Queen of the Spiders
|Queen of the Spiders|
|Edition||1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons|
|Author(s)||Gary Gygax, David C. Sutherland III|
|Series||T1-4 A1-4 GDQ1-7|
Queen of the Spiders is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It was published by TSR, Inc. in 1986 and is a compilation of seven previous related modules, often referred to as a "supermodule." Together, the seven adventures form an integrated campaign that begins in the World of Greyhawk, continues underground into the Underdark, and concludes in the Demonweb Pits, the abyssal lair of the demonic goddess Lolth. The campaign was originally intended for use with the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules.
Queen of the Spiders was ranked as the single greatest Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time by Dungeon magazine in 2004, on the 30th anniversary of the Dungeons & Dragons game.
There are seven total adventures compiled in the GDQ1-7 supermodule. These include:
- The three modules in the Against the Giants series: G1 - Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, G2 - Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and G3 - Hall of the Fire Giant King.
- The three modules in the "Drow" series: D1-2 - Descent into the Depths of the Earth (which incorporates the earlier D1 - Descent into the Depths of the Earth and D2 - Shrine of the Kuo-Toa), and D3 - Vault of the Drow.
- Module Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits.
All of the component modules were originally written by Gary Gygax, except for Queen of the Demonweb Pits, which was written by David C. Sutherland III and Gygax. GDQ1-7 is credited to Gygax. Artist Keith Parkinson provided the cover art for the supermodule.
Additional material was added to the component modules by Jeff Grubb and David Cook (see below). The original tournament characters given statistics in Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (Gleep Wurp, Cloyer Bulse, Roaky Swerked, Frush O'Suggill, Fonkin Hoddypeak, Flerd Trantle, Redmod Dumple, Faffle Dwe'o-mercraeft, and Beek Gwenders) do not appear in the supermodule.
Connections to other adventures
Page three of the supermodule says, "Characters of less than 8th level will quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the creatures they must face, and it is recommended that those of much lower levels begin play with Temple of Elemental Evil or Scourge of the Slave Lords, which provide the groundwork for this adventure." A prologue section entitled "Revenge of the Slave Lords!" was added for the supermodule to bridge the Slave Lords series with GDQ1-7, taking up pages 5-9 of the book. The plot involves the player characters being plagued with bad luck which turns out to be orchestrated by a surviving Slave Lord seeking vengeance for their earlier defeat at the player characters' hands. Eventually they find a clue that reveals the Slave Lord in question was working at the behest of Eclavdra. This plot had evidently been added to the original modules by Jeff Grubb and David Cook, who are credited with writing "additional material."
Scourge of the Slave Lords, in turn, had been rewritten with an introduction that bridged that adventure with The Temple of Elemental Evil, turning all three series of modules into an enormous super-campaign.
The original modules assumed these adventures were completed separately, however, as the pregenerated tournament characters from the individual Slave Lord modules (A1, A2, A3, and A4) are not the same as those in the original modules which were later compiled into GDQ1-7 (G1, G2, G3, D1, D2, D3, and Q1). Further canonical discrepancies appeared in Dungeon #117's (2004) "Touch of the Abyss" and "Istivin: City of Shadows," both by Greg A. Vaughan and Erik Mona. The two works placed Queen of the Spiders in 576 CY (pages 38 and 43, counting back 18 years from 594 CY), whereas Sean K. Reynolds and Chris Pramas had dated the Slave Lords series to 580 CY in Slavers (2000)'.
Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff by Sean K. Reynolds is a sequel of sorts including a revised version of G1-3 along with new adventure sites set in the Grand Duchy of Geoff. This new campaign takes place in 591 CY and includes some of the pregenerated tournament characters from Steading of the Hill Giant Chief as NPCs. In this adventure, giants have invaded again, this time thanks primarily to a cabal of cloud giants called the Sakhut, and leads to an ultimate confrontation with the Sakhut rather than with the drow or Lolth. The adventure includes three more "modules" given numbers in the "G" series, including G4: Mount Rungnirheim, G5: Castle Thrasmotnir, and G6: Cloud Islands of the Sakhut.
Expedition to the Demonweb Pits is a later book, written for the "3.5" edition of the D&D game. It has no direct connections to Queen of the Spiders, but revisits the setting of the Demonweb Pits with an entirely new plot.
The supermodule suggests three possible conclusions to the adventure. In the first, the player characters die in the Abyss and the bubble of darkness Lolth has woven around Sterich continues to expand. If not defeated by subsequent bands of player characters, the Queen of the Demonweb Pits is assumed to be banished from Oerth (but unharmed on her home plane) by an alliance of good-aligned forces, powerful druids, and secret agents of Iuz. Sterich is left a desolated land, blackened and wasted and prey to bandit-kings and petty tyrants.
In the second possible conclusion, Lolth is defeated in the Abyss but manages to escape to a bolt-hole on another Abyssal layer where she is tormented and reduced in power by an erstwhile demonic "ally." The webs on her home plane return to raw chaos and the portals to the worlds under her control vanish. She seeks vengeance against the PCs, but in her weakened state is unable to muster more than the occasional assassin. The dark elven houses of Kilsek, Noquar, and Despana are also weakened by their mistress's defeat.
In Greyhawk canon, none of these epilogues occured exactly as written. Beek Gwenders of Croodle, Cloyer Bulse the Magsman, Faffle Dwe'o-mercraeft, Flerd Trantle, Fonkin Hoddypeak, Frush O'Suggill, Gleep Wurp the Eyebiter, Redmod Dumple, and Roaky Swerked traveled to the Demonweb Pits and managed to temporarily banish Lolth's influence from Oerth, leaving her true form unharmed and free to continue conquering other planes, such as the world of Guldor. Sterich was left mostly intact, but the city of Istivin retained a subtle demonic taint for at least eighteen years to come. The civil war in the Vault of the Drow ended with the priests of the Elder Elemental God defeated, then started again even more violently when some of the houses turned to the worship of Kiaransalee.
The Eyes Have It by Rose Estes (1989) took place in the Yeomanry and Sterich after the events of GDQ1-7 and assumed that the first, worst-case scenario depicted on page 121 of the supermodule had occured. The original adventurers died in the Demonweb Pits and Sterich was desolated by Lolth's incursion, prey to a petty tyrant after the demon queen was finally destroyed. It credits the defeat of Lolth to Estes' characters Kathryn Fern-Clyffe and Fea-Glenna.
Paul Kidd's novels Descent into the Depths of the Earth (2000) and Queen of the Demonweb Pits (2001) were a new, humorous take on the GDQ1-7 series, starring Kidd's characters the Justicar, Escalla, and others.
- Cook, Monte. Dead Gods. Renton, WA: TSR, 1997.
- Gygax, Gary, David C. Sutherland III, David Cook, and Jeff Grubb. Queen of the Spiders. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1986.
- Kidd, Paul. Descent into the Depths of the Earth. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000. (ISBN 0-7869-1635-4).
- -----. Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001. (ISBN 0-7869-1903-5).
- Erik Mona, James Jacobs, et al. "The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time." Dungeon #116. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.
- Reynolds, Sean K. Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1999.
- Vaughan, Greg A. "Shadow of the Abyss." Dungeon #118. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
- -----. "Wrath of the Abyss." Dungeon #119. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
- Vaughan, Greg A., and Erik Mona. "Istivin: City of Shadows." Dungeon #117. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.
- -----. "Touch of the Abyss." Dungeon #117. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004. Page 38.
- Queen of the Spiders at the TSR Archive.
- Queen of the Spiders at the Acaeum.