AH: Temples

Due for publication in 2010 by Bards and Sages is my Adventure Havens: Temples book, a collection of temple encounters for D&D 3.5.  (Register on this blog to see an update when it is available)  In following my pattern of trying to provide bonus, free content to go along with my published works, I’ve got a free temple for you here.  This is the format and style of the twelve temples in the book itself so this is also a good preview for those considering purchasing it.

The Hidden Temple of Judgment

Temple Name: Aruul-Shomet, the Temple of the God-Kings

Description: Deep in the arid wastes of the Ukhali Desert, hidden among lifeless mountains lies the Aruul-Shomet, Temple of the God Kings.  Its presence is only marked by the presence of two giant statues of warriors with the heads of jackals.  The statues are made of the same sandstone as the area except for the heads which are crafted from shining black marble.  The statues stand blocking the doorway to the temple.  Once past them, a grand hallway with a ceiling painted as the starry night leads straight into a mountainside.  The sides of the hallway are covered in murals of giant scrolls telling of the might of the God Kings and their wrath should their temple be touched by the unclean and heretics.  The hallway leads through three challenges and into a final massive chamber.  Here, each of the God Kings was entombed in a separate antechamber.  In the center is a round dais used for religious ceremonies.  The charred remains of human bones litter the floor around the dais.

Deities/Domains: Aruul-Shomet was created for a place where the rulers are considered to become godlike once they take the throne.  It would fit well into an Egyptian-flavored area of your world or could be remasked fairly easily to fit other climates.  The dead God Kings who rise to judge those who would become a God King are Lawful Evil liches who follow Shomet, a Lawful Evil god of Death and Judgement.  Shomet favors those who judge the unworthy with death (unworthy being those who do not agree that Shomet is the supreme god).

Priesthood: Priests of Shomet carry out the rites of Ascendance, guard the temple itself from interlopers, and serve Shomet’s purposes in the land by acting as untouchable judges.  They are known for the blood red tattoos on their hands though they often hide these to blend in with the normal people and root out temples and believers of rival gods. The Priests are rewarded for bringing wealth and respect to the temple and are refused little in the methods they might choose to employ.  The most powerful priests dream of ascending to God King, ruling the land until their death brings them eternal life with the past God Kings.

Protection: Aruul-Shomet is protected by its remote location with no trail or road going near it.  The treacherous mountains around it can kill the unwary traveler with a rockslide or the attack of a desert Aranea.  The statues in front of the temple will step aside if the proper prayers are spoken.  If not, they attack as giant golems.

Inside the hallway to the inner chamber, there are three rooms, each with a challenge.

The first room is wide and deep with a ceiling of only twelve feet.  Spaced across the room are 5′ x 5′ pillars supporting the ceiling.  The scroll nearest to the room speaks of Shomet requiring obedience, the faithful must perform all that he commands down to the tiniest detail.  Scattered in mounds across the floor are bones of hundreds of creatures.  What those bones are depends on what Challenge Rating you wish to give the encounter (EL 4 = 4 Human Warrior Skeletons as per Monster Manual; EL 7 = 10 Human Warrior Skeletons as per Monster Manual, EL 11 = 15 Troll Skeletons as per Monster Manual).  There are narrow paths through the bones, a sort of simple maze with four interconnecting routes.  Only those who show patience and walk every step of all paths before trying to exit through the far hallway can prevent the skeletons from being awakened.

The second chamber begins with a scroll lesson that Shomet demands Faith, those who follow him must serve him patiently and persevere all hardship in silence.  The room itself is a chamber only twenty feet wide and fifty feet long. It appears unremarkable until someone has walked ten feet into the room.  Then the floor comes alive with fire.  Those who walk across the floor without making any sound (not counting the possible clink of their gear) to the far side exit will suffer only 2d6 of burns.  A Will Save is required to prevent each character from making a yell or other sound of pain or surprise. (Set the DC of the Will Save to 11+the CR you desire).  If someone does speak or make a sound, they (and others within 5′) are subject to a blast of fire from a hidden Glyph of Warding (DC 15 Reflex Save, 3d8 Fire damage) or Greater Glyph of Warding (DC 19 Reflex, 6d8 Fire Damage) depending on your target CR.  Triggering the glyph also triggers moans as loud as thunder from deeper in the tomb.

The third challenge comes in a room which appears to be an oasis.  There are couches and beds with rich cushions and linens, a fountain of pure water, a table with utensils set for a feast, and small side doors (like servants use in rich houses) from which come beautiful servants with food, bandages, healing salve, etc.  The scroll leading to this room reminds the followers of Shomet that only he rewards his servants in this life.  The faithful will ignore these illusions and walk straight through them to the far exit leading to the Inner Chamber.  If anyone tries to interact with the illusions (take a drink from the fountain, get some healing, chat up the pretty servant girls, plop down for a rest), the illusions will dispel, replaced by Erinyes Devils as per the Monster Manual (EL 8 = 1 Erinyes Devil, EL 12 = 4 Erinyes Devils). Room CR = 6.

Once inside the Inner Chamber, our heroes face the wrath of the dead God Kings, liches bound to this place by Shomet.  If the proper rituals are followed, the liches can emerge from their antechambers and rage but not harm any who came into the chamber.  They must judge the one person put on the dais as candidate for Ascendancy to God King.  If the current God King still lives, the candidate will be slain with fire spells, their bones scattered to join the many others.

anywhere from The traveling temple is guarded by the large number of priests, many of whom came from rough or even warrior backgrounds and remember their skills.  The chest of relics is guarded at all times by a pair of burly guards who seem unaffected by its influence.  The chest never leaves their sight except when they lock it into the temple platform where it is secured by the same iron bands used in the great wagon.  The rest of the priests sleep on the platform at night, making is even more difficult for someone to get near the chest as the platform creaks quite a bit.  Temrel’s powers also influence the skill checks for people who seek to steal the golden chest though the influence could be either +2 or -2 to skill checks. (50% chance of either)

Benefits/Powers: The powers granted by Temrel are as notoriously unpredictable as they are powerful when the relics themselves are called upon.  When praying to Temrel within sight of the chest, priests receive prayers two levels higher than they normally would.  Unfortunately one out of three castings is dangerously flawed.  A powerful healing spell might be successful but also cause horrible disfigurement.  One out of nine castings has the completely opposite effect; a healing spell causes damage, cure disease instead spreads it.

Influence: While Tumpeh is a dominant god in the pantheon of the land, many believe his son to have perished without further influence over mortal affairs.  People view the approach of the procession in deference to Tumpeh, at least at first.  Even when the presence of the Relics of Temrel is known, it is all considered as neither a good nor evil event but rather a sort of divine influence that must be endured.

Symbology: Temrel was always associated with the number three (“There is the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and Temrel’s Way”) and the crow.  When carved into statues or painted, Temrel is most often portrayed as running and leaping.  Some of the simpler and cruder images have him throwing dice as a gambler might.  The song-prayers of the priests are up-beat and have infectious tunes written by skilled bards who travelled with Temrel.  “May Temrel smile upon (fill in the blank)” is a ready phrase.

Rituals: The first evening in a new village and every evening thereafter, the priests perform a ritual.  Crowds are gathered by chants and songs of the priests as the area of the platform begins to glow with many colored motes of light.  The priests prostrate themselves around the platform, all heads toward the center where four burly priests open a trap door and raise the golden chest of Temrel up from below.  Once the chest is in full view, the priests become twice as excited and energetic.  They preach and soothe, warn and damn the crowd with great skill.  Soon the alms, gifts, and sacrifices pile up on the wooden platform as the locals hope to either have the priests heal them, fix their woes, or to ward off the attention of the priests for something worse.

Notable NPCs:

Bassok: Heavily-muscled and dour, Bassok is a forbidding presence.  With a thick face, short hair, and goatee beard, he has all the appearance of a soldier. He bears a heavy sword slung across his chest in draw-down style.  The blade is enameled with a skein of blood red threads.  Bassok might be forty years of age but he hasn’t gone to fat.  He eats spartan meals and exercises by lifting the heavy timbers to break down or rebuild the massive wagon.  He was once a bodyguard to a very rich noble.  Temrel’s priests visited the noble’s manor house but after a few days of Temrel-influenced chaos, they were thrown out.  Bassok was consumed by their faith and joined them.  He finds his calling as guard of Temrel’s relics, not as a spell-casting priest.  While he’ll never neglect his duty, he does have a love of flowers and herbs for his simple teas.

Bassok: Human Fighter-3, Cleric-2; CR 5; Size M; HD 3d10+2d8; hp 39; Init +6; Spd 30ft; AC 17, touch 12, FF 15; BAB +4; Grapple +7; Atk: +9 melee (2d6+5, +1 Greatsword); AL CN; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +5; Str 17 Dex 14 Con 10 Int 9 Wis 12 Cha 10

Languages Spoken: Common

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Balance +1, Climb +4, Escape Artist +1, Handle Animal +1, Heal +2, Hide +1, Intimidate +3, Jump +5, Knowledge: Nature +2, Listen +3, Move Silently +1, Ride +3, Spellcraft +0, Spot +3; Alertness, Aura, Feat of Strength (1 rnd/day); Good Fortune (1/day), Improved Bull Rush, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Spontaneous Casting, Turn Undead, Weapon Focus (Greatsword)

Possessions: +1 Greatsword, +1 Chain Shirt

Spells: (CL 2, +7 melee touch, +6 ranged touch): 1st (DC 12, 3/day) – Command, Detect Evil, Shield of Faith, Enlarge Person, 0th (DC 11, 4/day) – Cure Minor Wounds, Detect Magic, Guidance, Virtue

Khinga Kloss: Gregarious and charming, Khinga is the senior priest of Temrel in the procession.  His smooth words have healed countless irritations their presence has caused, but he also knows when it time to go.  He is tall and thin but with a ruddy complexion of a life in the fresh air.  Khinga was a lay helper in a temple of Tumpeh as a child.  The head priest was never going to ordain him as a priest so he put in with two priests who’d discovered relics of the demigod Temrel.  His partners died under mysterious circumstances leaving Khinga in charge of the relics.  To avoid scrutiny and spread the word, Khinga put the relics in the golden chest and began the tradition of being a traveling temple.

Khinga Kloss: Human Cleric 7 (Knowledge); CR 7; Size M; HD 7d8+7; hp 55; Init +2; Spd 30ft; AC 18, touch 14, FF 16; BAB +5; Grapple +5; Atk: +7 melee (1d8+2, +2 Heavy Mace); AL LN; SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +9; Str 10 Dex 14 Con 12 Int 10 Wis 19 Cha 12

Languages Spoken: Common

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Bluff +3, Concentration +7, Diplomacy +9, Heal +14, Intimidate +3, Sense Motive +6, Spellcraft +8; Aura, Cast Divination spells at +1 caster level, Good Fortune (1/day), Negotiator, Persuasive, Spell Focus (Conjuration, +1 save DC), Spell Penetration (+2 Caster Level vs. Spell Resistance), Spontaneous Casting, Turn Undead

Possessions: +2 Heavy Mace, +2 Leather Armor, Periapt of Wisdom +2, Potions (Cure Serious Wounds (2), Remove Blindness/Deafness, Remove Curse, Remove Disease, Remove Fear, Remove Paralysis), Ring of Protection +2.

Spells: (CL 7, +5 melee touch, +7 ranged touch): 4th (DC 18, 2/day) – Divination, Tongues, Freedom of Movement. 3rd (DC 17, 3/day) – Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, Prayer, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance. 2nd (DC 16, 4/day) – Calm Emotions, Cure Moderate Wounds, Enthrall, Restoration, Lesser, Detect Thoughts. 1st (DC 15, 5/day) – Bless, Cure Light Wounds, Remove Fear, Shield of Faith, Summon Monster I, Entropic Shield. 0th (DC 14, 6/day) – Create Water, Cure Minor Wounds, Detect Magic, Guidance, Light, Read Magic

Little Evan: A boy of no more than twelve years, Little Evan is an enthusiastic speaker for Temrel, speaking the holy words and singing the prayers loudly.  He has been with the procession since his father died while the procession was at his village a few years ago.  When he showed a fascination with the priests, the villagers happily encouraged him to join them. (The boy had been too much to handle even when both his parents were alive.)  He is gangly but pretty agile for his age.  He idolizes Khinga and will do any task the older man asks of him.

Little Evan: Human Commoner-1; CR ½;  Size M; HD 1d4; hp 2; Init +0; Spd 30ft; AC 10, touch 10, FF 10; BAB +0; Grapple +0; Atk +0 melee (1d3, unarmed); AL NG; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will -1; Str 10 Dex 11 Con 10 Int 12 Wis 9 Cha 12

Languages Spoken: Common, Halfling

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Bluff +2, Climb +5, Handle Animal +3, Jump +1, Listen +2, Spot +1, Swim +4, Use Rope +1; Athletic, Run.

Possessions: None

Story Seeds:

Here Comes the Fun The Temple arrives in the village or town where our heroes are pausing from their journeys.  At first they are an interesting distraction.  Little Evan pops up around the village, asking awkward questions (Why does your husband stare at that other lady so much?) and generally stirring the pot.  Soon strange things begin to happen in the village, testing even the heroes.  PCs must make a Will Save (DC 18) each day they are within a mile of the Temple after the first day.  If they fail by ten or less, the PC exhibits a brief but notable change in behavior.  If they fail by more than 10, the PC’s attitudes change for a day, causing him to do the opposite of what they normally might do. (EL 4)

Gold Seduces The Eyes Again, our heroes are in the vicinity of the Temple as it stands by a village or town.  This time, they notice some people scoping out the platform and the chest with great intensity.  If the area is familiar a PC might even recognize one of the people as a local ne’er-do-well, the female gnome Pargonia.  Pargonia will deny everything, of course, but she’s gone in with a pair of half-orc twins known as “The Thumpers” to steal the chest and nothing is going to stop them. (EL 8)

Pargonia: Gnome Rogue 5; CR 5; Size S; HD 5d6+10; hp 36; Init +8; Spd 20ft; AC 23, touch 15, FF 23; BAB +4; Grapple -1; Atk: +5 melee (1d6+1, +1 Heavy Mace); AL CN; SV Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +1; Str 11 Dex 18 Con 14 Int 10 Wis 10 Cha 10

Possessions: +2 Chain Shirt, +1 Heavy Mace, Ring of Force Shield, Ring of Improved Jumping

Languages Spoken: Common, Gnome

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Balance +10, Bluff +5, Climb +1, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +5, Gather Information +5, Hide +15, Intimidate +2, Jump +7, Listen +7, Move Silently +8, Search +5, Sense Motive +5, Spot +5, Swim -2, Tumble +10; +1 Atk vs. Kobolds/Goblinoids, +1 Reflex vs. Traps, +2 Save vs. illusions, +4 AC dodge bonus vs. Giants, Acrobatic, Dancing Lights (1/day), Evasion, Ghost Sound (1/day), Improved Initiative, Low-Light Vision, Prestidigitation (1/day), Sneak Attack (3d6), Speak w/Burrowing Mammal (1/day), Trapfinding, Uncanny Dodge.

Thumpers (2): Half-orc Fighter-5; CR 5; Size M; HD 5d10-5; hp 35; Init +3; Spd 20ft; AC 17, touch 10, FF 17; BAB +5; Grapple +10; Atk +9 melee (1d8+7/1d8+4, Orc Double Axe), +10 melee (1d4+5, Dagger); AL CN; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +0; Str 20 Dex 16 Con 9 Int 6 Wis 9 Cha 9

Languages Spoken: Common, Orc

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Balance -3, Climb -1, Escape Artist -3, Hide -3, Intimidate +7, Jump -7, Move Silently -3, Swim -7; Cleave, Darkvision (60 feet), Exotic Weapon – Orc Double Axe, Great Cleave, Power Attack, Weapon Focus – Orc Double Axe.

Possessions: +2 Orc Double Axe, +1 Splint Mail, Dagger

Temrel Must Awaken Before they encounter the Temple, have each player write down a Secret Wish and a Secret Fear for their character.  These can be in game terms, character terms, or plot terms.  The two should balance each other out in terms of severity or degree of change required to make them come true.

Our heroes find themselves traveling the roads in the same direction as the Temple procession as the sun is setting.   The heroes then catch up with the temple and its procession.  Drawn by curiosity, they learn of the Temple and Temrel from the chatty priests.  They also spot one priest who is markedly different.  Shun-Gol is thought mad by some but he knows the legends and sings the prayers as well as anyone.  He can even cast some spells, though he is often caught mumbling to himself and swaying a little most other times to some unheard music.

What no one knows is that Shun-Gol believes he is on a divine mission.  He believes that if Temrel’s Relics were to be released by opening the golden chest, Temrel himself would be resurrected.  He hasn’t dared mention it to his fellow priests but he plans to get past the guards in the middle of a ceremony soon and open the chest.  While Shun-Gol is careful around other priests, someone else might pick up what he is mumbling about when he is away from the other priests and realize what he’s planning.  The simple fact that Shun-Gol is thinking about opening the chest has put more powerful things in motion.

Basically, Temrel thinks it might be fun to be free one day.  His influence flows out, encouraging one person after another to open the chest even if they have to fight to get to it.  Soon, the chest will have to be defended by the heroes against the town (30 villagers, defined below) and even Bassok, and Khinga until Temrel’s whim passes (30 minutes).  If the chest is opened, flip a separate coin for each character.  Temrel either grants their Wish or their Fear.  The degree of impact you wish to have on your campaign will determine how extreme the changes will actually be. (EL 9)

Shun-Gol: Human Cleric-3 (Healing); CR 3; Size M; HD 3d8; hp 20; Init +1; Spd 30ft; AC 11, touch 11, FF 10; BAB +2; Grapple +2; Atk: +2 melee (1d3, unarmed); AL CN; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +6; Str 10 Dex 13 Con 10 Int 10 Wis 16 Cha 12

Languages Spoken: Common

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Concentration +6, Heal +7, Hide +3, Listen +6, Move Silently +2, Spellcraft +2, Spot +5, Survival +5; Alertness, Aura, Cast Healing +1 caster level, Great Fortitude, Protective Ward (1hr/day); Self-sufficient, Spontaneous Casting, Turn Undead

Possessions: Robes

Spells: (CL 3, +2 melee touch, +3 ranged touch): 2nd (DC 15, 2/day) – Consecrate, Hold Person, Shield Other, 1st (DC 14, 3/day) – Divine Favor, Sanctuary, Shield of Faith, Sanctuary, 0th (DC 13, 4/day) – Guidance, Light, Read Magic, Virtue

Villager: Human Commoner-1; CR ½; Size M; HD 1d4+1; hp 5; Init +1; Spd 30ft; AC 11, touch 11, FF 10; BAB +0; Grapple +2; Atk +2 melee (1d3+2, unarmed); AL NG; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will -1; Str 14 Dex 12 Con 13 Int 12 Wis 9 Cha 13

Languages Spoken: Common, Halfling

Skills, Feats, and Powers: Handle Animal +5, Heal +1, Knowledge: Nature +3, Listen +2, Prof: Farmer +3, Ride +2, Spot +2, Survival +1, Swim +3; Alertness, Self-sufficient,

Possessions: Farmer’s clothing, farm implement.