Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Face of the Great Green Devil

The other fork of the path leads right up to an evil-appearing devil face set in mosaic at the corridor's end. The face has a huge O of a mouth; it is dead black. The whole area radiates evil and magic if detected for. The mouth opening is similar to a (fixed) sphere of annihilation, but it is about 3' in diameter - plenty of room for those who wish to leap in and be completely and forever destroyed.

– Tomb of Horrors

I own two terrain pieces that represent the iconic Face of the Great Green Devil. The first piece is part of the Tomb and Traps Set from the D&D Miniatures Icons of the Realms line (Tomb of Annihilation Premium Set).

This is a really great sculpt, and looks very close to the original artwork by David A. Trampier. The horns are a bit too wide, and the mouth is not the same shape (as it seems to be based on more recent artwork), but those are minor quibbles.

Unfortunately, I didn't really have much use for the other pieces in the box, so I don't think I got as much value as I would have liked from the purchase, considering the cost of the set.

The second piece is a Wall with Demon Face from Fat Dragon Games (DRAGONLOCK Ultimate Dungeon Expansion Set 8).

The model consists of two files, one for the face, and one for the dungeon floor. I only printed the face using white PLA, which took just under an hour on my machine.

The print came out pretty good despite my not going down to the recommended resolution suggested by Fat Dragon.

The horns on the 3D model are a lot nicer than the D&D miniatures version, but it obviously lacks a lot of the detail of the pre-painted model.

I will use putty to smooth out the layer lines, and add some of the missing details, so it needs a bit of additional work after printing, but if you already have a 3D printer the price of the Fat Dragon model can't be beat.

Anyway, I wanted to talk a little about the module, because S1 has received a lot of criticism for having BS instant kill traps from the likes of John Wick and others. The Green Devil Face is typically singled out as an example of the unforgiving nature of the module in particular.

However, I find it odd that anyone but the most careless of adventurers would have been killed by this trap. It radiates both magic and evil if examined by the appropriate spell. Even if you weren't suspicious by nature, just checking the mouth with a pole or the like would make more sense than leaping in head first.

In any event, part of the problem lies with the vague way in which the Sphere of Annihilation is described.

A sphere of annihilation is a globe of absolute blackness, a ball of nothingness 2' in diameter. A sphere is actually a hole in the continuity of the multiverse, a void. Any matter which comes in contact with a sphere is instantly sucked into the void, gone, utterly destroyed, wishes and similar magicks notwithstanding!

– AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide

Now to me, this description meant that whatever came into contact with the sphere was forcibly pulled into the void, and once fully inside it disappeared forever (unless you happen to be Ash Williams, in which case you would just climb back out).

Other people have viewed the Sphere of Annihilation as disintegrating whatever passes the plane of the sphere. In this type of situation, if you foolishly decided to test the opening with a hand, you would come back with a bleeding stump, which could be fatal, but does not have to be with the marvels of magical healing.

If someone was really foolish, and climbed in head first, I'm pretty sure that as his lifeless body slumped to the ground after his head was disintegrated, that nobody else would be interested in going into the mouth.

In any event, I played this module a long time ago, and the trap was a no-brainer to everyone in our party. We did make it all the way to Acererak where I think we ended up losing to the lich after a huge battle, so in my experience I would hardly characterize S1 as being a module that just railroaded you into one instant kill trap after another.