356 Saint Joseph’s Crypt

Background Lore

Saint Joseph is a divisive figure in recent world history. Many worship him, but others still carry the wounds in their family tree from that man’s deeds. He was once a hateful conqueror who commanded a large army of barbarians and pikemen. Saint Joseph ravaged the land and took many kingdoms by force, leaving destruction and death in his path. That is why his becoming a saint took many by surprise later on.

It all goes back to the time when two large kingdoms, the Thranic Kingdom and the Ferzes Realm were at war. The Ferzes had a superior position and army. They would soon win the war and overtake their opponents. It was only a matter of time. The Thranics fought valiantly and well, but their forces, inferior in number, were meant to eventually drown under the implacable Ferzes force. The Ferzes were not only stronger, they were cruel beyond belief. The Ferzes forces committed the worst war crimes. People would not believe the tales until they saw the true extension of the Ferzes cruelty. The Ferzes were spiteful butchers who would not leave anyone alive.

It was then that Joseph, the Conqueror, arrived with his large army and attacked the Thranic Kingdom from the south. The Thranics saw their defeat around the corner and chose to surrender. Joseph, the Conqueror was a renowned warlord and they knew they could never survive against two enemies. Joseph rode through the Thranic kingdom to explore his new lands and came upon the destruction brought by the Ferzes, near the two kingdom’s borders. The cruelty by which the Ferzes had massacred townsfolk, women, and even children impressed a man such as Joseph. The warlord was a pragmatic man with no fear for tough decisions but his crimes of war were humbled by the atrocity before him. No one knows for sure why he did it, but Joseph turned around and ordered his army to join the remaining Thranic forces and march over to Ferzes to end them once and for all. The war lasted one year and not a single Ferzes man remained after it all ended. Unfortunately for Joseph, he sustained a serious wound while storming the Ferzes capital and died from it.

Joseph was declared a saint years later and chapels dedicated to his figure arose all around the kingdom. His remains and those of his followers were placed in a crypt under a large mountain range.

Current Events

A group of separatists in the kingdom deny Joseph’s claim to sainthood. They claim that a bloodlust conqueror such as him shall never be revered as a figure of good, despite his good deeds before he died. These people don’t believe that saving the Thranic Kingdom redempts Joseph from what he did. The separatists have defile and destroyed several chapels in the last few weeks. This has caused Saint Joseph’s spirit to grow hateful and revert to his former self: the evil, bloodthirsty conqueror of old.

Dark ethereal figures emerge from the defaced chapels and attack passers-by, come into houses and smother people in their sleep, and possess weak-minded individuals to wreak havoc in the areas around the chapels. Local law-enforcement have tried to content with the spirits to no avail. The local priest has determined that the problem can only be solved at the root. Someone must visit Saint Joseph’s crypt and deal with the angry spirit directly. The church and the state offer a bounty of 300 gp to a group of valiant warriors strong enough to deal with Saint Joseph’s immortal ghost.

Area Descriptions

The following descriptions of areas 1 through 9 correspond to the crypt map.

Terrain. The flooring in Saint Joseph’s Crypt is made of large stone tiles. The stone floor bears the damage of decades of erosion and occasional humidity. Some sections of the underground complex caved in years ago. The damages blocked some hallways and revealed hidden paths through natural caves out of the crypt.

Light. Important chambers in the crypt feature torches on sconces on the walls. The torches are imbued with permanent continual flame spells that light the areas since the crypt’s construction. Removing any of the torches causes it to go out in 1d6 minutes. The rest of the areas are in complete darkness.

Smells and Sounds. The dry, dusty, and sterile smell of the crypt combines with a rather unusual smell of roses. The alluring perfume originates in Saint Joseph’s crypt in area 8.

1. Entrance Hallway

The only entrance to the crypt is located in the outskirts of a large mountain. Two statues flank the entrance. The statues have withstood the onslaught of the elements for decades. Few details of the statues remain visible but an inscription in one of the statues is still legible. It reads:

Saint Joseph, warmonger turned savior, rests here for eternity. May humanity never spit on his grave, lest he remembers the hatred he felt for them in the first place.

The entrance hallway continues down into the mountain for a quarter of a mile. The path is slightly slanted upward. The slant is barely enough to keep rain water from pouring into the underground complex. The walls of the hallway used to feature fresco paintings of Saint Joseph and his deeds. The ones in the first half of the hallway have peeled enough of the wall for them to be appreciated. But later on, the frescoes still retain a fraction of their original beauty. They depict Saint Joseph in his warring days as an evil overlord; and later as he became a savior of the land. The frescoes show him as a tall white-haired man in heavy armor. Saint Joseph wields a large warhammer in most images.

2. Burial Altar

The large chamber contains two stone pedestals, a stone tabernacle, and a few mounds of eroded bones. The deep darkness of the entrance hallway is interrupted by the light of the four magical torches on the walls. The wall behind the tabernacle is engraved with runes from an ancient form of the Common tongue. A successful DC 15 Intelligence check or a comprehend languages spell reveals that this altar was meant as a place of worship to the late Saint Joseph. The remains of his most loyal followers in the years after his death were brought here to sanctify their remains and then bury them in the crypt.

The mounds of bones animate in 1d4 rounds after the adventurers enter this chamber. They fly in the air for a moment and coalesce into humanoid shape. Three skeletons with Saint Joseph’s name-rune engraved on their foreheads fight to protect the crypt. The skeletons may pursue the characters through the entrance hallway but can’t go further than the two statues by the mountain outskirts.

Secret Doors. A passive Perception score of 16 or higher reveals the outlines of two secret paths. The first one, to area 6, opens by pushing a brick. The second one, to area 3, opens by pulling a fake rock nearby. These methods activate a sliding mechanism that causes a section of the wall to move sideways and reveal the secret path to each area respectively.

3. Secret Vault

The room contains a single stone pedestal in the center and four wooden chests by each corner. The wood of the chests is in remarkable good condition. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the wood is coated with an oil-like substances that preserves the wood. A runic engraving on the pedestal defies translation. A successful DC 15 Intelligence check or a comprehend languages spell reveals the message:

Greed shall be the end of you. Let Saint Joseph’s riches be and be on your way. Else, your hand shall meet a fiery end.

The northwest and the southeast chests are trapped with a glyph of warding spell (explosive runes). The runes are almost invisible. Only a successful DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals their presence. The glyph triggers when the chest lid opens. If either chest is opened, each creature within 20 feet of it must make a successful DC 16 Dexterity saving throw or take 22 (5d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. The oil coating on the chests protects them and their contents from the fire damage. Activating one glyph does not neutralize the explosive runes glyph on the other chest.

Treasure. The two actual wooden treasure chests contain 100 pp and 533 gp. The coinage shows the face of a human ruler from three hundred years ago. Most coins are in excellent condition and could be sold for an extra fee to the right collector. A wooden box with a strange sigil contains a pack of twenty potions but most of them are spoiled. The ones still in good condition are two potions of superior healing. A leather case contains a spell scroll of remove curse.

4. Followers’ Crypt

The large chamber contains eight stone caskets in varied states of conservation. Some of the caskets are open or damaged by the recent undead activity after the Saint Joseph’s Chapels’ attacks. The south wall has sustained serious damage and a portion of it has caved in and revealed a natural cavern beyond. This damage appears to be natural and not the work of the undead in the area.

The mounds of bones animate in 1d4 rounds after the adventurers enter this chamber. They fly in the air for a moment and coalesce into humanoid shape. Six skeletons with Saint Joseph’s name-rune engraved on their foreheads fight to protect the crypt. Two shadows emerge from the caskets and join the fight on round two.

Secret Door. A passive Perception score of 16 or higher reveals that moving the lid of the northwest casket triggers a clockwork mechanism. The device moves a section of the wall sideways and reveals a secret path to area 6.

Treasure. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals that two of the empty caskets have double bottoms. The lower chambers contain 30 gp, one potion of healing, and one +1 shortsword.

5. Natural Cave

The natural cavern continues for miles, slanting down towards the depths under the mountain range. Five piercers attached to the ceiling of the cave drop down onto the adventurers if given a chance. If any of the piercers dies in combat, a half broken stalagmite wakes of from its slumber and is revealed to be a roper. Continuing down this path may prove fatal for unprepared adventurers. The contains of the caverns beyond this point is not within the scope of this adventure and up to the DM’s discretion.

6. Secret Hallway

This is a dark, damp hallway that connects several areas of the underground complex. Two swarms of insects emerge from cracks on the walls and attack any living creature that walks through here.

Secret Door. A passive Perception score of 17 or higher reveals that some of the stone bricks on the west wall have a different coloration. Pulling two of those bricks at the same time activates a sliding mechanism that causes a section of the wall to move sideways and reveal a secret path to area 7.

7. Secret Repository

This is a dark, damp hallway that features countless niches on its walls. Each of the niches is sealed shut with clay. If broken into, the remains of a single person’s ashes appear to be stored in each of the niche boxes. A section of the west wall was engraved and it appears to spell the reason why these people were kept in this secret repository but water filtration on the engraved wall has eroded the marks beyond legibility.

8. Saint Joseph’s Crypt

Three rows of thick stone pillars run from north to south but leave a space unoccupied in the middle, overlooking a stone dais with a large marble sarcophagus. Each pillar holds nine niche boxes in them. Each of the niche lids is engraved with the name and the date of death of the person whose remains it holds. Most of them are from around fifty years ago. Mounds of eroded bones lie scattered around the stone dais.

A section of the wall behind the last northwest pillar has sustained structural damage. A portion of the wall has caved in and revealed a natural cavern behind (area 9).

When an adventurer comes within 10 feet of the sarcophagus, the bones fly in the air in a similar fashion as those in area 2 and form six skeletons. The sarcophagus is closed but a dark, misty, shapeless, figure emerges through the rock and joins the skeletons. Saint Joseph’s wraith is consumed by rage and cannot be reasoned with. Only by destroying this representation of his hateful past self can he and his followers rest once more.

Treasure. Saint Joseph’s collarbone lies inside the sarcophagus. The bone was carved with ancient runes that translate to prayers. The bone is a priceless relic that would be appreciated by church followers and the clergy. A carved clay mask with rudimentary paintings is worth 100 gp if sold to an antiquarian versed in the subject.

9. Underdark Cavern

This cavern turns west and soon takes on a steep slant down into the depths of the world. This cavern is an uncharted access point to the Underdark, a worldwide network of tunnels, caverns, and unknown perils. The adventurers may use this entrance to reach the underworld and continue their adventures there. These adventures are not within the scope of this adventure and up to the DM’s discretion.

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