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"I've been burning in water and drowning in flame"
-Under the Rose, HIM

It's been a very busy and very rewarding summer; however, the warmer weather is slowly saying its final farewells as we move into beautiful autumn.  I'm a huge fan of fall, especially towards the end of October.  Night runs become spookier, especially because my mind always tends to wander with thoughts of zombies, werewolves, vampires, and a few other supernatural horrors.  The leaves make interesting noises as the wind whispers through them, and the stars and the moon seem to shine brighter.  Or maybe it's just me.

This summer brought a lot of growth opportunities and changes, one of the most important ones being that a lot of my friends moved away to start careers or tackle other school opportunities.  Everybody seems to be reaching that point in life.  Indeed, I'm somewhat at the same point.  Most of my D&D stuff has been slowly packed up as I prepare for my next step in life.  Never fear though, my miniatures and most of my maps and tiles are still where I can use them.  It's mostly the books and things that are getting boxed up.

Back at the end of July/beginning of August, I finally got around to opening the Dire Tombs Dungeon Tiles I purchased back in May-ish.  Fact of the matter was, I had to real reason to open them and start designing dungeons up until that point.  My D&D experiences were providing feedback (as evidenced by my recent playtesting credits in 'Murder in Baldur's Gate'), so I wasn't being super creative.  

I lucked out at July/August by getting some down time and the opportunity to take over the kitchen table for a few days, so I did.  I grabbed both sets of Dire Tombs, as well as the Dungeon Tiles Master Set and my copies of Cathedrals of Chaos.  While they don't all match the Egyptian-themed Dire Tombs, I figured there were enough flavorful reasons for mixing and matching, so I went at it.  I was not disappointed.

I knew that when the characters Niz and Vivianne meet up again, there will be some sort of other island adventure.  I plan on introducing elements of the Elemental Chaos, as well as a new dungeon to explore (the reasons why the characters will go there are still up in the air, but I plan on one of them having to do with Vivianne's father).  However, I tried to come up with an interesting twist: the characters would know the entire layout of the dungeon before exploring it, either through scrying magic or a map.

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The Temple of Drowning
Part of the reason I decided to do this was that I am slightly lazy and would rather lay out all the tiles and put the plastic sheet over them to keep them down.  I feel that covering up a dungeon with paper is somewhat silly, since the players can tell where the edge of the map is and use a little personal knowledge of where they should go.  By showing them the entire map, they have free reign and can speculate, but only by exploring will they really understand what lies ahead.

I spoke to Sara (Vivianne's alter ego) and asked her to give me some ideas about this new dungeon.  I gave her a few guiding points with what I was thinking, and let her go from there.  Here's what she came up with:
  • The place was once known as the Temple of Drowning.  It was a shrine dedicated to the element of water.  Water pools and tunnels were everywhere.
  • Something horrible took place there, leaving it full of ash and fire.  
  • Sailors around the Genkar Isle avoid it, now referring to it as 'Bleached Bones'
  • Rumors of a great treasure hidden there still persist to this day
On my end, I already know what the treasure is (a marid held prisoner in a mundane device).  Yes, for some of this inspiration, I used my favorite Disney movie, Aladdin.  I believe I talked about this a few times in a previous blog post.

So while we have a beginning, a middle, and an end to this dungeon, I had to flesh out what happened there.  Since I wanted to give the adventure more of an Elemental twist, I decided somehow cultists had attacked it.  Fire cultists.  That would explain the ash and burning.

At this point, I reached a tough conundrum.  I could make these enemies cultists of Imix, but that seemed kind of like a tried and true villain.  I was looking for something new and interesting.  Something to flesh out the campaign world (which still has no overall name) and make it ours again.

Enter Robyn, an old friend who had been part of the world back when it was just looseleaf drawings and notebook narratives.  At one point, we talked about creating the deities for our world.  It didn't really happen, but the idea stuck in my head last summer, and I thought that some sort of fire deity should be named Nybor (Robyn spelled backwards).  It was nickname some people had given her, and it just sounds like a fire name, doesn't it?  So with a little brainstorming, I figured that Nybor is some new elemental force trying to gain power in the world.  While her origins and her motives are a mystery even to me, I have a few details about her followers:
  • They typically tattoo themselves with red and black markings
  • She has recruited all sorts of followers, from succubi and devils to the basic fire elementals and pyromancers
  • She is a being of passion, not just burning things for the sake of burning them.  Her desires and ambitions are what make her a force to be reckoned with
The tattoo ideas came from Star Wars, as I figured using Darth Maul and Darth Talon miniatures for some of her elite NPC followers would make awesome reoccurring adversaries.


However, as I don't have miniatures to represent those followers (yet), I turned to another miniature I have wanted to use for a long time to be Nybor's follower in the Temple of Drowning: the succubus.

In reality, the succubus was a great choice.  As an immortal monster, it makes sense for the Temple to have been destroyed a long time ago and to still have the main adversary sticking around.  I came up with the idea that Nybor's followers attacked the temple to steal the marid (and force it to cast Wish for them).  However, due to the nature of their attack, and the wards that protect the marid, they have yet to uncover it, all these years later.  So the succubus, named Aadrixil, continues to return to the temple to check in with her servants and to see if any progress has been made.

Aadrixil's servants include the charred remains of those that perished in her initial assault, as well as her skeletal tiefling lieutenant.  I'm also super excited to use the two horned devil miniatures I got from my two sets of Tyranny of Goblins Dungeon Command.

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Throughout the temple, I've placed lava pits and fire.  In one corner of the temple, a few water pools remain, as well as a few of the water guardians that Aadrixil has not bothered to purge.  All in all, I think the entire place will be an enjoyable one to explore and will create some interesting questions for future sessions.  Who is Nybor?  What is she really after?  I also don't plan on letting Aadrixil get killed off super quickly either.  While it's commonly said to not get attached to your villains, I believe that you can't let them get taken down super easily either.

And that, in a short summary, is the newest project I've been working on/thinking about as of late.  As always, I welcome any and all suggestions.  I've also been thinking a lot about what it means to be a hero.  Love, sacrifice, selflessness, and all that good stuff.  However, I think that is a blog post I will save for another time.  For now, enjoy the Temple of Drowning and the mysterious force that is Nybor.

Comments can always be left below, or you can follow me @artificeralf on Twitter.  I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. That's a really cool concept. I like the mixing of fire and water themes. Also would love to hear how the players like having the whole dungeon layout ahead of time. That's a neat idea I'll have to try.


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