Use this adventure when the heroes travel to a small city or town. Bellview Church is now the base of a cult. The alderman doesn’t dare point his finger at the so-called religious people. This is why he needs the help of outsiders to deal with this problem. The alderman meets the heroes in an inn or tavern. He shares what he knows about the cult and offers the adventurers gold to do the job. This adventure is intended for a group of four to six 4th-level heroes.
Decades ago, before the invasion, the small town of Thilus was known as Padus. The Bellview family had their manor and home there. Their house was burned to the ground, but the church next to it with the family crypt remained. However, even after so much time, the church kept its name. Even if it fosters a different religion and beliefs inside its walls, the name Bellview withstood the pass of time, just as it did with the invasion that transformed Padus into Thilus. Such is the written record in history books.
Thilus, the small and humble town near a mountain range, is the new home of an evil cult. For a place this size, the number of members in the cult has become a threat. And the fact that every fortnight the cult has yet another initiation ceremony only worsens the situation. Sandro Clayton, the alderman in Thilus, needs to understand why this happened and plans to hire a group of heroes for this.
It all started with the priest, Bernard. The old man lost his parents at a young age, so he had to live with his grandmother. He chose a religious path in life to try to comprehend the ways of the gods and cope with the pain of losing his parents when he was just a child. The boy grew up developing a great dependence on his grandmother. After all, she was his only living relative.
But time doesn’t wait for anyone. Six months ago, Bernard lost his grandmother. It was his thirtieth birthday. He thought the gods were now making a mockery of him. He pictured mighty beings of light laughing at his expenses. He couldn’t look at the sky without feeling fingers being pointed at him. He thought that the years he spent in religious robes were a waste.
Bernard’s hurricane of mixed feelings was noticed by a demon. The evil entity visited the priest that night. The human was surprised to see that the demon’s presence didn’t scare him. He was thrilled to see a real manifestation of the monsters described in the holy text he had read all his life. And he couldn’t help but feel disappointed that he waited all his life for a divine intervention of his god, but it never came.
The demon was aware of Bernard’s grudge against the gods so it was easy to persuade him. The deceitful demon filled the priest’s mind with thoughts of rebellion, chaos, and blasphemy. Like a master puppeteer, it only had to pull the threads for the weak mortal to do its bidding. Driven by anger and hate, he swore to change the beliefs in the community. Plus, with the help of his new diabolical patron, he convinced more people to join their new cult. Bernard’s religion is based on building a grudge against the gods through people’s horrible experiences in life. He manipulates their minds and makes them feel like he did when his grandmother died. Forsaken and alone.
Bernard is hurting the community. Some of the people whose brains he is washing are part of the tithing-men that Sandro works with. Without them to enforce the law and keep order in the town, the alderman’s post is in danger. He needs to do something fast.
Sandro finds it hard to point his finger at the church and ask for its destruction. There have been a couple of detractors of the changes in the church but those people disappear the day after. On top of that, the relatives of those detractors have said nothing about their disappearances. And Sandro has seen some of them go into the church at night. This is why caution is a priority for him. If the corrupted priest learns about Sandro’s intentions, the alderman could be the next person to disappear and be forgotten.
Inconspicuously, he disguises as a peasant and visits inns and taverns to look for a group of mercenaries or adventurers. He explains the situation to them and offers a payment of 200 gold pieces if they can stop Bernard and whatever he is doing inside the church. If there are captives, they must be rescued. If there are dead bodies to be recovered, they must be brought out of the church for proper burial. If there are any monsters, they must be eliminated. But most importantly, Bernard and any of the people of Thilus working with the priest are not to be killed. They must be brought back alive so they can face trial. Sandro demands the heroes to do what they must to meet these conditions or else he won’t keep his part of the deal. He wants Thilus’s citizens safe.
The alderman wants to do this because he knows this means a fortune for the crown. The number of people that will go to trial means there is going to be a lot of gold spent on bails, and he is certain to get a percentage of every person he prosecutes.
Sandro Clayton, alderman
Chaotic good human (age 42)
Sandro is a tall and tough individual. He used to be in the military so he knows how to fend for himself in battle. Though his fencing days are over, he still keeps a nice posture and figure. Sandro has a thick mustache, and he trims his beard to make it more prominent. He has a tick of moving his mustache from side to side, like a rabbit.
Personality Trait. “The world is full of crime and dangers, but the light never reaches a place without darkness.”
Ideal. “I make every problem in town an opportunity to make gold.”
Bond. “I commit to the crown and its ideals.”
Flaw. “I sometimes forget I’m dealing with people, not pieces of gold.”
The following descriptions of areas 1 through 8 correspond to Bellview Church and its crypt.
Terrain. Despite its age, the church remains in serviceable condition. It’s made of stone blocks and tiles flooring.
Doors. The main door of the church is oak and has two decorative stained glass panels. The rest of the doors are pine. They are all unlocked. The three doors in the crypt are made of steel.
Light. There are sconces on the walls of the church and crypt. Bernard and the cultists replace the torches whenever they run out.
Smells and Sounds. The building in general has a smell of copal incense and other herbs. The crypt, however, has a foul stench of death and decay.
1. Church Nave
The main entrance of the church has a small lobby to clean your feet before entering. People can also hang their coats in here. There are six long, wooden, benches here. All of them sustain beautiful carvings in the back depicting religious images and traditional paintings of the town’s history before the invasion. The windows of this room are decorated with beautiful patterns of stained glass. At the far end of the room, there is a pedestal with an open tome on it, and behind it the tabernacle. An oversized skull oversees all ceremonies from its pedestal.
There are people in the church at all times. When the heroes arrive, there are 1d6 commoners, two cultists, and one thug. The commoners flee if their allies are defeated. They bolt for the exit and hide in the town. The enemies in the balconies (area 4) also attack the intruders from there.
People respect the priest’s orders of not coming here so there is no need to lock this door. Bernard hid the location of this trapdoor under an old rug. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals a corner of the trapdoor under the rug. There is a hand ladder that descends 20 feet and takes to the crypt (area 6).
3. Balcony gallery
The stairs ascend 10 feet to the balcony area. There used to be choirs or musicians to accompany religious ceremonies. Now Bernard uses this area to address the cultists from above with more authority. On the southwest end of the stairs, there is a door that takes to the campanary ladder.
There is a cult fanatic on the second floor. He is giving a speech to the followers below when the adventurers arrive. If the church is invaded, he casts hold person and spiritual weapon to protect his allies. He uses shield of faith on himself and casts inflict wounds if someone gets close.
4. Campanary, Bernard’s Room
Bernard abandoned his former home. He could not bear to see his grandmother’s stuff and belongings. He decided to sleep here, away from the pain. There are a straw sleeping pad and a wooden box with clothes. A passive Investigation score of 15 or higher reveals there is an old wooden box stored under the bed.
Treasure. Inside an old box, there is an ugly belt with a marble buckle (70gp), an engraved granite ring of low quality (20gp), and a sturdy granite jewelry box, set with a banded agate (70gp). There is also Bernard’s diary. It seems normal and ordinary until the date where Bernard’s grandmother died. After that date, there are about ten pages with ramblings and incomprehensible rants about gods and religion. Then the writing just stops.
The Bellviews did their best to match their status with the construction of this crypt. The ceiling of the crypt has inscriptions that recite a story. They are common bedtime stories that the Bellviews used to tell their children. Some of them have a philosophical meaning and metaphors about death. These same inscriptions are found on the lids of the sarcophagi The place has now a heavy atmosphere. Bernard has been coming down to perform dark magic on the sarcophagi, as instructed by his demonic patron. His closest servants know about this and they are the only ones allowed to come down.
Bernard has brought back to life the former Bellview family members in the crypt. When the adventurers come down, he is protected by them. Bernard (priest), four zombies, and two cult fanatics fight together. The cult fanatics use their hold person spells to paralyze tough opponents. The priest casts dispel magic if the adventurers have a powerful spell active. He uses spirit guardians to force the heroes to back off. The spirits of this spell take the shape of Bernards’s parents and his grandmother. They are, however, disfigured and ugly. Their screaming faces have endless tears of blood and they protect the priest while wailing as if in pain. If the battle turns against him, and he retreats to area 7.
6. Individual Sarcophagi
Two important members of the Bellview family were buried here. Bernard used more powerful magic to reanimate these corpses. The two undead wake up when they hear the battle in area 5. Two ghouls obey the priest’s orders and attempt to paralyze the adventurers. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals the bottom of the sarcophagus has a secret compartment and contains loot.
Treasure. The adventurers find an ornate wool cloak with marble clasps (45gp), a sturdy limestone vase of shoddy construction (25gp), an engraved limestone pendant of low quality (20gp), an old fur hat (20gp), and 37 gold pieces in a leather pouch.
7. Lord Bellview Resting Place
This room contains the remains of the most important member of the Bellview family that died before the invasion. Bernard decided to reanimate this corpse using most of his power. However, when the lord realized that all that remained of him and his relatives were these mockeries of life, he was full of anger and fury.
Lord Bellview (mummy) is not under the control of Bernard like the rest of the undead in the crypt. He comes out of its sarcophagus if someone opens the door to get to it. If the Bernard manages to escape here, Lord Bellview attacks him first.
The alderman pays the heroes the agreed-upon amount when they return from the church. There is a total of six cultists, plus 1d6 commoners who were to be initiated. Sandro expects to see all these people fit to face trial. If the heroes fail to deliver any of the cultists, if they fled, or if they died in combat, he pays them only 100 gold pieces.
Even if the adventurers save everyone, Sandro claims a certain Figaro Plum isn’t among the people they delivered. He claims the missing person was also part of the tithing-men and without him, the job is incomplete. A passive Insight score of 16 reveals the alderman is lying. He wants to take advantage of the adventurers’ position and keep half their pay. A character can persuade Sandro to forget his claim with a successful DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion / Intimidation) check.