The forces of good and evil have been in conflict for eons. Some primordial beings and mighty demi-gods have attained such power and position in the universe that it is hard to determine whether their goals are good or bad. However, mortals are more pragmatic. The humanoid peoples have countless stories and anecdotes that describe how the forces of good reign over evil. Loving mothers motivate their young boys who want to become knights to be the best squires. They foment honesty, solidarity, and much faith. Such are the values that good-willed paladins and clerics share.
Nevertheless, the reality is harder than tales describe. The heroes in the stories are never afraid. Their courage is limitless and they can conquer their fears to vanquish evil. But it is not simple to risk one’s life and face living nightmares. Many heroes fall in battle trying to bring peace to their hometowns or people. They get lost and forgotten over time but a few lucky ones have left their mark in the world. Sir Rainard, a paladin of the God of the Forge was one of those folk heroes. The dwarven city of Kog Thoram built a statue in his honor and its people still mourn his death.
Kog Thoram is a dwarven city surrounded by numerous hills and mountains. It is located in a vast rocky territory. The dwarf lords know that their kin have inhabited the areas for millennia. Whole cities have come and gone, therefore, vestiges of ancient dwarven communities lie buried underground. Forever Forgotten.
Sir Rainard has been gone for a year now. Kog Thoram held religious ceremonies to pay respects on the day that the tragedy happened. Pastor Krent was very close to Sir Rainard. It could be said that he is the most enthusiastic person when it comes to preserving Sir Rainard’s memory. Everybody in Kog Thoram says Pastor Krent is the dwarf to talk to if Sir Rainard is the topic of conversation. The pastor is always willing to talk about what he knows, it makes him feel good to remember his dear friend. He feels that the more he describes how Sir Rainard lived, more people shall remember him.
The cherished paladin’s death was the deed of an evil necromancer named Svyx. Sir Rainard had been following the warlock’s tail for months. One day, the courageous dwarf managed to find his enemy’s hideout, about half-a-day away from the city. The necromancer desecrated an ancient dwarven temple with his black magic. In his quest to eradicate evil from this world, Sir Rainard knew it was his rightful duty to get rid of any traces of evil. He fought valiantly but the necromancer came out victorious. The humiliated warrior was imprisoned with serious wounds and left to die. With his last breath, he prayed to his God. In his prayers, he accepted his fate and death. He felt satisfied with the life he led and the things he accomplished. However, he asked the mighty deity to protect his body from the necromancer’s magic. He didn’t want to become a tool of evil in the afterlife. The merciful God granted him this last wish. The knight’s holy symbol protects the dwarf’s remains to this day.
Krent was the first to organize search parties after Sir Rainard went missing. After weeks of searching, they found the ancient temple. It crawled with undead and deadly traps. The pastor’s scouting party was no match to the immortal warriors brought from the dead so they had to flee. The place was branded. Kog Thoram’s authorities stated it was forbidden to approach the structure. That’s why people dubbed the place “The Forbidden Temple”.
No one knows what happened to Svyx. Dwarves have different views on it. Some say Sir Rainard didn’t die in vain and that the necromancer died from their combat as well. Others believe a more powerful evil mage disposed of him. A few say the warlock craved more power and left in search for more of it, implying that Kog Thoram wasn’t appealing to the evil mage anymore. The pastor doesn’t care about these crazy theories. He has a hunch that the Forbidden Temple has the answers to what happened.
The truth is that Svyx left the temple from his own accord. He was swamped with frustration when he realized the knight’s corpse couldn’t be reanimated. However, he was aware of the paladin’s reputation in Kog Thoram. He knew they would look for him. Since the holy symbol’s magic prevented him from desecrating his corpse, he decided to make it impossible for others to reach him. He filled the place with traps, dirty magic tricks, and undead creatures, immortal guards instructed to stand their ground and guard their posts indefinitely. These vestiges of what they once were would prevent anyone from meddling with Sir Rainard’s remains. Besides, without a proper burial, his soul shall linger in limbo for eternity. It wasn’t ideal, but Svyx thought it was a clever way to humiliate and get back at him. Thus, the evil warlock abandons the Forbidden Temple and leaves the rocky lands of the dwarves forever.
Krent feels compelled to find out the truth. After he speaks with the church authorities, they grant him a budget to accomplish his task. Pastor Krent believes the remains of Sir Rainard are still in the Forbidden Temple. Krent knows Sir Rainard carried a beautiful holy symbol of the God of the Forge and a masterwork set of armor that matched his war maul. He can offer 75 gold pieces to each of the brave heroes that accept the job.
Krent specifies that the mission is to recover Sir Rainard’s remains or whatever is left of him. He says that getting rid of any pests in the Forbidden Temple is appreciated in case they don’t find any of Sir Rainard’s belongings or a trace of his remains. But something tells the pastor the heroes shan’t return empty-handed.
The following descriptions of areas 1 through 8 correspond to the Forbidden Temple map.
Terrain. The floor is conformed by large stone tiles. They are in good shape though some of them show wear marks and erosion damage.
Doors. All of the doors in the temple are made of oak wood, moldy and old. Their locks do not work anymore. Svyx rigged some of the doors and entrances with traps. See the individual descriptions of each area to learn their mechanics.
Light. There are no sources of light in any of the areas. The Forbidden Temple is in complete darkness.
Smells and Sounds. The rotting corpses of zombies have filled the Main Hall (area 2) with their pestilence. Most of the cells (area 8) contain corpses and skeletons. The air is heavy, warm, and disgusting from the number of dead bodies accumulated.
After the small and empty waiting room, there are two corridors to the north and south 5 feet from the Main Hall (area 2). Each corridor is 10 feet long and has a jewel-encrusted bust of a dwarf at the end. The eyes of the dwarves are precious stones (rubies). Svyx counted on the dwarves’ greed and love for jewels so he hexed the busts.
Removing the stones from a bust triggers the trap. The bust explodes into a thousand pieces. Any creature in a 10-feet-long straight line from the bust that was triggered must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or take 13 (4d6) bludgeoning and piercing damage on a failed save or half as much damage in a successful one. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals a thin outline on the stone of the busts, hinting they have been tampered with. A character using thieves’ tools can remove the jewels safely with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check.
2. Main Hall
This massive chamber has seven 20-feet-tall identical pillars holding balconies with corridors above (areas 4 and 5). This chamber is 45 feet wide and 60 feet long. There are two ghouls and four zombies in this area. They are standing near the pillars, grunting and making low-pitched pant noises. They attack any living thing that enters the area. The enemies standing 20 feet above in the balconies (area 5) also attack and participate in this combat. The only exit from this area is the door to area 3 in the middle of the south wall.
The entry door to the stairs (area 3) has a glyph of warding spell on it. Opening or destroying the door triggers the glyph. The glyph casts a fireball spell when triggered. Any creature in a 20-feet-radius sphere centered on the door must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 20 (6d6) fire damage on a failed save or half as much in a successful one. The glyph is invisible to the eye. It can be perceived with a detect magic or detect traps spell. The glyph can be removed with a dispel magic spell. Whatever remains of the door is destroyed after the trap is triggered.
Both sets of switchback stairs go up 20 feet. They are the only access to the balconies (area 5). The area at the bottom of the stairs is protected by two animated armors. The armors are standing at the feet of each set of stairs. Their mission is to prevent anyone from going up.
The north and south balconies are 45 feet appart. The central corridor is 45 feet long as well. Any creature that falls from these corridors must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw to grab the edge or take 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage from the fall.
A skeleton archer stands in each of the four balconies (north and south). They are instructed to fire arrows to any intruders in the Main Hall (area 2). The skeletons draw rusty shortswords if they engage in melee combat.
There isn’t anything of value in this room. There are an old bed and an empty bookshelf. This was where Svyx slept before he abandoned the place. Another set of stairs goes up 10 feet and leads to a wooden door. It has a glyph of warding spell on it. Opening the door triggers the glyph. The glyph casts a lightning bolt spell when triggered. Any creature in a 30-feet-long straight line north from the door must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 20 (6d6) lightning damage on a failed save or half as much in a successful one. The glyph is invisible to the eye. It can be perceived with a detect magic or detect traps spell. The glyph can be removed with a dispel magic spell. The glyph reappears in 10 minutes regardless if it was either spent or dispelled.
There are three ghasts waiting by the trapdoor. They attack any living creature that crosses the wooden door. The trapdoor is moldy and in bad conditions like the doors. It is not locked. It descends 40 feet underground and leads to the cells.
The shaft to go down has a trap. Touching any of the inside walls of the shaft triggers the trap. Poison darts fly inside the shaft and hit whoever is climbing down. Any creature in climbing down the shaft must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 1 (1d2) piercing damage and be poisoned for one hour. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals the slits where the darts come out and a difference in depth on the trigger wall. A successful DC 14 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to climb down allows a character to do so without activating the trap after a character has revealed the locations of the shooting holes and trigger points.
There are eight identical cells in this area. The ghost of Sir Rainard lingers in this area. He is enraged and angered because he thinks his friends abandoned him. He is under the impression that no one ever made an effort to find his body and give him a proper burial. These dark feelings render him prey to hate and fear. Sir Rainard (ghost) and three shadows unleash their fury on any mortal that dares enter this place. On the north wall, there are two 5-feet-tall platforms. Two skeleton archers shoot arrows to living creatures that enter the area.
Sir Rainard’s ghost recovers its calm when he drops to 0 Hip Points. It is possible to speak to him then. If the adventurers explain why they are there and their relation with Priest Krent, the former knight understands and lets the adventurers take his body and his belongings. He explains why he was filled with anger and apologizes for his unknightly behavior. He points at his body in his cell. A magnificent holy symbol of the God of the Forge lies on top of a massive armor. The holy symbol glows with a faint, eerie blue light.
Treasure. Sir Rainard’s armor ( plate +1) and maul (warhammer +1) are still intact. He also carried a leather bag with 150 gold pieces. His backpack contains adventurers’ tools and trinkets. Sir Rainard’s Holy Symbol has a value of 300 gold pieces since it is made of marble, inlaid with ivory. The fact that it is an object blessed by the God of the Forge has no monetary value.
Bringing Sir Rainard’s remains to Kog Thoram is such an event that the whole city celebrates. Priest Krent and the church followers place an enormous pyre in front of the paladin’s statue. If the adventurers want to keep or negotiate the purchase of either the armor or war hammer, they must make a successful DC 18 Persuasion check to convince Krent. Otherwise, he says he cannot allow his friend to be buried without his armor and weapon.
Krent demands that Sir Rainard’s holy symbol stays in Kog Thoram. There is no way to change his mind on the subject. Any attempt to steal the relic or Sir Rainard’s armor and maul are stopped by the full force of the dwarven city. Krent doesn’t ask about the gold coins that Sir Rainard had when he died though. He pays the adventurers the agreed-upon amount and Kog Thoram grants the heroes a badge and the title of “Friend of the Kog Thoram”. This allows the adventurers to stay at any tavern or inn in Kog Thoram at no cost.