Monday, March 20, 2017

Critical Perception Check Leads To Hidden Templar Caverns in Shropshire

Have you ever had one of those players who just wants to roll Perception checks every time you finish a description? It doesn't matter how pedestrian the scene you just described is, they want to switch on their detective vision to find every clue they assume is waiting under the inn's rug, or tucked into the knothole of a random tree. Most of the time you can just make up a few details to justify a good roll, such as noticing that the innkeeper is wearing a ring given only to champions of the Iron Legion, or noticing that some trees in the forest bear a certain symbol that seems to mark territory.

But what do people notice if they're just walking across an empty meadow, or a farmer's field? Well, how about a rabbit hole that leads to a forgotten series of underground caverns once used by a famous order of knights? Because that's apparently what happened in a farmer's field out in Shropshire, according to the Metro.

That's what your natural 20 gets, Brent. Happy now?

Wait, What Happened?

You know how, when you're running through a campaign, it always seems ridiculous that there would be ancient ruins from a thousand years ago sitting in some out of the way hamlet? Or an entire underground dungeon that had been lost and forgotten about, perfectly preserved just out of sight? Well, it seems that sometimes art imitates life.

A real-life plot hole.
Since we're all geeks, I'm going to assume we know who the Knights Templar were. The most visible symbol of the crusades, and arguably one of the biggest contributors to the image we have of paladins, the Templar fought for the church, but they answered to no one but the pope. The order was eventually destroyed, with many of the members put to death, and others tortured until they signed confessions of devil worship, as well as other crimes. Ever since the order crumbled, there have been legends of where their huge hoards of treasure wound up.

And, every now and again, we stumble across places the order used for their own purposes. Forgotten strongholds, lost way stations, and sometimes caverns where they hid from the rain... and perhaps stored more than arms.

So what was in these 700-year-old caverns? Well, there weren't any skeletons clad in rusted armor, bearing the rags of stained crusader cloaks. There also wasn't any treasure, at least in the jewel-encrusted-goblets sense. However, the caverns less than a meter below a farmer's field were carved with elegant arches, and they bore testimony to the men that had once used them. So, historically, they provide another piece to the puzzle of what was going on during the reign of the Knights Templar.

Of course, who's to say the caverns would be so benign in your world? Or so empty of threats to those who randomly stumble across them?

EDIT: So, it seems your humble author got caught. Fortunately, someone shot me the Snopes link that clears up the facts. Rather than being from the era of the crusades, the cave pictured above is likely from the Victorian era. It has been documented pretty extensively, and was sealed to the public due to litter and other considerations. Ah well, sometimes things that sound too cool to be true really aren't. Apologies all!

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Hopefully you're intrigued, and this plants a seed you could use for your next campaign. If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative so I can keep bringing you fun little plot bunnies like this one, then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today. All it takes is $1 a month to help me pay my landlord, and to get yourself some sweet swag. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, today is as good a day as any to get started!

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