D&D General B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, and why (I think) it's great

squibbles

Adventurer
You know that awesome line in Star Wars IV where Leia says "General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars" completely without elaboration on what the Clone Wars were--and how much that line draws you in.

Well, this module does that really well (I mean the non-bowdlerized orange cover version... obviously). It provides a gameable region with towns, adventure locations, and a dungeon, but then it gestures at a past where a bunch of major things happened, but does not explain any of them, and then stashes info related to them all around the dungeon. It makes you want to come up with an explanation.

Here's a quick summary (and, spoiler warning I'm about to ruin a 43 year old module.):

There's a legend outlined at the beginning of the module:
  • There was once a peaceful and idyllic valley ruled by Princess Argenta from her marble palace.
  • Local dwarves find a giant ruby which they and local elves cut, polish up, and gift to the princess.
  • The princess throws a masquerade ball to celebrate, inviting everyone.
  • An undescribed shady guy comes to the masquerade intending to steal the ruby, has a moment with the princess, and is implied to have killed two dwarves and an elf who confront him about it.
  • Several weeks later, a red dragon ridden by a warrior in silver and blue armor destroys the valley and the palace. There's an incongruous full-page picture of this guy and his dragon that makes them look heroic or, at least, not diabolically evil.
  • No one knows what happened to the princess or the ruby.
The wider region of is also outlined:
  • The ruins of the palace are in a barony ruled from the city of Gulluvia by the chaotic, unforgiving, husband-killing Lady D’hmis. She doesn’t allow men to be out after sunset unaccompanied by women (how capital E Eeeeeeevil of her).
  • There are five minor towns under varying degrees of D’hmis’s control.
  • There is a swamp full of mist monsters and a rumored evil wizard where spells have unpredictable effects.
  • There is a forest of “evil beings.”
  • The mountain range and mines where Princess Argenta’s dwarf buddies used to live is full of “evil creatures” now.
  • Another mountain range is rumored to be inhabited by an evil wizardess/alchemist in a giant hollow oak.
  • News is spread by a tinker and his daughter, who travel in a monthly circuit around the region and its villages.
In this background info, and then in the dungeon itself, there are a handful of very overt mysteries that--since they are potentially player facing--the DM's gonna need to come up with an explanation for.
  • Who is the tinker and what is up with his silver armor and dragon saddle? He can’t be the knight from the legend, that dude died and his ghost is a monster in the module.
  • There are a bunch of dead soldiers, kitted out with a strange insignia, who carried 'message beads' that were taken by the palace's resident psycho killer after they died. What the message beads say explictly needs to be decided by the DM--and these are foreign soldiers, if they were from Gulluvia, they would have a chaotic lady commander, and wouldn't have the strange insignia.
  • What on earth is the deal with the "protectors", the translucent, green, floating, telepathic, dudes who "protect all lawful creatures that enter the place they are guarding.” And what are they doing in the guard tower?
And then, there's the constant subversion of the legend from the beginning within the dungeon itself:
  • Room 12 has a mural of a “red dragon mounted by a man in silver and blue armor giving chase to a young maiden wearing a silver gown and a silver and ruby coronet.” interaction with the keyholes in this room will summon an illusion of the guy in silver armor to attack. What!?
  • Room 14, which contains a statue of a woman with a baby, has a scroll with the following verse written on it:
“I came, and what did my eyes behold?​
A maiden fair with hair of gold.​
Her face, aglow by which the sun is shamed.​
My steed, a dragon, her innocence did tame.​
Her heart, a gem with many facets,​
  • Room 16, has an arras with “a scene of a young maiden with golden hair sitting on a silver throne. Upon her head rests a coronet of silver and rubies, and in her hand a scepter of silver topped by a very large blood red ruby. The arras show a warrior in blue and silver armor resting casually in a wooden arm chair decorated with carvings.
  • Room 17 contains “the diary of Lady Argenta. It simply tells of the fighter in silver and blue armor coming to her home, winning her love and then marrying her. It stops after the fourth day of their marriage.”
  • Room 7 on the upper floor has a painting of princess Argenta whose “smile betrays a hint of mischievousness.”
  • Room 11 on the second floor has “portraits and other scenic paintings. Most of the portraits are of the Lady Argenta or of the Silver Warrior. One is of the red dragon, but it has been slashed in several places.” Why?
  • Room 17 of the upper floor: the ghosts of Lady Argenta and her knight in silver and blue armor will appear and attack. They “have come to protect the ruby”
  • There are statues of a young girl throughout the palace.
  • What happened with the alchemist’s lab exploding? There is a rumor marked as true that half of the palace was destroyed by one of Argenta’s magic users when he accidentally mixed the wrong magical components together. Seems like a pretty dragon-attack neutral reason why nobody is living there now eh?
  • What is lady d’hmis deal? There is a rumor marked as true that Lady D’hmis claims to be the heir to the treasure as she is the only living descendant of the Silver Princess. So... that claim, though true, was tenuous enough that she had to marry and then kill the existing baron of the region to enforce it. Seems like some bad **** must have happened to the princess bloodline in the interregnum.
All of which asks what the deal with the BS legend is and why it's told.

I have my own headcannon that reconciles all of this, but I'm curious what people on the board who have run this module came up with--or if they did anything with the loose ends at all.

---

And more broadly, have you encountered other adventures that you think have done this sort of intriguing ambiguity well? Or, in your own adventures, do you try to leave loose ends like this?
 
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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
You know that awesome line in Star Wars IV where Leia says "General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars" completely without elaboration on what the Clone Wars were--and how much that line draws you in.

Well, this module does that really well (I mean the non-bowdlerized orange cover version... obviously). It provides a gameable region with towns, adventure locations, and a dungeon, but then it gestures at a past where a bunch of major things happened, but does explain any of them, and then stashes info related to them all around the dungeon. It makes you want to come up with an explanation.

Here's a quick summary (and, spoiler warning I'm about to ruin a 43 year old module.):

There's a legend outlined at the beginning of the module:
  • There was once a peaceful and idyllic valley ruled by Princess Argenta from her marble palace.
  • Local dwarves find a giant ruby which they and local elves cut, polish up, and gift to the princess.
  • The princess throws a masquerade ball to celebrate, inviting everyone.
  • An undescribed shady guy comes to the masquerade intending to steal the ruby, has a moment with the princess, and is implied to have killed two dwarves and an elf who confront him about it.
  • Several weeks later, a red dragon ridden by a warrior in silver and blue armor destroys the valley and the palace. There's an incongruous full-page picture of this guy and his dragon that makes them look heroic or, at least, not diabolically evil.
  • No one knows what happened to the princess or the ruby.
The wider region of is also outlined:
  • The ruins of the palace are in a barony ruled from the city of Gulluvia by the chaotic, unforgiving, husband-killing Lady D’hmis. She doesn’t allow men to be out after sunset unaccompanied by women (how capital E Eeeeeeevil of her).
  • There are five minor towns under varying degrees of D’hmis’s control.
  • There is a swamp full of mist monsters and a rumored evil wizard where spells have unpredictable effects.
  • There is a forest of “evil beings.”
  • The mountain range and mines where Princess Argenta’s dwarf buddies used to live is full of “evil creatures” now.
  • Another mountain range is rumored to be inhabited by an evil wizardess/alchemist in a giant hollow oak.
  • News is spread by a tinker and his daughter, who travel in a monthly circuit around the region and its villages.
In this background info, and then in the dungeon itself, there are a handful of very overt mysteries that--since they are potentially player facing--the DM's gonna need to come up with an explanation for.
  • Who is the tinker and what is up with his silver armor and dragon saddle? He can’t be the knight from the legend, that dude died and his ghost is a monster in the module.
  • There are a bunch of dead soldiers, kitted out with a strange insignia, who carried 'message beads' that were taken by the palace's resident psycho killer after they died. What the message beads say explictly needs to be decided by the DM--and these are foreign soldiers, if they were from Gulluvia, they would have a chaotic lady commander, and wouldn't have the strange insignia.
  • What on earth is the deal with the "protectors", the translucent, green, floating, telepathic, dudes who "protect all lawful creatures that enter the place they are guarding.” And what are they doing in the guard tower?
And then, there's the constant subversion of the legend from the beginning within the dungeon itself:
  • Room 12 has a mural of a “red dragon mounted by a man in silver and blue armor giving chase to a young maiden wearing a silver gown and a silver and ruby coronet.” interaction with the keyholes in this room will summon an illusion of the guy in silver armor to attack. What!?
  • Room 14, which contains a statue of a woman with a baby, has a scroll with the following verse written on it:
“I came, and what did my eyes behold?​
A maiden fair with hair of gold.​
Her face, aglow by which the sun is shamed.​
My steed, a dragon, her innocence did tame.​
Her heart, a gem with many facets,​
  • Room 16, has an arras with “a scene of a young maiden with golden hair sitting on a silver throne. Upon her head rests a coronet of silver and rubies, and in her hand a scepter of silver topped by a very large blood red ruby. The arras show a warrior in blue and silver armor resting casually in a wooden arm chair decorated with carvings.
  • Room 17 contains “the diary of Lady Argenta. It simply tells of the fighter in silver and blue armor coming to her home, winning her love and then marrying her. It stops after the fourth day of their marriage.”
  • Room 7 on the upper floor has a painting of princess Argenta whose “smile betrays a hint of mischievousness.”
  • Room 11 on the second floor has “portraits and other scenic paintings. Most of the portraits are of the Lady Argenta or of the Silver Warrior. One is of the red dragon, but it has been slashed in several places.” Why?
  • Room 17 of the upper floor: the ghosts of Lady Argenta and her knight in silver and blue armor will appear and attack. They “have come to protect the ruby”
  • There are statues of a young girl throughout the palace.
  • What happened with the alchemist’s lab exploding? There is a rumor marked as true that half of the palace was destroyed by one of Argenta’s magic users when he accidentally mixed the wrong magical components together. Seems like a pretty dragon-attack neutral reason why nobody is living there now eh?
  • What is lady d’hmis deal? There is a rumor marked as true that Lady D’hmis claims to be the heir to the treasure as she is the only living descendant of the Silver Princess. So... that claim, though true, was tenuous enough that she had to marry and then kill the existing baron of the region to enforce it. Seems like some bad **** must have happened to the princess bloodline in the interregnum.
All of which asks what the deal with the BS legend is and why it's told.

I have my own headcannon that reconciles all of this, but I'm curious what people on the board who have run this module came up with--or if they did anything with the loose ends at all.

---

And more broadly, have you encountered other adventures that you think have done this sort of intriguing ambiguity well? Or, in your own adventures, do you try to leave loose ends like this?
Ok, that is a very different version to the one I have. There seems to be lot more going on. That said, my chief memory of the module I have, was that the dungeon portion of the map, made no sense.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
You're right, that does sound great. I only ever had the revised version and to be honest, I loved it too and ran it many times, building on the gaps in it to present a more coherent scenario.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Ok, that is a very different version to the one I have. There seems to be lot more going on. That said, my chief memory of the module I have, was that the dungeon portion of the map, made no sense.
The version that @squibbles describes is the orange covered original version of B3 written by Jean Wells. The version that most of us would never have seen back in the 80s/90s because it was pulped with only a handful of copies that escaped the process.

The one we would have seen back in the day was the green-covered version of B3. Which was heavily rewritten by Tom Moldvay to become an introductory module instead of the more sandboxy module that Wells had written. There are conflicting stories about why it was pulped - the wikipedia page has some of the info.

Ironically the orange version is probably better known among folks who came into the hobby post WotC buying the game because they released a PDF of it for free on their website as part of a historical retrospective on D&D. And that version is still available for download on the Vaults of Pandius website.

(I love Palace of the Silver Princess - I've run both versions multiple times and despite my general high regard for Tom Moldvay the Jean Wells original is IMO superior in every way).
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The version that @squibbles describes is the orange covered original version of B3 written by Jean Wells. The version that most of us would never have seen back in the 80s/90s because it was pulped with only a handful of copies that escaped the process.

The one we would have seen back in the day was the green-covered version of B3. Which was heavily rewritten by Tom Moldvay to become an introductory module instead of the more sandboxy module that Wells had written. There are conflicting stories about why it was pulped - the wikipedia page has some of the info.

Ironically the orange version is probably better known among folks who came into the hobby post WotC buying the game because they released a PDF of it for free on their website as part of a historical retrospective on D&D. And that version is still available for download on the Vaults of Pandius website.

(I love Palace of the Silver Princess - I've run both versions multiple times and despite my general high regard for Tom Moldvay the Jean Wells original is IMO superior in every way).
Thanks, I just had a quick skim and there is a definite setting and more setting info in the original version.
 


I am starting to run the green cover as a 5e conversion.
Feb 6th @ 4 pm-8 pm Central time on FGGL (Fantasy Grounds Gaming Lounge)
It is a pick-up game I use Pre-gens to keep the story continuity
but anyone can join a session, grab a character and play.
I am hoping to get some newbies because this is a great mod to introduce players to the game
I also like the more sandboxie orange cover. for more intermediate players or to branch off to a wider campaign.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
The version that @squibbles describes is the orange covered original version of B3 written by Jean Wells. The version that most of us would never have seen back in the 80s/90s because it was pulped with only a handful of copies that escaped the process.

The one we would have seen back in the day was the green-covered version of B3. Which was heavily rewritten by Tom Moldvay to become an introductory module instead of the more sandboxy module that Wells had written. There are conflicting stories about why it was pulped - the wikipedia page has some of the info.

Ironically the orange version is probably better known among folks who came into the hobby post WotC buying the game because they released a PDF of it for free on their website as part of a historical retrospective on D&D. And that version is still available for download on the Vaults of Pandius website.

(I love Palace of the Silver Princess - I've run both versions multiple times and despite my general high regard for Tom Moldvay the Jean Wells original is IMO superior in every way).
Thanks for providing the background Jer.

The saddest part of the whole thing is that it was the only module written by Jean Wells--the first woman hired at TSR's design dept.--who was sidelined immediately thereafter, purportedly because upper management disliked the artwork in it.

I bet she would have written some really cool followup modules if not for that idiocy.

The orange version has a much stronger story and sense of location than the green version, though parts of it remain in scattered form.

Still hoping for a proper reprint of it one day.
One of the wierdest of those scattered parts the picture of Catharandamus & friends, which has two different versions, this one for the orange cover version:
1707362703936.png


And this one for the green cover version:
1707362542575.png


What makes it so weird is that is that the picture makes more sense in the Moldvay version that was published later.

In the green Moldvay version, Catharandamus is encountered while in the middle of a ceremony to summon his evil god using a ruby sword.

But in the original, he's just chillin', maybe offers to sell the party a bottle of brandy, and the magic blast he's pictured casting is nothing in particular.
 

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