The party has ventured deep into the heart of the mini dungeon in the moat house, found about the rumors of the advancing forces of the Temple, & gotten themselves deep into the brigands being recruited in Nulb. And the party is in deep way over their heads!
As a dungeon master its easy to forget the deadliness & old school weirdness that makes up Gary Gygax's magnum opus The Temple of Elemental Evil. The sheer epic old school nastiness that went into the design of this mega adventure is inspiring. In my humble opinion T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil is perhaps the finest RPG adventure module ever.
Today I was quietly going over The Black Gate magazine article Modular: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Temple of Elemental Evil.
A really fantastic overview & commentary on the history of my favorite module. The thing I love about Temple of Elemental Evil is the flow of the old great old school adventure. How easily this beloved module can actually be adapted to OSR games & retroclone systems.
Long time readers of this blog will know that I've run T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil numerous times with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd edition & Dark Albion.
Painting by Julian Russel. Story of the Black Prince at the battle of Crecy. At his feet lies the body of the dead King John of Bohemia.
Time & again I've seen players take on T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil as a light weight & old fashioned adventure. As soon as the players are creating new PC's the insidious nature of the adventure location becomes evident. Even experienced players fear & loath the forces of darkness of this venerable adventure location.
Why does the place seem to have such a hold on players? Because its one of the mega dungeons with a flesh out history set against the backdrop of Greyhawk. What could be better?
"The temple referenced in the module's title is an unholy structure located in the central Flanaess not far from the city-state of Verbobonc. In 566 CY, forces of evil from Dyvers or the Wild Coast constructed a small chapel outside the nearby village of Nulb. The chapel was quickly built into a stone temple from which bandits and evil humanoids began to operate with increasing frequency. "
Once again their are those pesky & dangerous humanoid forces spawned deep within the unholy depths of the Temple. The whole place is a dungeon cancer on the face of the the central Flanaess.
'Orcs on the march' By David Sutherland from the AD&D Monster Manual, TSR, 1977.
The whole point of T1-4 is to break the back of the central Flanaess or the central points of civilization wherever the temple is centered. This is a legendary evil & a hate from old Hell bent on taking out your home campaign world.
Tactics & Tricks for using T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil
- The Temple of Elemental Evil is not one cult but a series of interlocking cults of evil spread throughout the Underworld, bottom end of world's criminal elements, destroying the temple isn't going to obliterate the religion that spawned it. It will slink back into the shadows to destroy the PC's another day.
- Dungeon masters should speak with players about the serious nature of PC death involved when undertaking T1-4 before simply throwing them into the deep end.
- The Sword & Sorcery aspect of T1-4 is evident & should be taken fully advantage of by dungeon masters. This is an adventure that is a mini campaign unto itself.
- Unorthodox tactics with The Temple of Elemental Evil will get PC's killed or worse.
- The temple's treasures are many & DM's should take full advantage of the dangling adventure plots that they create on their own.
- This is an active dungeon & rival parties of NPC adventurers should be used to the DM's advantage. Treasures taken, routes screwed with, PC's attacked,etc. The whole nine yards of dirty DM tricks should be on display here.
- The temple is a law unto itself & the factions within it will be playing PC's off each other and other NPC groups.
- The forces outside of the temple are just as dangerous as the monsters within it.
- Tips & tricks of the temple can be laid in ambush for player's PC's. This is one of the ways that one of my PC's died on his way to the temple. Brigands are the DM's NPC friends.
- The magick of the temple reaches deep into several of the mini dungeons that DM's can create for themselves outside of the temple.