Pathfinder Encounters: Shrine on the Stair (CR 1)

Encounter Map for Shrine on the Stair
Encounter map for this weeks Pathfinder Encounters on RPGKnights

Shrine Preface

Although I am a magician of some power, Apprentice, I have seen things that even I can not understand.  

I was in the Arcanum Majoris, browsing a less travelled corner of the spell library when I saw a door open to the right of me and a strange trio enter its inviting portal.  They were of a race I was not aware of.  They had large twisted horns and radiated an aura of power.  But this was not the beings that confused me, it was the portal itself for beyond it was not the archives I knew to be there, but a grand stair made of oak enclosed and stretching up as if the library were but a landing on its journey.

I immediately stood and ran for the door.  Something told me that if I let it close this vision would be gone forever.  I made it just in time and as I slipped through the portal, pulling close the door beside me I heard the travelers moving up the stair and so I followed them.  I cast the spell that allowed me to understand their language but it did not work!  The only time that spell had ever failed me.  Their language was rough, barbaric even but they spoke in such an assured and confident way.

I must say that I was so perplexed with the failure of the spell that I did not notice when the oak stair in a comfortable corridor turned into a stone stair twisting its way across the air from one mountaintop to another!  Yes, as I said, I have seen things I do not understand.  I also failed to notice that the trio ahead of me had stopped and I almost ran into them.  They snarled at me and looked at me as if I were some kind of ant under their heel, but they did not strike out.  One at a time each of them leapt so far, high into the air to land on a central dais with a lonely enclosed shrine.

I was shocked to finally see my surroundings!  I stood on a circular plateau of grass, surrounded with the tops of trees, for I saw no trunks and assumed them to be lower than this area.  The centre was dominated by a set of stones, expertly chosen to fit together in a large square with each stone perfectly placed in what seemed to be an Obsidian square of immense size.  At the centrer of the square was a much smaller circular dais of granite.  It was perhaps twenty feet across and made of a grey hard rock I have never found again in my travels.  Atop this sat a strange little shrine, square and enclosed, but on each 10′ wall, sitting centrally was a door.  Each door was fashioned differently though surely it could only enter the one room.

The trio of travelers had each leaped straight to the central dais without setting a foot on the central stones.  The leap was at least thirty foot from the top of the stair and twenty feet up.  I marvelled at these creatures strength and yet unsure of why they stood there and shook arms as if they were parting.  Unsure, for each then turned and entered the shrine via a different door, but surely they met in the middle.

I was perplexed of course, and being inquisitive I ran toward them.  Each step that landed on the stones of the central square played a different note and a cacophony of sounds scared strangely plumed birds from the tree tops.  I ran up a stair to the central dais and pulled at the handle of a door but it would not budge.  I spoke the words of the spell that would open it and yet again it would not budge.  I would have investigated further but I had awoken the guardians of the shrine.

Being alone here and a scholar rather than a fighter I fled.  I heard the guardians behind me but I had to run.  I saw the stone stair continued on the far side and I ran, never looking back for fear of being caught.  One day I hope to find that stair again, Apprentice if you ever find mention of it in your readings you will find me, no matter if I am dead or alive, and satisfy my curiosity.

Pathfinder Encounters: Shrine on the Stair (CR 1)

This encounter offers you the ability to add it into any campaign as a side quest.  A player may notice a door closing that leads to an area they know it did not lead to before and it places them on a Grand Stair filled with strange and powerful vistas.  The shrine in the center is indeed as described in the flavour text and the walls around the door have scripts of varying languages written there.  The writing can be deciphered if you wish to add clues to locations that each door leads to.  You may also have the players able to open the doors or have them tantalizingly shut fast with attractive locales behind each.  Perhaps doors that they can open later when they are a greater level.

The center square appears to be a glass like obsidian substance with a number of stones of varying size and type inserted into it.  Every time that a PC steps on this area it makes a different musical tone as the stone shifts against its encasing glass like obsidian around it.  Normally this offers a cacophany of varying sound but a bard may use any musical instrument perform based skill (apart from singing) to actually perform a pleasant melody which will in fact appease the guardians.  The music is what alerts the guardians of the shrine to intrusion and it takes them 10 rounds (1 minute to arrive).

The guardians are in fact four monkeys that see the shrine as their home.  Nothing more than that.  Regular travelers of the stair know this and respect the monkey’s territory in as much as they try to avoid making them climb the (exceptionally) tall trees that they spend much of their time into.  The monkeys can come from any one tree or any number of trees (up to 4 for 1 per guardian) as you see fit.  Have fun with the monkeys.  Play up their hooting and noises as they run to harass the PC’s!  Stats come from the Pathfinder PRD site.

4 x MONKEY CR 1/4 1/4

XP 100 each
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +5


AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 size)
hp 4 (1d8)
Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +1


Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +4 melee (1d3–4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.


Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 5
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 6
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +10, Perception +5; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics


Environment warm forests
Organization solitary, pair, band (3–9), or troop (10–40)
Treasure none

Monkeys are highly social creatures. They spend the majority of their day searching for food.


  1. I am going to play this one with my kids sometime this week. They are about to go on a hunt and this seems like a nice little landmark for them to visit again later. Thanks for your hardwork Mark.


    1. Thanks James. Glad it will be put to use. I should have a cleaner image up tomorrow for the map.


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