The final temple to complete our grass/water/fire trio, the Fire Temple. Set in a lake of lava pouring from the eyes of some imprisoned god, there must be something significant behind its towering doors…

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Hunt for the Obsidian Skull of Karturgg, King of Giants, Part 2

Journals of Lord Bernard Islington-Wellerby

Chapter 15

Day 5
Why does every second ancient civilization happen to be built around a volcano? What was their fascination with lava? While I am glad to be rid of the ice and overbearing fur coats of the previous site, I am now burdened by scorching heat. I can only remove so many layers before Lady Hellermont’s passive scowl turns to a vicious glare.
Yes, Hellermont has graced me with her presence this time. She is a terse woman, to put it lightly. Like the temples, she seems the opposite of her squire. But she insisted she come in case of danger, and I accepted. I was already paying her.
The temple is proving difficult to breach, thanks to a veritable lake of lava. The dwarves claim the volcano should be dormant. An excuse for their inadequate preparation, I am sure.

Day 6
With the entrance now open, Hellermont and the dwarves have ventured inside. We found recent tracks leading down, and I believe them to be the same thieves that bested me last time. They will not do so again!
The others begged me to stand guard over the camp, which I have accepted. It is perhaps the most important task. There are enemies about, and I must remain eternally vigilant, would they attempt to steal our supplies. We cannot afford to lose food. I bought exactly enough, and would rather not lose a man to starvation. Not again, after the fiasco at the Ruta’hastarn tombs.
I have noticed inscriptions on the metal of the giant head sculpture. Translation will take some hours, so for now I will sleep.

Day 7
I should have hired more experienced ‘help’. They seem to be either clumsy or careless, as the echoes of clanging metal and pained whines radiate from within the temple.
Despite their best efforts to distract me, I have translated much of the text. It speaks of uniting a “frozen form” with “fires of life”, in order to… reforge? Rekindle? Something about immersing oneself in “mountain’s heat”. I believe it all to be a parable, likely commenting on the value of compassion and warmth. It reminds me of poetry I wrote in my college days, though I dare say my writing was decidedly more eloquent. This doesn’t even rhyme.

Day 8
I spent my morning on sketches of the site. My work would have continued, were it not for increasingly frequent tremors.
Hellermont finally returned and seems to have adopted the dwarven propensity for panic. She lost one, which is where I assume all the blood on their clothes came from. They hold more than their size might suggest. She refuses to speak of the temple’s treasure, so I take it she knows that she will be responsible for the deceased’s payment.
Right now I want nothing more than to find the skull, be done with this nonsense, and rest for several days.

Day 46
I awoke this morning   in a hospital bed. It would seem I have been in a coma.
Memory of the expedition is muddled, but I will do my best to jot down notes as they come to me.
In hindsight, the inscription I found seems to have been literal. I suppose I gave them far too much credit by assuming a deeper meaning. Disappointing, but not unusual.
I recall leading Hellermont and the   dwarves in battle as the giant rose from the ground. Its magma breath   cost my right arm, which now ends shortly below the   elbow. I spoke with Hellermont, discussing the sacrifice of my appendage in a heroic act that saved her life. She disagrees on the details. Her memory must also   still be recovering.
The giant was ultimately defeated, but the skull sustained damage in the conflict. The town of Pyrrhis has demanded a portion as reparation. I tactfully   negotiated   to have it deducted from Hellermont’s half, as I was not conscious during its destruction. I am forbidden   from ever returning, which   I consider a success.
My portion will more than pay for my new arm, which should arrive within the week. For now, my left   hand grows tired.

– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy

We have tried to blend skill checks with combat with these temple maps, and this one focuses on some good old platforming! Our heroes must navigate the floating islands in order to reach the main platform, endangering themselves along the way should they choose to skirt the fiery maw.

Up the pressure by populating the lava with something hot and hungry, or rule that the platforms crumble after someone passes over them. Really make your players stress – lava hurts!

Something probably guards the door too. Is it a guardian fire giant? A red dragon? A magical manifestation of the god’s agony? That’s up to you, but I would love to hear about your plans in the comments!

A big thank you to everyone who joined me on Twitch as I was working on this one. You’re all great company, and have great ideas. See you all next stream!

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About the author

Ross McConnell

DM, aspiring artist, and founder of 2-Minute Tabletop! I love drawing, writing, and worldbuilding, and this is the website where all of it comes together.

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Published: June 17, 2019

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