No Time like the Present is first installment in new Ancient Scroll’s series – ”Grim Thursday”. Every Thursday You will find here inspiring RPG materials by James ”Grim” Desborough
Carston Abbey is a place out of time, its monks, its bell and the things which it hides are out of synch with the rest of the universe, existing in their own bubble of temporality which has nothing, whatever, to do with the passage of time elsewhere. The monks there are immortal, lead by their abbot, and are keepers of knowledge from the past and the future, as well as guardians of forces which can be commanded and used in order to preserve, or change, the passage of events. Carston isn’t to be found anywhere in normal time, or the past, or the future, it has wiped its existence from all record and all memory and is only to be found in echoes, stories of ghostly monks, the sound of bells where there should be none, and in the peculiar remnants of their interference in time. If you are ever unfortunate enough to discover Carston, it can only be because the monks have taken an interest in your lives, and that does not bode well for you, at all.
The monks themselves are horrific, people from out of time, orphans of the ships in the lines of time and fate, from pasts and futures that never were and never will be, subsumed entirely to the will of the abbot and the demands of steering history towards their own ends. The monks can shift through time but rarely do so, preferring to leave the dirty work of making changes to the force that they control, the Sycorax, a being of temporal energy and eternal malice which can shift the flow of time, aging a person to death and to dust, or dragging them back before they were born, assaulting them with painful memories or dreadful prophecy, which always turns out to be true. The Sycorax is the attack dog of the monks, their assassin and their protector, but it is just barely controlled by them and without the abbot’s authority it might run wild in the corridors of time, as it pleased.
The Abbey is built like a cathedral, a great central square is opened to the light and the sun, surrounded by the stone, crenulated wings that are the cells for the monks. At the northern end the libraries and the great hall form a cross, the northernmost point of the cross built up into a tower in which the abbot resides, the lowest cellars of the tower being the pit in which the Sycorax resides, bound by magic, forgotten science and the endless vigilance of the monks. The abbey is surrounded by a high wall, behind which lie their gardens, feeding the monks from ponds and fields and pens, the crops somehow familiar, but also strange, like something half remembered in a dream.
1. The characters find themselves frozen out of time. Around them the world is still, everything frozen as it was around midnight for them, no sun, cars in mid motion, birds in mid flight. Thins will still work when they touch them, but people will not re-animate, they are only able to impart a little bit of their time to that which they interact with. The monks have uncovered that in their futures the characters are key to something, something that they do not wish to have happen and so they will seek to draw the characters to them, the tolling of their bell the only sound, if they cannot capture or kill them then they will unleash the Sycorax to do the job for them.
2. A string of strange murders is afflicting the science community around the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, or rather disappearances, it is only some of the families that consider these murders and have hired independent investigators into the matter. Some have turned up dead – in accidents – but some have disappeared, misidentified as aged corpses which simply cannot be them. All of the scientists that have been affected are involved in the search for the Higgs Boson ‘God particle’ but also, on a more esoteric level, are interested in tachyons, a proposed superluminal particle tied to the phenomenon of time.
3. The characters are rendered, somehow, immune while the world changes around them, disrupted by something that the monks have done to alter the timeline. They are now orphans of time, as most of the monks are and, if they manage to puzzle out the existence of the monks from clues in the altered present, they may be approached for membership, but another option is available to them, altering the past again to bring it back into line with their reality, and to reassert what they believe to be the ‘proper’ timeline. In order to get such access to travel though, they will need to do some of the dirty work, killing infants in their crib, destroying research and burning repositories of knowledge.
This story comes from ”100 Dark Places” by Postmortem Studios.
If You like it, check out this book
SYSTEM: any horror
AUTHOR: James ”Grim” Desborough, Postmortem Studios