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Prepared!: The Ever-Burning Shrine

Prepared!: The Ever-Burning Shrine

Fires of creation, fire in the soul, a fiery heart—why do we so often evoke flame when we speak of the essential?

—Archdruid Naqua of Tellwood

Travelers meet and discover the truth behind an unending blaze in today’s elementally imbued scene.

The Ever-Burning Shrine

Recent rains have made the road muddy and pitted. Traveling along it is a chore, and the gloomy mist settling over the area does little to ameliorate the situation. Further up the road, you see a column of smoke rising into the clouds. As you draw nearer, you hear the sounds of a crowd and, turning a bend, you discover a strange scene. A dozen local farmers and travelers have gathered in the mud and are watching fire consume a roadside shrine. “It’s been like this for three days,” says one oafish looking fellow. “Ain’t natural—what’s left to burn?” asks a severe woman dressed in an apron.

The shrine consists of three simple columns of stacked stones holding aloft a shallow bronze brazier. The charred remains of wooden roof lay smoldering on the ground. The flame is centered in the brazier; the heat makes it uncomfortable to approach closely. For a moment you think you see a face in the flames before it disappears into the smoke.

The shrine is currently a prison for a fire elemental. Investigating the shrine requires a DC 13 Constitution check (failure results in minor fire damage). The fire damage only applies once and does not prevent investigation. The following information is available to anyone who investigates the shrine:

  • The blaze is a fire elemental (the fire shapes itself into recognizable limbs every so often).
  • It has become trapped in the shrine (the fire moves from one column to another, but cannot seem to leave the brazier).
  • The party may attack the creature at any time. It receives a -5 to its AC (unable to move, the elemental’s effectiveness in combat is greatly compromised).

Use the following information as the party determines how to react to the elemental:

  • The brazier is magical and emits divine energy (the brazier radiates magic and a simple rune on the rim glows faintly).
  • The brazier was designed to trap creatures from the elemental planes. Discovering this fact is a DC 14 Intelligence/Knowledge- or Wisdom/Perception-based check.
  • Freeing the elemental requires the destruction of the three stone columns. Alternatively, a spellcaster of sufficient power may attempt to dispel the brazier’s magic. Knocking down the columns requires one DC 13 Constitution check to approach (failure results in minor fire damage) and the destruction of each column (AC 16, HP 20).

If the party successfully frees the elemental, read the following:

The brazier tumbles onto the ground and the fire is immediately extinguished. A single palm-sized coal rolls out of the bronze prison and lands at your feet.

The coal is a minor magical treasure. Its possessor receives a +1 on any rolls to prevent being grabbed or grappled.

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2 thoughts on “Prepared!: The Ever-Burning Shrine”

  1. I love this encounter, though I see no reason why the fire damage can’t be cumulative. I mean, if the pcs insist on putting their hands in the flames …

    Still, this has awesome flavor. The bewilderment of the commoners is a great way to cue the players that this is a puzzle. Plus, you’ve spelled out the consequences in anticipation of some of their possible actions. The lump of coal is a nice reward. This one is a keeper!

  2. These are great articles. I especially like this one because I feel like it can be easily altered to work with most other elementals in some way, and it can be scaled up (for instance, it could be multiple elementals, they could be larger/older versions, and breaking the pillars could instead just release them from their prisons instead of killing/banishing them).

    Great stuff!

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