Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Temple of the Four Winds
Every priest in the city dreamed dark premonitions about a forgotten temple, unaware that some crazy cultists are working on releasing the dragon bound there.
Mass dreams are pretty cool, even if these particular dreams seem lamer than anything involved Freddy Krueger or Death-13. It also begs for greater context, both in terms of why every priest is having the same dream despite presumably following different faiths and who the cultists were who trapped the dragon in the temple in the first place.
The third and fourth ideas for expanding the adventure suggest adding more content below the well, which isn’t an obvious thing to think of. Added bonus for not restricting that extra content to a single encounter.
The fifth idea for expanding the adventure suggests possible consequences if the dragon escapes from the climactic encounter.
The guardian having an order to destroy its control amulet if its possessor dies is actually pretty neat, even if the likeliest reason that was included in the text was to prevent the players from controlling it.
The hunters having lightning-based breath attacks is nice foreshadowing for the dragon itself.
Having a note in area 1 to help solve the puzzle in area 3 is a nice touch.
While having a key that is split into two pieces can come off as too gamist, I like it as an extra security measure (though I’d also be willing to roll with the PCs improvising the second half of the key if they find only one piece).
As ever, I’m a sucker for valuable gems being used as eyes in artwork.
It’s welcome to see a retreat condition on the climactic creature (something that I think came up only in Deceitful Descent, which was also written by Moore).
It’s rather nice of the lever puzzle to provide benefits to the party for each step towards its solution, and that makes sense from a simulationist perspective, too.
This should go without saying, but rumors of the crazy dreams won’t do much good unless the PCs have a way of learning where to find the forgotten temple.
It’s a nice touch that area 1 shows NPCs doing more than waiting around for the PCs to show up, but if the adventure is being used in a way where the party could arrive at the temple before the cultists, it’ll need some adjusting.
The hunters’ hunter’s stride ability promotes spreading damage, which is an odd design choice, and its secondary effect is a strange bit of tedious bookkeeping. They have enough other things going on to justify getting rid of it.
The dragon should be using minor actions to move levers down whenever convenient, since it has no ability in its stat block keyed as a minor action.
There’s no explanation of what happens if the levers are moved up in an incorrect order. I’d have that lever and any others in the up-position reset to the down-position at the end of the round.
The first two ideas for expanding the adventure are just an extra encounter.
While mentioning the heights of the altar and the sarcophagus in area 1 implies how much cover they can provide, it’s surprising that that wasn’t defined explicitly as it is in pretty much every other similar entry in the book.
What’s the point of the death knight having an aura if there are no creatures who that aura can affect? Given that the text points out the aura’s uselessness, it’s baffling why it was ever included.
The wights’ death wail makes no sense narratively, at least as far as I can imagine.
The bonus to-hit from releasing “a tiny fraction of trapped soul” from the mummified corpses is bizarre.
Why does the boxed text in area 3 contain a portion in parenthesis? Is that not supposed to be read aloud?
Seeing “these 100-foot-tall pillars are indestructible” is a sure way to raise my hackles.
This adventure is easy to overlook at first as just another simple temple with a dragon at the end, but it’s actually rather well-designed. The encounters are each very distinct and have a clear sense of escalation, going from a straightforward brawl to a delayed ambush to a powerful single entity supported by a trap/puzzle. The hook provides multiple invitations for tying in with greater context. The creatures are easily reskinnable and/or replaceable (even the dragon, though whatever is at the end should be capable of flight for the room to make sense). The two puzzles (the broken key and the lever puzzle) add some additional variety to break up the flow while still being reasonable to force through without the expected solution methods.
All in all, for an official 4E product, this is about as good as it gets. Maybe the lack of a surprise at the end would be a letdown for some, but I can’t think of my players ever being disappointed with a big dragon fight to cap off an adventure that they were led to believe would be about fighting a big dragon.