While traveling, the players come upon a caved in area near the foothills of a mountain range.
Inspecting inside they will find two coffins, one of stone on a raised dais and another of wood on the ground behind it.
The wooden coffin is open. Inside are a few scraps of rotted cloth, obviously a burial shroud. Next to the coffin are two human shaped piles of ash.
Inside of the stone coffin (which takes considerable strength to open) is the remains of a priest, well dressed in the rotting remains of fine linen robes trimmed in gold. He seems to have been laid to rest in a very peaceful state.
Along side of the body are two daggers, an iron shod staff, and four large decorated jars. The top of each jar is carved in the image of an animal. Each is sealed with red wax. If opened whom ever is holding it will most likely become ill, as these jars hold the organs of the priest. (The wolf holds the brain, the raven holds the heart, the stag holds the liver, and the frog holds the kidneys).
There is a trail of dust and pieces of the shroud leading through an archway and down a long tunnel through the mountains. It is damp and slippery, but well built in most places.
There is a cave-in nearly half a mile down the tunnel. It is easy to traverse as the tunnel is fairly large.
The tunnel opens at the base of the mountains near a large town. A human shaped pile of ashes is near the opening and a small pile of half burned items. Most of this is destroyed beyond use.
Among the items is a journal, badly burned but some of the pages are salvageable.
Leaffall 12 Year of the Banner
We have traveled for two weeks Southward from the mountains. I have no idea where our illustrious benefactor is taking us or what we are to do when we get there. I think I may know one of the others in the group, Zin is his name if I remember. Good man too.
Leaffall 14 Year of the Banner
We started moving Southeast at sunrise. I have no idea where we are, this is the farthest I have ever been.
I spoke with Zin today. He and two friends, Branduk and Turkil, joined with the group four days before I did.
They have no idea where we are going either.
Leaffall 16 Year of the Banner
I never dreamed I would see the Southern Coast! It's amazing!
We will be following the sea for a while as far as I can tell, so at least the scenery will be nice. The breeze is a fine reprieve from the heat.
Branduk killed a strange looking wild pig today, and if memory serves, Zin is a great cook...
Leaffall 22 Year of the Banner
It's been raining for near five days. We are holed up in a cave one of the other men found while scouting. It's cold, but at least we are dry.
Our benefactor, an old grey-bearded man, has taken ill. It looks like we may be here for a while.
Zin, Branduk, Turkil and I are going to scout out the area tomorrow. The food supplies are getting low.
Leaffall 23 Year of the Banner
We found a cave-in not far from the shelter. We would have missed it, if not for Turkil falling in. It was definitely man-made, but it was ancient. We found two coffins inside, one stone, one wood. Zin and I couldn't get the stone one open, but Branduk and Turkil found a gold chain with a medallion and some very well preserved robes in the other. The body looked dried out but not rotting, and it was wrapped in some sort of cloth. I wish Turkil hadn't thrown the corpse on the ground. I'm not the religious type, but I still respect the resting dead. Branduk won't take that medallion off. He wears it like a trophy.
I found a small wooden box, but it's stuck shut.
Leaffall 26 Year of the Banner
Branduk and Turkil are really sick. They both have lost use of their arms and legs, but seem to feel no pain. Turkil's hands look like they are beginning to wither.
I hope it isn't contagious.
Leaffall 29 Year of the Banner
Zin took several of the others to the cave-in a few days ago, now almost everyone is like Branduk and Turkil, who continue to worsen. Our benefactor, whose name is Lastar Razan, has asked me to go North at daybreak and search for help.
Leaffall 30 Year of the Banner
Damn luck of mine! I thought the walk north would be fine, but no, I find the one road that is prone to cave-ins! Almost got buried alive. I saw a tunnel in the cave-in. Wonder if this is the same one?
My box somehow jarred loose in the fall though. I found an old scroll inside. It smells awful, and I have no idea what it says.
I wonder if it's valuable...
Tucked in the back cover is a folded scroll. It smells like rotten flesh and is written in an unrecognizable language. It will take a sage a week or more to translate it.
Upon entering the town the players will notice banners hanging on several of the buildings, they are black with a white ring in splendor in the center.
Everyone in the town is quite friendly and happily directs the players to the local sage
Asking around in town will reveal that a disciple of a new god passed through nearly two weeks prior, and a lot of the locals found something they liked in his preaching.
(While waiting for the ranslation the players can do anything they wish, or take a short side-trek if preferred.)
Once translated from the ancient language (Tnebrac, not spoken in over two thousand years or more) the scroll read as follows...
The words of AridilÃªth TamÃ¢n-Bathil, servant of the high King Heglaman, ruler of the green lands and the grey lands, the destroyer of foreign devils, who nurtures his people.
I, AridilÃªth TamÃ¢n-Bathil, the servant of the great god Xepheranath, write this with my own hand, in the eighth year of the reign of the high King Heglaman, in the two hundred and nineteenth year since the Deravin over through the children of Markenet and established rule over the green lands and the grey lands. I am the mouth and the eyes of the high King Heglaman. My words are true. I know the name of the god. Know ye, whoever reads these my words, that the name of the god is Xepheranath. The name is the power of Xepheranath for his children to call upon his name.
In the sixth year of the reign of the high King Heglaman, the dwellers of the low temples of the black lands rose up against the high King Heglaman, and he smote them bitterly. Their leader was the priest Yannuzar of the god Thurgul, and his followers were numbered seven and thirty and one hundred, and they fed the souls of the people to Yannuzar.
The high King Heglaman bound fast Yannuzar and imprisoned his one hundred and thirty seven followers of the god and cast them into the deepest pits.
He heaped fire upon Yannuzar, yet he died not.
He smote Yannuzar with the sword, yet he died not.
He buried Yannuzar alive and uncovered him from his burial, yet he died not.
He hung Yannuzar by the neck, and yet he died not.
Under great torture by high King Heglaman the people of the low black lands told me that Yannuzar drank the souls of the people, and could not die by human hands until the end of his days. When the end of his days drew nigh he would go not to his fathers after the manner of his people, but drink the souls of the people and live another lifetime.
Yannuzar had lived since beyond memory, from generation to generation, and he died not.
I told the high King Heglaman of the power of Yannuzar, and he said unto me,
'Bind him with the heaviest of chains and keep him until the end of his appointed days. Then shall we lay him to rest after the manner of his people and keep his body from the evil thing which it serves.'
So I bound Yannuzar in the heaviest chains in the land and as the years passed he began to die after the manner of men.
He begged for the khetimana to be brought unto him, and that he might drink their souls to live; for the khetimana is he whose soul is consumed by the power of Thurgul.
But I did obey the word of high King Heglaman, and I called upon the name of Xepheranath when Yannuzar called upon the name of Thurgul.
Thurgul enabled Yannuzar to make my hands to move and my feet to walk as he willed, but I called upon the name of Xepheranath and kept Yannuzar bound in chains until the end of his days.
When he died the high King Heglaman commanded me, saying,
'Place him in a coffin of wood, for stone would do too great an honor to his uncleanness. Seal within all of his robes and gold, that none may be defiled by the unclean things. Take his body and hide him, that his people may not bring the khetimana nigh unto him.'
And I did as my high King commanded me.
I charge you, whoever reads these words, to guard the body of Yannuzar.
Know that Yannuzar has the power to command the arms and the legs and the tongue, and has served the god Thurgul since before the dawn of time.
Yannuzar is hidden and must remain hidden until the end of the world.
Do not touch his body, lest he drink your soul.
Place not his gold on your neck, neither take unto you his robes, lest he drink your soul.
Know that burning the body of Yannuzar gives the khetimana back their souls, but he who burns the body of Yannuzar brings down upon himself the wrath of the god Thurgul, who will destroy him utterly and his children after him into all the generations of the world.
I charge you to place the body of Yannuzar with my body when I am gathered to my fathers, and to keep him with me, for I know the name of Xepheranath, and through his power I can restrain Yannuzar the drinker of the souls of people, even in death.
But neither you nor anyone else shall place his hand upon the body of Yannuzar, neither shall you wear his gold, neither shall you burn his body, lest the wrath of the god Thurgul fall upon you.
These are the words of AridilÃªth TamÃ¢n-Bathil, servant of the high King Heglaman, the servant of the great god Xepheranath.
My words are true.
I know the name of the god.
(The relationship between this scroll and the coffins found should be obvious to the players.)
Questioning the townspeople again will reveal that the priest who came to town in recent weeks was in fact named Yannuzar of Thurgul.
Interviewing people who are in the building with banners will garner the following...
- Yannuzar follows an ancient god named Thurgul.
- The god is strong, even in the absence of followers for thousands of years.
- Thurgul rewards devout followers with strength and ability to dominate the will.
- To the faithful he also grants immortality.
When asking in places where no banners are hung the players will learn...
- The priest who passed through is insane. He claims no other gods exist.
- He believes his god grants immortality to all the faithful, or at least the most devout.
- He performs human sacrifice at least once a month.
- He said a blood sacrifice was an honor, and being one was a show of devotion.
Further searching will also reveal that three youths left town with him, having joined his order. Two young men and a young woman were in Yannuzar's company on the way to the next city.
It is obvious that this priest, Yannuzar, is very charismatic and is more than able to sway people to worship his god.
The sage finds the players and tells them his further research revealed that if the 'risen priest' is not stopped 'darkness and blood will follow in his path for a lifetime of millions of years'.
( At this point the players will have to choose to either follow Yannuzar or continue their current campaign. In the case of the former the story continues here. If the latter option is chosen the details are elaborated near the end.)
(If the players choose to follow Yannuzar)
Several days after leaving town in pursuit of the priest and his acolytes the players will reach a large port city on the southern coast.
Many of the buildings have the same black banner seen in the last town, but most of these are larger. There is a new building being built on the north end of town, a temple to Thurgul.
It is in the early stages, but looks to be a fairly imposing building. It takes up the width of two building and the depth of three. The scaffolding is set at a height of seventy five feet.
If inquiries are made the players will be directed to the foreman. He is happy to tell anyone who asks that most of the rich merchants in the city have turned to the worship of Thurgul, and commissioned this temple build as quickly as possible. He is wearing a small piece of cloth on his belt with the symbol of Thurgul on it.
If the locals are asked about the priest and his followers the players will be told they bought passage on a ship. No one knows to where.
At the docks are several sailors wearing the same cloth the foreman was wearing. Individually they give every direction as the one the priest took.
The players can only make a guess as to where to go in search of Yannuzar at this point, finding themselves a day late to catch him.
( This is another place to insert a side-trek or continue with the normal flow of our campaign)
(This section applies to both options of the story. Continuing this story within your ongoing campaign should be simple from the information in this section)
This is a list of interactions for the players concerning the 'cult' and their growing 'church'. These can be addd whenever the GM prefers, to take a break from the current campaign or to deepen an established storyline.
- Several well known merchants have joined the cult, restricting sales to followers of Thurgul and their families. This has created an imbalance in trade and has raised the cost of some things (crops, rope, weapons, livestock, etc.) too high for most people to afford.
- A small fishing village along the coast has been growing smaller by the day. Boats have been found floating unmanned, fishmongers leave to trade and never return (the wagons found on the outskirts of the village), and the like. A follower of Thurgul passed through a week before the diappearances started.
- A local Lord has converted to Thurgul and instituted a weekly lottery to determine those to be given the 'honor' of 'feeding the god and his children'.
- The players encounter a mob of townsfolk in the wild. They are searching for a murderer. Three girls were found dead, killed in a ritual fashion.
- The players stumble upon a ritual being held by the followers of Thurgul. One of the 'sacrifices' is a woman the players met (and one of them showed interest in, a bar wench perhaps). She sees the players and calls to them for help.
- One of the PC's close relatives (younger sister prefered) has gone missing. One of her friends recently left home to join the acolytes of Thurgul, and she has been missing since the day before. Any of these can easily be added on the spur of the moment or as a planned encounter. These are a few ideas, but if you would like to contribute PM me. I will add what I can (credit given with the sub).
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? Responses (19)
Very nice! This can start as a simple side-treck and then refuse to go away. The longer the group ignores it, the more and more instances of Yannuzari worship will arise, until the country is divided and it becomes unavoidable! Good fun! :D
This is very well structured, as well as being evocative material!
My favorite post of yours to date Wanderer!
The names are all juicy, adding to the vibe. Great campaign hook, great work!
Fun story with clues that quickly come together but leave plenty of room for guessing until the letter is translated. Fun one! (and great use of formatting making it a very easy read)
Well, that explains why my hands and feet are withering, now all I have to do get rid of this dang amulet of Thurgul I bought on eBay.
I like the plot, but I absolutely love the scroll itself. Is there by chance a worshipper of Xepheranath to be found today? That would be a great help against Yannuzar. Maybe, ironically, he is now worshipped under a different name (research required), but the new name carries the same power.
'My words are true.
I know the name of the god.'
There is no better way to finish a religious text. :)
I was about to comment upon this when all heck broke loose at work. Now, covering what they covered is redunent... so, I will just vote.
A well-conceived scenario with plenty of potential for interesting roleplay.
I like the way that you formatted it; it makes the information easy to follow and refer back to.
BUMP! Wand's finest to date, as far as I'm concerned.
I thought The Spinning wheel and the Courtier's gown was....but I could be wrong.
Reading the scroll again, I have noticed a thing I haven't before:
As Yannuzar asked his guard to bring him new victims, does this mean he couldn't use the priest for this purpose? He had a limited control over him, so he might just do it... but perhaps the souls of those who are priests, ie connected to another deity, can't be used for the 'drinking'.
How about that?
That was me, I got bumped off while I wasn't looking...
'Distasteful', you say, eh? I knew my god can protect me!
Hm. Presumes that your party is a bunch of grave robbers ...
Nah, they are merely 'curious'. :)
How do you stop Yannuzar, by burying him again?
Not sure, it's been a while since I even looked at this sub. I'll run the scenario and let you know how it turned out...
Why is the new threat to mankind due to 'poor craftsmanship'?
Other than that, I think the evil priest should have more insidious methods of converting people than his bad mind mojo.