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Temple of the final battle

   
Temple of the final battle

So, I have been running and writing this D&D campaign for a really long time now. some of it are pre-written modules I've strung together, others are ones I have written myself. All of it takes place in my own homebrewed world.

In this, the players have found out that a demon lord is trying to ascend into godhood. If he is to succeed, there is no telling what havoc he would unleash upon the world. He has even created a cult to himself to aid in this endeavor. He was sealed away long ago by five of the lesser gods, each making a "display" weapon as keys, each one to represent their favored weapon. The keys were removed long ago and spread abroad, but (due to a whole side story I won't get into detail here) the spell has been weakening over the past few thousand years. If the keys are not replaced, and a new spell cast to reinforce the first, he will be set free.

at this point, the PCs have found all the keys and are returning to their B.o.Op to get their final mission where they gateway is located.

It's the end of the campaign and I'm having a little trouble designing the final temple. Heres what I have so far...

The PCs return to find their B.o.Op in flames. Their guide and mentor lays dying with no way to save him (he's a celestial being slain by a celestial killing blade) With his dying breath, he gives the PCs a hint to the location of his journal, which will give the details of their final mission.

The final temple is located in the region's equivalent of a rainforest. Due to the danger within, the local kingdom has posted signs along its border. Adventurers are highly encouraged not to enter, but it is not forbidden. The deeper into the forest one enters, the larger and more dangerous the local fauna and it's people become. I'm thinking some random encounters, rolled on a table and ending with a fight with a dire anaconda, leading to the next stage. Also, this forest is protected by the god of druids and the forest. He has imbued the forest with an antimagic field. Only druid and divine spells work here.

After the anaconda, the encounter will lead them to run into a tribe of forest giants. This will give the PCs a proverbial fork in the road. They may proceed straight to the temple, which the giants are willing to guide them to, or they may attempt to restore their arcane abilities by drinking from a local fountain. The catch? the fountain is guarded by a hydra. (unbeknownst to the PCs, the antimagic field extends only over the forest itself and does not enter the temple. So either way, the mage will get his powers back. the Hydra fight is merely to get them to burn resources)

The Temple is Mayan like in design with five floors above ground and five below ground. While it may look like your typical pyramid above ground, as a whole, it is designed in more of a diamond shape. The entrance to the temple will be on the top floor and will proceed downward, with the seal to the demon's prison being in the bottommost sub-basement level... and that's where I am stuck.

I have several trap and puzzle ideas that I've found here and there, and I know I want to scatter several Lizardfolk and Bugbears throughout the temple, but, as a whole, I'm not sure how I want to design this thing. Any advice would be gratefully accepted.

If it was built as a prison the path could be a downward spiral. Each loop draws itself into a tighter arc until you get to the prison at the "pinnacle" of the inverted pyramid.

As they move down the winding path they must bypass the locks, traps, and defenders. It's a straight up dungeon crawl. I would take a book from the old dwarven playbook an make the path very narrow which favors defenders. It also makes traps harder to evade, and requires the thief to be on top of his game.

This will magnify the effect of a few bad rolls in a row, because you have fewer options to bypass.

The top floors of the pyramid would be living areas, storage, kitchens. The below ground levels I would devote to the prison. Are you planning on having any other prisoners here?

The idea of a Mayan-like temple suggested to me that the layout of the temple might be based around astronomy.

Maybe something like this: there’s an entrance room with a map of the floors carved on a stone table in the middle. It has easily comprehensible symbols that represent the planets and the constellations, and one that represents the demon’s prison. The entire place is a maze, but the map makes clear the route that one needs to take to get to the prison — or seems to. On the ceiling is a very exact astronomical depiction. But the moment you try to follow the map, it becomes obvious that the complex isn’t actually laid out like that.

This is because the rooms shift every night at midnight, and reconfigure to match the heavens. The astronomical depiction is telling you what the map corresponds to. With that information, and some observation of the skies, your party’s high-Int wizard (assuming that you have one) who may be feeling a need to shine after going through the forest unable to use his or her magic, can plot a route to the prison.

The Lizardfolk who have occupied in the temple have long since figured this out, and are one way that the players can get this information if they don’t have appropriate skills or roll badly. The Bugbears are actually trapped in the temple and trying to find a way out.

Another possible detail is that, as you get closer to the demon, his power increases, and he can affect things outside his prison. For instance, he can animate corpses and send them at the players. They fight a group of bugbears on one of the lower levels, and - immediately after they have won - the dead bugbears get back up and start attacking them.

Also, the demon can read minds and communicate with the players once they are in the temple. He starts trying to convince them that everything that they think they know is wrong, tempt them with what he can do for them once he is released, weaken their morale — you know the drill. If any of them have any secrets, he ferrets those out of their memories and uses them. No, they won’t fall for it, but I think it could be a nice touch to give them a chance to talk to the Big Bad of the campaign while they’re making their way towards him.

I’d make the demon lord disarmingly reasonable. He just wants to be a god. Yes, he could do all those awful things, but once he’s a god, the world and the people in it will be in his power. Why would he want them damaged? He’ll expect their reverence and submission, but it won’t be that bad. Good, in a way. He’ll be a more active god, who helps his favored mortals. Have the players noticed how the gods that they worship are expecting them to stop him from joining their number, and aren’t exerting their godlike power to take care of this problem themselves? Besides, what’s the point of trying to stop him? Even if the player characters succeed (and he’ll explain all the reasons why they probably won’t), sooner or later the spell will weaken again, and there will come a time when he’s free. He has eternity on his side.

Finally, if there are any of the cultists left, they could have also headed for the temple and be intending to hunt down the players and stop them. One ghoulish touch could be a group of cultists who deliberately killed themselves so that the demon could reanimate their corpses to stop the player characters. After the fight with the animated corpses, the characters find a diary on one of them that reveals how they got there.








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