DMing into the Depths of the Oerth, Part III 1/2

I had what I consider a much more interesting plan for the conclusion of the G-D series, one in which the PC party could loose the Elder Elemental god or send him into deeper isolation, thus assisting Lolth to become more powerful. By very astute play, they could have thwarted the designs of both evil entities. The Demonweb Pits were indeed envisioned as maze like, but there were to be no machines therein. — Gary Gygax on EnWorld, August 2006

My outline for the whole was for a demi-plane outside of the Abyss, a great spiderweb with encounters at junctions along the way to the center, Lolth’s abode there in the middle. The PCs would need to gather pieces of an artifact based on the four elements in the web in order to be able to face the demoness and send her packing back to the abyss. Of course, that would have called back the Elder Elemental God from his place of banishment… — Gary Gygax on EnWorld, June 2006

Before I even start this, repeat this in your mind, over and over. “The Elder Elemental God was not ever, ever, worshiped in the Temple of Elemental Evil.” I’m going to delve into a bit of obscure Greyhawk lore here, and it will be much easier to digest if you keep that simple fact in mind. Now to the case at hand…

I will eventually get around to a full-blown treatment of module Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but I found the above quotes as part of my research for the Greyhawk Lore project, and found them just too chock-full of implications to let pass by.

First off, it gives a much more logical reason for the PC’s to visit the Demonweb pits. They’re not there to fight against Lolth (as in the published version of Q1), but rather to hurl the Elder Elemental God (about whom I have written previously) even further into obscurity (presumably blocking the Eilservs faction from receiving higher-level clerical spells from it) and possibly thwarting the demonness Lolth into the bargain.

That, of course, implies that the Elder Elemental God does, in fact, exist; not a ploy of the priests of Tharizdun, as was posited in the quite forgettable module Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Earlier, Gygax had said that he envisioned “a link between the Drow modules and the ToEE, mainly in my head, and after Q1 came out I rather lost interest in developing the former, as the EEG was not released from his banishment to a distant star (ala Set). I would have devised some other scenario to accomplish that…”

Remember that in the “Secret History of the Temple” in T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, we are told that “many drow visited the Temple after its fall” and were responsible for some of its denizens turning to the worship of Lolth.

So, in the original Gygaxian conception…

1) The Elder Elemental God is banished to a distant star
2) An artifact that could release it from said banishment is in pieces in Lolth’s demiplane outside the Abyss
3) There’s a connection between the Elder Elemental God and the Temple of Elemental Evil; the latter related to the release of the former from banishment (yes, I am aware of the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil module, but let us leave it aside for now).

Could Lolth possibly have had something to do with the banishment/ imprisonment of the Elder Elemental God in the first place? Why else would she be in possession of the key to its release? Perhaps there was an ancient rivalry for the loyalty of the dark elves somewhere in the depths of history.

Now, the natural inclination as to why the drow were visiting the Temple of Elemental Evil is because it was, at its heart, a cult of the Elder Elemental God. But recall my plea at the beginning of this article; that idea flies in the face of what we are told in the module itself, that the idea of “elemental evil” was a sham concocted by Zuggtmoy and Iuz because it had more potential for recruitment than Zuggtmoy’s “beloved fungi”. Clearly the force behind “Elemental Evil” is not the “Elder Elemental God”, despite the fact that both have the word “elemental” in their name. But how to explain those drow?

Well, quite obviously, those were not drow of the Eilservs faction. If they were, they would not be in the business of persuading the remaining temple faithful to worship Lolth. And let us not forget that Lolth is putting her webby digits into the pie as well; she has apparently taken an interest in Lareth the Beautiful, master of the moathouse and the “dark hope of chaotic evil”. They were, in fact, the Lolth-faction of the drow. Perhaps their intent was to seek a counterbalance to the surface influence of the Eilservs? Were they perhaps even responsible for Lareth’s rise to prominence?

We are still left with a connection, in the original Gygaxian idea, between the Elder Elemental God and the Temple of Elemental Evil. What the heck could it be? Could it, just perhaps, be that the Elder Elemental God was looking to thwart the machinations of Lolth, and her expansion in the area? There is a certain symmetry to the idea. In G1-D3, we have the forces of the Elder Elemental God seeking to expand their power in the Depths by gaining power in the surface world. Once the Lolth-faction started to do the same thing, could not the Elder Elemental God, now freed (presumably by the incautious actions of the PC’s in the Demonweb Pits), not seek to do thwart them as it itself was thwarted? The mind reels.

Man, if I ever run Hommlet again, it’ll be a very different experience.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

3 thoughts on “DMing into the Depths of the Oerth, Part III 1/2

  1. Joe—You and Paul Stormberg really need to get together to bang ideas around re: EEG and G/D modules and ToEE: he’s been digging into it for aeons, and has come up with some excellent lore/research as well!


  2. Ever think of revisiting this series and expanding on it? After reading your series, I'm planning to run G/D/Q, but now I want to know so much more!

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