Temple of the Dark Moon is a roleplaying mini-adventure that can be played entirely with the D&D Miniatures from the Archfiends set. It's intended for four 7th-level player characters in an ongoing D&D campaign but could also be played as a stand-alone fight with either the full D&D rules or the tabletop skirmish combat rules.
This scenario uses the following Archfiends miniatures:
- Half-orc barbarian (x3)
- Dread guard (x2)
- Abyssal eviscerator
- Cultist of the Dragon (x2)
- Yuan-ti pureblood (x2)
- Dark Moon Monk (x3)
- Githyanki fighter
This mini-adventure uses the "12/11 The Dungeon" map from our Map-A-Week 2003 Archive. You can download just the one-page DM's reference map or the whole dungeon scaled as a full-size play mat for miniatures. (The DM's map is not included in the full-size version. If you want both, download both.)
All the NPCs and monsters are exactly as noted on the D&D Quick Reference side of their statistic cards (the side with the picture). Feel free to substitute miniatures you have for any you lack.
Except where noted, monsters have no treasure and NPCs carry only their gear. All creatures fight to the death.
What was once a temple of good (perhaps devoted to Ehlonna, Boccob, or Obad-Hai if your game uses the D&D game's core pantheon, or Selûne, Mielikki, or Ellistraee from the Forgotten Realms setting) has been sacked and desecrated by the forces of evil. It's up to your game's 7th-level player characters to cleanse the temple of this taint, even if it means washing it in the blood of the evil beings now defiling it. The PCs can come across this temple, high up on a cliffside, as a planned portion of a larger adventure or as a random encounter that serves as a break from the normal campaign storyline. Brief scenarios such as this are especially good for times when your whole gaming group cannot meet and you want to play but are hesitant to advance the main plot without all the players (and their heroes) present.
The evil beings within the temple are preparing to use it as a base from which to launch a campaign of evil under the command of the Dark Moon Monks and the Cultists of the Dragon. The cultists revere and follow the two pureblood yuan-ti that reside in part of the temple. The monks, while they don't share the cultists' reverence, abide by the decisions handed down by the yuan-ti.
As noted above, the PCs could happen across this temple in the course of another, larger, adventure. Alternatively, they could be drawn here by local legends of an isolated temple of good that fell to evil forces not long ago. If either the Cult of the Dragon or the order of Dark Moon Monks are villains in the ongoing campaign, the group's involvement here could lead the heroes to locating the temple. (This scenario also gives DMs the perfect opportunity to add one or both of these groups to the campaign's milieu.) Finally, a PC cleric or other follower of the good deity to which this temple was once devoted could, via vivid, recurring dreams, task the hero to lead her friends and allies in reclaiming the temple for the god's cause.
Not all is as it seems at the temple. What the cultists and yuan-ti don't know is that a githyanki fighter has subsumed the wills of the monks using its psionic powers, and he has a plan all his own for the temple. Once the temple begins it operations and gathers more evil beings to it, the githyanki will subvert the will of as many of the more powerful creatures as it can. When it feels confident in its forces, it will reveal itself to the yuan-ti, hoping to convert them and their followers to its cause. If this fails, the githyanki, the monks, and whatever other allies it has recruited will eliminate the yuan-ti and the cultists.
The githyanki's long-term plans are beyond the scope of this scenario but could include forming a base for a major incursion of githyanki into this region of the campaign setting to conquer it; part of a plan in the githyanki's ongoing feud with its brother race, the githzerai; or perhaps most interestingly, the githyanki have heard that an enclave of illithids (mind flayers) has taken up residence in the region, and the githyanki is here to scout out its location and eliminate it, ideally using only local or "native" forces. Doing so prevents the mind flayers from tracing the attack back to the githyanki and their source of information. If a group of native creatures attack the illithids, the githyanki believes the mind flayers will assume the nosy, inferior locals chanced upon their enclave.
The adventure begins when the heroes reach the temple's entrance. It is high on a cliffside above a large body of water.
False Doors: The cultists installed a number of false doors in the temple since they took it over. Each door is locked (Open Lock DC 18 to open). When a door is opened, a magical charge of electricity is delivered to anyone touching the door, causing 3d6 points of damage. Each door discharges once and then requires an hour to recharge before it can discharge again.
Unless otherwise noted, all doors within the temple are strong wooden doors with these characteristics -- 2 in. thick, 5 hardness, 20 hp, Break DC 23 (stuck), DC 25 (locked).
Secret Doors: Unless noted otherwise, all secret doors in the temple can be found with a Search check (DC 25) or a Spot check (DC 35).
The door to the temple is locked (Open Lock DC 30 to unlock). This square chamber is empty except for the bits and chunks of masonry that litter the floor (Move Silently check DC 15 or the half-orcs in the chamber hear the PCs). The fallen masonry came from relief carvings on the walls and ceiling of idyllic, pastoral scenes, now smashed, hacked, chipped, and covered in graffiti and offal.
Two half-orc barbarians guard the entrance from within this chamber. As soon as they detect intruders, they rage and engage in melee. A third barbarian stands on the opposite side of the secret door leading from this chamber. Also in the passage are two dread guards. When the two barbarians in the antechamber rage, the third gathers the dread guards to him and they enter the antechamber on the round after that. They hope to drive the PC heroes down the dead-end corridor (perhaps it once led somewhere, but the cultists collapsed the tunnel) and kill them there.
3. Domed Chamber
Once the PCs defeat the half-orcs and dread guards, they can easily find and enter the secret passage from which some of their attackers came. Upon reaching the large, domed chamber, they find an abyssal eviscerator awaiting them. Two cultists also lurk in the small side chamber, hiding behind the defiled altar there. When the monster engages the PCs, the cultists begin casting spells on the party. If the horrid creature dies while either of the cultists still live, they hesitate for one round. A Diplomacy or Intimidation check (DC 35) in this time could convince the cultists to surrender. Otherwise, they resume casting spells the following round. They are unaware of the secret door in the floor of this side chamber.
The domed chamber itself once depicted a vividly painted clear night sky visible in this region. Like the carvings in the entryway, this too has been defiled. The night-purple paint of the sky is chipped, substances best left unknown cover many of the stars, and weapon blows pock the polished floor.
4. Cell Chambers
This rectangular area contains four secret doors. The small chambers behind three of them were used as boltholes when the temple served good. The cultists have turned them into cells for the prisoners they intend to capture soon. They added the false doors at the backs of the cells as a bit of torture, both physical and mental, for their future prisoners.
5. The Large Secret Chamber
The fourth secret door in the rectangular room leads here, where the cultists keep a "spare" nothic, should the one they have in area 7 die. It attacks anyone who opens the door.
6. Hidden Passage and Chamber
If the heroes discover the secret trap door in the side room of the Domed chamber, a long passage leads them to a small cache of magic that has not been found by the cultists or the monks. It contains four cure critical wounds potions, a wand of cure light wounds, and a scroll of restoration.
7. Stairs and Garden
If the heroes discover the northernmost section of this area behind the two secret doors, they find a rough-hewn stone staircase that descends 30 feet into the darkness. They notice the sweet smell of freshly turned soil coming from below, but it's tinged with something decidedly not sweet: a nothic that the cultists use to guard this descent to their master's lair. The nothic is hungry and attacks the PCs at the first opportunity.
The lower portion of the chamber is an underground garden, surprisingly pleasant despite its current, evil residents. Two yuan-ti purebloods live in this area, where they are fed, revered, and sheepishly obeyed by the cultists. These purebloods know they are not "blood kin" to dragons as they've told the cult members, but as long as they provide competent leadership and bring the cult success (and money), the cultists are amenable to the deception.
In the square chamber beyond the secret door that leads from the garden, two cultists stand a constant vigil over their serpentine leaders. If they hear combat from within the garden, they enter the chamber to do battle.
Further, on the southern wall of this small chamber, there stands a burning portal. It radiates heat and a (defaced) sign in Common warns that fiery death awaits any who enter the flames. Anyone stepping through the portal finds himself in the "Watery Chamber" described below (room 10). The cultists and the monks know this links the two parts of the temple: this portion, claimed by the cult, and the other section, which is now home to the monks.
This chamber serves as the sleeping quarters for the cultists. The room is currently unoccupied.
9. Small Shrine
This small, pillared chamber can be reached via the secret door in the floor of the domed chamber or the secret door from the garden. The room houses a small shrine to dragons in general and the yuan-ti that lead this cult cell in particular. The chamber is unoccupied.
10. Watery Room
The fiery portal delivers the PCs to this watery chamber. This room's floor is covered by water. It appears only a foot or two deep, but is actually 4 feet deep (Spot or Search DC 25 to discern). The monks tapped an underground river to fill this chamber, knowing that any who come through are likely to make noise in the water (Move Silently DC 28) and emerge dripping wet, making them very easy to track (DC 0).
11. Barracks II
The large, divided room serves as sleeping quarters for the monks. Two are currently in this room. Make opposed Move Silently vs. Listen checks to determine if either party is caught flat-footed.
12. Pentagonal Room
A huge, central pillar supports this room. It appears to be a typical wide pillar (AC 3, 8 hardness, 900 hp), but it was made of brittle stone to be collapsible by the original builders of the good temple. Its actual statistics are AC 5, 4 hardness, 150 hp. A Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Craft (stonework), Profession (stonemason), or other applicable skill (DC 25) notes the odd structure of this column.
Destroying the column causes the collapse of the roof in 1d12-3 rounds (1 minimum), causing 4d12 points of damage to every being in the room. After the collapse, all movement through this chamber (if the DM determines it's possible at all) is at 1/4 speed.
13. Old Common Room
This set of three chambers once served as the common room for the clerics and other members of the temple of good. In the largest of the three chambers, three Dark Moon monks eat a simple meal. They attack as soon as they detect the intruders.
14. Circular Chamber
Here resides the githyanki fighter who has subverted the monks' wills. He is in the process of altering the summoning circle engraved on the floor of this room to suit his own mysterious ends. He does not leave this room, even if he knows of the monks are fighting the PCs in the next room, so intent is he on altering this circle. Only when the heroes enter the room does the githyanki turn his attention to them.
15. Githyanki's Chamber
The githyanki keeps its personal effects here, and retires to this secret chamber to rest.
Concluding the Adventure
Once the heroes dispatch the villains holding the temple, DMs must determine what happens next. If this scenario was just a side trip, the PCs should note the presence of these new enemies in the area and be directed back to the main plot. If this dungeon is part of the DM's main campaign storyline, the PCs may want to follow up on the cult, the monastic order, the githyanki, or any combination of the above. Savvy DMs can use this desire for knowledge as the launching point for many adventures.
For a 7th-level party of heroes, cleaning out the temple earns 16,100 XP to be divided by the number of members in the party.
About the Author
Dale Donovan is a 14-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited many Forgotten Realms products (along with every other roleplaying line produced by the company, be it TSR or Wizards), moved from rural Wisconsin to suburban Seattle when Wizards saved TSR, and served as a Managing Editor. Since going freelance, he's worked for Steve Jackson Games, Guardians of Order, White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, the Valar Project, Green Ronin, and Wizards, among others. He loves RPGs, horror and fantasy fiction, comics, movies, most every kind of music, and his lovely wife and wonderful daughter.