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    Postfest I: Sanctuary of the Bloody Hands
    Posted on Fri, August 31, 2001 by Legate
    Taras writes " When are adventurers going to learn to respect the religious practices of others? So what if they happen to spill a little blood in the process...

    Author: Taras Guarhoth

    Sanctuary of the Bloody Hands
    by Taras Guarhoth (
    (Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)

    Location: A rural area, in some lightly wooded hills several miles outside of a small village.

    Exterior: A hill, covered with scrub and gnarled trees, not really standing out from those around it. A weathered stone crowns the top of the hill, indistinguishable from those that mark ancient burial cairns or holy sites. At the base of the hill, hidden among some scrub and trees, is an entrance into the hillside. It resembles the entrance to a natural cave or the lair of some normal animal.

    Interior: The entire temple was once primarily a crypt, and it's interior still shows signs of this. Refer to the crude map located further down for the layout of the temple. Doors close off the rooms from the halls, although it was too awkward to mark them on the "map". Halls are only five and a half feet tall, but the chambers are eight feet tall. No contents are listed for the sarcophagi, and any treasure to be found within is up to the DM's discretion, although nothing will be in those in the prison area.

    1 - Main Temple - This room is very poorly lit. The walls and floor are carved with scenes of a tall, unclothed man hunting and killing other humans with his bare hands. Only a few small, sputtering candles will be lit in here while the temple is being used, and at other times there will be no illumination. A sarcophagus, made of a rusty-red sandstone, serves as the altar. It is carved with the skull and hand symbols of the cult, and bears a flat top, stained with the blood of previous victims. Inside the altar is the body of an ancient Harashim (Flan) mystic who led a cult in the area in ages past. In front of the altar is a pit, of unknown depth, where bodies are tossed. Occasionally, odd sounds are heard rising from the pit's depths. There is little else of note in the main sanctuary of the cult.

    2 - Guardroom - Several sarcophagi are found in this room, as are a table and some chairs. At any time that the cult has kidnap victims in it's prison, there will be at least one cultist in here to keep watch over them. At other times, this room is usually empty.

    3 - Prison - Five sarcophagi are in this room, and they are almost always left open and empty. When the cult has kidnapped someone, they are placed in a sarcophagus and the lid closed. This generally proves to be sufficient to keep prisoners under control. At other times, this room is unoccupied.

    4 - High Priest's Room - This chamber is used by the high priest. Unlike most of the other cultists, he actually stays here at the temple. There are several sarcophagi in here, each of which is covered in carvings of skulls, robed figures, humans hunting and killing other humans, and, of course, the everpresent handprints. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that these weren't the original carvings on the sarcophagi, although what was once carved there can't be determined. Similar carvings cover the walls of the chamber. One of the sarcophagi has no lid, and lacks a body. This is where the high priest of the cult sleeps. A few chairs are the only other furnishings in the chamber.

    5 - Storeroom - Again, sarcophagi can be found in this room, eight in total. Each is still sealed, and no carvings are evident upon their surfaces. On top of them are found the items stored by the cult. Several white robes are found neatly folded and stacked atop one, while a number of scrolls, bearing hyms and prayers to Nerull and Shirat in a Flan dialect, are found on another. Candles, bowls, rusty great sickles, and other such items used by the cult in it's ceremonies can be found scattered about the room. Also located in the room is a locked chest, which holds the cult's meager treasure (a handful of pieces of jewelry taken from victims, a holy symbol from a priest of Pelor kept as a trophy, and some coinage, obviously not much, since most victims have been peasants). If this chest is disturbed by anyone other than the high priest of the cult, five of the sarcophagi will open, releasing five skeletons who will attack those who disturbed them. They cannot be turned, commanded, or otherwise controlled while within the temple.

    The Cultists: There are three priests in the cult, and another eight cultists. The first priest, Malochi ben Udar, is the high priest of the cult, and he's a fifth level specialty priest. The second is Karl Bauer, a second level specialty priest. The last is Salchar ben Valchar, a first level specialty priest. Of the cultists, two are fighters (third and second level), and another three are thieves (fourth, third, third, and first). The remainder are unclassed peasants of no importance. Additional cultists can be dropped in to increase the challange, obviously. For details on the specialty priests, which are in Second Edition format, see The Cult of the Bloody Hands.

    Other Notes: Most likely, players will be sent here in response to a kidnapping (a victim having been taken to supply the necessary body paint for a ceremony, or for the induction of a new cult member) or after a ceremony, when pieces of someone have been found somewhere in the fields outside of a village. The cultists are content to let the PC's make their way to the hill unmolested (unless it's a night of a ceremony, when they will be hunted, like anyone else), but once the PC's have gotten into the sanctuary, the cultists will relentlessly pursue the PC's until the party is dead or the priests have all been killed (at which point, the remaining cultists will flee and try to disappear). Inside the temple, the cultists will use the features of the former crypt to their advantage, such as extinguishing the lights in the main temple room to try and get PC's to stumble into the pit (the cultists know their way around and won't walk into it blindly) or trying to force the PC's to stand in the hallways and engage them from inside the room, forcing the PC's to fight at a disadvantage because of the difference in ceiling heights. Also, the animation of corpses still in the sarcophagi is another tactic that will be used to defend the temple. All will animate as skeletons, except for the body in the altar, which will undoubtably be stronger because of the unholy rites that have been performed over it for untold years.

    On a final note, the pit is at least a hundred feet deep. At it's bottom are a number of broken and decayed bodies, and shattered skeletons. A fall into it would be very painful. Whether there are any connecting tunnles or chambers at the bottom is left up to the DM to decide.

    The ASCII Map:

      ________    ______
     |        |__|      |
     |    3    __   2   |
     |________|  |      |
                 |_    _|
        ________   |  |
       |        |__|  |____|
       |   1     __    ____   Outside
       |________|  |  |    |
                  _|  |_
      ________   |      |
     |        |__|  4   |
     |  5      __       |
     |________|  |______|

    Note: Forgotten Gods, Nerull, Second Edition, Sud Graufult"
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    Re: Postfest 1: Sanctuary of the Bloody Hands (Score: 1)
    by Man-of-the-Cranes on Sun, March 03, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Well done, Taras. I am surprised that there isn't more like this on canonfire. I would have thought that this was the kind of thing that most DM's would want to both read and write.

    This is a good, solid, simple little sidetrek adventure and the kind that whilst may not spur a campaign's worth of hooks, often generates the most memorable roleplaying moment's around many a table.

    I haven't read the linked pieced detailing the priests yet, but I did notice that Taras made it right through the article without mentioning the faith of the cultists. Nerull, right?

    Very easily dropped into the Cairn Hills I am thinking.

    Man of the Cranes

    Re: Postfest 1: Sanctuary of the Bloody Hands (Score: 1)
    by Scottenkainen on Wed, May 22, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    I can only add to Crane's comments something I believe I'd mentioned on Greytalk long ago -- I like the handiness of that ACII map, and hope that becomes more commonplace in any future installments to this subject area.

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