Friday, April 10, 2015

Encounter at la Cattolica

A while ago the D&D Adventurer's League ran a contest for new writers. I did the excercise but never submitted my encounters. I figured I'd at least share my notes. They might not be that clear, but hopefully they provide a cool look into how I think about encounter design. This encounter is primarily based on experiences I had while on vacation in southern Italy. Here is the first of two.

la Cattolica

La Cattolica di Stilo, my major inspiration for this encounter.

A ruined temple is perched on a ridge that looks over a fishing village and the sea. The temple dates from when the sea level was much higher, reaching almost to the temple itself. It is one of several ruins that dot the hills along the coast. The temple is in a traditional cross-in-square design dividing the temple into nine bays. There is one entrance to the temple which faces the road to the west. There is a narrow ground level window on both the north and east sides. Three small windows face to the south, looking towards the fishing village. A dome covers each of the corner bays as well as the central bay. The walls are made of light brown-red bricks with white mortaring and is approximately 30ft per side.

Age and lack of repair has caused the temple is be partially collapsed: one of the bays has completely collapsed with rubble covering the ground and another bay is missing its dome. The four columns at the intersection of the different bays still stand strong. (Note: columns provide 1/2 cover).

Standing on a small raised platform in the middle of the central bay is a bronze statue of a human, approximately 7 feet tall. It is missing one of its arms.

Riace bronzes, my inspiration for the statue.

An overgrown path runs from the temple to a nearby road that cuts through the hills between the fishing village and another village specializing in olives. There is a clumsy spiked pit trap (passive Perception (Wisdom) DC 10) hidden on the path leading to the temple. Visible from a distance (Perception (Wisdom) DC 15) is a thin plume of smoke rising from both next to and from within the temple.

A group of orcs have set up camp in the ruins. Four orcs are sitting around a small camp fire, cleaning their weapons or cooking food. They are only passively keeping watch. While they are not actively looking for a fight, they will attack anything they perceive as a threat while calling for the group in the temple.

Inside the temple are 2 more orcs accompanying an Eye of Gruumsh. The original shrine in the temple has been converted to one of Gruumsh. A captured, unconscious elven noble is held prisoner by the Eye of Gruumsh.

If the temple is searched, a successful Perception (Wisdom) DC 10 reveals the broken arm of the statue in the rubble of the missing bay. It is holding a spear. Reattaching the arm to the statue causes a secret switch in the statue to be activated, causing a series of mechanical grinding noises. Slowly, one of the flag stone moves to the side revealing a secret passageway wide enough to fit a human. To find the secret door without the aid of the statue is a DC 20 Perception (Wisdom) check.