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    Canonfire :: View topic - How Do You Solve A Problem Like Eclavdra?
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    How Do You Solve A Problem Like Eclavdra?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Feb 25, 2016 8:23 pm  
    How Do You Solve A Problem Like Eclavdra?

    I'm sure we're all familiar with the plot holes of Vault of the Drow and Queen of the Demonweb Pits, where the text implies that the PCs are meant to assault the Fane of Lolth, and then confront Lolth herself in the Abyss...even though the priesthood of Lolth had little to do with the giants or their raids, which were all part of Eclavdra's plots to gain enough power to challenge the Fane for control of the Vault.

    With that in mind, how do you keep the campaign going and draw the PCs into pursuing the drow, and then possibly confronting the Fane of Lolth, as implied by how much detail Gary Gygax gave to it in Vault of the Drow?

    My take on it is to think about Eclavdra's position at the time of the defeat of Snurre Iron Belly and the fall of Muspelheim at the PCs' hands. Years of planning and effort are falling apart around her, ruined by a band of mere upstart humans and other lesser races, and now she's forced to return to the Vault in defeat, with the Fane being able to gain a major advantage once they hear about how much face Eclavdra will have lost.

    That said, Eclavdra was only ever interested in Snurre and the other giants as a means to gain more power to challenge the Fane of Lolth. She has lost the battle, but she has not lost the war.

    Nor does she particularly want to challenge the PCs again. These people are dangerous-they have destroyed no less than three major giant holds, one of them the mighty, centuries-old fortress of Muspelheim, held by generations of fire giant kings, despite their small numbers. Fighting the adventurers is just as likely to end with her being killed-as it may already have, if Lyme had to clone her back in Erelhei-Cinlu.

    However, that doesn't mean Eclavdra has forgiven the PCs for ruining her plans. No, she has a far more devious plan in mind-if their power can be used against her it can also be used for her.

    Here's where the wheels start turning. By leaving behind a map that leads from Muspelheim to Erelhei-Cinlu, Eclavdra can lure the PCs into pursuing her back to the Vault. The text of Hall of the Fire Giant King even implies that this is deliberate, given the question mark it places after the word "accidentally" when the drow abandon it.

    If the PCs do not take the bait, then Eclavdra will forget about them and concentrate on retrenching her forces. While she might be pleased to get vengeance on them at some later point, she has more important battles to fight right now. This is the worst-case scenario, and she'll have lost nothing by trying to lure the PCs after her.

    If the PCs do take the bait, and they come to Erelhei-Cinlu, then Eclavdra's vengeance can truly blossom. By any number of means-and House Eilserves has an impressive array of magical resources, minions, favours and other things at its disposal, to say nothing of its head's skills at political chess and intrigue-Eclavdra can lead the PCs to assume that she was acting as an agent of the Fane, and lead them to believe that they ought to destroy it before it can hatch another depraved plan against the humans of the surface.

    The PCs are likely to be disturbed by the twisted, otherworldly society of the Vault, and to not know friend from foe. Even the most intelligent of heroes might be fooled into believing that the Fane intends to strike out against the surface, and to be led to join those dissenting renegade drow who are eager to strike against the Fane...

    Most of the possible outcomes will be satisfying to Eclavdra. If the PCs are killed on the way to the Fane, or they die at the hands of the Fane itself, then she will have some of that sweet vengeance she so desired. If the PCs succeed in defeating the leaders of the Fane, then Eclavdra will take her moment to strike.

    She may choose to kill the PCs if there are only a few of them remaining, or she may express her "thanks" by using her magic to quietly send them home to reduce the risk of anyone asking any unwelcome questions about their presence and actions. After all, vengeance hardly matters compared to having finally achieved her long-sought of goal, namely rulership of the Vault.

    The story ends there, with the PCs resuming their activities, and believing that they have struck down a horrific evil, and brought justice to the giants' victims...

    ...but in so doing, have unwittingly allowed another evil to take root in the Vault.

    (As for the spider-ship of Lolth, it can safely be ignored as the unfitting, tone- and flavor-destroying aberration that it is...)

    How would you address the plot discrepancies outlined above?
    CF Admin

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    Thu Feb 25, 2016 8:49 pm  

    Very nice work, CSL! =)

    Allan.
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    Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:53 am  

    CruelSummerLord - the aptly named.

    I'll be singing the subject line in my head the rest of the day. Cruel indeed.
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    Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:26 pm  

    I'm more baffled with how Eclavdra turns up as a priestess of Lolth in Iuz the Evil.
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    Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:19 pm  

    SouthernGent wrote:
    I'm more baffled with how Eclavdra turns up as a priestess of Lolth in Iuz the Evil.


    She was there as an ambassador of Graz'zt. She had made up with Lolth - Lolth loves an ambitious gal after all, and had accepted Eclavdra back into the priesthood.

    She used her ambassador position to spy on Iuz for Lolth, and Iuz had to grin and bear it.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:29 am  

    That' a great analysis, CSL, and I especially like the idea that Eclavdra was accepted back into Lolth's priesthood as a direct result of these machinations. With that in mind, I'm interested to know your thoughts of what becomes of her role in the cult of the Elder Elemental God. Would she abandon it altogether? Or perhaps be a duplicitous priestess? She seems a little too conniving than to settle for a "fresh start" with Lolth and be content with it.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:30 am  

    That' a great analysis, CSL, and I especially like the idea that Eclavdra was accepted back into Lolth's priesthood as a direct result of these machinations. With that in mind, I'm interested to know your thoughts of what becomes of her role in the cult of the Elder Elemental God. Would she abandon it altogether? Or perhaps be a duplicitous priestess? She seems a little too conniving than to settle for a "fresh start" with Lolth and be content with it.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:04 pm  

    Luz wrote:
    That' a great analysis, CSL, and I especially like the idea that Eclavdra was accepted back into Lolth's priesthood as a direct result of these machinations. With that in mind, I'm interested to know your thoughts of what becomes of her role in the cult of the Elder Elemental God. Would she abandon it altogether? Or perhaps be a duplicitous priestess? She seems a little too conniving than to settle for a "fresh start" with Lolth and be content with it.


    Luz wrote:
    That' a great analysis, CSL, and I especially like the idea that Eclavdra was accepted back into Lolth's priesthood as a direct result of these machinations. With that in mind, I'm interested to know your thoughts of what becomes of her role in the cult of the Elder Elemental God. Would she abandon it altogether? Or perhaps be a duplicitous priestess? She seems a little too conniving than to settle for a "fresh start" with Lolth and be content with it.


    I don't see Lolth being accepted back into Lolth's priesthood. Why would Lolth want her back after her machinations crippled her rule over the Vault, and why would Eclavdra join up again, especially when she already has everything she wants?

    As I see it, she remains the head of the Elder Elemental God's cult even as she crowns herself Queen of the Vault, and begins hatching various plans to both consolidate House Eilservs' power over the other drow houses in the Vault, and then expanding the drow's influence into areas like the Sunless Sea, the communities of the illithids and kuo-toa, and much more.

    Compared to Lolth, the Elder Elemental God seems to have far less of an agenda and is much less demanding than Lolth, provided that he is acknowledged as a god and receives the sacrifices he deems his due. Aside from that, Eclavdra likely has a free hand to pursue her own agendas, as they will bring the EEG the further glory and sacrifices he demands. Gary Gygax suggested as much in a Q&A session on EN World:

    http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.ca/2008/06/thoughts-on-elder-elemental-god.html


    Last edited by CruelSummerLord on Sat Feb 27, 2016 8:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:11 pm  

    In fact, in looking through some of the other posts that Greyhawk Grognard wrote on the subject, there's another intriguing possibility...

    http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.ca/2014/04/more-on-temple-of-elemental-evil.html

    http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.ca/2008/07/dming-into-depths-of-oerth-part-iii-12.html

    If the Fane of Lolth contains the keys to releasing the EEG from his prison, that in turn provides another motive for Eclavdra to want to see the Fane destroyed-then she can gain the keys to finally liberate the EEG from his otherworldly prison!

    I can see it now-the PCs are in possession of the keys to the EEG's prison, but now they are surrounded by Eclavdra's agents after sacking the Fane. Eclavdra has no more use for them, and she can take the keys to the EEG's prison from their corpses.

    They end up having to flee into the Abyss-and not only do they have Eclavdra and her agents on their trail, they also have to deal with an infuriated Lolth, who is not in a forgiving mood after having one of her major temples sacked and destroyed by these mortal interlopers.

    Now, not only do they have to prevent the EEG from being released, they have to keep themselves from getting slaughtered by Lolth, and from having her her drow worshippers be the ones to take over the giant alliance. After all, even with Snurra, Nosnra and Grugnur dead, there is still the possibility of rallying the other giant leaders they've reached out to-and the giants likely don't know the truth of the drow factions. They are as likely to obey one set of drow as another.

    In the end, we go with Gary Gygax's original vision-the PCs are stalked through the Demonweb Pits, struggling to stay alive as they try to somehow prevent Eclavdra and Lolth from achieving their murderous ends.

    As an added bonus, it also ties neatly into the evidence of the EEG in the Temple of Elemental Evil, which Gygax alluded to in the original text.

    Everything comes full circle-what started out as a strike against a fort of murderous hill giants ends with the PCs acting as the wild cards in an elaborate chess game, (hopefully!) thwarting the plans of not just one but two depraved monstrosities, saving the lives of thousands of innocents in the Sheldomar Valley in the process.

    If that isn't the definition of "adventurer" and "hero", I don't know what is.


    Last edited by CruelSummerLord on Sat Feb 27, 2016 2:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:22 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:


    If that isn't the definition of "adventurer" and "hero", I don't know what is.


    Counter definition:

    "Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed."

    --Zoe Washburn
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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 2:54 pm  

    tarelton wrote:
    CruelSummerLord wrote:


    If that isn't the definition of "adventurer" and "hero", I don't know what is.


    Counter definition:

    "Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed."

    --Zoe Washburn


    I've never seen the Firefly series, but wasn't she also the person who coined the term "Big Damn Heroes"?
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 4:54 pm  

    CSL, you are correct. Consistent inconsistency makes memorable characters.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 27, 2016 5:01 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Luz wrote:
    That' a great analysis, CSL, and I especially like the idea that Eclavdra was accepted back into Lolth's priesthood as a direct result of these machinations. With that in mind, I'm interested to know your thoughts of what becomes of her role in the cult of the Elder Elemental God. Would she abandon it altogether? Or perhaps be a duplicitous priestess? She seems a little too conniving than to settle for a "fresh start" with Lolth and be content with it.


    I don't see Lolth being accepted back into Lolth's priesthood. Why would Lolth want her back after her machinations crippled her rule over the Vault, and why would Eclavdra join up again, especially when she already has everything she wants?


    Sorry, I should have specified that I was referring to Eclavdra's later position as mentioned in Iuz the Evil and explained up thread by Raphael:

    Raphael wrote:
    SouthernGent wrote:
    I'm more baffled with how Eclavdra turns up as a priestess of Lolth in Iuz the Evil.

    She was there as an ambassador of Graz'zt. She had made up with Lolth - Lolth loves an ambitious gal after all, and had accepted Eclavdra back into the priesthood.

    She used her ambassador position to spy on Iuz for Lolth, and Iuz had to grin and bear it.


    The fact that Eclavdra flip-flopped from the EEG back to Lolth has always stymied me a bit. So to clarify, I thought Eclavdra's schemes, as summarized by you, fit well with this scenario. If Eclavdra succeeds in taking over the Vault, perhaps Lolth, admiring her competitive ambition, makes her an offer she can't refuse in return for her continued service. Conversely, if Eclavdra's coup fails, Lolth still sees a use for her and offers her a chance to redeem herself.

    So it all depends if you accept Sargent's work as part of the canon or not, YMMV.


    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    As I see it, she remains the head of the Elder Elemental God's cult even as she crowns herself Queen of the Vault, and begins hatching various plans to both consolidate House Eilservs' power over the other drow houses in the Vault, and then expanding the drow's influence into areas like the Sunless Sea, the communities of the illithids and kuo-toa, and much more.

    Compared to Lolth, the Elder Elemental God seems to have far less of an agenda and is much less demanding than Lolth, provided that he is acknowledged as a god and receives the sacrifices he deems his due. Aside from that, Eclavdra likely has a free hand to pursue her own agendas, as they will bring the EEG the further glory and sacrifices he demands. Gary Gygax suggested as much in a Q&A session on EN World:

    http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.ca/2008/06/thoughts-on-elder-elemental-god.html[/b]


    Yeah, I really like this angle too, as well as your later post about the PCs as wild cards in the Demonweb. Great stuff.
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    Sun Feb 28, 2016 5:59 pm  
    Re: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Eclavdra?

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    (As for the spider-ship of Lolth, it can safely be ignored as the unfitting, tone- and flavor-destroying aberration that it is...)


    As an aside, have you ever taken a look at Skein of the Death Mother? Its an alternative version of the Demonweb Pits that was done better IMO. Its still pretty much a hack n' slash, but its more in tone with the rest of the drow series.
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    Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:18 am  

    Another solution is to put a prisoner in any of the G or D modules that has overheard the drow boasting of plans to attack the surface en masse, and that the giants are merely a distraction. The PCs must travel to Ehrelei-Cinlu to discover the extent of the planned invasion, and while there they find out that not only the power of the EEG is being marshaled, but also that of Lolth. If only there was a way to break their power one at a time, or to play them off against one another...
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    Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:21 pm  

    Sidenote query tied to Eclavdra and her appearance first and foremost in the Giant modules:

    Was there any mention that the drow (with Eclavdra as its chief architect), perhaps in league with Iuz, were there reason why the giants stormed Geoff and Sterich during the Wars?

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:12 pm  

    In Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff the giant invasions were at the instigation of a group of evil cloud giants who called themselves the Sakhut, but the drow were also involved. Because that book included the original G series, Eclavdra and other drow appear in the story within the Hall of the Fire Giant King, conspiring with the giants and promising them an alliance.

    The module suggested: "Perhaps the best solution would be to have both groups, drow and Sakhut, manipulating the land-bound giants, each for reasons of their own. The two groups might be in collusion—after all, neither could survive in the other‘s habitat, making them natural allies in planning the subjugation of their common enemy, the surface-dwellers."
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    Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:33 pm  

    Quite right. Wondering if any other sources mentioned any of this type of alliance, or of Iuz's involvement. After all, Iuz and Lolth conspired (along with Zuggtmoy, and EEG, I think) together to erect ToEE.

    -Lanthorn
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    Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:36 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Quite right. Wondering if any other sources mentioned any of this type of alliance, or of Iuz's involvement. After all, Iuz and Lolth conspired (along with Zuggtmoy, and EEG, I think) together to erect ToEE.

    -Lanthorn


    That was mainly Zuggtmoy, since Iuz was imprisoned at the time and Lolth and Zuggtmoy hate each other. After Zuggtmoy's imprisonment, some of her cultists—including Lareth, apparently—turned to Lolth in desperation.

    T1-4, page 29: "And although Lolth hated Zuggtmoy's Elemental Evil, she so lusted for power that she accepted such service. Had she not been routed, her dark followers so crippled, much might have come of this."

    T1-4 implies that Lareth was a servant of Zuggtmoy who turned to Lolth after his mistress's imprisonment, but Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil claims that Lareth was actually a servant of the Elder Elemental God all along, and only posed as a follower of the demon queens.

    Return to the Temple of Evil claims the Temple was actually a plot from the Elder Elemental God, but that he worked without the knowledge of Zuggtmoy or the other demons. Priests of the EEG, including Lareth, worked their way up the ranks of Zuggtmoy's hierarchy without the knowledge of the demon queen they ostensibly served. Zuggtmoy then thought the idea to build a temple was coming from her priests, unaware they served a different master.

    Considering the original topic of this thread, it bears mentioning that if Lolth accepted one of hated Zuggtmoy's former priests, it's not necessarily unreasonable for her to accept Eclavdra back into her fold, especially considering all of the conditions of her repentance.

    Dragon #298: "Marauders from the upper world followed the trail of influence back to the Vault, where they assaulted not only the Eilservs estate, but also the Fane of Lolth itself. The destruction that the surface dwellers wrought was not vast, but its effects were ruinous to house Eilservs. Its nobles were made hostages, to be ravaged by their captors; with its wealth and pride despoiled, the noble house of Eilservs fell in disgrace for its weakness.

    "The Fane of Lolth survived intact, but not unshaken. The wrath of the priestesses was visited upon the surviving Eilservs, and the wrath of Lolth was poured out upon the surface world. The Queen of the Spiders did not scruple to build upon the foundation laid by the fallen house of Eilservs, and in the midst of the Greyhawk Wars the giantish cohorts they had assembled were finally loosed upon the nations bordering the central Crystalmists—but this time at Lolth's command."

    Houses Tormtor and Kilsek both demand that they become the preeminent Houses in Eilservs' absence. When Kilsek cited its devotion to Lolth as justification, Tormtor responded by declaring themselves worshipers of Kiaransalee and starting a war, which the other houses and allied githyanki and illithids joined in on. This was a big part of the supermodule Dead Gods.

    "The civil war was finally ended at the intervention of Lolth, but at the price of her holdings on the surface. However, what few understood at the time was that Charinida [Lolth's high priestess] had not summoned her. It was Eclavdra of the ravaged house of Eilservs who abased herself before the Queen of the Spiders, undergoing another of the punishments of Lolth in order to further prove herself [the punishments of Lolth were detailed earlier in that issue; they're a series of harrowing trials, with the punishment for failure being transformation into a drider or worse]. Eclavdra survived unmarred and communed directly with Lolth, making a pact with her in the Web."

    Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, page 123: "Eclavdra fell out of favor with Lolth in recent decades, after her alliance with the Elder Elemental God jeopardized Lolth's attempt to bring the world of Oerth into her Demonweb. Thereafter, Eclavdra appeared to abandon Lolth by serving as an ambassador of the demon prince Graz'zt, perhaps at the urging of the demon lord Verin. Eclavdra ultimately seduced and betrayed Graz'zt, thus regaining her status as Lolth's most favored mortal and earthly high priestess. The Queen of the Demonweb Pits admires ambition above loyalty and counts Eclavdra as one of the most ambitious denizens of the Abyss."

    From the context, the particular Punishment that Eclavdra might have undergone might have been Chwidevbrii, the Test of Betrayal, which requires them to gain the trust of someone of their status or higher then betray them in some way that allows them to advance. However, the victim of Chwidevbrii has to die, and Graz'zt is still alive. He might have been temporarily discorporated, and that might count. On the other hand, the test might have been Chwilolth, the Test of Lolth, in which the petitioner is forced to defeat one of Lolth's own proxies in mortal combat. This makes some sense, since it's the most severe test and required for a drow to surpass 20th level (which Eclavdra now has done).

    In summary:

    1. Lolth apparently had some other plan to invade Oerth which was stymied by Eclavdra's rebellion. Per the Queen of the Spiders supermodule, Eclavdra was trying to build up a power base of her own through the giants and the Slave Lords to resist Lolth's conquest, since she feared it would reduce her own temporal power.
    2. Lolth stole the idea of conquering Geoff and Sterich with giants from Eclavdra, but enacted it a few years later.
    3. Eclavdra earned her way back into Lolth's good graces by ending the civil war that had been ravaging the Vault .
    4. And literally screwing over Graz'zt. Thwarting one of Lolth's rivals is always a good way to get on her slightly less murdery side.
    5. And probably also defeating one of Lolth's most powerful semi-divine choldrith servants. She would have had to have done this anyway to reach her current level.

    One more note: Eclavdra must have been playing a really long game with Graz'zt, since she had a son with him, Athux, over fifty years ago.
    GreySage

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    Fri Apr 08, 2016 5:26 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Quite right. Wondering if any other sources mentioned any of this type of alliance, or of Iuz's involvement.


    Well, From the Ashes says: "The giant troubles, as they were called, have been ascribed to all manner of evil schemings. Some sages say that the tanar’ri power Zuggtmoy, freed from her prison in the Temple of Elemental Evil by the meddling Lord Robilar. allied with Iuz and drew forth the giants via agents in the Underdark. Some say Lolth had her own schemes and her drow organized the giants."

    I think the mention of Iuz and Zuggtmoy here is supposed to suggest that the Elder Elemental God worshiped by Eclavdra was in fact the same hoax cult that Zuggtmoy founded in the Temple of Elemental Evil, which is the take the Gord books also espoused.

    Artifact of Evil, page 92: "The drow were of some help [to Iuz]. These dark elves had abandoned all service to the supposed Elemental Evil—that had been his and Queen Zuggtmoy's ploy anyway. To imagine that anyone could swallow the concept still caused Iuz to laugh with fiendish delight! What was more chaotic indeed than the ravening elements? At least a quarter of these nighted drow now served Iuz, much to the dismay of their mighty demoness mistress."

    So according to this theory, Eclavdra was actually worshiping Zuggtmoy (and Iuz as well?) all along (though she's serving as Graz'zt's ambassador in Artifact of Evil), and it's possible that the whole plot of the GDQ series was in part Iuz's scheme.

    The other thing to note is that Obmi appeared in G3 as King Snurre's royal advisor. Was he serving Iuz even then? If Eclavdra, under the direction of Iuz, sought an alliance with a fire giant king being advised by a member of Iuz's Boneshadow, it's little surprise the alliance was successful.
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