Art of the Genre: Special Critical Hit

Art of the Genre: Special Critical Hit

Two weeks ago I posted a small piece on the passing of Jim Roslof. Afterward I spoke to several people concerning some kind of tribute art, but nothing developed until I came across an idea for The Critical Hit concerning Jim.

So, this is both my, and Jeff Laubenstein’s, tribute to Jim and his body of work. For all you old folks out there, you need no introduction, but anyone else, I’ll post the original art we’re referencing as well.

This tribute to Roslof can be seen as perhaps a threefold homage, co-authors David C Sutherland III passing away in 2005, and Gary Gygax in 2008. Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits debuted in a tournament edition for Origins in 1979. It was scripted by artist/writer Sutherland and completed by Gygax before being turned into the culmination adventure of the G-1-2-3, D 1-2-3 adventure path.

A cut above.  The classic Q1.
A cut above. The classic Q1.
The adventure revolves around a party going into ‘the demonweb pits’, the 66th level of the Abyss controlled by the Drow goddess Lolth. There, they must overcome her minions, deal with the labrynth of corridors and gates involved, and finally deal with Lolth herself. I’ve had the pleasure of DMing this module once and playing in it twice, and for me I think it is a wonderful end to perhaps the greatest set of gaming modules ever produced.

Today, Fleetwood the Fighter and Grumbltash the Wizard, along with three trusty NPCs, have fallen into the same scene as that fateful party in 1980. I’d say wish them luck, but it looks like Fleetwood is familiar with the module and monster stats already…

Anyway, I’d like to say once again to Jim, David, and Gary, thanks for all the fond memories!

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Hehehe… awesome! (but she still has her 70% magic resistance per the Fiend Folio 😉


Hey – I haven’t followed all of your blog articles, but have you ever covered a tribute to Russ Nicholson? He did some great work in FF, now that I re-look at it. The credits for the old 1981 FF say that Jim Roslof was in there somewhere too… but I can’t positively ID a signature from him on the pics (he may have been signing in Draconic runes lol 😉

John ONeill


Another fine tribute to a classic, classic adventure series. I practically had that module memorized, waiting in breathless anticipation as the DM for my players to reach it… and then they died in D3, in a TPK (total party kill). Epic, but tragic.

Thanks for the memories!

John ONeill

Random encounter! With a drow patrol. They were badly injured, low on hp and spells, and headed back up to the surface to replenish. Ran into a routine encounter, and the dice were against them from the git go… sad end to a great campaign. But we still talk about it when we get together, nearly 3 decades later.


This weeks Critical Hit is fantastic. I truly like the “Roslof was here” in the upper right hand corner. Brillant.


Best AD&D adventure series ever. Though I thought it peaked at Vault of the Drow. I wasn’t impressed with Queen, so I altered things where Lolth had sort of an elaborate torture chamber/shrine based on the 66th level — if they players could defeat her there and destroy the shrine, they broke the power of the Drow.

John ONeill


Wow! My players never really penetrated very far in D3 but, yeah, I think that was the best one. Although I was disappointed Gygax hadn’t fleshed out the drow city more.

Do you still have the altered module? Be good to have a gaming session some time…



I wish! Being an idiot, I threw out/gaveaway/sold my AD&D stuff. Kills me, because I now consider Against the Giants/Underdark series the gold standard of any campaign I ever played.

I could recreate it fairly easily, though. Much of it was based on Queen. As I recall, in D3 my players ended up acting rather like Clint Eastwood in A Fistfull of Dollars. They’d proved themselves to one of the warring factions and started doing jobs taking down the others. I can’t remember if the players betrayed the faction that hired them, or the faction that hired them disposed of them when they started getting to noisy — anyway, they ended up being chucked into the part of the Shrine I made called “Lolth’s Playground.”

Only other thing I remember distinctly is I’d created an NPC who was a Drow sexbomb assassin. They found her chained, hanging upside down over a slime mold that was slowly growing up toward her dangling hair. She pretended to be the daughter of a Drow merchant prince and wanted “vengeance” for her father’s slaying and the players bought it (teenage boys go all to pieces in the presence of a nice rack). You’d think they’d learn, but she manipulated the crap out of them. She ended up being chucked into the Playground too, and proved so popular when she started killing arthropods she became a permanent NPC.

I still have a good deal of Runequest lying about, which I found to be a more enjoyable system for long-term campaigns anyway. But, Dammit, no AD&D.

BTW, I bought Midnight (2nd ed) on your recommendation, but haven’t had a chance to play it yet.

Yeah, we have to do some more gaming!!!! More exclamation points!!! AND SOME ALL CAPS!!!!



One of the things I emphasized in “The City” as I recall was that it was perfectly acceptable for Drow to go about in public masked and heavily cloaked (assassination, dontcha know), plus the Drow like to keep their business private. You just had to wear some kind of clan sigil. I think we had a dwarf, but he always was posing as a bearer-slave. Of course, to get into a courtyard or house you’d have to “show face” and that’s where the fun began.

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