Temple of Elemental Evil – Part 1

Recounted by: Jameson Sheehan

Our long campaign began with the adventure module, The Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax. I didn’t join the campaign until Level 3 of the temple, around two-thirds through the whole module. Because of that, I won’t be able to go into a detailed overview of the campaign before then, but I have obtained a few anecdotes from the other players of that time.

The campaign started off in a small town called Hommlet. There the players encountered a cleric by the name of Turgeon, a righteous servant at the local temple. I’m not sure which god he was devoted to, but he was a strong agent of good who would later protect the town and the party against some of the horrors to come. After arriving to the town, the party heard about the Moathouse, an outpost for the Temple of Elemental Evil where bandits and other unsavory folk could be found.

At this time the party was made up of only 3 players, so they were definitely in over their heads as the module is quite difficult for even a full party of 4 – which they quickly learned the hard way. Two of the players were Mike and Gabe, who are regulars of our podcast series.

At the Moathouse, they fought through a bloody mess of undead and cult members dedicated to the evil demoness Zugtumoy and the demi-god Iuz. These two great powers were the leaders of the Temple. The party managed to corner the head priest at the Moathouse and learned more about the villainy brewing at the Temple.

Aside: I don’t know whether the party figured this out here or later, but in the background of what was occurring here was the machinations of Iuz. He was attempting to unleash horrors upon the world that would lead to its destruction. There were seven seals that he was attempting to break, each one leading to a greater evil being unleashed upon the world. One of the seals unleashed flying demons who would have destroyed Hommlet had Turgeon not created an aura of protection around the town. Another seal unleashed a colossal monster that rampaged across the world leaving great swathes of destruction. The final seal would release the imprisoned Zugtumoy to claim the weakened world above.

After leaving the Moathouse, the party decided to investigate the Temple to find out what evil was brewing there. On their way, they there they ran into a wizard who decided to join up with their cause. Arriving at the Temple, they found a lone, partially-wrecked tower outside the greater structure of the temple. Deciding to inspect the tower first, they carefully approached and began to make a plan on how to enter the tower in case there were cultists or other enemies inside. Should they open the door and have the wizard blast inside? Try to sneak inside? Fire a volley of arrows? Nope. The barbarian just opened the door and charged. Into a large group of cultists. All three original party members quickly fell to their foes, the first deaths of the campaign. The wizard fled to Hommlet. This became the first near TPK of many. The player of the barbarian left the group at this point.

Good riddance.

Upon returning to Hommlet, the escaped wizard found three new friends (shocking!): Toki – a cleric of Sarenrae, Sneazy – paladin, and a heavily armored fighter. Turgeon, angered at the wizard’s act of leaving his friends behind (although it was all that saved him), cursed him so that he would be unable to run away from his allies if he was within 10 feet of the Temple.

The gods can be fickle from time to time.

The party then returned to the Temple, cleared out the tower and journeyed in to the first and second floors of the Temple. I don’t have any details of that endeavor, but for 2 encounters, both involving fumbles…

The first involved a regular fumble resulting from a d20 roll of a 1 on an attack roll. (For context, when an attack roll results in a fumble or a crit, or magic fumble occurs our gaming group rolls a percentile die and compares it to a chart to see what crazy result happens.) Well, on the list of attack fumbles, a result of 84 and 85 summon a black dragon that is aggressive to all those around where it is summoned. The dragon can range from the smallest little youngling all the way to the greatest meanest great wyrm. Suffice to say, we feared 84s and 85s on this chart. When the party was in the first levels of the Temple, one such roll occurred and a large extremely old Black Dragon was summoned who unleashed fury upon the party and their foes. The dragon, though, got quite bored with fighting the party and decided to just summon something to take care of us. Poof! Hundreds of carnivorous butterflies appeared to attack everyone in sight…

The resulted in another death of the party.

The second incident occurred during the fight with the butterflies. Travelling with the party was a mercenary by the name of Stile. While fighting the butterflies a magic fumble occurred, and Stile suddenly DISAPPEARED! After the fight, the party began searching for Stile to see where he went. They eventually came upon a trail of blood that lead into a man shaped tunnel going into a wall that seemed to continue on forever. The party peered deeper into the tunnel and it appeared to shrink down gradually further and further until they couldn’t go any further into the continued depth of the tunnel. And thus the horror of what occurred was realized: Stile had been magically cursed by wild magics gone awry to be impacted into the wall and submitted to the fate of being ground down slowly cell by cell, layer by layer of his body until all that remained of him was a goo of flesh and blood.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the magic sustained his life until the very end. The Temple of Elemental Evil was surely living up to its name.

Next week we will continue the story with the discussion of level 3 of the Temple, and a commentary on character introduction and the powers of prayer.

Until next time, this has been Tales from the GM.

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