Hidden above an alcove behind a forgotten waterfall could be one of the last intact temples of a long persecuted religious order dedicated to the worship of their water elemental patron.
The Yurl Bridge was built over the Urthan River by a consortium of merchants during the great three year flood to allow easier travel between the city of Calurn and the trading town of Fortlen. The Urthan river is a rough river that dug itself into many cliffed areas and is generally a rough white water river throughout its last 100 miles before it hits the ocean. Just north of where the bridge was erected is where only fordable pass on the river was located during a normal season but, due to the high waters during flood years, it was impossible to cross there. Tunucks's Ferry was one option during the floods but the amount of traffic that used the route overwhelmed the single ferry, not to mention the exorbitant fees to use it. Tunuck tried to scale to need and, at it's height of activity, there were up to five ferries moving across the river a time. Still, there were still many merchants were unhappily forced to camp while waiting for their turn on the ferry. The lack of any other alternative during the floods allowed prices to stay elevated since there were no real alternatives. Tunuck's Ferry is still operational today and has become a sturdy trading post in it's own right.. The only other usable crossing, before the bridge, within 70 miles or so was a small footpath that led across some treacherous rocks and underneath the Torrent Falls. This footpath was used by only the most hardy and, perhaps, the most unlawful. Few true merchants ever used the route by choice as its path wasn't made with the ease of moving products in mind nor was the actual path actually known but to experienced guides who kept it difficult to find. This lack of an easy overland route made it necessary to create something more permanent for wagons and horses to easily cross...and so came the Yurl Bridge.
Over time the treacherous overland path to the Torrent Falls was forgotten by all but a few.
Possibilities to get the PCs to take the Torrent Fall footpath: tracking bandits/animals, dodging law/bandits while keeping off the main routes and stumble upon it, find a guide's old map somewhere, taking the river downstream and find the waterfall.
The waterfall rumbles the closer one gets to the main falls. The Torrent Falls are just over 250 feet high with many other minor falls tumbling at different heights surrounding the main. The rocks are fairly shear although there are multiple ways to move safely across the cliff's face; only a couple of them will lead to the only path that will lead safely behind the falls. The small footpath can be seen to open up where the paths converge and arrive under the main gush of Torrent Falls. Once close enough, the large alcove behind the main falls can be seen getting saturated by a heavy spray. The path, however, is not very slippery and there is no buildup of algae or other growth. Once the main cavern behind the falls is entered it can be seen that it is a 20 foot alcove and the spray saturating the area is caused by a large tree that seems to be lodged into a crevasse of some sort about 15 feet overhead. Looking closer through the spray, it is obvious that the trunk is lodged rather deeply into this crevasse. The branches are hanging low enough to make it somewhat easy to grab hold to climb and investigate. Once the power of the falling water over the log and branches is successfully navigated it becomes apparent that the crevasse the tree is lodged in is actually a once hidden tunnel entrance. Along the edge of the crevasse are two obviously man-made holes.
The two man-made holes were used to hook a sturdy ladder. If anybody is crazy enough, the ladder can be found at the bottom of the pool underneath the waterfall. At one time a flat stone covered the entrance and successfully hid it from view from below. Even without the cover, it would be almost impossible to see any kind of opening from the alcove.
Wall of Water
Once the tree is removed and the entrance is cleared, a small, fairly level path leads ahead into the darkness. After a couple twists a wall of falling water blocks the rest of the tunnel. The force of the falling water seems concentrated and excessive so it is impossible to just poke a head through to see what is on the other side. If one is even strong enough to hold the head up, the depth the water goes too far to see through. About three feet inside the wall of water, far enough that if somebody goes in alone without a rope the ability to see them or hear their screams are removed, the floor disappears below and anybody that falls into it gets swept away into an underground tunnel. The pit is as wide as the tunnel and about four feet across but impossible to jump, even if detected, due to the strength of the water. After about ten feet, the wall of water ends and the tunnel returns.
The first time they fall they can be deposited into the pool below the waterfall. If they do it again it might be fun to put them into the Room of Gold to be found later, hopefully, by the rest of the group.
This is an old temple of a cult that worshiped a water elemental. When the cult members entered they only had to call on the aid of the elemental and the falls would stop and a path of solidified water would be available for them to walk across. The cult that worshiped here were persecuted by the world's main religion, plus, the use of the Torrent Falls footpath made it harder to keep the place hidden, especially from the kind of folks that used the path. It became more and more difficult to use as a temple and remain undetected. In addition, the religious persecution forced the cult to go into hiding and consolidate their members to a more accepting area. The temple was abandoned with the expectation of using it as a safe spot in time of need or actually return it to full temple status once the cult regained acceptance. Neither has happened since it was abandoned.
Floor of Water
Once past the wall of water, the tunnel opens up to the Shrine Entrance which is a rather large cavern. The floor here, as it will be in all other rooms in the temple, is covered with a glass smooth layer of water that is perhaps three inches deep. Walking through it makes the expected ripples but they are muted and fade out within 10 feet or about five seconds once motion is stopped. It is an eerie effect, no matter how much splashing or rock throwing happens, the water quickly regains it glass like smoothness. This continues throughout the temple.
The glass floor water in this area will begin to get more solid the longer anybody stands still. So, if they are standing there talking and looking around, the water will slowly solidify and trap their feet. It won't squeeze so if they are able to get their shoes off they can escape that way. Same for any items that get in the water if left still long enough. It takes about 15 seconds to fully harden and stay that way. Depending on how long they wait, it takes that much more effort to wiggle against the hardening and make it normal water again. Two seconds, hardly notice-10 seconds it is like a cold molasses and the must struggle their footing to make it water, 14 seconds you can barely move your foot but through much effort the wiggling will eventually loosen the water. Fifteen, you are done.
: Along the walls are about 30 evenly spaced small smooth stones of about a pound of weight. They are blessed by the cult and have a carving on them. If they are thrown at the solidified water around the item then the ripple they make will release whatever is trapped. If taken and thrown into any water that is not solidified it will have the opposite effect and make water solidify within the 10 foot ripple radius. This can temporarily trap somebody or can actually be walked upon. This works inside and outside the elemental cave.
The area past the wall of water is about 75x75. In the exact center is another isolated waterfall coming out of a hole in the ceiling. It seems to be coming straight out of an opening in the ceiling of the cave and flowing straight into a hole in the floor. It is about seven feet around and causes no disturbance to the surrounding water covered floor.
The cult would, again, call on the elemental's aid here and a spiral staircase would form out of the isolated waterfall giving access to the Lower Shrine Key Entrance. If the stones are carefully thrown into the waterfall they will solidify sections of the fall stopping the waterfall from hitting from above and enabling them to step on the solidified portion. By throwing them as they descend they could use them to climb down the waterfall. It would take them perhaps 5 rocks to make the next level down. In the waterfall, each stone's solidified water will last perhaps 5 minutes before it starts deteriorating. The stones can be reused, but they must be released to work. Throwing them on the floor will solidify the water and when it ends they can pick up the rock and do it again. In the waterfall section, however, they will have to release it and it will be lost unless they can catch it when it finally falls out of the solidified water as it returns to normal.
Lower Shrine Key Entrance
The isolated waterfall continues to fall through this room as well. It is shaped such that if one was to descend by rope and they continued straight down without swinging they would not find this room at all. They would continue to descend till the water took a turn and either drowned or be swept away. Again, they can be deposited at the pool of the outside waterfall or to the Room of Gold as desired.
The Lower Shrine is where the natural cavern look ends and the carved underground temple starts. There is a 30x20 central room (where the waterfall is centered) with a 10' hallway going down each cardinal direction. At the end of each hallway is a door.
Each door is intricately carved and has an uninterrupted stream of water flowing over it that flows over the entire door. Putting pressure on the door disrupts the flow. On each door there is a point where a single finger placed will cause the flow of the water to bypass the door's handle and reveals a small oval keyhole which may be almost impossible to detect without removing the flowing water that covered it. The water flow can be blocked using any strategy, but it must be blocked from hitting the keyhole when trying to unlock it.
The doors cannot be damaged and are impossible to open by any means except taking water from the waterfall and pouring it into the lock. There are three ladles underwater the corners of the room to be used for this purpose. Their spout is perfectly sized to fit into a small oval in the doors. Splashing water from the waterfall using common items can have the same effect although it takes much longer to get the correct amount and the water isn't mixed with that which is pouring down the door. As long as a ladle sized amount of water flows into the hold then the door will unlock (about one cup).
The fourth door (South) will not open this way, it requires a key.
Locking the door again requires the same action with the water.
All the rooms are 40x30.North Room
Carving of large thunder clouds and a thriving forest. One of the trees is centered over the lock and if a finger is pressed against the highest leaf, the door's water stream will be diverted around the tree and, therefore, the keyhole.
Choppy water across the entire room. First 15' is about 4' deep that starts right inside the entrance. At 15' in, the depth is unknown and the bottom is unreachable. Opposite side of room in the last 10', which is 4' deep again, there is a fountain that is holding up a small bowl with its water pressure.
If the water in the bowl is drunk it acts as an instant healing potion for whatever wounds required. If person is already in good shape, it gives a great feeling of strength and power although it does nothing physically.
If the bowl is removed the water spout will spring to life like a geyser and start filling the room and the deep portion of the room will get a large undertow (suck them to the waterfall pool or Room of Gold as desired). The water will start to pour into the main hallway slowly filling it until full. If the door is closed and locked the sprung trap will stop and reset itself. If the door is closed and not locked, water will continue pouring into the main hallway through the frame and cracks and continue to fill the room.
The healing water was used in rituals to give the cultists a super elated sense of being when they worshiped. The healing geyser was a gift of the elemental and something similar (the healing, not the trap) is in every water elemental temple. This might be known by the players and those versed in elemental lore may know about the geyser bowl of healing.East Room
Carving of a landscape. The top is a dried land with small bony beasts struggling towards the bottom. At the bottom is a golden key that radiating lines flowing from it. In the sphere of the radiating lines all manner of beasts and flora are of normal shape and size. At the highest most line that radiates from the key is the pressure point that will divert the water around a set of lines and, therefore, the keyhole.
Glass smooth all the way across to a pedestal. The center 15' has a darker appearance to it. If a stick or sword is pushed into the center, darker portion it will reach ground at about one foot deep, same as the first 15'. As long as the darker section is walked through by completely raising the foot out of the water and placing it down without splashes then they can proceed normally. If they drag their feet or wade through without lifting their feet they will disturb the heavier acid that makes up the bottom six inch layer of the dark section. By raising their foot (or any other item) all the way out of the water and placing it down, the top layer of water acts as a seal around the foot as it is placed in the acid. If they wade through without lifting their feet then the seal that the water would normally create will be disturbed and the acid can get to them causing much pain.
They can be healed by the North Room.
On the pedestal is a key.West Room
Carving of a geyser of water shaping into a human formed elemental on one side and on the other a mountain with a human formed elemental stepping out of it. Both hands are extended towards each other as if they are almost about to shake their formed hands. Pressure point is the small space between these two hands which direct the water over and around their index figures and, therefore, around the keyhole.
Just a smooth water floor like the hallway. Same three inch depth all the way across. Five feet from the back wall there is a rectangle box 6x3 that the water falls about an inch into on all sides creating a rectangular, gentle one inch waterfall into the box. The water filled box is about three feet deep and made of a lava type porous rock.
If one were to lay in the box and fully submerge one's self then they would be moved to the Room of Gold. The box does a teleport to the Room of Gold. No metal objects of any kind can make the transition. All of those items are left in the West Room's box and fall where they were once attached to the wearer. When they teleport back the just reform on top of the items if they are not moved.
When they teleport they slowly lose their color and start to blend in and look like the water they are laying in. Then they just seem to melt into the porous rock. When they return, it is the opposite as they seem to slowly levitate out of the rock and reform.South Room
Carving of the rolling ocean and spacious sky filled with large clouds. The highest wave crest is the pressure point that guides the flow around the keyhole.
Requires the key from the East Room and the water from the waterfall poured in it to open the door.
Identical to the West Room except when you enter the portal box you arrive in the Main Temple.
Room of Gold
Nuggets of gold surround the entire place. Piles of golden nuggets up to the size of a fist are in rough piles all around the room. It is more gold than any person has ever layed eyes on. Problem is that none of it will return through the box portal. There are small, smooth bowl shaped areas that are cleared with smoothed rocks next to them.
The gold was given as a gift by an earth elemental to the cult at some point for their actions. The irony of it is that none of the gold can be removed from the room no matter what kind of attempts are made by humans. Also, this room could be anywhere in the underground caverns so digging will get you nowhere. There are many tunnels sprouting off in may directions that all end in dead ends. These can be as extensive as you like. The water elemental can, of course, get some out of there but it requires it to be smashed down to the tiniest grains and placed in the box portal. The small smooth bowls with the rock are used to laboriously pound the gold down to dust. Then the elemental will guide the gold dust to the other portal. It must be asked to do this though as it usually forgets the value of the gold to mortals.
If they arrive here through one of the traps then they will materialize out of the box just like any other time. They will also be able to teleport to the West Room but they are hopelessly locked inside. When they teleported out of the traps, they lose all their metal objects just like if they entered a portal box so all their equipment will continue flowing through the trap and end up at the bottom of the waterfall pool where the natural ending of the traps go. If they figure this out they very well may find quite a few other items at the bottom of the waterfall pool from anybody else that may have stumbled upon any of the traps and got caught.
The portal box they arrive in is in the south of the room with an alter to the north and a giant waterfall behind it. The room is about 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. All around are stone benches that seem to have water cascading from the insides of the benches and overflowing onto the floor in a graceful dance. Here, the ripples of the water endlessly form a glittering light show in the water and on the carved temple walls all around. A strong glow emanates from each of the 8 pillars that form a line down the center of the temple which light up the entire area and supply the light show.
The walls around are covered with murals with similar artistic subject matter as were on the doors. The main alter has another portal box on top which does nothing if it is tried. This portal box is used by those that are given a tasking by the elemental. The destination is actively controlled by the elemental when it is giving audience and is inactive otherwise. It can pretty much send a person to any area that is connected by the river, ocean, and/or underground waterways which are all very expansive.
This shrine was very important to the cult due to the fact that its natural state was so stable and perfect that they were able to directly contact their Elemental Patron. These kind of shrines are not super rare, but the natural beauty and location of this one worked out well. The river connects to the ocean giving open paths for the water elemental as well as the mass of extensive underground rivers. In the waterfall behind the alter in the Main Temple, the cult is able to summon the presence of the elemental. For the cult, there was an elaborate ceremony to summon the elemental although it boiled down to simply calling out and asking the elemental to appear.
The elemental would take shape by forming itself in the waterfall which allowed the cult priests to talk directly to it.
By simply entering the Main Temple, this may be enough to summon the elemental since this temple was dormant for so long. While it doesn't take any conscience power on the elemental's part to teleport people in the boxes, it might feel that power being used or something and come check it out.
If the elemental is summoned intentionally or otherwise:
When it speaks, the waterfall is very animated with the shape of the elemental's human based head and spray from the voice and movement spreads throughout the temple causing an increasingly dazzling light show of reflections. Almost mesmerizing...and it might enhance any brain washing you want to do.
-It may be as simple as it wanting to know what they are doing in his temple and/or what happened to it.
-The elemental will be able to easily flood the place and/or expel them out of there in a multitude of ways. Can use that to force them to agree to some tasking or a vow of silence. Would they dare this secret tell with water all around them on many of their travels?
-Floods the place slowly saying it isn't his time to be awakened.
-If they decide to fight, have at it.
-Thinks they are someone else and simply gives them a mission.
There can be any number of secret doors and entrances to side rooms and other tunnels. There can probably be a sort of underground river system that can lead to other parts of the cave system but none of them should allow access outside the cave system. This was a very important temple at one time and the protection it has through its only entrance should not be bypassed in a human navigateable way. These other areas that small boats may take them to may have lodging and/or small alters for solo worship.
The elemental may bring any sort of fresh water creature into the caves using its portal technique so any type of water you can think of may be available.
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? Responses (6)-6
Finished it late and didn't do too much proof reading. Needs some polishing and their are probably some logic holes I missed the first time around.
Did a little polishing and is good enough for mass consumption, maybe. Got a lot longer than I originally figured, maybe too long, oh well.
Might be a location vs. a dungeon though? Was aimed a dungeon with the traps and puzzles and such but may not have turned out that way....
It meets my criteria for a dungeon post. Once you start adding tactical elements to a location, it can start to qualify.
The dungeon is basic. Unlike most it is logical and explainable. It works for me.
Cool! Strolen is posting again!
I like it. Its not revolutionary but it has a nice flow and harkens me back to the day.
Blessed Stones! thumbs up!
A dungeon with a good purpose. 5/5