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I’m almost out of Judges Guild Campaign Hexagon Sub-System books to try out, but I’ve saved one of the most fun-looking volumes for today: Temple Book I. (Curious about past entries? Check out all of the “Let’s roll up a…” posts.)

Like the rest of the Campaign Hexagon books, the random tables from Temple Book I live in my DCC RPG hexcrawl binder, and if Hexmancer were to tell me there’s a temple in the hex, I’d roll one up on the spot. (So far, no temples.)

Here’s a taste of what that might look like in play.

Toot toot it’s a temple

  • Ceremonies: I’m not sure why this is first, but it is! I roll a d10 and get 4/day: dusk, midnight, dawn, and midnight again. This is a pretty active temple.
  • Ceremonial Offering: A 14, chicken sacrifice. I was not-at-all-secretly hoping for a 15 (human heart) or 20 (demi-human head), but fine. Chickens it is.[1]
  • Ceremony Attendees: I get “High Priest(s) only.” Whatever they worship here, it’s a secret affair. A 9 would have been the high priest(s) plus a demon.
  • Ceremonial Devices: “Deity’s Day of Death.” In my current hexcrawl campaign, we don’t have a pantheon.[2] I love this result because it tells me interesting things about at least one deity in this world: it can die, and people still worship it. It also makes me wonder how the deity died. Maybe a later roll will help pin that down.
  • Special Ceremonies: There’s a knock-on roll for how many devices, but I got a 1 on both dice: chants, and just one of them.
  • Curse Upon Defiler: Defile this temple, and the church will hire a 12th level assassin to murder you. Hardcore!
  • Duration of Curse: How long will the assassin pursue her quarry? Another 1, so 1d20 hours; I rolled a 7. That feels less like hiring an assassin than dispatching one — or better still, summoning one. I’ll file that away for now, but I like the idea that the high priest summons a demon (or something) to hunt down defilers this hot minute.

Interlude

I don’t remember where I saw this table, but I know it was before I’d bought most of the Campaign Hexagon books. In many ways, this table was responsible for piquing my interest in this series. Just look at it. Is it not magnificent?

Okay, back to die-rolling. Will I get a 17, for sentient temple?

  • Protection: No, I will not. I roll an 11, “undead.” Undead are cool too! This temple is getting darker and darker the further into the tables I get.
  • Undead: There are a whole heap of sub-tables just for the entries on the Protection table, so I only need this one: Undead. I rolled a 2, for zombie. I assume that’s not just one zombie? All of the other entries are singular, though. Hmm.
  • Leadership: Of the six results on this table, the first four are a single high priest. A 5 is dual leadership, and the 6 I roll tells me my temple is led by a triumvirate. A triumvirate of high priests who summon assassins and worship their dead deity four times a day, in secret.
  • Leader Level, Other Priests, and their level: One roll, three columns. My 10 puts this temple’s membership in the middle of the pack: The triumvirate is composed of three 8th level priests, they’re accompanied by 30+3d10 other priests (I roll a 7, so 37), and those priests are level 1d8-1 (I get a 4, so level 3). At the high end, I could have had a triumvirate of 12th-20th level priests with 202-220 followers, each of whom was 7th-11th level! That temple would be an insane random encounter. As it is, though, this fell house of worship is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Temple Configuration: A 10, rhomboid.
  • Size: Two-story. Other options include underground levels.
  • Condition: Crumbling. Interesting. Either this cult doesn’t care about the condition of their temple, or it’s a defensive measure, or rot and ruin are sacred to their dead god — lots of options here. I probably should have rolled on this one first, actually, since ruins and “foundations only” are both possibilities, and both preclude much of the stuff I’ve already rolled.
  • Temple Location: Four entries are fantasy communities (hamlet, etc.), one is wilderness, and the one I rolled is “Other Plane.” Hell. Yes. What if the crumbling shell of the temple is in the party’s plane, but the actual temple is in another plane? I like that. It also explains why the summoned assassin can’t stick around for very long.
  • Other Plane: Which plane? Why, the Elemental Plane of Air.
  • Temple Built of: I rolled an 8, copper. Neat.
  • Temple Wealth: Rolling what must be at least my eleventy-fifth 1, Satan’s House of Assassins and Pancakes is sitting on a hoard of . . . 200 GP, and its priests each carry 5 GP. If the PCs figure that out, this blight on the landscape isn’t going to be defiled anytime soon — but I dig that outcome, because then it continues to be a blight on the landscape.
  • Shrine: I’m not sure why this is the last table, but I roll a 9, holy statue. Okay, good enough to provide some color. (I was pulling for a 10, “Home of Deity,” because their god is dead and that sounded neat.) There are sub-tables for 8/10 possible results, but not this one. I guess we’re done!

Satan’s House of Assassination and Pancakes

Looking back over my results, I get a strong impression of a temple that does not want to be disturbed. Their god is dead, the actual temple is on another plane, they’ve left behind a couple of schlubby priests and some zombies to guard the crumbling shell on the Prime Material Plane, and if you fuck with the place they call down the wrath of a 12th level assassin.

Fuck with it more, and you’ll have three 8th level priests and 30+ of their 3rd level buddies whooshing out of the elemental gateway to smite your asses. And probably turn you into zombies.

But they’re also super into their dead god, with four services a day — and those are conducted in secret, and not for the mere priests. Plus, they’re not rich; I see evil ascetics, not Hyborian high priests bedecked in gold and jewels.

Let’s pull all that together.

Rhomboid Redoubt of the Ravager

From the outside, in the mortal realm, this two-story rhomboid building is a crumbling ruin. A weather-worn statue, 40′ tall, stands astride the entrance, but no features have survived; it’s little more than a vaguely humanoid pillar. Scrub grass and trees encroach on all sides.

Anyone who approaches will have to contend with roaming zombies and, if they try to breach the temple proper, a handful of priests — angry priests, since they’re the only priests stuck in this impure land.

Anyone who enters the temple finds themselves instantaneously transported to the Elemental Plane of Air, where they appear inside a rhomboid structure made of solid copper. There, the temple’s three high priests worship their dead god, the Ravager, four times a day in the temple’s innermost sanctum. The other priests maintain a near-ceaseless chant in praise of the Ravager, and keep every inch of the copper temple polished to a high shine — tasks which they believe may someday resurrect the Ravager.

Once a year, on the Ravager’s death-day, the priesthood emerges from the true temple, gathers up their zombies, and devastates the surrounding countryside like an unholy storm. Anyone they meet is raised as a zombie, and will guard the temple until the next death-day.

Those who penetrate the inner temple will not be rewarded with treasure, as the priesthood of the Ravager cares not for mortal trappings. But they will be pursued by a fearsome demon-assassin, a being made of solid copper and inscribed with sacred rhombuses, who will murder them where they stand — for the glory of the Ravager.

As a GM, I’m already wondering: What happens in the PCs wipe this place out? It’d make an amazing base! Except . . . maybe the cult’s four-times-daily prayers were actually keeping the Ravager dead, or appeasing the Ravager’s god-kin, and what happens when they stop praying? Lots to chew on with this one.

In conclusion: Fuck yeah Judges Guild!

[1] Spoiler alert: I wound up leaving out the chickens.

[2] I submit that the majority of old-school games work just fine without a pantheon at the outset. Just develop it if it ever becomes relevant.

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