Free Dungeon: Temple of Shifting Sands for D&D or RPGs

This dungeon can be can be easily customized to a party of any size or level, or run as a level 5 adventure for 5 players. It can work as a small side adventure in an existing campaign, as a standalone one-shot, or the start of a new adventure. Use the links to the tools in their relevant section to customize the adventure to your party.

You can use the dungeon in your campaign at any spot in which you'd need a dungeon. It can slot easily into any setting or storyline. If you need a hook, it could be that a drought is spreading out from the temple, turning everything into sand. The PCs need to investigate the temple and stop its magic before it destroys nearby cities.

You can either roll for travel using the Wilderness Travel Generator or have the players arrive after a brief interlude.

When the PCs first enter the dungeon, all the colored passageways are blocked with sand. Solving one of the puzzles at the colored orbs (or you can replace the puzzles with switches if your players are logic-aversed) causes the temple to fill or empty with sand, and unblocks all same-colored passageways while blocking all differently-colored passageways. For example, if the players flip the green switch, all green passageways will become passable but all red and blue passageways will be blocked.

Shifting Sands Temple Map


The PCs enter the temple from this room in the bottom right of the map.

From a distance comes the occasional echo of harsh, conversational hissing. Sand ebbs and flows through a cavity along the north wall of this chamber. The tunnel extends beyond this room, twisting suddenly to the west and out of view.

Hazard: Brown mold (Frigid temperature. DC 12 Con, 4d10 cold damage, half on save. Immune to fire, causes it to expand. Destroyed by cold)


Flickering torches in iron sconces illuminate this room. Brass hooks line the sandstone walls, and a sandy brown cloak hangs from a hook in the center of the southern wall. A handful of furnishings adorn the area, made of human bone.

The cloak doesn't like to be touched, and will fly around the room to avoid it.


Four long tables take up the center of this square room, with a bronze lantern hanging above them. A greenish-brown rug of mold envelops an old skeleton in rusted plate in the north-eastern section of the area.

The skeleton is a Sand Silhouette (Tome of Beasts p. 332)


Stairs stop at the entryway to a huge square chamber. The ground is decorated with fractured, sandy green tiles, and the walls are covered with rough stone. To the west, great doors swing somewhat ajar, and a constant dim light slips through the opening. Sandy scrolls and books line the walls of this chamber.

Within this room are: 2 Barovian Witch (Curse of Strahd p. 229), Carrion Ogre (Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage p. 189)


A pair of sandstone doors leads into a curved-roof area consisting of several furnaces. Various tables line the temple walls, covered with partly built iron devices and inert automatons. A brief flight of stairs leads up to a big, iron-bound door. A human skull is affixed to the of the door by a wooden spike.

Treasure: Random Treasure


Casks, cages, and sacks follow the walls of this room. Four kobolds are sat around the center table, playing dice for copper pieces. A set of precarious stairs carved into the stone meander up to the north.

Use this for the kobolds: Kobold Alchemist (Tome of Beasts p. 261), Kobold Chieftain (Tome of Beasts p. 263), Kobold Dragonshield (Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 165), Kobold Scale Sorcerer (Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 167)


The floor has been chipped into dozens of small steps, but the ceiling and walls are still carved from native rock. To the side, three big sandy cots look recently used.

One of the cots is trapped with a Poison Needle. Hidden within the cot is a Ring of warmth


This curved corridor has been brushed clean. A small, smoldering fire crackles and pops in the middle of this room. A breeze carries the smoke up into a rocky opening in the ceiling. On the eastern wall is written: "You saw me where I never was and where I could not be. Yet within that very place, my face you often see. "

If anyone answers "a reflection" then the temple fills with sand, unblocking purple passageways.


Flitting torches in iron sconces light this room. Cobwebs dangle like dusty mesh down each side of the room. This hall is full of what looks like moldy food. Containers of cured meats covered in white fuzz, burlap sacks of grain gone bad, and bottles of cider transformed into vinegar. At the eastern end of the room is a lever.

At the eastern end of the room is a lever that fills the temple with sand and unblocks blue passages. However, when a PC turns around after switching the lever there is a wall 5 feet behind them, causing them to be stuck. If anyone stayed behind they don't see this wall, but if they approach they will then see it and be similarly stuck. On this wall is written, 'avert your eyes and you may escape.' The player has to look away from the wall and walk backwards through it in order to escape.


To the east, a stairway full of webs curls down into the dark. This timeworn gallery is suffocated with spider webs, disconnected by a lone free line down its middle. A cramped passage leads to a small room away from this one.

Trap: Setback Trap


A swift stream of sand crosses over a sharp hunk of sandstone in front of a brief passage. The cave ahead is length and low, with an irregular ceiling about 60 feet high. Affixed to the south wall are three sconces. The northmost one grips a torch with a sophisticated bronze base. The others are bare. Masses of metal ingots, fibers, and other goods fill this tunnel, much of it jumbled and all of it apparently from outside the temple.

Within the clutter is a crystal that, when touched, changes a characters alignment, personality, size, appearance, or sex.


A sweet yet sharp smell of blight permeates this room, in the west of which holds a long stone table. A coat of sand covers the tabletop as well as its exquisite china. Two elegant thrones stand aside in the center of the room, topped with sand and strung with cobwebs. Many rock pillars climb to meet the roof above. The smallest hint of a passageway can be seen at the bottom of the eastern wall, under the sand. In the center of the room is a statue of a man, holding a metal lever to the left. He is looking directly at a statue of a beholder.

The lever is locked and the man is holding it firmly to the left. If the players block the line of sight between the man and the beholder (such as putting a cloth around his eyes) then he turns to sand and crumbles, causing the lever to unlock. Switching the lever will cause the sand in the temple to lower, unblocking all red passageways (but filling all green, blue, and purple passageways with sand).


The air is thick with smoke from the southern fire. A loud sandfall pours down the northeast wall of this room into sandy floor. A skeleton clothed in bright chain mail stands hobbled at the ready, holding a rusted spear.

The skeleton offers a game of chance, with the promise of valuable information. If they win, it will give some information about adjusting the sand to open new paths.


The sandy passage leads into a domed area with several hearths. The floor is covered with wooden planks, and the rocky ceiling stands 40 feet high. On the far end of the room is a table with 2 potions on it.

The room contains a Double Pit that will be triggered by walking further into it. The potions are a Potion of greater healing and Oil of slipperiness


Mud-covered windows grant scant light to penetrate this room. A stairway weaves down to the south. Huge statues of Yuan-Ti line the hallway on either side, their eyes appearing to follow you. A few dozen stone vaults line the walls, each chiseled with detailed reliefs and marked with runes.

In this room are 2 Yuan-ti Broodguard (Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 203)


A dribble of sand draining down from the western wall above lands in this uneven cavern, filled with a glut of fungus in an assortment of colors. A simple wooden door is set into the north wall, and light bleeds from its gaps. A small passage enters this room from the south. Dust lingers in the air here.

Hazard: Green slime (Drops from above. DC 10 Dex, 1d10 acid damage, damage each round until removed. Nonmagical wood, metal weapon or tool used to remove is destroyed. Destroyed by sunlight, cure disease, cold, fire, or radiant)


The craggy walls glisten with liquid, and a strange bundle of vibrant ore and unusual lichens add an eerie allure to this location. Heaps of parchments and writings lay sprinkled around the floor, around three bulky stone chests equipped with strong steel locks. Staircases at the north and south end of the room climb into twilight.

Trap: Setback Trap


Seated on the east wall over the wooden trim are four extinguished oil lamps spaced apart. To the west, the stairs climb into thick cobwebs. The room also contains a wooden desk with a chair, and a large chest partially buried in the sand. In the southwest corner is a well filled with dark water.

Treasure: Random Treasure


In the middle of the room is a 5’ wide wooden platform that sits just above the floor with a large dark bronzed statue of a naked fat man with a long flowing beard, sitting with his legs crossed. He has a large smile with great big teeth, and is holding his hands up with his palms facing each other and a gap between of shoulder width. Between his hands is a piece of blue silk string that is hanging from one hand to the other.

When the string is broken, the sand lowers and unblocks all green passageways.


The ceiling rises 60 feet high in this imposing chamber, with walls that are sculpted with images of Yuan-ti in battle. A breach at the western end of the chamber proceeds into a tunnel, from where a bitter wind whines. To the south stands a crescent-shaped basin of filthy water.

Trap: Setback Trap


The hall has smooth walls and a floor of sandy natural stone. As a sudden tremor shakes the room, large beams groan under the weight of the ceiling.

Within this room are: 2 Giant Hyena (Monster Manual p. 326), 2 Leucrotta (Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 169)


A thick animal smell hangs in the air. Hanging above is a web-cloaked chandelier of forged iron. Buried in the sand is a scythe

The scythe is a +1 Scythe.


The smell of incense is strong as you enter this tidy chamber. Bits of broken furniture and other junk is spread around the floor. A sharply made bed sits along the west wall, with small tables on either side.

The master of the temple has been waiting for the PCs, watching them through scrying. During the first round after initiative has been rolled, two sandy platforms 30 feet in diameter burst out of the sand and send everyone 40 feet above the ground.

Use this for the encounter: Slave of the Chalice (Primeval Thule Campaign Setting p. 251), 2 Centipede Nest (Fifth Edition Foes p. 52), 2 Su-monster (Tomb of Annihilation)

Two sandy platforms swing back and forth during the battle. Occasionally, enemies will teleport from one platform to another, and after the platforms swing past each other (around 2 rounds) then the platform the enemies left will dissipate, causing anyone left on it to fall 40 feet to the ground below. A round later, the platform will reform and lift anyone on the ground in the area to go back up with it. Walking into the swirling sands beneath a platform after it's formed will catapult them upwards, sending them to the top of the platform before shooting them an additional 20 feet into the air.

Once defeated, the temple begins to sink into the sand. The players will need to run out of the temple to avoid sinking with it, leaving no time for additional exploration.

With the temple destroyed, the spread of sand stops if you were using that as a plot hook, or whatever else you sent the PCs here to accomplish.

Need more help with your campaign? Check out all the other tools, generators, and articles: kassoon.com/dnd/

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