Greyhawk Castle," which makes some sense, given that, in his original campaign, there was a section inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. But what are we to make of "S8/X2?" 

In 1982, the S-series of modules already existed, but S4 was the highest-numbered entry. Likewise, there was an X-series but it was not associated with the AD&D line. Consequently, it seems unlikely that Gygax is referring to either of these series. I wonder if it might be the case that the numbers refer to the way he keyed Castle Greyhawk in his home campaign. If so, I'm not at all familiar with the way he did this and, absent that context, it's quite obscure.

If anyone has any insight into this, I'd love to know. In the grand scheme of things, it's a very minor mystery, but it's nevertheless one that has piqued my interest.


  1. The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is such a weird and "wrong" feeling module that it seems only fitting it should have a strange product code that hints ominously at other modules never revealed to mortal eyes.

  2. My initial thought was that maybe this was originally supposed to be module that was compatible with both Advanced D&D and the D&D Expert Set. AD&D S8 and Expert Set X2 but then I remembered there already was an X2, Castle Amber. That would have been a great idea though, making dual-statted modules with different letter-number designations for AD&D and B/X D&D. Maybe they wouldn't have done that because they would have had to pay royalties to Dave Arneson or something but still a neat idea.

  3. GC = Greyhawk Castle
    X2 = EX2, i.e. Castle Expansion 2. Presumably it would have been published as X2 if the Expert modules hadn’t got there first.
    S8 means, I guess, that EGG considered this a continuation of the S series. Which suggests S7/X1 would be Dungeonland, and raises the question, what did he have earmarked for S5 and S6?

  4. S8 could represent Sub-level #8, in terms of its placement within Greyhawk Castle.

  5. on page 9 of that same issue, Gygax talks about both T1-4 being WG 2, parts 1 and 2, and Maze of Xaene by Kuntz being a WG module

  6. S8 means South Levels 8; X2 means Extraplanar 2

    Here's an excerpt from a blog post that I wrote about Greyhawk Castle: Expanded Version (

    South Level 8 - Repeating Hex Rooms (drawn by a classmate of Ernie Gygax)

    GC S8/X1 Alice in Wonderland → EX1 ("Extraplanar") Dungeonland (TSR, 1983)
    GC S8/X2 Through the Looking Glass → EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (TSR, 1983)

    South Level 9 - "Horsing Around" (or "Greek Mythos", a split level)

  7. Also of note, the World of Greyhawk Glossography in the 1983 boxed set gives Dungeonland the code GC1 and Magic Mirror the code GC2.

  8. I have some additional info/analysis, on these Castle Greyhawk level designations and other module codes at, and on the Acaeum at