An evil fane should be so much more than a room featuring just a bloody altar (and some treasure). These are places of ineffable evil and as such deserve decent design time. But who has the time?
Use these tables to quickly and easily add depth and verisimilitude to the evil fanes in your campaign.
Major Fane Features
Redolent with evil the foul acts of veneration perpetrated in a fane of evil irredeemably leave their mark upon the fabric of the place. The design and decoration of such a locale mirrors its patron’s abhorrent proclivities.
- Two large, vividly painted stone statues of devils or demons flank the fane’s entrance. The beasts are depicted in the act of striking at those entering the shrine. Beyond, a veritable forest of slender pillars holds aloft the ceiling. Carvings of lurid scenes of slaughter and sacrifice decorate each pillar.
- Small iron candle sconces jut from the walls. Wrought to look like grinning skulls each sconce has a hinged lid—the skull’s forehead opens—to enable the changing of the candle within. When lit, the candle’s light flicker in the skull’s eye sockets and gaping jaw.
- Purple and red tapestries depicting disturbing geometric shapes hide the wall behind the altar. The tapestries hang in a peculiar, unsettling way; their folds hint at deeper, perhaps non-Euclidean, mysteries hidden in their decorative patterns.
- Thick, viscous blood-like liquid oozes down the shrine’s walls into deep channels running around the room which funnel the liquid into a central pool. (Iron in the rock is responsible for the water’s blood-red hue).
Minor Shrine Dressings
A fane of evil is a dark and disturbing place different to many other sites the PCs explore during their careers. Many small features mark this as a foul locale.
- A strange otherworldly smell of some kind of alien, unknown incense hangs in the air.
- An old sarcophagus' lid is set into the floor. The inscriptions on the lid are faded and indistinct. Prising up the lid is difficult—it has been mortared into place. (It might ward access to a hidden burial vault or merely have been used as an expedient repair.) Many cracks pierce the surrounding floor. A faint (cold or warm) breeze issues forth from their depths.
- A faint, indistinct haze hangs in the air. Discarded purple robes lie on the floor.
- Rusting chains and manacles hang from iron spikes driven deep into the walls.
The centrepiece of any shrine or chapel is its altar. Altars dedicated to dark powers, however, are markedly different to those raised up in honour of good-aligned patrons.
- Twisted and scorched sets of armour—many emblazoned with a holy symbol and containing decomposing body parts—comprise this altar.
- Comprising a sturdy table built from wood taken from a Abyssal forest and covered in a thick, blood-encrusted hide torn from some primeval beast, this altar is a relic in its own right. A pit in front of the altar holds a great mass of bones—the leavings of the priests’ many sacrifices.
- The shrine’s altar stands upon a five-foot high stone plinth, dominating the chamber. Four sets of worn, shallow steps lead up to the altar.
- A shallow 20-foot wide fire pit stands in front of the altar. Within lies a mass of charred wood, ash and other unidentifiable things. A small pile of oiled wood stands behind the altar, ready for the next service.
Adventurers will inevitably find many strange, fell or blasphemous things on or near an altar dedicated to an evil power.
- Standing next to a coiled, thick silver chain this golden thurible is constructed to look like a tiny cage. Beautifully wrought figures contorted in poses of agony are visible inside. Flickering flames in the thurible make it look like the tiny figures' shadows are writhing in agony. About the altar, flecks of dry, rust-red blood decorate the floor.
- A cluster of small bottles and jars stands behind the altar; they contain certain unguents and powders used during services.
- Of beaten bronze, this old, fragile bell hangs from a new wrought iron stand. Faint and worn illegible carvings decorate the bell while bloody handprints—obviously from many different individuals—cover the altar.
- Dried blood and flecks of gore cover the altar. Dried vomit and blood stains its rear. The altar smells of decay.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #37: Fane of Evil, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.