Asgard October 20013
Monte Cook is perhaps best known bymodern fans of the D&D game as theauthor of the D&D 3e Dungeon Master’sGuide. However, he is no stranger to adven-ture writing. In his dawning days workingon the Dungeons & Dragons product lines,he was responsible for much of the mate-rial for the Planescape campaign setting.Indeed, two of the best adventures for the Planescape setting were super-sized cam-paign style adventures,
Tales of the Innite Staircase
.In my estimation, those two adventures were the best published adventures for D&D. I had often wondered how Monte would do if he tried his hand at an adven-ture for the D&D 3e game.At last I have a chance to nd out. Returnto the Temple of Elemental Evil is such amodule, aimed at taking characters from4th level to 14th level.The adventure is conceived in the same vein as a variety of other “Return to”adventures that WotC / TSR released priorto the publication of D&D 3e. Return tothe Temple of Elemental Evil holds morepromise, however, in that it gives us a freshtake on a classic adventure using the totallyrevamped D&D 3e system.
A First Look
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil(RttToEE) is a 192 page perfect-bound soft-cover book. The cover bears a color illustra-tion by Brom. The interior is black & white, with ink artwork by David Roach depictinglocations and possible situations from theadventure. The margins are of average sizeand the text density is high.The cartography is in a separate 16 pagecolor booklet that is glued into the back of the main book. The cartography appearedattractive, though the printing on my copy was somewhat blurry.
A Deeper Look
(Warning: The following section containssome spoilers for secrets revealed in theadventure.)
The original Temple of Elemental Evil was, according to the history in RttToEE,is a result of cultists of Tharizdun con- vincing the demoness Zuggtmoy that shecould gain power through creating a templededicated to elemental evil. Iuz becameinvolved thinking he could use the templeto strike at his enemies. The truth as told by RttToEE is that the princes of elementalevil are servants of Tharizdun, the destruc-tive ancient deity described in various Grey-hawk-based adventures. Tharizdun is alsosecretly the Elder Elemental God that therenegade drow follow in the Against theGiants and Drow trilogies.In RttToEE, the players must foil the planof the cultists to uncover the Temple of Elemental Evil and open the gates to eachof four elemental nodes. If this can bedone, Tharizdun’s servants, the princes of elemental evil, can emerge and use an arti-fact to release Tharizdun from his prison. Needless to say, Tharizdun is a really bad Lovecraftian-type world eating entity andthe players really do not want him wander-ing about.The adventure itself is sorted into 3 sec-tions and 8 chapters.The rst section deals with the charactersescapades in and around the town of Hom-mlet (it has grown a bit from the days of the original ToEE, where it was merely a village.) The characters are really given littledirection while in Hommlet, but pokingaround Hommlet will lead them to rumorsof strange things going on at the moat-house near the town. There are some cult-ists of Tharizdun in town, but chances arethat the party will not discover them untilthey have investigated the moathouse.There are some cultists trapped in themoathouse by a signicant creature. Saidcreature could easily be the end of theparty if they are not careful. Once themajor encounter is dealt with, the partycan explore the moathouse and nd cluesamong the belongings of the cultists therethat there are cultists operating in the townof Hommlet. If the party deals with thecultists in town, they may nd the clue thatthey need to lead them to the second partof the adventure.A nal chapter in the rst section detailsthe ruined village of Nulb and the Templeof Elemental Evil itself. It is inhabited bysome hobgoblins and some other creaturesthat the players can take out if they please, but at this stage, the temple and Nulb donot gure prominently into the adventure.The second section details what is cur-rently the stronghold of the cult of Thar-izdun, the Temple of All Consumption.This is probably the meatiest part of theadventure. The Temple of All Consumptionis built in an old volcano crater. The cen-tral part of the temple cannot be entereddirectly. After a brief bit of exploration ina local hamlet, the characters will have tohead into a series of old mines that existin the crater rim. The mines are inhabited by cultists and their various denizens, andthere are four separate elemental templessituated about the mines.The mines are situated such that as thecharacters penetrate deeper in the minesin either direction, the encounters becomemore challenging. Though that seems likeit will channel the players quite a bit, thereare still a variety of possibilities as to thehow this will play out. The four elementaltemples compete with one another, and areconstantly at each others throats. This willlimit the possibilities for players sneakinginto the mines, but once the players learnof the politics in the mines they can use itto their advantage.Once the players have discovered thesecret to getting to the central section of the temple they may proceed there. Bythis time they should be able to handlethe challenges there. The central sectionof the Temple of All Consumption is lled with some of the most powerful priests of Tharizdun, the doomdreamers, as well as anumber of other daunting obstacles. In theend, they may run into a priest who had achange of heart and other clues that willpoint them back to the temple of elemen-tal evil, where the excavations and ritualsthat will eventually bring Tharizdun to the world are beginning.The third part of the temple details theexcavated Temple of Elemental Evil. To
By Alan Kohler & Russell Morrissey