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The Black Monastery (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

Our Price: $15.99

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Way back in 1977, a bunch of the older kids I knew taught me how to play Dungeons and Dragons. Quickly this evolved into myself and one other guy, Scott Stabbert, being the primary DMs. Thus was born Rappan Athuk (my main campaign hub, maps originally drawn by Scott), the dungeon adventures from Demons and Devils, and many of the other adventures I have published or planned to publish over the last 12 years.

Scott’s game contained many gems. In fact, I have a 48 inch by 48 inch framed watercolor map of his world on my wall as I write this. That being said, none of his work (and all those excellent adventures I played in in high school) has ever been published. Except one.

In 1981, with some help from a few of our friends and the kindhearted folks at the local newspaper, Scott and I laid out typeset text on wax paper (in the old days, you did layout this way) on lighted boards. Then Scott spent his meager savings to print maybe 20 copies of a 100 or so page book called “The Black Monestery(sic)”. Scott never could spell worth a darn. He sold a couple copies to the local Weird Pete (called Triple Alliance), and proceeded to join the Navy and disappear for a few years. We have loosely kept in touch over the last 25 years, but have not seen each other since about 1989 or so.

A few months ago, someone on the Acaeum website was talking about this “cool old school DIY published book” his brother in law’s brother (reminded me of the Conan 2 Movie “brother’s sister’s cousin” line) had given him. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Mark Shipley’s sister had married Scott’s brother and that Mark and I lived in the same town (along with Kevin bacon I am beginning to think). I think Mark and I maybe have the only two surviving copies of the original. So we met for beers, called Scott and obtained permission to republish the work.

Mark frantically started rewriting (the spelling alone musty have taken a week!), and I started making plans on how to give this baby the love it deserved. You must understand, I played (a lot) in this dungeon (haunted house really). It has special meaning to me as one of my earliest D&D experiences. Lord Bakar Yan my 18/53 (on 3d6 mind you, the only 18 I ever had on a character!) strength 5th level fighter was the sole survivor of the encounter in the crypt, I recall running in terror from the titan in the courtyard, and the mysterious Cimota I never quite figured out until I read the book.

So here you have it. The first book I ever helped publish back in 1981. The flavor of this thing is similar to Tegel Manor, on steroids. Originally written by the guy who taught me how to run a game, and rewritten by Mark Shipley to meet today’s standards. This book will include a large fold out map of the Monastery, and will be in limited edition Smythe-bound hardcover, as well as pdf and (later) softcover versions. Only the hardcover will include the fold out map.

I spent way too much on new art (Rowena did an amazing job), and Chuck has done a fantastic job making it a truly superior product. Robert’s maps are big, detailed and highly functional, and Skeeter and Matt did a great job making sure I got the rules right. Dawn will be editing the final, as will I, to ensure its as near perfect as we can get it. Just about the whole company contributed to the success of the “boss’s pet project”.

The Classic Style
"The Black Monastery" is presented in the spirit of fun typical of the classic, “old school” gaming style. It is an adventure in the classic style because it follows the design assumptions that were common in many publications and local campaigns during the early days of Dungeons and Dragons. In the classic era, the game master was the final authority and was assumed to have complete control. Every event did not have to have a complete rationalization, formula or rules explanation. Mysterious phenomena, riddles and surprises were the norm. This module assumes that the dungeon master will take control and mold it to his campaign.

In a classic game, monsters might be stronger or weaker without having to figure out why. For unknown reasons, flinds were the only creatures capable of wielding nunchaku. Qullan would die before revealing the special techniques for sharpening their broadswords. Piercers would wait most of their lives just to drop on adventurers and spend the next month crawling back up the wall after a miss. Skeletons always did 1d6 damage no matter what weapons they wielded. Rust monsters made sense. Orcs and gnolls would live next door to each other in dungeons that were essentially monster hotels and no one worried about why. In one of the classic modules by Judges Guild a single giant rat in a group of two dozen had 26 hit points because a typist made a mistake and that was okay—one of the rats was just really big.

Classic play usually assumed that monsters and player characters would follow standard archetypes. Magic-users always had white beards and pointy hats. Barbarians always wore rags and enormous fur boots. Paladins were noble and saintly. Fighters wore plate mail. Thieves climbed walls...a lot. Clerics were vaguely like Catholic priests gone bad, and they always chanted in Latin. All dwarves acted just like Gimli. All elves acted just like Legolas. Monsters were generally cheerful about their roles, including Norse berserkers who rated their own listing in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual because they wandered around underground quite a bit, looking for player characters to fight.

In "The Black Monastery," evil priests have left behind a large number of magical items and effects. They left poems and messages for intruders. They posted guardians that parade around chanting. They spawned ghostly effects that cannot be explained. Pictures are still hanging on walls. Dishes are rattling in the kitchen. Kobolds have decided a dungeon is a good place to roast a pig. Magic globes float in the air, waiting to explode. Statues perform strange, magical acts for no particular reason. Why? Who knows? All of that is okay. Explanations of these magical and monstrous events are provided from time to time, but they don’t really matter. The point is to have fun running about looting the place and trying to survive.

The Legend of the Black Monastery
Two centuries have passed since the terrible events associated with the hideous cult known as the Black Brotherhood. Only scholars and story-tellers remember now how the kingdom was nearly laid to waste and the Black Monastery rose to grandeur and fell into haunted ruins.

The Brothers first appeared as an order of benevolent priests and humble monks in black robes who followed a creed of kindness to the poor and service to the kingdom. Their rules called for humility and self denial. Other religious orders had no quarrel with their theology or their behavior. Their ranks grew as many commoners and nobles were drawn to the order by its good reputation.

The first headquarters for the order was a campsite, located in a forest near the edge of the realm. The Brothers said that their poverty and dedication to service allowed them no resources for more grand accommodations. Members of the Black Brotherhood built chapels in caves or constructed small temples on common land near villages. They said that these rustic shrines allowed them to be near the people they served. Services held by the Brothers at these locations attracted large numbers of common people, who supported the Black Brotherhood with alms.

Within 50 years of their first appearance, the Black Brotherhood had a number of larger temples and abbeys around the kingdom. Wealthy patrons endowed them with lands and buildings in order to buy favor and further the work of the Brothers. The lands they gained were slowly expanded as the order’s influence grew. Many merchants willed part of their fortunes to the Black Brotherhood, allowing the order to expand their work even further. The Brothers became bankers, loaning money and becoming partners in trade throughout the kingdom. Within 200 years of their founding, the order was wealthy and influential, with chapters throughout the kingdom and spreading into nearby realms.

With their order well-established, the Black Brotherhood received royal permission to build a grand monastery in the hill country north of the kingdom’s center. Their abbot, a cousin of the king, asked for the royal grant of a specific hilltop called the Hill of Mornay. This hill was already crowned by ancient ruins that the monks proposed to clear away. Because it was land not wanted for agriculture, the king was happy to grant the request. He even donated money to build the monastery and encouraged others to contribute. With funds from around the realm, the Brothers completed their new monastery within a decade. It was a grand, sprawling edifice built of black stone and called the Black Monastery.

From the very beginning, there were some who said that the Black Brotherhood was not what it seemed. There were always hints of corruption and moral lapses among the Brothers, but no more than any other religious order. There were some who told stories of greed, gluttony and depravity among the monks, but these tales did not weaken the order’s reputation during their early years. All of that changed with the construction of the Black Monastery.

Within two decades of the Black Monastery’s completion, locals began to speak of troubling events there. Sometimes, Brothers made strange demands. They began to cheat farmers of their crops. They loaned money at ruinous rates, taking the property of anyone who could not pay. They pressured or even threatened wealthy patrons, extorting money in larger and larger amounts. Everywhere, the Black Brotherhood grew stronger, prouder and more aggressive. And there was more...

People began to disappear. The farmers who worked the monastery lands reported that some people who went out at night, or who went off by themselves, did not return. It started with individuals...people without influential families...but soon the terror and loss spread to even to noble households. Some said that the people who disappeared had been taken into the Black Monastery, and the place slowly gained an evil reputation. Tenant farmers began moving away from the region, seeking safety at the loss of their fields.

Slowly, even the king began to sense that the night was full of new terrors. Across the kingdom, reports began to come in telling of hauntings and the depredations of monsters. Flocks of dead birds fell from clear skies, onto villages and city streets. Fish died by thousands in their streams. Citizens reported stillborn babies and monstrous births. Crops failed. Fields were full of stunted plants. Crimes of all types grew common as incidents of madness spread everywhere. Word spread that the center of these dark portents was the Black Monastery, where many said the brothers practiced necromancy and human sacrifice. It was feared that the Black Brotherhood no longer worshipped gods of light and had turned to the service of the Dark God.

These terrors came to a head when the Black Brotherhood dared to threaten the king himself. Realizing his peril, the king moved to dispossess and disband the Black Brother hood. He ordered their shrines, abbeys and lands seized. He had Brothers arrested for real and imagined crimes. He also ordered investigations into the Black Monastery and the order’s highest ranking members.

The Black Brotherhood did not go quietly. Conflict between the order and the crown broke into violence when the Brothers incited their followers to riot across the kingdom. There were disturbances everywhere, including several attempts to assassinate the king by blades and by dark sorcery. It became clear to everyone that the Black Brotherhood was far more than just another religious order. Once knives were drawn, the conflict grew into open war between the crown and the Brothers.

The Black Brotherhood had exceeded their grasp. Their followers were crushed in the streets by mounted knights. Brothers were rounded up and arrested. Many of them were executed. Armed supporters of the Black Brotherhood, backed by arcane and divine magic, were defeated and slaughtered. The Brothers were driven back to their final hilltop fortress—the Black Monastery. They were besieged by the king’s army, trapped and waiting for the king’s forces to break in and end the war.

The final assault on the Black Monastery ended in victory and disaster. The king’s army took the hilltop, driving the last of the black-robed monks into the monastery itself. The soldiers were met by more than just men. There were monsters and fiends defending the monastery. There was a terrible slaughter on both sides. In many places the dead rose up to fight again. The battle continued from afternoon into night, lit by flames and magical energy.

The Black Monastery was never actually taken. The king’s forces drove the last of their foul enemies back inside the monastery gates. Battering rams and war machines were hauled up the hill to crush their way inside. But before the king’s men could take the final stronghold, the Black Brotherhood immolated themselves in magical fire.

Green flames roared up from the monastery, engulfing many of the king’s men as well. As survivors watched, the Black Monastery burned away, stones, gates, towers and all. There was a lurid green flare that lit the countryside. There was a scream of torment from a thousand human voices. There was a roar of falling masonry and splitting wood. Smoke and dust obscured the hilltop. The Black Monastery collapsed in upon itself and disappeared. Only ashes drifted down where the great structure had stood. All that was left of the Black Monastery was its foundations and debris-choked dungeons cut into the stones beneath. The war was over. The Black Brotherhood was destroyed.

But the Black Monastery was not gone forever. Over nearly two centuries since its destruction, the Black Monastery has returned from time to time to haunt the Hill of Mornay. Impossible as it seems, there have been at least five incidents in which witnesses have reported finding the Hill of Mornay once again crowned with black walls and slate-roofed towers. In every case, the manifestation of this revenant of the Black Monastery has been accompanied by widespread reports of madness, crime and social unrest in the kingdom. Sometimes, the monastery has appeared only for a night. The last two times, the monastery reappeared atop the hill for as long as three months...each appearance longer than the first.

There are tales of adventurers daring to enter the Black Monastery. Some went to look for treasure. Others went to battle whatever evil still lived inside. There are stories of lucky and brave explorers who have survived the horrors, returning with riches from the fabled hordes of the Black Brotherhood. It is enough to drive men mad with greed—enough to lure more each time to dare to enter the Black Monastery.

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Product Discussion (81)
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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Longest item description EVER.

Frog God Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

<laugh> It IS kinda huge, isn't it?

Dark Archive

That's a crazy long description. :)

Shadow Lodge

Sheesh, might as well add in the rest of the adventure if you're gonna go that nuts!

This sounds so awesome I think I'm going to have to get multiple copies.

Sovereign Court

Looks most excellent! Pre-order done.

Sorry if I missed it, but is there an ETA on the hardcover? With Tome of Horrors, Black Monastery, and Rappan Athuk next spring, It appears Frog God is quickly becoming the second biggest receiver of my bank funds directly behind Paizo =)

Frog God Games

No absolute date yet, but I would expect the hardcover to be going out in February.

Frog God Games

Thanks for the review, JWood!

A word on the maps. — I decided to keep the large map one-page within the pages of the book since, as you mentioned, we'll have the large fold-out map and I figured that most PDF readers have a zooming function so size wouldn't be as critical for the electronic version.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

You had me at "Tegel Manor"

Frog God Games

eta on hardcover is that they started printing (in Missouri) today. I expect 3 weeks till I ship--add 1 week for Paizo to ship.

Sovereign Court

Thanks for the update. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Frog God Games

you and me both--I ran a game this weekend off the pdf--just not the same as a hardcover:)

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

just purchased

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

I preordered this direct from FGG earlier this week (2 or 3 days before the bundle was available here). In all 10 minutes of my spare time I have been reading it, and I am REALLY enjoying it. It has a very fun, evil feel.

I have a question, though. I am considering subscribing (late in the game) to Slumbering Tsar, but I want to know if the style is similar. I really like the format/style of the map with numbers on each room then Each room number with a title and a very short description of what's in it/what it (or the monster) does. It seems as though it will be very GM friendly to run.

So, is the style of Slumbering Tsar very similar, somewhat similar, or more like an adventure path?

Frog God Games

Glad you like it! Perhaps you'd care to write a review of the book once you have finished reading it?

As for Slumbering Tsar, that is Greg Vaughan's baby, through and through. It is similar in layout with the additoin of a GM "read-aloud" box text in places where such descriptive paragraphs occur. Slumberin Tsar is a monster with 14 parts and it begins at around level 7 and goes up from there. It is less like an adventure path in that it has more of a sandboxy feel. Player motivation for exploring the Desolation and entering the City of the Slumbering Tsar is mostly left up for the GM to determine, though vast treasure to be had might be one reason. Discovering what happened to the Army of Light might be another.

(the spelling alone musty have taken a week!)

Oh, the irony of the kettle and the pot...

Shadow Lodge

What are the chances of Frog God Games publishing Tegel Manor, as Necromancer was planning to do before the stars became wrong and it dell into a death-sleep? Does Judges Guild even really exist anymore?

Frog God Games

Kthulhu wrote:
What are the chances of Frog God Games publishing Tegel Manor, as Necromancer was planning to do before the stars became wrong and it dell into a death-sleep? Does Judges Guild even really exist anymore?

As I understand things, Judges Guild retained the rights to Tegel Manor and are not interested in releasing it to Frog God, or anyone else for that matter, to be published.

It is possible they may have plans for it at at a later date.

Shadow Lodge

Alright. Thanks Dawn.

Frog God Games

From what I know, the owner of the property (son Chris) has his own game system brewing and is retaining the rights to the property for that.

I think that it's pretty much a closed book (no pun intended).

Liberty's Edge

What's the PC level range on this puppy? I'll apologize in advance if it's hidden in the novella-sized description above...

Shadow Lodge

The estimated range is 7th-9th for an average party.

Frog God Games

Black Monastery books are supposed to arrive at FGG's "warehouse" (garage) by the end of this next week. Paizo should receive theirs shortly after. Shipping will begin on or before February 1st from FGG.

Shadow Lodge


Anxiously awaiting the delivery.

Getting ready to run my PCs through this. They have just completed Varnhold Vanishing and lo and behold, the Black Monastery appeared within the confines of the fledgling kingdom. I am just hoping it doesn't kill them all.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Is this eligible for the holiday discount code when ity comes off preorder - and will Paizo have it in stock before teh end of January when teh code expires ?

Frog God Games

While I can't answer the first question regarding Paizo's discount code, it is my understanding that Paizo will not be shipping Black Monastery books from their warehouse till February. Of course they are free to correct me on this if my understanding is incorrect.

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Ahhh, can't wait for this now! I know I've had the PDF for a while now (ended up buying it through Pathfinder), but though PDFs are handy I dislike reading large amounts of text from a computer monitor.

Waiting hungrily :D

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

crazy_cat wrote:
Is this eligible for the holiday discount code when ity comes off preorder - and will Paizo have it in stock before teh end of January when teh code expires ?

If it comes off of preorder status before the end of January, then at that time you can place an order for it and use the holiday code. We do not, unfortunately, know if it will be off of preorder before the end of January.

Scarab Sages

The bundle the hardcover version?


Now available!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

any idea when the print version will ship?


chopswil wrote:
any idea when the print version will ship?

Probably within the next week or so (as long as it's not in your sidecart).

Frog God Games

Thanks again, Liz!

Scarab Sages

Hi again. Is the print version the hardcover edition?

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Masika wrote:
Hi again. Is the print version the hardcover edition?

Unless there is a softcover edition, it is hardcover.

I received my copy from FGG. It's nice, and not complaining, but I thought it would be bigger.

I received mine yesterday.


Masika wrote:
Hi again. Is the print version the hardcover edition?


RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Patriots lost last night, I found out today that I didn't get that job promotion I was after, but both copies of Black Monastery did arrive at my doorstep today. So, all in all, not a bad day :).

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hey, my copy has finally shipped! Now I just have to wait another 2.5 - 4 weeks :/

Mine arrived yesterday (ordered directly from FGG)! Beautiful! Now I need to spend a bit more time reading it! The big map is beautiful! I wish that there was a little folder flap in the book to put the map in. Maybe I'll make one. Does anyone have any ideas about how to do that?

Self Censored:
I remember someone making a comment about a potentially offending picture. I believe the term used was "demon junk." I was somewhat surprised to see a little "censorship box" placed over the demon's offending anatomy.

Edit: I found the thread by searching the term "demon+junk." There it was revealed that the "demon junk" was edited to be compliant with the Pathfinder Compatibility License. I still have my unedited PDF. Also, I think that it's a good idea to have those terms for a game that is written for kids.

What level does this go to?

Dark Archive

wraithstrike wrote:
What level does this go to?

"A good guess for a Pathfinder campaign would be a character level range somewhere around seventh to ninth levels. Characters might be slightly higher level in a campaign with lower statistics and less magic. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself."

The information was already listed by another poster. I somehow missed it. Thanks anyway though, bigkilla.

Scarab Sages

How long is the run-time of the adventure, in comparison to a 6-book AP? For our group, playing every-other week, APs usually take about 1.5-2 years.

Shadow Lodge

Nowhere near as long as an AP. Its a single, 90-odd page book, and the entire adventure takes place within (and under) one single structure. Granted, it's a much larger and more intricate structure than is found in any of Paizo's AP volumes.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Reviewed - This one was a lot of fun to read. If you like old style modules I suggest you check it out.

Frog God Games

Thanks for the review, Senjen!

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

So, I was thinking about our game coming up this weekend and how I’ll be running the gang into The Black Monastery. I was looking at the map and thinking about how to map it for them. I’m the type of GM that hates to just hand the group a full map and expect them to ignore the areas they haven’t explored yet. Faced with drawing out each area as they explore, I hit upon the idea of having a blank map that gets filled in as they open doors.

This lead to the question “How big will the map be?” I prefer using 5′ squares due to the fact that using 10′ squares (or bigger) usually ends up in confusion over how far players have moved, what players are in what square, or how to count diagonals. I just like sticking with 5′ squares, which leads to the size of the map being 110 squares x 180 squares. Using standard 1" squares, we get a map that is 9′-2″ tall by 15′-0″ long … WTH!!!!

The ceilings in my house are only 8′-3″ high. I MAY have a room in the house that’s 15′ long, but do I really want to wallpaper a room in map?

Haha! So what did I do? I plotted out enough blank grid on 24×36 paper to do not only the monastery, but the dungeons beneath it! It will take 38 sheets of paper to complete the entire thing.

I have gone mad.

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