One of the highlights of adventure module G3 is the Temple of the Eye, the weird worship center of the Elder Elemental God. What I find interesting, though, is that we see similar settings in other places as well. I thought it would be fun to explore those parallels.
First, let’s look at the one Temple of the Eye that we know explicitly is connected to the Elder Elemental God, because we are told so in the text. That is the Temple from the lower level of King Snurre’s Hall from G3:
Giants’ Worship Area: …The floor on this side of the column in the center is of porphyry, the pillars of serpentine, and their well-polished surfaces clash with each other… Servants’ & Thralls’ Worship Area: The polished floor of red and black hornblende seems to flow between the obsidian pillars which close off this area. … Priests’ Area: … The first tier of the area is of black stone shot through with veins of violet. The second tier is of dark gray stone, with specks of lilac and orange and purple. The third tier is dull black stone with whorls of plum and lavender and splotches of red. … A tentacle will come OUT of the altar and grab the nearest living creature… The large pillar to the east on the first tier is of malachite and is covered with graven signs and sigils [that have a magical teleporting effect]…
The color combinations here are important to the iconography of the Elder Elemental God. They are intentionally clashing and discordant, emphasizing the alien-ness of the EEG. We see porphyry [purple] / serpentine [green], red/black, black/purple, gray / purple / orange, and black / purple / red.
Now, compare that to the Weird Abandoned Temple in the dungeon level under the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief:
This room is of faintly glowing purplish green stone. … At the far west end of the temple is an altar of pale, yellow-gray translucent stone. … an alcove with a concave back wall of purplish-black, glassy appearing substance. If any creature stands before this wall an gazes upon it for one round, a writhing amorphous form of sickly mauves and violets will be seen stretching its formless members towards the viewer. This sight causes the creature seeing it to have a 50% chance of becoming insane.
That certainly sounds familiar. We see purple / green, purple / black, and tentacles again. Insanity is also one of the possible fates for those touching the altar in the Temple of the Eye (among various other unpleasantries). In the absence of various altar-tools and the tentacle rods held by the drow priests, the function of the Weird Abandoned Temple is different, of course, but the similarities are too great to ignore.
But now take a look at another place linked to the Elder Elemental God, and see if things start to sound familiar…
The floor here is serpentine and porphyry. The walls are of black marble, veined with green and purple. … Three large pedestals stand 20 feet to the west. … Each likewise bears strange signs and sigils [that have a magical gate-breaking ability]…
That, of course, is the East Hall of the Interdicted Prison of Zuggtmoy, beneath the Temple of Elemental Evil. The layout is similar to that of the Temple of the Eye in G3; an area behind pillars separating the worshipers from the altar which is on a three-level dais (which is in the Great Hall in the Interdicted Prison).
The only problem is, there is no altar in the Great Hall. There’s the dais as we would expect (this time of translucent alabaster), but where we would expect to see an altar, Zuggtmoy has located her silver throne.
What I think has happened is that, in the process of putting together her “sham” cult of the Elder Elemental God, Zuggtmoy stumbled upon a genuine Temple of the Eye and altered it for her own purposes. Although I had recently thought T1-4 was missing such a temple (and even wrote a supplement to add it back in), I now think the Temple of the Eye is right there in front of us, just having been modified to suit the needs of Zuggtmoy and her Elemental Evil cult.
This does bring up a couple of questions, of course. When she arrived, was there an altar and altar service, like we see in the Temple of the Eye? It’s easy enough to assume that things like drums and candlesticks would be destroyed, but the altar itself is a portal through which the Elder Elemental God itself can channel power and accept sacrifices. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of it in the dungeons beneath the ruined Temple. While it may be a mystery never to be solved, one tantalizing possibility does raise itself, and I’ll just end with a hint of what I think happened to the altar itself.
We don’t really know where the Elemental Power Gems came from, do we? (Other than the implication they were “created” by Iuz and Zuggtmoy along with the Golden Orb of Death…)
9 thoughts on “Temples of the Eye”
Sounds good to me!
Any link to the “temple of evil chaos” in “The Keep on the Borderlands”? That one always seemed like an echo of the Eye temples to me.
Gary Gygax didn’t put a lit of background notes in his modules IMHO. Half of what Gary was thinking never made it to the typewriter or word processor lol. You don’t just have to dig through the notes, you have to excavate.
So, IS this a connection to Tharizdun then by chance? I know that had been made before, but what are your thoughts on this for him being the connector to ALL of these modules? Thnx!!
Nope, this still has nothing to do with Tharizdun. His iconography and the behavior of his temple is completely different. If anything, it establishes a consistency among places of worship of the EEG that belies such a connection.
Cool. Thnx. Interested to hear your thoughts of who or what you think it could be. 😉 Deeply ingrained and large cultish organization across Greyhawk, etc…
Thnx for all the great info, ideas, and videos too, sir!
Great job Mr. Bloch, but that’s standard operating procedure for you.
The EEG’s involvement provides a great answer for something that always perplexed me when I read the original module. Where in the Nine Hells were the four elemental cults getting their spells from? I didn’t think Zuggtmoy would be able to grant spells in a field so far outside her fungal domains, and I didn’t think Iuz would really grant spells to anyone that didn’t directly worship him. The idea of Iuz and Zuggtmoy finding some element of the EEG’s power and using that to create the elemental cults as a set of useful puppets is a lot more believable for me.
The thing that always bugged me about the ‘Weird Abandoned Temple’ in module G1 was how, if Nosnra’s clan built their steading atop the EEG’s temple, why was it seemingly abandoned? The main reason I didn’t initially think the Weird Temple was dedicated to the EEG was because I couldn’t see a reason for the giants to abandon it if they were originally using it. I wasn’t sure if the orc slave rebellion was strong enough to keep the giants from using it. If it meant that much to the giants, they would have been more motivated to fight to get it back than they apparently are.
Regarding the Weird Abandoned Temple, my thought was that it wasn’t abandoned by the hill giants; it was rediscovered by them, and they were in the process of clearing it when the orcs rebelled.
I wrote about that specific thing a while ago; http://www.greyhawkgrognard.com/2017/12/03/the-elder-elemental-god-and-hill-giants/
Serpentine and porphyry are olive green and purple respectively. If Zuggtmoy’s throne room isn’t an EEG temple, the interior decorator was a cultist!
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