All Hallow’s Eve descends upon your game,
Time to mix things up, not keep them the same.
Find below three adventures scary,
Players all, ye best be wary.
GMs cackle in the night,
Prepare to give PCs a fright.
In an isolated rural town during Harvest’s End celebrations, the PCs find the body of a well-off farmer, throat slashed with a sickle or scythe, teeth and eyes removed. Soon, the crops begin to spoil and bleed, and vines and scarecrows come to life and attack villagers.
Pumpkin carving and pumpkin-head scarecrows are common now, but many have forgotten their gruesome origins. Yet some villagers whisper these attacks are the work of Scarecrow Jack, a poor pumpkin farmer who made a pact with the spirits for good harvest but then kept it all to himself. Legend has it the spirits strung Jack up with pumpkin vines, and plucked his eyes and teeth so he could not see or taste his harvest.
Scarecrow Jack is back to ruin Harvest’s End! But why now? And where is Jack?
During the chaos of a large attack, the PCs confront a hooded figure: an eyeless, toothless undead villager, able to control the vines and scarecrows. Anyone slain and with teeth and eyes removed, becomes an undead pawn of Scarecrow Jack, soon rising – again and again – to exact Jack’s revenge, targeting those better of than Jack was in life, especially farmers.
However, the PCs notice that one of the poorest farmers in town is missing. Sensing a kinship with the downtrodden man, Jack’s spirit took over his body. The PCs must find this man and put him to rest. But he – and all villagers slain and remade in Jack’s image – will rise again until the carved pumpkins that now host their eyes and teeth are destroyed.
This seed is directly inspired by the trailer for the upcoming video game Darkest Dungeon.
Deep beneath the surface, the PCs traverse a dark and eerie dungeon that they soon realise is a little different than most. Natural and magical light sources barely work, flickering and casting disturbing shadows across the dank stone walls. Even night vision fails under this surely supernatural darkness. Lights sputter out and must be relit or recast, but in the intervening darkness, the dread and the horror comes.
Whispers and scurrying sounds, a brush against the leg or shoulder. The feeling of someone standing right behind you, but then the lights come on and your allies are all within sight. Psychological horror tortures the PCs as they travel deeper into this dungeon, still encountering no monsters, but hearing sounds just around the corner.
What will they find at the deepest pit of this dark hell? Why is this dungeon so much scarier than the others they’ve seen? Is the dungeon alive? What does it want from them?
Can the PCs succeed, when the dungeon itself is the enemy? Can they fight their own fear?
Attending a noble ball, the lights flicker and a body is found on the dance floor. The victim is still breathing, enough for these last words: “Don’t trust anyone… the shapeshifter…”
Guards lock down the noble mansion, keeping all the masked guests inside until the murderer is discovered. But, as more and more people die, how can the PCs trust each other, knowing that one of their number could be the shapeshifting murderer?
Point fingers, have NPCs go a little crazy, and split the party as much as possible (and consider physically splitting the players when the PCs split up). Slip notes to each PC in full-view of the rest, just to keep them guessing. Say things on the notes, like:
- You swear you saw the paladin was drinking… doesn’t she have a vow of sobriety?
- Where was the rogue when the lights went out?
- Weren’t the druid’s eyes green before?
Keep this one handy, too:
- You have been replaced by a shapeshifter. Your PC is fine, but trapped somewhere else. Act naturally. Slide this back when alone with someone, to replace them too.
If it weren’t for the murdered victim fighting back and a shapeshifter lashing out, nobody would have realised what was happening: party-goers are being trapped in mirrors and other reflective objects. When a PC sees a shapeshifter in a mirror, roll a secret perception check. If they succeed, they see something wrong with the reflection of the shapeshifter.
Perhaps the PCs will work out what’s going on, perhaps they’ll all become shapeshifters before then. If they do, then wait a little while to let the paranoia continue, then swap perspective to the trapped PCs and see if they can escape their mirror prison to thwart their doppelgangers and free the other party-goers. Whatever happens, fun is ensured.
Other Halloween Goodies
All over the Internet, there are Halloween posts rising like zombies from a grave.
- Gnome Stew has Four Ways to Work a Halloween Session into an Ongoing Campaign
- Story Games Weekly reports that Stacy Dellorfano has curated 44 pages of horror-themed RPG content in the pay-what-you-want Randomocity #1 (Horror)
- Bully Pulpit Games invites you Return to Camp with their Halloween Fiasco Playset
- Kobold Press shows creepy subtle horror in Dark Teleportation and Other Horrors
- Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque has a special Halloween treat for us with the release of the Slithdale Hollow campaign setting
Enjoy your goodies! Now I wish you: good night, good gaming, and Happy Halloween!