Palace of the Silver Princess
The published cover of Palace of the Silver Princess, with art by Erol Otus. The artwork depicts an adventurer confronting a decapus.
|Rules required||D&D Basic Set|
|Campaign setting||Generic D&D|
|Authors||Tom Moldvay and Jean Wells|
|B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, B1-9, B10, B11, B12, BSOLO|
Palace of the Silver Princess is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. It is notable as being the D&D module that was recalled on the same day it was released, then rewritten and re-released some months later. The original version, with an orange cover, was written in 1980 by Jean Wells. When the orange version was recalled (and most copies destroyed), the module was rewritten by Tom Moldvay and released with a green cover. Writing credit on the second version was given to both Moldvay and Wells, although there was very little of Wells' original content in Moldvay's version.
Palace of the Silver Princess contains a single D&D adventure laid out in a format suitable for a single gaming session. The module includes game maps on the unattached outside cover.
Plot summary of second (green) version
The module has been described as a low-level scenario, which involves the legends surrounding a ruined palace, a white dragon, and a giant ruby. The player characters encounter evil creatures that have taken over the palace. The plot of Palace of the Silver Princess revolves around a country frozen in time by a strange red light. The only seemingly unaffected location and the apparent source of the glow is the royal palace. The adventurers must restore the flow of time and save the country.
In 1980, Jean Wells, the only woman in TSR's design department, was assigned to write an adventure for the "B" (Basic) series that would teach new players how to play D&D using rules for the D&D Basic Set. This module would be unique as it was the first TSR adventure authored by a female designer. She consulted her editor, Ed Sollers, about every detail, and the result was B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. In keeping with the design of the first D&D module of the "B" series, B1 In Search of the Unknown by Mike Carr, Wells left several rooms and areas of the module incomplete so that players could customize those areas themselves. As she related, "I was trying to show the players that there was more to a 'dungeon' than just the building. I didn't complete the palace, trying to show them this map could be a mini base map for their game. The players could discover the part of the dungeon that had been caved in wasn't any longer and the DM could expand it. I was assuming that they were trying to learn to set up their own world and I was trying to help."
During the editorial process, Wells wanted to replace artwork by Erol Otus that had transformed her new three-headed monsters called "ubues" into hermaphrodites with the heads of TSR staffers and management. However, she was told that it was too late, since replacing the artwork would cause unreasonable printing delays.
On the eve of publication, when the cartons of printed modules arrived at TSR headquarters ready for shipping, someone in TSR's upper management objected strongly to the module. Some sources state that the objectionable content was four pieces of artwork by Erol Otus and Laura Roslof that were too overtly sexual. These included "The Illusion of the Decapus" by Laura Roslof, wife of Jim Roslof, in which a woman was tied up by her own hair. However, other sources point out that the "objectionable" art was rather tame compared to that released in some other products of the time, and that "sexual content" was only used as an excuse for the recall; the real reason was the Erol Otus caricatures of TSR executives in the illustration of the ubues.
Wells herself related that another member of the design department complained to senior executive Kevin Blume, and that subsequently she and her editor, Ed Sollers, were called into Kevin Blume's office and asked to explain why a module designed for a younger audience contained S&M.
The end result was that the entire print run of what became known as the "orange version"—because of its orange cover design—was destroyed. The copies already sent out to stores were ordered to be recalled, and that night the personal copies handed out earlier that day were removed from the employees' cubes; the few copies employees had taken home that night were not confiscated, but the rest ended up in a Lake Geneva landfill, along with all the copies TSR could reclaim from those already shipped out.
The entire module was subsequently rewritten by Tom Moldvay, who changed the plot, replaced all of Wells' new monsters with standard monsters from the Monster Manual, and removed the empty areas. In addition, the four contentious pieces of artwork, as well as many others, were replaced. The new version was then released with a green cover, with writing credit given to both Moldvay and Wells, although the new version contained little of Wells' original content other than the setting.
Only a few copies of the orange cover version survived, making it a very collectible item. At the 1984 Gen Con game fair auction, a copy sold for $300. Twenty-four years later, in 2008, a copy in VF/SW (very fine/slight warp) condition sold at auction for $3050, the highest confirmed sale price for any single non-unique TSR D&D module. In 2011, a few copies were still available from out-of-print resellers; in shrink-wrapped, near mint condition these were priced at $1300–$1500.
Some critics say that Wells' orange version was the last "old school" D&D module, since it required players to use their own imaginations to fill in details of the empty rooms and incomplete dungeons, while all TSR modules following the Moldvay rewrite were complete adventures on their own, with no extra work needed by the purchaser in order to play the adventure.
Jim Bambra reviewed the green version of Palace of the Silver Princess for White Dwarf magazine, giving it a 10/10 and calling it "an excellent introduction to the game for new DMs and players, being fairly simple to complete and play." He made note of the glossary of unfamiliar terms for the Dungeon Master to reference, and helpful hints on play. Bambra concluded the review by stating that "this should replace B2 The Keep on the Borderlands in the D&D Basic Set." (B2 came packaged with the Basic Set at the time.)
- Bambra, Jim (November 1982). "Open Box: Dungeon Modules". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (35): 14–15. ISSN 0265-8712.
- "Dungeons & Dragons FAQ". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
- Sacco, Ciro Alessandro. "The Ultimate Interview with Gary Gygax". thekyngdoms.com. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9466-3. (preview)
- Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 135. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
- Rateliff, John D. "B3. Palace of the Silver Princess". TSR/Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
- Maliszewski, James (2010-02-08). "Interview: Jean Wells (Part II)". Grognardia. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
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- "B3 Palace of the Silver Princess". D&D Modules. The Acaeum. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
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- Allison, Tavis (2012-02-26). "Jean Wells Memorial Event Today". The Mule Abides. Wordpress. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
Reviews: Different Worlds #19 (1982)
- Original "banned" module, in .pdf format: B3. Palace of the Silver Princess