Minidungeon Monday – Cursed Ettercap Lotus Shrine

a cursed shrine

I know it’s Tuesday, but such is life. I promise I designed all this on Monday. All dungeons I design for this will be either given as treasure map destinations, discovered randomly while exploring a hex, or as modular level in a megadungeon.

For reference, I use Silver standard in my game, so players get 1 XP per Silver rather than gold. Feel free to convert it to Gold standard by multiplying everything by 10.

I was inspired for this dungeon by the Ancient Cistern in Skyward Sword, which is itself inspired by the short story Spider’s Thread which is worth the quick read if you’re interested. The visuals really got my mind working and I just wanted to create that same feeling for my players.

RollCreature NameNo. App.HDACMLTreasure
3Flail Snail14166Shell (300gp)
4Snail-Mand41125d4 sp
5Giant Spiderd23*148d12 sp
6Ettercap (Area 4)15147d6x10 gp

This dungeon is a cursed shrine to a long forgotten god. The deity has nothing to do with the curse, it’s just due to the evil energy around the area that has happened to concentrate in this portion of the Mythic Underworld.

The Ettercaps are something of necromantic puppet masters. Their string has been enchanted by the Cursed Spinning Wheel and is capable of resurrecting and controlling the dead. Some of the travelers who have come to this place were slimed by the Flail Snail living here, turning some into Snail-Men servants and eating others, immune to the Ettercaps‘ power, but imprisoned in this place and perpetually suffering. The Giant Spiders function as the guard dogs of the Ettercaps in this area, and will help them in their endeavor to construct a nest befitting of such powerful creatures. The two Ettercaps living in this dungeon are a mated pair, once human lovers now transformed by the evil of the Underworld. The Cursed Spinning Wheel is an outward manifestation of this same evil.

All creatures work as-written except Snail-Men, which work as Normal Human, except they have snail heads and are covered in paralyzing slime. If a PC touches it, Save vs. Paralysis or be paralyzed for d6 Turns.

I have worked to preserve the themes of the original short story in this dungeon, as well as some of the motifs from the Skyward Sword dungeon this is based off. Some of these include seeing the underworld from above through lotus pools, being trapped in the underworld as punishment for greed, selfishness on the Golden Strand sealing you in the underworld, and the juxtaposition of spiders, blood, and death with lotuses and gleaming spider strands. The Spinning Wheel is inspired by the one in Sleeping Beauty, and the lunar stuff comes from some Zen stories I’ve read recently. The Flail Snail and Snail-Men are just because I kinda always wanted to put slimy stuff in a dungeon.


1 – Entrance

  • Room filled with massive spiderwebs containing the freshly-wrapped corpses of 5 humans, 3 White Apes, and even an Owlbear.
  • Giant Spider with treasure stashed in its nest (400sp, Goblet 9gp, Comb 10gp)

2 – Lotus Pools

  • Small pools of water with lotuses fill the room. Each is about 1 foot deep. The pools are perfectly clear, and surprisingly, have transparent bottoms. Looking through the bottoms of the pools, one can see Area 9, except instead of a pile of bones, it is a pile of gold.
  • Undead (including Zombies and Snail-Men) will not enter the pools
  • For every 10 lotus flowers harvested a Lotus Tincture can be made with special equipment that functions as Holy Water. The tincture is hallucinogenic if ingested, creating euphoric floral fractal patterns for 6 hours. A vial of Lotus Tincture can sell for up to 2gp

3 – Flail Snail Banquet

  • Corpses covered in slime litter the room
    • Scholar (carrying the Key to Area 8)
    • Hunter wearing a grey cloak and a triangular hat (carrying 2 days worth of cooked meat and 15 arrows)
    • Farmhand (carrying nothing of use)
    • The rest of the bodies are unrecognizable
  • Their slime makes them immune to the cursed threads of the Ettercaps of this area. If a PC touches it, Save vs. Paralysis or be paralyzed for d6 Turns
  • Each Turn spent in this room, there is a 2-in-6 chance that d4 of the corpses will rise and attack as Snail-Men

4 – Sanctum

  • Massive bronze statue of a forgotten 6-armed deity sitting in lotus position in a large lotus pool in the center of the room. Two massive rubies are set in the eye sockets (50gp each), but require 3 full Turns to pry out each, unless assisted by specialized tools or clever thinking
  • For each Turn spent here, there is a 4-in-6 chance that the Ettercap on the ceiling will notice the party and puppeteer d4 Zombies with its cursed threads. It will attempt a 1-in-6 chance of animating another Zombie each round, up to a maximum of 6 Zombies. If killed, all Zombies in the room will fall to the floor and reanimate in d6 Turns, carrying their own threads

5 – Lotus Pool and Tapestry

  • One large lotus pool fills the center of the room. As in Area 2, the pools are perfectly clear, and looking through the bottoms of the pools, one can see Area 9, except instead of a pile of bones, it is a pile of gold
  • Fresh corpses covered in slime reach toward the tapestry on the northern side of the room, which depicts a man with a halo around his head descending stairs to a room piled with gold. Can be sold for 5sp.
  • A secret stairwell is revealed if the tapestry is pulled back. 1/3 of the way down the stairwell, a pressure plate turns the stairs into a slide too steep to climb, causing all creatures to fall into Area 9, emerging from a hole 25 feet above the floor.

6 – Lotus Study

  • Walls and floor of wood
  • Massive, thick spiderwebs cover the corners of the room, obscuring a secret passage to Area 7
  • A large desk sits at the south side of the room, upon which lay various tattered scraps of paper and a few implements being used to create a tincture from lotus flowers.
    • One vial of sweet-smelling Lotus Tincture sits finished at the end of the table
    • The only legible piece of writing is written in Lawful, saying “tincture…. repel… unholy”
    • Players may take the implements (5 slots in total) and/or use them to create more Lotus Tincture vials. Each vial takes one full week to prepare, and 2 can be made at a time. The implements include 3 empty vials.
  • The desk has a poison-dart trapped drawer containing two golden earrings in the shape of teardrops (5gp each). The poison will not deal any damage, but it will induce psychotic hallucinations and intense feelings of paranoia. Save vs. Poison or attack the nearest moving thing. Wears off in d4 Rounds.

7 – Flail Snail Lair

  • Completely smooth, spherical room, glistening with iridescent slime. If not already encountered, the Flail Snail resides here, digesting the body of a fallen wanderer. Move at half speed in this room or slip and be knocked prone
  • If the Flail Snail is interrupted, some treasure may be retrieved from the half-digested corpse (30sp)
  • The shell of the Flail Snail can sell for up to 300gp if undamaged. It weighs 250lbs, and must be sold within 1 month to retain its value, as its magical properties will begin to wane after that time
  • Thick slime obscures a section of the wall that will sink into a recess in the floor if pressed with any force, revealing a secret passage to Area 6

8 – Astral Observatory (Locked, Key in Area 3)

  • Room full of astrolabes, a telescope, and star charts. A massive chart of the moon phases covers the eastern wall, with the current moon phase glowing brightly
  • Looking through the telescope, one will inexplicably be able to see the night sky, indigo like a deep ocean, filled with twinkling and swaying stars, as though being moved by concentric waves. These waves originate at the Moon, which, if found, has an Ettercap crawling visibly around the surface

9 – Cursed Deep Sanctum

  • Tens of thousands of bones fill the room, completely covering the floor. The pile is much higher around the edges and funnels down inward toward a defiled lotus pool
  • The hole at the end of the slide from Area 5 is about 25 feet above the top of the pile of bones
  • The defiled pool has a number of dead lotus flowers floating in what appears to be blood
    • At the center of the pool is what appears to be a Flax Wheel of jet black wood. It is cursed. Touching it will cause the following effects:
      • The Wheel will spin on its own
      • A bright white light will shine from above
      • d12 non-hostile Skeletons will reanimate from the edges of the room, seemingly puppeteered from above
        • The Skeletons will only attack in self-defense and cannot communicate in any way. They will shamble toward the PCs, attracted by their Life
        • There is a 3-in-6 chance of d4 Skeletons being reanimated each Turn after the initial wave, and they will not stop unless the Cursed Spinning Wheel is destroyed or the party is added to the bone pile
      • A thin, Golden Strand of spiderwebbing will descend from a point in the light
        • The Golden Strand is strong enough to carry the entire party to the top, but every time a Skeleton is vanquished, the strand loses its luster and is weakened. If an equal number of Skeletons are killed as there are party members, the strand will be snipped from above. Skeletons will attempt to follow party members up the Strand
        • If climbed to the top, the Golden Strand will bring the party into the blinding light, at which point they will climb out of the now open mouth of the statue in Area 4. Any Skeletons that emerge this way are fully reconstituted into living humans. At most, 6 can exit this way before the mouth of the statue closes again.
      • A section of the wall will slide away, revealing Area 10
    • Destroying the Spinning Wheel will cause the Ettercaps‘ power to dissipate, de-animating all Undead in the dungeon and destroying the Golden Strand. Additionally, all treasure in Area 10 will vanish, leaving only the golden statue.

10 – Treasure Horde of the Ettercaps

  • Glittering bronze sconces burn perpetually here, illuminating this treasure vault. Incense censers burn, giving off a smoke with a warm scent of balsam. A 2ft tall immovable gold statue of the same forgotten deity sits in the center of a haphazard pile of treasure accumulated by the Ettercaps
    • 600sp, 400ep
    • Sword +1, +3 against Undead
      • When set on the floor, always points toward the nearest powerful Undead or Necromancer
    • Scroll with Charm Person and Light
  • The nose of the gold statue has been tarnished black from the smoke. If wiped clean, a stairwell will open up in the back of the room, leading out of the dungeon (or down to a lower floor, if you would like)

Total Keyed Treasure:

  • 4,325sp
  • 2 Rations
  • 15 Arrows
  • Lotus Tincture
  • Magic Sword
  • Spell Scroll

One response to “Minidungeon Monday – Cursed Ettercap Lotus Shrine”

  1. “Looking through the bottoms of the pools, one can see Area 9, except instead of a pile of bones, it is a pile of gold.”
    I love this! Always good to have foreshadowing/interconnection between various areas of the dungeon.

    Liked by 1 person

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