The Shadow Fane at a Glance
by Creighton Broadhurst
December 03, 2019
Evil is everywhere and humanity must be ever vigilant against its slow encroachment into all that is great and good. Small cults—dedicated to ancient, blasphemous powers—lurk throughout the world ready to carry out their dark patron’s bidding. One such small cult dedicated to Braal, god of hate, malice and revenge, dwells in the Shadow Fane below Languard’s High City. The cultists kidnap and murder in their dark god’s name, but recently they made a mistake that threatens their very existence. Instead of kidnaping a beggar the cultists accidentally kidnapped the daughter of a wealthy merchant and he is offering a handsome reward for his daughter’s safe return.
Evil cults practise their foul rites wherever humans settle, for in humans certain dark powers find fertile ground for their whispered entreaties and honeyed promises. In every settlement, some folk will recoil from the light and embrace the darkness.
One such cult lurks under Languard, capital city of Ashlar. The cultists quietly worship their lord, and every month capture four doomed souls to sacrifice to their lord. Such activity cannot go unnoticed forever, however, and slowly several folk in the city are becoming aware of a pattern of disappearances among the denizens of the street as well other vulnerable people. Most citizens—wrapped up in their own lives and grappling with their own problems—spare little thought for the fate of a few beggars, homeless folk and the like. However, the recent disappearance of a wealthy merchant’s daughter (see Kidnap and Murder) has brought the matter somewhat to the fore.
The PCs can merely stumble on the Shadow Fane by happenstance and decide to explore the locale on a whim. Alternatively, use one of the hooks below to lure the PCs into the fane.
- Kidnap and Murder: An evil cult is active in the area and has been kidnapping locals to use as sacrifices in their blasphemous ceremonies. A few days ago, the cult made a mistake and accidentally kidnapped someone important, Aune Ehtaro—the daughter of Aatami Ehtaro. Aatami is an important and wealthy merchant and is fiercely protective of this family. Aatami offers the PCs 500 gp to rescue his daughter and slay those responsible.
- Revenge: The PCs have previously tangled with worshippers of the Dweller in Shadows (or with whichever power you replace him). The fane’s adherents attacks the PCs in revenge for previous setbacks; one of the slain cultists carries a crude map showing the fane’s location.
- Kidnap, Interrupted: The PCs foil an attempted kidnapping by the cult’s agents. They either find a crude map on one of the attackers or trail fleeing cultists back to the fane.
- Skulking About: Abroad late at night, the PCs notice a suspicious figure skulking about. Following the figure—a cultist on the way to the fane—the PCs stumble onto the fane mere minutes before the monthly service begins.
Notable Locations at a Glance
The Shadow Fane is a small, self-contained dungeon complex dedicated to Braal. Use the notes below as a starting point, and modify them as necessary to complement your design of the fane and its inhabitants.
- Portal of Darkness: Banded with iron straps graven with fell runes of evil, blasphemous power this stout oak door wards the complex beyond.
- Hall of the Damned: Many of the fane’s adherents never progress passed this area. Here stand four skull-shaped wrought iron braziers blazing with hellish magical light along with four small shrines complete with manacles to secure prisoners and sacrifices.
- The Dark Chapel: The venue of the cult’s blasphemous ceremonies, the Dark Chapel is where sacrifices die screaming in foul rituals enacted to glorify Braal.
- Store Room: This locked chamber holds many boxes, crates and barrels filled with the possessions of the sacrificed. The cult periodically sells the items here to various local fences.
- The Dumping Ground: The fane’s priests dump the headless corpses of those sacrificed to Braal in this chamber. They then strip the corpse of anything remotely valuable before dumping the remains in area 7.
- The Old Ossuary: This small natural cavern holds the skeletal remains of the cult’s oldest victims. Partially hidden behind heaped piles of bones, a narrow, twisting corridor leads way from the fane. At the GM’s discretion, the passage could end in a dead-end or intersect with more caves, the city sewers or some other dungeon complex.
- The New Ossuary: Packed full of bones, decomposing bodies and the grizzly remains of the fane’s sacrifices this small network of caves reeks of death, decay and disease.
- Tower of Skulls: A towering column comprising hundreds of skulls dominates this lofty chamber. Risen in veneration to the fane’s fell patron the column holds the skulls of all those who have been sacrificed to Braal’s glory. At the end of every profane service, the column grows a little higher.
- The Dark Guardian: A cloaked stone statue of a towering skeletal warrior clutching a two-handed morningstar watches over this junction. It stares impassively toward the door leading to the Tower of Skulls.
- The Processional: Extensively decorated with lurid frescoes praising Braal, this wide corridor is both a thoroughfare and a place of devotion.
- Adherents’ Dormitory: In this communal sleeping chamber slumber the fane’s minor priests.
- Chamber of the Dark Warden: This sumptuously appointed chamber is the dwelling place of the fane’s warden. Here are also kept the shrine’s choicest treasures.
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