Sunday, April 15, 2012

Revisiting The Mega Dungeons Of Indiana Jones -One Year Later! A Campaign Idea For Your Old School Pulp Game Part II Temple Of Doom

The Saturday reviewing of Indianna Jones & the Temple Of  Doom yielded some very interesting adventure ideas. This is considered by many to be a bit of an inferior film to Raiders.. I consider it one of the more D&D like films of the Indy series. There's lots of  places  where a DM could exploit & get the characters on the road of action. Plot works out something like this:  After arriving in India,Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, stumbling upon a Kali-worshipping thuggee cult practicing child slavery, black magic, and ritual human sacrifice. 
One thing that rarely gets mentioned is the fact that this movie takes place in 1935. Raiders takes place in 1936! That's a whole year of action, adventure, & lots of locations where the characters could step into a On Year Before Campaign.
 Club Obi Wan 
The art deco Shaghai night club is the property of Lao Che: A Shanghai crime boss who hires Indy to recover the cremated ashes of one of his ancestors, only to attempt to cheat him out of his fee, a large diamond.
This guy is a crime boss with a huge number of thugs, contacts, etc who wants the ashes of his ancestor the first sovereign emperor of China.

What's so special about those ashes to him? What do we know about him other then the fact that he tries to cheat Dr. Jones from his payment. Where were these ashes recovered from? Is there a Chinese grand temple that remains undiscovered with all of its treasures sitting out there ruined because  Dr. Jones wants that diamond? Who was that diamond for? What happens to that diamond after Willy Scott the famous American actress stole it?
The gold-digging nightclub singer Willie Scott is never seen again. There's no mention of her or that diamond. These things don't exist in a vacuum. 
The Club itself is a wretch hive of scum & high society itself. It could play as the center piece to any adventure in Shanghai where the PCs could meet with any number of foils.
Then there's poor 
Wu Han: A friend of Indiana. He is killed by one of Lao Che's sons while posing as a waiter at the Club Obi Wan. He goes first into that great unknown adventure beyond & he's had many adventure with Indiana before. Like what?  Wu Han might be the perfect foil for a year later adventure. Could his family hire the characters to track down the circumstances surrounding his death? 
Then there's the airline that Lao owns. Could he be using it to funnel black market relics & weapons? You bet! 

The characters could have a hell of a time cleaning up the mess left behind by Indiana Jones One Year Later . Lao Che: A Shanghai crime boss who hires Indy to recover the cremated ashes of one of his ancestors, only to attempt to cheat him out of his fee, a large diamond.  That piece of  ice could be the center for an entire campaign as the characters track down it & the circumstances surrounding that songstress. One year later finds Lao Che still in charge as a crime boss & lots of bodies in the wake of the events of  Temple Of  Doom.  

Rise of the the  Sankara Stones

The five Sankara stones are, wait that's right there's five sacred stones of the God Shiva. That means that the cult of Mola Ram has three. The cult seems to be a mix of elements of Aztec and Hawaiian human sacrificers, and European devil worship.
That's always smelled like a demon or Old One like The Crawling Chaos masquerading as Kali.
The influence of this cult spreads like a plague locally. 

They must have been operating for centuries. The who cult stinks of a grand operation.

Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) is the main antagonist and the Thuggee high priest. He has made Pankot Palace his lair and wants to use the five Sankara Stones to set up the reign of Kali. I don't think we ever got a look at the real power behind the Cult of Mola Ram. Seriously the evil cleric/necromancer always felt like a middle man in a much larger cult! 

The Pangkot Palace Mega Dungeon 

fictional Pangkot Palace from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is riddled with secret passages, hidden temples, & is one of the most forgotten set pieces in the movie.   

The palace on the surface is a place of entertainment, government, the residence of the Maharaja Zalim Singh (Raj Singh) is the ruler of Pankot Palace. He is a young boy, probably a year or two older than Short Round. Despite considering the Thuggee an evil cult and vowing that they would never return, it is revealed that Singh is an unwilling member, having been forced to drink the Blood of Kali. During Indiana's fight against the chief Thuggee guard, Singh hinders Indiana by using a voodoo doll. He is stopped by Short Round, who burns him with a torch, releasing him from the Black Sleep of Kali.
 There are still secrets within the palace after the events of Temple of Doom. What other sacred relics left from the Cult might still be lurking,waiting, etc. What of the man who introduced this man to the palace? 

I'm speaking of this man Chattar Lal (Roshan Seth) is the Prime Minister of Pankot Palace and personal representative of Maharaja Zalim Singh. He graduated fromOxford and speaks English with a pronounced accent as a result, and also knows well Indiana's reputation. Like Indiana he was apparently forced to drink the Blood of Kali by Mola Ram, controlling him, and the young Maharaja. During the attempted sacrifice of Willie Scott, Lal is injured by Indiana when he gets caught in the wheel used to lower victims into the lava pit. He is last seen crawling away and collapsing, but disappears after this. It is unknown if he escaped. In the novelization, Chattar Lal is thrown into the lava pit while in the film he is injured but he doesn't die. 
How did he come under the influence of the Blood of Kali? What or who might have introduced him to its dark mysteries? 
  The second megadungeon of Temple of Doom are the mines themselves where the children are put to work. 

There seem to be hundreds of miles of tracks surrounded by lava no less. They were looking for the other stones.
else could they have been mining for down there?

A cult that big had to have financial backing & the providence of  Pangkot would certainly have noticed a parasite religion living among its people. Could they have traded rare earth elements with a mythos race that might have backed them? Say the Mi Go who are always using human agents among us? Perhaps.. The caverns seem to go on for miles in the Mines Of  Pangkot. There could be hordes of items left from the Time of Shiva, the Biblical Flood or anything else.  Pangkot mines holds its secrets very, very well 

The Centerpiece of the movie is the Temple of "Kali" within which the forbidden rites of the cult occur. This is a cult of assassins & these aren't the traditionally historical Thugs. This is a cult of pulp assassins whose members possibly were contracted world wide for hits on the highest levels of society.  At least that's how I used them.  The temple is still there at the end of the movie at least till the British supposedly clean it out. Could there have been members of this cult who hid behind after the events of Temple of Doom? Sure there could! Could the real power behind Mola Rom still be lurking within to take the reigns once again & begin the search for other stones? Yup without a doubt.. This is a cult that has been around for centuries & its blackness isn't going away because an American Singer, her hero boyfriend, & a kid banish it. 
   The Ten Terrifying Reasons The "Black Sleep of Kali Ma" Can Still Exist! 
  1. The sacred stones are a "good magic item yet the cult is able to use them to spread it's evil god's influence within a 200 mile radius causing famine, plague, depression, & an aura of evil. How? The power of the "Kali Ma" perverts everything it touches! 
  2. The black sleep also prevents the power of "Shiva" from influencing his worshipers within the cult's reach. 
  3. The cult has hundreds of members, priests, etc. yet its goals was to extend its influence & rule the world so there might be other cells of the Black Sleep in other areas of Asia & The world. 
  4. The cult resembles no known Earthly religion. Could the cult actually be a remainder of ancient Atlantis or some other mythos holder from Conan's time or even older. A relic of something from the Center of The Earth! 
  5. This cult too lots of money to operate & would have to have the backing of powerful people within the British government! That's right key members of parliament might have known that the Black Sleep was not only operating but given them their backing, blessing, weaponry, & technology. 
  6. An operation like a mine takes a very solid level of technology & organization. Was there another branch of the Black Sleep we didn't see? Could that branch have escaped? Sure it could 
  7. The Black Sleep resembles a cult mentioned in the Arthur Conan Doyle story The Sign of The Five. Could this be the same group? The blow gun wielding dwarf might have been a Black Sleep agent back in the 1800s. They're reach may extend back centuries 
  8. The Depths of those mines might have crossed into tunnels that lead all the way to the Center of The Earth who knows what might or who is leading the cult now One Year Later
  9. The Black Sleep suffers a set back but is far from out of the pulp villain game. They might begin seeking other occult artifacts & working for another set of up & comers like say the Nazi 
  10.  The Black Sleep is only going to regroup & comeback stronger then the last time! 

Using The Temple Of Doom Within An OSR Game 

The Black Sleep might be operating for thousands of years in various guises. Imagine them within a Conan or other Sword & Sorcery game. It not hard to do. There are so many sources that can be had with a cult like this. Have fun! I've got more to come but I've run out of time for today  


  1. If you are looking for something to add to a Temple of Doom campaign, check out Fritz Lang's "Indian Epic" (a two-part movie consisting of The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb). This is pretty much proto-Temple of Doom with less occult stuff and slower pacing, but a generous amount of classic Langian paranoia, star-crossed love, court intrigue and lots of colourful pageantry. It also features the great Debra Pagett dancing in some very revealing costumes. Masters of Cinema has released an edition for the European market, but I believe there is also one in the US. As entertainment goes, it's very good.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on this one! Hadn't heard of it before! That's sounds right up my alley. I'll have to see if I can find this on!
    Thanks for all of the great information & glad you enjoyed the post! There's more to come!

  3. Okay, okay, this is brilliant, really. In my case, though, I'm thinking of two tracks, one much more Indiana Jones-centric, like you've been posting, but also another where I can just use the "setting material" so to speak, especially making the Club Obi Wan a sort of hub for adventures that pass through Shanghai. There's a lot here, really, because they evoked both the period and the pulp approach of the area so well in those movies. Also, you may have just tipped me over the edge of picking the Weird Adventures book, seems like it would go well with this.... Fantastic stuff, this especially gives me ideas for a "backbone" for the campaign.

  4. That's the idea Greg! There's plenty more where this came from! Thanks!

  5. "This guy is a crime boss with a huge number of thugs, contacts, etc who wants the ashes of his ancestor the first sovereign emperor of China."
    ^^ Crossover possibility: "David" Lo-Pan (Big Trouble in Little China) was cursed by the first sovereign emperor. Could have characters have run in with his minions. Maybe he also seeks the ashes in an attempt to lift his curse.

    Love your ideas of turning Indiana Jones movies into adventures for gaming. It has been too long since I last saw The Temple of Doom. Reading all this really makes me want to track down a copy and watch it again.

  6. I was just rewatching 'Big Trouble In Little China' - "David" LoPan is a classic Lich with characteristics of a ghost ie actually an immortal cursed by the first sovereign emperor powered by the god of The East Jing Di.
    He could appear in any age up to the 80s when Jack Burton takes him out with that 'nice knife'. ;) More to come man!


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