Friday, February 9, 2018

The Hidden Foulness of T1 4 Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer For Your Old School Campaign

Evil broods and grows beneath those blasted stones. This is your chance to drive it back and scatter its forces again!

So the Thirty Year War is raging across Europe, the forces of Fairy & the Elves have taken a severe beating but something isn't right. In the Black Forrest an ancient evil stirs beneath ruins thought blasted from the memory of all good folk!

The events of the Thirty Years War have been on going with the Elven powers moving behind the scenes playing chess with both Catholic & Protestant forces with abandon. But for every stride they make they loss two other pieces across the long ranges of the board. Wretch back to the Black Forest from the bowels of the unreality of Fairyland is one of the most dangerous & diabolical places of the Chthonian gods of old. I'm speaking of the T1-4  Temple of Elemental Evil
it was written by Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer in 1985.  Smack dab in the middle of the latter half of the Thirty Year War comes this classic adventure location washed upon the shores of our local reality.
This event licks the  middle of the Thirty Year War and parallels the events in France.
"Following the Wars of Religion of 1562–1598, the Protestant Huguenots of France (mainly located in the northwestern provinces) had enjoyed two decades of internal peace under Henry IV, who was originally a Huguenot before converting to Catholicism, and had protected Protestants through the Edict of Nantes. His successor, Louis XIII, under the regency of his Italian Catholic mother, Marie de' Medici, was much less tolerant. The Huguenots responded to increasing persecution by arming themselves, forming independent political and military structures, establishing diplomatic contacts with foreign powers, and finally, openly revolting against the central power. The revolt became an international conflict with the involvement of England in the Anglo-French War (1627–29). The House of Stuart in England had been involved in attempts to secure peace in Europe (through the Spanish Match), and had intervened in the war against both Spain and France. However, defeat by the French (which indirectly led to the assassination of the English leader the Duke of Buckingham), lack of funds for war, and internal conflict between Charles I and his Parliament led to a redirection of English involvement in European affairs – much to the dismay of Protestant forces on the continent. This had the continued reliance on the Anglo-Dutch brigade as the main agency of English military participation against the Habsburgs, though regiments also fought for Sweden thereafter.[43] France remained the largest Catholic kingdom unaligned with the Habsburg powers, and would later actively wage war against Spain. The French Crown's response to the Huguenot rebellion was not so much a representation of the typical religious polarization of the Thirty Years' War, but rather of an attempt at achieving national hegemony by an absolutist monarchy."

Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle
against the Huguenots (detail of a painting by Henri Motte, 1881)

The secret legends and teachings about the Temple of Elemental Evil were once a part of every knight's education during the time of Arthur. Germany's knights have a long and very storied history with the forces of darkness & chaos. Thus the Lion & Dragon Retroclone system makes this transition of using the classic Temple of Elemental Evil a bit easier. Fast forward into the Thirty Year War and Germany is a wasteland of battle fields, ruins, with a violence, famine, plague, etc. all a perfect breeding ground for the ancient enemies of man Elves to begin feeding. And they will feed well as scores of humanoids scour the countryside for victims.

The hates of old have returned to stake their claim in Europe for 'the old ways' but guns, violence, and the sword will put them right. But not without the help of noble adventurers! Hommlet is a backwater German village where the royals have forgotten about the plight of both Protestant and Catholic alike.

Hommlet is where Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos comes in handy to help flesh out the NPC agents of Chaos within their own back yard. Any PC getting dragged in the middle of the night to that moat house isn't coming back. The royal families of Germany have forgotten about Hommlet & don't want to remember the battles through the tunnels in the moat house that connects to the temple proper or the horrors that lurk in the dungeons & ruins of the temple itself.
The temple is ground zero for the witch cults of Europe, because its beyond a sacred area that connects to the bowels of Hell itself or at least the Underworld.

For the locals its a place of dream shuttered horror & whispered rumors of atrocities beyond imagining. There's a reason that over the centuries that this part of Germany has produced some of the most militant paladins from the time of Arthur. Now its a different case where the realities of the past are all to real and the alters of the temple run red with the blood of victims of the hordes that have descended on them!
T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil can bedevil the party of adventurers for years as it grows and shrinks with power of the occult in Europe. The cults of witches spread its evil until checked by the Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years' War. The forces of both sides begin to see that there's some sort of cult activity going on

By now however the cult  cells of the temple have taken over key areas of Europe & certain forces of occult evil interfere in events leading to families of adventurers taking on the forces of the temple.
It is perhaps fitting that key Arthurian magic items might help to check the evil most foul of the temple's influence but this is at best a side quest. Both the Catholic & Protestant churches are going to be huge factors when taking on the hidden evils of the temple amid the events of the war. PC's are going to be walking the razor's edge as events & power relationships become shaky at best and dangerous at worst. NPC's of high status are going to be key to battling against the controlling influence of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The moat house is only the beginning here.

The Clark Ashton Smith influence comes in the form of many of the treasures of T1 4 Temple of Elemental Evil. The smallest of artifacts may in fact hold dire secrets! I'm thinking of the classic CAS Ubbo-Sathla (1933) & Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles, The (1958). In these stories the treasures have far darker influence & deadly ironic circumstances that flow around them. Many of the treasures of the moat house and the temple might influence those who have found them on the temple's dark path of oblivion!

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