A few days ago, I posted a speculation that perhaps the contents of Lolth’s platinum egg were actually unknown to her, and that she thought of it as nothing more than a device to draw her enemies into her clutches in the Abyss.
I had speculated that the egg had originally come from the Elder Elemental God itself, but Allan “Grodog” Grohe tweaked that, and posited that it was the Eliservs who set up the trap, wherein the device she used to lure in the adventurers who penetrated into Erelhei-Cinlu to their deaths in the Abyss, also included the keys to release the Elder Elemental God.
I like that even more, and it got me to thinking that this might even be the link between the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Elder Elemental God, and the Vault of the Drow/going after Lolth after adventure. By Harry, I might have this thing finally figured out!
This is going to need a careful read; hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
First, from Temple of Elemental Evil:
Some actually turned to Lolth in desperation, for many drow visited the Temple after its fall. Lareth was one who sought to serve both the Temple and Lolth. 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, p. 29
But as it transpired, Lolth could—and can yet—give only encouragement, without physical or magical aid, to those who call on her.
This is a somewhat deceptive quote. It implies that the ToEE module happens after D3 Vault of the Drow/Q1 Queen of the Demonweb pits. And that would make sense, given the timing of when they were published; T1-4 came out several years after D1-3/Q1.
But that cannot be the reference here, for several reasons. The implied ending of Q1 is that Lolth is permanently slain in the Abyss. If she’s slain, she cannot give encouragement, obviously. If it’s just a reference to her material form being slain in D3, then she’s just imprisoned in the Abyss for a century (per the MM). As a lesser goddess, there’s nothing I’m aware of that says she cannot still grant spells.
So I believe this is a reference to some other setback.
In fact, there’s only one major setback to Lolth that we know of that fits the bill. Something that happened several years before CY 569 (the year of the Battle of Emridy Meadows, a decade before when we know the Temple of Elemental Evil module was set), and which would count as “a sharp check” to Lolth:
Having just learned of the sharp check dealt to Lolth in her plans to wreak Evil, the Lady of Fungi agreed to accept luz as an (almost) equal in the Temple.T1-4 p. 29
I think this is a reference to the betrayal of the drow Houses of Eilservs and Tormtor and their defection to the worship of the Elder Elemental God. (This represents a correction/change to my previous article on Dating Modules.) The two most powerful houses in Erelhei-Cinlu were loosed from Lolth’s grasp, and the whole of the Vault of the Drow was plunged into a cold civil war:
The Eilservs have long seen a need for an absolute monarch to rule the Vault, and as the noble house of first precedence, they have reasoned that their mistress should be Queen of All Drow. When this was proposed, the priestesses of Lolth supported the other noble families aligned against the Eilservs, fearing that such a change would abolish their position as the final authority over all disputes and actions of the Dark Elves. Thereafter, the Eilservs and their followers turned away from the demoness and proclaimed their deity to be an Elder Elemental God (see MODULE G-3). Although there is no open warfare, there is much hatred, and both factions seek to destroy each other.D3, p. 18
It’s also supported by the earlier reference in the same section of T1-4 that Zuggtmoy, “having just learned of the sharp check dealt to Lolth in her plans to wreak evil, … agreed to accept Iuz as an (almost) equal in the Temple.” This happens many years before the events of the adventure (let’s call it CY 563 at the very earliest), at the very beginning of the Temple, so it almost certainly doesn’t refer to the events of Vault of the Drow. The defection of the Eilservs and Tomtors are the only thing we really know of that could fit the bill.
So, step #1: the Eilservs went over to the worship of the Elder Elemental God prior to the establishment of the Temple of Elemental Evil.
Now we come to step #2: Gygax has already stated that the original intention was for the Elder Elemental God to be present in the lowest levels of the dungeons beneath the Temple of Elemental evil:
The EEG was indeed meant by me to have a place in the very nethermost recesses of the ToEE. An anomaly there allowed him to manifest a portion of himself, and by doing the wrong (right from the DM’s point of view) thing the adventurers could release him also! Of course that would counter somewhat the freeing of Zuggtmoy, had she been loosed, so on balance it could serve to redress that error.Oerth Journal 12
More on that anon, but the point is that there’s both opportunity (the Eilservs were looking to expand their dominion on the surface to further their ambitions in the Vault) and motive (they turned to the worship of the Elder Elemental God) for the Eilservs to interact with the Temple of Elemental Evil, and the Elder Elemental God’s “anomaly” beneath it, and set the stage for what must come later.
More in part 2!