#TTRPG – Wightchester Preview – Cathedral Park

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Whitchester Cathedral dominates the skyline of the city, like a great grey spike, reaching drunkenly into the sky. Up close it seems cyclopean, dizzying in its height. The area around the cathedral is open ground, grass and mud, punctuated by grave markers and sarcophogi of the great and good. This, in turn is bounded by skeletal trees and the attendant buildings that service the grand church, alleys and gates granting access to the profane, from this domain of the sacred.

The Cathedral was where many sought safety and assistance when the city began to fall, overwhelming the otherwise defensible building and causing its downfall. Religious faith was no protection from the dead. What was once the holiest of places is now amongst the unholiest.

Without upkeep and repair it is slowly crumbling, crumbling and flooding as it sinks into the wet ground beneath it under its own weight, but it is also one of the few more open areas in the city, where you can see the enemy from a safe distance.

Encounters: There should always be some wandering dead, scattered throughout the open area of Cathedral Park. Perhaps 2d6 walking dead.

Whitchester Cathedral

The Cathedral is an enormous slab of a building, built of grey-blue stone, adorned with statuary, crenelations and stained glass. Half of the leaning spire is clad in crumbling scaffold, wood and rope creaking and swaying with each gust of wind. Crows and pigeons perch on the high walls and statues, cooing and croaking as they stare down at you.

The ground here is damp, the floor of the cathedral – and its surrounding paving – a good foot lower than the surrounding soil and covered in puddles of filthy water. Defiant ivy has begun its relentless creep up the walls, with the greenest, brightest shoots beginning to spread across the lower windows and choking the drainage.

The enormous, iron-bound doors of the entrance are partially open, the bar splintered. Saints and bishops stand impasive and powerful, graven in stone while the sound of unearthly moaning echoes out from the nave.

The building is, perhaps, 500 feet long by one-hundred feet wide, with the transepts extending another fifty feet out from the main body of the cathedral. The tower is 150 feet high, with the pointed spire extending another 100 feet into the air above that.

The building is largely constructed of blue-grey limestone, brought from the Southern coast. Much of the exterior wall is filled in with great patchwork constructions of mortar and flint, creating a riot of blues, grey, white and black – when the walls are wet. This provides a great many hand and footholds, though they are shallow, slippery and frequently sharp.

The building is surrounded by paving slabs of the same grey material, creating a walkway around the outside of the entire cathedrals, and between it and the chapter house. Many of these slabs are sinking into the earth and are at wonky angles, the gutters and troughs for draining water are similarly disjointed, creating puddles and soggy earth all year round.

Statuary

The statuary that adorns the cathedral depicts, primarily, gargoyles and angels. It can be hard to tell which is which, as many of the angels are more accurate depictions of how they are described, than merely winged humans. Many have multiple pairs of wings, multiple faces, many eyes or other manifestations that can look monstrous to those without a proper biblical understanding.

The main door is flanked by the statues of two previous bishops, Bishop Beckyngham and Bishop Tyndall, depicted in their robes and with dour, pious expressions. Above them, wings spread over the top of the door, is a more conventional depiction of an angel, with a halo of radiating spikes – like spear-tips.

The Gate

The gate is some twelve feet high, split in half. It is made of thick, English oak and bound and studded with iron. The wooden panels have been painted a dark blue, but are encrusted with bloodstains and dented by some great, external pressure. The wooden bar that secures the gate – from the inside – is splintered, again as though sundered by some great external force. If replaced, the door could be secured against the dead.

The Nave

Sickly, coloured light penetrates the irriguous interior of the cathedral through its stained glass windows that run down either side of the nave. From here you can see almost all the way to the presbytery, past the high altar. A gallery runs around the building, up above the nave and the vertiginous, vaulted roof yawns above you, echoing every sound you make over and over again. Here and there water drips through broken roofing, to echo around the cathedrail. Crows and pigeons flap and sport amongst the arches, blaspheming the house of god with their droppings and raucous cries. Scattered and fallen pews fill the centre of the hall, covered in dried blood and torn shreds of cloth.

The nave is the broad, main hall of the church that runs from the entrance to the transepts and the high altar. Two rows of columns run along either side of the nave, helping to support the upper gallery and its wooden panels. The central area is open to the high arched and vaulted roof above, dizzying in its spiraling patterns and arcs.

There are twenty-two stained glass windows, eleven in the northern wall, eleven in the southern wall, each depicting a scene of martyrdom. Each also has a second, round window above it, admitting more light onto the gallery.

Northern Wall (West to East)

1. The Massacre of the Innocents – Babies and children impaled on spears.

2. John the Baptist – His severed, bloody head, surrounded by a halo.

3. Saint Stephen – Bloodied, with a stone balanced on each shoulder and atop his head.

4. Saint James the Greater – Bloodied, driven through with a sword.

5. Saint James the Just – Bloodied, carrying a club in his hands.

6. Saint Peter – Crucified upside-down.

7. Saint Paul – Decaptitated, holding his own head.

8. Saint Andrew – Crucified on an ‘X’-shaped cross.

9. Saint Matthew – Impaled by spears.

10. Saint Philip – Crucified on a tall cross.

11. Saint Thomas – Bloodied, driven through with a spear.

Southern Wall (West to East)
1. Saint Potninus – Surrounded and torn at by wild beasts.

2. Perpetua and Felicity – A woman and her servant, pierced by swords while a cherub looks on.

3. The Scillitan Martyers – Twelve faces looking up at a bloodied sword.

4. Saint Justin Martyr – Decaptiated, with an axe close by.

5. Saint Polycarp – Burned at the stake.

6. Saint Timothy – Blooded and battered on a pile of stones.

7. Saint Mark – Depicted hanging from a rope.

8. Saint Simon the Zealot – Depicted severed in half at the waist.

9. Saint Barnabas – Being burnt at the stake.

10. Saint Bartholomew – Stripped to the waist and covered in bleeding whip marks.

11. Saint Jude – Bloodied, decapitated, bearing an axe.

Encounters: It is easy for the dead to enter the Cathedral and to mill around inside, but less easy for them to get out – the other entrances and exits being locked and blocked. The dead seem drawn to this place, as though still considering it to be a place of refuge. There should be 2d6 random undead within the area. Note that zombies from other areas of the cathedral will be attracted by noise, and may join in any attack.

Loot:

  • [ ] Beeswax Candles (Long): 1,500 in stores, chests and cupboards, (several hundred in candlesticks and candalabra).
    [ ]Beeswax Candles (Votive): 500 (stored near and set in racks to the north and south sides of the nave).
  • [ ]Tallow Candles (Beef/Mutton): 500 (cheaper candles, set in candlesticks and sconces in the nave, many nibbled on by mice and rats).
  • [ ]Multi-Wick Oil Lamps: 12, hanging from the ceiling, six on each side of the nave.
  • [ ]Kegs of Lamp Oil: 24, in stores and chests.
  • [ ]Brass Candlesticks: 100.
  • [ ]Brass Candalabra: 12, hanging from the ceiling, six on each side of the nave.
  • [ ]The Poor Box: 485 copper pieces, 15 silver pieces, 4 gold pieces.

Choir & Presbytery

The benches for the choir stand two deep on the north and south of the junction between the nave and and transepts. Before them are the pews for the great and good, the gentry from before the city fell, closer to the altar, and to God. It is dark here, shielded from the windows, the candles burnt all the way down into rippling overflows that spill onto the floor. Gilt and brass glitters in the patchy light, reflecting off the geometrically carved choir screens. Before the high altar, and to its side, up a short set of stairs is the pulpit, graven in the shape of a boar and picked out in gold, behind both a stone screen, silver and gold on light grey stone, carved with stars, sun and arches.

The choir stands at the junction of the nave and transcept, in the westernmost part of the crossing. This is the area in which the choir sings, and the wealthy elite of the city would attend services. A once-rich rug of mouldering red, lays across the centre of the area, soggy with damp.

Encounters: 2d10 child zombie choirboys, others may have wandered away. 1 zombie priest and 1d4 other random zombies.

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