B3: Palace of the Silver Princess

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Palace of the Silver Princess or, as artist Bill Willingham dubbed it on his way out the door, Phallus of the Silver Princess, was a module written in 1980 - rather, two modules. Jean Wells, host to the design-department's only vagina at the time, wrote the first one. TSR then inflicted a total Moldvay rewrite on it, probably the version you could find over the 1980s.

Either way 'tis B3 in the Moldvay Basic line.

Orange Module Bad (and Porny)[edit]

In this version the party aims for the ruined castle of Argenta, a "long-dead" princess, rumoured to hold My Lady's Heart - a massive ruby. When they find the ruby they find Argenta still here also, along with her knight - both Chaotic (=evil) ghosts like in AD&D, with an aging effect. In this Basic adventure, that monster-type had to be included with the New Monsters.

There's an outdoor section that isn't bad actually. The domain is on a plateau overlooking the "Princes of Glantri" to the southeast. Yes, this is the first appearance of Glantri in what would become Mystara. It's dominated by the barony Gulluvia itself ruled by one (female) D'hmis, a truly vicious (and misandric) tyrant. Unfortunately D'hmis will have nothing to do with the plot of the adventure that follows. Wells' map (she drew it herself) has its river flow north, toward the mountain-range; and away from the cliff dropping south to Glantri. But maybe there's an underground cavern under those badlands.

As with B1 and, to a more-quarantined extent, B2 ("Caves Of The Unknown") and - soon - B4: B3 had left some of the dungeon details vacant for the DM to flesh out. This practice was however going out of fashion in the AD&D module-lines. And B3 already had a sizeable outdoors pocked with wilderness regions and adventure-ideas.

Anyway what wasn't in the module wasn't nearly as troublesome as what was. As Willingham noted, much of the actual content was Society for Creative Anachronism fangurl gush. There's even a poem here.

Also, the new monsters, besides the transplanted ghost, were silly: like the hermaphroditic ubues, or the six-legged platypus (wtf?). I mean, come on, it's not like early-'80s TSR would ever let shit like that loose.

Accounts differ on how Wells reacted to the criticism. Wells claimed to the end (she died 2012) that she had worked closely with her designated editor Edward Sollers. Other designers claim that she went BAAWWWWW to her chum Gary Gygax, who resisted calls to change the content. And the management had pissed off the workers below decks, by firing a bunch of staff for instance.

Eat me, beat me, make me DM this module

So a revolt brewed in the art-department. Wells (and Sollers, and the TSR management) got TROLOLOed by Erol Otus who snuck portraits of the shitcanned ex-TSR staff into the artwork without Wells' consent. On those hermaphrodites no less. That's right up there with the best passive-aggressive dickmoves (and against an equally deserving target).

Willingham said fuck-this-noise and ragequit mid-drawing, leaving the rest of his artwork for someone else. Otus further slipped in some sexytimes elsewhere. Kevin Hendryx went Smithee and demanded his name go UNcredited. Laura Roslof for her own part just went full literotica, drawing in a woman tied by her own hair being pawed at by goblinoids or maybe demons (they didn't have devils in the Basic line).

Meanwhile the printer dropped the last two rooms (37 and 38) out of the first floor's descriptions. Room 38 was, as the last entry in the first floor, supposed to support the bottom of the stair / ladder into the first room in the second floor.

And repeat: not that upper management cared or even had the wit to judge but, the content of the text was rotten.

In 2002, Wizards of the Coast released the orange version on their website for free alongside an article on its history. It remained there till Wizards reorganized their website in August 2011, but you can still find it via the Internet Archive. It's likely still on WotC's website somewhere, but nobody can figure out how to navigate Wizard's archived articles and find it.

Green Module... Okay I guess[edit]

TSR's suits took one look at the end-product and STOPPED THE PRESSES. OH NOES DEMONS! OH NOES SCANTILY CLAD BOOBIES! Even Frank Mentzer has observed that other modules were already out with much worse. [Tho', the altar-girl scene in 1976's Eldritch Wizardry aside, not in juxtaposition, and not lately.]

Tom Moldvay reissued a near-completely different version immediately after, with a dark green cover. Wells still got co-credit for the work.

As for the differences, besides the artwork: most of Wells' new monsters got buhleeted. There were a few survivors: the archer bush, the decapus. The "Jupiter Blood Sucker" got remade as vampire rose(s); the Protectors, de-statted, got through as plot-device. The poltergeist and the ghost, not really Wells' in the first place, would be delayed for the Companion Set's "Haunt". The vacant spots in the text got filled in or killed off, too. The whole wilderness section? gone. Much of the plot also got redone: Argenta is still alive, and needs rescuing. Also My Lady's Heart turns out to the an evil artifact, the Eye of Arik; this is what has blighted the land. Whatever land that might be.

In the end, B3 did notch up a win for TSR. Jim Bambra at White Dwarf liked the Moldvay version, suggesting it belonged in the Basic Set instead of B1 or B2.

Legacy[edit]

The orange version is a huge seller in the used-market.

As to where in canon it goes: Moldvay kept it for the Adri Varma plateau northwest of/in Glantri, which Glantri would join the Known World in his Isle of Dread. The later B1-9 omnibus shifted it to Karameikos. Wells herself might have intended that the outgoing river flow to B2's map, wherever that may be.

Further Reading[edit]