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One-Shot Builder: take the battle to the “Manastery”

One-Shot Builder: take the battle to the “Manastery”

So you found a cool map that inspires your next one shot. Awesome! But you don’t know where to start filling it up. No problem! This week we are covering the “Manastery”, a cloister-themed battle map from the Campaign Builder: Castles & Crowns Map Folio (out in August!)

Campaign Builder: Castles & Crowns releases next month! Monarchs and their realms get a zillion options make your worldbuilding deeper and more immersive!

Even if you don’t use this exact map (but really, who wouldn’t?) you can still apply this article’s structure toward designing your own battle map and one-shot adventure.

What is the Manastery?

Equal parts reverent retreat and scholarly assembly, the manastery hits the sweet spot for clerics, monks, and wizards. Here are a few terrain features you might notice:

  • Outer Gardens. Lush gardens ring the manastery’s perimeter, ideal spots to harvest spell components. A hedge maze in the upper corner offers an enigmatic point of interest, perhaps for a puzzle.

  • Main Interior. The manastery’s central room is ideal for studious labor or pious worship. The pews in the main chamber could easily be repurposed into long desk or work stations desks loaded with stationery loot while an altar toward the back of the room offers a focal point for rituals.

  • Side Rooms. Three side rooms offer storage and office spaces. Are they locked? If so, could there be a key stashed somewhere on the premises?

Good Reasons to Visit the Manastery

An interesting location serves no purpose if your PCs lack a reason to go there. Here are a few hooks to get your players to the manastery:

  • Blasphemous Texts. Torch-waving zealots gather in the gardens, intent on burning all the manastery’s texts they claim contain blasphemy and falsehoods. Will PCs side with the manastery’s priests and fend of the zealots or with the zealots and help fan the flames?

  • Object of Desire. A spell, recipe, or cure that the PCs need requires a special ingredient (such as a rare flower or uniquely crafted wine) that can only be found at the manastery. Will they have to prove themselves to earn the ingredient or contend with someone else who wants it too?

  • Paid Education. A parent, patron, or guild offers the PCs the costly gift of learning something new. Once they prove themselves worthy, will they unlock a magical secret, develop a new technique or talent, or decode a riddle of great significance?

Random Encounters in the Manastery

These encounters are designed to challenge and interest a group of four PCs in the second tier of play. If you are planning on building a one-shot adventure in the manastery, roll a d10 and consult the table below for every hour you plan to play, rerolling any duplicates.

1Two lovers visit the gardens. While one is occupied in setting up a picnic, their companion approaches asking for help in enacting a proposal.
2A manabane scarab swarm (see Tome of Beasts 1) is hungry for magic of any sort.
3A chorus of invisible voices takes up a chant when the front doors are opened. The voices fluctuate with intensity depending on the location of nearby occupants.
4A mage and their lantern dragonette (see Tome of Beasts 1) familiar is on the hunt to illuminate a falsehood in the manastery.
5A hidden button in a desk reveals a series of even more hidden switches throughout the manastery. It also engages a series of traps.
61d4+2 paper drakes (see Tome of Beasts 1) search for locked away brethren. (See stats for a swarm of paper drakes and related magic items and spells!)
7All of the manastery’s priests have fallen unconscious and won’t wake up without powerful curative magic. At the same time, all of the manastery’s flowers are behaving oddly and always seem to face any visitors no matter where they are standing.
8Six monks (see Campaign Builder: Cities & Towns) are practicing combat techniques in the gardens. Participation is encouraged and the monks won’t back down from a challenge, though no one has a death wish.
9Alarms are sounded and the chase is on when disguised thieves are discovered in the manastery.
10A satarre mystic (see Tome of Beasts 2) and their three irid (see Tome of Beasts 2) assistants quest for something darkly prophesied.

New Magic Traps

Sacred relics, snippets of coveted knowledge, and sagely trinkets are all worthwhile tokens to quest for, but such items are never simply kept out in the open. If you’re going to stock your manastery with things worth looting, consider incorporating the following traps to make your treasures that much harder to loot.


Trap (Magic)

This divine coffer is blessed by divine powers to protect sacred holy relics. Such arks are attuned to react to creatures whose tenets or ideals oppose the being that ark is dedicated to.

Trigger: A creature opens the ark without first dispelling the trap or demonstrating similarly aligned ideals to the ark’s owner. A creature can spot the trap with a successful DC 17 WIS (Perception) or INT (Religion) check.

Effects: The ark releases a brilliant flash of divine radiance. All creatures within 60 feet of the ark must make a DC 15 CHA save, taking 22 (4d10) radiant damage and be blinded, deafened, and rendered mute on a failure, or take half as much damage with no additional effects on a success.

Resolution: A creature can disarm the trap by expressing an appropriate prayer of aligned faith and making a successful DC 15 INT (Religion) check. Alternatively, a successful dispel magic spell (DC 15) destroys the trap. A creature blinded, deafened, and rendered mute by the trap can be cured with a remove curse spell or greater magic.


Trap (Magic)

This moderately-sized eldritch obelisk deploys an enchantment that drains magic power and life force from its victims. Mages and other spellcasters use these obelisks to catch would-be thieves.

Trigger: A creature moves within 20 feet of the snavelspire trap without speaking the phrase that deactivates it. A creature can recognize a snavelspire with a successful DC 15 INT (Arcana) check.

Effects: All creatures present roll initiative. The snavelspire acts on 18. On its turn, the snavelspire emits a pulse that affects all creatures within 40 feet. Affected creatures must make a DC 15 CON save. On a failure, a creature falls prone and loses access to their highest-circle spell slot (if any). On a success, the creature is only knocked prone.

Resolution: The trap can be disarmed before triggering by speaking the command phrase inscribed at its base. To read the command phrase, a creature must be adjacent to the snavelspire or otherwise have some method to do so (such as through the eyes of a familiar or with a divination’s sensor). Alternatively, a successful dispel magic spell (DC 17) cast on the snavelspire destroys the trap.

about Sebastian Rombach

We can neither confirm nor deny that Sebastian is actually three raccoons in a trenchcoat. His freelance contributions can be found in Tome of Beasts 2, Tome of Heroes, and more. You can roll dice with him at https://startplaying.games/gm/dontbreakthedm or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @dontbreakthedm.

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