A Necromancy Temple is two things: a physical structure and a group of people. The people within could also be identified as a 'cult', although Necromancers typically define 'cult' as any gathering of Necromancers, and 'Temple' as the specific group that call that temple home.
The temple structure serves as the community center for a cult of necromancers. In addition to its religious significance, it is also a communal living structure; a permanent ritual site; and a Mausoleum.
The structure itself may take generations to complete, with the shape and dimensions established along with the original group. The form and dimensions are highly ritualized, both magically and culturally, and all temples carry certain elements in common.
The surface layout will vary based on the size and general wealth of the temple. A larger, more powerful temple can afford better materials and more sophisticated designs, while smaller temples must "make do" with what they can. Certain ritualistic structural elements are always maintained, regardless of other factors.
This portion of the temple is the most visible and the most likely to vary between temples. Though largely aesthetic, it does contain ritual elements; the most important of which being the pyramid.
The pyramid serves two functions, first as part of sacred geometry (which, while not innately magical, has cultural signficance to necromancers), and as a mirror for the temple itself, underground. The above-ground pyramid can be either stepped or smooth-sided, but must conform to the golden ratio. Pyramids may be solid stone, or shaped buildings filled with rooms and galleries. Often these will contain living quarters and social spaces for the temple's population.
A temple will have either one or four pyramids.
In the single-pyramid configuration, the main structure is surrounded by obelisks at each corner. In front will be a walled courtyard; beneath this is the actual temple.
In the more popular four-pyramid configuration, the structures take the place of the obelisks and the courtyard is in the center. Each pyramid is connected by a causeway or wall, which will itself contain more rooms and corridors. Various support structures may be found on either side; the temple is not a fortress and defensibility is not a primary concern.
In either layout, the courtyard on top of the temple is open to the air. It may be used as a ritual site on occasion, but is primarily a gathering area and social space. Temple courtyards often contain fields for sporting activities. While necromancers have a few sports they play as part of their ritualistic lifestyle; they will also commonly adopt sports from the local indigenous population, frequently allowing competitive teams from outside the temple to play on their fields. The courtyard space, while always surrounded by a wall, is not considered particularly sacred and is open to anyone, necromancer and non-necromancer alike.
In the one-pyramid layout, an outer wall surrounds the entire complex (courtyard and structure), with an inner, often ceremonial, wall around the courtyard itself. The the four-pyramid design, there is sometimes an outer wall or terrace surrounding the complex. In both types, the main entrance it always on the east side, and the gate aligns with the mouth of the Sanctum Satorum, deep underground.
Beneath the courtyard lies the actual temple, which has three levels, called Sanctums: Ignatum, Veltarum, and Satorum. These will often have their own names within the temple, but are always known according to their standard terms. Though the names had always been common knowledge, it was discovered in the Age of the Dragon that the words themselves are, in actuality, just the numbers one, two, and three, in a very ancient dialect of necromancy.
The highest level, directly beneath the courtyard, will often have light shafts and occasionally even skylights. This space is, however, only open to Necromancers. Visitors from other temples are allowed. Ignatum will also have undead, which are not often found on the surface. Ignatum may contain some permanent ritual sites, but is mostly used for temporary sites as well as non-magical religious meeting. It, too, is largely a social space; though one in which necromancers may be open with each other.
The size of the Sanctum Ignatum determines the size of the other sanctums bellow, as they must together form an inverted step pyramid shape conforming to the golden ratio. Typically, the outer corners of the sanctum Ignatum will be marked by cairns in the courtyard above, though often the sanctum may extend far beyond the yards.
The Sanctum Veltarum is the permanent ritual site and the locus of the temple. Only practicing necromancers (both members of the temple, and practitioners) are allowed entry into this sanctum. A round shaft in the ceiling, called the Well of Souls, connects the Sanctum Veltarum to the Sanctum Ignatum above, allowing those in the Ignatum to hear the rights being performed in the Veltarum.
The size and shape of the Well of Souls is engineered such that observers in the upper sanctum cannot see into the lower sanctum, except by leaning over and looking straight down. Since the center of the ritual site contains a large pool of water, anyone doing so would see only this. It is also taboo to lean over the well or to even stand within a few feet of the rim. The thickness of the floor combined with the diameter of the well prevents anyone from looking down into the lower sanctum from a normal standing height and distance. Additionally, the courtyard above will have a marked circle that indicates the location of the well, and visitors are encouraged not to tread upon the circle. When rites are carried out in the courtyard, the well is used.
The Sanctum Satorum is the inner-most chamber, and the most sacred. It has only one entrance, which is aligned with the main temple gate on the surface. This sanctum may contain a ritual site, but primarily houses the temple's records, spellbooks, and treasures. Any Litches belonging to the temple will typically reside within the sanctum, and seldom leave it. For this reason, obtaining an accurate count of litches has never been possible.
Only the high priests of temple may enter the Satorum, and only high priests may become litches. The Satorum may also have other chambers linked to it, only accessible through the Satorum entrance. These would house additional records, vaults, or tombs for additional litches. Formally, these chambers are not considered a part of the temple structure, but are protected from intrusion. Any chambers would be to the back and left.
To the right of the Satorum, usually accessible by the same passage that leads to the sanctum itself, is a small chamber that is not formally a part of the temple and is therefore not sacred ground (and not required to conform to sacred geometry). This chamber is connected to the Satorum through a small hole or other apparatus (depending on the thickness of the wall separating them) that allows one to pass notes through to the Satorum, allowing even the occasional outsider the ability to communicate with the litches.
Other Underground Elements
The space beneath any necromancer surface edifice will be honeycombed with passages and chambers. These are "part of the temple" in the sense that they belong to the greater temple structure, but are not considered sacred in the same way as the other spaces are (much the same way as a church parking lot is on church property but generally not venerated as holy ground).
These structures contain store rooms, workshops, living spaces, and extensive tomb-space for the dead, as well as a convenient dry space to keep the undead out of the elements. These tunnels can go far deeper than the actual temple, with many apparently modest surface temples extending as much as thirty stories bellow ground. Whenever available, Necromancers will incorporate natural caves into their areas. In some regions where karst formations have created unusually deep topography, necromancer temples have been found to extend as much as a mile underground.
Whenever two temples are within a reasonable proximity, connecting tunnels are dug. In some regions where Necromancy flourished for long periods, artificial tunnels link temples over hundreds of miles. These tunnels are typically built large enough to accommodate a horse and carriage, and functioned as trade and travel routes.
The exact size of a temple can very greatly and depends largely on the number of Necromancers who inhabit it. Large complexes of temples of varying sizes were common during the Mage Wars, as a particular temple would outgrow its original facility and begin a new one nearby.
The smallest temples may contain as few as one hundred necromancers (women and children included). The temple itself is little more than the ritual site, with structural elements but very few rooms (these used to store ceremonial equipment) with the Necromancers living in a small village adjacent.
The largest temple ever discovered was the Feast of Aeons, a deserted complex covering nearly one hundred square miles. It was sighted only once during the Fourth Age by aerial reconnaissance and is not known to have ever been visited or mapped. It is believed to have been built sometime during the Golden Age of Necromancy and may well have been Rubiceye's capitol. If so, it has lain abandoned for over 9,000 years.