Sunken Temple - Quest Outline
Updated: Nov 22, 2018
Here is one of the first quests I designed for my Grand Lamoria D&D campaign. Looking back on it now, there's definitely improvements I'd make, but the outline served its purpose well and resulted in several fun sessions for my players.
I don't often make such rigid quest outlines anymore, as the nature of the sandbox campaign can lead the party all over the place, far from where I thought they'd go. It's still a good exercise that I do whenever I'm preparing a lot of new content. For example, when creating a new town, if its of any decent size, I'll make several of these which intersect at points. Again, the players usually take the campaign in a direction that can't entirely be planned for, so I don't use these outlines exactly as they're written. The most use I get out of the outline is actually the act of writing them, which forces me to consider and solidify aspects of the world I may not have payed much mind to before.
As you read you'll see many references to other documents which I'm not linking here. This is just the outline, I find it too distracting to have everything in one doc, so I split it up. I'll have the quest outline, a "Combat Sheet" with combat blocks for NPC stats and abilities and a "Detail Sheet" which has the specially-worded NPC dialogue and written descriptions for that gameplay session. If needed, I'll have loot cards and letters to hand out to my players for any magical goodies or scrolls they collect.
My hope is that by reading this, you'll get some insight as to how another DM plans their sessions, and takeaway some ideas for how to improve your campaign. As always, let me know your thoughts!
CONTEXT: This is a rough quest outline for an early quest in my high fantasy Grand Lamoria campaign. There are references to other documents which are not listed here to save time. Contact me if you'd like to see the other docs.
!SPOILER WARNING! If you're one of my players, you should stop reading here!
The party is sent to see what happened to another party in the Sunken Temple, a temple to the god of War, Hexxor.
Captain Agmar assigns the mission to the party and gives them a serious warning to be careful in the temple.
A young dwarf girl approaches the party as soon as the leave the Fortune’s Unlimited HQ, or the area the party was issued the quest. She doesn’t give her name, but instructs the party that she was hired to tell them, “It is very important that- before you leave- you go to the alley behind the Withering Ladle. Hurry there, or you will miss your opportunity.”
***Choice: Visit alley behind the Withering Ladle?
(option) If the party meets there within 30 minutes, Verrel will come out of the shadows and speak to them. He will tell the party, “We never met. I did not help you. Before leaving for the Sunken Temple, you should know that it is an ancient temple in disrepair dedicated to the God of War, Hexxor. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Cardinal gods before you go, or else you won’t get very far.”
If pressed for more information, he won’t reveal more about the Temple, but he will say, “I know little else that can help you on this quest, but I will tell you this. Agmar used to be a mighty paladin of Hexxor, until one day he betrayed Hexxor. Hexxor’s vengeance is fierce, and to this day, Agmar’s mind is still clouded by the burden of Hexxor’s revenge.” If pressed further, Verrel will simply say it is a tale for another time, and to not mention this to Agmar.
Visit to the All-gods Temple
(option) If the party goes to the temple read description (see details). If they inquire they will find a High Priest named Kerrek who is more than willing to help them and teach them about the gods and domains (see Gods & Domains document for further details).
Of Gargoyle’s Poison
(option) If Baaz asks about his ailment, Kerrek can attempt to cast greater restoration, which won’t work. He then directs him to the Archives, which may identify it as Stoneblight if they are persuaded to help. If the archives sent him here, Kerrek can say that when he was younger, he visited a shrine of Korborth in the Spine, a few leagues east of Karak Ahmar. Only by making an offering at a remote, unvisited shrine of Korborth is Baaz sure to catch the god’s attention. A good offering would be a dead gargoyle, an expensive diamond, a golden pickaxe, an enchanted chisel or mithril.
Entering the Temple of Hexxor
On the way to the Temple, the party sees some stuff and then a black bird in the sky (black falcon, Reck). For description (see details). Cannot pass the stone archway which reads in elvish, “Relinquish Hope and please the Red Emperor.” Must exhale air, and walk in without air in lungs. Yidri, the god of Air, East and Hope, is what is implied here. Religion checks can help.
Upon passing through the archway they enter a chamber where a stone block slowly slides into place behind them, sealing them in the temple. The levels of the temple are actually on other planes of existence, where Hexxor has built them. The machinery and stone gears are operated by his soul slaves. Once in the first lock room, Hexxor speaks in a booming deistic voice, “You follow in the footsteps of cowards and defilers. Only one general has pleased me this day. Is there a general among you?” Then the doors slide open revealing the first room.
Pleasing the Red Emperor
Between each room is a lock room. Like the challenge rooms, they will not proceed to open or close until all living entities are within the confines of the room. If a creature attempts to flee, the door will open allowing them to flee. The rooms have a sentence in elvish script depicting what is in the next room, as shown in italics.
A general must be of indomitable will.
Narrow passage three bodies wide with statues on either side. The statues are holding their palms up in a ‘halt’ position. The characters must make Wisdom saves each step. Failing a save freezes a person in place. Will saving past another person who’s frozen gives them a chance to make a new will save. Once one person is across, they can manipulate a leader symbol to deactivate the traps allowing their ‘followers’ to come through. Note: the first party members who crosses to the other side gains favor with Hexxor.
A general must survive.
Timed event. Two walls with long, sharp spikes begin to close (think Star Wars trash compactor). On the spikes are a couple crushed skeletons, and a bronze round shield. Water pours from the two walls that are stationary, to a hole in the floor in the center of the room. The hole has a magical grate over it, allowing only water to pass through. The water comes in quickly through magically protected small grates. Above the closing walls there is 10ft of space and the door to the exit.
Players can fly to safety, attempt to make two DC 15 climb checks, rope gives +5, assistance gives +5. Players can plug the hole with the shield to fill up the chamber with water so they can swim to the top. Note: any party member who gets to safety without receiving help earns favor with Hexxor.
A general must be cold and heartless.
Temp drops, if fail CON save DC 14, start taking cold damage each round. Frozen skeletons with glowing blue hearts still intact visible. Need to destroy or damage the skeletons heart, or else the skeleton is replaced with two new skeletons. DC increases each round, damage stays consistent. Note: any PC who kills a skeleton by piercing its heart earns favor with Hexxor.
Leaving the Temple
Upon exiting the lock room, the party enters a well-lit room with a black marble statue in the center. The statue has his right arm raised behind his head wielding the handle of a whip. The whip is on fire and made of black iron chain links. The whip hovers magically in the air behind the still statue. In the base of the statue, there are two holes about a half a foot thick and two feet apart.
Archivist Aldrat is found, stabbed to death in a corner. He looks similar to Aldrak, his miner brother. He wears a ring of the Port Bali Archives and has a satchel of notes and 5 Sending Scrolls. If the notes are retrieved and returned to the archives, the archivists will become very helpful.
Depending on how the adventurers fared in the challenges, Hexxor may say, “Some of you have shown your potential. Should you desire the power of the general, seek out my temples and further prove yourself. Now, step forth. Bare arms and receive my gift.” If the party members who earned favor with Hexxor stick their forearms into the holes, they shall be branded with two linked chain tattoos (in the shape of H’s) on each forearm and they receive Hexxor’s Grip and are healed to full. All party members will find when the leave that they have +10gp in their pockets. Any party members who fared poorly will not receive Hexxor’s Grip boon when they insert their arms. Any PCs who insulted Hexxor will receive 2d6 Piercing and 1d6 Fire damage if they insert their arms.
Hexxor’s Grip: +1 to Grapple Checks. +1 to STR checks against being disarmed. Proficiency with whips.
As soon as they leave the lock room out of the temple, they are ambushed by a brown bear who leaps at them from above the temple, and as three thugs who shoots arrows at them from the side of the temple (see attached combat blocks). This is Tashak, a druid of the Blood Jaws. They will attempt to fight to the death, as were their orders from Nosk. They drop 10gp, arrows and simple weapons.
If the party is getting their ass kicked, the elf ranger Esildra and her black Hawk Reck may intervene. She was looking for Baaz to see if he found a cure for his poison yet. She heard rumors about the poison and wanted to see if it was true.