Skeletons in a Ruined Chapel of Eldath

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In my current Forgotten Realms campaign, one of my players has an Earth Genasi Cleric of Chauntea. She is in Shadowdale at her family's farmstead at the moment, and her father (an ex-Harper) has urged her to explore a ruined chapel of the dead god Eldath that lays in Cormanthor to the north. The ruined ground floor is going to contains a few giant ant minions, but the sealed sublevel, the crypts, of the chapel will contain loads of skeleton minions and a regular skeleton (non-minion). This will be her first dungeon crawl.

What I'm looking for is a reason for a bunch of skeletons to be sealed in the crypt of a chapel of forgotten Eldath (God of waterfalls and tranquility). Any ideas out there?
I should first preface this by saying that in my campaign Eldath isn't quite so forgotten, even if she has been relegated to being a Primal Spirit in canon (Dragon #376 - Realmslore: Sarifal).

However, if I was wanting to do as you suggest then I would probably go one of three routes (though you might consider them too pedestrian for your uses).

1) Looting. The good old standby. A raid on the chapel (for goods or religious lore) soon after its abandonment went awry and left many of the perpetrators trapped in the catacombs below. Their wrath at their incarceration might be enough to tie their unquiet spirits (and bones) to the world. Defending the artifacts that they themselves were unable to remove.

2) Act of Evil during an attack. An attack on the chapel by a force or forces unknown led to many of the clerics and layworshippers of Eldath being walled up in the crypts and left to die. Their service to Eldath has been remembered and they have become guardians beyond the bounds of their own lives, still protecting that which was most important to them against all comers.

3) (If you are happy to include Abeiran material... which I personally am not) The Eminence of Araunt. Regarding the crypts and graveyards of the high-born and powerful as principalities of the Eminence deathways could have been established there (profaning the original nature of the chapel). The undead there now guard it as sovereign territory of the Eminence.

Anyway, those are just a few quick ideas about how I would probably explain skellies in the basement (although in #1 you might be more likely to get ghouls or wights. Not sure). I hope they are of some use to you!

My approach to the NPCs of previous editions.

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I always saw the High Level NPCs as shepherds of the Realms not its defenders. Making sure that not too many sheep were lost as they milled around (as they are wont to do) and bringing on the young'uns into the job. In that way a shepherd never has time to go and hunt down all of the wolves but is pretty dashed effective at keeping them away from the sheep when they rear their heads.
"It was a puzzle why things were always dragged kicking and screaming. No one ever seemed to want to, for example, lead them gently by the hand." - Terry Pratchett
I should first preface this by saying that in my campaign Eldath isn't quite so forgotten, even if she has been relegated to being a Primal Spirit in canon (Dragon #376 - Realmslore: Sarifal).

However, if I was wanting to do as you suggest then I would probably go one of three routes (though you might consider them too pedestrian for your uses).

1) Looting. The good old standby. A raid on the chapel (for goods or religious lore) soon after its abandonment went awry and left many of the perpetrators trapped in the catacombs below. Their wrath at their incarceration might be enough to tie their unquiet spirits (and bones) to the world. Defending the artifacts that they themselves were unable to remove.

2) Act of Evil during an attack. An attack on the chapel by a force or forces unknown led to many of the clerics and layworshippers of Eldath being walled up in the crypts and left to die. Their service to Eldath has been remembered and they have become guardians beyond the bounds of their own lives, still protecting that which was most important to them against all comers.

3) (If you are happy to include Abeiran material... which I personally am not) The Eminence of Araunt. Regarding the crypts and graveyards of the high-born and powerful as principalities of the Eminence deathways could have been established there (profaning the original nature of the chapel). The undead there now guard it as sovereign territory of the Eminence.

Anyway, those are just a few quick ideas about how I would probably explain skellies in the basement (although in #1 you might be more likely to get ghouls or wights. Not sure). I hope they are of some use to you!



Very awesome ideas, Iluvrien!! Thank you so much! I'm with you totally on not wanting to include Aberian stuff in my FR campaigns. I completely ignore the Abeir influence across the sea and in the southeast Realms. Your first two options are perfect, and I'll likely do #2. I would just do the first option except that there are about a dozen skeletons in the crypt so it would have been a pretty large group of explorers.
The story I'm going to use is that back in the mid 1370s the clerics of Eldath were cursed with a magical wasting disease by clerics of Talona. Knowing they were doomed, they slowly died off and were placed into the crypts by one another until the final cleric was all that was left. He entered the crypts and sealed himself in where he passed away as well. And, as you suggested, their duty to Eldath and the tragic circumstances of their demise have kept their skeletons animated.
I wanted the have of Talona to be a constant villian for my group's Cleric of Chauntea so this will be a cool little piece of history.
I'm thrilled to hear that Eldath is still alive in some small way!!! I haven't seen any Dungeon or Dragon material since the magazines went digital and thus haven't seen any recent realmslore. Eldath, Chauntea, Shiallia, and Silvanus were always my favorite dieties in the Realms. Thanks so much for your advice and info!

Hrm…suppose the fall of Eldath led to some magical backlash that flowed into each of her temples, followed by a portion of the remains of Eldath’s divine essence, which bled out from the holy altars.
 
The backlash sheared flesh and spirit alike from the faithful in this particular temple, but left behind their bones. These bones absorbed the essence of Eldath, and so continue mimicking the holy rights and activities of the faithful to this day.
 
The reason most of the animated priestly remains are in the crypt is because the priests were laying to rest an elder of their order when Eldath fell to the Spellplague.
 
The regular skeleton (non-minion) could be the body of the already dead priest who was being entombed.
 
The destruction of the skeletons releases the essence of the dead god, which flows back through the holy altar and goes the gods only know where, but a minor blessing is conferred on the characters as the essence departs: one that hints at the possibility that Eldath may someday re-form.
 
My two coppers, at any rate. Best of luck with your game.

The destruction of the skeletons releases the essence of the dead god, which flows back through the holy altar and goes the gods only know where, but a minor blessing is conferred on the characters as the essence departs: one that hints at the possibility that Eldath may someday re-form.
 
My two coppers, at any rate. Best of luck with your game.



I love this angle for sure, bringing back some of Eldath's power into the current Realms.
According to Ed, Eldath wasn't quite the paragon of niceness she is now generally portrayed as in the Realms. One overlooked aspect of her portfolio was as the guardian of (druid) groves and I recall him saying that the use of simple undead - usually skeletons - was considered an acceptable means of protecting such sacred, holy sites and preventing the priests themselves from "breaking the peace" as it were. This is why the spell "wheel of bones" is an Eldathyn spell, no matter that it appears at first to be a totally inappropriate spell for that deity.

The skeletons were created as needed - in the sense that they would either be raised by priests there and then or guardian magics would cause them to rise up when intruders entered places they weren't supposed to. Those slain by the skeletons were left to lie where they fell, covered by earth and used in turn as skeleton guardians as needed.

-- George Krashos
 
According to Ed, Eldath wasn't quite the paragon of niceness she is now generally portrayed as in the Realms. One overlooked aspect of her portfolio was as the guardian of (druid) groves and I recall him saying that the use of simple undead - usually skeletons - was considered an acceptable means of protecting such sacred, holy sites and preventing the priests themselves from "breaking the peace" as it were. This is why the spell "wheel of bones" is an Eldathyn spell, no matter that it appears at first to be a totally inappropriate spell for that deity.

The skeletons were created as needed - in the sense that they would either be raised by priests there and then or guardian magics would cause them to rise up when intruders entered places they weren't supposed to. Those slain by the skeletons were left to lie where they fell, covered by earth and used in turn as skeleton guardians as needed.

-- George Krashos
 



Wow, that is definitely new info for me. Thanks, Krash. I may play up that angle as well.
Eldath is a she? HA! Learn something every day on these forums. 
Eldath is a she? HA! Learn something every day on these forums. 



I'm with you! All these years of reading and DMing Realms in 3 different editions and I thought that Eldath was masculine.