Aztec/Mayan Temple Guardian monster, puzzle, and encounter ideas? [closed]

In a few weeks, I’m running a 10th level DnD 5e Indiana Jones-esque one-shot type jungle adventure in my homebrew world. My players are fighting golems, dinosaurs, etc. But I’m struggling to design a cool and engaging encounter when they finally reach the top of the ruined pyramid they’re going to explore. The pyramid was built by sun-worshipping natives that had a strange connection with extraplanar and alien beings. What kind of monsters do you think would be interesting and cool to be guarding this place at the top of the pyramid? I’m also planning to make this puzzle were they have to figure out a way to open a circular pressure plate at the center of the chamber at the top of the pyramid to enter as well, and would like to hear your suggestions or ideas on how I could execute this?

I’m open to all suggestions!

Does Word of Recall work with Temple of the Gods?

The word of recall spell (PHB, p. 289) says:

You must designate a sanctuary by casting this spell within a location, such as a temple, dedicated to or strongly linked to your deity. If you attempt to cast the spell in this manner in an area that isn’t dedicated to your deity, the spell has no effect.

The temple of the gods spell (XGtE, p. 167) says:

You cause a temple to shimmer into existence on ground you can see within range. […] The temple remains until the spell ends [which is 24 hours]. It is dedicated to whatever god, pantheon or philosophy is represented by the holy symbol used in the casting.

[…]

Casting this spell on the same spot every day for a year makes this effect permanent.

My plan is, cast temple of the gods (it takes one hour to cast, but it’s 24 hour countdown won’t come into effect until after I’ve finished casting the spell), then cast word of recall (takes only one action) within the temple. That’s my 6th and 7th level spell slots gone (I’m currently 14th level, so that’s all I’ve got above 5th).

Then long rest, probably within the temple (so that’s 8 hours of the 24 hours that the temple will exist for), then go on a dangerous mission. So long as the mission doesn’t take more than ~16 hours (or it becomes clear after 16 hours that it’s no longer dangerous), then I should be able to cast word of recall (assuming I reserve either my 6th or 7th level slot for it) to get my and my party out of there if anything goes horribly wrong.

Is there a flaw in my plan? Is there something about temple of the gods that means it wouldn’t be a valid target for word of recall?

I included the part of the temples of the gods quote about casting it every day for a year to make the temple permanent, since I wondered if the temporary nature of a temple I just conjured into existence that will only remain there for 24 hours would somehow interfere with word of recall, but I’m hoping that a temple, no matter how temporary or how it came into being, is still a temple as far as word of recall is concerned…

What counts as a sufficient heat source to survive Amber Temple?

In the Curse of Strahd adventure, the sidebar about Amber Temple’s temperature (p. 181) says:

It specifically mentions “heat sources”, and I was wondering what counts as a heat source for the purposes of not succumbing to the cold of Amber Temple.

Is a torch good enough? Or are we talking more like a campfire (say, the sort that someone might make during a long rest)? I imagine Curse of Strahd itself doesn’t expand much more on this, but there might be some generic rules in the DMG or similar that I haven’t managed to find with regards to temperature?

I ask because there will be at least one party member who won’t have any (relevant) magic items, cold resistance or cold weather gear by the time they enter Amber Temple, and I’d like to know what counts as a heat source so I (as the DM) know when to ask for or waive the need for saving throws vs. exhaustion.


For reference, the “Extreme Cold” (Dungeon Master’s Guide, p. 110) section:

Whenever the temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cold must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures wearing cold weather gear (thick coats, gloves, and the like) and creatures naturally adapted to cold climates.

Curse of Strahd: Are Dark Powers from Shadowfell or from Amber Temple?

I am running the Curse of Strahd and one thing seems inconsistent. In chapter one it says

Unwilling to go the way of his father, Strahd studied magic and forged a pact with the Dark Powers of the Shadowfell in return for the promise of immortality.

However, in the chapter thirteen the story is different:

He knows only that the Dark Powers that created Strahd’s domain were born in the temple, and that these entities feed on the evil that Strahd represents.

How does one reconcile these two things?

Have the powers originate in the Amber Temple, but later moved to Shadowfell? Are Dark Powers different from what evil vestiges that the Amber Temple also mentions (and some point switches from evil vestiges to Dark Powers)?

Finally, how can it say that Dark Powers originated in the Amber Temple, if the evil vestigates are:

They needed a vault in which to contain the evil vestiges (remĀ­nants of dead, malevolent entities) they had captured and the hoard of forbidden knowledge they had amassed.

So the malevolent entities must have existed before the Amber Temple. Were these the Dark Powers?

Will adding 2 Winter Wolves to the party make the Amber Temple more survivable for a group of five Level 5 PCs?

I’m DMing a Curse of Strahd game for a party of 5 players, who are all currently level 5. The party consists of the following:

  • Wild Magic Sorcereress human
  • TWF Battlemaster human (has the only magic weapon, which is unfortunately a +1 greatsword)
  • Tanky eldritch knight dwarf with Shield Master
  • Moon druid tiefling
  • Runeseeker human (homebrew class, half-caster with utility/offense spells on short rest slots)

Spoilers ahead for Curse of Strahd:

I’ve added a few things to the campaign, the most pertinent being a pair of ancient Winter Wolves (chaotic good) in the Balinok mountains who represent the land before it was corrupted by Strahd – they are the only remaining “wolves” not under his control. They can speak common, and are there as a hook for the druid and runeseeker primarily, but I’m thinking that they may accompany the party to the Temple.

The party is pretty intent on reaching the temple and exploring it. However, things will be quite difficult:

CR Calculations:

Not to mention all of the other encounters in the temple. The party is pretty deadset on finding the temple and exploring, even though Kasimir is becoming hesitant after nearly dying in the last fight. My players are fairly headstrong – most players are (myself included), and generally it seems like the more you try to telegraph that they should run, the more they want to stand their ground. They have indicated that they want threats to be real, and that I shouldn’t pull punches, but I’m not sure that’s really been tested – nobody has died yet, despite close calls.

I’m planning how to recover from an inevitable TPK from the opening salvo, although I know that they might surprise me and do something clever and slip away.

If they manage to do that, will adding two helpers in the form of the Winter Wolves help even the playing field? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from turning into a bloodbath? If they are doomed no matter what, I need to consider pushing back (through Kasimir or the wolves) to prepare elsewhere, so if you come to that conclusion advice on how to avoid or handle a TPK in these circumstances becomes relevant.

Answers should, of course, follow Good Subjective, Bad Subjective – I’m mostly looking for answers and expert advice from people who have run the Amber Temple, especially with an underleveled party.

Does the Temple of the Gods spell nullify critical hits?

I am already aware of this other question “Can a Lore bard’s Cutting Words feature cancel a critical hit?” And do not believe it answers my question as this spell specifically mentions the d20.

The Temple of the Gods spell description states:

Whenever it makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw inside the temple, it must roll a d4 and subtract the number rolled from the d20 roll.

Can this ability change critical hits into normal hits or even misses?

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Is it possible to cast the spell Temple of the Gods on the Ethereal Plane?

As a high-level cleric, I would like to use the spell etherealness and build a hidden temple of the gods on the ethereal plane at the same spot where I have a normal house in the material plane.
I cannot find any good information on what happens if I attempt that.

Will the temple drift away in the ethereal plane (can some funny NPC traveler push it away), or is it a fixed position? Will the spell fail because there is no real firm ground? I need to have a better understanding for how this works before I go to my DM.