"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

D3 Vault of the Drow, Cassandra's Carpet Trap IV

Vault of the Drow is the third and final module in the Drow series. It like  the two previous modules in the series were written by Gary Gygax and  published in 1978. This module is larger than the other two coming in at  thirty-two pages.

This module is again part of what would eventually be combined into the GDQ  series and rated the best module of all time. By itself though the judges  said it would have made the top five on its own. It was rated in White Dwarf  #11 and given a rating of 10/10 in the review. In doing some research for this  I cam across two blurbs that I found pretty amazing. The second listed below  may not have been for D3 but it applied so I am including it it is also my  favorite.

"They felt the Drow city detailed in the module offered "more intrigue" than  any module previously. Judge Clark Peterson compared it favorably to City  State of the Invincible Overlord, which also had a complicated city  environment, saying "this was an underground city of evil monsters—the Drow,  who, then, were new and mysterious as opposed to tired and overused as they  are today"

"Drow in this series are not misunderstood, angst-laden Goths They are evil,  callous, treacherous, irredeemably vile creatures who have a conviction that  they are the master race. This is why it is so satisfying to smash them down.  They just cannot understand defeat, much less accept it."

The modules name tells you exactly where the location of the final module is.  There are a few encounters before the players will make their way to the  Vault. The Vault is dominated by the Drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu but consists  of four other areas that are described in some detail but again much is left  to the DM. The city and its environs are not meant to be keyed encounters but  a living breathing city that provides the DM an open ended location for the  players to adventure in.

The description of the city and the vault may be some of the best writing  that Gary Gygax ever did for a module. Below is the description of the vault.

"The true splendor of the Vault can be appreciated only by those with  infravision, or by use of the roseate lenses or a gem of seeing. The Vault is  a strange anomaly, a hemispherical cyst in the crust of the earth, an  incredibly huge domed fault over 6 miles long and nearly as broad. The dome  overhead is a hundred feet high at the walls, arching to several thousand  feet height in the center. When properly viewed, the radiation from certain  unique minerals give the visual effect of a starry heaven, while near the  zenith of this black stone bowl is a huge mass of tumkeoite -- which in its  slow decay and transformation to lacofcite sheds a lurid gleam, a ghostly  plum-colored light to human eyes, but with ultravision a wholly different  sight.

'The small "star" nodes glow in radiant hues of mauve, lake, violet, puce,  lilac, and deep blue. The large "moon" of tumkeoite casts beams of shimmering  amethyst which touch the crystalline formations with colors unknown to any  other visual experience. The lichens seem to glow in rose madder and pale  damson, the fungi growths in golden and red ochres, vermillions, russets,  citron, and aquamarine shades. (Elsewhere the river and other water courses  sheen a deep velvety purple with reflected highlights from the radiant gleams  overhead vying with streaks and whorls of old silver where the liquid laps  the stony banks or surges against the ebon piles of the jetties and bridge of  the elfin city for the viewers' attention.) The rock walls of the Vault  appear hazy and insubstantial in the wine-colored light, more like mist than  solid walls. The place is indeed a dark fairyland.
"

The module gives an overview of the city and what the players can expect to  find within. Besides the Drow, Kuo-Tao and Mind Flayers there will be all  levels of undead and a varied assortment of denizens from the Abyss. This is  a location where stealth and subtlety will win the day more so than brawn. This  is a city of perhaps 30,000 so an all out assault would be a short lived  endeavor. I found this description at Grognardia and think it is verbatim  from the module...

"The tiers and dungeons of Erelhei-Cinlu reek of debauchery and decadence,  and the city‘s inhabitants are degenerate and effete. (Those with any promise  and ability are brought out of the place to serve the fighting societies,  merchant clans or noble houses. The rest are left to wallow in the sinkhole  of absolute depravity which is Erelhei-Cinlu.) The most popular places in the  city are the gambling dens, bordellos, taverns, drug saloons, and even less  savory shops along the two main streets. The back streets and alleyways too  boast of brothels, poison shops, bars, and torture parlors. Unspeakable  things transpire where the evil and jaded creatures seek pleasure, pain,  excitement, or arcane knowledge, and sometimes these seekers find they are  victims. All visitors are warned that they enter the back streets of the city  at their peril"

There are also more detailed descriptions of specific locations and  information on the area where the Drow nobles live. The most detailed  location with that for the Fane of Lolth where  the players will either have  the opportunity to defeat the spider goddess (or die trying) or inadvertently  wander off into the Abyss leading to Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

This again is a must own. If you can play it before running it do so. Of all  the modules I might ever have been given a chance to be run thru by Gary  Gygax this would be it....

Spell:

Cassandra's Carpet Trap IV


Level: Sixth
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Ares Effect: Special
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: Eight Rounds
Saving Throw: Special

When this spell is cast the magic user brings into being a carpet that is  magical in nature. The nature of the carpet can very based on the caster's  desire and the level of the spell.

By default the carpet will be of ornate and of exceptional quality. The  caster can specify a different appearance if desired though it will always  appear to have been a carpet of some quality at one time.

The carpet created will have a maximum size equal to ten square feet per  level of the caster. It will by default fill the space it is cast in though  the caster can specify any shape and size.

The carpet will remain until such time as the effect it is intended to have  is triggered. The triggering effect can be anything that the caster desires.  It can be a timed effect such as one day from now or a specialized event such  as the first thief to walk on it or if a spell is cast by someone while  standing on it. Until such time as the trigger effect occurs the carpet is  nothing more than a carpet. The carpet can be moved with no impact to the  trigger effect unless moving was part of it.

With this level of the spell there are two types of carpets that can be  created. It is important to note that higher level of the spell can also  create all versions of carpets that previous version could create.

Carpet of Flying

Those on this carpet who fail their save when the trigger event occurs will  be sent flying in a random direction. The flight will be uncontrolled and at  high velocity. The victims will continue until such time that they meet an  intervening obstacle. When they meet something that interrupts their flight  they will suffer 1d6 of damage for every 10' traveled plus one point per  level of the caster though they can save for half damage. Those who make  their initial save are unaffected.

Carpet of Teleportation

This carpet when triggered will require all on it to make two saving throws  versus magic. Those who fail the first save will be teleported in a random  direction two to five miles away. There will no chance of error in the  teleportation and they will arrive safe but perhaps not to safety. Those who  save are not teleported.

The second save is made by any items the victims may have been holding in  their hands. The save is made by the character but the items are affected. If  they save nothing happens. If they fail and the character was teleported they  stay on the carpet. If the character saved and they fail then the items are  teleported as the characters would have been. 

The material component of this spell is a small woven rug of exceptional  quality. This carpet will cost no less than 100 gp per level of the Carpet  Trap. The rug transforms into the carpet with the casting and is used up. The  appearance of the actual carpet will be whatever the caster desires though it  will always appear to have been so high quality at some point.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups  last, were all written up back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back  then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel  free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to  use these in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask  is proper credit.

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