The Sinai Palimpsest

St. Catherines monastery is in the Egyptian Sinai desert. It has been used in that capacity for centuries. It is home to a collection of 4500 ancient manuscripts.

A group of scholars is in the process of digitizing these books and making them available to a wider audience. The area around the monastery has in recent years come into some physical danger with an Islamist militant group fighting the Egyptian state, neither of which is particularly subtle in their methods.

A palimpsest is a document (parchment or vellum typically) that has had previous writing removed to reuse the paper for a different set of writing.

A palimpsest can be detected by examination under different lighting conditions where the previous scraped off text becomes visible.

In this scenario, the UCLA research team, in addition to imaging the texts, also conducts testing and determines that a Christian religious book (which one doesn’t really matter, feel free to pick or invent one) has been written on parchment that holds the shadow of a previous early Arabic text. This shadow text is a decent sized section of Kitab Al’Azif. As word of this discovery filters out into the scholarly community, Delta Green (either Outlaws or the Program) become aware of it. The scholarly team is permitted to very carefully document the manuscripts on site and promulgate them, but it is not permitted to remove them from the actual monastery itself. The scholars on the task are unaware of the import of this discovery.

The agents are assigned to: (1) prevent this palimpsest from being published and (2) actually obtain (the Program) or destroy (the Outlaws) the manuscript itself. This would entail a trip to Egypt and all that follows. There are any number of routes the players can use to complete these tasks.


The Sinai Palimpsest was written by Jaron Bernstein for the 2022 Shotgun Scenario contest. Source:

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