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You arrive at a decrepit town—the only one in a day’s journey—that sits in the valley between two mountains. A stream runs through the middle, dividing it into two sides, though the once-clear flowing water has gained a muddy, reddish hue. The trees surrounding it are a dry, sickly grey and red sap seeps from cracks in their bark. The locals, in desperation, have turned to harvesting the sap for glue and selling it at a pittance.
The road forks before you enter the village, splitting into two main thoroughfares on each side of the river. As you enter the village the locals eye you with a wary, uninviting gaze—especially those on the other side of the river.
There are two taverns in the town, as well, though the larger and older building is on the side you’re on. If you enter you’ll see the tapestries on the wall and floor are refreshingly bright and colorful. However, candles are used sparingly, the drinks are watered down, and the stew is more of a soup. Clearly, there used to be better times.
The innkeeper, a young man with grey already salting his beard, perks up when you enter. He explains that they don’t get many traveling through their town these days. Looking at your attire he notices that you seem able to handle yourself, and asks if you’d accept a contract to track down and kill the beasts and monsters which have been ravaging the town. They come from upriver, somewhere in the mountains.
This area used to be verdant and lush, he explains, their forests and fields filled with food and wild game. But a corruption has been creeping upon the land and predators have gone mad. First, they would kill their livestock, now they kill all the game they can find—far more than they need—and leave it to rot in the forest. The bests, starving due to their bloodlust, have started hunting the villagers. Monsters the likes they’ve never seen before have been spotted in the area now, too. The innkeeper doesn’t have much, but he’ll pay you what he’s got to rid the town of that scourge.
It’s dark times, these, the man continues. As if the feud wasn’t enough… Ever since a boy died years ago the two major families have been at each other’s throats. It’s been going on for over a decade and the retribution killings have kept escalating. As a result, scores on both sides are dead. Now that they’ve seen you on this side of the river, he doesn’t recommend you cross over.
If you accept the contract, he’ll pay you half now and half once the job’s complete.
Once you start tracking the beasts to their source, you’ll find they come from an abandoned, ancient temple deep in the mountains. The river runs a stronger red as you get closer and the water inside the temple itself is the color of blood. Dead trees hold their twisted limbs to the sky, while the statues of demons look out over walkways; watching the monsters that prowl the grounds.
Once you defeat all the monsters, you will find yourself in a long room with a wooden bridge through it. At the other end is a large, fogged mirror. And standing before it is the ghost of a monk. If you talk to her, she’ll explain that this place is the Temple of Reflection. If your goal is to cleanse the town of the monsters, it’s not about killing them—it’s about resolving the feud and the bloodshed it’s caused.
The ghost monk will give you an ancient orb, which allows the spirits of the dead to speak through it, and bids you to take it back to the village and assemble everyone to listen.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? About ten years ago, a couple of boys from the town’s two major families went exploring and found the old temple. Tragically, one of the boys fell through a rickety walkway and died. When only one of them returned, explaining what had happened, a feud began between the two families—the parents blaming the others for what had occurred.
Since then, the feud has only grown in intensity, going so far as each side killing some of the other’s members. That hatred has been reflected in the temple and radiated outwards; resulting in the forests dying, the animals going mad, and monsters being drawn into this area.
If you do bring the orb back and gather the town, the innkeeper (who is the older brother of the boy who died) will help you bring the angry families together in one room.
Once the orb is activated, the son who died first will explain that it was actually him who pressured his friend to go explore the temple; his death was his own mistake, his friend even warned him not to go on the old walkway but to his regret he did it anyway. Then all the spirits of those who died more recently, due to the feud, will speak of their regrets.
They didn’t want this feud to happen and beg their living relatives to set aside this conflict and lift the curse over the town.
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