OSR: Kidnap the Archpriest Megapost

I wrote a heist module. It's the first RPG-related thing I've published for money. You can buy it here.

The print version is now on sale.


People seemed to want OSR-type heist modules, but I couldn't find any really excellent examples. Some modules had diplomacy, some had stealth, and some had burglary, but nothing seemed to put it all together in one really compelling and easy-to-use package. This is my attempt.

Much like my first (free!) module, Tomb of the Serpent Kings, I don't think Kidnap the Archpriest is revolutionary... but that was never the intent. I just wanted to make a good, solid, thoroughly tested module that was fun to run, cheap to print, and easy to adapt. I also wanted to include some tools for designing your own heists. They might not be useful for experienced GMs, but when I was first starting out in this hobby, I'd have loved to have read a module like this.

Heist films, of course. The Oceans movies. The Italian Job. All the classics.

The module is based on a few historical events. In 653, Pope Martin I was kidnapped by the Byzantine Emperor Constans II over a doctrinal dispute. In 692, Pope Sergius I was very nearly kidnapped as well, but was saved by a popular uprising, botched diplomacy, and an unfortunate war. The Castle of St. Logan in this module is based on the Castel St. Angelo, although the interior layout was altered significantly.

Luka Rejec did the art. I had a remarkable number of people work on the maps, but Luka really went above and beyond to produces these pieces. They are all gorgeous.
Isaac Bacterian
Agent of His Dread Majesty
This module wouldn't exist without David Shugars. That man is bottled patience. I'm not very good at the whole "turning words into a usable document" thing, but he really, really is. I can't count how many times I asked him for impossible things and he delivered.

A heist module lives and dies by its layout and usability. Playtesting helped, but David spun that raw information into a sensible, usable, and consistent format.


1. I sent the mostly complete module off to Bryce Lynch, of tenfootpole fame, for a final round of comments. After an enormous amount of helpful advice and editing, Bryce finally said,

"And that all leads me to this, the second highest praise I can give: This is as good as it can be, in an obvious way. It meets expectations. I don't think you've broken new ground, the way, for example, the first one page dungeons did. But that's not a criticism. This is a good adventure. I would not feel ripped off if I purchased it."
-Bryce Lynch

 And if you know how he writes... that's not bad at all. I'll take it.

2. ktrey parker also reviewed the module. The whole article is worth a read; it covers the contents and intent very well.

I’ve always been interested in options for play that do not involve the conventional D&D graph-paper flow-chart experience, but this module seemed a bit ambitious. Could a tutorial be produced that provides the necessary tools to run a successful, entertaining, and exciting adventure without the typical focus on combat encounters and character sheet-bound challenges?

After pawing over KtA a few times, I’m pleased to say it does an admirable job at providing these tools.
Flavorful encounter tables are also provided to further furnish the GM with some interesting complications and situations. I really can’t see this module going the same way twice, which can seldom be said for more traditional site-based crawls.

-ktrey parker 

3. Ben Milton / Questing Beast has a video review here.

4. Nickoten has a detailed review here.
If this elevator pitch interests you, buy this module and actually run it, because it does all of these things well. You know that blissful wave of relief that comes when a player ask about some small detail that informs a pivotal game decision, you think “wait, maybe the book can answer this” and realize that only has the module anticipated and met this need for you, it’s made sure that the answer makes for as interesting a decision as possible? This book gave me that feeling over and over.

Oorlof has made an "animated" map of where each NPC is each hour.

Final Notes
If you read this module I'd like to hear about it! Feel free to post links to play reports or reviews in the comments below.


  1. Just so you know, the RPGNOW purchasing link is broken

    1. I am an expert on capitalism. Fixed. http://www.rpgnow.com/product/233069/Kidnap-the-Archpriest

  2. Congrats on the first commercial publication! Insta-bought, glanced at (because at work now) and it looks like a winner. Will write some more when I get to digest the module and unleash it on a party.

  3. Out of curiosity, did you run the Black Endoguard as 3rd level GLoG fighters, with 2 attacks per round and high to-hit bonuses from practice killing things (Notches)?

    1. I did - in the GLOG playtest, they had 2 attacks/round, an Attack of 17, and +2 damage. Not very fun to fight one-on-one. I didn't really build them on the PC fighter templates, but it worked out more-or-less the same in the end.

  4. I just started running this with a single player. I'm using the GLOG and we're playing it in live chat sessions on Slack (not play-by-forum, but not playing for hours at once either.) The player character is a thief who seems very focused on poisoning. In fact, he talked Isaac into giving him access to an alchemists lab before leaving for Thule instead of 10 GP.

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  6. Thank you Skerples, great great adventure! I had a hell of a good time playing it in 5e with 5 players. They had a druid and a drag queen sorcerer in the party. They escaped by casting spiderwalk on the druid who then transformed into a bear, took the drag queen sorcerer on its back and a sedated archpriest in its mouth and this whole clusterfuck of freaks started running on the walls! Then they plunged into the river and managed to reach the boat but by that time the archpriest had drunk too much filthy river-water and was dead! But everything's fine cause they had raided his treasure room so each of them had already double the money they were promised. Very inspired and inspiring module!

  7. I've had the opportunity of actually visiting Castel St-Angelo and the notion of using it as an adventuring locale is fantastic. I think I'm going to have to get this now.

  8. Just bought this, hope the physical copy is able to get to me successfully but the pdf is great! Just wondering if there exist copies of the illustrations anywhere for the 'exterior of the castle' drawings. Could be very useful as a handout, you know if they hire someone to make sketches ;)

    1. To clarify: Copies of the drawings without the room numbers. Not too hard to erase them tho!

  9. Hi Skerples, I plan on using this as is except the party is tasked with stealing a painting from the arch-priest and the deadline of him leaving means the place will be locked up until he returns (as well as another external deadline from the PCs benefactor). Any advice on changing it to be more a heist about stealing an inanamite object in a secure location to a kidnapping?

  10. Could I ask you to fix those very embarrassing typos in the quote from my blog post? I went and fixed them after seeing them here haha

  11. I shouted out: https://rolltop-indigo.blogspot.com/2022/03/assorted-small-stuff.html

    Good module, sir.

    1. Interesting! I don't consciously design my work using the high/low trust paradigm, so it's neat to see a take on it from that point of view. You might find Magical Industrial Revolution has some interesting concepts in that space as well.

    2. Yeah, honestly it's seldom deliberate on anyone's part ... Mostly is down to genre associations, stuff like that. But it's a thing of beauty when it happens! I'll give MIR a look!

  12. I ran this for my group a few days ago and it was great!

    One question: the module says Bertrand the Grocer has a meeting with Gomstead at 12 on Day 2. But Gomstead's schedule lists him as having lunch with the Archpriest at that time. Which is it?

    1. Ah, that's an error. I'd go with the Archpriest meeting, as that can lead to more player shenanigans, but either one works.