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Return of Elemental Evil

Lord Zack

Despite the name the campaign I am planning is based on the original T1-4 module, though modified, not on the remake. I will be using other modules, including the Keep on the Borderlands, the Giants and Drow series and possibly the Slavers series. Castle Greyhawk may also have some kind of a role as well, but I will not be using official material for that, instead using the fanmade Castle of the Mad Archmage and perhaps what's been released of Castle Zagyg.

The campaign will be mostly a sandbox, but one with a strong theme, that of the threat of the Temple of Elemental Evil. I'm thinking of how the Cult of Elemental Evil's plans will progress. I want the campaign to be more than dungeon delving, I'd like some intrigue and maybe even warfare. What is they're plan? What are they going to do, besides sit in the dungeon and wait for the PCs to come and kill them? I don't have access to the T1-4 Module at the moment, but when I do I'll certainly check to see if it has anything to say about that. Also, though it's dependent on exactly what happens in the campaign, and wat the PCs choose to do, I'd like to get some idea of what the "endgame" will be. Perhaps the PCs will attempt to challenge Zuggtmoy herself, but maybe there might be some other option. Though I am using the Giants and Drow series, I'm not using Queen of the Demonweb Pits as written. In fact the PCs may very well ally with Lolth against her foe Zuggtmoy.

Also I'd like to have a stable of recurring rival adventurers that appear in the campaign, like when I roll "NPC party" on a random encounter table. I'd like to use the 3rd Edition iconics, but I'd like to ground them more in the Greyhawk setting, like where would Mialee, Jozan, Tordek, Lidda, et al. come from? Preferably, but not necessarily, from the general vicinity the campaign takes place in, around Greyhawk and Verbobonc.

With regards to the Temple of Elemental Evil, I'm considering rewriting it to be more of an actual megadungeon and less of a really big lair. I'm not sure exactly what changes I will make, however.

This is the same campaign I'm talking about in "Mapping Infinity".

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My declared bias: I think T1-4 was one of the most disappointing products of all time. If it's going to take more than five years to publish an adventure, at least have the decency to finish it first. But I digress....

One of the great disappointments with the original is that there is very little in the way of elemental evil in the adventure. One of the introductions talks about flash floods, typhoons etc... in the region but such things are not part of the adventure-proper.

What about redoing the original as four separate competing temples, one of each element, with a fifth temple, akin to The Temple of All-Consumption in the Return to... adventure that can only be accessed by gathering keys or similar items from the four elemental temples?

The four elemental temples can be found by the party simply by getting to the centre of the elemental evil that each unleashes: tidal waves and waterspouts emanate from the water temple, bushfires and drought surround the fire temple, hurricanes and locust-filled winds proceed forth from the air temple and the earth temple is the epicentre of earthquakes and tremors.

Not only does this make the campaign feel like it is related to elemental evil, it also provides a sense that the temples pose a threat to the area (especially if the party begins in a place where the influence of the four temples overlaps [and thus is the location of the fifth temple, as they discover later also]).

The other advantage of this sort of layout is that there is no single mega-dungeon to tackle (which many players and DMs find boring) and there are opportunities for wilderness and similar encounters between the temples which provides a lot more variety. (If you're running a 4E campaign and like skill challenges, these journeys between temples provide opportunities to run skill challenges to overcome the effects of the manifestations of elemental evil.)

If you want to expand this further, I also thought using Tharizdun's symbol as an overlay on the regional map could be fun. Basically place a small dungeon or other site at enough places on the map that you could draw lines between them and then have Tharizdun's symbol drawn dot-to-dot fashion.

Anyway, there's still a lot of potential in the original T1-4 that I think the authors of the original failed to take advantage of.

Lord Zack

Thing is I don't want the Temple to be less of a Megadungeon, quite the opposite. But my definition of Megadungeon, which I've learned from members of the old school renaissance doesn't just mean a really big dungeon. The Temple of Elemental Evil is, as published, less of a Megadungeon and more of a really big lair. There will be other dungeons outside of the main temple though.

What I'm thinking is that the Temple will be a mythic underworld, as defined by Philotomy Jurament, shaped by the forces of chaos that created the temple. It's a place of dark magic and weird, chaotic forces, inimical to the inhabitants of the surface world. There will be "lairs" inside the Temple, controlled by cultists, but a lot of it will be ruins twisted by the dark powers of Zuggtmoy.
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