World Building Wednesday-Entering the Shrine of Zemail

In the center of the Cloying Forest, the Shrine of Zemail has long been lost to time and the wildly spreading underbrush. Most believe that Zemail is protecting her shrine from continuing Lizardfolk defilement in the name of Wesarin. While the thick brush has stymied Lizardfolk efforts to rediscover the shrine, it has even more hindered centaur interests in finding and cleansing the shrine that the forest might be theirs.

ShrineOfZemailExteriorBeyond the miles of thick underbrush surrounding it, the giant oak tree that houses the shrine is encircled in 50 feet or so of thick dagger thistle plants. These plants are controlled by a power like Control Plant and are gradually restored 10 cubic feet per hour through a force like Rapid Growth. They attack anything that approaches the shrine from any side and can reach up to 20 feet in the air to attack. Adventurers not wishing to fight through the dagger thistles may be able to use Control Plant to calm them as they pass. Alternatively, a prayer to Zemail to allow passage may be answered, depending on the supplicator’s favor with Zemail and his prayer ability.

Large hollowed trees around the perimeter of the living dagger thistles once housed shrine keepers, but furnishings in them now indicate that the latest residents were lizardfolk who worshiped Wesarin. If the Master Weaver desires, lizardfolk could have beaten the players to the shrine and be living their now. The hollowed trees are multi-story dwellings with a ground floor, a basement down 10 feet under ground, and one or two floors above the ground floor.

ShrineEntranceCenterAt the top of the stairs leading to the trunk of the Zemail’s Mighty Oak is a living portal 2 feet thick. Again, there are three options for passing this door. The adventurers can burn through it, use Control Plant to open it, or pray for Zemail to open it for them. Inside the trunk, they will find themselves facing a pit 100 feet deep from their wooden ledge. Glow vines hanging in the center of the trunk illuminate the pit softly. The light shows massive leaves ringing the inside of the trunk.

ShrineEntranceAboveThe leaves are stretchy and springy, but only enough to perhaps double jumping height when used as a trampoline. They can each support thousands of pounds of weight with powerful stems about a foot in diameter. The material is unnaturally strong and hard, but woody and can be enhanced with Rapid Growth. They are cupped and when under weight will stretch. They extend both upward and downward from the door platform at 5 foot height intervals. Jumping down them is easy, but jumping up them is much harder for most characters and creatures.

ShrineEntranceBottomThe trunk floor, 100 feet below the entrance and 75 feet beneath the ground, is covered in water 6+1d6 feet and 1d12 inches deep, covering 1 or 2 leaves. In the angle between floor and wall are small valves that can be pried open with a little effort. When open, these valves can be felt to be sucking water from the room at 20 cubic feet per second. The water is not flowing down or away, however. It flows up into the leaf directly above the valve. The unaltered leaves can each hold 300 cubic feet of water (18,720 lbs) before collapsing to dump all of the water they hold and springing back into place.

Filling all of the leaves removes enough water to guarantee most races the ability to stand comfortably, also giving them easier access to the puzzle trap door in the center of the floor. We will discuss this puzzle in a post later today. Keep an eye out!

How do you like this entrance to the shrine?  Satisfied with the obstacles so far? Would you like to play this dungeon? Would you like to run it? Would you approach it in an effort to cleanse the shrine? To further defile it? To simply loot it? Let us know below.

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2 Responses to World Building Wednesday-Entering the Shrine of Zemail

  1. If the oak is a giant among its fellow trees, then wouldn’t be relatively easy to spot from a distance? You might have to get up above the shrub layer to look around, but that wouldn’t be hard for even a minor spell-caster, or a determined band of lizardfolk with a portable tower of logs and rope. What makes the shrine so hard to find?

    When you pass through the living portal and are standing on the ledge, what do you see if you look up? Is the chamber open to the sky?

    • jameseck says:

      Good catch! Maybe I need to claim that the tree is in a valley and that the cloying forest has somewhat rolling hills that make it harder to be sure which piece of the distant canopy is the shrine. I could also say it’s not significantly taller, but wider. Something to consider.

      There is a ceiling 25 feet above the ledge from which the glow vines grow. Not open to the sky. I have no explanation for the source of the water.

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