The Temple of the Locust God
There sits a vast temple in the middle of a sea of dunes; it has no surrounding complex, just a massive tribute built from stone. Though the desert sands and arid winds have done their work to erode away at the structure, it remains a sight to behold nonetheless.
The temple’s builders and its true purpose have been lost to time, and even the oldest tales about the shrine refer to it as an ancient abandoned site. Its current title is derived from the name of the K’naghi tribal god—the word “Naghith” literally translates to Common from the Giant tongue to mean “the winged one.”
Centuries ago, the giant overlords of human slaves (that would come to be known as the K’naghi tribe) discovered this temple. The tribal mythology of the desert people recounts how their god, Naghith the Many-Winged Father, arose there and slaughtered the giants, inadvertently freeing the humans before returning to its slumber within. This event would leave a resonating impact on the cultures that evolved in and around the Alimpulosa territory. Since then the temple has been a forbidden place—or at the very least taboo and widely avoided—to most, save the occasional foolish traveler.
Giant Skeleton Boneyard
Lending some credence to the mythology surrounding the temple, the parched skeletal remains of several dozen giants litters the approach to the structure (after the bane of the Piseogach). When the PCs breech the boneyard (coming within 50 feet of any of the temple’s stairways) one of the skeletons becomes animated, and wielding the bones of his dead brethren as weapons, attacks the adventurers!
As you near the base of the temple stairs, there is a noticeable shifting beneath the nearby sand. Sharp winds kick up motes of sand, revealing skeletons of several large humanoids beneath the surface. The bones are dry, bleached by sun and sand. For a moment the area grows still before suddenly, with an explosion of grit sent skyward, a complete giant skeleton leaps from the desert! Its brittle bones clack loudly as it moves toward you, wielding a large femur bone in one hand and a cracked giant skull in the other.
The Three Altars
Three separate sets of stairs create open-air corridors, 120-feet in length that each ascend 50-feet high to three different altar tiers near the top of the temple. These tiers are small and isolated from one another, each bearing a stone slab crowned with a pillar that stands nine feet tall.
As well as being the key to solving the combination lock on the sanctum entrance found in the temple ruins on top of the temple, all three altars are also cleverly disguised traps. Each has been created to trigger at the detection of any spell being cast. This trigger includes the use of wands, staves or other magic items that result in magical effects.
Engraved upon these three pillars is an array of different pictographs. If detect magic is cast upon a pillar, it reveals that one of the pictographs on each pillar is a magic sigil. Each of the unique magic sigils found on the three separate pillars denotes one part of the six-part combination needed to unlock the entrance to the temple sanctum.
The original builders of the temple intended the use of the rare wortworm fungus as a part of deciphering the combination key. If the PCs have some powder of detection, it allows them to detect which of the sigils is magic without causing an actual magical effect that would trigger the traps. It also reveals the specific color associated with the pictogram (based on the powder’s glow due to the type of aura the sigil generates) needed to complete the combination lock upon the door to the sanctum. However, casting a spell (including detect magic) triggers the trap upon the stairs leading to that altar.
The pictographs engraved into the pillars are each unique and consist of hundreds (if not thousands) of different stylized designs.
The South Altar: The magic sigil on the pillar of the south altar is in the shape of a stylized eclipsed moon and has a faint aura of transmutation. If the PCs use powder of detection this aura glows with a violet hue.
The Central Altar: The magic sigil on pillar of the the central altar is in the shape of a stylized sun rising over the horizon and has a faint aura of abjuration. If the PCs use powder of detection this aura glows with a red hue. (Image of Sigil)
The North Altar: The magic sigil on the pillar of the north altar is in the shape of a stylized dual eight pointed star and has a faint aura of enchantment. If the PCs use powder of detection this aura glows with a green hue. (Image of Sigil)
Narrow channels lead from the three altars and incline towards the highest plateau of the structure. Atop of the main tier of the temple appears to be the rubble from an entire level that at some point in the past collapsed. Debris litter the stone flooring, leaving little behind but a few partial columns and remnants of what appear to have once been inner arches.
As you move upward towards the highest tier of the temple, following the narrow channel from the altar, you find what appears to be an entire collapsed level of the temple—debris covering much of the high stone platform. Gazing across at the localized destruction, you notice another stairway near the center of the temple that descends down to two massive stone doors.
The doors are solid, adorned with six rounded stone dials. Three larger stone dials have been engraved with several pictograms, and are arranged side-by-side near the middle of the ten foot tall doors. Three smaller stone dials have been inlaid with a series of five surprisingly large gemstones of various colors, situated one each above the larger dials. Below the dials is a heavy iron ring, obviously a door knocker.
Each of the dials is accompanied by a chevron engraved in the stone of the door behind it, likely indicating a selected icon or gemstone for each.
At the bottom of the chamber is the corpse of Gyrick the gnome. He’s been bloodied and an arrow sticks through his shoulder, but a DC 15 Heal check reveals that he didn’t die from blood loss. A thorough search of his person reveals two potions of cure light wounds, a +1 dagger, and some masterwork thieves’ tools, but little else.
The dials turn in both directions. The door is securely sealed and constructed of 5-foot thick granite stone. When all the dials have been set to the proper order to resolve the combination and the door is “knocked” three times sequentially they open, each stone panel sliding to the side to allow for a 10-foot high, 10-foot wide entryway that leads into the temple sanctum.
The combination of symbols includes the sequence of magic sigil pictograms that are located on the three altar pillars (in this order: south altar, central altar, north altar). The smaller dials above each should be set to match the color of the gemstone with the color of the aura of each of the sigils revealed by powder of detection.
Each of the larger stone dials weigh about 500 pounds and require 100 pounds of pushing force to turn. The smaller dials weigh about 100 pounds and require 25 pounds of pushing force to turn.
The first three times a combination is failed (or the doors are attempted to be opened by some other method), it triggers a life-drain effect that targets all living creatures within a 30-foot radius surrounding the door, dealing 1d6 points of temporary Constitution damage. This effect is only triggered three times before it becomes iner (no other effects occur due to additional incorrect combination attempts). The lock is ridiculously advanced and can only be automatically solved with a DC 50 Disable Device check.
The gemstones inlaid inside the smaller dials are ten times the size of normal gemstones of their type, thus increasing their typical gp value by x 100. They can be relatively easily pried from their resting place with a DC 15 Strength check.
Gemstones and GP Values: ruby (1,668 gp), violet garnet (511 gp), jacinth (1,990 gp), diamond (2,436 gp), bright green emerald (1,973 gp), star rose quartz (412 gp), purple corundum (677 gp), amethyst (359 gp), sardonyx (717 gp), clear quartz rock crystal (112 gp), alexandrite (406 gp), emerald (1,168 gp), chrysoprase (247 gp), star rose quartz (325 gp), jacinth (1,298 gp), red spinel (464 gp), ruby (2,035 gp), carnelian (313 gp)
The Inner Temple Sanctum
The stone doors open to reveal an inclining passageway that continues into the depths. It opens into the temple sanctum, the large chamber that fills the interior of the structure.
The area is 150 feet by 150 feet, boasting a column-supported ceiling some 50 feet high. Narrow shafts leading outside, less than half-an-inch in diameter each, dot the upper half of the walls and create a visual appearance of a sea of stars overhead. The radiant beams cast through the dust-laden air are bright enough in contrast to the darkness of the chamber to illuminate the area with dim light.
In the center of the room is a large 10 foot high solid stone statue of an insectile head. Around the sculpture’s neck—which extends down the the ground—is a stone gorget attached to a round sigiled amulet so large that it rests against the sanctum floor like a table.
Above this massive, round platform, levitates an enchanted blade—Dogovor, Falchion of Accord [next Magic Item Monday, folks! -MM]—that slowly rotates in the open space it is suspended within. If the weapon is removed from it’s location by any means (requiring at least 30 pounds of force), it triggers the awakening of Naghith [tomorrow’s post! -MM]. The stone head sculpture magically transforms into living matter as it rises from the ground below, revealing a massive pit in the center of the sanctum and the other (much larger) portions of its buried body.
Enraged, the Many Winged Father takes flight, immediately collapsing the weakened stone ceiling to expose the sky above, sending debris down upon the PCs as he takes flight above the temple. The adventurers must make a DC 17 Reflex saving throw or be hit by falling debris (2d4 damage).
See tomorrow’s AaWBlog article to find out more about the locust god and its combat tactics as it engages the PCs in an epic battle!