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The scam of the "Bountiful Serenity of Elmer"

by Niels Just Rasmussen

Elmer is the leader of this religion. It is totally up to the GM if he is utterly deluded or a cold opportunist exploiting unlucky adventurers. Elmer has no power being a 0 level human with two useful skills Meditation and Cooking, but having a good charisma.

Arriving at an Inn:
The scam starts as the PC visits an Inn in a place with lots of travelers in a major town or city. Specularum/Mirros could be an obvious example. The Inn should be named something non-threatening (such as "The Happy Mug"). Two guards dressed in leather armour and with clubs stand in front of the Inn to make sure only respectable persons enter. The have a vest of the armour showing the image of the Happy Mug both front and back. Being obviously a man of means and not drunk or misbehaving a simple smile will let the PC enter the inn without charge. Inside is a very cozy room filled with respectable dressed people of means and beautiful barmaids. At the bar stands a big brawny bald man wearing a leather torso with a Happy Mug vest over it, but it is sleeveless showing his big bulgy muscles. He greets the PC introducing himself (Arpad) with a full deep voice and with a friendly smile and firm handshake. He is obviously very interested to start conversation with the PC.
"Where are you from?"
"I see you must be a man of success, I love hearing stories of the world" etc.

After this little talk he calls one of the barmaids - Leila - that escorts the PC to a free table and take the order (it's looks like it's the PC's lucky night - it was the last free table and it's a small cozy one in the corner for two people. Leila has long blond hair in a long pony tail and is middle height and have an athletic build and quite strong looking arms. She is dressed a Bavarian style barmaid custom revealing a lot of bust but without being overly vulgar. She is sparkly in voice, humour and movements and flirty in a sweet way.
If asked she would recommend the local beer (Mugging Ale), since Arpad have managed to get a really good supplier. The brand is very popular. the price very reasonable and the beer really good in her opinion. The barmaid seems also to want to hear how "life is for a hero", but can't stay long because if the amount of other guests.
At one point she comes to the table and say if it is OK she can sit down and hear more stories since from right now she is off duty and Berta (a black haired girl dressed the same way, but with a more professional air and much less flirty) has taken over for the rest of the night. She says she has been on her feet all day and will be very happy for some "laid-back time" with a gentleman. [Leila will during the conversations ask if the PC is a religious person - if the PC answers yes she will abort and later during the conversation excusing herself being tired and leave to her room upstairs.]
During the conversation she asks if the PC want to spend the night in the Inn. If the PC doesn't say no immediately and with a firm voice she answers quickly "Though the Inn is popular I'm certain Arpad can find you a room for a gentleman like you". She smiles and leaves the table and goes to talk with Arpad who nods and give her a key. Arpad calls out to the PC that Leila will escort you to your room (heard by other guests).

Leila comes to the PC and goes before the PC up the stair which is quite revealing. She goes to a room open the door, take the hand of the PC and leads him inside, goes in herself and closes the door, but loses the key between her bust. "Oh no - you better help me finding the key ".
After some groping not leading to any key retrieval, she then rips her outfit giggling while the PC helps finding the key and then throws the PC on the bed removing his clothes....
Just when you think the fun is about to start to the PC's surprise Leila suddenly starts screaming with a horrible voice. Fantastically fast Arpad and the two guards have open the door and are in the room with clubs ready. [Arpad, Leila and the guards has planned all this and done it many times before and know speed and surprise works best].
If the PC tries to flee fast to the window (have dark curtains drawn) he will in dismay discover that drawing back the curtains will reveal bars on the windows. Only way in or out are the door where 3 armed men are ready to attack the unarmed PC in the bed. [Taken by surprise unarmoured and weaponless - since Leila undressing him has tossed it far away from the bed - they should club him to 0HP and bring him unconscious down the stairs to "the local jail" accused of rape and with tons of witnesses].

Waking up in Jail:
In "jail" the PC wakes up with 1 hp. In the same cell sits a small middle-aged skinny guy dressed in a white robe meditating and humming to himself. He opens his eyes goes to the still dizzy PC and introduce himself as Elmer. He talks with a kind of serene mesmerizing voice and is very understanding [a bit nice social-worker like] about the PC's troubles. "Obviously being a nice man at heart what trouble have brought you to this cell?" If Elmer is told what happened at the Inn he looks at the PC with a forgiving smile and say "You sadly face a death penalty by castration and dismemberment. I wouldn't like that to happen to an innocent". Maybe if you accept my faith in the bountiful serenity and commit your heart, mind and muscle to my cause you could be forgiven?"
He produces from within his robe a parchment: " I - open to sign - declare myself a willing servant of the Bountiful Serenity. I place my name in my own blood to show that my faith in Elmer's holy mission goes beyond my own desires and plans and I let freely my whole soul and being to become an instrument of his wishes. If I transgress in any way from his way and commands I would lose forever the serenity of heart and mind and become a creature of dark passion and perversity with no hope of recovery. "

While the PC read it (or after Elmer has read it for him, if he can't read) he says: "There is hope for you boy; I believe you have it in you to save many a lost soul and bring goodness to the world. Don't let your own pride stand in your way of your survival, but embrace the mission. Find eternal peace".
Elmer also produces a sharp pen from inside his robe. The PC can use it to prick a hole in his finger and sign the document in his own blood. While doing so Elmer is chanting and after the signature he say repeat after me: "I - PC name - embrace willingly the Bountiful Serenity. I - PC name - will dutifully follow the wishes of prophet Elmer. I - PC name - will never betray or reveal the secrets of the Bountiful Serenity to un-believers."
After that Elmer embrace the PC and kiss his forehead and calls him "dear littlebrother".

If Elmer is asked why he sits in jail he will say: "In this town the leading men have no interest in peace and serenity. The dominant religions found my teaching dangerous and threw me in jail and confiscated all the holy items of our movement. My God works without vengeance or spite, but keeps himself secret for the world and chooses only to communicate with me until the world is more ready. I was talking with him in meditation and found you here with me in the cell when my spirit returned to this world. My god want me to leave and if you join me I can take you with me. But you have to promise not to take vengeance against those who wronged you."

After the paper is signed, the oral oath taken and Elmer has stopped explaining he will help the PC in his feet and go to the cell-door where he chants the following in his calm soothing voice.
"Let us pass dear Lord. Let the innocent walk free. We forgive all and with peaceful hearts will spread your message to the world." He then opens the door! (the PC have been to dizzy to stand up checking the door). Going throw the guardroom 2 guards draw their weapons, but Elmer calmly chants "May bountiful serenity be on you" and the guards fall slowly down on the floor apparently falling into sleep!
Elmer asks the PC to hurry and not look back when going into the streets. Elmer smiles at the PC and say "Let's go home, so you can meet your other brothers of faith" and quickly let the PC away from the scene.

GM background information:
The so called "jail" is simply a house owned by Arpad. He is in business with Elmer and is happy with the profit the scam helps him to get. Especially since Elmer doesn't want any money but only the human material.
Arpad, the two guards and Leila simply share the belongings of the victim 50-10-10-30%. The two "guards at the jail" are simply servants of Arpad that takes care of his house and make it look like a jail inside and a normal house from the outside. He is certain that Elmer will keep the victims of the scam away from his Inn, since they are now a member of the cult. Anyone who doesn't sign the paper is killed by the guards and buried in the cellar, but it has happened only once and since then they don't perform the scam on religious persons that might object to follow Elmer.
The authorities in Specularum/Mirros (or where ever the setting) knows nothing about Elmer and his cult since it's only travelers and not local people with families present that are scammed. The two guards in front of The Happy Mug will keep an eye on people and avoid locals to enter the bar. It's a bar for adventurers is the common answer, so it will almost always be newcomers, that haven't seen the scam. At some point Arpad knows that he has to change strategy since even travelers can come back and start to be suspicious.

Going to Elmer's house:
Elmer will bring the PC to his "secret holy house" as he calls it. It's a small two-story building where Elmer sleeps upstairs and the cult members in the common room. ["Interestingly" enough all the cult members are male]. Here he is met by a lot of littlebrothers - in the cult Elmer is called "Big Brother" and members littlebrother + number. The PC will be littlebrother number 7 and Elmer makes Arpad run the scam once pr. month to have time to really indoctrinate and lovebomb the new guy. Elmer only really leaves his house for the scam, so to be seen as little as possible in the town/city.

In Elmer's house the PC is greeted with embraces and kisses on the forehead. The PC is given new clothes - a simple white robe and sandals - and will partake in a group session where the littlebrothers sit in a circle around Big Brother.
"First rule of Bountiful Serenity is that you never discuss your past or reveal your name. All is forgiven and Big Brother watches over you."
"Second rule of Bountiful Serenity is that you never discuss your own desires, since it will lead to transgression against the the will of Big Brother."
"Third rule of Bountiful Serenity is to obey big brother and make sure that other little brothers don't fall from virtue so never leave on your own unless it is the specific will of big brother."
After this the PC is given the mark of honour. He will have tattooed in black swirling letters BS in his right palm [very fitting for the PC to carry BS around with him].
After this ceremony all the group will join together in a meditation seance. [Which is the only thing of substance the PC will ever learn in this group]. The PC will feel the bountiful serenity in the room and the humming of happy hearts.
After this a lovemeal together where Big Brother hands each littlebrother a filled cup and a full plate out of love. The food is prepared upstairs by Big Brother that apparently loves to cook and taken down by a dumbwaiter to the common room.
After the meal the plates and cups are placed in the dumbwaiter and brought up again where Big Brother will do the dishes. Littlebrother7's bunk in the common room is made ready and he can sleep while Big Brother retreats to heaven (up on the first floor).
One littlebrother will always guard the door during the night or day. All windows have bars to prevent evil to easily enter, so there is only the front door exit. It is illegal to go upstairs unless called there by Big Brother. To be called up is either a huge honour or the result of big shame.
The plan is for the PC to stay a month in learning with Big Brother while the older 6 littlebrothers are send out in divine missions (which they can't discuss). But they will bring home food and drink and spare cloth for clothes, leather for sandals, but is never seen to reveal any money. They report back to Big Brother when they bring the food upstairs to the kitchen.
If the PC asks where they get their stuff: Big Brother will tell "that our God provide for the faithful, giving us what we need, so long we have faith."

The PC can do something drastic out of the increasing boredom - but if staying he will in that month learn the skill of meditation. If the PC is obviously not happy [indoctrinated after a month] Elmer will have no choose that to make him disappear. That is done by simply poisoning his food and drink [explained to himself as an act of charity - his heart will find permanent serenity]. A dead littlebrother will be explained that evil lurks to bring down the faithful and that they have to be more strong in their belief. The PC can either play along or actually become a mindless drone.

Depending on how much the PC want to leave or not, the GM can be more detailed with the descriptions of all the littlebrothers with their special quirks and piety.

Future plans the GM can work with if the PC is not yet all that desperate to leave:
After a month Big Brother declare he is going on a divine mission but that littlebrother7 will be send on his first mission with littlebrother-1 into the world. "Our God and I agree that your a ready and filled with bountiful serenity. The mission is to bring home food. Littlebrother-1 and littlebrother-7 will go and they are both provided with a backpack."
On this mission the PC can try to beg but if out of luck littlebrother1 will inform him that maybe his faith wasn't at a point where he was ready to go out. He says that you carry your own food god has provided, so apparently the PC has to go back empty handed if not lucky with his begging attempts. Littlebrother-1 is very skilled at getting food.

If the PC steals and is successful littlebrother-1 will say nothing if he sees it happening, but informs him that being caught will bring danger on them all.
[If the PC is spotted and caught he ends up in a new jail where he will has his right hand chopped off - he will off course be asked with this BS means. Whether he talks or not he will still lose his hand unless he can really persuade the judge otherwise. So here the GM can continue bringing increased trouble for the PC]
If he is successful they will go home and meet littlebrother-8 brought home by Big Brother while the PC were on the mission. After the greeting and kisses of littlebrother-8, littlebrother-1+7 is called up to Big Brother and make a honest rapport about the mission. Big brother will prepare the meal for littlebrother-8 then they will make his BS tattoo; have a meditation and eat the love meal.

After the first time the PC steals successfully on a mission he will be called up to Big Brother. He is informed that he has an important mission. After his former holy place was attacked by the authorities his holy silver chalice was taken and stolen by the church of X [GM's choice, but it should be a big well known church of power in the area - maybe the Church of Karameikos] where its been put to impure use in the local cathedral. He has to retrieve it for the glory of Bountiful Serenity. It will be a mission alone. He will retrieve the chalice and bring it to the group. He is granted the freedom to go alone and plan a safe way to retrieve it.

[So here it can get really interesting what the PC will do next! Maybe he leaves penniless or he will try to steal from a cathedral or go to the Church of Karameikos to confess and warn them that future littlebrothers might do it if he doesn't? But the PC should rightly be afraid that he signed the paper in blood and maybe a curse will be put on him if he betrays BS.]