Story help sought -- Necropolis / Disease Demon

I'm putting together a story idea for my saga, and (as I am want to do) turn to this learned forum for inspiration.

The saga is set in an urban covenant in the city of Palma on the isle of Majorca.

One of the players is a Necromancer. A few sessions ago, the player mentioned that it would be cool if the city had a Necropolis, since Palma was originally founded by the Romans. I'd like to give the player his wish, and turn it into an story. My goal is to have some fun combat / obstacles, and that the "treasure" will be finding some scrolls from the Order of Mercury that will clue the characters into further research on the odd stone beneath their covenant.

After some further story development, here's where I am. At some time in the past, there was a plague in the city, caused by one of the Decani Demons (RoP:I). (I will probably use Metathiax, since his stats are already complete in the book.) The Mercurian wizards weren't strong enough to defeat it, so they imprisoned it within a Ward, and surrounded the ring with bones of the victims of the plague. This burial chamber grew over the centuries into a small necropolis, and was eventually forgotten during the dark ages. Eventually, the new Muslim-run city planted a line of olive trees along a promenade. The roots of one of the trees burst through into the necropolis, and unfortunately crossed the Ring barrier, freeing the demon.

The characters return from a recent trip to find their city in the grips of a slowly-spreading plague. The story will focus at first on helping the victims, then once they realize that the source is infernal, trying to track down the demon and either destroying it or imprisoning it again. In order to give the Necromancer his wish, I figure the final battle will involve a bunch of plague-ridden zombies, or a bunch of infernally-possessed skeletons down in the tunnels.

Nothing like the undead rising near your covenant to raise the hackles of the Quaesitores....

So. Any thoughts here? Any "Oh this would be cool" scenes that come to mind? Any concerns?

In order to lead the characters to the Necropolis (and the Mercurian scrolls also entombed there,) I figure that the Olive Tree is now dead, and has an infernal aura. The stones around the tree are loose, as if something has tunnelled up from below. Is the demon trapped within the tree, or somehow anchored to it still, upon it's release from the crypt? Who is patient zero -- someone ate of the olives? or leaned against the tree? (If I use Metathiax, perhaps he appears beneath the tree during the full moon, and let's travelers drink from his cursed water jug?)

I want this adventure to be a one-evening affair, so I want to make sure the characters can find their way to the tree relatively quickly. Any thoughts on how to drive the characters to the source?

This might get too complicated, but it might be nice to bring in some local color to the adventure. I've been meaning for the characters to meet the local Muslim leadership for a while.
Perhaps there is a Muslim prophecy about the coming plague, so when the plague appears, the Holy Men swing into action. In the description of Metathiax, the reading of poetry can slow it down. What better poetry is there than the Koran? So if the characters are stuck, perhaps the Imam and his holy warriors could help lead the characters to the tree/necropolis. If nothing else, if the characters get into trouble, the Warriors could appear and slow down the demon. They could even use warriors that read poetry to drive the demon into a new Ring, and imprison it.

I welcome any and all thoughts. Thank you in advance.

I would make it more mystical so it can be used for adventures for years to come! Come on, a necropolis should be farmed for a long time, split into many different one-evening affairs that they can come back to when they are ready or have the opportunity to learn or do more.

Can you make something else then a demon the bad guy? It might as well be an angel, though they don't bring plagues, rather fire or turning the inhabitants to salt – The end result is the same, all dies. It isn't like God hasn't struck down people for all kind of things. Perhaps the inhabitants were too ambitious and aimed too high.

The aura could be special to make it more of a mystery, something that speaks to the nature of the tragedy. If it is a plague, make the aura give bonuses to spells that deal with sickness and death while giving a negative mod for healing and such etc. It could be one more thing the characters will have to investigate, the nature of the aura.

Dead cities immediately makes me wanna go to visions from the past as the trouble instead of a sickness, possibly ghosts and possessions. The tormented dead reaching out and showing glimpses from their lives, pains, joys, frightening flashes from their death (if horrible) or incomprehensible scenes from beyond. Perhaps the dead start to seep out and possessing the living, yearning to be alive. What to do when Bob the grog start talking in an ancient tongue?

Make it a city to be conquered one block at a time. The first goal is to figure out how to be safe while exploring, the next is to use that solution to make block by block. The moon or stars might need to be in a certain position to secure a place, or it can only be done on certain dates. That is a way to control the speed if it is needed to make it a long time project.

The final battle doesn't need to be physical combat. If going the vision route or the like then the final battle can be against their own internal demons, or those internal demons made manifest.

I believe it is a sure bet that this is the only necropolis you will have in the campaign, so it would be cool if it was unique, something that is a mystery that the character can't fully explain. Perhaps they never will be able to explain it.

The Egyptians would disagree...

As to plague demons, I used a few in Antagonists as I recall?

Touché :slight_smile: One of those ten plagues were boils. Raining fire or salt is more iconic, though.

Thanks guys!

Rhythm-wise in the saga, I need an "event" session, and the plague idea fits the bill. However, I think you're right Samiloth that the Necropolis should not be thrown away. As you say, this will probably be the only one in the saga. Therefore, tracking the source of the demon/angel to the crypt will lead to the discovery of the Necropolis itself. So future adventures can be the exploration of the mysterious, dark place.

So at this point, i'd love the thread to continue with any suggestions as to various scenes involving the plague, and how to get the characters to the dead tree.

I'm also interested in any thoughts on what could be within the Necropolis for future adventures.

Thank you!

You could look at the concept of similarity in medicine (or like cures like) which is explained in Art and Academe alongside the expanded rules for medicine and illnesses pretty well (and is probably worth a read if you want to make a disease yourself). Your characters could go looking for a particular type of tree as it could act as a potential cure to the disease affecting people, only for them to find the tree that has breached the necropolis which is unnaturally ill and might make them investigate it further?


Is the Necropolis currently a Magic Aura, and centered on the Olive tree? An earthquake gives a sense of immediacy and can obviously damage wards. The 122X one in your Saga could be a big one, leaving a crack into the warded zone. Sickness and death begin to appear in the surrounding areas. Bonuses to disease or similar effects there as well. The demon can easily appear as someone who can help cure people, or assist the closure (lies lies lies). Or a priest can come ask for their help. He knows some specific Lore about the demon and how to re-imprison it passed down by the priests of his church, and wants the Magi to use that lore to lock it away again. this begins a conflicted relationship to a priest in town.

Thanks for the "Mallorca Incognita" website! I definitely will explore that site for general story ideas.... :slight_smile:

It occurred to me this morning that I might be able to slightly adjust this story to have a longer-running antagonist in that of the classic Lich. Has there been anything published in the RAW about infernal necromancers seeking eternal life?

Basically, the same setup: a cult of Mercurian priests had a cell here, and part of their demesne was the Roman burial ground. One of their number sought immortality, and went real dark, real fast. The rest of the priests successfully imprisoned him in their own necropolis. Now, with the invasion of the olive tree's roots, the Lich is free. Thus, the characters get to explore the necroplis in order to learn the secrets of how to imprison the thing again, and also learn other mysteries.


Are you married the infernalist idea? Good guys make perfect bad buys as well, or at least bad guys that are good from their own perspective. Or perhaps just “bad” because of nature, in case of restless dead that follow instinct or nature. You know, the frog and the scorpion and all that.

Either way, it looks good to me. It's all about what story you wanna tell. What happens if the characters fails? Can they recover from that and make things right, or will they have a whole new set of problems that are even worse?

Thanks for getting me to re-examine the motivations here. The Lich could have "unfinished business" to deal with, and this business could fit into a greater storyline for the Necromancer. The Lich could even become a learning source for a greater Mystery (similar to Caanite Necromancy).

This doesn't mean he's not ruthless. He covers his escape from the city by animating some of the dead in the necropolis, causing some chaos as a distraction. Or releases a minor disease spirit.
Does the lich have to feed on the living in order to resuscitate itself, and become healthy enough to flee the city? Does it draw people to the necropolis through visions or dreams, then feeds on them there? Hmmmmm.... Once one eats of the olives, they are drawn back to the tree, and are consumed. Perhaps some of the grogs go missing, and the characters have to track them down.

I want to make sure I have an obstacle for the characters to react to and overcome, before they discover the Necropolis.

Better then a missing grog (IMO) is someone they need who haven't really been introduced because it is a background figure, like the trader they buy ink from, or something like that.

You get to introduce a new important character they should kind of know and if they screw up then it will cause problems. They will at least have to find a new deal for ink. Even better is if his business is the only in the area and another covenant the player covenant have troubles with buy up the business because they need all the ink etc.

Go with a Guernicus magus being behind causing such troubles because they are the most corrupt house, though the mammonist houses Mercere and Verditius should do the trick as well.

Then at the next tribunal on of the PCs mentions this event, and the Quaesitors show up and take all the evidence. House G does NOT like references to Mercurian Magic being associated with dark magic and infernalism, and most ESPECIALLY associated with human sacrifice... "Only the Diedne use sacrifice! If anyone else were use sacrifice as part of their magic we would totally wizard march them too!" [Quietly hides copies of Mercurian Sacrifice Rituals from HOH:TL behind his back.]

Just saying.

Nice. :smiling_imp:

Just want to ask again: Are there any rules in the RAW about becoming a Lich?

Immortal Magi from Hermetic Projects, but that makes you a Ghost or a Magical Creature more than Lich. Basically anything that gives you Magic Might (... or Infernal or Divine Might) give you immortality, or near immortality. The details of that is addressed with Inferiorities and the opposite of those (Superiorities? That cant be right!).

I think becoming a Magic creature (Magic Might), linked to Corpus, and the Flay/Inferiority Rotting (-3 or -6 social rolls), and Need to Eat Flesh (or something) would qualify.

But nothing that is a D&D Lich exactly.

The Wizard's Grimoire, 3:rd edition, have rules about becoming a lich. Dunno about later editions.

My players have never played D&D, so I think this might work out very nicely.

Plus, it's just gross. :mrgreen:

Gruagachan from Hedge Magic can initiate the virtue "External Soul", which renders the Gruagachan broadly unkillable from normal damage (it converts damage dealt into warping points) unless you can first find and damage the stone the soul has been hidden in, which is lich-like.

Normally the External Soul is really easy to destroy (if you can find it), but there's a variant tradition (the kolduni) where the External Soul has to be killed in a very specific manner to prevent the soul just returning to the hedge-mage's body.

Salutor -- does the External Soul prevent the Gruagachan from aging as well?

There is also the extrem powerful Saoshyant's Elixir (TC&TC 99) what give Holy people of the Zoroastrian fait a way to not have to make aging rolls and avoid death. The holy men that go trough this ritual instead get warping points each year and each time they would have died, gain aging or decrepitude points.