|B3 Palace of the Silver Princess||
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The third module produced for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set.
Note that the later, green-cover printings have Tom Moldvay as co-author.
The First printing (orange cover) of this module was apparently rushed to the printer because of a deadline. However, as Evan Robinson, a TSR editor at the time, notes: "We expressed concern about the content and writing in the module (internally referred to as 'Phallus of the Silver Princess') while Jean was creating it. After Jean complained to Gary about our interfering with her creative process, Gary ordered us to do absolutely minimal editing and development, limiting our work to correcting spelling and grammar mistakes. We did." As the story goes, when the finished product arrived at TSR, Gary Gygax became incensed at what he regarded as several editorial decisions that were made in poor taste. The copies that had been distributed to TSR employees earlier that day were ordered destroyed, and the inventory currently in the warehouse followed suit -- with the exception of one box of 72 copies, lifted surreptitiously from the trash later that evening. Note: Gary Gygax disputes this claim, instead stating that Kevin Blume was in charge of the creative departments at the time -- and that it was he who "pitched a fit about the product" and ordered the recall. This claim is also reinforced by Frank Mentzer's recollection (see below).
The module was re-released several months later with a green cover, some corrections to the dungeon layout, and a thorough re-writing and re-organization of the module text itself. Also, the monsters and treasure in the First print were of the "fill-in-your-own" variety (like in B1 In Search of the Unknown); the later (green cover) printings have them pre-scripted.
Three of the controversial pieces of art are shown at right. The first is the famous Decapus artwork. As you can see, it's a bit far from risqué, even by the standards of two decades ago. According to Robinson, the problem wasn't with the artwork, but rather with the lovingly sexual description: "A beautiful young woman hangs from the ceiling. Nine ugly men can be seen poking their swords lightly into her flesh, all the while taunting her in an unknown language, and pulling at what few clothes she has on."
The second piece of artwork shows what is obviously a caricature of Gary Gygax, in the upper left. Robinson further elaborates on pictures hanging on the wall behind the characters: "The center framed picture on top is 'Mali' the moose god (don't ask) with myself and Paul Reiche III (who, along with myself, had just quit TSR) flanking and below. The picture just below that is myself, Erol Otus (the artist), and Paul as we dressed to go over to the Admin building (the development staff was housed in the building above The Dungeon Hobby Shop while the rest of the company was out toward the edge of town) to finish leaving the company (Erol was just there for moral support -- we all dressed in our most formal clothing with weird headgear and/or ties and dark or mirrored sunglasses -- the administrative assistants thought we were "European buyers", which was hilarious). The oval image is 'Chaz', the alter-ego of artist Jeff Dee."
The third piece is of an adventurer holding out a steak to an angry bear -- but to Gygax, looked like the adventurer was offering the bear his penis.
The fourth piece depicts a woman on a pedestal (shown in the upper portion), and was replaced by a dragon (lower portion) in the revised version. While we've been perplexed as to the reason for switching this artwork, it's possible to perceive that the woman on the pedestal has a penis (the fold of her robe). Thanks to contributor Curtis Anderson for advancing this theory.
It's also noteworthy to mention that MANY pieces of artwork were deleted from the Orange version, and many more new ones were added to the Green. Aside from the pictures mentioned above, none could be called "questionable" -- they were simply editorial changes for one reason or another (in general, however, lower-quality artwork was replaced in favor of higher-quality artwork). Contrary to rumor, there is NO nudity in ANY of the art, female or otherwise. As stated above, the module was heavily edited -- virtually no paragraph in the module remains the same. As D&D was undergoing heavy revision about this time (coinciding with the release of the D&D Expert Set), it's also reasonable to assume TSR took the opportunity to make the revision as "modern" as possible. The additional deletions / changes to the artwork may have been almost an afterthought, i.e. "it couldn't hurt", especially in light of the controversies over D&D floating around during that period.
To fuel further controversy, a commentary from former TSR staffer Frank Mentzer:
And finally, a rebuttal from Evan Robinson:
Well, there you have it. Or maybe you don't. Regardless of the true background behind its recall, the "Orange B3" remains one of the most recognizable and sought-after D&D collectibles.
This module is now available for download at the Wizards of the Coast web site. Thanks to Curtis Anderson, Jonathan Coke, Frank Mentzer, Evan Robinson, and Ciro Alessandro Sacco for help with this info.
Estimates vary, but probably less than 100 copies of the First print still exist today. As then-TSR-employee Jonathan Coke notes, aside from the preview copies handed out to employees, only one box (72 copies) was spared the pulping order. While there are rarer D&D collectible items, the "Orange B3" commands some of the highest auction prices yet recorded, most likely due to the hype and mystique that surrounds it.
In March 2008, a SW copy of the Orange B3 sold for $3,050 -- the highest (confirmed) sale price of any single non-unique D&D module
Palace of Silver Princess