719 Blessing of the Sphinx

The goddess holds the secrets of fire magic. Flames, sparks, and ashes. It is all within the scope of the goddess’s power. One must be fateful to her.

Adages of the Sand Sphinx

Deep within the scorched sands of the Abydos Desert lies a dungeon, known as the Hall of the Sand Sphinx. This hallowed sanctuary, carved into the heart of a great dune, houses the devout followers of a mystical sphinx deity.

Ages ago, Iraeas, a sphinx of immense power and wis­dom, was revered as a deity by a nomadic tribe lost in the desert. The tribe stumbled upon Iraeas during a dire sandstorm. In exchange for her guidance and protection, the tribe vowed eternal servitude, establishing the Cult of the Sand Sphinx. As time passed, the cult grew in se­crecy, developing their connection to the element of fire.

Cult of the Sand Sphinx

The cult is structured around the worship of the Sand Sphinx, Iraeas. Her followers, known as the Pyre Priests, are fervent zealots who believe that through unwavering devotion, they can channel Iraeas’s fiery essence. The cult’s doctrine states that fire represents purity, trans­formation, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge; the same attributes embodied by their feline deity.

In the depths of the desert dungeon lies the Sanctum of Embers, where a statue of Iraeas sits, its eyes glowing with magical fire. The priests believe that an ember of the deity’s soul burns eternally within the effigy.

The Pyre Priests seek to imbibe the essence of Iraeas. Those whose faith and dedication are deemed worthy are granted control over fire magic. These abilities range from conjuring small flames to wielding great torrents of fire without trouble. Alas, some of their ritual involve the sacrifice of animals and involuntary prisoners.

Adventure Hooks

  • The Eternal Flame. A rare celestial alignment is ap­proaching, during which Iraeas’s power is said to surge. The cult plans a grand ritual to harness this energy, po­tentially unleashing a destructive force upon the world. An informant has alerted the authorities of nearby des­ert settlements. The characters are offered a reward to thwart the cult’s immediate plans. (800 gp, 5 XP).
  • A Flicker of Doubt. A cult defector seeks the adven­turers’ help to stop a dangerous ceremony that could escalate the cult’s power to alarming heights. Hadin, a minor cultist, believes that the Pyre Priest leader might summon the Sand Sphinx itself. He begs the characters to follow him back into the cult’s lair before the solstice. Otherwise, it shall be too late to act (0 XP).

Level 6 Adventure

  • Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
  • Light. Cultists refill the areas with bronze, ornate bra­ziers. They burn for 3 hours. Other areas are dark.
  • Fire Magic. Spellcasters within 100 feet of Iraeas’s statue cast any fire-based spell with advantage. It is not necessary to be part of the cult to benefit from this.
  • doors. Access to some areas is restricted (see map). These doors feature high-quality locks (DC 17 DEX check). Only the Pyre Priests carry the keys.
  • Secret Passages. Two secret hallways can be re­vealed by pulling a special brick next to the passage’s threshold by areas 4 and 10 (DC 14 WIS to notice).
1 Upon entering a new area, the party is suddenly enveloped in a vivid mirage of an oasis, a cunning illusion meant to conceal a fire-jet trap (DC 13 INT). Those caught in it are hit by the fire jet that comes out of nowhere (3d6 fire).
2 Ghostly flames flicker, coalescing into a lesser fire elemental that attacks the party as it protects Iraeas’s sanctum.
3 The party stumbles upon a ritual where four cultists attempt to summon a fire elemental by sacrificing a captured traveler.
4 Among charred runes and reliefs on the wall, magical insight reveals the location of the sphinx’s effigy (DC 15 INT check).
5 A radiant crystal embedded on a wall offers glimpses of possible futures (augury spell). However, each vision attracts the atten­tion of the cult. After the casting, one Pyre Priest (mage) and two cultists become aware of the party’s position.
6 As the cultists perform their grand ritual, all fire sources burn up rapidly and become extinguished after a few seconds.

1. Abydos Desert

It is known that the followers of the worshipers live in nearby settlements and gather at the Hall of the Sand Sphinx for ceremonies. To reach the dungeon, the char­acters must travel 4 hours through the desert (DC 12 WIS). On a fail, they are ambushed by a salamander. If Hadin is present, he knows the way through the dunes.

2. Entrance Hall

The chamber is illuminated by a bronze brazier’s flickering flames. Before it, a meticulously carved magic circle vibrates as if following the flames.

  • The Circle. Reading the runes etched on the circle for 1 crawling round reveals it is dedicated to Iraeas, the Sand Sphinx. Scholars know it is a neutral goddess associated with fire and consuming souls (DC 14 INT).

3. Urns of Flames

A grim chamber lined with five gilded urns, each intricately marked with glowing flame runes. Their presence suggests a mysterious ritual or a treasure.

Each of the urns contains the ashen remains of past rit­uals and/or sacrifices. Things are consumed by fire in the rituals and the ashes are kept as they are believed to hold the sphinx’s magic. Alas, a portion of the ash comes from forbidden human sacrifices (DC 15 WIS to notice).

  • Treasure (3 XP). If the characters search the book­case, they find a rack with several spell scrolls: light, burning hands, flame strike, and fireball. One of each.

4. Secret Vault

The cult’s leader, Pontiff Adaggo, is the only person who can enter the vault. He has amassed a considerable amount of wealth to further the cult’s purposes.

  • Treasure (3 XP). The chests contain 170 gp, 2,680 sp, a set of chainmail armor, a potion of forgetfulness, and eight flasks of oil. The two barrels contain a pow­dered explosive and can be used to blow stuff up.

5. Hall of Balance

This is a spacious chamber with four raging braziers casting shadows around a serene pond of crys­tal-clear water. It radiates tranquility amidst the light.

A core tenet of Iraeas, the sphinx, is to seek balance. Hence this pond of clear, fresh water is surrounded by the inferno of the burning braziers. The Pyre Priests come here to meditate and ponder Iraeas’s commands.

  • Guardians. A Pyre Priest (mage) and three junior members (cultists) kneel by the pond to pray. The char­acters may catch them unaware (DC 14 DEX). These cultists fight fiercely to protect the entrance to area 10.

6. Study Room

This chamber is used by the high-ranking priests to study the cult’s literature. It is believed that through hard study and knowledge, they can attain a purer state. A state more ready to accept the Sand Sphinx’s blessings.

  • The Ceremony. A tome named Adages of the Sand Sphinx lies spread on the desk. If a character studies it for 1 hour, they learn of the solstice ceremony. If success­ful, the ritual shall transfer the ember of Iraeas’s soul into the body of a Pyre Priest, empowering him.

7. Pyre Priest’s Quarters

The Pyre Priest, Pontiff Adaggo, is the only cultist who sleeps in the dungeon full-time. This is, though, a utili­tarian room that is used only for sleeping. The wooden wardrobe contains two spare tunics that the characters can use to impersonate one of the Pyre Priests.

8. Tomb of the Fire Seer

An ornate sarcophagus embedded with a large ruby dominates this chamber. The remains of the Fire Seer are interred within. He was the first Pyre Priest and re­mains to this day a figure of worship akin to a saint.

  • Treasure (4 XP). The ruby is worth 200 gp but re­moving it causes a wraith to emerge from the enclosure.

9. Library of Sand

Four bookcases line the walls of this chamber. They con­tain historical recounts, biographies, and arcane trea­tises about the blessings that the Sand Sphinx has con­ferred to the cultists over the cult’s existence.

  • Counter. Exploring the chamber for 1 crawling round reveals a ritual that counters the solstice ceremo­ny being readied in area 10. Only a priest may cast it.

10. Sanctum of Embers

A chapel-esque chamber, adorned with sacred sym­bols. Dominating it is a gilded sphinx effigy, its eyes ablaze with ethereal fire, casting a solemn gaze.

The rest of the cult members gather here in silent prayer to ready the solstice ceremony. Pontiff Adaggo (mage), two cultists, and four peasants become enraged at the characters’ unwanted presence. The zealous believers draw their weapons and fight to protect Iraeas’s effigy.

  • The Sphinx. Once per round, the statue shoots a jet of fire at a random intruder (2d6, DC 12 DEX check).
  • Treasure (5 XP). The statue’s eyes are worth 300 gp each. Stealing them is considered a gruesome offense.


The characters reach the end of this adventure and face the consequences of their valiant deeds.

The Cult Destroyed

The adventurers confront Pontiff Adaggo in the Sanc­tum of Embers and succeed in deadly combat. The cult is destroyed but it may rise again from its ashes in the far future. Strangely enough, the statue of Iraeas issues a telepathic calling to the characters (see Fiery Priest­hood; unless the statue’s eyes have been stolen).

Fiery Priesthood

The Sand Sphinx offers a spellcaster to become the next Pyre Priest. If the spellcaster accepts, they gain great power (access to three random fire-based spells), but they are bound for life to obey the Sand Sphinx’s com­mands. If a Pyre Priest disobeys a direct command, they perish in a conflagration of flames soon after. A charac­ter becoming a Pyre Priest can serve as a great tool to craft new adventures and lead the party into interesting adventures as they fight to further the sphinx’s goals.

Petty Thieves

If the characters remove the sphinx’s eyes for prof­it, Iraeas herself becomes enraged with the party. The sphinx goddess inhabits a different plane but it is in con­tact with other cultish cells in the Material Plane. Soon, the characters become the target of merciless assassins seeking to enact the Sand Sphinx’s revenge. Alas, that is an adventure for another day…

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