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ID: 798


November 23, 2006, 9:01 pm

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The Isle of the Dead


Ever since the two major religions of Acqua, that of Jove and Ulmania, were created, their clergy have hated each other with a passion that at times has led to violence. Mostly it just means that they do everyrhing differently out of spite.They have different liturgical uses, different hymms and prayers, different baptism,wedding and funeral services. The priests of Jove favour cremation for the dead in nearly all cases, so the priests and priestesses of Ulmania favour burial.

Where there is enough space this is not a problem, but in crowded Banhoesea it became a major issue.The bodies of Ulamanian worshippers were being buried secretly in the floors and foundations of houses or in soon to be dug up land or in crop fields.After a major outbreak of disease the De Madden Company Central Council, of which all but one worshipped Jove, threatened to outlaw the Ulmanian religion, persecute it’s beleavers and confiscate it’s assets.

The great majority of Sea Witches and a few Sea Wizards were Ulmanian beleavers and called a nationwide strike, trapping half the De Madden Company fleet in harbour.Without magic most could not leave harbour safely and even the ten masters would take a long time to get anywhere.

The Central Council got really angry and arrested the strike leaders, threatening to hang them. The strikers threatened to use their magic to cause huge waves within the harbours and wreck the ships within.A compromise was reached.The strike leaders were set free and Ulmania’s Church purchased a large,partly rocky, mile-long island, with a quarter of the Church’s wealth. This was to be their Isle of the Dead.

All burials outside it were banned with the threat of very severe punishment for those who disobeyed.

That was over seven hundered years ago…

The first thing one notices when downwind of the Isle of the Dead is the smell, a foul musty smell of stale saltwater mixed with the stink of decomposing flesh, that gets much worse when one lands upon the island itself. The island is covered with graves in every patch of dry earth, tombs and catacombs,pyramids and family vaults.There is a jetty that allways has at least one boatload of dead bodies awaiting their turn to be buried, covered up with navy blue tapaulins to prevent hungry birds eating the bodies.

There are many locked and barred doors leading to the catacombs that have been dug out over the centuries by generations of faithful Ulmania worshippers after all the burial space on the surface had been finally used up. On each side are niches cut out of the rock.The upper niches hold dusty skelitons of those who died centuries ago and who’s souls went to their eternal rest a long time ago. Here there is silence, except for the chirping of the seagulls outside, and the speech, and the sound of the feet of any adventures as they walk along.

The corridors are lit by glowing stones known as mori rock, and are often patroled by the Silent Guardians of the Final Rest, the holy security guards who prevent grave robbers and necromancers and other unwanted intruders from getting in. They will almost certainly react very violently to any living being who is not wearing the robes of the Priests of the Lightless Depths. They wear black armour and carry razor-sharp cutlasses and small black iron sheilds. Their helmets are shaped like the heads of birds with a long *beak* and a plume of black feathers.

The further down one gets, the more recent the corpses will be.Some have golden bracelets on their arms, others have silver coins in their mouths to pay their way into heaven.They start to be rotting away, rather then just dry clean white bones. The stench here is digusting and it is hard for those not used to it not to be sick.On either side the bodies are wriggling with fat white maggots and worms. The sombre chanting of the Priests of the Lightless Depths can be heard from down below as they conduct funerals for the most recent dead and pray.

Over the centuries the island has began to sink into the sea because of the weight of all the tombs, and the water here is knee deep. Great saltwater crocodiles have infiltrated through underwater tunnels and are feeding on the bodies, and will snap out at any unwary people. The sounds are the dripping of water, the cracking of bones, and sometimes the chanting of the Priests. There are beautiful statues of Ulmania, and some of these have been colonised by the Hulags, amphibious squid like beings with five tentacles and a beak with a poisonous bite, which look rather like giant hands with long claws on the end. These have their egg sacs and nests to defend and will therefore leap out at anybody who gets too close.

Finally one will reach the levels where the newly dead are being laid out and prayed for by the Priests, who wear red skullcaps and blood-red robes with purple belts and are unarmed. If a Priest is threatened or harmed, then a wraith of the newly dead will appear, outraged by this ill treatment of the one who has helped him after his death.

Wraiths look like they did in life, but glow with a reddish light and are see through.Their touch on living flesh burns it and causes sickness.The injured person will feel faint and might throw up, and will drop anything they are holding into the murky,cold, waist-deep water.Wraiths on the Isle of the Dead, can only be harmed by a silver weapon, or a weapon that has been blessed by a Jovian Priest.

A Raise Dead spell will trap them in their bloated, stinking body, which will then raise itself and attack, and can be killed in the normal way with normal weapons.

The Priests will call for help from the Silent Guardians, but they can be reasoned with, and if they are convinced that the adventerers are not mere graverobbers and have a good reason to be there,will become friendly and give the adventurers a Pass to show the Guardians, so they won’t be attacked by them.

Plot Hooks…

Sheer Badness

The PC’s are graverobbers looking for items of value.

Wave Ahoy

A Sea Witch has detected a gigantic wave, caused by an undersea earthquake,or by an evil Jovian Priest, which threatens to hit the island and flood the tunnels, killing the Guardians and the Priests. The PC’s have been sent to warn them, but there is no time to give them the right paperwork to show to the Guardians.

This is a very good game to play when there is limited gaming time, as it can be played in *real time*. Eg after an hour the wave will strike and flood all the tunnels and the PC’s will be in dire & deadly danger,as will every living human.

Now where did I put that…?

A very valuable map/diamond/magical item has been buried with the body of a dead noble by mistake, and the noble’s family offers the PC’s a lot of money to get it back.

OR a Jovian Priest’s body has been stolen by Ulmainian religious extemists before it can be cremated.Fearing for what his poor soul must be going through trapped in the dead body, the family offer the PC’s a huge reward to bring the body back for cremation.If they are successful the glowing ghost of the deceased Priest will appear and thank them for setting him free.

Buried Alive

A noble who suffers from catalepsy has been buried alive by mistake and the PC’s are sent to rescue him,with a huge reward awaiting them IF he is brought back alive. When he is found in the lowest level he will be too weak to walk unsupported.

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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

April 5, 2005, 3:36
Now... why the heck do they leave the bodies to decompose in the open? O.o
I also fail to understand why the island is 'drowning' - most rocky islands are sturdy enough not to be upset by a tomb or two, plus don't forget that the people also dig, ergo removing weight. It's just Venice that's unlucky to have been built on mud.

Are the priests and guards immune to disease, btw.?
April 5, 2005, 3:43
I admit to have a small weakness for dungeon-like settings, and this is a good one - its existence makes absolutely sense, it has a clear purpose, and is still dangerous in its way. Given the presence of the dead bodies and the Priests and guards, one cannot simply hack everything apart that moves, and can't start happily demolishing this sanctuary either.



New grounds

The island is finally getting too full. The church authorities want to purchase new land, but that is of course very costly, and no one wants a gigantic graveyard in neighbourhood. If the PCs are trusted, they could carefully start buying lands for the church, persuading those unwilling, maybe even start a PR campaign. If not, they could be used unwittingly, possibly by that other church.

Alternative would be a (broadly defined) quest to enlarge the island, in any way. Powerful magics, shipping in earth+rocks (expensive), a deal with underwater beings, whatever.
Barbarian Horde
April 5, 2005, 12:53
I believe the idea is that the dead are inside buildings, isn't it?
Cheka Man
April 5, 2005, 14:01
Echo, the dead are only *in the open* within the catacombs which are underground.So they are in their niches but not in the open air.Perhaps the island is not sinking-instead the Ulmanians have dug down until they reached the water table, and this is what has flooded the lower levels.

BH, you're right. :)

Manfred, thank you for that new idea. :)
Barbarian Horde
April 5, 2005, 16:29
Reasons probable and improbable:
Even though Manhattan is solid rock, it has sunk several meters the last century. The combined weight of the skyscrapers and billions of tons of civilization presses it down. The same might be the case with your island, as dead beyond numbers are stored in an ever growing maze of burial ziggurats and tombs.

The oceans might have risen, drowning the island.

The continental socket on which the island rest could be pushed downwards by another continental socket, slowly submerging the island. This would take a rather long time though. A VERY long time
April 5, 2005, 16:29
I can see the surface of the island covered in the marble and polished granite mausoleums of the wealthy, each a monument to the ego of the deceased. These would have been purchased with sizeable donations to the clergy, likely also 'selling' an offspring to the protectors of the island. Obviously these would be family affairs, with only blood relations buried in the many niches and alcoves within each structure. Nicely done.

Voted manfred
December 7, 2005, 5:59
A solid location with many plot hooks and cultural background attached.

(You may want to shorten the summary, though.)
May 21, 2006, 12:46
BUMP! (Hey, Cheka, use some formatting on those titles. Bold and/or itallic may work wonders. ;) )

Quote: "...if they are convinced that the adventerers are not mere graverobbers and have a good reason to be there,will become friendly and give the adventurers a Pass to show the Guardians..."

How about a little bit of magic: the 'Pass' could be enchanted to rot and fall apart after a certain period, set by the priest that created it. This way, it is made sure that even accepted visitors cannot visit the holy place forever. (Not to speak of the delightful irony.)
"Well, we had a Pass, but it has rotten away!"
"All things come to an end, my son. Please withdraw."
Voted valadaar
November 27, 2012, 9:44
Not a bad post at all. An interesting locale.

Note- I was going to edit it to bold the headers, but your summary is too larger for updates to be accepted.

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