The Murderous Priests is a fantasy scenario of deception, betrayal, and action in five short scenes for a roleplaying game adventure or a story.
Names and places are generic for you to adapt, each scene has a few possible twists, and the outcome is open to encourage improvisation.
This scenario involves the rivalry between two powerful and corrupt priests, presumably in a major city of a Byzantine and corrupt society. Both priests are assumed to have several servants and sellswords and are equally vile and despicable, and the protagonist may get second thoughts as they learn more about the cast of this sordid little tale.
The Cunning Priest wants to deal with a rival priest permanently, and seek to hire disposable pawns to get the job done. This is part of a larger game between the two priests, and the mission is not a direct strike on the rival. In fact, the cunning priest expects the protagonists to fail and the rival to kill them, thus tying loose ends and saving some money.
The Rival Priest, the initial target of the plot, as a person of power and influence in both the church and the city in general.
The Rival Priest’s Minion is someone of the rivals service and is the initial target of the cunning priest. The minion is targeted by the cunning priest as a diversion, although this is not explained.
The minion operates one of the strongholds for the rival priest, say a tavern or a warehouse, and is a dangerous opponent, regardless of the connection to the rival priest.
The Setup: The Offer
The scenario assumes the protagonists are looking for something and the cunning priest claims to know where it is. This information is a lie of course. The cunning priest sends the protagonists to a location, telling them whatever they want to hear, but softly, so the protagonists take the initiative to investigate.
The site is one of the strongholds of the rival priest, operated by a minion.
The cunning priest does not reveal the rivalry and only points the protagonist to the location, knowing the investigations are likely to turn violent and thus harm the rival.
The protagonists should not walk into this blindly and are likely to investigate both the cunning priest and the location.
The cunning priest wants this to escalate on the enemy’s grounds and has discretely alerted the enemy. The protagonists are walking into an ambush.
A careful investigation may reveal several things:
- The protagonists may learn the minion’s relation to the rival priest through servants or followers.
- There is some activity at the location, with more guards than expected and they are alert.
- Someone has been asking questions about the protagonists if there has been time for the rival priest to investigate.
Counter-Attack: The Investigation Turn Violent
The counter-attack depends on the protagonists’ actions and the specifics of the religion and the priests. This may play out several ways:
- The protagonists may realize they are played, and they attack the cunning priest.
- The rival priest chooses a preemptive strike, possibly through a third party, like the city watch or a thieves’ guild, and angels and demons may also appear, depending on the religion. The rival priest may join in.
- The city watch gets involved, either through their own investigation, or they are tipped off by either party.
Enlightenment: Interrogating the Sellswords
A well-executed counter-attack and interrogating surviving sellswords should shed some light on the conspiracy.
- Surviving guards and sellswords are more than willing to tell on their masters, as either inspire much loyalty.
- The surviving guards and sellswords may, however, be misinformed about their master, and give honest but false information.
Climax: The Battle with One or Both Priests
The final battle or interaction should the protagonist choose a more subtle approach, is likely to be with one of the priests. This scenario may end in many ways, and here are but a few:
- The protagonists are thoroughly duped and get into violent conflict with the rival priest and the minion.
- Either of the priests, depending on the preceding, decide to deal with the protagonists.
- The protagonists decide they are all despicable and choose to fight the good fight, either by attacking directly or attempting to involve the authorities.
- The protagonists decide this is too dangerous or merely confusing, and decide to leave it all behind. Neither priest tolerates loose ends and the past catch up.