When you read Dante, you get a lot of footnotes, and one of these copious notes mentions the existence of a small fourteenth century monastery just outside Vada (Tuscany), that had to be completely abandoned because of a massive snake infestation. The note says nothing else. Just that. But it’s enough. You can imagine the rest, and a wicked series of games inside that doomed monastery. The PCs play some of the last remaining monks, shortly before the final “evacuation”. It can be both dreadful and hilarious, if it’s done just the right way.
First game: Guests. A group of Greek monks led by a famous Hegumen arrive at the monastery on their way to Genoa, and want to spend the night. They are, of course, blissfully unaware of the snake situation, and the PCs must keep them happy and safe all night long. If the Hegumen dies, it’ll put the Church – and all of Italy – to utter shame.
Second game: Relics. Before they abandon the monastery forever, the monks need to retrieve the holy bones of eight previous Abbots buried in the deep crypts underneath the main chapel. The current Father Abbot sends the PCs (of course) down in the crypts with torches, shovels, and a list of all the skulls and femurs and knucklebones he wants to preserve...
“Brothers,” says one senior monk, “the crypts are a bad place, be very careful: this is possibly where the nests are.”
“Let’s burn them!” says another monk.
“If we can find them,” says a third monk.
“They may be inside the walls,” says a fourth monk.
“Ow! Snake bit me!” cries a fifth monk.
“I told you to be extra cautious,” says the senior monk. “You, take this Brother upstairs to the infirmary. The others, follow me.”
“Father, there is no one available to treat him at the infirmary!”
“What about Brother Claudio?”
“Dead. He was bitten yesterday.”
“Damn these snakes.”
“So, what should we do now?”
“First tomb is right there, see it? We’ll just grab the skull of Father Bonifacio, our Founder, and then let’s get out of this place...”
“Got the shovel, Father!”
“Let’s go, then.”
“Ow! Snake bit me!”
“Whole bunch of them... Ow!”
Third game: Ceremony. Two days before the official evacuation, the Bishop of Livorno himself comes over to perform the important “desanctification” of the chapel. After that, the monks will be free to leave. But the chapel, alas, is full of snakes...
“Your Eminence, we’re gonna have to hurry up.”
“Repeat after me, all of you. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti...”
“In nomine patris et… Ow! That one bit me!”
“In nomine... Ow! Sonofabitch!”
“Watch your tongue, Brother! Ow!”