Dark Fantasy Role Play

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AUTOR: Joachim A. "Heretic" Hagen

An outline for a Gemini adventure for heretics

The fallen bishop Ignatio leans back in his chair and looks carefully at the persons standing in front of his desk. He puts his fingertips together and senses their curiosity, their anticipation. Then he begins to speak.
„Perhaps you wonder why you were ordered to come here. The fact is that each of you has caught the attention of his superiors. You seem to be very reliable, promising persons, and we are constantly looking for new talents.“ Ignatio smiles thinly. „I think the time has come that you are given more responsibility and a chance to prove yourselves. Therefore I have decided to give you a very important mission. You are to recover a very valuable book and to bring it to me. How you accomplish it, that’s totally up to you.“
He bends forward, his look becoming intense.
„You’ll find the book I’m talking about in the library of the Magnius tower of the cathedral in Ravarra.“ A short pause. „For those of you who don’t know, that’s the headquarters of the Inquisition.“ His smile shows no warmth. „And failure is not an option.“

Dark Shadows is an outline for an adventure designed exclusively for heretics. If you do not have heretics in your group regularly, some people nevertheless may welcome the chance to play a servant of the Darkness for a while. However, this is everything but easy.
I call Dark Shadows an outline because it has no real intrigue and you, the Narrator, will have to improvise a lot. Dark Shadows will provide you with some information, so to say the cornerstones of the adventure, but in the end the course of action will depend entirely on the players.
Dark Shadows takes place in Ravarra, the capital of the province of Ravarra. As there is no detailed information in the Gemini rulebook and the supplement The Church is not available yet, I had to use my own imagination describing Ravarra, the cathedral and the Inquisition’s headquarters. If you want to rely exclusively on information officially approved by Cell Entertainment, do not play Dark Shadows.


The introduction

The player characters (PCs) are ordered to meet with Ignatio in Neremeth, the capital of Marodak, who gives them their mission. (You may read as well the text in italics at the beginning of the script.) Of course, the PCs will have some questions about the object they are meant to steal.

Janius Strepitus

Janius Strepitus was a very skilful magician who successfully managed to avoid being discovered by the Church or the Sovereigns because he was very discreet. In consequence, he lived long enough to learn a lot about the use of magic and invented very interesting spells which he recorded in his spellbook. He was constantly travelling through the provinces, trying to find more and more information about magic in monasteries’ and castles’ libraries.
During the last decade of his life, Janius Strepitus settled down in Luceria and lived as a hermit. He had one disciple whom he revealed the beauty of magic. This disciple, Julian, inherited his master’s spellbook as Janius Strepitus died, almost fifty years before the Iron Gate was opened by Malachdrim. As his master before him, Julian travelled the provinces, but unlike his master he also spread the teachings of the Darkness and was finally caught by the agents of the Inquisition, sentenced to death for heresy and sorcery, and burnt at the stake. This was about thirty years ago.
(Ignatius has put together the story bit by bit; probably he will not reveal it to the PCs; if they are caught, they cannot reveal anything.)

The spellbook

This is the object Ignatio is after. Again, he might not tell that it is a spellbook, but give the PCs a short description.
The book has a size of about 13 by 20 centimetres. The books’ cover is of deep brown leather showing an stamped eye on the front. On the first page there are written the following words: You will learn the truth, and the truth shall set you free. [Ignatius does not know that the book is closed by a latch with a tiny lock (DL-6). He also does not know but suspects that the book is very likely a powerful Dark Relic. Indeed it is, with a nature of -17 (cf. Gemini rulebook p.184).]
Ignatius has reason to believe that the book is stored in the library within the Inquisition’s headquarters, so he sends the PCs to steal it. Probably, he will not inform them about the true nature of the book; if they fail or are caught they can tell only very little. If the PCs bring him the book, he will share his knowledge with them. (Of course, you as the Narrator may want to inform your players from the very beginning on; that is up to you. I prefer to leave a shadow of doubt.)

The contact person

Ignatius informs the PCs about an agent of the Darkness in Ravarra. It is the merchant Markus Kent who has contact with a lot of people via his business and therefore hears a lot of things each day. He also has contacts with the underworld, just in case the PCs need special goods (weapons, lockpicks, poisons, a faked Inquisitors’ robe etc.; but don’t tell this the players from the very beginning on. If some of the players should come up with the need of that stuff, Markus could remark that he could be helpful with that. Again, it’s up to the Narrator if Markus pays for the PCs or not; although being a successful merchant, the money Markus disposes of is not unlimited. Cf. the list of non-player characters at the end of the script.)

Here ends the information the PCs get at the beginning of the adventure. Now they have to plan their journey.


Ravarra

Ravarra is the capital of the province of the same name and the place of the final battle between the armies of the Marquis and the Darkness after the Iron Gate had been raised. Ravarra is a heavily fortified city with four city gates which will be opened at dawn and closed at nightfall. The gates are locked (DL -9) and barred. The key will be kept in the city guard’s office in the relevant quarter. At daytime, each door is flanked by two city guards (equiv. to soldier). On the city walls patrol guards as well; there are huge barracks for soldiers and Knights Templar in Ravarra.
As the river Monesora runs through Ravarra, the city has a port for merchant boats. The openings in the city wall will be closed at night with solid iron gratings (that are raised and lowered with a winch) and watched by the city guard at daytime. At night, patrols will check the gratings every hour.
Ravarra is divided in several quarters, each on has an own bailiff who commands the city guards. The central quarter (and best patrolled quarter) is the clerical quarter around the cathedral.


The buildings

The cathedral in Ravarra
The cathedral is an impressive building with five naves and four towers. It is built in East-West-direction with the entrance in the West. The cathedral is 150 meters long, the Western front is 50 meters wide (including the towers); the two towers guarding the Western front are 130 m, the two ones in the East 50 m high. (The cathedral is similar to a Gothic cathedral of our world.) The exterior shows rich adornments.
The cathedral is literally the centre of Ravarra; it is surrounded by a huge square; nearby are clerical and governmental buildings. In the Cathedral resides Marquis Herodias, ruler of Ravarra and head of the feared Inquisition.
The breathtaking interior of the cathedral is extremely rich decorated with leaf gold , icons and other adornments glorify the One and the deeds of his Marquis and other holy persons.
Mass is held three times daily, at 9 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. In the vestry one can find clerical equipment, i.e. some copies of NOMEN or robes of priests and altar boys (just in case the characters want to steal one). The vestry is open (but empty) during the masses, before and after the mass the clerics meet here for the preparations. On other times, the vestry’s door is locked (DL 0).
The cathedral’s main entrance in the West is constantly guarded by two Knights Templar in full armor. The guards change every three hours. At night, one of the guards patrols around the Church every half an hour; it takes him about 15 to 20 minutes to walk around the cathedral. The space before the entrance will be lit by torches, the light has a range of ca.
15 m.

The Magnius tower

If one is facing the big portal in the West, the Magnius tower is to the left. (Climb DL-3 AGL/STR since it is quite high.) It is 16 m wide, 16 m long and 130 m high. In the top of the towers are the Church bells. The tower can be accessed through an entrance gate, made of solid oak and pointing to the North. It has two locks with DL -4 each. Only Marquis Herodias himself and the Grand Inquisitors have keys to the door; but there is also the keymaster Arnulf, who opens the door in the morning at 7 o’clock and locks it in the evening at 6 p.m. Arnulf lives in a house not too far from the cathedral. A description is given later.
If one enters the tower, he will find himself in an entrance hall. In the background is a spiral staircase leading upward to the inquisitor’s offices and downward to the prison cells, the interrogation rooms and the torture chamber. Two Knights Templar guard the entrance hall. Behind a desk sits the receptionist, usually a monk or a inquisitor’s apprentice, who watches the entering persons and asks them what they want, especially if they do not belong to the employees of the Inquisition. Persons that cannot give a good reason for the visit will be asked to leave immediately and, if necessary, removed.
The tower has about 30 floors. On each floor a corridor leads to the inquisitor’s offices, archives, conference rooms and so on. As a guideline, there may be 3 to four rooms on each floor. The library starts on the 12th floor.
At night, an elder soldier (40 years) will be in the tower as a night-watchmen. He begins his service in the evening and enters shortly before the gate is locked. Although his duty is to patrol through the floors, he prefers to sit somewhere and sleep. Until now, his rest has never been interrupted . If the PC enter the tower making noise, e.g. breaking a door or smashing a window, an awareness roll should be made. If it is successful, the guard awakens and begins to control the floors.

The Inquisition’s library

The Magnius tower contains a vast library full of forbidden scriptures (cf. Gemini p.51, The cathedral in Ravarra). It is placed in the middle of the tower and spans three floors. If one opens the richly decorated glass windows portraying the deeds of holy men, one can look on the cathedral (on the side where the tower is connected with the cathedral) or over the cathedral place and the roofs of the city.
The library can only be accessed via the lowest of the three floors and has only one door. Behind the door, a librarian asks each visitor to sign the book of visitors with name and title. Another librarian on the other side of the entrance is responsible to take note of the persons who borrow books from the library (and the book’s titles, of course).
There are five librarians, all are monks. As a rule of thumb, there is a librarian on each floor - except the room with the entrance, where are two. The librarians - except the receptionist - are always busy to bring back books someone has left on the reading desks, order the books in the shelves¬¬, etc. The head of the library is Georgius Borges, who has the keys to the library door and to the spellbook room. The only other person who can open these doors is the key master of the Magnius tower.

The spellbook chamber

The ground floor of the library contains innumerous books and manuscripts of theological content (history of the Church, religious reflections, etc.) On the second and third floor are the heretical scriptures, and on the third floor, behind a massive oak door with two sturdy locks (both DL -7) is the chamber with the spellbooks, among these the spellbook of Janius Strepitus the characters are looking for. For a normal search DL +3, as the PCs know what they are looking for (at night, there are additional DL as one has to use artificial light with limits the range of one’s perception. Searching the entire chamber carefully will take about 30 minutes, a high effect on the Search roll will reduce the time (see the chapter about Actions in Gemini). The spellbook chamber has a window.
Only inquisitors are authorised to enter the spellbook-room.


Georgius Borges’ house/Arnulf’s house

Both houses are located in the central quarter of Ravarra, which surrounds the cathedral. Here live mostly priests and other servants of the Church. The description for Borges’ and Arnulf’s house is identical, although both are in different places.
The house is a building with two floors (door of the house DL -2). Borgius lives alone, whereas Arnulf is married. Both NPCs put their key ring in the locker of their sleeping rooms, which are on the 1st floor.

Possible Solutions

The central questions are these: How to get into the Magnius tower, how to find the book (as the characters do not know exactly where it is) and how to get out of the city. There is no ideal solution and the game master has to be prepared to improvise. Nevertheless, there are some possibilities:

The PCs watch the cathedral over a while and find out when the guards change, when they patrol around the cathedral, etc.

How to get rid of the cathedral guards
• A possible solution would be to prepare a nightly ambush for the patrolling guard at the East side of the cathedral as this will not be heard by his companion (the cathedral is 150 long). Then the PCs can take out the remaining Knight Templar.
• The PCs could ambush the guard’s relieve (for best at night), put their clothes on and relieve the actual Templar guards. Then they would have three hours to get into the tower and get the book.

How to get into the tower (at night)
• lockpick the door between two Knight Templar patrols
• open the door with magic (it may be necessary to give the portal a certain resistance against magic if the PCs proceed to easily; in the end, the cathedral is a holy building inhabited and visited by holy men during centuries, so it may have acquired a certain holiness ¬- just a thought)
• climb the tower and smash a window (could be heard by the guards)
• steal the keys from Arnulf and/or Borgius. The PCs do not know about Borgius or Arnulf, but the might find out that Arnulf has a key when they watch the tower and see him opening or closing the door with his key; then they have to shadow him on his way home.

How to get into the tower (at day)
• bluff the receptionist with a good story
• present a falsificated document (requires craftsmanship and learning to know churchly seals, etc. Markus could know a forger; a good forger has craftsmanship KL 3 and AGL 14. The effect determines the DL a the person to recognise that the document is falsificated; awareness roll. The cost of this has to be determined by the game master, and it should be not too cheap.). What kind of document it is ¬ the PCs may use their imagination; it could be, for example, the request of an dignitary of the Church to borrow him certain books, etc.
• Disguise as a priest or inquisitor (works best when wearing a priest’s or inquisitor’s robe; there could, for example, be at least one tailor in the city who makes clerical clothes. The PCs could steal one of it or bribe the tailor. In case of doubt, Markus could get them one via his underworld contacts, but that would cost more.).


And so on. A violent intent to attack the cathedral guards openly, break the doors to tower and library and steal the book would be very risky, since sounds are very good audible at night. Smashing an oak door or prolonged fighting will wake up some people, who might alarm the city guards.
If the PCs sneak their way into the tower and steal the book without leaving traces, they can leave Ravarra calmly the next day.
As already said, this adventure is an outline. The game master may modify and add things as he needs it. For a powerful magician it might be too easy to get into the tower, in this case the GM has to come up with some difficulties.


If you have some questions about this adventure or you want to tell me your experience playing it, please mail me: hagen@riegg.com

No-player-characters (NPCs)
Markus Kent, merchant
STR 10 AGL 12 PHY 10 PER 12 MEN 14 CHR 15
REA 12 INI 9
Movement 6/18/36 m
flesh wound/light wound/serious wound 1-2/5-7/8-10

Learning 2 (CS 14) Heraldry (CS 16)
Communication 3 (CS 17) Bargain 2 (CS 21), Convince (CS 19)
Movement 2 (CS 12) Drive cart (CS 14)
Awareness 2 (CS 12) Scrutinize, Evaluate (CS 14)
Thief 0 (CS 9) Underworld contacts 2 (CS 14)
Craftsmanship 1 (CS 9) Carpentry (CS 12)

Wealth: (2D20)x10 SP

Markus Kent is an average succesful merchant who lives in the merchant quarter in Ravarra. The PCs may stay here until there missionis fulfilled, if they want to. Markus Kent has lived in Ravarra almost all of his life, therefore he can provide the characters with information about local customs, etc. He has taken over the merchant business from his retired father. Years ago, Markus Kent was a trader in the service of his father and travelled a lot to buy and sell goods. On his journeys, he finally knew about the teachings of the Darkness and fell to its promises. As a merchant, Markus is in contact with many people and, therefore, gets a lot of information.


Georgius Borges/Arnulf/monk
STR 9 AGL 11 PHY 10 PER 12 MEN 13 CHR 10
REA 12 INI 8
Movement 6/17/33 m
flesh wound/light wound/serious wound 1-2/3-6/7-9

Learning 2 (CS 13) Theology (CS 15)
Communication 2 (CS 10)
Awareness 2 (CS 12)

Due to his job as librarian, Georgius Borges has a learning of level 4 (CS 17).

Inquisitor
STR 10 AGL 12 PHY 12 PER 14 MEN 17 CHR 14
REA 13 INI 13
Movement 6/18/36 m
flesh wound/light wound/serious wound 1-2/3-5/6-11

Learning 3 (CS 19) Theology 2 (CS 23)
Communication 3 (CS 16) Bluff, Interrogate, Convince (CS 18)
Movement 2 (CS 13) Ride (CS 15)
Close Combat 2 (CS 12)
Awareness 2 (CS 14) Search (CS 16)


Knight Templar
STR 14 AGL 13 PHY 14 PER 12 MEN 14 CHR 12
REA 13 INI 17
Movement 7/21/39 m
flesh wound/light wound/serious wound 1-3/4-6/7-13

Learning 1 (CS 11) Theology 2 (CS 16)
Communication 2 (CS 12)
Movement 2 (CS 13) Ride (CS 15)
Close Combat 4 (CS 17)
Missile Weapons 2 (CS 13)

Equipment:
Broadsword DAM 6 AV 13
Dagger DAM 2 AV 10
Chainmail AV 6
Chainm. Hood AV 5
Knight’s Shield AV 20 RP 8
Horse

City guard/body guard/soldier
STR 11 AGL 11 PHY 12 PER 10 MEN 10 CHR 8
REA 11 INI 11
Movement 6/17/33 m
flesh wound/light wound/serious wound 1-2/3-5/5-11
Communication 1 (CS 6)
Movement 2 (CS 11)
Close Combat 2 (CS 11)
Awareness 2 (CS 10)

Equipment:
Broad Sword DAM 6 AV 13
Studded Leather AV 3
Iron Cross Hood AV 3
Buckler AV 12 RP 2


Experience report
I played this adventure with three characters: a human hunter, a dwarfen Dark Knight Templar ( a defector) and a Malachdrim elf who was a powerful magician. Due to the nature of this adventure, the Narrator should severly limit the number of elves as they are easy to recognise and quite uncommon, which means that they will attract unnecessary attention. As it was quite clear to me that the characters would have no problems to get into the tower because of the magician, I decided to pay more attention to their journey (which I totally neglected in the outline; again, it is up to you to add episodes as you wish).
The PC had the following plan: they would travel through Orschild and reaching the Ravarrian border they would pretend to be a priest plus his guard (the dwarf); as a proof they carried a priest’s robe with them, taken from an imprisoned priest in Neremeth who had no need of his clothes anymore. The elf would cross the border alone under the pretext of being a learned man who wanted to increase his knowledge.
The group entered Orschild near Obserum; although their baggage was searched, the guard did not find the concealed priest’s robe (failed search roll). On their way through the country, the PCs were attacked by a group of three brigands armed with primitve weapons (quarterstaff, longspear etc.). The magician handled this situation masterfully by casting „Erosion“ and the dwarf killed them eventually.
Finally the PC reached Ravarra at dusk and spend the night in an inn; the next day they contacted Markus Kent. Then they visited the cathedral, seeking for weak points. The elf took a room in the Black Raven Inn facing the cathedral (an improvisation) and watched the cathedral till he knew the pattern in the changing of the guards.
In the following night, the three entered the Magnius tower with magic (Erosion), searched the floors till they found the library, stole the book and walked out. The next day they left Ravarra without problems, heading for new adventures.
This is a short summary with the most important points of what happened. It took the players about three hours to get to Neremeth (some did not have a horse, so I made it a small problem for them how to get a means of transport), to meet with Ignatio and to plan their strategy. About one hour was spent for the journey, two hours for the stay in Ravarra and the preparations and half an hour for the execution of the theft.
Without the magician, it would have been much more difficult to succeed. On the other hand, if you plan an adventure for the forces of Darkness, you cannot exclude magicians.

Feel free to add episodes and incidents to the story; you might as well make the story an adventure of its own or include „The Hour Of Twilight“ here

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