In the previous installments of this series (Part 1, Part 2), we established that the Temple of Elemental Evil was built where it was because of the presence of the Elder Elemental God’s “anomaly”. I posited that it was the anomaly that made possible, directly or indirectly, the existence of the Elemental Nodes. Further, there is a direct connection between the Nodes and the Elemental Power Gems, which in turn fit into the Orb of Golden Death, which is held by a follower of Lolth. We also found a fairly decent explanation for why Eclavdra Eilservs chose the Elder Elemental God when she left Lolth; it was a deliberate slight because the EEG and Lolth had a history.
I’d like to spend a little time exploring the Elemental Power Gems, as I think they and the Orb of Golden Death are the keys (heh) to this whole thing.
The Elemental Power Gems are found in the four Elemental Nodes, the evil elemental demi-planes accessible from the 4th level of the dungeons beneath the Temple. We are told Zuggtymoy hid them there as the Temple came under siege. They cause anyone who touches them, and everyone within 50′, to be teleported to the appropriate Elemental Node. Once there, there are no other powers bestowed unless the gem is mounted in the Orb, with one exception. Each gem can control the teleport power of the various elemental glyphs on levels 3 and 4 of the dungeons and in the Elemental Nodes; the glyph will teleport those within its confines to another, identical, glyph. This is just about the only way one can leave the Nodes; find the appropriate gem, go back to the glyph in the center of the Node, and then teleport back to the identical glyph in the dungeon. This effect is also randomized somewhat, making escape even more problematic.
This is also the only way into the northern section of Zuggtmoy’s prison. But as indicated, there’s only a 1/4 chance of ending up there.
When a gem is placed in the mounting of the Orb of Golden Death, it bestows various powers; an elemental-themed spell once per week, travel to and from the appropriate Elemental Plane at will and immunity from any ill effects from its environment, conjure elemental of the appropriate type, and summon and control a demon (Babau, Type I, II, or III).
Obviously, the gems’ real power doesn’t become apparent until they are mounted in the Orb, so uniting them is a very good thing to do from the PCs’ point of view.
Now, the Orb itself is interesting as well. It has many various names; the Orb of Golden Death, Yellowskull, Goldenskull, and the Death Orb. It was specifically given to the priesthood of Elemental Evil for safekeeping. It is in Falrinth’s possession at the start of the ToEE adventure.
That’s an interesting fact, because Falrinth is shown to be a devotee of Lolth, having abandoned Zuggtmoy and the Temple in secret, and acting as a hidden agent of the spider queen.
Now let’s take a look at the platinum egg that is dropped by Lolth at the end of D3 Vault of the Drow:
If Lolth flees, or is slain in her current 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. In the egg are an iron pyramid, a silver sphere, a bronze star of eight points, and a cube of pale blue crystal. (These items have value and use only if the party continues the adventure in the next Module (Q1, QUEEN OF THE DEMONWEB PITS).D3 Vault of the Drow, p. 20
Of course, the items were totally nerfed in the published Q1, but I’m proceeding on the assumption that the published Q1 will be replaced by something more in line with Gygax’s original concept.
Gygax, in one of his online Q&A’s, had this to say about the elemental glyphs and their uncanny resemblance to the gems inside Lolth’s platinum egg at the end of D3 Vault of the Drow:
As you note, the shapes were repeated in the ToEE as I did intend to tie the latter into the series. Lolth was to be connected to the temple, she the key to activation of that which would remove the imprisoning bonds from the Elder Elemental God. Of course that would have been by unintended consequences of her actions when the PCs discovered her.
How it was all to operate was something I never did get fleshed out. This was to happen in the lower levels of the temple, the development of which I never got around to because of my work out on the West Coast.
And of course we already know that this vague intention to include Lolth and the Elder Elemental God was never transmitted to Frank Mentzer, who had been handed the task of finishing the dungeons beneath the Temple. So the idea never saw the light of day.
So let’s see where we end up.
In the Temple of Elemental Evil, we have four Elemental Power Gems which are associated with:
- Air: smoky quartz gem, circle glyph
- Earth: carnelian gem, triangle glyph
- Fire: garnet gem, eight-pointed star glyph
- Water: aquamarine gem, square glyph
Now compare that with the objects in the platinum egg:
- A silver sphere (= three-dimensional circle)
- An iron pyramid (= three-dimensional triangle)
- A bronze eight-pointed star
- A pale blue crystal cube (= three-dimensional square)
Even the colors work. Smoky quartz and silver, carnelian (which is a sort of rust-red color) and iron (which, although it’s not stated, rusts), garnet (which can come in just about any color, including a bronzish hue), and aquamarine and pale blue.
I think the implication is inescapable. The four Elemental Power Gems aren’t just thematically similar to the objects in the Platinum Egg. They are the objects in the Egg.
If that supposition is correct, something has to happen during the freeing of Zuggtmoy that not only lets the Elder Elemental God loose (or maybe looser), but also sets up the double-trap of the Platinum Egg. Having established that Vault of the Drow happens after Temple of Elemental Evil, all we need to do is to get the gems (perhaps even in the platinum egg) from here to there.
If only there was some agent of Lolth nearby who could deliver them from the Temple of Elemental Evil to the Vault of the Drow and safely into Lolth’s webby digits. If only…