Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Make a Serpent Cult Dungeon

For use in Hoard of the Dragon Queen or wherever horrible serpent cults are sold. 

How to make a serpent cult site:
  1. Choose a transformer
  2. Choose a main prize 
  3. Choose a guardian to guard it
  4. Improvise area contents, peppering description with decor 
  5. Place special areas
  6. Guard treasure and prizes with locks, supply lore as keys, and don't forget monsters and traps and guardians
  7. Add your own content
Transformers are features that change the way you navigate or interact with the dungeon. Manipulating them can open new areas and close off others. Think gravity reversal buttons, items that open special doors.

Prizes are the main treasures. They're relevant to your campaign, worthy of setting out to obtain specifically. Like the holy grail, the shards of Narsil. 

Guardians are big scary monsters that you shouldn't just be able to melee. Think cinematically. Think the huge boss fights from videogames. Just think of something awesome and don't worry about how to implement it.

Locks are anything that that bars the way to a reward and may be opened by a key, literal or not. If supplied an unsuitable key, a lock may present a risk: animating/releasing guardians, setting off a trap, destroying it's guarded treasure, or nothing may happen. Locks may reveal what they guard to tantalize players. 

Lore should be personalized for your campaign. Give entities named and reveal them, maybe use them as keys. Lore can be revealed in statues, texts, murals, ghostly reenactments, interrogations, etc. 

Lore (can be used as keys)
  1. The ancients fed milk to the serpents and anointed their heads with it
  2. The name of an entity 
  3. Musical notation pictured next to a snake charmer. It is a famous hymn. 
  4. The steps of a sacred dance 
  5. The mudras for a sacred ritual
  6. The components of a holy potion
  7. The site of a holy shrine
  8. The weapon of a holy warrior 
  9. The face paint of a hated enemy
  10. All the snakes in the world were almost killed in a fiery sacrificial pit by a god, but another god stopped it out of love for the serpent queen
  11. The number of heads the serpent princess had at birth 
  12. How many heads the lover of the serpent princess cut off
  13. How long the serpent princess's lover digested in her stomach
  14. The name of the plump white rat that ever escapes the prince's jaws
  15. The process for rendering the contact poison of suspended animation stable 
  16. The recipe for the contact poison of suspended animation 
  17. The markings of the spear that slew the serpent prince
  18. The musical notation of the dirge for the serpent prince 

  19. The lyrics of the dirge for the serpent prince 
  20. The words of the vow of vengeance for the serpent prince


  1. An empty bowl filled carved on the inside with magical writing having to do with presenting the proper offering: milk and blood are acceptable. 
  2. A statue of a snake set into a inverse some in the floor, with drains in it. The top of the head has a hole in it as well. Pour milk in the head so that it drains through the snake itself and through he floor drains, and the lock will open.
  3. Gigantic snake statue made of bronze blocks the way. Grooves in the floor beneath apparently so to can be moved. If a serpent cult hymn is played, the statue will slowly approach the music while keeping on its track, so clearing or blocking the way. 
  4. Holes that need snakes in them. 
  5. Trough that needs 6 gallons of blood. 
  6. Wavy crawlspace, must be slithered through
  7. An ear into which certain words must be spoken 
  8. A stage on which a danceidt be done
  9. An amphitheater in which a performance must be conducted 
  10. An arena in which must be defeated
  11. A bed missing a lover on which his corpse or someone dressed in his garb must lie
  12. A diner to whom appropriate food must be served 
  13. A groom to whom the proper bride must be given 
  14. A rider to whom a proper mount must be supplied
  15. A worker who needs a tool
  16. A reader who needs a book
  17. A nursing mother who needs an infant 
  18. A scribe who needs a stylus
  19. A warrior who needs a weapon
  20. A door that needs a key
Special Areas
  1. Hatchery, incubated by giant horrible bloated thing, fed by blood tubes from sacrificial pit below obscured by its horrible encrusted bulk
    • Treasure room beyond 
    • Treasure from dead heroes on floor near burst eggs
  2. Room with bowed out door straight up filled with snakes subsisting on brimstone vapors
  3. Karzum, city of the vanquished: dead god statue, king, soldiers and people, men women children. In miniature except for people. Lots of places to climb. Palace has treasure taken from city. Try to take it without the key, and literally every being will animate and attack. 
  4. Huge chasm, can be spanned by twisted cables that run along the ceiling, there may be snake holes in the ceiling or walls, some cables may be loose. 
  5. Ziggurat with altar on top. Blood everywhere. Blood elementals commanded by a skeletal high priest. Breaking the altar reveals a chute to a treasure room. 
  6. Beauty of the goddess. Vast room plated in bronze. At the end, a titanic naga statue. Viewing it transfixes you, and you see in your mind the life cycle of a serpent and the life cycle of a universe melded. You wake up hours later and cannot see a serpent without marveling at its beauty. You totally get snake worship now. If you begin to engage in acts of snake worship, gain d100% of the XP needed to level for each step you take toward the ultimate recapitulation of the full and ancient priesthood. So splashing milk on a snake grants d100% XP to level the first time you do it. Then if you sacrifice an animal to a snake, take that XP roll again, etc. 
  1. River of blood, dangerous, reroute, boats of scales
  2. Hoods Ike cobra to glide around, air drafts and screw lifts 
  3. Musical instruments to charm snakes or snake like structures, moving things around. Different instruments charm different snakes or structures
  4. Floating rideable poison clouds 
  5. Snake chains, shoot like grappling gun from anchor points, reload, repair, transport
  6. Snake keys: particular species held or placed into lock for passage, must be living, pictures for clues
  7. Poison as key in vials
  8. Bones as keys, femurs, skulls, x#
  1. Ancient high priest Azathoth, reanimated, wants to take over cult from current leadership, will talk and cooperate if shown deference, will not tolerate disrespect
  2. dragon
  3. Monster king
  4. Giant bone serpent 
  5. commander of insane paladins
  6. avatar of the dead god
  1. Wavy motifs
  2. Ouroboros 
  3. Circles, twists 
  4. Stone baths
  5. Bloody altars
  6. Braided hanging chains
  7. Holes in surfaces, tons
  8. Statues of kings, heroes, gods, priests (pro and anti cult)
  9. Acrid smell
  10. Bloodstains
  11. Lab gear for body modification and poison milking
  12. Snakeskin and human skin garb
  13. Stone trees drapes with snakes or beds for humans 
  14. Rivers of blood or poison
  15. Tunnels, rifles and scaled
  16. Scaled surfaces
  17. Forking paths like tongues
  18. Doors opening like jaws
  19. Slight slope with blood grooves in floor or contained in glass on walls, leading to bad things 
  20. Pens for humans and beasts, wavy bars
  21. Storage on circular rooms like snake stomach
  22. Bulging rooms like gorging snake stomach
  23. Torture / medicine equipment: feeding tubes, clamps, straps
  24. Serpentine columns, heads eating various things babies rabbits etc
  25. Fangs everywhere, control mechanisms, inscribed
  26. Mosaics of naturally colored or painted scales
  27. Documents written on scales or snakeskin, bound with gut or ligament
  28. Bones bones everywhere mixed
  29. Things crushed from constriction
  30. Eggs, man; death = bite; life = breaking though shells; shells and thin membranes everywhere
  1. Pits (snakes / spikes optional)
  2. One way doors
  3. Poison gas
  4. Rotating floor
  5. Guardian reanimation (drain the suspense-poison bath or pop off the poison IV when triggered)
  6. snakes be everywhere 
  7. Animated statues (snakes, followers, defeated gods, slain kings coated in statue poison-resin)
  8. Sacrificial pit
  1. Dragon mask
  2. Magic gear of slain dragon slayers
  3. Horrible spells
  4. Treasure (coins, ancient, horrible stuff, shed skin)
  5. Serpent magic items
  6. Poison and delivery systems for it
  1. Cultists
  2. Mercenaries
  3. Paladins driven insane
  4. Priests/kings in suspended poison-animation, awaiting reawakening to dominate, possible faction interest
  5. Yuan-ti 
  6. Horrible experiments 
  7. Tons of snakes (poison!)
  8. Bone serpents
  9. Dragons
  10. Kobolds
  11. Lizardfolk
  12. Troglodytes 

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