Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links


by Patrick Sullivan

I've been looking through the Jean Wells version of B3, and I had some (hopefully) interesting thoughts...

SPOILER WARNING: (this is your disclaimer: if you want to be surprised by stuff in either version of B3, X11, the Almanacs, the Savage Coast/Red Steel setting, the Glantrian/Wendarian/Denagothian setting, or Wrath of the Immortals, this post probably isn't for you).

The Sword of Spartusia is described in Wells' original B3 as a ruby-bladed sword with a great deal of history:
"Tales speak of a race of ancient red dragon worshippers creating this sword for Spartusia because she saved their queen dragon from vengeful knights of other lands. The sword was given a trim and womanly appearance both in size and beauty to match the beauty of Spartusia, and a bite that was deep to match her courage and strength" (p. 31 of the pdf file).
It goes on to say that Spartusia was, according to legend, eventually swallowed up by the earth. What if Spartusia was swallowed up by the earth when she attained immortality in the sphere of entropy and changed her name to Idris? After all, it has been suggested that Idris attained immortality after founding and having attained high mastery of the secret craft of Dracology. Wells places B3 in Glantri (although later products disagree) so the legends of Spartusia could well be local stories of a real historic figure. Further supporting evidence could possibly include the fact that D'hmis, the baroness of Gullavia, has a name very similar to Idris (I know it's a stretch, but it could be a cultural tie at least).
The biggest weakness that I see in this idea is that Idris is associated firstly with Black Dragons, while Spartusia seems to be affiliated with Red Dragons. One potential solution is that Spartusia really was a Red Dracologist (I know that's not the real term, but I don't have GAZ3 or GKoM handy to check what is) who decided she wanted to retain some degree of anonymity upon attaining immortality (after all, she most likely upset the four "mainstream" dragon immortals in her questing) so chose the black dragon as her symbol as a tactic of confusion. Another possibility is that she was indeed a "Black Dracologist" who either saved and allied with or betrayed the Red Dragon Queen.
Another hurdle could be the one that anything from this version of B3 will always face: conflicts between it and un-recalled published materials.
There are at least a few similarities between the Sword of Spartusia and the Sword of Arik, starting with the ruby blade and the powerful magic of both.
There are major differences as well, however. They certainly look quite different from one another (cf. the picture on p. 27 of the green Wells & Moldvay version, which shows both swords in one illo or the picture of the Sword of Spartusia on p. 26 of the PDF and the description of each item in its respective module). They also have very different purposes (The Sword of Spartusia certainly sounds like an artifact, while the sword of Arik has no mortal purpose but to summon Arik or destroy the Eye of Arik). The other potential source of conflict I see with other published materials is that it wouldn't fit well into the campaigns for DMs who have described the region of Gullavia differently than did Wells.

One further issue: is there any specific published account of Idris' sphere?
I don't have any of those resources handy, but I'm pretty sure that X11, at least, never identifies her specifically as an entropic immortal. If she was indeed a Glantrian noble, then she could have obtained immortality through the Nucleus of the Spheres in Energy or, perhaps, through more conventional means in any sphere (except, I would argue, Matter).

I'm going to offer the rough outline of a possible solution that might work for almost any campaign...

First a word on the map of NW Glantri in Wells' B3: this solution presupposes that, at some point, an area resembling, at least remotely, Gullavia and Argenta's Principality existed on the Adri Varma. It seems to me, at least, that it would be fairly easy for pretty much any DM to agree that, at some point in history, there existed Glantrian settlements in the Wildlands that, in most campaigns at least, were destroyed at some point in history. Now for my proposed solution:

Spartusia was a powerful magic-user whose origins lie in what are now known as the Northern Wildlands. She cooperated with her neighbours to the southeast in their efforts to create a great magical empire, but her involvement was primarily motivated by selfish pursuits of magical knowledge and ability. She had adventured throughout the continent, and was well-respected and feared. She was known by her peers in Glantri to be an expert on Draconic sciences and magic.
Even then there were whispered rumours that she controlled a powerful artifact, a sword made of pure dragon blood. This is actually more or less true--it was a Red Steel sword created under still-mysterious circumstances as payment for some mighty deed which Spartusia performed while adventuring in the Savage Coast. Its enchantment process involved blood of a ruby dragon, and Red Steel is itself the blood of the Great One (Red Steel Campaign Book, p. 48). Though Spartusia was unable to wield the sword as a weapon herself, it greatly enhanced the abilities of the wielder as a Dracologist, and she was careful to place many enchantments on the sword to ensure that it would work only for her and never be turned against her.
Spartusia with the help of the sword, founded the school of Dracology and eventually became its High Mistress. Spartusia was widely respected as one of the most kind-hearted and just rulers of Glantri--her peaceful dominion was along with its neighbours, a safe haven for dwarves, halflings, and clerics, who faced persecution elsewhere in Glantri [note: I'm not sure whether she should have ruled as Princess before Argenta, as Baroness of Gullavia, or as some other Baroness]. However, this was merely an effort to gain the support of the people and the more progressive-minded rulers of Glantri, and to help foster communities that shared her personal suspicion of elves. A master politician, she managed to manipulate herself into positions of ever-greater power, eventually gaining pre-eminence in the new School of Magic.
She had been questing for immortality [using David Knott's excellent Entropic Paths ideas, she would likely have been an Archvillain or, perhaps, a Conqueror] since shortly after attaining the rank of High Mistress and realising that the next step was to become an immortal. Her various quests took her throughout the surrounding areas, and into Wendar and Denagoth.
Eventually, as her plots were nearing their culmination, her worst fears were realised: an elven knight, suspicious of her cooperation with dwarves and clerics, penetrated her innermost defences with the assistance of a Ruby Dragon and escaped with proof of her immense evil. She had to accelerate her plans, which ultimately brought great death and destruction to Glantri.
She had been coordinating plans with anti-Magocracy forces for a while, and she launches what is supposed to be a massive invasion of Glantri with dwarven and halfling forces and the support of various clerical orders opposed to Glantrian policies. They manage to "liberate" most of the Adri Varma, slaughtering all the elves they can find and many magic-users, but only at tremendous cost to their number. While Spartusia convinces the council to send their forces to stop the invasion of the north, she has her massive network of spies make the humanoids of the Broken Lands and the Dwarves of Rockhome aware of the lack of protection in the south and incite rebellion in the country. Her agents in the elven principality manage to create some very deep rifts, with each clan blaming the other for the attempted revolution. Spartusia eventually betrays the rebellion, helping magically transport an enormous army of elves from the south to stop the invasion, but she also makes sure that many elves also die. During this massive battle, she attains whatever the requisite number of deaths is and is seen to be consumed by the earth [this is probably in AC 859, although I'm not really sure about that].
Having attained immortality in the Sphere of Entropy and ruining vast tracts of what was northwestern Glantri, Spartusia changed her name to Idris, laid low for a few decades, and continued her research on the most effective way to increase her power. Only her sponsor knows who she truly was in her mortal life, although other immortals are beginning to make the connections.