Today I’m going to be highlighting the latest in the Dungeon Feature series, this one being about altars.
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices and worship are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship.
“Dungeon Feature : Altars” is designed to give you ideas for designing the altar. It contains several tables that provide a guide for the description of the altar. You do not have to use all of them, but you can. Thin of it as a way of helping to fill in the blanks you have in your design. For example you have it planned for your players to discover an altar within your dungeon, when one of them asks what it’s made of. You realise you have forgotten that information in your notes. A quick roll on the materials table gives you 8, which is glass. This raises further questions.Why was this altar made from glass? Didnt you hear about a rather eccentric cleric who worshiped a mad god that demanded glass altar? Could this be the one you seek?
There are 7 broad categories of features and aspects that can be used when designing an altar. they are:
Altar Shape – What is the shape of the altar? Is it round, square or something else?
Altar Size – How big is it?
Material – What is it made from?
Primary Purpose – Why was the altar built in the first place? For worship or some foul rite?
Protection – Does the altar have any protection attached to it and what triggers this?
Quirks & Other Features – Does the altar have any special quirk or feature?
Tools & Decorations – What could you find on this altar? Candles, daggers or something else
Plus 3 appendices that help to flesh out the details, each with 100 entries:
Appendix 1 – Quirks & Other Features
Appendix 2 – Tools & Decorations
Appendix 3 – Protection Effects
Below is an example altar made from random rolls to give you an idea of the possibilities you can get.
Altar Shape : Tube (When viewed from top and front, almost like it’s an “L” shape)
Altar Size : 50 x 90 x 140(H x W x D in cm)
Material : Iron
Primary Purpose : Worship
Protection : No Protection
Quirk/Feature : Blood stained – misc. pattern
Tools & Decorations : (2)
1) Incense Holder – Jasmine
2) Embedded Metal
This altar is shaped like a “L”. Whist it is fairly squat in height, it is quite deep. Made from iron with streaks of other metal embedded within, there is an odd blood stain on the bottom half of the altar, near the incense holder, which currently has some kind of Jasmine within it. It is believed by sages to be an active worshiping altar. The belief is that incense or other small sacrifices are made within the lower part of the altar, with the essence or soul of the item being “guided” out the top half of the L-shape towards the heaves and the gods to which the altar is dedicated. Luckily there is no protection attributed to this altar so it can be removed for further study or taken to be sold to an interested party.
As you can see this can make altars more interesting and help breathe life into your games and stories.
“Dungeon Feature : Altars” is available at Drivethru, Paizo and d20pfsrd.com online stores