Curse of Strahd: Reloaded
A Campaign Guide by /u/DragnaCarta
Chapter 13: The Amber Temple
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Table of Contents
Chapter 13: The Amber Temple
The Amber Temple is, in many ways, the true climax of Curse of Strahd. It may not be the climactic battle, but it is the peak of many PCs’ character arcs – especially those that run the risk of corruption. Here, the PCs will come face-to-face with the powers that enabled Strahd’s curse, and have the option of embracing those powers as well.
This chapter changes two primary aspects of the original source material: the origin of its inhabitants, and the nature of the Dark Gifts of the vestiges. Both aspects are heavily related to the dark vestiges and the themes of corruption that permeate the temple.
As-written, the Amber Temple is filled with undead, aberrations, and demons. However, the module never explains how four nothics or ghasts came to reside here, let alone a death slaad or an arcanaloth. In this rewrite, these monsters didn’t come to the Temple simply to lair here – instead, they are victims of the vestiges’ corruption. More information on their origins is detailed in the sections below.
The RAW Dark Gifts given by the vestiges, while theoretically interesting, make for severely un-fun gameplay. If run RAW, a PC accepting these Dark Gifts can instantly “die” with a single failed Charisma saving throw, rendering them forevermore as an NPC under the DM’s control. Many DMs, rightfully, remove this drawback to allow players to retain control of their PCs after accepting a vestige’s Dark Gift.
However, this comes with its own consequences, with power-hungry PCs scooping up every Dark Gift they can get their grimy hands on. This reduces the final battle with Strahd to little more than a farce, with an army of undead, spine-covered, bone-winged, plague-diseased PCs marching into Castle Ravenloft to fling lightning bolts, command fiery hounds, and generally be as unpleasant as possible.
In this revision of the Amber Temple, these Dark Gifts – which, by now, have been heavily foreshadowed by the amber shards found in Tsolenka Pass, Mount Ghakis, and elsewhere in Barovia – are instead a constant corrupting force that the PCs know well to avoid. Any PC that chooses to accept the great power offered by the vestiges is now free to do so at the risk of great corruption – but in a fairer, reasonable manner.
Resting in the Amber Temple
It is difficult, if not impossible for an ordinary person to find rest in the Amber Temple’s walls. Any person with a passive Perception of 15 or greater can easily detect that the air of the temple is infused with a miasma of evil and madness, and that prolonged exposure can lead to mental harm or madness.
Any humanoid or beast that attempts to take a long rest in the Temple must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or suffer one point of exhaustion and be visited by terrible nightmares. A creature that fails this saving throw is visited by a suitable vestige in their dreams, which tells them how to obtain that vestige’s Dark Gift. A character that refuses or falsely accepts a vestige’s offer gains a random form of short-term madness when they awake, as dictated by the appropriate table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Regardless of success or failure on this saving throw, no humanoid or beast can gain the benefits of a long rest (e.g., restoring spell slots, regaining hit points or hit dice, or restoring class features) for as long as they remain in the Amber Temple. However, a creature can still sleep, thereby avoiding the threat of further exhaustion due to sleeplessness.
X1. Temple Facade
The following inscription has been carved into the frame above the front door into the Amber Temple:
A character with a passive Perception of 15 or greater notices that the snow to the left side of the temple entrance appears to have been traversed recently. A DC 15 Survival check reveals a set of human footprints alongside a much larger pair of canine paw prints leading to Area X1a (Narrow Fissure). A DC 15 Nature check can identify the paw prints as belonging to a winter wolf.
The arcanaloth Neferon does not attack the PCs on sight. Instead, as soon as the PCs enter area X4 (Overlook), a booming, telepathic voice greets them and demands to know if they have come to steal the secrets of the Amber Temple. If the PCs respond with hostility, Neferon demands that they leave, and attacks immediately if they fail to do so. If the PCs appear willing to negotiate, Neferon demands that each character who wishes to enter the Temple offer a separate tribute of knowledge or power. As such, if three PCs and two NPCs wish to enter the Temple together, they must offer a total of five tributes meeting Neferon’s demands. Neferon will reject any tribute that does not meet his standards, and will allow its offerer to provide a new tribute.
A tribute of knowledge must be a useful and well-hidden secret about some part of Barovia. Neferon is not interested in information that is either widely known, such as the existence of Van Richten’s Tower; information regarding current events, such as the death of Burgomaster Kolyan Indirovich; or secrets with little value or impact, such as the nature of Stella Wachter’s madness.
Potential tributes include:
The true lycanthropic nature of the Keepers of the Feather
The headquarters and leadership of the Keepers of the Feather
The identity and location of Mordenkainen
The contents of the Tome of Strahd
The true identity of the Abbot
The history and current status of the Fanes of Barovia
A tribute of power must be a magic item of rare or greater value. A sacrifice of three or more uncommon magic items will also meet Neferon’s approval. Alternatively, a character can offer three amber shards to gain passage to the interior of the Amber Temple. These tributes can be placed at the base of Area X5a (God of Secrets) by the character that offers it.
Upon accepting the tributes of all who wish to enter into the Temple, Neferon offers the following promise and warning:
Once the tributes have been made, if any creature attempts to enter the Temple without Neferon’s permission (e.g., while invisible), or if the PCs attempt to enter the Temple via areas such as X5 (Temple of Lost Secrets), area X6 (Southeast Annex), or area X15 (Southwest Annex) without making a sufficient offering, Neferon and the three flameskulls in Area X17 (Upper West Hall) immediately attack.
For as long as the PCs remain in the temple, Neferon will follow invisibly, taking care to keep at least 30 feet from the party and, wherever possible, hovering 20 feet above the ground at all times. He will employ his at-will invisibility spell and his Teleport action to avoid the PCs while monitoring them closely for any evidence of thievery.
For every 30 minutes that the PCs remain in the temple, Neferon must make a Stealth check; if the passive Perception of the PC or NPC closest to him exceeds his result, that character can hear the sound of whooshing air behind and above the party, as though a strange breeze is moving through the air. If detected directly (e.g., via a character with truesight or see invisibility), Neferon uses his Teleport to swiftly retreat to area X5a (God of Secrets).
X5a. God of Secrets
X6. Southeast Annex
Unlike the flameskulls in area X17 (Upper West Hall), the three flameskulls that reside in area X33a (Vault of Shalx) are not under Neferon’s command, and immediately attack any intruders that rouse their attention.
X15. Southwest Annex
The four berserkers that reside in this chamber are members of the Mountain Folk settlement of Yaedrag, and are led by Helwa, a gladiator and the eldest daughter of Chief Sigrid, making her the powerful but impatient heir to Yaedrag’s leadership.
These berserkers are Helwa’s Bloodspears – her most trusted companions – and will ascend to leadership roles within the tribe when she takes her mother’s place. They include:
Keldei, Helwa’s First Spear, a stubborn, and powerfully loyal warrior.
Astrid, an inquisitive and curious tracker.
Frida, a timid but fierce hunter
Harald, a proud, stocky fighter
A fifth berserker, Bjorn, was recently killed. His body is watched over by Skald, Helwa’s winter wolf companion. Skald is capable of basic human speech, though he struggles to speak through his canine muzzle. However, he does not speak when in the presence of strangers.
This group has come to the Amber Temple to undertake a traditional rite of passage for new leaders of the tribe at Yaedrag. To pass, they must survive six days and six nights within this chamber, enduring the madness and darkness of the Temple to prove their strength and steadfast defiance of the temptations of evil.
The Mountain Folk have recently experienced a tragedy: Last night, their friend, Bjorn, was killed during his watch. Astrid, who was assigned the watch after him, was the first to discover the body. A casual inspection of Bjorn’s body reveals massive slashes down the length of his back; a DC 14 Medicine check also indicates that large chunks of flesh have been torn from the body’s stomach. A DC 16 Medicine check reveals a pair of puncture wounds along Bjorn’s shoulder, as well as a distinctive grey-yellow tinge to the skin that indicate that poison was injected by the fangs of some creature.
Skald has thus far been unable to track the killer, as the only scents within the room and on Bjorn’s corpse are those belonging to the other Mountain Folk.
Helwa is also upset because her magic spear, Shatterspike (TftYP, page 229), has disappeared from her belongings. It vanished on the third night of their stay at the Temple, and has not yet reappeared. As a result of these two incidents, the Mountain Folk are tense and suspicious of outsiders, and will threaten to attack the PCs on sight, believing them to be monsters or illusions of the Temple, unless convinced that the party has been sent by or previously met with Chief Sigrid.
The true killer and thief is Frida, who located an amber shard of Drizlash in a forgotten corner of the chamber during her first night’s watch in the Temple. Since then, she has grown terrified of the darkness that lurks within the Temple, and allowed the voice she hears through the amber shard to coax her into accepting its gifts. Offering Shatterspike as tribute to Neferon, she descended into the Amber Temple and accepted Drizlash’s dark gift.
As a result, Frida has obtained the Spider Climb ability and Bite attack of a drider, as well as a Dexterity score of 16 (+3) and a Stealth modifier of +9. She also has a drider’s Sunlight Sensitivity feature, and has been infected with a drider’s madness, paranoia, and hunger. Her spider’s fangs are concealed among the rest of her teeth, but can be detected up with a physical inspection and a DC 15 Medicine check or a visual inspection and a DC 20 Perception check. She conceals the amber shard on a cord of leather that hangs around her neck.
If her true nature is revealed, Frida flies into a rage and attacks her accuser. If Helwa and her companions have not already been convinced that Frida has been corrupted, they fight alongside her, encouraging Frida to avoid revealing her “gifts.” If bloodied, Frida flees through Area X1a (Narrow Fissure), hoping to find a hiding place on the slopes of Mount Ghakis where she can complete her transformation.
If Frida is not dealt with, the first night that the PCs rest after first arriving at the Amber Temple, she kills Astrid while Astrid is on watch. The following night, Harald is killed. The final night, Helwa surprises Frida and kills her, though not before Keldei is killed and Skald’s left foreleg is heavily wounded.
X17. Upper West Hall
The three flameskulls in this chamber will not attack any creature that has made a successful tribute to Neferon, unless that creature has previously stolen a treasure or magic item from within the Temple.
The staff of frost on the floor is cursed, and becoming attuned to it extends the curse to you. As long as you remain cursed, you are unwilling to part with the staff, keeping it on your person at all times. All nonmagical flames within 30 feet of you automatically extinguish, and fire damage dealt by you is halved. Additionally, any creature that takes a short or long rest within thirty feet of you suffers the effects of extreme cold. This curse replaces the flaw described in the original module.
X27. Lich’s Lair
Formerly the head chancellor of the mages guarding the Amber Temple, Exethanter swiftly moved to accept the dark gift of Tenebrous as the Temple fell into darkness and temptation. However, in the many centuries of isolation and corruption that followed, his mind has decayed greatly, leaving him in his current pitiable state.
Unlike in the module, Exethanter cannot be found in his lair; instead, he is in area X30 (Preserved Library) when the PCs first meet him. However, his spellbook remains inside this chamber, as well as an additional arcane laboratory comprising a cabinet full of two dozen unmarked chemical and magical ingredients, a thick and weighty book titled The Alchemist’s Almanac, and a potion-brewing set that includes a small cauldron, a balance scale, and all other appropriate tools.
Exethanter’s spellbook is currently opened to a scribbled recipe for a Potion of Greater Restoration. The following note has been jotted hastily in the margins.
The recipe is as follows:
The phrase “holy water” is circled and underlined twice.
In his final years of lucidity, Exethanter sought to do the impossible: to replicate the power of a divine spell – greater restoration – through purely arcane means. Through much trial and error, he was able to develop a specific recipe capable of doing so, but with one problem: to instill the necessary divine energy, it required an infusion of holy water, an ingredient that Exethentar is wholly incapable of producing.
In the event that the PCs are unable to cast greater restoration to restore Exethanter’s memories, the party can instead attempt to brew the recipe listed in the lich’s spellbook. If brewed successfully, this Potion of Greater Restoration has the same effects of the spell greater restoration; however, Exethanter’s laboratory has only enough spare ingredients to brew this potion twice.
If cured of his amnesia, Exethentar thanks the PCs deeply and offers to guide them through the Temple as described in the original chapter.
The PCs can successfully complete each step as follows:
Step 1. A DC 15 Arcana check can identify the correct potion ingredients in Exethantor’s cupboard to serve third-degree reagents, including an activator and a declinator, which must be added in the appropriate proportions. Alternatively, the PCs can locate the proper ingredients by searching through The Alchemist’s Almanac.
Step 2. Within Exethanter’s ingredients cupboard lies a pair of glass bottles that appear to contain the leaves of distinct plants. The bottles are unmarked. One contains a number of thick, curled leaves with an indigo coloration; the other contains a half-dozen needle-thin leaves with a razor-sharp edge. A successful DC 17 Nature check can identify that the curled leaves are poisonous blackwort and the needle leaves are nightfern leaves.
If the bottle containing the poisonous blackwort is opened, it immediately emits a cloud of toxic gas, forcing each creature within a ten-foot radius to make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 4d6 points of poison damage, or half on a success.
Step 3. In the northwest corner of Exethanter’s lair, within the wall close to the ceiling, rests a hidden compartment no larger than a fist. It can be located with a successful DC 15 Investigation check or one hour of careful searching; if the check result was 20 or higher, the PCs also locate a poisonous needle trap concealed within the compartment’s door mechanism.
The needle trap can be disarmed with a successful DC 20 Thieves’ Tools check. If the compartment is opened without first disarming the trap, the opener must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw, suffering 10d6 poison damage on a failure or half on a success. This compartment contains a small glass vial containing a brilliant cerulean blue liquid marked “RIMESAP.”
Step 4. Beside the cauldron rests a glass vial labelled “WYVERN MUCUS.” Though its contents are empty, a thick film of dried-up grey-colored flakes cling to the sides. A successful DC 16 Medicine check can match the dried-up remnants of this ingredient with a trio of other vials of grey-white liquid within Exethanter’s component cupboard.
A trio of vials containing a similar liquid are mixed in with the others; these contain concentrated Pale Tincture. A creature that ingests even a small amount of Pale Tincture must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or take 3d6 poison damage and become poisoned. The poisoned creature must repeat the saving throw every hour, taking 3d6 poison damage on a failed save. This damage cannot be healed by any means, though the poison can be removed from the creature’s system by means of lay on hands or similar magic. After seven successful Saving Throws, the effect ends and the creature can heal normally.
Step 5. The potion can only be completed if holy water is added. The PCs may obtain holy water from Ezmerelda (if she is travelling with the party and still has some available), from the Ceremony spell, or by some other means.
X30. Preserved Library
Upon entering this chamber, the PCs can find Exethanter standing on the carpet in the center of the room, looking lost. After greeting them, if the PCs seem friendly, the lich asks if any of the characters have seen his “book.” If asked, he describes the book as “heavy,” “wrapped in a smooth, tough material” (leather), and written in ink “the same color as those short, skinny plants” (green grass). He also recalls that it has the word “Incants” in the title, and that he left it open on a desk somewhere. He doesn’t know where the desk is, but knows that it isn’t downstairs.
If the PCs are still being invisibly tailed by Neferon, the arcanaloth, after making the tribute at the Temple entrance, Exethanter notices its presence using his truesight several minutes after first encountering the PCs. Though he doesn’t recognize Neferon due to his memory loss, Exethanter points out the appearance of a strange, fox-faced creature in the air toward the top of the chamber, and asks the PCs if it’s a friend of theirs. Upon hearing this, Neferon swiftly retreats from sight.
X33. Amber Vaults
Each time a creature uses a dark gift received from one of the vestiges of the Amber Temple, it must make a DC 10 Charisma saving throw; on a failure, one of the following consequences occurs, based on the creature’s level (or twice the creature’s Challenge Rating, if it doesn’t have a level):
Level 1 or Lower: The creature is overwhelmed by the malevolent power and is immediately transformed into a ghoul.
Level 2 or 3: The creature is overwhelmed by the malevolent power and is immediately transformed into a nothic.
Level 4 or Above: The creature gains an additional stage of corruption, depending on the dark gift it accepted and dictated by the Corruption Table below. Creatures accrue corruption from different dark gifts separately. (For example, if a creature has two levels of corruption from Fekre’s dark gift and one level of corruption from Drizlash’s dark gift, and that creature fails a saving throw while using Drizlash’s dark gift, the creature now has two levels of corruption from Fekre and two levels of corruption from Drizlash.)
Each time the creature succeeds on this saving throw, the DC for the next saving throw increases by 5. The third time the creature makes a successful saving throw, its new abilities, attributes, and flaws become permanent and it does not need to make any more saving throws.
When a creature accepts a new dark gift, it begins with zero stages of corruption in that specific dark gift. However, it also instantly gains a stage of corruption in every other dark gift it had already accepted. For example, assume that a creature has previously accepted a dark gift from Fekre. If that creature then accepts a dark gift from Drizlash, that creature begins with zero levels of Drizlash’s corruption, but automatically gains one level of Fekre’s corruption. (You might present this as the creature becoming increasingly vulnerable to the vestiges’ dark power, or as a jealous vestige asserting its claim over the creature).
Wherever a corruption stage lists a specific feature or attack (e.g., the Rotting Presence feature in the second stage of Fekre’s corruption), assume that it uses the same description and statistics as the corresponding feature or attack on the stat block of the creature listed in the third stage of that vestige’s corruption (e.g., the bulezau).
If a creature gains a new attack, but doesn’t have the anatomy necessary to use it (e.g., the Barbed Tail attack in the second stage of Fekre’s corruption), the creature also gains the anatomical features needed to use the attack (e.g., a long barbed tail).
X33. Amber Vaults
The dark gifts and accompanying flaws listed in the original module have been replaced by a new set of dark gifts (listed below) and the risk of progressing through the Corruption Table for each particular dark gift (see above).
X33A. Vault of Shalx.
West Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a vast, dark stone chamber lined with twisted pillars and sculptures of snakes. At the opposite end of the chamber, upon a dais, rests a dark stone altar that bears a porcelain bowl decorated with simple swirling patterns. The bowl is filled with a bubbling purple liquid.
Behind the altar stands Fekre, Queen of Poxes, a tall woman with pallid, purple-grey skin and a dress of deep violet. Her hair resembles a grey-green fungus that extends on either side of her head, and her eyes are covered with a purple fungus that mimics the shape of a masquerade mask. She offers the creature her dark gift: the power of spreading disease. To accept, the creature must drink the potion from the ceramic bowl. The dark gift allows its beneficiary to cast the contagion spell as an action without components three times per day.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to an infinite, flat plain of dead vegetation and dry, cracked soil. Overhead, torrential black storm clouds swirl as immense lances of lightning flash across the sky, followed shortly by pounding eruptions of thunder. No rain falls.
Amidst the clouds, at the eye of the storm, hovers Zrin-Hala, the Howling Storm, a massive humanoid apparition formed of dark storm clouds that constantly crackle and hum with lightning. Its lower body is a black tornado that descends to the ground below, carving deep gouges into the landscape. Its hands are long, crackling bolts of lightning, and its mouth is a gaping, dark maw. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power to create lightning. To accept, the creature must be speared in the chest with one of Zrin-Hala’s lightning bolts. The dark gift allows its beneficiary to cast the lightning bolt spell as an action without components three times per day.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a vast, dark graveyard of twisted, decaying vegetation and sunken, crumbling headstones. The sky is covered with flat, grey clouds, and the cemetery is interspersed with tall, cast-iron fences that have rusted and bent with age.
At the center of the graveyard, before an enormous mass grave filled with humanoid corpses, rests Sykane, the Soul Hungerer, an enormous worm with the mouth of a lamprey. Drifting clouds of dim golden mist occasionally drift past its cavernous maw, which it greedily devours whole. Its flesh is not skin, but a writhing mass of millions of tiny earthworms that weave together like fabric. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power to raise the recently deceased. To accept, the PC must devour an earthworm from Sykane’s flesh. This dark gift allows its beneficiary to cast the raise dead spell once per day without components as an action.
X33B. Vault of Maverus
North Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a circular chamber filled with shelves that groan beneath the weight of arcane components, potions, and devices. The floor, which is forged of glittering lapis-lazuli, is carved in the design of a pentagram. Each of the pentagram’s points bears the sigil of one of the five elements of fire, earth, wind, water, and will. At the center of the room, upon a white marble pedestal, rests an orb carved from an amethyst gem.
Beside the pedestal stands Savnok, the Inscrutable, a figure whose features and limbs are entirely concealed by the long, cowled violet robe that it wears. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power to shield the mind. To accept, the PC must place its hand upon the orb upon the pedestal. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to cast the mind blank spell once per day without components.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a vast ossuary built to resemble a throne room forged entirely with bones. Lightless grey flames burn in countless sconces carved from skulls and mounted upon the walls, which themselves are built of interlocking femurs and decorated with rib cages organized in sickening patterns.
At the center of the chamber, behind a throne forged of skulls, ribs, clavicles, and femurs, towers Tarakamedes, the Grave Wyrm, a serpentine wurm with a body formed of jagged grey spikes, its head terminating in a massive, tooth-filled maw that extends beyond the edges of its body, without eyes or other facial features. Twin skeletal wings extend from its back, its vast wingspan brushing the edges of the chamber. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power of flight. To accept, the PC must seat itself upon the throne. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to cast the fly spell three times per day without components, manifesting as a pair of skeletal wings.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a lush windowless parlor lit by flickering candlelight and filled with soft pillows, divans, love seats, and futons colored pink, pastel green, and scarlet red.
Upon a futon at the center of the room lies Shami-Amourae, the Lady of Delights. Her beautiful face is painted white, and her lips are a deep, crimson red. Her eyes are jade-green, and her hair is pulled into a simple, yet neat bun atop her head, kept in place by a pair of ivory needles. She offers the creature her dark gift: the power of persuasion. To accept, the creature must accept a kiss from Shami-Amourae. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to cast the suggestion spell three times per day without components.
X33C. Ghastly Vault
North Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a decrepit stone hall cloaked in thick webbing. The webs are covered in small, silk-woven sacs that range in volume from the size of a fist to that of a humanoid’s head; if broken, they release 3d4 swarms of spiders that escape into the surrounding webbing. The walls and floor are lined with ancient bones marked with the prints of many teeth, and rusted weapons and armor are trapped haphazardly among the webbing.
At the center of the hall looms Drizlash, the Nine-Eyed Spider, an enormous creature with the upper body of an ancient, wizened crone and the lower body of a bloated, spine-covered arachnid. Her pale face has eight visible eyes; when offering her gift, a ninth, blind eye opens atop her forehead. She offers the creature her dark gift: the power to walk on walls and ceilings. To accept, the creature must swallow a fist-sized egg sac teeming with infant spiders offered by one of Drizlash’s eight legs. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to cast the spider climb spell three times per day without components.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a circular chamber whose walls, floor, and ceiling are forged entirely of concentric rings of human teeth. Nine alcoves line the walls, each containing the unconscious and floating body of an unconscious human, elf, half-elf, half-orc, dwarf, halfling, tiefling, dragonborn, or gnome. The bodies cannot be woken. At the center of the chamber stands a stone dais upon which rests a tall stone basin. Within the basin swirls an ever-shifting liquid of wispy strands of grays, whites, and blues. Visions of dozens of shifting, ever-morphing faces are visible in the liquid’s surface.
Behind the basin lurks Dahlver-Nar, He of the Many Teeth. Each limb or body part of this monstrous, ten-foot humanoid splits into a separate mouth – or, in some places, many separate mouths. Each mouth is filled entirely with molars, fangs, canines, or tusks, and they constantly drool a thick, viscous saliva onto the floor. Dahlver-Nar offers the creature his dark gift: the power to live many lives. To accept, the creature must bathe its head in the liquid within the basin. This dark gift allows the body to reincarnate upon death once per day, as if it was the target of a reincarnate spell. Any stages of corruption received from this or any other dark gift are preserved each time the creature reincarnates.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a kingly throne room carved of pure marble and decorated by ornate wall hangings and tapestries of gold and purple. A tall and proud throne sits upon a raised dais at the room’s end, carved of gold and gilded with platinum. Upon the throne’s seat, resting on a soft violet pillow, rests a golden crown inset with many beautiful and priceless gems.
Upon the steps of the dais sits Zantras, the Kingmaker, a slender and handsome young man. He wears fine robes of deep blues and blacks, and bears a simple dagger at his side. Zantras offers the creature his dark gift: the power of great presence and force of personality. To accept, the creature must allow Zantras to place the crown upon its head. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to reroll any Persuasion, Intimidation, or Deception check up to three times per day.
X33D. Breached Vault
West Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a vast, frozen wasteland. Strange, twisted monuments of ice arc unnaturally in leaping spirals and immense, impossible architectures. Shards of ice swirl on the wind, cutting into any exposed flesh. Several hundred yards away rests a near-bottomless pit, its sides covered in snow and frost, its base glowing a faint, weak orange-red several dozen miles below. A constant column of red-hot magma rises in great, shifting blobs from the base of the pit, swirling in a column of air into the skies above.
The column of magma rises far into the atmosphere. As it rises, the magma can be seen darkening, the heat vanishing as it turns black with cold. Above, the magma is devoured by a dark, gaping crater of Delban, the Star of Ice and Hate, an icy, planetary moon that hangs overhead. The crater is lined with enormous, miles-long spikes of ice that rim its edges like teeth. Delban offers the creature its dark gift: the power to unleash deadly cold. To accept, the creature must step into the column of magma and allow itself to be devoured by Delban’s crater. This dark gift allows the beneficiary to cast cone of cold without components three times per day.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a stone platform floating in an endless black ocean. The water is rough, but yards-wide pockets of stillness occasionally bubble up from below, existing for mere seconds before the currents and waves swallow them up once more. The sky is filled with dark clouds, and the sun is eclipsed by a dark moon that devours the light around it.
Floating in the air before the platform, haloed by the eclipse above, is the avatar of Khirad, the Star of Secrets, a tall,cowled figure wearing a long, rippling yellow cloak that conceals all features. Though the moon overhead is the true vestige, this figure projects its sonorous, yet whispered voice for the creature to hear. Khirad offers the creature its dark gift: the power of divination. To accept, the creature must step off of the platform and dive into the ocean. This gift allows its beneficiary to cast the scrying spell three times per day without components as an action.
X33E. Vault of Harkotha
North Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a circular glass platform floating in an endless, starry void. At the center of the platform, upon a raised glass pillar, rests a spherical object covered in a simple red cloth.
The creature is soon met by Yrrga, the Eye of Shadows, a woman’s silhouette formed by the stars and planets of the surrounding void, her eyes a pair of swirling spiral galaxies. She offers the creature her dark gift: the power of true seeing. To accept, the creature must remove the red cloth and gaze into the glass orb that lies beneath it. This dark gift grants its beneficiary the ability to cast the true seeing spell three times per day.
West Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a desolate wasteland of mountainous canyons, ridges, and chasms that bubble with streams and geysers of lava. A great river of lava cuts through the earth nearby, its surface churning with melting black stone and spouts of hot magma. The river flows into a large lake of lava, framed by a semicircle of five great mountains that tower above the rest.
Rising from the lake of lava is Great Taar Haak, the Five-Headed Destroyer – an immense, five-headed hydra of dark platinum scales, each maw wide enough to devour an entire village. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power of great physical strength. To accept, the creature must wade into the lake of lava and be baptised beneath the hydra’s monstrous claw. This dark gift grants its beneficiary the ability to increase its Strength score to 26 as an action for one hour up to three times per day.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to the floor of a dark cavern whose arched ceiling rises hundreds of feet overhead. A stone ridge extends from the floor and extends in dozens of spirals around the edge of the chamber toward the ceiling. The ridges are dotted with enormous boulders, some of which rival entire houses in size, while the smashed remains of many stones of similar size lie pulverized on the ground. The lowest floor of the cavern sinks to a circular, flat depression; at its center, formed by several converging cracks in the earth, rests a deep, dark hole filled with a thick, bubbling tar.
Perched atop the highest ridge overhead, and slowly descending toward the creature, is Yog the Invincible, a house-sized wolf whose black fur is like a shell of dark, steel quills. A thick, oozing tar constantly drips from Yog’s coat, its yellow eyes gleaming in the darkness of the cave. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power of physical resilience. To accept, the creature must bathe itself in the pool of tar at the center of the cavern. This dark gift grants its beneficiary the ability to grant itself 30 temporary hit points three times per day.
X33F. Vault of Thangob.
West Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a decrepit chapel carved of black marble. Stone coffins carved with pentagrams fill the sanctuary in long, perfect rows, their covers removed to reveal the ancient undead that lie within. Atop a dais at the opposite end of the chapel lies an additional open stone coffin.
Clad in twisted darkness behind the elevated coffin is Norganas, the Finger of Oblivion, a writhing mass of shadows shaped like grasping hands and long, reaching tendrils. Just above the darkness’ center floats an elaborate helm carved of bone, its visor revealing nothing but a pair of crimson red eyes. Norganas offers the creature its dark gift: the power to turn life into undeath. To accept, the creature must crawl into the coffin atop the dais and allow Norganas’ many hands to pull the cover shut above it. This dark gift grants its beneficiary the power to cast the finger of death spell as an action once per day.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to an impenetrable void of perfect blackness. The floor is wet, as though covered by a thin layer of liquid water. In the distance, a standing silver mirror, taller than the creature, can be seen.
A creature that approaches the mirror, instead of their own reflection, can see a golden mask fashioned into a smiling human face hovering in the air where another creature’s head might be. The rest of the mirror is filled with blackness. This mask hides the features of Vaund the Evasive. It offers the creature its dark gift: the power of evasion. To accept, the PC must step through the surface of the mirror. The beneficiary can use this dark gift up to three times per day to either cast the spell nondetection without components or to use their reaction to succeed on a failed Dexterity saving throw.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to an arid hellscape forged of black volcanic rock. A crimson sky of impossible heat blazes down from above, and the ground is split in many places by deep fissures and cracks that allow great gouts of lava to burst and ooze from beneath the surface. A pair of hell hounds linger beneath a twisted arch of black earth, smoke and embers steaming from their nostrils as magma drips from their maws like saliva.
Between and behind the hell hounds stands Seriach, the Hell Hound Whisperer, a figure clad entirely in black steel armor inlaid with crimson markings and sigils. The armor upon its shoulders are rimmed with spikes, and its helmet bears a pair of metal horns that thrust into the air a full foot above the helmet’s top. In its hands, Seriach holds a pair of whips that crackle with swirling flames. He offers the creature the power to summon and control the beasts of the Nine Hells. To accept, the PC must allow itself to be devoured by the two hell hounds. The beneficiary can use this dark gift to summon and control two hell hounds for one hour once per day.
X38. Haunted Room
Should the PCs encounter the poltergeist that haunts this chamber, rather than forcing the players to roll initiative, treat the spirit as an active trap or hazard, allowing it to move and attack the PCs whenever you feel that six seconds (one round) have passed in-game.
X42. Amber Vault
West Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a dark field of dead grasses and twisted, dying trees. Littering the ground are thousands of pale, shriveled corpses, their bodies torn, pierced, and drained of all blood. Tens of thousands of enormous black bats, each one the size of a small dog, hang from the branches of the trees, their eyes fixated upon the creature.
Beneath an enormous black gulthias tree that looms far above the rest crouches Vampyr, a monstrous humanoid with two long, bat-like wings that extend beyond its arms, a pair of bat-like ears, and a gaping maw of teeth that culminate in a pair of enormous fangs. It crouches upon the ground rather than standing, its flesh a pale, blue-tinged gray, and its mouth and face dripping with blood. Crimson stains mark the flesh of its chest, and its arms end in long, wicked claws from which blood oozes without end. Vampyr offers the creature its dark gift: the immortality of undeath, as described in the original module. To accept, the creature must allow itself to be exsanguinated by Vampyr and its thousands of bats, its flesh torn and mutilated by the vestige’s great claws.
South Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to a dark tomb, the walls lined with twisted engravings of undeath and sacrilegious, profane arcane rites. A pair of pedestals carved from enormous, powder-white bones hold a pair of objects: one, an ancient grimoire bound in human skin; the other, a small metal box inscribed with hundreds of intertwining, concentric arcane symbols.
Between the pedestals stands Tenebrous, a towering undead figure whose flesh has decayed and shriveled, leaving its features sunken, twisted, and sagging. Six red circles have been carved into the flesh of its bare scalp, and its eyes glow a dim, distant crimson. On a loop of platinum chain links around its neck, it wears a simple amulet forged of platinum and bearing a purple gem at its center. Tenebrous offers the creature its dark gift: the secret of lichdom, as described in the original module. To accept, the creature must open the grimoire upon the pedestal and read its contents.
East Sarcophagus. A creature that touches this sarcophagus is mentally transported to the crest of a tall, mountainous hill that overlooks a rugged and desolate landscape. Cold, raised lines of pale blue curl between each mountain, splitting and rejoining like veins. The sky overhead is an inky black, filled only with thirteen distant stars whose blue light flickers coldly across the void.
As the creature obtains its bearings, the hill splits apart at its peak, revealing its true nature: one of the many, miles-long eyes of Zhudun, the Corpse Star – an aberrant moon-sized planetary body covered in eyes. Dozens, then hundreds of mounds, mountains, and hills across the horizon, as far as the eye can see, do the same, revealing hundreds of purple-irised eyes, each one larger than a city. Zhudun offers the creature its dark gift: the power to raise the ancient dead, as described in the original module. To accept, the creature must allow itself to fall into the great dark hole of Zhudun’s pupil.
The first time that the PCs enter area X17 (Upper West Hall) or area X4 (Overlook), or approach the southern staircases in area X5 (Temple of Lost Secrets) after taking a treasure or magic item from within the Amber Temple, Neferon teleports to area X5a (God of Secrets), condemns the party for stealing, and attacks – with surprise, if the darkness around the god’s statue remains in place. The three flameskulls in Area X17 (Upper West Hall) also immediately join his attack. The only item that the PCs can retrieve without incurring Neferon’s wrath is the wand of secrets in area X2b (Guard Room), which Neferon does not consider to be a part of the Temple proper.
However, if the PCs have previously found, cured, and befriended Exethanter, Neferon instead appears before the PCs as a hovering cloud of darkness before delivering its condemnation. If Exethanter is not already with the party, he swiftly appears and commands Neferon to cease his foolish actions. With a snap of Exethanter’s bony fingers, Neferon’s darkness vanishes, revealing his demonic form to the party. Exethanter scorns Neferon for his opposition, scoffing, “You made your choice – as I made mine. Now begone, and trouble us no more.” Neferon hisses at Exethanter in displeasure, vowing that Exethanter’s protection will not shield the PCs forever, but soon teleports away to hide in area X5a (God of Secrets). Exethanter promises the PCs that Neferon’s threats are hollow outside of the Temple, and offers to escort them outside. He refuses to elaborate on his words to Neferon, but will disclose that he and Neferon were once colleagues if asked.