Construction of the St. Ignatius Monastery began over 70 years ago. Built deep within the Briarwood forest, the monks of the order sought solitude and isolation. Divorced from the temptations of modern society, they believe they can return to a simpler life and better worship Christ. Evil can take root even in the most unlikely places. Even in a house devoted to the contemplation of the Lord.
This adventure is designed for Tier 1 or 2 characters. You’ll need The Strange Bestiary for statistics for the skeletons in this adventure. Text to be read to the players is in italics.
The GM must come up with a reason for the characters to come to the monastery. Perhaps they wish to conduct research in the extensive library or seek the advice of the abbot on how to defeat a demon. The characters arrive at the monastery and are welcomed by the rather anxious abbot, Brother Theodore. They discover the master stonemason working on the cathedral has been murdered. They Are asked to investigate the crime and if they are very clever they will discover it was one of the abbot’s close advisors who is responsible. He was attempting to sacrifice the mason in order to raise his old master from the dead. If they don’t uncover the plot, one of the characters may be kidnapped! When the rest of the party search, they will find cultists, the Yellow Brethren, performing an evil rite. The characters will engage in battle. Presumably they will come out on top and the grateful abbot will accede to their request.
The Yellow Brethren is an ancient, heretical order of monks that have infiltrated the monastery of St. Ignatius. The cultists have twisted Christianity into something dark and unrecognizable. They celebrate mass with ritual cannibalism, and the concept of everlasting life in heaven has been replaced by the desire for an eternal sepulchral existence. The leader of the cultists, a man known as Brother Peter, has recently died of old age. His disciple, Brother Crispin intends to raise him from the dead as a revenant. He’s tried once already, using the master stonemason as a sacrifice, but the ritual failed. Crispin has determined that he needs to sacrifice a person with “the spark” in order for the spell to succeed. Fortunately for him, a group of strangers with this very characteristic has just come to the monastery.
The following section gives a brief overview of the monastery and its grounds. I swiped this map of Durham Abbey from a quick search on the Internet. I would have drawn my own map if Illustrator hadn’t given up the ghost when we upgraded to the new OS or if I could make heads or tails out of Google Sketch Up…
I suppose this is as good a place as any to tell those who may have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality that this is just a game and none of this actually took place at the real abbey…
Cathedral: The cathedral is constructed in a gothic style and would look more at home in England or France of the Middle Ages than in the middle of the wilderness in colonial Massachusetts. While nearly complete, the northern façade and much of the roof still needs to be finished. The interior is bare, save for numerous scaffolds. During the day, the cathedral is a hive of activity. At night, it is abandoned and spooky. Newel stairs, located in many of the corners, lead down into the crypts below the building and to the galleries above. The doors to the crypts are locked. A Demanding (9) Speed roll will let the characters pick the lock. The doors are stout and a Difficult (12) Might roll is needed to force them.
Cloister: The cloister is to the south of the cathedral. This beautiful, arched passage connects much of the monastery together.
Crypts (not shown): The crypts lie beneath the Nave of the cathedral and extend below much of the dormitory and cloister as well. They are a maze of tight passages, crammed with the desiccated corpses of monks. There are an impressive number of bodies interred here. Far too many for the length of time this monastery has existed. It is the nature of this recursion, a place of horror, accounts for this. A secret door can be found if the characters make an Intimidating (18) Intellect roll. This door leads into the outer chamber of the vault.
Dormitory: The monks quarters lie to the west of the cloister (marked “common house” on the map). This place is off-limits for the party, but the monks rarely are about during the day and a Standard (6) Speed roll will let the characters to sneak in unnoticed. There is little of interest here, just a number of cots for the brothers, some blankets and such.
Guest Hall: Visitors to the monastery are rare. This small cottage houses any travelers who seek shelter or have business with the abbot. The furnishings are spartan, but it is warm and dry. The characters will be housed here during their stay.
Infirmary: The two small rooms north of the Dormitory are the infirmary. Brother Crispin spends most of his time in this place, tending to the wounds of injured monks or workmen. Currently, nobody at the monastery is sick enough to be confined to the infirmary.
Library: The magnificent library of St. Ignatius is on the east side of the cloister (marked as “chapter house” on the map. This three-story structure is packed with books and scrolls. Much love of the library is devoted to works theological in nature, but there are many books on history, mathematics and natural philosophy as well as a surprising number of books discussing the occult. The library is one of the largest in the recursion, rivaled only by Braithwaite College. It is usually kept locked and a Challenging (15) Speed roll is needed to pick it. An Intimidating (18) Intellect roll reveals a secret door opening to a newel staircase that leads down into the vault below.
Quarters of the Abbot: The office and sleeping chamber of the abbot lies to the south of the library (marked “prior’s lodging” on the map). The door to these chambers is one of the few with a lock in this place. It would be a Difficult (12) Speed task to pick it. There is very little of interest in the rooms. A small library of religious texts, several books of accounts, dozens of letters and a few personal belongings the abbot has accumulated over the years.
Refectory: The dining hall is to the west and north of the kitchen. The other small rooms in this area are for storage of food, clothing and so forth. During the day, there is a fair amount of traffic in this area as the monks assigned to kitchen duty bustle around to prepare meals.
Vault (not shown): The vault lies below the library. The door to the vault is formidable. A significant quantity of gunpowder could conceivably blow the door off its hinges, but failing that only the abbot has the key to open it. It would be an Intimidating (18) task to pick the lock. The order of St. Ignatius is charged with keeping a number of “heretical” texts and artifacts within this room. The GM may place anything he requires in this vault.
Work Site (not shown): The north side of the cathedral is covered in wooden scaffolding. Large piles of limestone blocks are stacked in preparation for being dressed and hoisted into position. Further to the north lies the workmen’s camp; a series of shacks and huts housing the men and their equipment. It is something of a small village and there is even a makeshift tavern set up in this place (much to the abbot’s chagrin). Women are not allowed on site and married men periodically take time off to go and visit their wives.
Characters at the Monastery
The following thumbnail sketches of the NPCs the characters will interact with at the monastery. There are dozens more monks who live in this place.
Brother Theodore: Abbot, level 3 (level 5 for matters of theology). Theodore is the abbot of St. Ignatius and charged with the spiritual well-being of the community. Only a few monks at the monastery know the true mission of the order. Theodore has The Spark, but he does not understand anything about The Strange and would likely think it all heretical. He should be played as a somewhat dithering, old man until it is time to reveal the Yellow Brethren are at hand, at which point he will become more competent.
Brother Matthew: Quartermaster, level 4. Matthew is in charge of the day-to-day running of the monastery and its finances, a position he “inherited” when Peter died several days ago. A retired soldier, he served as a quartermaster in the British army during the French and Indian War before coming to God. Matthew should be played as adversarial. The players may consider him the villain if played right. The truth is, he is something of an asshole and hates the idea of strangers poking around his domain.
Brother Crispin: Apothecary, level 5. Crispin is ostensibly the apothecary and advisor to the abbot. In truth, he is a cultist of the Yellow Brethren. Crispin has The Spark and has some knowledge of The Strange. His mentor and superior in the cult was Brother Peter who died of old age a few days ago. Peter had seen this coming for some time, and charged Crispin to perform a ritual that would raise him from the dead. The ritual was attempted shortly before the characters arrive. Jacob Martins was sacrificed in order to raise Peter from the dead. It did not work. Crispin is convinced that he needs a sacrifice with The Spark to fuel the spell. How convenient the characters dropped by…
Brother James: Monk, level 1. James is relatively new to the order, having become a monk only a little over a year ago. He is well-educated and serves as a messenger and scribe for the abbot.
Average Brother: Monk, level 1 (level 2 for matters of theology). The monks of St. Ignatius do not have The Spark.
Average Laborer: Workman, level 1 (level 2 for physical tasks). The workmen do not have The Spark.
Yellow Brethren: Cultists, level 3. The cultists are fanatics. If they are injured, they will fly into a rage and redouble their attack with fury. Increase the level of a wounded cultist to 4 for purposes of attacking when enraged.
The road to the Monastery of St. Ignatius is narrow, barely wide enough for a wagon to pass. It is more like a tunnel through the forest than a proper road. It appears little used and in places the cloying vegetation reaches out to brush the travelers with an eerie caress. A flock of crows flits from branch to branch, following as you trudge through the forest. They often pause to regard you with their disturbingly intelligent eyes. Suddenly, the flock takes to the air with a loud cawing. The crows recede into the forest and as the sounds of their cries diminish, you hear a cry for help. A cry quickly drowned out by the baying of wolves. Spurring forward, you see a man being chased by a pack of large, black wolves. He redoubles his pace when he spots your party, frantically trying to reach the safety of your group. You are almost convinced he will make it, when a huge, black wolf pounces on him from the Briarwood. He collapses beneath the creature with a strangled cry.
The characters are facing a small pack of Briar Wolves (see Bestiary for stats), led by an alpha. The total number of wolves equals the number of characters in the party. The engagement begins at long-range. The wolves will break off combat when the alpha is killed, or when half their number have been defeated. The creatures will continue to trail the party the rest of their way to the monastery, but will not attack again.
The injured man is dressed as a monk. If the characters attend to him, they will realize he is quickly dying and they can do little save make him comfortable. A Difficult (12) medicine roll will allow him to regain consciousness.
What are you doing in the woods by yourself?
“Come from monastery… Sent for a new mason… Martins dead…” With that, he expires.
The narrow road you have been following finally opens into a cleared area. The cluster of buildings ahead appears as if it was transported from rural England during the Middle Ages. A small, but impressive gothic church dominates the site. It is not quite completed, and scaffolding still clings to the northern façade of the building. The dormitory and refectory sit adjacent to the cathedral and a cloister links all the buildings together. Towards the edge of the clearing sit an assortment of small workman’s shacks, and a huge pile of limestone blocks. A number of small outbuildings, pens for sheep and goats, and orderly gardens complete the scene. One of the brothers leaves off his work in the garden and approaches you with spade in hand. He looks more like a warrior than a monk to you. He’s a large man. His nose has been broken in the past and never set properly. His left eye is missing and a horribly disfiguring scar – likely a burn – covers much of that side of his face.
“This is a place of worship.” He says gruffly. “What brings travelers such as yourselves to this remote place?”
Presumably the characters will have some excuse, even if it is to just have a roof over their heads for the night.
“I suppose you’ll be wanting to speak to the abbot then. Follow me.”
He leads you over to the south side of the cathedral and introduces you to a spry, older man named Brother Theodore. He looks put out because you have interrupted his work, but welcomes you to the monastery nonetheless. He instructs Brother Matthew (the burly monk) to fetch Brother Crispin and meet in his office. The abbot leads you back around the church, through the cloister and into his chambers. As you walk he points out the progress they have made on the cathedral. He is clearly absorbed with his work and excited to see the project so close to completion. He continues to make small talk until Brother Matthew and a small, pinch-faced man, who must be Brother Crispin enter the room.
“This is Brother Crispin, our apothecary and one of my closest advisors. You’ve met Brother Matthew, he is my “quartermaster”, as it were and also a trusted advisor.
“Tell us, what prompted you to brave the depths of the wilderness to come to our community?”
Theoretically, the GM sent the characters here for a reason. Now is the time to discuss the particulars. Matthew counsels against any enterprise the party is engaged in. He is quite obstinate, pressing the characters to be on their way at the next dawn. Crispin is more conciliatory and interested in the party’s mission. The abbot refuses to make an immediate decision. He invites the party to spend the night.
“I do not know… You’ve come at a terrible time. A man was killed the other day and I fear his murderer remains at large. I will pray upon it this evening. The Lord will reveal what path to take.”
If the characters managed to learn anything from the traveler attacked by the briar wolves, the players may bring it up with the abbot now.
A man was killed here, what happened?
“Yes.” Brother Crispin begins. “It was Emmet Martins, the master mason. He was in charge of the project. A terrible tragedy. May God have mercy on his soul.”
If they offer their services as investigators.
Matthew will counsel against it. “Clearly it was some petty fight between the workmen. We can let them sort it out. God is sure to punish the guilty one.”
Crispin will encourage the abbot to enlist their aid. “As Matthew says, one of the laborers must be responsible, but if we could determine the murderer was, we could put this sordid affair behind us and see justice done.”
The abbot sides with Crispin. “Do you think you can really get to the bottom of this tragedy? Praise the Lord! This has been weighing heavily on my mind and I know not where to begin an investigation.”
Can we snoop around the monastery?
The abbot will tell the characters they are free to look about. Only the dormitory and the crypts are truly off-limits. The library is kept locked most of the time. The should take care if they go into the work site.
The abbot tells the characters they will talk more at supper. He says quarters have been prepared and he encourages them to rest for a while. When the conversation ends, he summons a young monk named James to take them to their quarters. As the characters leave, have them make a listen check. Whoever rolls best will hear Matthew’s muffled voice through the door:
“I don’t like it one bit.” He begins. “We should send the, packing immediately. We have enough troubles without a band of non-believers snooping around.”
The players are going to start asking questions about the murdered mason. The following sections are possible courses the investigation may take.
What’s Happening, Brother?
The characters may try to question the monk seeing them to their quarters. It’s a good idea. His name is James and he will explain what is happening.
“It was only a few days after Brother Peter passed away.” He begins sheepishly. “One of the stonemasons was found in beneath the scaffolding. His throat had been cut. It was a terrible sight. His name was Jacob Martins. He was a master mason on the project. I fear his death will delay the completion of the cathedral.”
Did he have any enemies?
“None that I know of. We do not fraternize with the workmen as a rule.”
Who was the last person he spoke to?
“I don’t know. I imagine someone in the workman’s camp?”
What happened to the body?
“We buried him, of course.”
Who would want to delay the construction of the cathedral?
“I can’t think of anyone who would want to do such a thing! We’ve all been excited that the completion was so close. The abbot had thought that it would be completed by this time next year.”
Tell us more about Peter.
“Peter was getting on in years and we all knew his time was approaching… I helped to prepare his body before we interred him in the crypts. He did not die from violence, I can assure you.”
If the characters ever ask what job Peter held in the monastery, they will be told he held Matthew’s position as quartermaster.
What happened to Matthew?
“Matthew was a soldier in the King’s Army before coming to God. He fought in the French and Indian War. He was captured by a tribe known as the Mikwa and tortured for days before he was rescued.”
James tells the characters that he will fetch them when supper is ready.
Talking to the Workmen
It is still some time before supper. The characters may decide to have a word with the workmen. Interviews with random workers will yield the following information. The conversations below are scripted, so make sure the players understand they are just representative replies they’ve gathered from interviewing some of the workmen. In other words, this is not a single NPC suspect they are talking too.
Did he have any enemies?
“Martins? He was a right bastard, he was. Pushed too fast on this project. Was takin’ chances in order to please the old abbot. I still blame him for this!” He says holding up his left hand to show you the missing tip of his index finger.”
“I could name a dozen men who ain’t sad to see him dead. Thought about it a time or two myself, I’ll admit. What I can’t figure is, if it was one of us, why he done ‘im with a knife? Makes no sense. One nudge when we was up on the scaffold and he’d be just as dead and nobody would be askin’ questions about it either.”
“That Martins was a big man. I’d be surprised if he’d go down without a fight. I didn’t see nobody lookin’ any worse for wear the next day.”
Who was the last person he spoke too?
“I don’t know who saw him last. He didn’t spend much of his time with the workmen. He had regular meetings with the abbot some nights. Always discussing the state of the project, and what the projected completion date was. I don’t know why, but he was hell-bent on getting this project wrapped up by next year.”
Did you notice anything suspicious that night?
“I don’t think so… Those monks are always prayin’ at all hours of the night, ya know? I was up havin’ a piss when I saw a group of them coming through the cloister awful late. ‘Course, they’ve been doublin’ up the prayin’ ever since that old monk died a few days prior, so it’s probably just another of their ceremonies or some such.”
If the characters circle back or think to ask him what time it was, he’ll say it was probably sometime after midnight.
Has anyone new started work?
“I think the Jamison brothers was the last to come on. I worked with them before. St. Francis, got a new exterior a couple of years ago. They’re good lads. Crew’s been pretty steady and this is the only job in the area for a mason, truth be told. Good work for laborers too, given the trouble on the docks in Newport lately…”
Can we paw through his stuff?
Nobody is keen to let the characters go through the dead man’s belongings, so they will need a Difficult (12) Intellect roll to be allowed into his tent. Of course, nobody is keeping a close eye on things either, so a Standard (6) Speed roll will let them sneak in. The characters will turn up his logbook in the tent. It confirms that he had twice-weekly meetings with the abbot to discuss progress on the cathedral and, if he followed the schedule, he would have met with him on the night he died. The book also has a note that he had discovered some of the limestone was too faulted to work properly. He feared more would need to be quarried and delivered before they could complete the southern façade and this would likely delay completion. Can you say red herring?
Talking to the Abbot
The characters eat supper with the abbot, Matthew, Crispin and a few other senior monks in the refectory. The meal consists of soup, black bread and a surprisingly good stout. Questions about the murder will certainly arise.
Why are you in such a rush to get the cathedral finished?
“It seems rather frivolous now…” The abbot begins. “I’d hoped to see the construction finished in time for the birthday of our dear, departed brother Peter. He was born, you see, on the same day that construction began on this site. He’d been in ill-health for the past year and I prayed that he would live to see its completion. Alas, God has called him to heaven.”
Did you meet with Martins the night he died?
“Yes. Mr. Martins, Brothers Matthew and Crispin and I would meet twice weekly to discuss progress. I don’t recall when we adjourned that night, but it must have been just before Compline – the bedtime prayer.”
Did you know some of the workmen didn’t like him?
“It was apparent.” Matthew interjects. “These men were hired to do a job. Nothing held them to this site and they were free to leave if they did not like the conditions of their employment. By all accounts Martins pushed them hard, but nothing out of the ordinary I’d wager.”
What’s with all the praying?
“We are a monastic order and follow a strict schedule of prayer.” Crispin says. “I imagine he heard Compline, the Midnight Office or perhaps Matins – the prayer right before dawn?”
If the characters ask other questions they will get replies similar to the “What’s Happening Brother” section.
You can count on the characters snooping around to look for clues. They are likely to start at the assumed murder site, the scaffold. They may also search through other parts of the monastery. Remember, the dormitory is off-limits. A Standard stealth roll will allow them to sneak in without being noticed, but there is nothing of interest to be found. A diligent search will turn up a clue in the cloister that leads the characters into the crypts.
Cloister: If they succeed in a Difficult (12) Intellect roll while searching through the monastery , they will find a few spatters of blood in a small room adjacent to the cloister. A barred door is the only other exit. Opening it reveals a set of stairs leading down into the crypts. A few more blood spatters can be seen on the stairs, and if a Challenging (15) Intellect roll is made, they will find a masonry chisel in a shadowed corner. Proceed to “The Crypts” section below.
Scaffold: The characters have been told that the body was found near the scaffolding. Poking around the area turns up very little. Any character with medicine skill or a Demanding (9) Intellect roll will realize that the area is remarkably free of blood. It is apparent the body was dumped here after the murder. The whole site has been thoroughly trampled by workmen, making tracking impossible.
Storerooms: If the characters start poking around in the storerooms, the cook will ask them to leave off. If they insist, he will talk to the abbot. It would be a Demanding (9) Speed task to avoid notice while snooping around this part of the monastery. Searching it will turn up clues. If the characters can make a Demanding (9) Intellect roll, they will discover a secret panel in one of the rooms. A bloody-spattered, yellow cassock lies rolled up in a burlap bag, along with a bloody knife.
Eventually the players will think to look in the crypts. This labyrinth of passages runs below the cathedral proper and extends out below a portion of the cloister. The passages also connect to the vault, a secure chamber that holds many heretical objects that the holy order of St. Ignatius is charged with guarding. There are a remarkable number of remains housed in this place considering they were constructed only 70 years ago.
The smell is overpowering; a body is putrefying down here. It is interred in a coffin on one of the shelves. They should be able to deduce it is the remains of Brother Peter without opening the coffin, but you know how players are… Good thing too. If they make a Standard (6) Intellect check they will notice that the lid of the coffin has been pried open and revealed. If they open the coffin, they will find the remains of the monk dressed in a yellow cassock. Odd. Why would anyone go to the trouble? If a Difficult (12) Intellect roll is made, the characters find a small trunk tucked behind one of the coffins. It contains a half-dozen yellow cassocks and a dagger. The dagger bears the inscription John 11:25. It’ll be easy to figure this out when the characters crack open a Bible: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
While the party is investigating, have them make a Difficult (12) Intellect check to hear an ominous chanting coming from the depths of the crypts. As they are about to investigate, suddenly they hear the sound of the door they entered from being barred from the outside. Shortly after that, they hear the sounds of shuffling moving towards them. In the guttering torchlight they can see a shambling horde of skeletons moving towards them. The party is facing twice their number in skeletal attackers.
If the party retreats up the stairs they came down, they will discover the door has been barred from the outside. It is a Challenging (15) Might roll to break it down, and there is only room for one person to make the attempt. The characters may also attempt to leave by one of the newel stairs in the Nave of the cathedral. These doors are locked and it would be a Demanding (9) Speed roll to pick them or a Difficult (12) Might roll to kick one open.
When the characters emerge from crypt (no matter what route) they discover body of a workman. He’s been stabbed repeatedly and clutches a torn piece of yellow cloth in his hand.
Time for Some Truth
By this time, the players are going to be fed up with getting the runaround and start demanding answers. They will seek out the abbot who agrees to tell them more. He summons James to fetch his advisors Crispin and Matthew. James is injured and the characters may think he is involved with the plot. The abbot will explain about the history of the order and just who the Yellow Brethren are.
Let me take a second to say that almost all the stuff about the Order of Ignatius and Pope Honorius is completely made up. The order doesn’t exist, as far as I know, and while Pope Honorious was really anathematized, about 40 years after his death, because of his views on some religious dogma that I can’t wrap my head around.
When the characters demand to talk to the abbot, he will accede to their request. “There is much we need to discuss.” He calls for James and tells him to go and fetch Matthew and Crispin. Any character who makes a Difficult (12) Intellect check will notice that the young monk has a bandage on his forearm. If confronted, he will explain that he accidentally scalded himself in the kitchen earlier. Brother Daniel attended to the wound.
Can we see the injury?
The abbot frowns, and gestures for the monk to unwrap the dressing. It is indeed a scald. If your players are totally on it, they may recall that Crispin is the apothecary. Why didn’t he treat the wound?
“He wasn’t in the infirmary. I came back to the kitchen and Brother Daniel attended to me there.”
And when was that?
The GM will have to answer based on how much time has gone by, but it works out to just about the time the characters were fighting skeletons.
If the players put two and two together, they may figure out that Crispin was behind the murders since he should have been in the infirmary. You can either let the characters catch him without a fight, or move to The Confrontation for a bloodier ending depending on what you think your players would like best. If you choose the latter, Crispin will have found a different sacrifice for the ritual.
The Order of St. Ignatius
“Our order is an ancient one. Ignatius of Antioch was born, but a few decades after Christ himself. He was sentenced to death in the coliseum, where he was torn apart by wild beasts. In AD 637 his remains were moved to Rome, and Honorius the First created our order and charged it with a secret mission. We were to keep certain artifacts sealed away forever. These were dangerous, heretical things. Tomes of blackest magic, devices of eldritch power and texts that questioned the very existence of God. These were the weapons of the enemy. They could not simply be destroyed, and indeed, it was not possible to do so with many of the blasphemous objects. Honorius decreed that they should be examined to allow us to know the weapons of our enemy and then be locked away forever. Our order was spread throughout the world and each new monastery formed hid some portion of the darkness. It is no different here. Deep below this hallowed ground, we keep a terrible evil locked away.”
The Yellow Brethren
The characters will need some proof before the abbot launches into the story of the Yellow Brethren. The cassocks and dagger from the crypts or storeroom are ideal, but the scrap of yellow cloth found in the second dead work men’s hand will suffice. If the players figured out that Crispin is the culprit, this section will get skipped. The characters will likely demand answers and the GM can circle back to this section after the final showdown.
Crispin enters the room, and Matthew arrives a few minutes later.
“A yellow cassock,” the abbot begins, “I fear the Yellow Brethren are among us.”
“Nonsense.” Matthew interjects. “They don’t exist. Boogeymen from the past. They haven’t been seen in centuries and if they ever existed, they were sure to have died out in the Inquisition over 200 years ago.” Crispin nods in agreement.
“I’m afraid they are all too real. I battled them in my youth.”
Theodore looks troubled. It is obvious he is warring with himself about how much to tell you. At last he sighs and begins his tale.
“Pope Honorius the First, died almost exactly one year after our order was founded. Approximately forty years later he was anathematized, basically excommunicated. Ostensibly, this was due to his favoring of monothelitism,” he sees how your eyes are glazing. “Ah, I won’t bore you with the intricacies of religious dogma…
“The truth is darker. Honorius had charged our order to gather together blasphemous texts and hide them away in safe places. His reasons were certainly not to protect mankind. He had heard of certain pagan rituals that could grant the semblance of life to the dead. He charged his inner circle with combing through the assembled tomes and grimoires to recover the spell and raise his body from the dead. From what I can gather they were successful. As incredible as it sounds, there was a two-year period where an undead Pope sat in Rome! His inner circle was known as The Yellow Brethren.
“Fortunately, the man who would become Pope Severinus refused to let this creature linger in Rome. He gathered together loyal monks of the order and led an assault on the revenant pope. Honorius was slain and his Yellow Brethren were thought to be destroyed as well, but in this task Severinus failed. Descendants of the cult still infiltrate the holy church and ply their dark arts in a twisted parody of the true faith.”
Matthew’s countenance has been darkening as the abbot tells his tale. “Preposterous!” He bursts out. “We would surely know if these cultists dwelt within our walls. How could they stay hidden in this community? If there are Yellow Brethren about, they must surely be outsiders. Our troubles all began when these interlopers arrived asking for some heretical item locked in the vault. They must be in league with the cultists!”
If the players don’t point it out, Crispin will remind him that the party came into this well after Martins death. They seem unlikely suspects and have only offered to help find the culprit.
“Could the cultists have infiltrated the workmen’s camp?” He questions. “It could explain why Martins was killed. Perhaps he saw something he shouldn’t have?”
Allow the players a few minutes to ask questions and clarify the story, then move to the next section before one of the Vectors gets fed up and starts shooting these annoying monks!
Murder Most Foul
A young monk bursts into the room. He is out of breath and tears are on his face. “Brother Theodore… You must come quickly… Brother James has been found dead in the cathedral!”
Matthew’s face darkens. Crispin glances at him and turns, a troubled look on his face. The abbot looks shocked, but quickly recovers. “Take us to him.”
If the characters ask, he was stabbed to death.
Brother Crispin’s Proposal
This scene will be tricky to pull off. Crispin knows that he is about to be exposed and takes a desperate gamble to raise Peter from the dead using one of the characters as a sacrifice! The GM should choose one of the characters to fill this role, and take him/her into another room to describe the conversation. If a player has not made the game, use that character. Otherwise, force a GM intrusion to pull it off successfully. Players hate to lose control of their characters, so be sure to move events in the next part along quickly.
As you are about to exit the room, Brother Crispin puts his hand on your arm. “I’m not sure how to begin…” He stammers. “The look on Matthew’s face… He was a soldier before he came to this place. I know he has killed men before…” Suddenly, you feel a prick in your arm. Crispin’s face swims before you and the world goes black.
Hand out 2 XP for a GM Intrusion at this time.
The Monk’s Murder
You arrive in the cathedral and find the body of Brother James surrounded by a group of monks and workmen. They look apprehensive and more than a little frightened that a murder has taken place in this holy spot. They quickly part as you and the abbot approach. James lies in a dark corner. He has been brutally stabbed and his cassock is soaked with his blood.
Ask for two Intellect rolls: Any who make a Standard (6) roll will notice their companion and Crispin are missing. Any who make a Demanding (12) roll will notice a trail of blood leading back to the infirmary. On following the trail to the infirmary, even a cursory glance allows the characters to notice blood is slick on the floor. A quick search of the room recovers a bloody knife from the waste. A Demanding (12) Intellect roll will reveal a secret cabinet with several yellow cassocks secreted within. If nobody noticed Crispin was missing before they are sure to notice now…
By this time the players should realize that Crispin is the one behind the murders and that one of their companions may be the next sacrifice! Hopefully, it won’t be too much of a leap for them to conclude that another ceremony to raise Peter from the dead is being enacted in the crypts below them. If the players are dumbfounded, have the abbot suggest it. There is a newel staircase not far from the murder site that leads directly to the crypts. Matthew asks one of the characters for a weapon and leads the way.
Switch back to the player of the kidnapped character.
You claw your way back to consciousness. You are laying on some hard surface and the smell of death is in the air. You can hear muffled shouts in the distance. As your eyes flutter open, and you recognize the blurry face of Crispin looking down at you.
“He/she’s awake. Hold him/her!” Strong hands restrain your arms and legs, and Crispin raises a dagger above his head while chanting an incantation in Latin.”
Move into combat rounds and roll for initiative. The characters are facing twice their number in Yellow Brethren and Brother Crispin. Fortunately, Crispin does not know any combat spells, though he is a doughty fighter with his dagger. Brother Matthew will fight on the characters side. If he was given a weapon, he will kill/disable a cultist every other round. If he was not armed, he will account for one of the cultists before being stabbed to death. A good GM intrusion in this fight would be for Crispin or one of his cultists to get ahold of the abbot and threaten to kill him unless the characters let him escape.
The characters have solved the mystery and destroyed an evil cult that had infiltrated the monastery. The abbot is grateful. He allows the characters the use of the library and even access to the vault as long as no evil artifacts are removed from it. He tells them they are always welcome at the monastery. Award the characters 3-4 XP for this adventure.
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