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Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil is a 192-page adventure module for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition released in June 2001. It is intended for player characters of 4th level, and takes characters to 14th level.

The module is a sequel to the AD&D module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985) and T1 The Village of Hommlet (1979).

Spoiler alert: The following article contains spoilers for an adventure module.

Official synopsis[]

Evil Never Dies

Years ago, brave heroes put the denizens of the Temple of Elemental Evil to the sword. Now, dark forces whisper again in the shadows of the once-deserted temple - forces far more insidious and dangerous than any sane person could dream. Evil has risen again to threaten the village of Hommlet.

Characters battle the power of darkness in Hommlet and beyond, forging their way through hundreds of dire encounters before reaching the fiery finale. Designed as the backbone of a full campaign, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil takes characters from 4th to as high as 14th level. This deluxe adventure builds on the groundwork of the original Temple of Elemental Evil (1985), as well as other classic adventures. However, none of those products are necesary to enjoy this one.

To use this adventure, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual.



Twenty-five years ago, the forces of evil founded the Temple of Elemental Evil near the unassuming village of Hommlet. The monsters and villains it attracted were defeated in the Battle of Emridy Meadows, but the deeper layers of the temple were not destroyed, and evil returned nine years later. A band of heroes invaded the temple and destroyed it, returning peace to the land for the next fifteen years.

Unknown to most, the cult of the mad god Tharizdun has established itself beneath the Temple of Elemental Evil. There they seek the plan to release their imprisoned deitiy into the world.


The player characters begin in the village of Hommlet, where rumors lead them to the nearby abandoned moathouse inhabited by cultists to the Elder Elemental Eye. It leads them to the village of Rastor, where another temple is hidden the nearby Crater Ride Mines. Next, they return to the original Temple of Elemental Evil, leading to a climactic fight against the fire archomental Imix, Prince of Elemental Evil.

Development and release[]


Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil as written by Monte Cook, who had previously worked on the core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition. The cover illustration was by Brom, with black-and-white interior art by David Roach and cartography by Todd Gamble.

The idea of returning to classic adventures had previously been explored by Return to White Plume Mountain (1999) and Return to the Keep on the Borderlands (1999).

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil is based heavily on the AD&D adventure module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985), itself an expansion of T1 The Village of Hommlet (1979). It also draws on the classic modules G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King (1978) and WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1982). It takes place fifteen years after the defeat of the Temple by adventurers.

In Dragon Annual 2000 (1998), cartographer Rob Lazzaretti described meetings discussing the maps needed for the module, and anticpated around thirty maps—an enormous amount of work, and twice as many maps as the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide combined.

The module's development was mentioned in Profiles: Monte Cook, Dragon #275 (Sep 2000), in which it was described as scheduled for release in mid-2001 and taking characters from 3rd level to as high as 15th; the final release would range from 4th to 14th. Its release was announced in Dragon #283 (May 2001), p.82 and Dragon #284 (Jun 2001), p.18, describing it as a "D&D Super Adventure" and listed as a July release, at the incorrectly listed price of $17.95. It appread in the correct in the previews in the Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.20, which included two tie-in magazine articles.

A preview of the module was given at the Winter Fantasy convention in January 25-28, 2001. A group of convention judges led by guests of honor Monte Cook and Andy Collins marched into the exhibit hall where the Hommlet moathouse was to be run, chanting "six men enter, no men leave!"[2] A second adventure in the Temple took place at Origins 2001, in July 5-8 of that year.[3]


A tie-in novel, The Temple of Elemental Evil by Thomas M. Reid, was published in May 2001.

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil was released by Wizards of the Coast in June 2001 for $29.95 US, or $45.95 Canadian.[4]

A web enhancement for the module was released on July 13, 2001, titled Caves of Ancient Secrets. It adds 22 additional encounter areas to Chapter 5: The Crater Ridge Mines.[5]

On January 24, 2013, it was re-released in digital format on DnDClassics. It is currently available on DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Masters Guild for $11.99.

Reception and influence[]

Critical reception[]

In The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time, Dungeon #116 (Nov 2004), Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil was rated 8th. Mike Mearls described it as a worthy successor to the original Temple of Elemental Evil, packing more action into 4 pages than others do in 32. It was the highest rated third edition module on the list, although it was defeated by the original Temple of Elemental Evil, which appeared on this list at 4th.

Kevin Kulp described Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil as a good adventure, fun to read and exciting to run. However, he felt that the module had minor pacing issues caused by a continuous challenging combats, and recommended removing or modifying some combat encounters. As of November 2020, the module was rated 4.8 out of 5 by Dungeon Masters Guild users.

In Dragon #320 (Jun 2004), p.32, Andy Collins cited Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil as his favourite D&D third edition book. In Dungeon #115 (Oct 2004), p.6, Erik Mona, a playtester on the module, desecribed that it masterfully weaved new and old material, a truly great adventure module full of iconic and memorable scenes.

Utreshimon, the blue dragon appearing in this module's moathouse, appeared as #9 in Top 10 Most Wanted Dragons in D&D, Dragon #356 (Jun 2007), p.18.

As of 2023, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil reached the rank of Platinum seller on DriveThruRPG.

Influence on other works[]

Magazine articles linked to or inspired by this module included Four in Darkness: A Guide to Elemental Evil, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.44, Spawn of Elemental Evil, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.72, Temple of Elemental Evil: Big Fish in a Tainted Pond, Dragon #321 (Jul 2004), p.58, Princes of Elemental Evil, Dragon #347 (Sep 2006), p.28, and Scripture of Elemental Evil, Dragon #347 (Sep 2006), p.76.

The Doomdreamer prestige class and a temple to Tharizdun appeared in The Cradle of Madness, Dungeon #87 (Jul/Aug 2001), p.49.

The Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game (Aug 2015) and the sourcebook Elemental Evil Player's Companion (2015) borrow their name from this module and its ancestors.

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Product page. Wizards.com, via Web Archive.
  2. Heart of the RPGA, Polyhedron #146 (Mar 2001), p.63.
  3. Polyhedron #148 (Oct 2001), p.62.
  4. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Wizards.com product listing.
  5. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. Wizards.com web enhancement archive, July 13, 2001.
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