Taras writes " When are adventurers going to learn to respect the religious practices of others? So what if they happen to spill a little blood in the process...
Author: Taras Guarhoth
Sanctuary of the Bloody Hands
by Taras Guarhoth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission
from the author.)
Location: A rural area, in some lightly wooded hills several
miles outside of a small village.
Exterior: A hill, covered with scrub and gnarled trees,
not really standing out from those around it. A weathered stone crowns
the top of the hill, indistinguishable from those that mark ancient burial
cairns or holy sites. At the base of the hill, hidden among some scrub
and trees, is an entrance into the hillside. It resembles the entrance
to a natural cave or the lair of some normal animal.
Interior: The entire temple was once primarily a crypt,
and it's interior still shows signs of this. Refer to the crude map
located further down for the layout of the temple. Doors close off
the rooms from the halls, although it was too awkward to mark them on the
"map". Halls are only five and a half feet tall, but the chambers
are eight feet tall. No contents are listed for the sarcophagi, and
any treasure to be found within is up to the DM's discretion, although
nothing will be in those in the prison area.
1 - Main Temple - This room is very poorly lit. The walls
and floor are carved with scenes of a tall, unclothed man hunting and killing
other humans with his bare hands. Only a few small, sputtering candles
will be lit in here while the temple is being used, and at other times
there will be no illumination. A sarcophagus, made of a rusty-red
sandstone, serves as the altar. It is carved with the skull and hand
symbols of the cult, and bears a flat top, stained with the blood of previous
victims. Inside the altar is the body of an ancient Harashim (Flan) mystic who led a cult in the
area in ages past. In front of the altar is a pit, of unknown depth,
where bodies are tossed. Occasionally, odd sounds are heard rising
from the pit's depths. There is little else of note in the main sanctuary
of the cult.
2 - Guardroom - Several sarcophagi are found in this room, as
are a table and some chairs. At any time that the cult has kidnap
victims in it's prison, there will be at least one cultist in here to keep
watch over them. At other times, this room is usually empty.
3 - Prison - Five sarcophagi are in this room, and they are almost
always left open and empty. When the cult has kidnapped someone,
they are placed in a sarcophagus and the lid closed. This generally
proves to be sufficient to keep prisoners under control. At other
times, this room is unoccupied.
4 - High Priest's Room - This chamber is used by the high priest.
Unlike most of the other cultists, he actually stays here at the temple.
There are several sarcophagi in here, each of which is covered in carvings
of skulls, robed figures, humans hunting and killing other humans, and,
of course, the everpresent handprints. Upon closer inspection, it
becomes apparent that these weren't the original carvings on the sarcophagi,
although what was once carved there can't be determined. Similar
carvings cover the walls of the chamber. One of the sarcophagi has
no lid, and lacks a body. This is where the high priest of the cult
sleeps. A few chairs are the only other furnishings in the chamber.
5 - Storeroom - Again, sarcophagi can be found in this room,
eight in total. Each is still sealed, and no carvings are evident upon
their surfaces. On top of them are found the items stored by the
cult. Several white robes are found neatly folded and stacked atop
one, while a number of scrolls, bearing hyms and prayers to Nerull and
Shirat in a Flan dialect, are found on another. Candles, bowls, rusty
great sickles, and other such items used by the cult in it's ceremonies
can be found scattered about the room. Also located in the room is
a locked chest, which holds the cult's meager treasure (a handful of pieces
of jewelry taken from victims, a holy symbol from a priest of Pelor kept
as a trophy, and some coinage, obviously not much, since most victims have
been peasants). If this chest is disturbed by anyone other than the
high priest of the cult, five of the sarcophagi will open, releasing five
skeletons who will attack those who disturbed them. They cannot be turned,
commanded, or otherwise controlled while within the temple.
The Cultists: There are three priests in the cult, and
another eight cultists. The first priest, Malochi ben Udar, is the
high priest of the cult, and he's a fifth level specialty priest.
The second is Karl Bauer, a second level specialty priest. The last
is Salchar ben Valchar, a first level specialty priest. Of the cultists,
two are fighters (third and second level), and another three are thieves
(fourth, third, third, and first). The remainder are unclassed peasants
of no importance. Additional cultists can be dropped in to increase
the challange, obviously. For details on the specialty priests, which
are in Second Edition format, see The Cult of the Bloody Hands.
Other Notes: Most likely, players will be sent here in
response to a kidnapping (a victim having been taken to supply the necessary
body paint for a ceremony, or for the induction of a new cult member) or
after a ceremony, when pieces of someone have been found somewhere in the
fields outside of a village. The cultists are content to let the
PC's make their way to the hill unmolested (unless it's a night of a ceremony,
when they will be hunted, like anyone else), but once the PC's have gotten
into the sanctuary, the cultists will relentlessly pursue the PC's until
the party is dead or the priests have all been killed (at which point,
the remaining cultists will flee and try to disappear). Inside the
temple, the cultists will use the features of the former crypt to their
advantage, such as extinguishing the lights in the main temple room to
try and get PC's to stumble into the pit (the cultists know their way around
and won't walk into it blindly) or trying to force the PC's to stand in
the hallways and engage them from inside the room, forcing the PC's to
fight at a disadvantage because of the difference in ceiling heights.
Also, the animation of corpses still in the sarcophagi is another tactic
that will be used to defend the temple. All will animate as skeletons,
except for the body in the altar, which will undoubtably be stronger because
of the unholy rites that have been performed over it for untold years.
On a final note, the pit is at least a hundred feet deep. At it's
bottom are a number of broken and decayed bodies, and shattered skeletons.
A fall into it would be very painful. Whether there are any connecting
tunnles or chambers at the bottom is left up to the DM to decide.
The ASCII Map:
| |__| |
| 3 __ 2 |
|________| | |
________ | |
| |__| |____|
| 1 __ ____ Outside
|________| | | |
________ | |
| |__| 4 |
| 5 __ |
Note: Forgotten Gods, Nerull, Second Edition, Sud Graufult"