Friday, July 1, 2016

Thoughts on Q2

Timothy Brannan over at The Other Side blog has an interesting post about the never-extant module Q2, a hypothetical sequel to the (in)famous Q1, Queen of the Demonweb Pits. He makes an interesting point that, as published, Q1 sort of stands out as a sole solitary example of its series; even the intentionally stand-alone S series had several entries.

He proffers several possible stand-ins from published works, mostly looking for something that brings the action back to the material plane and involves more drow, even postulating a possible civil war. It's an interesting idea, but I wanted to explore it a bit in light of what we know Q1 was originally supposed to be.

I've discussed this before, in the context of the Temple of Elemental Evil and possible tie-ins between the two adventure lines, but in a nutshell, the original Gygaxian concept for Q1 had nothing to do with mechanical spiders or invasions of other worlds. It dealt specifically with the god of the Eilservs, the Elder Elemental God (EEG). Indeed, it was the worship of that eldritch deity, rather than Lolth, which set the whole chain of events in the Giants series of modules in motion, and most specifically set the vast majority of Lolth-worshiping drow against the renegade EEG-worshiping faction led by Eclavdra Eilserv.

Originally, the module was supposed to set up a possible confrontation between Lolth and the EEG, as the players attempted to complete the latter's banishment to "a distant star":
I had what I consider a much more interesting plan for the conclusion of the G-D series, one in which the PC party could loose the Elder Elemental god or send him into deeper isolation, thus assisting Lolth to become more powerful. By very astute play, they could have thwarted the designs of both evil entities. The Demonweb Pits were indeed envisioned as maze like, but there were to be no machines therein. -- Gary Gygax on EnWorld, August 2006
So in Q1, originally, the PCs would either help Lolth by increasing the shackles on the EEG, free the EEG inadvertently, thus setting the stage for a final confrontation, or thwarted both. Players being players, that last outcome is doubtless unlikely in the extreme. Ahem.

But this does give us an intriguing idea as to what a potential Q2 might have been. Assuming that "Q" in the name refers to Lolth as the "Queen" of the Demonweb pits, what we inevitably end up with is the ultimate climax to the adventure as a whole; a showdown between Lolth and the Elder Elemental God, with the PCs being at the exact point of the balance between the two, trying once more to thwart both mighty beings, possibly by playing one against the other (that's how I'd set it up, anyway).

This also works with the larger meta-narrative that seems to have been originally intended for these modules. If the low-level T1 was the start of that meta-narrative, and Q1 (or a hypothetical Q2) was the capstone, that leads us from Hommlet to the Temple of Elemental Evil (first introducing us to the EEG, although not in the published version), to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, to the three "giants" modules, to the Descent into the Depths of the Earth series, to the final confrontation with both Lolth and the EEG, who are the true protagonists behind what's been going on all along, and who are at odds, as Lolth was either responsible for the EEG's original imprisonment, or for his continued confinement by her protection of the keys to his release in her Demonweb.

A drow civil war would certainly be possible in such a scenario, as the newly resurgent EEG would be able to flood his followers with power, while the followers of Lolth would be scrambling to contain them. The PCs, flung back to the Vault of the Drow after their misadventures in the Demonweb Pits (having inadvertently freed the EEG) would have to deal with the mess and try to defeat both. It's entirely possible that the conflict would have the PCs going far afield; maybe even returning to the Temple of Elemental Evil, or the caverns beneath the Fire Giant's hall or the Hill Giant Steading, where shrines to the EEG still exist.

Basically, Q2 would be a second chance for the PCs to stop both Lolth and the EEG, if they failed to do so in Q1.

12 comments:

Celestian said...

If someone comes up with an outline for this sorta story line I'd be interested to see it. I've never liked how ToEE plays out (Zugttmoy/Iuz/the Lolth refs) and want to come up with something that makes more sense to me.

My plan was to replace the creatures I could with ones specific to the element and make it seem more elemental.... also planned to move the "nodes" portal to each temple (leaving the portals on level 4 to the real elemental nodes.

Timothy Brannan said...

Very cool. And you have given me a lot to consider really. But yes, I want to exploit the drow civil war and the battle between Lolth's followers and those of the EEG.

I knew about the ToEE connection, gotta figure out how to make it work for my group.

Joseph Bloch said...

@Celestian: I would get rid of the whole 4th level of the ToEE dungeon. It's crap. That's where I would put the Greater Temple (or Lower Temple, or whatever it's called) and the secret/unknown lost shrine of the EEG, that has been bleeding through all this time, feeding on the Evil Elemental stuff. How detailed of an outline do you want? I thought I gave the rough outline in the post.

Michael Gross said...

If I recall correctly (and I would have to dig out my modules to confirm myself), TOEE cannot lead into GDQ because the timing is off. I thought there was a mention in TOEE of the events of GDQ as happening in the past. I mean, I know people can make their campaign in any order, but -- as written -- the original intent was to have two separate campaigns since one would have lower level characters tackling TOEE than those that finished GDQ earlier in the chronology of the Flanaess.

If I am wrong, please correct me. :D

Joseph Bloch said...

@Michael: You're thinking of the reference in the Secret History of the Temple: "Having just learned of the sharp check dealt to Lolth in her plans to wreak Evil, the Lady of Fungi agreed to accept Iuz as an (almost) equal in the Temple."

Now, I agree that when that was written, it was a reference to D3 and Q1, which was published five years before. But setting aside the fact that it's relatively vague (and could be used by the DM to refer to just about anything, not necessarily the events of D3/Q1).

But mostly remember this is a speculative post about what could have been. It's just a guess about what might have happened if Gygax had written Q1, and completed the ToEE himself rather than handing the notes off to Frank Mentzer. So take it with that in mind.

Celestian said...

@Joseph Bloch, I was actually thinking of using that "level draining chamber" as the area where the EEG was "locked" behind. That is on level 4 if memory serves tho could easily move it up a level or make it more like the alter chambers in G1/G3? I never thought the idea of having a "radio"/communications chamber to Zuggtmoy made much sense to me.... Either way I was thinking of the "level draining walls" blocking it off covered a pit that leads down to a much deeper chamber... something more Forgotten Temple of Tharzidun/sist type?

My biggest contention is trying to figure out how Lolth and EEG fit together. Perhaps tossing out Zuggtmoy all-together and have Lolth be the one imprisoned in the temple because she was the one siphoning off EEGs power the first time the Temple came to power and now she needs to trick the party into freeing her and then she'll try to start working on siphoning from EEG again? Because of all this eventually you get the civil war within the drow society (Lolth v EEG factions) (GDQ)

Joseph Bloch said...

@Celestian: Well the connection between Lolth and the EEG is well-established. They are ancient rivals, and the items in the "egg" in D3 function as keys to unlock the EEG's prison. That would explain why Lolth's agents are spying on/within the Temple itself, to try to ascertain just what, if any, connection the ToEE has with her ancient foe. It also explains why the Eilservs would choose the EEG in their revolt against Lolth's priesthood; they went with the option that would gall the Spider Queen the most.

I don't see the need to jettison Zuggtmoy; it just puts her in the position of being the innocent patsy of the EEG. Not to say that Lolth would necessarily believe that excuse, and it's also possible that a DM could make her and Iuz actually in cahoots with the EEG all along.

Michael said...

In a spirit of canonical ecumenalism, such a hypothetical Q2 should send the PCs back to the fane of Lolth, where they commandeer that demon-prowed ship and head to the Sunless Sea -- where the EEG's priesthood would be hastening to perform the final rites to completely restore it to fully armed and operational godhood. Merritt's Dwellers in the Mirage and Sprague de Camp & Carter's Conan of the Isles would be useful source material, as well as some of Carl Sargent's Night Below.

Michael Gross said...

@Joseph Bloch: Thanks, Joe! -- for confirming my memory more than anything else. As you put it (better than I did), being that this is a "what if" scenario, all bets are off. :D

I have long wondered what Q1 & T2 would have looked like with Gary's authorship at 100%. Great exercise in speculation and creativity, at any rate.

Mystic Scholar said...

I like this take on things. Too bad it never actually worked out that way in the modules themselves. It would have made for an excellent extended adventure.

Alex Karaczun said...

Joe, I always love to see T/S4/WG4/G/D/Q speculation and expansion, especially on your blog! I still want to run this as a campaign with a rewrite of Q1 and now with a probable expansion of a Q2 scenario. I see this as one of the most epic campaign ideas and something that could be very memorable if done properly. Maybe one day I will be able to blog about how I did it!

yeoman said...

In my campaign notes that I am putting together for a grand T1-4/S4/WG4/G1-3/D1-3/Q1 arc I have Lolth as the original temple builder (TOEE) but is effectively ousted in an internal coup by Zuggtmoy's followers. They actually have no idea of the source of the power that they have (Lolth most certainly knew of the EEG's temple and leaches power from it through the trapped God). The Temple followers have no idea of the coup and change of temple leadership, given that Lolth never advertised the fact of who really ran the show. All that is known is that there was some sort of disruption and change of the shadowy central leadership.
That also explains in my version why Lareth is still seen as a champion of Lolth....not all of the original faction was purged. Those that lay low and did not reveal what they knew were able to continue in their posts, with the Zuggtmoy faction assuming they had no idea as to the real temple leadership..
I further run it on the premise that Iuz's overtures to Lolth are rudely rebuffed before his imprisonment, at which time he harbours a plot with Zuggtmoy to infiltrate the temple and have her replace his planned partner.
All in all I love your take on this Joe. Great ideas and food for thought which I think greatly enhance what should have been one of Gygax's greatest works.