Sunday, July 21, 2024

Steamforged Games Puts New Twist On Classic D&D Villains In Epic Encounters: Lair of The Drider and Palace Of The Drow Queen

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Combining unique scenarios with their trademark super-premium plastic minis, Steamforged Games’ line of Epic Encounters sets are aimed at DM’s who need to add a wow factor to their games. Each one comes with either a set of minis or a single large mini, and most of them come as a paired set that includes one of each type. The minis are accompanied by a battle map as well as a booklet that explains the lore, possible set up for the fights, and stats for the included baddies. These are not meant to be whole adventures, instead operating as something to drop into an existing story or build a possible story around. You can even use them as “bite sized” games for when you’re short on time and just want to get your characters to hit something.

Their latest releases are Palace of the Drow Queen and Lair of the Drider, a pair of boxes that pit characters up against classic D&D baddies the Drow. These Drow are quite different from the classic Drow or even the more complex, less problematic Drow that have entered canon recently. Rather than a cursed offshoot of surface elves, these Drow are instead constructs created by the surface elves as war machines. Exiled by their creators once they’d served their purpose, they live underground in a strange society that has SOME similarities to those you might know but with an emptier and more nihilistic edge than even the darkest tales from Menzoberranzan.

Palace of The Drow Queen

MSRP: $54.99

Palace of The Drow Queen box and contents

Palace of the Drow Queen is a fun little dungeon crawl through a Drow city as your players work to get through the hellish environment created by these much more heartless and cruel Drow. It feels less like a regular Drow adventure through the Underdark and more like a trip to one of the Nine Hells thanks to the strange monsters and huge numbers of corpses strewn around. It’s way more Dark Eldar than I expected. One of the cool little quirks this story gives these Drow is a devotion to dreams, which their oneiromancers use to manipulate and torture. For constructs with no need to sleep it creates a fascinating contrast.

Drow Queen
The Drow Queen herself

The Drow Queen herself is the boss of this encounter (or mini-boss if you plan to use the Drider). Not only does she have a powerful list of innate spells she gets to cast while supported by he warriors, she also wears a mechanical spider exo-skeleton (seen in the above mini) that give her an extra attack and prevent her from being flanked or backstabbed. Oh, and they poison you so…good luck!

Lair of The Drider

MSRP: $49.99

Lair of The Drider box and contents

Lair of the Drider doesn’t include nearly as much fluff to it as its companion release since it pretty much JUST exists to have you fight the big gnarly monster. And hoo boy did Steamforged crank up the creepy with this guy. Unlike the regular driders that are essentially an extra creepy version of a centaur, this Drider is a misshappen monstrosity of mix-and-match limbs stuck on seemingly at random and with a mind splintered by its very existence.

The battle with the Drider is complicated on several levels. For one, its dark in a way that goes beyond darkvision and is filled with poisonous crystals and sticky webbing that makes navigating the cramped tunnels nearly impossible. The Drider itself also exists outside of normal reality thanks to the experiments that created it, allowing it at different times the ability to teleport, become incorporeal, or even appear in two places at once for an extra attack. It has powerful pincers, a venomous stinger, webbing that it uses to bog down enemies, and even a breath weapon that will start turning a character into a drider. It does this according to a rather complex little flowchart that GM’s have to help simulate the erratic and unpredictable madness of the Drider. Oh and every attack comes with a unique change in personality and strange movement that is DEEPLY unsettling. As it takes damage it starts gaining more desperate, giving off a poisonous aura and summoning more Drow for help. Oh and that breath weapon? It requires a few hard saving throws to survive without turning into a monster. Combined with a lair that allows it to disappear (as a bonus action) and a mid-battle phase shift that adds three other illusory Driders to contend with this is a hell of a finale for even a brief adventure with the Drow.

Drider

You can grab Epic Encounters: Palace of the Drow Queen and Lair of the Drider from the Steamforged Games Shop, Amazon, or your FLGS.

Images and Review Copy via Steamforged Games

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