Showing posts with label In Search of. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In Search of. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

In Search Of Duchess and Candella

 I mentioned earlier in this year that my oldest son's group is running through ALL editions of D&D to celebrate 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons. They made characters, and they are taking them through each edition. They have done OD&D, Basic and they are now ready for 1st Edition Advanced.  The characters are now 2nd to 4th level, but there are only 5 of them. And they want me to run an AD&D game for them.

Last week I finally figured out what I am going to run.  They will go through the Orange version of module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Palaces of the Silver Princess

I will explain its infamy to them and run it like it was 1981 for them. So, a mix of B/X and AD&D. Just like we did it.  I'll talk more about the adventure, but for now, I want to focus on a small side matter with the adventure(s). 

That is, who exactly are the thieves, Duchess and Candella?

Duchess and Candella
In Search of...Duchess and Candella

In both versions of the adventure, you encounter two thieves pretending to be Lady Maidservants. Well... not convincingly, since they know very little about what a maidservant does or where anything in the castle is.  But they are earnest and "very attractive" and ask to join the party. 

Now, I always thought that "Duchess" was the dark-haired one and "Candella" the light-haired one. Largely because I thought the dark-haired one looked like a Duchess and Candella is said to have a string of pearls on her. The orange version gives us their ages as 18 for Duchess and 20 for Candella. 

I always liked that art. You are catching two thieves almost red-handed, and the look of surprise on Candella's face and her hair flying about was just great. 

They became minor recurring NPCs in my games. Showing up, stealing something here and there, and then disappearing again. If the PCs were ever tossed into jail, then sure enough, Duchess and Candella were already there.

I had not thought about them much, and they certainly don't get the ink that the likes of Aleena or Morgan Ironwolf get, but they were/are fun NPCs, and I wanted to know more about them.  Turns out I am not the only one.

What does the Web Say?

There are a few links worth visiting and following up on. First is Greyhawk MusingsOn Duchess and Candella.  This is a great place to start due to its thoroughness. In fact, this blog is a treasure trove of information on them, and I respect David Leonard for that.  He speculates that the dark-haired woman thief in G3, The Hall of the Fire Giant King, is Duchess now 11th level. This begs the question, what happened to Candella? Side note: I used that very same thief as a recurring character when I ran G3, but for me, it was Evelyn the Princess Escalla. But I appreciate what he is doing here.  Like me, he equates Duchess with the dark-haired woman and Candella with the light-haired one. 

We learn from no less of a luminary himself, Frank Mentzer, that these two figures were not just Jean Well's characters; they were her favorite duo of characters. She also did the art of them in Polyhedron #4.  

Candella and Duchess in Polyhedron #4

Sadly, we can't ask Wells herself, as she passed away in 2012.

Greyhawk lore master Jason Zavoda made some similar observations and connections for Greyhawk.

I mentioned I was not the only one to find these two fun. They have appeared in more recent products as well. Or at least homages to them.

Candella, sans Duchess, appears on the cover of Blueholme.

Blueholme

She is the one getting the treasure. Wearing the same outfit as Candella at least.

In a minor cameo, but also a cover, no less, they are part of the new D&D Companion Project. I hope to have more on that soon. 

And as I mentioned above, the 11th-level thief from G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King might also be Duchess, without Candella.

Duchess and Candella in Other Adventures

B12 Queen's Harvest is another Basic-level adventure. This time though the "B" is from the BECMI flavor of Basic and not the BX one.

Very early on in this Carl Sargent-penned adventure from 1989, we are introduced to two thieves, Erren and Sarrah, on pages 6-7.  Their ages and appearances line up with Candella and Duchess, even if their stats don't quite match, though. It is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that Candella and Duchess also have other aliases. They are presented in an NPC Mini-Capsule, so they are important to the adventure, though no other details are given.

The fan module by Agathokles, The Dymrak Dread, makes this connection solid with Sarrah, now known as "the Duchess," and part of the Thieves Guild, and her friend Erren Candella. Here they are 5th and 6th level respectively.  This adventure also has Orcus and witches in it, so it is worth my coming back to.

Another adventure to feature them, and this time by name, is the Palace of the Golden Princess, an homage to the original (Orange) Palace of the Silver Princess and Jean Wells herself. There are 5e and OSE versions of the adventure, and they are tied to a comic series taking place in a land inspired by the map in the Original B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. There are even some allusions (in an oblique way) to the Return to the Keep on the Borderlands.

They also briefly appear in Mr. Welch's Mystara Player's Guide for 5e, notably under Mystara's Most Wanted.

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Thought their biggest feature run has been in the various Folio Black Label adventures. Most notably in Folio: Black Label #10 and The Complete Folio Black Label

In The Complete Folio Black Label (covering Black Label 1-6 with extras), nearly every piece of art features our daring duo in all sorts of predicaments throughout all the adventures.  They are also rendered by various artists like Brian Brinlee, Peter Bradley, and Simon Adams, among others. Folio: Black Label #4  and Folio: Black Label #5 even feature them on the cover. Honestly, I bought a bunch of these just to see how much Candella and Duchess art there was in them.

Another artist whose work has been featured in the Folio: Black Label books is Domenico Neziti.  He has done so many pieces of Duchess and Candella that I am giving him his own space below.

Here are a few of his pieces from his Instagram page.







And another I could not find on his Instagram.

Duchess and Candella Demon Bait
Domenico Neziti "Demon Bait"

He clearly has these two down, with some more on his DeviantArt page.

With new books out like Folio: Black Label series it is easy to see how these two have had all sorts of adventures. I can see something akin to distaff versions of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, though maybe less magic. Likely a bit closer to The Rat Queens. When I used them in games I always made Candella closer to the Thief-Acrobat concept and Duchess maybe a little closer to a Thief-Assassin. But I don't get "evil" off of either of them, really. Plus, Duchess doesn't have the strength score to be an assassin. Maybe more fighter-thief.

Duchess and Candella in my Games

Duchess and Candella
Duchess and Candella, Sheets from Dark Wizard Games

I have used them in the past, as I mentioned, but never to the extent I have some other characters and certainly not to the level some other gamers have.

Given all the art out there, they have certainly had a lot of adventures, and some that look outright crazy. But these two seem like fun characters to have "madcap adventures."  I mean, is Morgan Ironwolf going to pretend to be half-naked bait for a demon? No, I don't see it.  I'd love to use these two in my Forgotten Realms adventures but honestly they are so Mystara/Oerth feeling for me I can't see moving them over any easier than I could move the B-modules over.

I have at least figured out how they met. This came up in an adventure before. They were both, independently trying to steal this ruby, from the local guild-mistress of thieves. They didn't know the other was also trying, nor did either know this was the guild mistress. They failed, and the guild mistress, Amara, impressed by their attempt or something else, took them in and made them work together. The two became good friends, and their careers began.  In my mind, Candella had been a tavern wench who had become tired of watching adventurers coming in with ill-gotten gains when she could have all that gold. Duchess' background is a bit darker. She was a servant girl working for a Baron and Baroness. The Baroness had accused her of stealing a necklace, but she had not. The Baron, who was broke, had sold it to cover some of his debts and suggested she could work off her guilt in his bed chamber. When she refused, he got violent, and she ran to escape him, and he fell down the stairs to his death. Knowing she would be blamed and likely executed, she ran. She thinks she is still wanted for the Baron's murder. She isn't; no one ever looked for her. In fact, the Baron's debt was so great that the local authorities had plenty of other suspects. The Baroness died soon after in the home of a relative.

I know, according to the art above, that Candella gains some Boots of Flying, and Duchess gets a huge magic sword. 

Since my oldest is running his group through all of the editions of D&D I'll also do versions of them for every edition. Say 2nd level for D&D Basic/Expert, 4th level for AD&D 1st, 8th level for AD&D 2nd Editon, 12th level for D&D 3.x, 16th level for D&D 4e Essentials (better Rogues), and 20th for D&D 5th Edition.  That should be fun, really.  Course I'll need some good prestige classes when I get to 3.x. I think I'll post them when I get around to stating them all up. 

While I will keep them at the same level, at any given time, Candella is about 600 XP ahead of Duchess. 

Candella and Duchess for BX
Candella and Duchess for B/X. Art by Brian Brinlee and Domenico Neziti, 
Vitruvian Character Sheets Blog of Exalted Deeds

While reading up on them, I saw one person online refer to them as a couple of "party girls." I mean, sure, that fits. The vibe I have always had with them was they were both adventuresses out for a bit of fun and hopefully score some treasure. Ok, a lot of treasure. Though at least one academic dissertation places them in the role of temptresses. I suppose that would work too, though not how I would play them. 

Have you used these two in your games? How did it work for you? What happened with them?

Links

Monday, March 6, 2023

Monstrous Monday: Malarea, Outcast Duke of Hell

Malarea, Outcast Duke of Hell
I do love a good research project. 

Last week I posted This Old Dragon #91, which listed many outcasts devils for the AD&D 1st Edition game. Among these was Malarea (an obvious play on Malaria, and pronounced Mahl-ah -ree -ah).  Of course, I wanted to learn more about her, but there is precious little about her in the article.  So I started my deep dive.  

This is almost, but not quite, detailed enough for an In Search Of... style post, but it is perfect for a Monstrous Monday.

What Is Known

The Dragon article reveals that she is a former Duke (Duchess) of Hell. She wanted to be counted among the consorts of the Archdukes of Hell, even to the point where she had assaulted an unnamed Duke's consort and would kill all the other consorts to get her way. She is violent and erratic.

At some point after her exile to Avernus, she sought out the courtship of the up-and-coming Bel only to be rejected by him.

She is described as:

... tall, human-like female with huge black wings, which tower 6 feet above her own head when furled; in short, rather like an erinyes. Her eyes are fiery red, her hair long, greasy, and black, her body sleek but powerfully muscled and of a faintly luminescent, "ghostly" white hue. Her hands have long claws, and she has large, vampire-like fangs.

- Dragon Magainze (91), October 1984, p. 24

And...that is largely it to be honest. She has stats in Dragon 91 and a mention in Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants Of The Nine Hells for D&D 3.5.

So let me look into who might have been likely to interact with her.

Connections

Bel

The former Archduke Bel was once her quarry, but he had rebuffed her. This had to have made her even more furious than being rebuffed by any of the other Archdukes. After all, Bel was essentially just an elevated Pit Fiend, and she was an Archdevil. I would imagine that she would do anything to see him defeated or humiliated in some way.

Malagard

These two share similar names and some physical appearances, but they are quite different. I mention her here because, for a bit, I considered making them the same person. The deeper lore of both prevents this, really.

Tiamat

We know that Malarea went out of her way to avoid Tiamat. This was back in the AD&D 1st Ed lore when Tiamat was the ruler of Avernus. It has since been retconned that Zariel was the ruler, and Bel overthrew her.  So maybe, from this point of view, Malarea avoided Zariel. 

Zariel

The former and current ruler of Avernus is the former Angel Zariel. If we follow the 4e and 5e notions that all the Erinyes were former angels, it stands to reason that Malarea was also one. Malarea and Zariel are physically strong, given over to fits of rage and violence, and have similar appearances and backgrounds. Are they the same? Again, I am going to go with no. Both have elements in their backstory that are largely incompatible. Malarea seeks to be counted among the consorts of Hell. Zariel wants to destroy all the devils and rule Hell on her own.

Malarea Today

What would Malarea be up to today? I imagine her status has not changed much. While there have been great upheavals in Hell in the last 40 years, change still moves slowly for the most part. 

Malarea, Outcast Duke of Hell
Malarea, Outcast Duke of Hell

Large Fiend (Diabolic, Baalseraph)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Fly: 240' (90') [24"]
Armor Class: -1 [20]
Hit Dice: 21d8****** (116 hp)
 Large: 21d20****** (137 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 6 (+14)
Attacks: 1 weapon or 2 claws, 1 bite, wing buffet
Damage: Weapon +2, 1d4+2 x2, 1d4, 1d12
Special: Baalseraph powers and immunities, magic resistance (70%), regeneration (1 hp/ 2 rounds), spell-like abilities (see below), summoning, +2 or better weapons to hit
Save: Monster 21
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 15,250 (OSE) 15,750 (LL)

Str: 17 (+2) Dex: 17 (+2) Con: 13 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 14 (+1) Cha: 14 (+1)

From Dragon Magainze (91), October 1984, p. 24-25:

Malarea is a bitter and envious devil. She despises many of the consorts of the Nine Hells and desires (to the point of mania) to join their ranks. If she has to slay them all to claim her rightful place among them, she will do so unhesitatingly, but rude defeats on the occasions of her bold, direct assaults in the past have made her more cautious.

Malarea remains a fiercely combative, fractious devil, given to sudden berserk rages and wild physical attacks. This temperament cost her a consortship or other position in the hierarchy of the hells, and has undoubtedly earned her her present exile. She has learned little, however: if she recognizes an archdevil, duke, or unique greater devil, she will pause to ascertain their situation and intentions before she attacks - but she almost always attacks eventually, except when faced with impossible odds. Lesser devils and intruders are her prey - she will attack any such creatures immediately, swooping at them to bite (1d4 damage) and strike with a lance, spear, or other weapon gained from a previous victim, or bare-handed with her iron-hard claws (1d4+2). Malarea is a strong flyer, and often buffets airborne opponents with her great wings, or rams into them at full speed (1d12 damage).

Malarea can use the following spell-like powers at will, one at a time and once per round:  pyrotechnics, produce flame, wall of fire, detect magic, dispel magic, detect invisibility, hold person, and polymorph self. She can shed fear in a 2' radius at will (save vs. spell to avoid), and can cast a delayed blast fireball (5d6) three times per day. 

Malarea appears as a tall, human-like female with huge black wings (28' wing span), which tower 6 feet above her head when furled; in short, she is like an Erinyes. Her eyes are fiery red, her hair long, greasy, and black, her body sleek but powerfully muscled and of a faintly luminescent, ghostly white hue. Her hands have long claws, and she has large, vampire-like fangs. She

is usually encountered wearing some gaudy trophy of a previous victim - a gleaming necklace or jeweled belt, but she cares nothing for the value of such items and will carelessly discard one for another of gaudier appearance

This was Malarea as of the mid-1980s and 1st Edition AD&D.  We know from the Fiendish Codex II that she was still an outcast as of the mids 2000s and 3rd Edition D&D.  She seems to be too strong willed and angry to have changed her status. 

How desperate is she today? Would she even approach Zariel for her consortship? I can see Malarea considering it but not Zariel. Besides, both devils are far too angry at their own situations.

I think if I were to update her some more (and I have an event coming up in my games that would fit the bill) I might make her the captain of the Erinyes. Her name has Latin roots (sorta) so I might rename her into something with Greek roots. Her name is close enough to Megaera ("the jealous one") for me to work with.  I have done a lot of work with the Erinyes, the Keres, and the Dirae, so I am "in the market" for a leader of this group of devils. Someone other than Glasya. I just need to figure out who Tisiphone and Alecto are. Alecto, in particular, will be a challenge since some of her myths overlap with Nemesis's. 

This works in another way since the Eriyes/Furies were said in Ovid's Metamorphoses to guard the gates to Dis. In D&D geography, this would put them in Avernus. 

Now I just need two more unattached archdevils.


Links

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 4: In Search of the Sutherland Succubus

I have stumbled on some new information so I have decided to combine an older feature, Sympathy for the Succubus, with a newer one, In Search of, for something new.  In particular, my search for the roots of the succubus in D&D. 

You can see my first three parts here:

Today I want to explore one of the "urban legends" of the early days of D&D. The David Sutherland III succubus art from the AD&D 1st Ed Monster Manual.

Let's start with what everyone knows or thinks they know. 

Two 1977 publications
Two 1977 Publications. What do they have in common?

Oh, Sheila!

Sheila Mullen
Sheila Mullen
Sheila Mullen was the Playboy Playmate of the month for May 1977.  Certainly, the time period was right. The Monster Manual was published in December 1977. There are even a few pictures that *could be* right. The one to your right is a cropped version of the biggest contender. 

This notion has been taken up by many modern writers, bloggers, and chroniclers, myself included.  

Likely the source of all of this is the Blog of Holding. Which only claims that the "body of one of these original succubi was copied from a Playboy centerfold."  Sheila Mullen was a centerfold for 1977, making her the likeliest of choices.

Except that is *mostly* wrong.

Sweet as Honey

The date of 1977 is right, but the month was October. And it wasn't a centerfold.

I apologize for not remembering who it was that first clued me in on this idea, but it sent me down a rabbit hole of searching. 

This issue is rather famous for having an interview with Barbara Streisand. I posted the cover above. The centerfold/Playmate is Kristine Winder, who sadly passed in 2011 at 55 from breast cancer. But neither she nor Sheila Mullen lived on in the pages of the Monster Manual. 

No, that honor belongs to Honey Wells.

Miss Wells was featured in the "Ladies of Joy" pictorial by John Bowers, with photography by Robert Scott Hooper. It featured women in "the world's oldest profession." 

As you can see here with the Sutherland Succubus, her photo is a good match.

Honey Wells
Honey Wells and the Succubus. Covered for your protection as much as mine

We don't know much about Miss Wells here. Save for what she tells us.

Honey Wells

So there is no real way to research Miss Wells here. I doubt that is even her real name. Not to mention that this is a 45-year-old article, so much could have happened since then. If alive, she would be in her mid to late 60s now.

Which is too bad. I wonder if she ever knew that her pictorial inspired this art and that art was held in such fond memories of an entire generation of gamers.

Now I will concede that the succubus pic is likely inspired by Honey Wells and Sheila Mullen. The hands and hair fit a similar pose on Miss Mullen (pictured above), and the overall pose is Miss Wells.

Sadly David Sutherland passed away in 2005, so I can't approach him and confirm. Indeed, it was also more than 45 years ago, and any memory is likely blurred. 

Though it is comforting that Sutherland, Wells, and yes, Mullen have a bit of D&D Immortality to call their own. 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 4, Orcus and Dispater

This post really is a transitory one.  It takes on ideas from my One Man's God and my One Man's God Special: Syncretism and transitions it in-a-matter of speaking to my new In Search Of posts. 

Today I want to talk about syncretism, but not in the sense I have in my last few posts. I covered the basics of syncretism a while back. In two different posts syncretized the Greek and Egyptian gods and the Roman and Norse gods.  It is to the Greek and Roman gods that I turn today.  In particular, I will focus on the Roman side of the Greek One Man's God posts in OMG: Greek and Roman Mythos, Part 4 Tales of Brave Ulysses, and my attention is on Orcus. 

In Search of Orcus

Demon Lord Orcus
Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead

Orcus has always been a major bad guy in my and many others' games. Not just because he is a great demon lord and master of the undead, that is plenty of reason, but even more so from the very mysterious Etruscan background of the god Orcus

I mentioned Hades a lot in this series before. He is the God of the Underworld and was so feared that he was often never called on by name, he gains the epithet "The Rich One" and, much later on, "The Lord of this World," something that has also been later attributed to Satan. 

As Greek myths merged into Roman myths, several gods were syncretized to arrive at the Roman Pluto.  These include many gods of the underworld, the dead (but not death), and riches such as the Etruscan Atia, the Etruscan Tuchulcha, and the Roman Dīs Pater.   Mixed in all of this are the Greek Horkos and Roman/Etruscan Orcus

This is what is going on in our world. But what of the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons?

I'll be 100% honest here. I think the "official" history of Orcus is pure garbage. Orcus starting out as a human? No. Not in my world. Orcus was a god. Romans swore sacred oaths to him. He has a dwarf planet named for him. He was not some human necromancer. He was more.

But before I get to Orcus and what he was or is, I want to discuss Dis.

In Search of Dīs Pater

Dispater, The Iron Duke
Dispater, the Iron Duke

I will admit that the AD&D Dispater was always one of my favorite devils. Looking into his official background is more appealing than it is for Orcus, largely because there is not much of it.  I think role-playing wise I molded him after the devil character from the TV series "From the Brothers Grimm" episode Bearskin. Sort of the evil gentleman devil.  

In later editions of D&D, the "Iron Duke" have become akin to an infernal arms dealer and paranoid. Certainly an interesting choice but how does that square with the Dīs Pater, or Rex Infernus, of Roman myth?

Both Dispater and Dīs Pater are very wealthy. Both are considered to be the Lord of the Underworld (or at least one of them). Dīs Pater has a connection with the dead via Pluto/Hades who he was conflated later on. Dispater's only connection with the dead is via the souls he traffics in Hell.

Like the god Orcus and later on Satan, Dīs Pater is a good of riches and "Lord of the World."  This does fit into the notions of how Dispater is currently being presented.

How the Gods Die, and are Reborn

Things with Gods never should be clean-cut. If there is nothing else I want to show here, then let it be that Gods and Demons are a messy bunch.  They live, and they can die, and they can be split up and recombined.

I mentioned in my Syncretism of the Greco-Egyptian Gods that, in some cases, scholars have pointed to the syncretism of Set and Hades in early notions of the Christian Satan. There is more than this of course (see the "messy" note above), but this is a good start for me today.

One of the themes I like to play with in my games is the conflict between the old and new gods, or more specifically, the conflict between Paganism and the rise of Monotheism. In D&D this has its manifestation in the Dawn War

In my games the servants of the good gods, angels, and the like, who fell became the Baalseraph or the unique devils.  Demons have various origins, but some used to be gods.

Orcus used to be a God. 

Sort of.  In my overly complicated mythologies here Orcus was an avatar of a God of the Dead. I am currently using Hades/Pluto as a stand-in here but I will come up with something later. So this God of the Dead creates an avatar and this is Orcus of Roman myth, he also has another avatar, more akin to Dīs Pater but is more of psychopomp (like Hermes or Vanth).  Here is where things get weird. This god is killed, maybe during the Dawn War, maybe before. The two avatars do not die, but rather go a little mad, each thinking they are the rightful heir to this god's mantle. Both "fall" and are "demonized." The psychopomp of Dīs Pater falls and becomes Dispater the Iron Duke.  The other avatar is demonized to become Orcus, the Demon Prince of the Undead.

Each remembers being a god, if somewhat vaguely.  For Orcus, this manifests in his desire to become a God himself and his rage to destroy all life when he can't. For Dispater, this manifests as his extreme paranoia, his desire to control all around him, and his hoarding of his wealth.

It also has one other aspect may be unique to my games.  Orcus and Dispater hate each other. It is a deep existential dread that the other has something they need OR need to destroy. Both work against the other. Their warlocks, priests, and cultists (who have rituals that are oddly similar) work against each other.  It goes beyond anything that the Blood War might suggest; it is a personal hatred they share.

What would happen if Dispater and Orcus put aside their animosity and worked together? Or worse, what if some magic was used to re-combine them back into the God they were?  I shudder to think to be honest, but there is no way that would be good for anyone.

Maybe there is a third part of this god. A Neutral Evil one that does know what they were and what roles Orcus (CE) and Dispater (LE) play in this. Who is that entity? What do they want?

I still might take a page from Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski's series, The Menagerie, and have Hades dead. This third creature, likely much weaker than the other two, would live in the remains of Hades' kingdom.

Links

One Man's God Special: Syncretism