Episode One: Gather, Gloom
Into the Forsaken Temple's Crypt is a short adventure for four 10th-level characters. The adventure takes place in a buried temple crypt, which has been sealed for centuries. Dungeon Masters can adjust it for higher-level characters by expanding the dead magic areas and increasing the number and power of constructs and undead that inhabit the complex.
Some things are best left untouched, and some secrets are best left untold. One such secret is the location of the resting place of the traitor Ellowyn Blacktree. Her body has lain undisturbed for centuries, undead but immobile, in the prison the elves created for her.
The elven histories tell that Ellowyn was a powerful wizard back in a time beyond human reckoning. While others worked diligently to learn magic, Ellowyn's arcane powers came to her quickly. In her youth, she called this a blessing from Corellon Larethian, and she worked diligently to serve him for the good of all elvenkind. In time, she became one of seven female elves entrusted with the care of a mythal, or elven place of power, devoted to preserving the balance of magic and nature. But Ellowyn, it is said, kept a terrible secret of her own: She had fallen in love with a drow whom history knows as Orith To'rellen. One dark winter night she betrayed her sisters, Corellon, and all of elvenkind by allowing Orith and the followers of Lolth to overrun and defile the mythal. Ellowyn herself was then betrayed by the drow, who abandoned her on the surface near a vampire's lair as they returned to their home in the Underdark, leaving her to face certain death and elven justice alone.
In the depths of their grief and anger, the elves sentenced Ellowyn, perhaps unwisely, to dwell forever in the darkness that she had chosen, thus ensuring that she never followed the normal path of life and death that most elves take. Many elves died at her hands before they could restrain her. With terrible spells rarely seen even in that ancient time, they bound her in an underground crypt far away from any living thing. There, the legends say, she waits, nursing a terrible hatred against elves, drow, Corellon, Lolth, and especially Orith To'rellen.
The PCs enter the tomb and encounter a group of oozes and fungi that have taken up residence during the last hundred years or so. They then encounter a series of warnings and magic traps that the elves intended would discourage adventurers from entering the crypt. It's very possible that they can read these quite easily with the help of magic, but will they heed the warnings? If they fail to heed them, they encounter a clay golem that the elves hoped would be more persuasive in its attempt to discourage intruders. The PCs will also encounter a group of drow who are bent on recovering the traitor's "body" and any knowledge she might possess.
This adventure takes place on a single map:
Player characters might hear rumors of a human archaeological expedition that has uncovered an ancient elven ruin. The archaeologists dismiss the elven legends of the Traitor as simple myth and oral tradition. Elven PCs know better, and they may want to help prevent the humans from unleashing something evil upon the world. Other PCs might be lured into the temple's crypt by promises of treasure.
Gather, Gloom (EL varies)
The adventure begins as the PCs arrive at the entrance to the crypt, finding a sealed door that has only recently been freed from rubble of the surrounding temple. Read the following to the players:
Characters who make a Search check (DC 10) notice that the branches are barren, as though in winter, and the woodland creatures aren't sleeping -- they're dead. This is the first clue that something unpleasant is sealed within the crypt. Characters who succeed at their Decipher Script checks as noted in the sidebar can discern some or all of the following literal meanings from the ancient Elven script etched into the doors:
The doors are locked (Open Lock DC 30), reinforced with both iron (just under the silver) and stone (as another set of doors directly behind the silver/iron set).
Crypt Doors: 1 ft. thick; hardness 10; hp 60; AC 5; Break DC 45.
Once the characters are through the door, they enter area 1 of the crypt. Read the following boxed text:
The north end of Area 1, as shown on the map, is a dead magic zone. This means that spells and magic items do not function here at all, as if under the effect of an antimagic field. Any spellcasters who enter this area feel profoundly uncomfortable. Spellcasters can take a move equivalent action to define the exact boundary of the dead magic zone. (For a more complete description of dead magic zones, see the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, page 56.) This area of dead magic was created when Ellowyn betrayed the elves and allowed the drow to shatter the mythal.
The teleport marked on the southern portion of the map is where beings emerge after using the teleport square in area 10. This is how the elves escaped after sealing Ellowyn in her tomb. This teleport system only works one way: from Area 10 to Area 1, never the reverse.
If characters try to decipher the script on the walls, they find that the same messages are repeated:
Development: If the PCs decipher the writing on the walls, they should begin to gather that something terrible is imprisoned here. If they decide to turn around, leaving well enough alone, the drow eventually reach Ellowyn and wake her. Ellowyn dispatches the drow and escapes into the world. If left to her own devices, she probably spends weeks wantonly slaughtering all the elves and drow she encounters before she regains enough sanity to consider her situation in a more "tactical" fashion. She may even notice some trace of the PCs who were at the door to her prison and want to track down these strangers who gained entry into her prison.
If the PCs only partially decipher the messages on the wall, they may have a garbled idea of what's going on, or a completely incorrect idea. Message 2, for instance, could be misunderstood to read, "Save us from this corruption" -- possibly a plea for help from the ancient elves who may have been trapped inside the tomb.
If the PCs are going to move forward, they have to contend with the safeguards the elves put in place, as well as some other creatures that have intruded into the crypt.
The rest of the crypt lies ahead, with unknown dangers in store for the PCs.
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