236-1 Chromatic Shrine


About this Resource

This resource features the general description of a local place of worship which hides a dangerous dungeon. It includes adventure ideas that are appropriate for mid-level (Levels 6 to 10) adventur­ing parties. Challenge Rating (CR) is calculated using a party of four as the model.

The DM is free to change or modify any or all the information found here. NPC names and settlement names are the first the DM should consider changing to accommodate any homebrew world lore. To modify the challenge rating of the adventure, the DM must first con­sider the power level of the party. Considering the PCs’ individual levels and the number of players is crucial to presenting a good challenge. Not all parties are the same, different playing styles and command of the system in the party can increase or decrease their effectiveness in en­counters. The DM may adjust the encounters slightly by adding or subtracting monsters. Alternatively, controlling monsters with more intelligence and strategy is often the easiest way to raise the difficulty of an encounter. When monsters are referenced, the creature’s name is noted in bold. Only creatures from the Monster Manual are cited.

Background Lore

The Chromatic Shrine is a fabled location within the Ardennian Kingdom. Not many know of its existence because it appears to have no origin or purpose. It is located next to the northeastern border of the kingdom, about three hours north of Dracotia. The shrine consists of a large door on the face of a large rock outcropping and a fountain (not in the illustration).

The fountain features the statue of an androgynous person holding a jar and pouring water on a shallow stone basin. The water pours steadily and it never stops. Despite the limited size of the jar, a magical aura keeps the water coming out. The basin constantly overflows and drips into the immediate forest floor around it. Under sunlight, however, the water reveals a strange quality. It shines in several different colors, five to be exact. The visual effect is similar to that of combustible oil mixed with water but restricted to five colors only. Despite this phenomenon, the water has no chemical traits, nor is it toxic if drank.

A large dark-blue stone door towers behind the statue. It is made of an alloy of adamantine and some other unidentifiable metal. The eroded remains of ancient runes decorate the door and give it a bas-relief appearance. Just like the fountain water, the door shines with many colors under sunlight. The visual effect makes it seem as if the door were laced with glitter. No one has ever managed to open this door in recorded history, nor does anyone care.

Key and Entrance

The only way to open the door to the Chromatic Shrine is to place the flower-key on the basin when sunlight touches the water. The colors on the water intensify and the great adamantine door slides sideways. The flower-key appears to be a brooch in the shape of a five-petal flower. Each petal is of a different color: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue respectively. Careful examination of the key reveals that the flower vibrates faintly if it is pointed in the direction of the Chromatic Shrine. This happens regardless of the distance to it and will lead any person curious enough to follow the path.

An appropriate place for the party to find such a key is as part of the treasure in a different dungeon or place unlikely to have been visited before. It could also be a piece of jewelry of an unknowing lady or member of the nobility, perhaps they never noticed the vibration or gave it no importance.

The Chromatic Shrine

 The builders of the Chromatic Shrine left this world eons ago. The original purpose of the shrine was to imbue the essence of the weave of magic onto physical objects. This process transformed a mundane object into a magical object capable of manipulating a certain aspect of the weave. It is known that most magical items were created a long time ago. Whether the secret to creating these objects was lost to time or simply not possible to today’s mages is anyone’s guess. This is what makes the Chromatic Shrine such an important location. It is a kind of factory of magical devices.

In order to use the shrine as intended, a visitor must first access the central hub where the chromatic forge is. Any spellcaster can power the forge by focusing his or her own magical power on the forge. This is equivalent to spending a level 3 spell slot. Five locations within the underground complex feature a magical/mechanical device that produces a special kind of paint or tincture. A visitor must visit each of these chambers and take a sample of the tincture back to the central hub. The object to be enchanted must be drenched with the five different colored tinctures and placed on top of the arcane forge. Only the builders of the shrine could manipulate the delicate and precise process of enchantment to their own needs. A visitor has no agency in what kind of enchantment is placed on the object, however.

Area Descriptions

  1. Entrance Hallway. A forty-feet-long hallway that marks the entrance to the central hub. A passive Perception score of 16 or higher or a successful DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the presence of a secret door and the trigger brick to open it. It leads to Area 3. 
  1. Central Hub. The arcane forge dominates the chamber. It is immobile when found but a spellcaster can spend a level 3 spell slot to power it. Once it is activated, the color triangles move around in circles slowly. An object drenched with the five tinctures and place on top of the forge is imbued with magic over a period of two hours. Once the forge is used, further usages require a higher spell slot to function. Each subsequent use adds one to the required spell slot (4, then 5, and so on). Otherwise, the forge functions once more with a level 3 spell if it is left alone for a week. 
  1. Secret Room #1. A single wooden chest is the only thing in the room. The chest is made from an unknown type of wood which no character recognizes. It appears to be resilient enough to stand the passage of time better than other known woods. The chest contains crumbled unreadable books and one-hundred old gold coins of an ancient civilization. The coins are square and have a goat-shaped sigil engraved on one side. 
  1. Blue Tincture Chamber. The blue tincture basin is in this chamber. It is not alone, however. 2 stone elementals emerge from the walls and tower over the basin. They attack anyone willing to take the blue tincture. If the characters have a way of communicating with the golems, they explain that they were tricked into a perpetual deal. They must remain in the chamber indefinitely and protect the tincture from visitors unless they pay 2 rubies each. Since they cannot leave the chamber they can never fulfill the payment. If the party are willing to supply the rubies, the golems thank them and leave the shrine never to return. A successful DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the presence of a secret door and the trigger brick to open it. It leads to Area 5. 
  1. Secret Room #2. A single wooden chest is the only thing in the room. It is similar in material and contents to the one in Area 3. A short bookcase holds a few books still in good conditions, despite the passage of time. One of them features several illustrations of the shrine builders. They were humanoid but taller than average humans. Their features are androgynous, similar to the statue outside of the shrine. 
  1. Guardians from Beyond. The ghosts of six ancient guardians emerge from their sarcophagi and stand tall. They inquire about the PCs reasons for using the forge. If their intentions are found to be noble and with the purpose or giving more life than taking it away, the ghosts stand aside and let them pass. Otherwise, they ask the PCs to leave. If a battle breaks out, the ghosts attack without mercy. 
  1. Red Tincture Chamber. The red tincture basin is at the bottom of this chamber.
  1. Library. Only a bookcase remains of what once was a well-organized library. A detect magic spell reveals that an abjuration aura protects the bookcase and its contents from the passage of time. A cursory look of the book reveals them to be history, fables, and myth books. Some of the titles and stories appear to point to the fact that the androgynous civilization that built the shrine parted a long time ago to live in a different plane of existence. The exact location is never mentioned, nor is the name of the civilization. 
  1. Red Sage. The immortal spirit of one of the creators of the shrine rests in this location. The sarcophagus is made of the same material as the main door to the dungeon and it cannot be opened. The voice from the sage can be heard in the minds of anyone within the room. It speaks in a strange language but anyone can understand him through the telepathy trick it uses to communicate. The sage explains how the arcane forge works but warns any visitors that hard trials await to any that wishes to collect all tinctures. It also warns the party that people with bad intentions will surely find a prompt demise if the qualities of the shrine are misused. 
  1. Old City Councilors. The ghosts of the city councilors of an ancient city lie dormant here. They were supposed to be rational creatures like the ghosts in Area 6 but the large wait has driven them mad. Now they are but shadows of their former selves. The 4 wraiths attack anyone who approaches their sarcophagi. 
  1. Orange Sage. The chamber was intended to hold an immortal representation of a member of the ancient civilization but something happened. The sarcophagus is broken. A tear reaches the central cavity where the bodily remains of someone rest. The spirit of the sage either vanished or escaped long ago. 
  1. Orange Tincture Chamber. An echo of the vital force of the missing sage in Area 11 is here. It manifests in the material world as an invisible stalker. Once it chooses a target, it will not stop until the target dies. This creature follows its target to any other location within the shrine but it cannot leave the complex. 
  1. Green Sage. The immortal spirit of the sage in this chamber can still communicate but its thoughts are not translated properly. It is in a process of mental decay after such a long time. It is not possible to hold a coherent conversation with it, but it explains that there is a chance that items created with the forge are cursed if it is not handled correctly. The correct way of using it is not disclosed, however. 
  1. Green Tincture Chamber. The green tincture basin is in the chamber. Six decorated sarcophagi line the north and south walls. They open and six skeletons emerge from the stone boxes. The skeletons are not aggressive and talk courteously to any visitors. After such a long eternity of servitude, they would like to hear any news from the outside world, and if possible exchange a few riddles with the PCs. Like the elementals in Area 4, these creatures are not here willingly as they were also tricked into pledging their eternal life to guard the shrine. Their exit condition is to place 20 different kinds of flowers on the arcane forge. Since they cannot leave the shrine, doing this is not possible. 
  1. Secret Room #3. A single wooden chest is the only thing in the room. It is similar in material and contents to the one in Area 3. The chest also contains an old spellbook of what appeared to be an archmage. 
  1. Yellow Tincture Chamber. The yellow tincture basin is in the chamber. For some unapparent reason, this chamber is larger and better decorated than the other chambers with the tincture basins. Six sarcophagi line the walls opposite the entrance to the room. The boxes’ lids stand aside and six ghasts in plate armor emerge. They carry longswords and greatswords. They are talkative too. They explain that no mortal of the young races is allowed to use the forge and offer the chance to leave unharmed. Otherwise, they fight to the death. A successful DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the presence of three secret doors and the trigger bricks to open them. They lead to Area 15, Area 17, and Area 18. 
  1. Secret Room #4. A single wooden chest is the only thing in the room. It is similar in material and contents to the one in Area 3. There are 5 potions of healing and one +1 longsword are inside. 
  2. Secret Library. A large bookcase dominates the narrow chamber. A detect magic spell reveals that an abjuration aura protects the bookcase and its contents from the passage of time. The several volumes of this library describe the precise way to manipulate the arcane forge and its creations. Studying the material here requires translation magic and at least six months of study. After this period, the appropriate command words for the forge are revealed. There is one caveat, the forge controller must power the device with a grandiose amount of magical power. A level 9 spell slot must be spent each time the forge is used using this method.

General Features

These are the general features of the Chromatic Shrine. It is located in a forest near the northeastern border of the Ardennian Kingdom. The known area is an outdoors fountain of an androgynous person pouring water on a basin. The water features five colors under sunlight.

Terrain. The floor in the Chromatic Shrine is made of granite floor tiles. Most of them are in good condition and, thus, pose no obstacle for movement.

Doors. The dungeon’s main door can only be opened by placing the chromatic key in the basin outside (not in the illustration). Other doors within the complex are all stone reinforced doors. They slide sideways automatically if a creature moves within 5 feet from them.

Light. Some locations feature magical braziers or magical candle holders. They are perpetually on. A dispel magic or similar spell can turn any of these lights off for an hour. Other areas are in complete darkness. None of these devices produce any heat or sound.

Smells and Sounds. The Chromatic Shrine has been enclosed for a long time. A sterile, dusty smell pervades the location. No sound is heard except the echoes of any sounds the visitors produce.

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