Shrines Temples and Groves

Have you ever wondered how the small shrines and temples all around the Realms manage to stay safe with all the heavily-armed, destructive bands of roving cretins in the Realms? One would expect those little oases of faith to be looted, vandalized, and otherwise utterly ruined wihin a fortnight. What stops a force of raiders from marching into a temple and sacking it for its religious treasures or its poorboxes? Read on to find the answers to these and other questions, and get ready to be surprised.  


  Shrines are sites containing an object of religious significance, such as a small statue of a deity or an image of a god's holy symbol, if not both. Most shrines are simply a small booth of wood or stone with the religious symbols stored inside it and runes nearby to identify the shrine's deity. Some also have a metal container for tithes attached to the structure. These shrines range from the plain and functional to the ornate, depending on the strength of the faith and the affluence of its devotees. Aside from basic characteristics, each shrine is decorated to suggest the presence of its dedicated god. A shrine of Tempus may be decorated with broken helms and weapons or even the grisly heads of slain monsters. On the other hand, a shrine to Sune may be decorated with flowers, love letters, and small works of art left by her worshipers.   Many shrines are located in small hamlets and towns, but it is more common to find shrines along a busy trade road. A shrine is established for and by the faithful of a god when the funds or population are insufficient for building and staffing a temple. The shrine gives a deity at least a minimal presence.   To create a shrine, a priest of at least 7th level must commission the construction of the shrine with at least 100-600 gp (2d6 x 50). The spells sanctify and focus (see Tome of Magic) must be cast on the shrine in the presence of at least 24 worshipers and two more priests of the caster’s deity. After its creation, a shrine is maintained by a priest from second to fifth level (1d4+1). The priest is in charge of keeping the shrine clean and attractive, collecting the tithes, and saying prayers there at certain intervals. The visits range from once each day to once every tenday.  


  A shrine radiates a continuous protection from evil 10’ radius if the deity is good, or a protection from good 10’ radius if the deity is evil. Shrines to neutral gods radiate both forms of protection. If within five feet of the shrine, a priest of the faith can turn undead (if the religion allows it) at one level higher than his current experience level. If people or creatures defile a shrine, either by vandalizing or looting it, they become cursed. The DM must come up with a curse or punishment that matches the deity’s sphere of influence and is in accordance to the damage done to the shrine.   For instance, if the defiler ruined a shrine to Tempus, then all his attack and damage rolls are penalized at -4 or his opponents’ rolls are given a +4 bonus. If the shrine belonged to Tymora, all rolls would get a penalty of four. Ruining a shrine to Umberlee right before a long sea voyage would result in either four days of storms and rough seas, or a sunken boat four days out from land.   For less tangible concepts (e.g. death, magic, cold), the defiler suffers an accident once per week. Thus, someone ruining a shrine to Kelemvor would get one random monster encounter per week, and it would be undead. Tampering with Mystra’s shrines often results in random surges of wild magic on the defiler or changing an item to a cursed item.   In order to have the curse lifted, the surviving offenders must seek out a priest of the offended deity, confess their crime, pay restitution, and beg in front of the assembled faithful to have a remove curse cast. Restitution often equals the repair costs plus an additional 20-200v (2d10 x 10) gold pieces.   These measures may sound harsh, but shrines are places where many of the faithful gather to worship. With the power of all the gods of the Realms now dependant on the strength of their worshipers, to ruin a shrine directly affects a god’s power and gets his attention, for good or ill.  


  A temple is a complex of buildings that house the clergy, guards, and lay staff of a god’s religion. Temples are the preferred meeting places of the faithful, and they are strong areas of faithful power. Temples are found in almost exclusively in cities and towns, since smaller communities simply do not have the people or money needed to maintain a temple. Some temples are built on the outskirts of a city if the land needed for it is unavailable inside the city. Most temples feature a central sanctuary complete with a consecrated altar, a holy water font, and a strong box for tithes. Additional rooms include smaller private chapels, libraries, a crypt for burial of high-ranking or devout members, dormitories for the guards and lay staff, and a parsonage for the priests.   Like shrines, each temple reflects the ethos and preferences of the venerated deity. Most temples are designed to have an atmosphere that evokes a sense of the deity in the worshiper. A temple to Tempus may resemble a keep or fortress, decorated with bloody armor and weapons, while a temple to Ilmater may be a simple, unadorned building. Some temples of Tymora are known to have sanctioned, holy casinos adjacent to them, where the faithful can appeal to Lady Luck all day and all night.   Costs for building temples range according to size and the number of structures. The minimum costs of building a small one-building temple could range from 4,000 to 48,000 (4d12 x 1,000) gold pieces while building a small temple complex of multiple buildings has minimum costs from 60,000 to 240,000 (6d4 x 10,000) gold pieces. Obviously, these figures should be adjusted for the level of ornamentation; basic ornamentation doubles the cost, while ornate decorations like statuary and stained glass windows at least doubles the cost again.   Once a temple is complete, a 9th-level priest must gather 100 worshipers and at least four other priests, and cast the spells sanctify and focus. Upon casting these spells, a ten day period of fervent worship is declared, requiring appropriate acts of devotion to the god. Sune’s temple would sponsor art exhibits, while Tempus’ temple would stage gladiatorial tournaments. The week ends with a day of feasting and celebration, then the temple is officially open for all.  

Common Temple Powers

  All temples have the following powers, regardless of the deity’s power or portfolio. l A temple has the inherent power to turn away undead as if it were a 9th level priest. This is available even if the priests of the temple’s deity cannot turn undead. l Each temple radiates a double strength protection from evil spell if it is a good-aligned temple, and vice versa if an evil temple. Temples to neutral deities radiate both spells. The protection spells radiate out 20’ from the temple’s outer walls.   l Healing spells cast in a temple heal the maximum number of hit points. If a particular deity has already given this benefit to his priests, then casting curative spells in the temple gives an additional bonus of +2 hit points. Thus, a cure light wounds spell cast by a priest whose spells already function at maximum strength would restore 10 hit points of damage.   Any curses on a worshiper will be interrupted when he enters a temple of his deity. The only exceptions to this are curses from cursed items and curses that the deity itself has placed on someone. The curse returns once the worshiper leaves the temple.  

Minor Powers

  Gods who are quasi-powers, demi-powers, or lesser powers have granted their temples one or more of the following abilities:   1. An augury spell gains 3% per level of the priest instead of the normal 1% per level.   2. Spells which aid a group of people, such as bless, prayer, or protection from evil, undead, etc. are doubled in duration when cast inside a temple.   3. A priest sleeping in the temple overnight has a 5% chance per level of receiving a vision from his deity in the form of a dream. Only one dream is allowed per temple visit or per month, whichever comes first. The dream may yield a clue about a mystery the priest is trying to solve, or it may be a warning of an upcoming danger.   4. If a priest chooses the temple as his place to recover his spells by rest and prayer, the time needed to regain them is halved.   5. Priests casting spells from a scroll that they would otherwise be ineligible to cast have their chances of spell failure halved.   6. Casting a commune spell in a temple gives the priest 1d4 extra questions.   7. A priest casting a dispel evil or dispel good gives the target entity a -4 penalty to its saving throw against the spell’s effects.   8. A priest casting a dispel magic in a temple gains a +2 bonus for the dispelling attempt roll.   9. A priest defending his temple grounds against attackers gains a +2 bonus to saving throws and to his armor class. Defending NPC morale gains a +4 bonus. If the combat moves into the main temple and altar area, these bonuses are doubled.   10. Any glyph of warding spells within a temple area are semi-permanent. After a glyph is discharged, it is reset and ready within 1d6 hours.  

Greater Powers

  The intermediate and greater powers grant their temples at least five of the lesser powers, plus one or more of the following greater powers.   1. A priest of the temple’s god casts spells and turns undead as if he were two levels higher while on the temple grounds.   2. Beings, creatures, and personalities not native to the Prime Material Plane cannot enter the temple grounds. The exceptions to this are the creatures native to the god’s home plane.   3. Teleportation, blink, or other spells or items which immediately move a character to new locations do not function within the temple. The only exception to this are spells cast by the priests of that particular temple. Therefore, all of Selûne’s temple priests in Thentia can use word of recall to materialize in Thentia’s temple, but their brethren from the House of the Moon in Waterdeep could not do so.   4. Spells that have an aging side effect, such as resurrection and restoration, only visit half the aging penalty when cast within a temple. Other penalties, such as requiring rest or being unable to cast any other spells for a day, still apply.   5. An especially devout priest of 12th level or higher may ask for the assistance of an outer planar aide for 24 hours. This would include, but is not limited to, the following: shedu, lammasu, devas, tanar’ri, baatezu, and elementals. The alignment and portfolio of the temple’s god determines the aide sent to the temple. This boon can only be asked for once per year, whether successful or not. The creature is not under the command of the priest; it is an agreeable ally of the priest, not a slave. The chance of a successful appeal is 2% per level and is adjusted by the devotion of the priest or the importance of the crisis at hand. Note that this will only be granted if aid is requested for the temple, not just that priest.   6. Temple priests can cast a special command on as many temple intruders as the priest’s level. Only those targets of 15 Intelligence or greater get a saving throw, and the effect lasts for two rounds.   7. A priest can cast know alignment at will, once per round, on anyone inside the temple. Note that the subject will know that he is being scrutinized in such a fashion.   8. While praying in the temple, a priest gains one extra spell per spell level from the spheres accessible to his god.   9. A priest of 7th level or higher can ask his god to destroy any magical items (usually cursed items). The item is laid upon the altar, and the priest makes the proper prayers. The base chance of success is 50% plus 2% per priest’s level above 7th plus 1% for each hour of constant prayer.   10. There is a flat 10% chance of divine intervention if requested by a priest in the temple. This will be manifested in the deity’s avatar. Such an avatar will visit any particular temple a maximum of once per year, and the reason for the intervention had better be a good one!  


  Groves are found only in natural forested settings. In very rare situations, a grove may exist in a city, located within a huge, natural garden or park. Groves are the natural analogue to temples and are used by the nature deities of Faerûn. Silvanus, Eldath, Chauntea, and Mielikki use groves as their primary places of worship, although some have rare temples. While groves do not cost any money to create, they are nevertheless more difficult to create. The ideal spot is a place deep in a forest and the grove’s center must be at least five miles away from any settlement of 50 people or larger. Groves with a natural clearing are prized over those without a glade, and a pool or spring within the grove is also eagerly sought. The boundaries of a grove can usually be identified by a ring of moss or mushrooms about the outermost trees. These trees are usually larger and older than the nearby trees. Some groves have stone semicircular entry arches to mark the limits of sacred ground.   Only prolonged veneration and worship at the site for at least four years or the visit of a nature god are capable of creating a grove where none existed before. Priests of the deity venerated in the grove can always feel the presence of a particular power and will, therefore, know what each power is within three rounds of entering the grove. Once a venerated place exhibits even a minor power, it becomes a minor grove and immediately gains the basic grove properties. A minor grove that has at least seven minor powers becomes a major grove and gains a major power immediately upon acquiring the seventh minor power. A grove gains new powers only upon direct divine visitation or when a full moon occurs on the night before or after the spring (vernal) equinox. A grove is despoiled if its trees are burned or chopped down, or it waters are fouled. If this happens, one or more of a grove’s powers may be lost. Roll a d6 for each grove power; a result of a 1 means the power is lost forever, and a result of a 2 means the power will not function for 2d4x10 (20-80) days. If a grove loses all of its powers at once, even only temporarily, the magic of the place is ruined and will not return unless the grove’s faithfulwhether one person or 100 peoplecan maintain 10 years of devoted vigils and prayers. The grove’s magic will also return if directly visited by one of its venerated gods. When the magic returns, it will manifest itself on the next spring equinox, and 1d2 powers will return. At this time, certain herbs and rare mosses used by the druids and priests will also return. Trees that grow slowly, such as oaks, will exhibit phenomenally rapid growth. If the grove is used again as a place of worship, 1d2 powers will return each spring equinox.  

Standard Grove Powers

  These powers are possessed by all groves and function at all times regardless of the intent or powers of any nondivine creatures in the grove. l Priests and druids of the god venerated in a grove may successfully call lightning in the grove. No other beings may cause magical lightning to operate in or pass into or out of the grove.   l All charms of any sort are broken, nor can they be successfully cast, on creatures in the grove.   l Dig and entangle spells never work successfully in a grove, although snare spells work normally.   l All creatures within a grove are rendered immune to magical fear while they are within the grove.   l Magical fire of any sort will not ignite, enter, persist, or aid normal fires in a grove.   l A natural pass without truce spell affects all the devoted worshipers of the grove’s deity, as well as any beings of alignments and causes favorable to the deity, while these individuals are within the boundaries of the grove. This does not work on unwelcome intruders regardless of alignment.  

Minor Grove Powers

  Minor groves have at least one of these powers:   1. Priests of a deity venerated in the grove who sleep in the grove may receive a sign or message from the god in their dreams. This is often a warning message or a desired task to be performed.   2. Water or dew gathered in the glade at the heart of the grove is equivalent to sweet water. An amount equal to one potion per gatherer may be obtained overnight (double it if the light of the full moon touches water in the glade).   3. Beings of alignments or causes allied to that of a god of the grove may heal wounds at double the normal rate if they remain in the grove and rest. Healing spells operate for full possible effect.   4. All divination magics cast by worshipers, priests, or beings allied with the grove’s deity operate at the fullest possible chances of success, duration, or efficiency when cast in the grove.   5. Any priest of a deity of the grove can cause winds and any attendant noises fall still within the grove in one round. This is an act of will and can be maintained for one turn, though it requires concentration to do so.   6. Any worshiper of the grove’s deities can cause a faerie fire to form within the grove, centered on his position. It takes a round of concentration to cast, lasts for 1 turn per character level, and cannot be summoned again until the next day.   7. Any worshiper of a deity of the grove can cause any stones in the grove to speak, as in a stone tell spell. The stones will answer one question per round for up to three rounds. If a question is not asked in one round, it is lost. This power can be used only once per day, and only on stones native to the grove, not ones brought into it.   8. Any spellcaster casting protection from normal missiles will find the spell affects the entire grove and all those within its confines. The duration of the spell is doubled.   9. Any worshiper of the deity of the grove can control temperature within the grove, altering it by up to 30 degrees throughout the entire grove.   10. Lycanthropes who enter the grove revert to their nonanimal forms. For true lycanthropes, this change takes two rounds and lasts for one turn. In the case of creatures infected by lycanthropy, the change lasts until they leave the grove. Note that this is not a permanent cure. However, it does increase the chances of finding a very paranoid NPC infected with lycanthropy within a grove, where he remains in hopes of eventually being cured of this curse.   Major Powers   Major groves possess all the minor grove powers and one or more of the following: 1. Priests within the grove who worship a deity of the grove can cast all Plant sphere spells for double duration and range. Note that these spells can be cast at something outside the grove.   2. A tree spell cast in the glade allows the caster to undergo the spell’s normal effects or simply vanish beneath the earth like the wizard’s imprisonment spell. Unlike the wizard’s spell, however, the imprisoned priest may release himself whenever desired. In the meantime, he can rest, pray, or perform other activities not requiring much room.   3. Priests who fall asleep in their deity’s grove may receive an extra spell if they have been serving the god well and faithfully. This may be an extra spell beyond the numbers or levels allowed to the priest, an additional spell beyond what the priest had time to pray for, a substitute spell replacing what the priest asked for, or simply a spell that performs at doubled strength.   4. A god of the grove may manifest phantom images called shades within the glade. These shades cannot attack, nor can they be touched, turned, or controlled. These images pass on whispered words, messages, or warnings to the visitors. Priests of the deity may question them as if they had cast a speak with dead spell.   5. Undead cannot enter the grove without falling under control of a god who is revered in the grove. The god can choose to either utterly destroy the undead or force them to perform a service, provided it does not take the undead out of the grove and that god’s direct influence. 6. The power of the god of the grove allows monster summoning in varying degrees of power to occur spontaneously, or by will of the god’s priests in the grove.Specific conditions, such as a full moon or calling only particular types and number of creatures, must be met in order for this power to work, but no spells need to be cast for worshipers to access this power.   7. A magic item that has or uses charges may gain an additional 1d4 charges by the deity’s will, if the object lies overnight in the grove. This is something that the god cannot be asked to do by prayers, but occurs when a god of the grove desires and rarely are recipients aware of this.   8. An unknown item left overnight in the grove may be identified by a priest of the grove’s god. The priest handles the item for at least one full turn and receives the knowledge by an internal revelation. If the item has harmful effects, the priest does not suffer them, but neither will he know of them other than a danger warning.   9. Any priest of the grove’s deity may dimension door anywhere within the grove once every 7 turns.   10. Any priest of the grove’s deity may know alignment of other creatures, provided both the priest and the target are in the grove. This power requires one full round of concentration, during which the target and the priest must both remain in the grove.

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