The party enters a town at night and sees a strange sight: all the townsfolk, dressed in black cultist robes, are walking down the street, single-file, humming deeply. If any players try to ask one of the hooded figures what’s going on, the townsperson will simply stare at them with wide, horrified eyes, say something about “the basilisk” and carry on with their marching.
“Pssst, hey!” says a voice from one of the alleyways. If the party chooses to investigate, they find a young woman, also dressed in cultist robes, standing in the shadows. “You all must be new around here. In which case, we are going to need to get you some outfits. Trust me; it’s the only way you’re going to stay safe. Follow me this way, please.”
She leads the party to a small church about a block away from the procession. If they try to ask her what she meant by “it’s the only way you’re going to stay safe”, she will ignore the question and tell them that Father Izikal will explain everything.”
When the party enters the small church, they see a woman sitting in a chair by the altar, sobbing. A cultist priest is sitting next to her with a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“I just don’t have anything more to give,” she sobs, “What will I do? If I don’t make it happy, it’s going to turn me into stone and devour me like it did my brother.”
The priest pats her on the back. “There, there, my child. Take this as your offering. They’re only pewter, but swear to that bloody basilisk that they’re solid silver. That should keep it plenty happy.” At this moment, the priest hands the woman the candlestick holders from the altar directly behind him.
“Oh, thank you, father,” the woman says, wiping her runny nose on her robe sleeve. “I’m just a small town girl, you know. I never imagined the day would come when I’d need to face a monster.”
“I don’t think any of us imagined we’d find ourselves in this position,” the priest answers, remarkably calm as he offers her a handkerchief to dab her teary eyes. “Have faith, and we will all get through this together. No doubt the real gods above will send us heroes to deliver us soon.”
Share the Night
As the party advances down the aisle, the priest rises and introduces himself as Father Izikal Murmont.
“You’ve arrived at a dreadful time, I’m afraid.” he says, dropping his cultist hood to reveal a sallow face and exhausted, bloodshot eyes. “A basilisk has taken over our small town and demands we worship it 24-7. If we fail to make it happy, with our offerings or songs of praise, it petrifies us; we lose all feeling and become stone statues. That’s why we follow the motto: don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin’. You all look surprisingly tough though. Maybe you can help set us free?”
If the party agrees to help Father Izikal, he will continue.
“Marvelous! So, in order to give you the best fighting chance, I think it’s imperative that you dress the part. Don these cultist robes and join what we call The Midnight Train. Essentially, it’s what you saw when you came into town: a long train of people, marching to the basilisk, so that they may lay down a nightly offering at its feet. It’s a long train. In fact, it goes on and on and on and on. But we can sneak you someplace in the middle on the lineup to ensure you reach the basilisk as quickly as possible. God forbid we lose any more good people.”
Up and Down the Boulevard
While the party wears their cultist robes and follows the procession, single file, down the dark city street, they need to decide what “offering” they will provide. As DM, have each player select one item from their respective inventories to offer. They can always embellish or lie about their offering as well, making something that’s relatively worthless actually sound expensive, magical, or impressive.
After about 10 minutes pass, the party reaches another small church on the outskirts of town. When they enter, however, they are greeted with a very different environment than the sorrowful and empty church from earlier. Candles are lit, and incense is burning. From the offerings, they detect the smell of wine and cheap perfume. There’s also a singer in that smoky room, a bard, looking absolutely terrified as she strums some little song on her harp, singing about her love and adoration for the “divine basilisk.”
If the party looks suspicious, the basilisk might get wise and attempt to petrify them with its stare. Otherwise, if the players keep their heads shrouded and lowered in respect, the basilisk allows them to approach “its” altar one at a time.
“What did you bring me thisssss evening?” it hisses in Common.
When this happens, the player must present their offering and explain its significance. If the basilisk is pleased, it will allow the player to carry on. The player can find a pew to sit and pray to the basilisk or start to leave the chapel. If the basilisk is especially pleased with an offering, it will honor its truly devoted follower by allowing them to approach and kiss one of the bejeweled rings that adorn its claws. This, of course, allows for a player to get close and make an initial strike/melee attack, possibly even in an effort to blind the basilisk and prevent it from using its petrify ability before the battle gets underway.
When the battle begins, the other “cultists” will flee (they are just unarmed townsfolk after all). The basilisk has a couple of attacks in its arsenal, including a vicious bite that can inflict poison damage as well as its most powerful weapon: petrifying gaze. Although the stat block below does indicate that the party could attempt to reflect the basilisk’s gaze, the church is only dimly lit by candles, and there’s a haze of incense in the air, arguably preventing the basilisk from thinking that it “sees a rival.”
Once the basilisk has been slain, Father Izikal gathers the townsfolk and allows them to take turns collecting their valuable and goods from the pile of offerings. They also begin to tear off their black cultist robes and create a huge bonfire in the center of town, burning the robes and whatever remains of the dead monstrosity.
“You have freed our town,” Father Izikal says, tears of gratitude in his eyes. “We don’t have much to offer you in the way of treasure or gold, I’m afraid. However, I did once receive these strange coins in the collection plate not too long ago. I think they were put there by some traveling pilgrims who were passing through. The coins appear to be foreign, so they don’t have any official value in these parts, but perhaps you all can find some use for them.
He then hands each player a single Journeyman’s Coin.
When identified, this coin reads “payin’ anything to roll the dice just one more time.”
Whenever the holder of a Journeyman’s Coin fails a saving throw or ability check, they can trigger the effect of this coin and reroll that die. Once used, the coin is destroyed.