Kamara Pond (3.5e Environment)
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About two days' walk from the nearest village sits a decent-sized marsh of choked trees and wetlands. The road cuts through these wetlands and is surprisingly well-maintained, ensuring efficient movement through the area, especially considering the choking vegetation just off the edge of the pathway. The marshlands are devoid of humanoid development except for a couple of small but adequately maintained wooden shacks located together on the side of the road, a hundred paces from a sizable pond in the heart of the marsh.
The square mile surrounding Kamara Pond has a pleasant air about it; PCs will rarely be attacked by its natural inhabitants unless they attack first, and the air and surroundings simply feel fresh and clean. Good-aligned characters will find the area highly enjoyable and feel refreshed so long as they remain. Evil-aligned characters, conversely, will find something indefinably irritating about their surroundings, the same sort of unwelcome presence that they would find from a stay in a good-aligned temple.
A successful DC 15 Knowledge [Geography] or DC 20 Knowledge [Religion] check reveals that Kamara Pond is home to a curious, but not unheard of, circumstance; a (very, very) small religion devoted to the worship of the pond's "Goddess."
- The Spirit of the Pond, powerful fey
- Zelet Lan, Cleric 1
- Edgar the Shambling Mound, 72 hp
- Pack of Shocker Lizards, lizards 20 hp (3 HD), 14 hp, 13 hp, 13 hp and 10 hp, and gray render 131 hp
The pond itself is a number of hectares in size, but clear, its bottom dotted with rooted plants nourished by sunlight. Algae covers some of its surface and plant life is abundant. At any time the weather is above freezing, PCs can find fish, turtles, and other aquatic life within or around the pond; the entire area is teeming with life.
Most of the pond is positively picturesque, though life is also celebrated in the more swampish corner that, though less visually attractive to most viewers, is lush with biological activity in terms of tangled reeds, thick pond scum and rotting logs and vegetation. It's also home to a healthy and exuberant shambling mound, who has been nicknamed Edgar by the area's human inhabitant. Edgar tends not to hunt sentient visitors, but will "playfully" grapple anyone who comes within reach as he babbles in a pidgin of Sylvan and Common, releasing them after having run out of jokes or conversation.
Swimming in the pond requires a DC 10 Swim check for most characters. However, evil characters will find the pond working against them, raising the DC to 15.
The one and only "temple" devoted to the Spirit of the Pond is a simple but respectably maintained wooden shack of about 20x20 feet. The front (the side facing the road) boasts the shack's simple wooden door and an awning the extends five feet, providing some shade. A metal bowl for donations is installed in the wall to the right of the door and at any time contains 2d8 copper pieces from travelers. There is no sign denoting the temple's purpose, but Zelet Lan is usually in the area and will hail any travelers.
Inside the shack is a modest shrine devoted to the Spirit of the Pond where Lan performs his prayers. There are no chairs; any visitors sit or kneel on the much-abused wooden floor.
Zelet Lan spends most of his waking hours within five minutes of the "temple", performing general upkeep and maintenance duties.
Zelet Lan's Home
Zelet Lan lives in a dilapidated shack in the marsh, that can be accessed by following a worn path off the main road for about ten minutes. His home is even less impressive than the temple, ten feet on the side and containing a simple bed, shelves with some food and a pile of firewood next to a crude fireplace with a metal pipe, extending through the roof, as a chimney. The floor is dirt. Searching the bed reveals a small bag with 4d20+12 copper pieces, all the money Lan owns for the purposes of buying food or material for his ecclesiastical duties.
Nest of Shocker Lizards
Within a few metres of the pond's edge, about half the way down the side from the point closest to the road, a pack of shocker lizards live in and about a series of dank tunnels that probably once belonged to a family of gophers. This pack is led by a large 3 HP lizard, and the group as a whole generally hunts fish, toads and turtles for food. However, they are very territorial; anyone ignoring the warning clicks and invading their hideout will be shooed off by a series of electric shocks.
This is normal activity for shocker lizards and wouldn't be worth of attention, except that a gray render has apparently taken interest in the pack as a whole, and has turned the entire family into something far more dangerous. The lizards have apparently realized the render is not a threat and ignore its presence, as well as the carrion it drops for them.
The render reacts to the states of the lizards. It will not attack until they attack, and will cease to chase intruders after the lizards are satisfied their homes are no longer threatened. While this does help to pacify the normally relentless gray render, it still makes for a very dangerous round or two of fleeing. The whole situation is rather a sore spot for Edgar, who misses the time when it could harass the lizards deliberately to entice their electric attacks (referred to by Edgar as "invigorating").
The Church of Kamara Pond
The Spirit of the Pond is not technically a goddess but rather a powerful fey; however, her presence is still felt within the square mile surrounding the pond. Though not omniscient within her realm, she has a general knowledge of any significant happenings within the area. She influences the behaviour and activity of nonsentient life within the surrounding marsh. Her power is not spectacular or dramatic, but should not be ignored.
Alignment in Kamara Pond
A spell of detect good reveals a faint aura of good permeating the 1 square mile centered on the pond.
Good characters heal 1 extra point of natural healing each night they spend in the vicinity (this benefit is also afforded to neutral characters that make a donation towards the church). Evil characters are hampered; if they veer off the road, their overland speed is cut by 1/4 as the vegetation snags just a little more on their clothes and they trip just a little more often over an exposed root (for example, if a character with 30 ft. speed has moved off the road, their speed is cut to x3/4 normal for travelling through trackless moor, to 22.5 ft. (rounded down to 20 ft.). If this character is evil, their speed is cut from 22.5 ft. to 16.625 ft. (rounded down to 15 ft.)). Because of the subtle nature of this, it does not affect evil characters with woodland stride, even though it is technically a supernatural impediment.
The area's nonsentient inhabitants (that is, with an Int of less than 3) will not attack the PCs unless provoked, unless the characters are evil, in which case encounters are rolled as normal.
Though many travelers that pass through the area pay at least some respect to the Spirit of the Lake (out of prudence if nothing else), very few creatures actually treat her as their patron deity.
Clerics are referred to as a "Zelet of the Pond". As of now, there is only one: Lan, who lives in the area. Religiously knowledgeable PCs will easily realize that the Spirit is incapable of granting any divine powers and that Lan's divine abilities most likely spring from the same source as those clerics that devote themselves to a cause rather than a deity. If questioned on this, Lan will uncomfortably attempt to evade the question with vague answers and misdirections, but eventually communicate that perhaps it's not the Spirit herself that grants him powers, but they arise from his worship of her just the same.
The only other sentient creature that holds the Spirit as its patron deity is Edgar, the fervent if inarticulate shambling mound. Edgar has grown large and healthy in the pond and is grateful for the prosperity the Spirit has afforded, and will crudely announce said gratitude, as well as praise the Spirit, to all that listen.
Lan is more a divine servant than a preacher and does not usually hold sermons. If the PCs get curious about the odd little religion and request such, however, Lan can be persuaded to usher everyone into the temple and deliver an awkward, improvisational performance for about twenty minutes before retiring.
If for some odd reason the PCs express a wish to join the religion, Lan will react first with surprise and then try to dissuade them, figuring them it to be an insincere or rash sentiment. If they can convince him, however, he will be happy to induct them into the religion, though the church is so minute there will probably be nothing more for them to do with it except carry it in their hearts, or however PCs express religion.
The Spirit of the Pond
It's not often a mere mortal would meet a divine being such as Pelor, Wee Jas or Moradin. But one of the benefits of a small church is it allows you to have a much more personal relationship with your deity. The Spirit of the Lake herself will make a personal appearance for any characters that have earned her favour through generosity towards the Church or to Zelet Lan himself, in order to offer her gratitude. After that, there's not much more she can do except stand around and look divine-ey unless the PCs try and make small talk, which she will be receptive too. It would not be inaccurate to say she's somewhat more approachable than a real goddess.
The Spirit is as attached to her lone cleric as he is to her, and Lan is the only one that can comfortably refer to her as "Nyneve", her real name. The two share frequent conversations and are comfortable about the other. Amused rumours in the neighbouring village that Lan and Nyneve's divine relationship has turned physical on more than one occasion are purely conjectural, but at the same time would not surprise anyone if they turned out to be true. Killing or seriously harming Lan is likely to put the Spirit on the warpath, throwing everything she has into revenge upon the attackers - although to be fair, any real deity would probably do this too, to anyone that killed their entire clerical personnel or half of their total patronage.
It's always possible, though probably not without action from the PCs, that the Spirit of the Pond could achieve actual divine rank become a real deity granting real powers. In this case, it would be a Neutral Good church with the domains Good, Healing, Plant and Water.
Movement and Combat
Movement on the road is as normal - Zelet Lan keeps it well maintained, and is helped by the influence of the Spirit dissuading plant growth in the road. Off it, the area is treated as marshland as described in the DMG. The pond itself is, of course, aquatic.