Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Temple

The former home of a vile cult or a benign religion forced out of an area due to a calamity or political pressure, an abandoned temple still contains potent divine magic.

Abandoned Temple by Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)

Abandoned Temple by Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)


Even located in the busiest of locales, an abandoned temple stands empty and unclaimed due to superstitions surrounding curses invoked by the departing priests or the wrath of vengeful deities. The untouched location invites insidious threats that tap into the ambient divine energies in the temple, or the negative emotions generated by the activities of vile cultists or the ouster of good, but politically inexpedient adherents to a legitimate religion.

Abandoned temples provide many opportunities for adventure and intrigue, and residents of a city with an abandoned temple might enlist the PCs to investigate strange occurrences originating from a temple. This supplement provides GMs with advice for transforming the haunted houses under their towns and cities into an unforgettable dungeon.

Extract: Abandoned Temple Dressing

Use this table, to generate minor points of interest for the abandoned temple:

  1. A journal detailing the temple’s fall rests on top of the altar; the latest entries grow increasingly paranoid and threaten to annihilate the temple’s defilers.
  2. A tolling bell stops and then suddenly plummets toward the PCs, narrowly missing all of them as it crashes to the floor.
  3. Statuary representations of the temple’s deity turn to follow as the PCs pass them.
  4. Dust covers this chamber’s floor, with the exception of a rune significant to the deity.
  5. Creatures who loudly proclaim their faithfulness to the temple’s deity benefit from bless for 10 minutes; a creature cannot gain this benefit more than once per 24-hour period.
  6. One PC can see a shadowy figure dressed in vestments belonging to the faith out of the corner of her eye.
  7. Music resounds throughout the temple’s halls at odd times, but the PCs cannot locate an instrument of that size in the building.
  8. A hidden location contains a shelf that holds several humanoid skulls arranged from smallest to largest.
  9. Every other word in a painted prayer to the deity is scratched out, as if with claws.
  10. Ravens smash through the temple’s windows and kill themselves in the process.
  11. The stone altar splits in half when the PCs enter the main worship hall.
  12. An incomplete tunnel leads out from under the main altar; it appears to head in the direction of another temple.
  13. Sacrificial tools glisten with fresh blood, which drips off them onto the floor.
  14. Black candles flare to life when the PCs enter this chamber; the light casts no shadows and seems to suck the heat from anything near it.
  15. The scent of fresh flowers fills the chamber.
  16. A sacrificial animal rests on an altar; its entrails hang out, but the animal is alive and seemingly oblivious to its state.
  17. A shaky scrawl written in blood and filth proclaims the return of the deity to which this temple is dedicated.
  18. Several robes hang in a closet; all of them bear the same holy symbol except for one, which belongs to a faith diametrically opposed to that of the temple.
  19. Murals depicting the defeat of fiendish beings by adherents to the faith have been defaced with mocking pictures and phrases written in Abyssal.
  20. A portrait of a saint hangs from the wall; removing it requires a DC 20 Strength check and potentially destroys it.

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Praise for Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Temple

“Ultimately, Mike Welham delivers a great supplement full of intriguing details that should help render dungeons in any temple-context less predictable and more concise – a great, inexpensive supplement and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.”

–Endzeitgeist (five stars + seal of approval)

A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM’s Resource by Mike Welham

Released 14 May 2015; Pages 12

PDF ($2.45) d20pfsrd, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, RPGNow, Warehouse 23 or sign up to Raging Swan’s Patreon campaign and get it for $2!

Download a Free Sample Abandoned Temple Sample


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