Seeking a cool encounter on rain-swept moors…


Advice


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Colleagues,

The PCs are headed north across rainy and foggy moorland. Such an evocative location deserves an equally evocative encounter. But for the life of me, my imagination tank runs dry and I’ve got nothing. Any assistance is appreciated…


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Fog, you say?

Use a Ghost.

Moorlands?

Everything from burial mounds/gravestones, old church ruins or lighthouse ruins or small castle ruins, trenches/tunnels... or...

DON'T GO INTO THE TALL GRASS!!!
DON'T GO INTO THE TALL GRASS!!!
DON'T GO INTO THE TALL GRASS!!!
-Ajay Sidhu [The Lost World]

(Velociraptor/Deinonychus)


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"My heart is in the Highlands"

I immediately went to my Scottish roots. I picture mist and fog billowing around hillocks and sinking into valleys. I hear a bull elk snorting and whistling somewhere off to the side, with maybe just a brief flash of a glorious wrack of antlers. Approaching dawn or dusk seems best here.

I'll second V-Monk on the ghostly feel of things, but you could also go fey. Have the party harassed by trickster types, only to be herded into an encounter with a horned lord of some sort. This could be a good or bad thing depending on whether it's a protector or a wrathful champion type (descriptive language, I'm not talking archetypes).

Drawing from the Highlands, the group getting caught up in some clan skirmishes that they happen to stumble into could also be cool. Screaming, painted warriors in various states of kilt, kit, or undress popping up out of the mists could be quite alarming/entertaining. Choose whatever races or cultures you feel are most appropriate here.


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Yeah, what level is the party? Are they at all optimized?

Is there water nearby, such as a coast? Is the season/environment relatively temporate, or are we dealing with any sort of extremes?

What have they been encountering thusfar? Anything off limits or out of theme?

I like Undead... through a windswept break in the fog you can barely make out the silhouettes of endless skeletons marching towards you... as they get closer you can hear the clinking of bones carrying on the breeze like tunes of windchimes...

I like Hags... you can see the outline of the full moon in the grey sky, and in the distance an eerie pillar of moonlight is visible glowing through the fog... where the moon's spotlight hits the ground, three feminine figures are holding hands in a circle...

There be Dragons... something massive silently glides through the fog above you... leaving a wake of clear skies behind it... a massive spinning vortex forms off the tip of each wings as it flaps to gain altitude... you see the tip of a forked tail disappear into the clouds as the wake collapses and the fog rolls back in, obscuring your view...


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From English folklore; one of my favorite beasties based on "real world" mythology.

Black Shuck


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What level are the characters? I mean, you could make a flavorful encounter out of:

1. put a cavorting Korred out on the moors; he teleports from boulder to boulder, sculpting some into fun statues with his Stone Shape, and makes ropes of his own shorn hair. Locals think the old codger is crazy and avoid the moors, thinking he turns people to stone.

2. the PCs stop at The Slaughtered Lamb, a pub on the edge of the moors. Inside locals give them three pieces of advice: keep off the moors, stick to the road, and beware the moon. All of this is the first 10 minutes of the movie An American Werewolf in London

3. a streak of light shatters the night sky before crashing down into the distant moors. You could use akatas turning a farmstead into void zombies, or instead have a moon-beast here to tear the fabric of reality through the collective dreams of a local village

4. speaking of fears and aberrations... send wave after wave of undead at the PCs (zombies and skeletons) while trying to create an atmosphere of rising dread with ever-thickening fog. Within the mists, PCs can just barely make out small flashes, almost like electrical storms, but merely a handful of feet in diameter. Turns out a Fogwarden is out to feed on the PCs terror.

5. the characters here a siren's song accompanied by a female voice in anguish, wailing. Deliver unto them harpies in the mists, using their songs to lure the PCs over the moors and off a cliff.

6. perhaps the moors are stalked by bugbears. These humanoids keep packs of hungry terror hounds (use dogs with the Simple: Giant template) and they hunt for unsuspecting travelers in the mists. Build the bugbears with the feat Sow Terror; they cleave to the mists, using Stealth checks to stay hidden while terrorizing their victims into becoming Shaken, then unleash their hounds to tear apart their prey, the fear lending a particular flavor to the meat...

7. when the mists are at their thickest, the veil between the Prime and other planes are porous, pliable; evil outsiders clever enough can come through. Of course, there are those that would hunt these outsiders. Pick level-appropriate demons or devils, then also drop some kind of Inevitable into the mix. The Inevitable will not brook any interference in its mission to destroy the evil outsiders and will in fact deem the PCs as a threat rather than allies if they get in its way.

If you're going to use rain-swept moors, thick with mist as your setting, consider monsters with Scent or some ability to see through mists or fog. Foes that make good use of Stealth and ambush tactics are a plus since they'll get a lot of Concealment for such checks. If the foes CAN see through all that weather, ranged attacks are another added bonus, but otherwise most combat will be resolved through melee or very close range.

Some features to take advantage of in this terrain would be sinkholes and bogs. If the PCs are foolish enough to travel by night and don't know where they're going (Knowledge: Geography or maybe a Survival check), randomly falling into holes or 6' deep pits of water and mud could be an inconvenience or even a challenge. Boulders and stony outcrops can provide monsters cover; they might also be loose enough to either be picked up and hurled by giants or levered and tumbled at the party by humanoids.

A coven of hags might be a good high-powered "mastermind" type villain here. Using their coven powers they can manipulate the weather in the local area to conceal their moots while they raise waves of the undead to stalk the open heath for foes. Individually they may have used magic to charm local villagers into submission, or may instead be using intimidation and fear to keep the populace in check.

lots of C'Thulu-type monsters like misty hills and moorlands. As a nod to the Evil Dead series, you could drop some random cabin amid a stand of trees for the characters to make a stand there. Inside might be a way to hurl back the aberrant horrors stalking the party, but either finding the McGuffin in the house or using the thing could come with its own set of risks and challenges.

Also, moors can have hills, and hills can have small cave networks. Those sinkholes and stony outcrops I mentioned above could lead deep under the earth to foes too terrible to suffer the daylit world. IRL folks ages ago used to drain bogs and mine around/beneath them for iron or harvest peat from them, so a half-flooded pit with surrounding mine tunnels could be on the docket.

And, of course... the fey or ghosts. These are staples of folktales in lonely moorlands. Banshees, the souls of lost travelers, faeries and spirits that revel in the remote mists... these are all good times.


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These are all great. Thanks so much for the thoughtful advice. I’m going to have the black shuck attack them on boggy moorlands, and potentially chase them onto a menhir-covered hill where sceptres attack…

And to answer the question many of you asked: 7th level party.

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