As a member of a bold party of adventurers, you and your associates have trekked far into what seems to be a whole underworld of subterranean tunnels -- arteries connecting endless caves and caverns which honeycomb the foundations of the lands beneath the sun. Your expedition has dogged the heels of the Dark Elves who caused great woe and then fled underground.
This adventure provides a complete setting for play using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. Contained herein is background information, a large-scale referee's map with a matching partial map for players, referee's notes, special exploration and encounter pieces, a hex map detailing an enormous cavern area, a special temple map, encounter and map matrix keys, and additional sections pertaining to unique new creatures for use with this module and with the game as a whole.
This module can be played alone, as the conclusion to module D1 & D2: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth," or as the third module in a series that forms a special extended adventure (G1-G3: "Against the Giants"; D1-D2: "Descent into the Depths"; and Q1: "Queen of the Demonweb Pits").
For characters levels 10 to 14.
D3: "Vault of the Drow" (1978), by Gary Gygax, was the sixth adventure released by TSR. Like its two predecessors in the D-series, it was originally published with a monochrome cover (purple). It was later revamped with a full-color cover in a second edition (1981) at the same time that TSR released the collected G1-2-3: "Against the Giants" (1981) and D1-2: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth" (1981).
Another Tournament Release. "Vault of the Drow" shares much of its heritage with the two other adventures in the Descent (D-)series, D1: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth" (1978) and D2: "Shrine of the Kuo-Toa." Like D2, it was first run as a tournament for GenCon XI (1978). The tournament actually resulted in TPKs for everyone but the winning team, due to "a horrible encounter with a demon." Like both of the other D-series adventures, "Vault" was released at GenCon XI immediately following the tournament.
New Settings. The GDQ adventures generally did a great job of introducing historically new settings for D&D adventures. Besides being set in the Underdark, D3 also presents the idea of a monstrous city; in fact, in many ways, the module is actually more of a city description than an adventure. It's the sort of thing you might find in Judges Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord (1976+), but which otherwise wasn't really a part of the roleplaying field in 1978.
New Monsters. The drow have been making appearances since G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King" (1978), but they get their full detailing here, including a description of one of their cities and details on their competing noble families. It also reveals how the worship of the Elder Elemental God may be threatening the drows' matriarchal goddess, Lolth.
During his lifetime, Gygax offered a few different sources for his drow. Ultimately, they're probably derived from the Svartálfaheimr — the dark elves of Norse mythology. Ironically, when the drow were printed up in the Fiend Folio (1980), that book also contained the "xvart," which had been called the "svart" when published in White Dwarf #9 (October/November 1978) and which were thus another Svartálfaheimr derivative.
The Adventure Continues. Fans would have to wait two full years for the conclusion of the GDQ series in Q1: "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" (1980).
Future History. TSR rereleased the entire GDQ sequence a few years later in GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1987), a 128-page supermodule. The drow were also revisited in the Chainmail Miniatures Game (2001). Thanks to story work by Chris Pramas, the drow of the new game's setting - which was in western Greyhawk - had connections to those herein. The idea of drow cities has of course been revisited in the Forgotten Realms, most memorably in the second edition boxed set, Menzoberranzan (1992) and the final (?) 4e book, Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue (2012).
About the Creators. Like the other "Descent" adventures, this last was written while Gygax was working on AD&D as a bit of relaxation after completing the Player's Handbook (1978).
About the Product Historian
This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to email@example.com.