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The Temple of the Frog (AC 1000, Malpheggi Swamp)

by Mike Phillips

Now, in Malpheggi Swamp...

After the defeat of Stephen in the Temple of the Frog during the Blackmoor era (DA2), and the subsequent Return (3.5 adventure), the Temple sank into obscurity and the complex fell into ruin. It was later buried in the Great Rain of Fire, and thought lost.

However, the experiments being performed had created a new race of frog folk, a people with a vague racial memory of their promised, eventual ascendancy and the imprint of a giant, frog-shaped temple. This race spread through the swamps of Mystara, mostly out of sight, and one particular offshoot eventually came to be known as bullywugs. While often competing for territory (and losing) with the lizardfolk, the bullywugs were never quite driven to extinction. Lacking a patron Immortal, when they did occasionally civilize somewhat but were later displaced, nothing was preserved in the Hollow World.

During the later catastrophic era, the ancient memories stirred once again, and the greatest casters of the tribes assembled to bring their monument back. The location chosen was the largest village, deep in the Malpheggi Swamp (a sanctum somehow untouched by the lizardfolk around them).

By their magic, the Temple was teleported on top of their village, nearly wiping them out and, once again, sinking into the swamp. However, the call remained strong and bullywugs began migrating toward the Temple.

While they never developed a strong civilization, the Temple became a beacon of unity for this race, born of its experiments.

...and the Temple remains, to this day, hidden and half-sunken in the Malpheggi Swamp, with a handful of bullywug villages nearby.

This is basically the backstory that makes my excuse for having the Temple of the Frog show up in Malpheggi Swamp for my game (where the party is investigating the odd behavior of bullywugs, and whether it is connected to the sudden increase in rifts to the Shadowfell).

The "later catastrophe" is the sinking of Taymora and reshaping of the continent, which I have mentally as 1750BC but am too lazy to verify as correct. Or whatever that era is, it's all hand-waving anyway...

The specific link to my current game is that the more powerful casters of the bullywugs are now attempting to harness the rifts, and it is sinking them into shadow and undeath in the process. So the modern temple will lack most of the technology (although I'm tempted to leave the power plant and lighting alone, for atmosphere and to seed another mystery) and the classic inhabitants, but will instead house bullywugs degenerating into undead versions. There may yet be surviving mysteries from the original technology, though, including possibly one of the original aliens (or cultists) still in stasis.

Still, it provides a link to Blackmoor, an excuse for the bullywugs existing on Mystara, and a reason why they've never been a prominent evil swamp-dwelling humanoid race.

Who is in charge of the Temple these days?

At the moment, I'm undecided.

The general shape of what's going on in my game is that a voice from the Far Realm (4e cosmology, home of the aberrations, roughly equivalent to the Nightmare Dimension) has started being heard. The whispering has led to a number of different folks trying different things, and reawakened a number of old cults. The party has already encountered one cult trying to animate any and all that it can lay hands on, and someone or something is opening all sorts of extra shadow rifts. Eventually, the party will need to trace it all down (a process which will likely lead through the Feywild, too, to tie in some character backgrounds).

I've been thinking its simply a very powerful bullywug caster who has since turned necromancer/undead, a frog-lich so to speak. However, just asking the question has also prompted a couple other possibilities, including a resurrected Order of the Frog (or perhaps a new Cult of the Frog).

I could even see a disguised Something Else (human, monster, aberration, demon) following a path not unlike Stephen, uniting the bullywugs with a promise of fulfilling the previously-made promises, harnessing the remaining power of the temple for his/her/its own nefarious purposes and twisting both existing bullywugs and their captives in pursuit of this.