Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
Temple of the Ebon Hand
This temple is a free-standing building on the corner of Golden Elm Way and Discourse Street in the Temple District.
Worshipers of the Ebon Hand revere mutation and deformity. If a member is not deformed naturally (many are), he or she seeks mutation or mutilation. The followers refer to mutation as “the touch of the Ebon Hand.” Priests of the Ebon Hand have no distinctive garb but usually bear some black hand symbol: a tattoo, a charm, a small embroidery on their clothes, and so on. And of course, many of them are physically deformed in some way, ranging from a prominent birthmark to a withered leg to ritual scarring. Priests of the Ebon Hand wear black and red—in particular, black gloves—and must undergo an initiation ritual of chaotic energy. Those who survive gain a special “gift of deformity”.
The wood-paneled walls of the main sanctuary are painted black with narrow red and black stained glass windows. Red carpet covers the floor. Dominating the chamber is a huge sculpture of a black stone hand with fingers pointed up. Each digit sports a black candle set into fingertip niches. In the rear portion of the room stands a black wood cabinet. The doors into the back rooms are wood painted red, bound in bronze. During the ceremony we witnessed, there were four priests here with around a half-dozen worshippers.
The clergy use the two rooms behind the sanctuary for both storage and as offices. They are poorly and haphazardly decorated and mostly in a shambles. The eastern room has a hidden wooden trap door that leads to the temple’s subterranean complex. There were three guards and a single priest (who had a third eye in his forehead!) in the back rooms. There are currently nine cultist/guard corpses thrown into the western storeroom.
This underground chamber appears unremarkable. The north wall has a red tapestry with an image of a black hand, and the floor is covered with a round black rug. Both were magical and animated, attacking the intruding interloper adventurers. The rug has now been destroyed, but Mos figured out that using an Ebon Hand symbol would get the tapestry to stop attacking. He’s talking about possibly turning it into a pet…
This large open room down a short staircase from the guardians contains three tables and a few benches and chairs. On each table is a stone idol of a black hand. Two guards were initially stationed in the commons. There are a lot of blood stains now.
This dread chamber down a staircase from the commons was the heart of the temple. The staircase in the western portion of the room is flanked by large ledges, each reached from the chamber floor by a short flight of stairs. The walls and floor are black-and-red swirled marble. Candles burn in sconces on all the walls. Some of the cultist priests were seen here, monitoring the transformation of a chained-up young victim into a monstrous, hulking brute. Its skin was coal black, with oozing green cracks therein.
The Secret Doors: The eastern wall has two secret doors made of stone.
This room appears to have been a secret lounge for the cultist priests. A comfortable chair and table are in here. The secret door can only be opened by someone holding or wearing an Ebon Hand symbol.
Weapons and armor cover the walls of this chamber down some stairs and south of the commons. Twenty longspears, five longbows, ten heavy wooden shields, six morningstars, and four suits of chainmail hang on hooks and pegs or in wooden racks. A barrel holding one hundred arrows and another with one hundred crossbow bolts stand along the north wall.
The Secret Door: The secret door on the armory’s eastern side leads into Area 11. It does not have a lock. The secret door is a pivoting weapons rack that was used frequently by the cultists.
In the center of this chamber adjacent to the armory lies a large stone slab. This altar is stained with the blood of many living sacrifices and bears the painted image of a large black hand atop it. Black chains, also stained with dried blood, hang from the ceiling above the slab, where sacrifices are attached during the unholy rites conducted here.
The floor of this strangely shaped room is grey stone carved with an intricate maze-like pattern—it seems to shift and move as one looks at it. The place is powerfully evil, and it is believed to be where the cultists received their “gifts of deformity.” Our heroes chose to not enter and investigate further.
The cultists kept two ochre jellies in the room west of the sacrificial chamber. The room is littered with bone fragments and bloodstains, but little else.
The barracks down some stairs south of the commons area holds twenty bunks and a few tables, chairs, and storage chests full of personal items and miscellaneous gear (combs, shaving kits, and so on).
The Secret Door: The secret door in the room’s northwest corner leads into Area 7. It does not have a lock.
The priests’ chamber beyond the barracks holds eight bunks and a few tables, chairs, and storage chests full of personal items and miscellaneous gear (combs, shaving kits, and so on).
The commander’s chamber adjoining the barracks contains a bed, a table, a pair of chairs, a chest of drawers, a wardrobe, and a sparring mat. A shelf held a brass lamp (worth 20 gp). On the table, Mos laid claim to a crystal decanter full of wine and a map of the entire complex, including the secret doors.
The room has a table with chairs, upon which the guards keep a beer keg and mugs, as well as some dice for gaming. The walls have knife-throwing targets and some graffiti.
The chamber down the hall from the guard room has an iron door.
This room across the hall from the prison has an iron door. It held a transformed Child of the Hand, which was put out of its misery by Thorzin Oakwood.
This large room at the end of the hall beyond the prison has ten pairs of manacles hanging from spots on the walls. It also holds wooden stocks, a rack, an iron maiden, and a large iron cage, as well as a small coal oven for heating tongs and irons.
Beyond the secret door in the southeast corner of the ritual chamber (Area 5) lies a sunken area. The northwest section of this room is ten feet lower than the rest of it. This sunken area has a few padded chairs, a table with a silver candelabrum (worth 15 gp), and a silver platter with six silver goblets (worth 80 gp as a set). Wooden bookshelves offer a variety of texts on religion, history, magic, and other esoteric subjects. The secret door from Area 5 opens into this area from behind a bookcase. Stairs in the southwestern corner of the area lead up. The higher area in the eastern half of the room contains a few more bookcases and a long, low table covered with books. There were two cultist priests in this area, sleeping on the padded chairs. One had grotesquely bulging muscles, and the other – the guy who tried to recruit Yona – had oozing boils all over his body. Thorzin whipped out a gun and splattered the oozing guy’s face all over the wall, while Yona dispatched the other cultist priest in a much quieter fashion.
The door to the high priest’s personal chamber was locked. It contains a large bed, two wardrobes, a bathing tub, a wooden table and four chairs, and a large chest. The wardrobes hold clothing and personal belongings of little value.
The Chest: The chest was locked and trapped with a poisoned dart trap that fires when someone opens the chest without the key. It has a secret compartment hidden under a false bottom, which is where the map was found.
This passage at the east end of the temple complex leads off into the undercity.
The room has chairs and a table, with a beer keg and mugs, as well as some dice for gaming. The walls have knife-throwing targets and some graffiti.