So one of the things I've been doing is staying away from the near constant "commercial whine of the social media OSR" & once again the near fire hose releases of retroclone systems & adventures. This means keeping my head down & once in awhile reviewing product as my schedule allows. And I've been getting back into the classic modules that I so much love. Which gets me into D3 Vault of the Drow by Gary Gygax which puts the PC's in the middle of some old school cross hairs in the world of the Elves. Yes, I said Elves and not Drow because I'm modifying out the module!? Why? Well, because I'm saving my pennies for a hard cover version of Lion & Dragon.
I already know its going to be a great quality purchase & I've got ideas rolling around in my head for the latest campaign project. I've already talked with RpgPundit about it. He's already got an adventure for Lion & Dragon called RPGPundit Presents #14: The Secret Order of the Red Lady. This sounds great but I really want a classic adventure here and I'll get around to reviewing the adventure sometime in the coming week as my work schedule allows. If you've been following my latest modification of D1-2 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth By Gary Gygax then you know what's coming.
This is going to be set up during the Hundred Years War, the events of Against the Giants have already happened. The world has been rocked by the Elven princess/ priestess Eclavdra whose been stirring the pot of war behind the scenes. The events of Against the Giants parallel the war in France & the sucession issues in England. Why!? Because the Elves have been interfering with the birth of male princes & the issues of Scotland. " The question of female succession to the French throne was raised after the death of Louis X in 1316. Louis X left only a daughter, and his posthumous son John I lived only a few days. Philip, Count of Poitiers, brother of Louis X, asserted that women were ineligible to succeed to the French throne. Through his political sagacity he won over his adversaries and succeeded to the French throne as Philip V. By the same law that he procured, his daughters were denied the succession, which passed to his younger brother, Charles IV, in 1322."
"Charles IV died in 1328, leaving a daughter and a pregnant wife. If the unborn child was male, he would become king; if not, Charles left the choice of his successor to the nobles. A girl ended up being born, therefore rendering the main male line of the House of Capet extinct.
By proximity of blood, the nearest male relative of Charles IV was his nephew Edward III of England. Edward was the son of Isabella, the sister of the dead Charles IV, but the question arose whether she should be able to transmit a right to inherit that she did not herself possess. The French nobility, moreover, balked at the prospect of being ruled by Isabelle and her lover Roger Mortimer, who were widely suspected of having murdered the previous English king, Edward II. The assemblies of the French barons and prelates and the University of Paris decided that males who derive their right to inheritance through their mother should be excluded. Thus the nearest heir through male ancestry was Charles IV's first cousin, Philip, Count of Valois, and it was decided that he should be crowned Philip VI. In 1340 the Avignon papacy confirmed that under Salic law males should not be able to inherit through their mothers.
The war on Scotland is a big deal because its one of the Elves ancient seats of power on Earth. When it comes to power so above as so below. The Elves in question here are the worshipers of a death god or goddess depending upon on which group of Elves we're talking about. So this gets into issues raised in Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos especially their version of Elves. So what do the Elves gain here? A morass of war, blood shed, and the perfect opportunity to take back what they feel is theirs namely all of Europe. Bankrupt the humans through various cults, witch cells, violence, food riots, etc. And set everything up for their human agents to act on it.
"Relations with Flanders were also tied to the English wool trade, since Flanders' principal cities relied heavily on textile production and England supplied much of the raw material they needed. Edward III had commanded that his chancellor sit on the woolsack in council as a symbol of the pre-eminence of the wool trade. At the time there were about 110,000 sheep in Sussex alone. The great medieval English monasteries produced large surpluses of wool that were sold to mainland Europe. Successive governments were able to make large amounts of money by taxing it. France's sea power led to economic disruptions for England, shrinking the wool trade to Flanders and the wine trade from Gascony." Wizards & black powder are a must as the PC's navigate the alliances & triple crosses between the factions of this series.
Battle of Sluys from a manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles, Bruge, c.1470
So not only are the stakes going to be very high but the blood shed is going to monumental. PC's are going to die, retire, & generally have to deal with some very weird alliances as the module series progresses. Fairy mounds & other doorways to forgotten bits of the countryside could get the PC's home or killed very easily as the witch cults of Europe do their best to cause all kinds of murder, mayhem & chaos. There's going to be witch hunts and trials in the middle of the events of The Hundred Years War.
"Becfola and the Snarling Horde," by Arthur Rackham (Irish Fairy Tales, 1920)
The Church is going going to be a huge mover & shaker in this campaign with their interests at stake as well as the crowns of Europe.The Church could see these events as an all out war with Satan's forces. They just might be right as Elves pull out the stops & triple crosses are the norm not the rule. The lower tier hit points for PC's are going to put player's teeth on edge but anyone can die anytime is something we've seen before in Dark Albion. The PC's are going to move into the movers & shakers circle of the Hundred Years War if they survive D3 Vault of the Drow.
Is there are far more sinister connection between King Arthur's ancient reign & the events of the Hundred Years war as old alliances come to call? There is a strong connection between Queen Mab & the Elven princess/ priestess Eclavdra especially around Ireland & Scotland.
"the Irish folklore of the last High Queen of the Daoine Sidhe - and wife of the High King Finvarra - was named Una (or Oonagh, or Oona, or Uonaidh etc.). In the ballad tradition of Northern England and Lowland Scotland, she was called the Queen of Elphame " The Elven forces at work within the Underworld of Europe stirring the pot of the war placing the PC's right in the cross hairs! The PC's are going to be very deep behind enemy lines when the module finally wraps up & better be on the Church's good side! Svirfneblin (or deep gnomes) are another left over faction of a time long past when humanity worked side by side with these slaves of the Elves. Ancient alliances are not forgotten. But is the price of alliance to high for even the most strident party of adventurers? Will the party have a good relationship after D1-2?
Svirfneblin by Russ Nicholson from the first edition Fiend Folio.
Erelhei-Cinlu is a perfect ancient hold over from thousands of years ago when the Elves were at the height of their power. The place is wicked and perfectly suited to give even the most jaded gamer pause. The power of the place even to this day sends a shiver up the spine of many AD&D players. Simply changing some of the window dressing and adding a historical veneer is one of the challenges of adapting these classics to home campaigns and having a blast with them.