Father Thomas Parfait: An exorcist who is obsessed with Malignant Magic and can't help but dabble in it.
Eliza* Hawthorne: A spirit medium.
George Stetson: A charlatan.
This adventure was part of a small campaign called the Malignant Exorcist. Where most of Strange Tales of New England takes its inspiration from Dante's Purgatorio, this adventure took inspiration from The Inferno section of the Divine Comedy. It was inspired by the first four Cantos, which include the first circle of hell, Limbo. The chapters from the Inferno were just used as springboards, to help spur ideas.
I am including the handwritten notes I used to run the adventure so readers can see how I planned for it. This was a much more focused and minimal approach. Occasionally I elaborated by adding things like "Twists" in later pages (this was more a product of using a hand written notebook instead of a word document, where if I wanted a change I had to add it later as everything was written in pen).
I chose Rutland as the location for the adventure because it is the center of Massachusetts and felt like a good spot for limbo.
THE CHANDLER HOUSE
The players went to Chandler House in Rutland Massachusetts, to investigate the seeming disappearance of Benjamin Chandler, at the request of his Nephew Walter Hawley.
For the trip George hired another bodyguard/driver, this time the hyper vigilant, James Porter.
On the way in, Father Parfait briefly saw something out the window, a creature in the woods with the head of a wolf, a massive body, horns and long-clawed arms. When they came to the gates, James told them the entry was too small for a car and they would have to go the rest on foot.
The face of the wolf creature suddenly pressed against the back window and it began beating on the hood. James ran out and fired several shots with a handgun, wounding the beast but being bitten in the neck in the process. George hopped into the drivers seat and backed the car into the thing attacking them, which ran off into the woods.
They gathered James into the car and drove to the nearest hospital then found a hotel.
The party spent two days researching while James recovered. George used this time to hire more bodyguards, putting out an advertisement and attracting four people.
They learned many beasts had been spotted in the woods, a creature with the head of a wolf, another with the head of a lion, and a third resembling a leopard. This struck Father Parfait who recalled the Three Beasts from Dante's Inferno.Going to Isabel Wan to learn more. She told them that Walter Hawley said he believed his uncle was involved in satanic magic, and she felt based on their experience, there was evidence of that. Walter also told her he believed his uncle was stealing corpses from Mount Auburn Cemetery, though he didn't tell her why.
Isabel gave them Walter's number so they could speak to him directly.
Walter told them that his uncle had asked him to help him at the cemetery, and that he believed he was stealing corpses because several graves had been found robbed shortly after. He explained that his uncle had long tried to recruit him into his practices, saying that the house was his heritage, and it was his birthright to master the magic. That magic was from the Book of Lilith, something Father Parfait knew about, a legendary wall of stone with spells written on it before the fall of man. According to Walter, this wall was deep below the house.
After talking with Walter, Father Parfait called the Cardinal's Office who gave him a private audience with his eminence.Father Parfait presented his facts to the Cardinal and they agreed it would be important to exorcize the place and consecrate the wall to destroy its power. Not wanting to expose others in the priesthood to the spiritual dangers, he allowed Father Parfait to go on his own and gave him a special relic, a rosary that belonged to Pope Saint John Paul II.
Parfait made a confession and the party returned to Chandler House, this time with four new bodyguards.
At the gates they noticed the walls were crawling with ivy and human eyeballs. Beyond the gates, corpses stumbled in the yard and a black stone path led the way to the mansion.
They ran, with the bodyguards, armed with shot guns, firing at the corpses. However each shot caused flies to burst from their bodies and move in large swarms towards them.
"Stay on the path," Said a voice. They looked and saw a man with rotting flesh at the door of the house ushering them towards him.
The party rushed to the door and entered into a hall.
"Who are you," Said Father Parfait.
"I am Longfellow," said the Skeletal figure.
They spoke with Longfellow for some time, who informed them that Benjamin Chandler had raised him and others from the dead, in an effort to bring back great people of the past. Eliza asked if he was Longfellow the poet, but he explained that Chandler opened the wrong grave and that he was another Longfellow. He also told them that Benjamin had used similar magic to raise the corpses in the yard and create the beasts in the woods.
When they asked where Benjamin was, Longfellow said he was dead, but his spirit was deep beneath the house. When they asked how he had died, Longfellow told them he had poisoned him, thinking it would free him. But Benjamin's spirit returned, stronger and more powerful. He told them he could lead them to the Book of Lilith, where there was a spell to consign a soul to hell. He believed the spell would rid Benjamin from the world permanently.
They were led through the house by Longfellow, through a secret passage in the parlor and down deep into a subterranean chamber made from black rock. He told them the spell to consign Benjamin to hell was carved into a wall beyond a body of water. At the base of a steep set of steps they came to a stone arch that read:
Petrified and ancient am I
Enter if you seek salvation
Fumes reached from beyond the archway and sickened some of the group. Passing through they came to an underground lake and saw a small boat which they gathered into and used to cross.
A shadowy spirit appeared with glowing red eyes and drifted to the boat. It reached its tendril-hands into Father Parfait, causing his features to age. The spirit vanished then reappeared and further aged the priest before disappearing once more.
When they reached the other shore, they found a tall wall of ancient black stone with the words to several spells written upon them. Nearby a suit of old roman lamellar animated as if worn by an invisible man, and attacked. The party contended with the creature as Eliza Hawthorne spoke the spell to send Benjamin to hell at the urging of Longfellow. The armored spirit they fended off with a few blows and when Eliza finished the spell, Benjamin coiled into a black cloud which fell apart like burnt embers.