Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Kellertown Incident

Warning: NSFW, graphic content, etc.

I've written about the Awakened before, but hopefully this post is more interesting/usable.

Here's an adventure suitable for a party of levels 1-3.

How to Use this Adventure:

Your campaign probably has a town that the PCs use all the time.  It's full of shops that the PCs have shopped at before, and it's full of NPCs that the PCs know.  This adventure is about destroying that town.

Last night, a piece of madstone fell from the sky.  Benjamin Moss found it and brought it to show Father Albuscone at the church.  The next morning everyone woke up full of malice and murderous contempt.

There are two towns described here: one before the madstone, and one after.

Before: Draw a map of the town and fill it with people.  Happy ones, cynical ones, troubled ones.

After: Approaching PCs will notice that the bakery is on fire, and there are screams coming from the tavern (there is also smoke rising from the Hunting Lodge).  There is only one random encounter: the huntsmen, detailed in the Hunting Lodge below.  Most Awakened will attack the PCs on sight.  If they have the slightest reason to attack the PCs, they will.  They talk constantly, mocking, jeering, laughing, and telling secrets that they should have no reason to know.

The Madstone -- Anyone falling asleep within 1/2 mile of the madstone (includes all of town and a couple of nearby farms) will wake up as an Awakened (stats at end of post).  It has significantly more powers in the hands of high level wizards, none of which are common knowledge.  

0 Approaching the Town

Before -- It's farmland.  It's boring.  Turnips and shit.

After -- There's plenty of evidence of the Vassen family's hunting rampage.  Lots of empty farms.

On their way in, the PCs will go past a empty farm, with the door wide open and the cows out standing in the yard (someone left their gate open).  Maybe someone will mention that some farmer probably left his cows out, and it would be a good deed to bring them back into the paddock.  If they look for the farmer, they won't find anything except a large bloodstain in the kitchen, a broken lock on the back door, and a great deal of hoof prints around the house.  A careful search of the field will reveal a stray arrow.

Other empty farms will have similar details.

1 Blacksmith

Before -- Burgan Horseface is famous for being ugly and famous for being friendly.  He always gives fair prices.  He is fond of his horse, Snooker, and anyone bringing an apple for Snooker is entitled to a discount.  His wife Silla spends a lot of time in the house, writing letters.

After -- Burgan slit his wrists, tried to get Snooker to drink his blood, and then climbed into his furnace.  His charred legs are still sticking out, and the blood-covered Snooker is half-crazed with fear, and trying to break from his pen.  A note can be found in the bedroom, explaining that Silla will be visiting her sister for the next week, and misses her hubby already!

2 Butcher

Before -- Yanis Crooley has been fat his whole life.  An unhappy man, he takes a great deal of joy in his work.  Humorless, but professional.  Gives fair prices unless he thinks he is being mocked.  Takes butchery very seriously, and will talk about types of cuts ad nauseum if given a chance.  His wife, Madeline Crooley,

After -- Sitting atop the counter in the front of the store is Madeline Crooley, who cut off the top of her own head and swirled her fingers around in her brain.  After her self-lobotomy, she can only sit and babble.  Her bloody fingers paint spirals in the countertop, and she will die from her wounds in the next 24 hours.

Yanis is out in the meat locker, carving up Micah Copperfield, the baker's boy.  He is naked and wearing a pig's head on top of his own.  If he hears the PCs disturbing Madeline out in front, he will set the meat hooks swinging the back and hide among the dead pigs.  He hopes to lure the PCs in, then close the door behind them, trapping them in the dark with himself.

Encounter: Yanis.

3 Baker

Before -- Lena Copperfield runs this bakery with the help of her son Micah Copperfield.  She is warm and friendly and full of gossip (good for another roll on the local rumor table).  She loves baking and it is apparent.  She is looking to get married (halfheartedly; she knows she is not much of a catch) or at the very least, someone honest to help run the bakery.  Planters in front of the bakery are filled with fragrant violets.

After -- Lena has set fire the bakery.  If the PCs arrive in time, they'll see her standing in the second story window in a nightgown, looking out impassively.  She will burn to death in the next few minutes with the same utter lack of emotion.  If the PCs "rescue" her, she will not be grateful.

Encounter: Lena, if rescued.

4 Town Square

Before -- Mostly empty except for mornings, when people gather by the well to get water and exchange gossip, and Saturdays, when all the farmers come in from the countryside to sell their wares.  On any given Saturday, there are 1d4-2  travelling merchants.  A few feral chickens also live in the square, who ostensibly belong to Widow Crabtree (Orphanage).

After -- The well is absolutely painted with blood.  2d6 headless corpses can be found in the well, their pockets containing 3d6gp.  This is where the Vassen family has been dumping the corpses of the farmers that they kill on their "hunts".

5 Felson's Farm

Before -- Old Man Felson hates adventurers!  He also hates his neighbor, Farmer Moss.  Adventurers borrowed his scarecrow once and never returned it!  He also hates shaving and showering!  Now, unless you've got some business here, git off his pumpkin patch!

After -- Old Man Felson has crucified Farmer Moss in the middle of his pumpkin patch and stuck a burlap bag on his head.  Then he sat in his rocking chair on his porch and opened his wrists.  Now he's dead.

6 Moss' Farm

Before -- Benjamin Moss and Turica Moss live here in relative harmony.  Together, they bake the best onion pies in the county, and any one stopping by is invited to try one.  Anyone who is friendly and grateful will be invited to spend the night in the hayloft (a cheap alternative to the tavern) if they don't mind working a couple of hours in the morning.  They're both pranksters, though, but most of their pranks involve telling humorous ghost stories and sneaking pies into player's backpacks when they aren't looking.  They're also both religious, and will speak about how trustworthy Father Albuscone is.  And would you mind if we read some excerpts from the Book of Good Intentions?  The Book is featured prominently on the mantlepiece.

After -- Turica Moss sits alone in the barn, arranging freshly slaughtered farm animals into disturbingly sexual tableaus.  When the PCs enter, she will ask them if they want to see a corpse, then cut out her own heart (immediately before falling over dead).  In the corner is Old Man Felson's scarecrow, stolen long ago as part of a prank.  A water barrel shows recent signs of movement, and buried beneath it is a burlap sack containing 100g and a deed of ownership for a townhouse in the nearest metropolis (worth 2000g but with possible legal complications).  Out in the field is the crater, where the madstone fell.

eyes that have seen too much
7 Church

Before -- Father Albuscone is 48, balding, lonely, and incompetent.  He has no redeeming traits except his treatement of Matty the Bellringer, an albino and his adopted son, formerly the ward of Widow Crabtree's orphanage.  He is prim, polite, and condescending.  Above all else, he wants his small church to have a relic of its very own, which he hopes will cure Kellertown's flagging attendance.  He will offer generous sums to the PCs if they can recover a lost relic of the church.

After -- Father Albuscone stands in the 30' belltower, overlooking the town square.  He is chewing off his own lips and swallowing them, and is now snarling out what are still recognizable as verses from the Book of Good Intentions.  If the PCs approach below, he will jump on them.  He takes only 2d6 from the 30' fall and dealing 2d6 to whomever he falls upon.  This will also break both his legs, limiting him to Movement 3.  Otherwise, he will climb down into the church and attempt a clumsy ambush, hindered by his constant muttering.  His salt-and-pepper beard stained with blood and spittle, he will not stop preaching until dead.

The interior of the church has been defaced, and anyone who deciphers the dead languages on the wall must make a save vs suicidal depression.  If they fail, they will fall into a deep despondency, sit on the pew, and refuse to do anything until they are cheered up (DM's discretion, but I say that if you can make the table laugh at this point, it counts).  If they roll a natural 1, they attempt immediate suicide, now and a second time later in the day.

The baptismal font is opaque with blood, but hidden beneath the  murky water is the body of Maddy the Bellringer, weighed down will all the golden jewelry in the church.  He was stabbed and drowned.  The golden jewelry is worth 500g, half of which comes from a necklace depicting cupids.

Clutched in Matty's hands is the madstone, a smooth black rock with prismatic banding.  It has a weight of 1 pound, but a mass of 100 pounds, if that makes any sense.  Easy to pick up, very hard to swing back and forth or throw.  Matty's hands have nearly fused together around the stone, and will need to be cut free.  The lines on his palms and fingers have also rearranged themselves into spirals.  Anyone touching the stone will feel a powerful sense of unease.  The stone is priceless, and if the PCs can locate a buyer they can basically set their own price.  The only complication is that any sane person will want to see the madstone thrown a volcano, and the PCs imprisoned for not turning it over to the authorities immediately, or for bringing it to where it could endanger more people.  Anyone willing to actually buy it will be Not a Nice Person, and probably the type that would just as soon hire assassins than pay some outrageous price.

Encounter: Father Albuscone.

8 Town Hall

Before -- Magistrate Tomlin lives here with Cynthess Tomlin, his young wife from the city who is impossible to please.  She hates this backwater.  The mayor is nervous and aloof, and often refuses to meet with people simply because he feels awkward.

People also meet here to discuss town affairs.  The small auditorium (~30 people) is empty and doesn't show signs of recent use.

After -- The magistrate and his wife are on the bed, kneeling together and embracing.  Their white nightshirts are soaked with blood.  They have chewed through each other's necks and bled to death.  A lockbox under the bed (trapped with poison needle, save or take 1d20 Con damage) contains 20 platinum coins and 200gp worth of promissory notes, valid in the nearest metropolis.

9 Orphanage

Before -- Well, it's not really an orphanage, but Widow Crabtree lives here with 6 children that she has adopted.  It's not an entirely altruistic act, because she expects (and gets) the village to finance her and her orphans.  It's a two story building where the orphans make poor quality candles.  There is usually one kid outside selling candles during the day.

Molly Wier is the oldest orphan, at 16.  Her parents died of pneumonia one winter and she came here to live with her brother Charlie Wier, 13.

After -- The orphans have killed their oppressor and are finally enjoying a meal at her expense.  They are practicing their cannibalism on the kitchen table, and trying to get the cat to join.  They are all armed with knives.  Ranger Vassen asked them if they wanted to join his hunt, but the children declined.

Encounter: 9 awakened children, 2 HD each.

10 Lucky Pig Tavern

Before -- Humble Partridge used to be an adventurer.  He's a huge man with an eyepatch and a peg leg.  It was pirates that took his leg, though, and anyone making pirates jokes will find that drink prices have suddenly doubled.  He wants to tell his stories, and he wants to hear the PC's stories.  Any good adventurin' story is worth a round of ale, on the house.  His wife Kellerbee (a common name hereabouts) Partridge is usually out back, brewing the black beer that she loves to drink.  She is quietly friendly often tipsy, quick to share samples (as long as there isn't a crowd), and anyone hanging out with her will be sent to pick up more black bread from the baker's, because it goes so good with the beer.

People staying at the tavern: Sour-Nose Pete, a semi-disguised bandit on the run, Curtis a deserter from the army trying to drown his sorrows in drink, Yaffer, an ex-urchin in an oversized jacket who makes his living by cheating at dice games, and Runa and Maduri Lanwater, two cartographer sisters who travel with a big white dog and sell maps even as they make them.

After -- Last night, Curtis and Yaffer stayed up late dicing, eventually getting into an argument that lasted almost until morning.  And Sour-Nose Pete hooked up with Maduri Lanwater, so they were up late as well.  So it came as a surprise to them when the Partridges burst into their room at 6am and butchered Curtis.

Now, Sour-Nose Pete, Yaffer, and Maduri have barricaded themselves into the last room in the hallway while the Partridges are attempting to break their way into the room.  Humble Partridge is attacking the door with a battleaxe (1d8, +2 damage in Humble's big hands) while singing a work song.  His wife, Kellerbee, has a crossbow trained at the door and is humming along.  And Runa is sitting on a chair in the hallway behind them, topless, idly carving shallow spirals into her belly with a fruit knife while she calls out to her sister to "come out here and give your sister a kiss; I'm family, Maduri; I'm your sister, you bitch; let's go to the marketplace and pick out some nice red dresses."  They are all distracted and will be caught by surprise if the party is stealthy or in a 4-in-6 chance.

The three non-Awakened people are trapped in the room, screaming out the (barred) window for help.  If saved, they can tell you last night's events.  Dice games, a visit by a brothel recruiter, and most importantly, they know that a meteorite came down last night: Farmer Moss came into the tavern and everyone took turns holding it.  They don't remember where Moss said he was going to take it, just that he said he was going to take it to the right authorities.  Sour-Nose Pete and Yaffer are eager to leave town as fast as they can.  Yaffer will give you his lucky (rigged) dice as a good luck gift before going.  Tearful Maduri can be persuaded to stay and help the PCs, but she just wants to sleep for a bit first, as she didn't get any sleep last night. . .

Room 1 was Maduri and Funa's.  They had a chest full of maps (worth 200g) and a locked scrollcase that contains a map to the nearest dungeon and a reliable map of the first floor.  Each carried a dagger and 1d6g.

Room 2 was empty.

Room 3 was Curtis's.  Wrapped in his jacket are a bunch of medals, hacked off the chests of dead soldiers and worth 25g.  He had chainmail (not worn to bed) and a longsword.

Room 4 was Yaffer's.  It's empty.  Even the bed hasn't been slept it.  Yaffer keeps all his wealth in his jacket: 2 sets of loaded dice, 2 sets of fair dice, a small jar of talakeshi jelly (~amphetamine), and 55g.  He's a coward.

Room 5 was Sour-Nose Pete's.  The heavy bed has been used to barricade the door.  Tangled bedsheets in the corner.  Sour-Nose Pete (Fighter 1) is armed with a flail and a poisoned dagger (save or die after 10 min).  He also carried 60g.  He's not a nice man, but he is a practical one, and will worth together as long as it takes for him to get out of town.

If Maduri, Yaffer, or Sour-Nose Pete decide to flee to town, there is a 70% chance that they will be caught and killed by the Vassen Family.  If the PCs go to the Hunting Lodge later, they might even see them again, as corpses that Donnel is cleaning.

11 Brothel

Before -- Mama Gracious runs the brothel, along with her three sleepy runaways, Prith, Vandel, and Hurma. They make most of their money on the weekends, from travelling merchants and local farmers.  During the week they're pretty busy weaving.  The looms take up the entirety of the first floor.  If there are are 3 or more people in the inn and one of the girls isn't too tired, she might go over there and try to drum up business at the end of the day.  Mama Gracious has been trying to recruit Molly Wier (Orphanage) for the last couple of years now, but the girl is too much of a prude.  Mama Gracious wants business of course, but she also wants a better life for her girls.  She's looking for any sort of business opportunity that gets her into the nearest metropolis.  (If the PCs are trying to sell stuff, she'll try to arrange for her girls to go sell the items in the big city for a cut of the profits, that sort of thing.  Or she'll ask if the PCs want to invest in a small business, so they can get a start in the big city.)

After -- All four of them are among the looms, undoing all of their past weaving.  Mama Gracious is wrapping wool thread around her head so tightly that her face is deformed and purple.  They're all armed with huge shears.  If the encounter the PCs, they won't attack, but will instead just talk.  If they're attacked, they won't fight back.  If you disembowel one, they might try to dip their fingers in their blood and then gently caress the PC's face with the bloody hand, etc.

They'll talk about the usual Awakened stuff (see below): about how everything is contemptible, boring, and cheap, and how the PCs have forgotten their lives prior to their births.  How pain is meaningless, and fear of pain only holds you back.  Anyone listening to them must save vs depression or become morose, getting -1 to all d20 rolls until they perform a good deed, or see someone else perform one (thereby restoring their faith in humanity a little bit).

The four women will only attack if it looks like the PCs are going to restrain them in some way, or take away their shears.

Encounter: Mama Gracious, Prith, Vandel, and Hurma.

12 Hunting Lodge

Before -- Silas Vassen is the head ranger.  Since the duke is fond of hunting the nearby forest, he is also the warden there.  He lives there with his wife, Londi Vassen, his son Donnel Vassen, and his daughter Haria Vassen.  All of them are accomplished hunters.  They keep a pack of a eight hunting hounds (2 HD each) behind the house, which are all well-trained dogs.  The Vassen family has a rigid code of honor and family, and are quick to protect their town.  Anyone who causes trouble in Kellertown will likely be tracked down by a posse led by Silas, Londi, and Haria (who is a better shot than her brother).  Silas once caught a dangers bandit and collected the bounty; the act is famous in nearby towns.

After -- The Vassen family has decided to go hunting throughout all the farms in the region.  They are all wandering, except for Donnel, who has been given the job of cleaning to corpse to make trophies.  At the moment, Donnel is sitting by the fire, decapitating dead farmers and lifting the skin from their heads in preparation for taxidermy.  If questioned, he will mockingly reveal his family's intentions, while trying to get close enough to stab a PC with a knife hidden up his sleeve.

Each family member is a 3 HD Awakened, except for Silas, who is 4 HD.  Haria is also a crack shot with the bow, and gets +4 to hit with it.  They travel with their eight hounds (2 HD each) and prefer to attack from range, with a bow.  If they suspect that the PCs are in a building, they will take up positions on opposite sides of the street, where they can cover all exits and each other.  Haria will aim for PCs knees, hoping to cripple a PC in the middle of the street, so as to draw out other PCs to try to rescue them.  Londi will send in the dogs as soon as it seems prudent, but will call them back if it looks like the dogs will run into a building without them.  Silas surprises on a 4-in-6, and does double damage with his backstab.  If the PCs bunker down inside a building, they will not hesitate to burn it down (Silas has a couple of fire arrows).  They will call to each other with complicated bird call messages that are only known to each other.  Silas' bow is magic and of elven make: it can fire 3 light arrows per day (fletching lights up as per the light spell, and deals +1d6 damage to undead).

Each member of the family has a horse.  They usually ride out on their horses, and return from their hunts on foot, with their trophies lashed to the back of the horses.

Encounter: Donnel.

Encounter: Rest of the Vassen Family (they're the only wandering encounter in town).


After one day, the king will send mounted knights to ensure that no one enters or leaves the town.  They'll ride around in squads of 4 mounted knights, accompanied by 2 archers/messengers.  After one week, the king will have assembled a squad of adventurers and clerics who will be numerous and high-level enough to handle the situation competently, albeit heavy-handedly.

The Awakened

HD 3
AC 10
Attack 1d6+2
Move as human*
*Can sprint as fast as a horse, but this causes them to take 1 damage.  Each time they attack, they also take 1 damage.  Whenever they deal maximum damage, they shatter their own arm.

Awakened have transcended the normal limits of their body.  They run fast enough to tear their own lungs and fray their own tendons.  They punch and kick hard enough to break iron hinges, but at the cost of breaking their own limbs.  They feel no pain nor emotion except scorn, and they have knowledge of more than should be possible.  They do not normally fall asleep, but if they are magically induced to sleep (away from the madstone), they will restore themselves to normal.

They live, but death is equally preferable.  They work together, but killing each other is equally preferable.  They kill people, but they do this almost out of irony.  (This) life is pointless, and any deaths they bring are as trivial as the lives they ruin.

Awakened remember everything from before, and still have the same base personality.  It's just that they've now realized how meaningless everything is, and worthy of contempt.  If your fiancee became Awakened, for example, she'd mock you with old love poems and laugh at your tears.  But old hatreds are remembered, faintly, and they often seek out the people that wronged them in previous days.  And of course, hobbies are still pursued, although with boredom and cruelty.

A person normally becomes Awakened by staying awake for over a week.  Under the influence of the  madstone, however, people turn into Awakened overnight.  There are no physiological changes for becoming an Awakened--all this means is that the person's eyes have been opened, and they remember their true life before they were born, and where they will go when they die.  Realizing the crude, pointlessness of this life, they are filled with either contempt for it, or an overwhelming urge to exit life via suicide in order to rejoin a more significant existence.

They only have two emotions: contempt and boredom.

If you want to apply Awakened as a template: +2 HD, +2 to hit and damage, each attack does 1 damage to themselves, a limb breaks when an attack does maximum damage, and they can exceed the natural speed limits of their species at the cost of dealing another 1 damage to themselves.


1. Someone hires the PCs to investigate the cause of this disturbance.

2. Rescue some NPC.  Roll 1d12 to find out which one.  Wizards and clerics have heard of Awakened, and know that a cure is only a sleep spell away.  (As long as they are far enough away from the madstone.)

3. Rescue some McGuffin in the town.  Roll 1d12 to find out where it is.

4. Maybe they'll just have a favorite NPC in town and want to rescue them of their own volition.  Hopefully its not an orphan.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to pick a favourite post on this website as I love so many but this must be amoungst my favourites; something paticularly chilling about the Awakened; love the counterpoint between the before and after too; love to see more stuff like this.