Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sedlec Ossuary

I mentioned Sedlec in Monday's blog post. I figured it would be good to give a bit more information about this rather famous (and creepy) place.

In Prague there is a chapel that contains the bones of up to 70,000 people. These bones are laid out in geometric shapes. Some of them have been crafted into various objects such as chandeliers or coats of arms.

The story goes that in 1278 the abbot of the monastery was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia. When he returned he brought back some dirt and sprinkled it in the abbey.

This association with the Holy Land led to many people, especially aristocracy, seeking it out for their burials. During the 100 Years War. The 14th century saw the Black Death kill many thousands of people, and the 15th century saw the Hussite wars do the same. Eventually the cemetery ran out of room, and in 1511 (according to legend) the task of exhuming the bodies was given to a half blind monk.

In 1870 FrantiĊĦek Rint was hired to bring some semblance of an order to the tens of thousands of bones.

I don't know why it is that so many early (for relative values of early) Christian churches and monasteries have this bone fetish. Sedlec may be unique in the sheer number of bones that are collected there, but it's certainly not unique in collecting and displaying bones or other remains.

How to apply this to your game?

--that many bones is just plain creepy, no matter how jaded your explorers are

--maybe the geometric shapes formed by the bones are actually Shapes of Power designed to do nasty things?

--why make the objects out of bones? Maybe they have some magical properties?

--what if a necromancer commanded all of those bones to rise at once? I don't think there's a group alive that wouldn't run in terror. 

Such an a normal looking church for the weirdness that lies within.

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