B3 Palace of the Silver Princess
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess Playtest Review by James Landry on 13/04/01
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 2 (Sparse)
The worst boxed-text in the business and a farily uninspired arrangement of monsters make this one very skippable. Get it only if you thrill to the attack of the decapus!
Product: B3 Palace of the Silver Princess
Author: Tom Moldvay and Jean Wells
Line: Basic D&D
Page count: 32
Year published: 1981
Playtest Review by James Landry on 13/04/01
Genre tags: Fantasy
This is one in a series of reviews covering most of the Basic D&D sets and modules. I was digging through my old D&D materials before selling them, and decided to write reviews of them for people to know what is worthwhile and what should be avoided.
These reviews will contain spoilers, so avoid at your own risk. Of course, since these modules have been out for 17 years or so, maybe it is a little late for spoiler warnings.
The Silver Princess
This is the green version of the module, which is a replacement for the original orange-cover version, available from WOTC here. The original was written by Jean Wells, recalled, and then heavily modified by Tom Moldvay and released.
An evil god, Arik of the Hundred Eyes, has sent one of his eyes in the form of a ruby into the palace of the land of Haven. The ruby has brought the evil down upon the land and isolated the palace. Haven's protectors (called conveniently enough "The Protectors") make it possible for the PCs to enter and leave the palace but otherwise can give no help. The PCs are supposed to go to the realm of Haven, enter the palace, defeat the evil usurpers, rescue the princess from her captors, and destroy the ruby. If they cannot stop Arik's minions, they will summon him from his extra-dimensional prison and he will be free to wreak his vengeance on the world.
Yes, it really is that sappy. Here's the opening paragraph to be read to the players:
"The valley of Haven was a peaceful land. Its crops were abundant, its citizens prosperous. Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Humans lived together in harmony. Hidden away in the heart of the Thunder Mountains, Haven was a safe place to live. The rivers were sweet and pure; the weather was pleasant and warm."
The module includes something interesting at the beginning, a programmed adventure set up in a choose your own adventure format where you go from entry to entry while running it as the DM. Unfortunately, the players probably know what they are doing at this points, and the format makes it difficult to run this part any other way.
Here we get to one of the stupider things in the dungeon. The first part of the dungeon (level one) has a wandering monster table. Included on this wandering monster table are clerics, bandits, verious humanoids, and a black bear. This hungry black bear is just wandering around and hasn't managed to eat any of the other wandering monsters around, even though it attacks on sight. The best part of this is the illustration at the top of the page, which shows the bear pressed against the wall on its hind legs at the end of a corrider, while two PCs around the corner look fearfully forward. It's stalking them!
Some of the elements of this level are somewhat interesting, like the guard driven insane by the Eye of Arik, but in general it is fairly standard. There are a variety of denizens, with varying degrees of hostility, and they all have names, which is somewhat of an improvement over B2.
Another interesting element is the decapus, featured on the cover by Erol Otus. This creature is a ball of teeth with eight tentacles that brachiates through trees and attacks. If it can be forced to the ground, it is much more vulnerable. I have mixed feelings about this monster, but at least it isn't boring. When I played this, it nearly took us all out. Nine attacks a round is brutal!
The adventure culminates in a battle with an evil cleric, orcs, and a werewolf. Once the evildoers are defeated, the PCs must destroy the ruby. A good point in this module is that there are multiple ways to do this, and clues to that effect are sprinkled throughout the module. In fact, there are almost too many clues. Anyone who doesn't figure this out is something of a nincompoop.
The art is very uneven, with some good pieces and some horrible pieces. There is a ton of it sprinkled through the module, with at least two full-page pictures in the module.
Overall, this one is pretty forgettable. The module attempts to tap into a lot of fantasy tropes and evoke an epic scope, but the writing is so hackneyed and the situations so stereotypical that it fails miserably. A lot of effort would have to be made to make this one easy to insert into whatever campaign you happen to be running. Finally, it's a little hard to believe that measly 2nd level people would be called by these Protectors to fight off the coming of a god and rescue a kingdom. I would recommend skipping this adventure.