A small help in a campaign horror story


Advice

Sczarni

Hi everyone,

As usual, I come here asking for a bit of a help from other people, but hopefully it won't take too much of your precious time, a factor that I seem to be lacking at the moment.

I need to prepare a session for this Sunday and I am a bit short on ideas for it. I have also been strugling heavily recently to avoid the combat encounters and provide larger amount or RP, social and story based experience to my players because they expressed desire for it, even though they built mostly combat based characters (duh). So due to recent events, I decided to pick a horror theme for 1-2 sessions to add something new that they haven't experienced before. Please keep in mind that last and this Sunday's sessions are horror based exclusively and some regular PF mechanics could be "dodged" in favor of cinematics and effects. I know also very well that PF system isn't designed for true horror experience, but the last session went pretty well so hopefully, this one will also.

I'v set longer versions of story into spoilers. If you don't feel like reading all of it, skip to the last part of the post.

Story thus far... (long version):
The characters ventured into the ancient tombs of a nearby village in search of several members who were supposedly followers of Efreeti. They were only expected to locate them, find their identities and nothing else. A scouting-social mission given to them by Djinni. They successfully did so and located three of the dead members who were exploring the tombs for an ancient artefact of some sorts. Party decided to investigate it further and they soon found the buried buildings of long dead cultists. In these underground buildings, they found an old chapel and mysterious book on it, a lot of corridors and library. The dead cultists however didn't leave them be, they eventually found them in their half blind zombie state and started to overwhelm them in the library (a dead end). Eventually, they found a ventilation shaft leading outside, but they just had to give those piled up zombies below them a final blow in form of exploding keg filled with gunpowder. In normal conditions, I would be most happy to oblige them, but these weren't regular zombies. They have 25% to release a corporeal shadow, so they effectively released around 20x of them and barely escaped from the complex. So far, this was the most stupendously horrible idea they managed to converge in our gaming carrier and this time, the idea is coming to bite them back. The horde of shadows merged themselves into a single entity (a CR 16 nightshade, Nightwalker) and he is coming for them, to take them into the grave, but not before they have experienced the same despair as those merged souls also.

So what happened in the last session... (long version):
Party finally returned to village, exhasuted after a day and with huge storm brewing outside, decided to take a nap in a single house. They are in good relations with nearby villagers, so they happily provided them a single house as a shelter. Around 22h in night, strange things started to happen around them, scratching noises, fire flickering, etc. At 00h, a half-dead animal crushed into the roof and started to squeal but the party had no idea what it was. The truth was, that animal was infested with Zombie Rot, and after party ignored it, animal died and came back in her undead form and started to ravage the house from outside. I mostly focused myself on sounds and house claustrophobia here to provide good athmosphere and it worked well. They somehow managed to deal with the bird and decided to warn villagers and change the place where they sleep so they came to a town elder who let them in, but soon after it, party realized that he is acting strange. He kept offering party to eat the stew and meat, and his wife kept choping the meat in the 2 am during storm. The objective was to keep party guessing as long as possible that meat might be human meat. It wasn't, but it has put them on the edge far enough to attack the elder and his wife. In fact, they both registered under detect undead spell as being undead, but so did several characters who were infected by Zombie Rot. They quickly realized mistake and managed to calm down the situation. Several party memebers decided to leave the town at this point, because it seemed like a good idea. After leaving the town, a priest warned them not to leave and after they didn't listen, the invisible beast followed by darkness came and took down several of them with ease. One of characters died in the process. The wounded ones quickly returned to the elder's house and the body of their friend ended being thrown in the door by the beast to serve as a future warning. The characters had a single raise dead effect in their inventory though, so they used it on their friend to bring him back.

So what happens now? (long version):
I didn't manage to finish the story, but several NPCs told party to come to the town church. I am expecting them to follow up on this lead. In the church, they will find two groups of infected villagers arguing about a stupid argument if they are allowed to eat the meat or not to eat the meat. The argument is complete stupidity in itself and both groups are on brink of killing each other. The argument and the people are there mostly to confuse the characters a bit and they do not present any danger unless characters make them so. The people will eventually kill each other given enough time, which is the sole objective from the malevolent entity they created. Characters will again meet a priest who gave them a warning not to leave the village because "...the Maker told us not to do so!" and will come into social conflict with him, but will realize that the priest is Gaki (CR 7 undead) and his weakness in eating offered food. With little convincing, priest will devulge the great Makers plans which "provide happy, blessed and everlasting life full of joy". Of course, the plan is very obviously false.

So long story short,

Party entered into tombs on a quest to retrieve information about some people. They find it, but also find buried buildings below it and in their exploration, they release a evil beyond their capability to fight with. Upon return to the village, the horror around them slowly evolves as people become creepy, invisible beast is after them and the clock is ticking as their disease seems to be rapidly evolving by an hour. After completely exhausted and wounded, the only clue left is the town church. The entity's motives remain unclear to them, but it's objective is to put people of village through misery and despair and finish them off with a Zombie Rot disease, creating a massive undead army to command with.

This a point where I have little idea how to continue, but initially, the rough idea is for priest to give them a hint of the Maker's chambers (tombs) below which party can explore and find a time/space altering artefact temporarily created by the entity to her own needs (they can change the course of future of what happened, but it has a flaw of speeding up the time from the moment it was used by double the amount, possibly even killing individual from pure shock of starvation and thirst).

I realize, it's a massive wall of text above, but I appreciate advices and further ideas to the story. Please keep in mind, that rolls are great, but I am trying to delay combat as much as possible. Party is currently level 5 and completely exhausted, so challenges should be simple or easy.

Thanks upfront for any responses,

Adam

Scarab Sages

Maybe try thinking in terms of what the Nightwalker's motivations are as a character. Having it just want to kill everyone and everything is ... well it's kind of boring and puts you in a corner. Why are the zombies there in the first place? Who were they in life? Maybe their shades were released and merged together because they want a singular vengeance. Which it cannot seek itself because it is plot bound to the little area around the village. So it needs the PCs to do it.

This could be either one of hostage taking: it will annihilate the village if they don't. And they are faced with trying to buy time to avoid a massive evil act for an evil creature. Or it could be one of negotiation, trying to convince these tortured souls that this vengeance isn't what they want because they were good in life.

Or it could launch a quest to find justice for these souls.

Hope that helps.

Sczarni

@Duiker

The malevolent entity has but a single simple objective hidden on the side of this story (perhaps I didn't clarify it enough), and that's to put people through despair (same despair it felt during the life), kill each other and command the undead army of new servants for greater desires. The despair in this case is for example, mistrust, starvation, fear in general, etc. I haven't completely finished the story about cultists, but in general, they died by being in a closed underground space from starvation.

I like the idea that characters could convince some tortured souls to stop their vengence though. If they manage to convince several, it might cause the entity to de-merge itself or something like that.

Adam

Scarab Sages

Malag wrote:

@Duiker

The malevolent entity has but a single simple objective hidden on the side of this story (perhaps I didn't clarify it enough), and that's to put people through despair (same despair it felt during the life), kill each other and command the undead army of new servants for greater desires. The despair in this case is for example, mistrust, starvation, fear in general, etc. I haven't completely finished the story about cultists, but in general, they died by being in a closed underground space from starvation.

I like the idea that characters could convince some tortured souls to stop their vengence though. If they manage to convince several, it might cause the entity to de-merge itself or something like that.

Adam

Oh neat. I like the demerging idea. What if you defined who and what several of the tortured souls were explicitly in life, and give them distinct family and friends in the area. It can be sort of a mini-game, of finding the families of the people who died, learning their stories, confronting the creature with them. So you have the father who regrets having driven his son out of their home for being [insert something making them different], and the son found solace in the cult and died there. Or the woman who was in the cult with her sister, but got herself out before the mass death, and her sister's spirit is haunted by vengeance for being abandoned.

Sczarni

@Duiker

That's incredible idea! I love it! The only problem is that this cult is around 2000 or so years old. The villagers know nothing about it, but I could make it part of their history. Some villagers might have an old story or history, which is transfered from a family to a family through vocal recitation.

Scarab Sages

Or it could be that the village is well known for being haunted, by ghosts that are sad but relatively harmless. And it turns out those ghosts are the spirits of the loved ones who mourned those who ended up being part of shadow-Voltron. They can't pass on, because their loved ones never did.

Sczarni

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@Duiker

I love that idea also! I was thinking of giving something to a player which character just died, something like ghost sight or visions of past. It might go really well because he is the party's main diplomat.

Scarab Sages

Sounds like fun! Let us know how it ends up working out!

Sczarni

Will do :)

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