Obviously was done for 2nd Ed, but definitely deserves to be converted. For the most part it is a clever and well executed scenario and the perfect hook for a party of mostly good, mostly fighter adventurers. Perhaps they hear rumours that a friend who once took the vow did not get where he expected, perhaps a deity has indeed noticed and is none too pleased, taking a priest to investigate.. a lot of potential for relatively high level fun and good introduction to the idea of planar travel for a group otherwise firmly grounded in the Prime Material.
Temple of Angelic Mercy
|Temple of Angelic Mercy Copyright © 1999 by Heiner de Wendt |
Appearance: From a distance, this white marble temple looks like a small though beautiful fortress. It is 6 * 6 meters large and exactly 9 meters high, having small arrow slits everywhere. The temple is actually larger than it seems, as it goes three meters into the ground as well. Coming nearer to the temple, it becomes obvious that is is covered with pearls and gems, creating a giant piece of art that seems to come from the heavens themselves.
A large portal at the front, made of adamantite, is nearly always open, showing the interior of the temple is even more wonderful than the outside. In situations of danger, the portal closes and can't be opened by anyone but the high priestess of the temple.
Description: The Temple of Angelic Mercy is a legendary place known in myths of countless Prime worlds. It seems the temple appears whenever good folk is trapped in a hopeless situation, e.g. a small village besieged by hundreds of orcs, adventurers in desperate need of a refuge, and similar situations. Whenever the temple appears, it simply fades into existence at empty ground; this might be in a hidden place, in the middle of a city, or even amidst a great battle. The portal is closed whenever evil beings try to enter the Temple of Angelic Mercy, or if this isn't possible for some reason (e.g. the good people would be cast out as well), the evil ones are battled by the inhabitants of the temple until they retreat (which usually doesn't take too long). Good folk inside the temple suddenly recognize the peacefulness of this holy place. The priests clad in wonderful white robes (which are neither seductive nor too strict) lead everyone in need of rest to comfortable bed chambers in the upper parts of the fortress. There are twenty free bed chambers when the temple appears; if they are all in use, the fifteen priests and priestesses let guests use their own chambers, while they use the altar room for as long as needed.
Only Mira, the high priestess, never sleeps in the altar room - although if the situation really longs for it, she might allow someone to use her bed with her (or at least sleep on the floor of her chamber). This does NOT result in making love with her, though. The whole fortress is under the effects of a "protection from evil" spell. This spell cannot be dispelled, thus all evil attackers have penalties when fighting inside the fortress, and extraplanar beings don't even have any chance to enter it.
Mira and her fellow priests and priestesses love to help good folk, and they do never hesitate when they're needed. Still, there help doesn't come without the hope for payment. Whenever their task is accomplished, they ask anyone they helped to take part in a great ritual involving praying to the powers who made the victory possible. The ritual usually takes a whole night and day, and everyone is asked to give the following vow during the ritual. Noone, though, is forced to join in this. Mira usually talks to anyone who denies it personally, trying to understand why the person denies the vow. If she can't convince the character, she accepts it, granting him a last smile showing only very very slight disappointment (which is very often enough to convince the few people who denied before).
The vow given is as follows:
I, [name of vowing person], bow to the powers who saved us tonight [today, this week, or whatever else is appropriate]. I believe in the righteousness of Angelic Mercy, and I promise to do what my abilities allow to follow this path of righteousness - in this life and in the life thereafter.
This oath shall be true forever, and my words shall be my way. Usually, the fortress disappears again a short time after this ritual. To those who ask, Mira explains that the Angelic Powers grant her all her abilities, and let the fortress shift to other places where her help is needed.
Note that, if Mira's vast powers happen to be too few to fight the forces of evil (which is a rare event indeed), the other priests and priestesses proof to be great fighters as well. Each one of them has one particular power granted by the deities who created the Temple of Angelic Mercy (though no spells), and all have the abilities of fighters of levels 10-15.
The Dark: As unbelievable as it seems, all this is just a ruse. The Temple of Angelic Mercy is a plan of fiendish genius, the career afterburner of an extremely cunning erinyes: Mira. In times lost to mortal memories, the erinyes seduced a powerful mage and brought him to Hell (errh, Baator). His soul was lost, but not so his treasures... among them an unfinished Daern's Instant Fortress.
With great secrecy, much seducing of mortal spellcasters and gathering of many treasures, Mira managed to create this perfect illusion of a heavenly temple. The temple itself can't really shift, but instead it is linked with the erinyes' power to teleport without error: It takes her a few rounds to store enough magical energy in the fortress to make it and everything inside it teleport to her next goal, but as she tends to plan her travels in much detail, these teleportations work perfectly.
(For DMs who use Hellbound, where the fiends have lost their abilities to Teleport w/o Error, assume she owns a powerful magical, hellish item still granting her this ability) The first time she used it, both Mira herself and the fortress were destroyed. Barely escaping, she decided getting help for just such circumstances. If she was accompanied by a group of seeming priests/priestesses, this would not only grant her a small army for when such a thing was needed, it would also make foes think twice before attacking: It's a difference if just a single person confronts you, or if you have to fight against one or two dozen persons of obvious power.
Mira was too mistrusting (and too cunning) to ask for Baatorian reinforcements. Instead, she approached various people of extremely good alignment (mainly Lawful Good, but also some Neutral or Chaotic Good ones), convincing them of her "heavenly mission". All these people were simple fighters, and she was sure that at least some of them would need to be "bribed" with priestly powers to keep up their mood. Of course, she couldn't grant such spells... so she made another risky, but cunning decision. Whenever a new "priest" joins her forces, Mira tells him to pray for enlightenment for a few days. In this time, she herself searches for a powerful mage able to cast permanency spells (she's working together with various mages for several times by now, but since her she is doing this thing since millennia now, she just needs to switch the mages occasionally because the old ones have died). In whatever way needed, she then makes sure the mage secretly casts permanency together with some other good ability on the new priest. The foolish mortals consider this a blessing of the gods, and the power of the ability to be a sign how greatly the gods revere the particular person.
This stunningly evil fraud serves only one aim: Drawing the souls of good-aligned people to Baator. The vow given in the ritual after a victory is nothing else than a disguised Baatezu contract. Mira managed to make the "altar room" of her fortress an official "contract hall", and all vows given herein count as official contracts for the Baatezu as soon as Mira reports them (actually, there is a magical device hidden in the Altar which lets the Baatezu see everything that took place in that hall - a mixture of a Crystal Ball and a Mimir). Of course, the "powers who saved" the mortals are the powers of Baator, more exactly Mira herself.
The "Righteousness of Angelic Mercy" is another cunning trick:
Mira is, of course, only a fake name; her name as a Baatezu is Angelic. Thus, "Angelic Mercy" isn't worth more than a dagger in your back. Following the path of "this righteousness", even in the afterlife, is a clear statement of selling one's soul to the Baatezu, and here we have the one detail Mira's whole "work" is about. The Baatezu now only have to wait until the person dies, and make sure no gods interfere...
This last problem is the main point in Mira's "expedition plans". She usually chooses places where the gods of good aren't revered very much, for example outposts of civilization where the people lead a life so harsh it doesn't leave enough time for prayers and priestly servitude. Mira uses a powerful, self-made Crystal Ball which has got the ability to reach any Prime Material world (but no other place). It is possible to see and hear through it, and whenever Mira's divinations are detected, the Crystal Ball switches off by itself in an instant. Once per day, two spells of at best 8th level can be cast through it (which is how Mira lets mages cast the "special abilities" on her "priests").
Mira/AngelicErinyes, High Priestess of the Temple of Angelic Mercy
Appearance: In her true form of Angelic, she has got long, red curly hair, and sinister, lustful green eyes. She is about 170 cm tall and has a perfect figure and large, feathery wings on her back - just as any erinyes.
Mira is even slightly smaller than Angelic, having deep black instead of red hair. Her peaceful, wise-looking eyes have a silvery-blue colour, and although her slim, perfect body isn't any bit less attractive than that of Angelic, it is covered in her flowing white robes.
Mira/Angelic wears two rings at each hand, a "holy" amulet, an ornamented, artful girdle and a gleaming short sword at her side.
Intelligence: Exceptional (16; this really IS exceptional for an erinyes, and might be more than mere "luck"... in Baator, you never know)Alignment: Lawful EvilArmor Class: 2 / -3Movement: 12, Fl 21 CHit Dice: 6+6Hit Points: 42THAC0: 13 (10 with short sword)No. of Attacks: 1Damage/Attack: 1d6+3Special Attacks: Charm, Fear, Magical Items (note that she has stored her rope of entanglement in Baator, not truly planning on ever using it again)Special Defenses: +1 weapons to hit, Magical ItemsMagic Resistance: 30%Size: M (170 cm)Morale: Champion (16 - as exceptional as her Intelligence)XP Value: 8,000
When entering a battlefield, Mira loves to use her Fear-powers to demoralize her opponents. Then she uses frightening illusions (of course, not TOO frightening - she wants to seem good, after all), charming and suggestions in an extremely strategical way, usually resulting in victory after a very short time. She would never use her gating ability if there was any other chance of escape, and she would prefer to lose a battle (though of course not her life) than risking her guise to be discovered. The Temple of Angelic Mercy doesn't only appear in battle situations, though. Angelic has relatively often used her power of "locate object" to help important artifacts of relics or to uncover thiefs, and there were countless other events differing from "standard" situations.
Mira owns and uses the following magical items:
Ring of Faked Goodness - Results in spells like Know Alignment telling her alignment is Lawful Good. This ring also protects her from any banishment spells like protection from evil or dispel evil; a spell simply casting out extraplanar beings would still work against her, though.
Ring of Protection +5 - (note that Mira's other two rings are unmagical, though still great pieces of art)
Amulet of Turning - allows any baatezu to turn undead as a priest of a level similar to the fiend's hit dice. The amulet is actually powered by twisting the fiend's ability to "animate dead". The amulet is made of pure gold and bears the symbol of a bright sun.
Girdle of Regeneration - acts as a Ring of Regeneration Sword of the Styx - this short sword+3 has the power to cast "forget" three times per day, and to affect one struck being per year as if the victim was immersed in Styx Water.
Mira's Crystal Ball - allows divination (sight and sound) as with a normal Crystal Ball, reaching any Prime Material world (but no other place). Whenever someone "feels" the divination, the Crystal Ball turns blank and unmagical for one round. This way, there is no way of finding out who is spying on you (including overcoming spells as the 4th level mage spell "detect divination")
Current Chant: Mira got the attention of a gelugon serving the Dark Eight some hundreds of years ago. The gelugon kept to observing for some time, until he was finally promoted to pit fiend status (which is no more than 200 years ago). Now he managed to become Mira's direct superior, and he supports here ingenuitive plans with much devotion. The pit fiend is said to be politically powerful in Baator, and it's guessed at how few millennia it might take until he is promoted to arch-fiend status. Due to Mira's/Angelic's perfect record (up to now, at least), it's been guessed that she might be promoted to pit fiend status as well at about the same time her superior will be promoted to arch-baatezu. A few of the fiends in Baator whisper that the pit fiend would exact a horrible vengeance if anyone slayed Mira or destroyed her wonderful plans. Other voices even say that Mira has the ability to call on her pit fiend superior in situations of very extreme need...