Yes, I am still thinking about this! Before we get started, you’ll probably want to read this earlier post of mine from 2017 on the subject of the platinum egg that is found at the end of D3 Vault of the Drow. It’s got a lot of important background that I’m not going to revisit here, except for specifically relevant references.
My question for today is, why does the platinum egg suddenly appear?
A lot of people seem to be puzzled by the sudden appearance of the platinum egg with the four objects (iron pyramid, silver sphere, bronze star, and blue crystal cube). Its purpose is summed up in the introduction to Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits:
- Cursed by Lolth as a means of vengeance
- A trick by Lolth to get the PCs to the Abyss where she can destroy them as well as a “key” (to what, we are not told)
- A gift from a rival deity
But this is a meaningless puzzle, almost a bait-and-switch, because the purpose of the egg (and its contents) is quite clear from the text in Vault of the Drow:
If Lolth flees, or is slain in her currrent form, a silvery (platinum) egg will be revealed. A remove curse will enable it to be opened, and whomever does so is geased to enter the astral gate on Level #1 (14) and confront Lolth if he or she is able or die trying.
That’s pretty plain. The second of the three options is the correct one, and the egg is left behind as a means to compel the intruders to come to the Abyss where Lolth can, presumably, destroy them. The fact that she leaves it behind even if she just flees (as opposed to being killed on the Prime Material Plane) amplifies that conclusion. Dropping the platinum egg is a conscious act on her part.
But… let’s tease that out a little more.
You’re a demon queen and demigod. There’s a group of mortals (lured to your mortal stronghold by your greatest enemy) who charged through all your supporters and managed to either kill your mortal form or drive you off. You drop an object that’s intended to lure them to your home where you are strongest so you can finally destroy them. But it also has within it a number of powerful objects that are the key to freeing your greatest rival.
In what multiverse does that make a lick of sense? The trap you leave behind to lure your enemies into your clutches is also the means to defeat you by raising up your other enemy? Couldn’t Lolth have prepared something else that would lay the geas on her enemies? Like a magic ring or sword or something? Something’s going on here.
Could there be something intrinsic to the platinum egg (and/or the four elemental symbols within) that makes it uniquely suited to the task? Or maybe that makes using it to lure in the PCs worth the risk?
Maybe the geas on the platinum egg wasn’t originally placed there by Lolth. Maybe she’s just using it to draw the PCs to her in a place she thinks she will be able to vanquish them. She knows about it, and figures it’s the best way to deal with the problem. Since she is all-powerful on her own level of the Abyss, she might be confident enough to risk giving it and the keys to the Elder Elemental God’s prison to her greatest mortal foe.
That’s pure speculation, of course, but it does open up a question. If Lolth didn’t put the geas on the egg, who did? Who would want to make sure that the same individual who held the key to freeing the Elder Elemental God was also filled with an uncontrollable urge to slay the keeper of its prison? The answer is obvious; the Elder Elemental God itself.
But there’s another possibility along this line of speculation. What if Lolth doesn’t know the four elemental keys are inside the egg? What if she just thinks its a way to lure her enemy into her clutches, and is unaware of the precious cargo inside? What if the platinum egg is a trap set by the Elder Elemental God millennia ago, specifically designed to bring together a great enemy of Lolth (against whom the demon queen would use the egg) and the means to unlock its own prison?
Now Lolth dropping the egg makes a lot more sense. In her mind, she’s not handing an enemy the keys to another enemy’s prison; she’s just using an ancient cursed item she has been holding in reserve for just such an occasion. But she doesn’t realize it’s actually a booby-trap that her great enemy prepared against her.
I’m not sure this will stand up under additional scrutiny, but right now I’m loving the idea of the trap-within-a-trap platinum egg.
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