Marco Volo - Arrival is the last volume of the Marco Volo trilogy, designed for four to eight player characters of 6th to 8th level. When the characters first set off on an intrigue-laden journey to Shadowdale, they did not suspect how much trouble they would get into. Joined by Marcus Wands (also known as Marco Volo), they found him just a bothersome but likeable little rogue. No one suspected he was on the run from the crazy wizard Sabbar. The troublesome Marcus had previously stolen from him a rare artifact called the Dragonking's Eye, and hid it in the Spiderhaunt Woods.
Now the party approaches the Spiderhaunts, and Marcus insists on diverting the group to retrive the Eye. But strangethings have been happening there. There are rumors of an oddly constructed keep of bone (or is it crystal?): of a warlord out for conquest (or is it a lich?); of goblin tribes strangely clad, an extra-planar beings banding with the giant spiders of the aptly named Spiderhaunt Woods. Something evil has denned at the heart of the forest. It has a mind of its own...and it has plans for Faerun.
The last volume of the Marco Volo trilogy gives a DM tools to run this free-wheeling, fast-paced adventure, and the secrets of the powers at work behind the scenes. The player characters must face - and deal with - the mad wizard Sabbar, the annoyed Volothamp Geddarm (who wants to have "a little chat" with Marcus!), and ultimately the Dragonking's Eye itself. Even the gods themselves step in to have their say. In a dramatic denouement, this epic adventure draws to a close, but the memory of what transpired will live on!
"Marco Volo: Arrival" (1994), by Anthony Pryor, is the last in a trilogy of Forgotten Realms adventures. It was published in November 1994.
Origins (I): The Realms Adventures. "Marco Volo: Arrival" (1994) completes the "Marco Volo" trilogy of adventures, following on "Marco Volo: Departure" (1994) and "Marco Volo: Journey" (1994). However, it wasn't entirely the end: the Realms adventure trilogies would become an annual tradition, with "The Sword of the Dales" trilogy (1995) following the next year.
Origins (II): Sources. In talking about his inspirations for "Arrival", Pryor repeats several from past books, including the works of Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), Karl Edward Wagner (1945-1994), and Steven Brust (1955-Present). However, he also adds a few inspirational motion pictures: Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) and Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride (1987). These suggestions highlight the light-hearted nature of the "Marco Volo" adventures, but suggest a more sophisticated humor than the funny names and modern references of TSR's early '90s satire.
Adventure Tropes. Where the previous adventures in the Marco Volo trilogy all offered picaresque adventures, this one instead focuses on a few set locales and lets characters actually explore them, providing much more agency than the episodic encounters to date.
Adventure Tropes: You and Him Fight. With that said, "Arrival" unfortunately ends with one of the more frustrating adventure tropes of the '90s: the scripted NPC fight, where players watch as NPCs finish off the action. To be fair, this finale is consistent with the notable influence of Marco Volo throughout the adventure (and generally, of NPCs in the Realms).
Exploring the Realms. "Arrival" completes Marco Volo's journey across the three most important areas of the Realms by landing in Shadowdale; more specifically, it provides considerable details on the Spiderhaunt Woods. This popular locale would again be the focus of one of the next year's adventures: "The Secret of Spiderhaunt" (1995)
Artifacts of Note. After being discussed throughout this trilogy, the Dragonking's Eye finally appears in "Arrival". It's a distinctive Realms artifact that would make a return appearance in Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996).
NPCs of Note. Characters like Master Heino and Marco Volo make one more appearance here, after which they'd largely disappear from Realms books. Volothamp Geddarm himself also makes a rare appearances; that's the actual author of the Volo Guides.
However the most interesting character of this adventure may be the Dragonking, who is imprisoned in the Eye, but makes a break for it at adventure's end. He only gets scripted scenes in this adventure, but he's interesting enough that Eric Boyd revisited the Marco Volo adventures solely to expand upon the info on the Dragonking for City of Splendors: Waterdeep (2005).
About the Creators. Pryor had been writing for TSR since 1991, but 1994 was his most prolific year, with contributions to Elminster's Ecologies (1994) and solo authorship of the three Marco Volo adventures as well as Elves of Evermeet (1994).
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