One of reasons I included flavor text in all of the cantrips was to serve as potential setting information, lore reveals, and hooks for the players. Personally, I wanted to write them to serve as design fodder for myself, particularly for areas I haven’t explored much in a structured (written down to easily share) way. Today, I wanted to look at legendary creatures and lairs. The most obvious hook for this is the text of the Tiger’s Swipe cantrip.
The Temple of Nelangsa
Across the sands of the Streiar lies the crumbling ruins of the Temple of Nelangsa. Once, the rajas spoke the divine words of Sieun while seated upon the Sapphire Throne. Petitioners, officials, and advisers flocked to the Chalcedony Hall to hear the words of the Shining Queen. Now, it is a place of hidden secrets and whispered legends. When Usum Tiris arose, the Temple of Nelangsa was one of the first places to feel the wrath of the Plague King. The tales say the temple was given to the rakshasa Chomngu, the high priest of Usum Tiris and the Plague King’s most loyal subject. Chomngu was said to make a mockery of the temple, defiling it in the name of Usum Tiris, attended now by the Court of Flies rather than the Bowed Choir.
Adventurers, fortune seekers, and the desperate make their way to the Temple of Nelangsa hoping to find something of great value in the ruins. The Sapphire Throne would be worth a king’s ransom, to say nothing of the divine might imparted to true worshipers of Sieun, should any be foolish enough to adhere to her ways in defiance of the laws of Usum Tiris. To risk the wrath of the Swarm is no small thing.
The Chalcedony Hall
Chomngu makes his home in the former Chalcedony Hall of the Temple of Nelangsa. Chomngu and the Court of Flies have defiled the Sapphire Throne and have rededicated it to the Plague King. The throne is still a brilliant blue, but it now emits a sickly, flickering light.
When fighting in its lair, Chomngu can invoke the magic of the Chalcedony Hall and the Sapphire Throne to take lair actions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Chomngu takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects:
- Chomngu calls upon the power of the throne and gains an aura of devouring frost extending in a 15 foot radius. Creatures who enter the aura, or start their turn within the aura must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw or suffer 3d8 necrotic damage and 3d8 cold damage. Chomngu regains hit points equal to half the damage dealt. While maintaining concentration on this effect, Chomngu can’t take other lair actions. Chomngu can’t use this lair action again until he has used a different one.
- Tendrils of black ice extend from the walls of the Chalcedony Hall. Any creature within 20 feet of a wall must succeed on a DC 19 Strength saving throw or be pulled 20 feet to the wall and become wreathed in bitter frost, unable to take reactions until the end of their next turn.
- The Court of Flies manifests in the Chalcedony Hall. 1d6 medium-sized humanoid forms take shape, as the flies in the room create semi-solid masses. The Court of Flies act immediately upon forming, and at the initiative of the lair until they are dispersed. No more than ten Court members can be manifest at any time. The Court of Flies are immune to all non-area of effect damage, and disperse when they are dealt at least 15 damage from a single effect. If they do not suffer at least 15 damage, they are not dispersed or otherwise damaged. Court of Flies creatures attempt to find hosts for themselves. Members of the Court of Flies have a speed of 30, and can force a creature within 5 feet to make a DC 19 saving throw. If the creature fails, it suffers 3d8 necrotic damage and is charmed by Chomngu. The affected creature can make another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of their turns.
The Temple of Nelangsa has becomed shaped by the presence of Chomngu and the dedication to Usum Tiris. This is made manifest in the following ways:
- The hall is swarming with black flies and other flying insects. The area is lighly obscured and is difficult terrain due to all of the insects in the area.
- Fire does not work as well within the Temple of Nelangsa. All fire sheds only half as much light as it normally would, and all fire damage dealt within the Temple has the result reduced by 1d10, prior to any saving throw reduction or resistance.
- Water and food brought into the Temple of Nelangsa become instantly spoiled. Food becomes a rotting mass of black slime, and water becomes teeming with tiny insects and fungus.
If Chomngu dies, all effects fade from the Temple of Nelangsa within 3d10 days.
This is obviously meant to be a high-level, difficult encounter. Defeating Chomngu should result in a huge victory on a campaign scale, as the high priest of an adversarial god was defeated. It would also reclaim the obviously magical temple, and offer up the Sapphire Throne for dedication to a new deity. Prior to this Chomngu would provide major campaign strife as the players began their trip from 11 and onward. Chomngu could either serve as the primary villain and threat, or the penultimate threat. Either use would make a lot of sense.
Now, I didn’t have any backstory or use in mind when I wrote the flavor text. I just love the lore of rakshasas, and have found them cool when they are used in D&D campaigns. They are never used as just creatures to beat up, which I really respect, and I wanted to build some up around that.