Monsters, Horror, Gaming

Tag: Lovecraftian (Page 2 of 2)

The Savour of Madness: Intensive Treatment Ward and Children’s Ward


Floor 2

Asylum Map, Floor 2

15 – Dining Room

You enter a large dining room with an antique wooden table, ornately carved.  Cabinets of silverware are evident to one side, adjacent to a small dumbwaiter.  A wrought-iron chandelier, currently unlit, dangles from the ceiling like some monstrous black spider.  The table itself is set with a somewhat shabby grey tablecloth.  One wall is given over to a very large painting depicting a fleet of warships sailing on a stormy sea.

The silverware is quite valuable (about 500 gp worth of silver here), but very heavy (about 100 lbs total).  If the characters have been escorted here by Delacroix, the table is already set for dinner:

The table is lain for dinner, one place set for each of you, with several bottles of wine on the table as well.  The meal consists of a pork roast, cooked rather rarely, with a variety of seasonal vegetables on the side, along with a loaf of bread.  Steam wafts from the meal; the smell is extremely appetizing.

“I’m afraid this is the best we could provide on such short notice,” Dr Delacroix says.  “You’ll excuse me if I don’t eat myself.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few matters to attend to.  I’ll return shortly to show you to your chambers.”

The suspicions of the characters aside, the meal is actually pork.  The wine, however, is poisoned with Oil of Restfulness that has been modified to kick in after about an hour (Fortitude DC 15 or fall unconscious for 1d3 horus).

The characters now have a chance to discuss their plan of action or even to try and slip away and explore the asylum more thoroughly.  Outside the dining room doors, however, Delacroix has positioned a pair of Orderlies.  However, the characters could attempt to use the dumbwaiter to move down to the kitchen below.  The dumbwaiter can carry Small characters easily, but if a Medium character uses it (or any character whose weight plus the weight of their gear exceeds 150 lbs) there is a 10% chance that the dumbwaiter ropes will snap, sending the character hurtling downwards for 3d6 damage (a DC 15 Acrobatics check reduces this to 2d6 damage and 1d6 non-lethal damage).  Other characters will have to Climb down (DC 20) or jump down (Acrobatics DC 15 for 1d6 damage and 1d6 non-lethal damage).  The noise of the dumbwaiter breaking will instantly attract an Orderly; merely using the dumbwaiter gives the Orderly a Perception check (DC 20) to hear the commotion.

16 – Orderlies’ Quarters

This small chamber has a neatly made bed, a desk, and a chest of drawers.  The room is very tidy, but a thick layer of dust lies over everything, and there are cobwebs in the corners.

The Grimlocks don’t like these rooms, preferring to lair underground.  As a result the chambers have become disused.  While some outfits can be found in the chest of drawers, some of them are moth-eaten or otherwise decayed.

Intensive Treatment Ward



The doors in this ward are locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Brain Key).

This long, winding hall is lined with reinforced doors, each of which bears a small viewing hatch that can be opened or closed.  You can hear noises emanating from behind some of the doors – screams of terror, mad laughter, and the sound of someone praying loudly.  As you watch, a door opens and two orderlies drag an inmate in a straitjacket out of one of the chambers and down the hall.

“It wasn’t me!” the man babbles.  “It moved on its own!  It wasn’t me!  It wasn’t me!”

If the players aren’t being stealthy, the orderlies will be alarmed by their appearance; if the alarm has been raised they’ll abandon their victim and attack the players, otherwise, one will approach the players and simply say “Go.  Not allowed here.”

The chamber the inmate was being removed from is the Mirror Chamber.

At any given time, it’s likely 1-2 Alienists are here, supervising the treatments.

17 – The Rotary Chair


A strange mechanism dominates this room: a set of wheels and pulleys that turn a large, spinning centrifuge with a niche where someone could sit or lie, complete with restraints.

This rotary chair was actually used by the original alienists in their treatment of patients to try and increase blood-flow to the brain.  The Intellect Devourers still use the device sometimes, Grimlocks turning the centrifuge so it rotates at high speeds.

18 – Hydrotherapy Chamber

This spare, ill-lit chamber has a single bathtub, currently brimming with water.  Submerged within it and imprisoned in a series of leather restraints is an inmate, muzzled and struggling weakly.  Only their head remains above water.

Again, this technique was originally used as a therapy.  Now inmates are left in the tub for days or weeks at a time, given enough food and water to survive.

19 – Leeching Chamber

This square chamber has a small bed with metal restraints where someone could be pinioned down.  In a large aquarium to one side dozens of fat, black leeches can be seen, a mass of glistening, writhing bodies.  The aquarium looks to hold more leeches than it was originally intended to, as they’re packed in tightly.  The water they’re sitting in looks filthy.

Again, this was an actual treatment room, but now the Intellect Devourers abuse the treatment thoroughly, putting dozens of leeches on inmates.  If the tank is shattered the leeches can form a leech swarm, although with a speed of 5 ft. on land it is easily outrun.  These particular leeches can also pass on Mindfire to their victims.

20 – Hallucination Chamber

Henry Fuseli

This seems to be nothing more than a spare, padded cell.

Perception DC 20 to notice the small gas-jets hidden in the corners, and to hear the hiss of gas if the door is closed.  The gas is similar to Insanity Mist, but instead of damaging Wisdom, deals 1d3 Sanity damage on a failed Fortitude save (DC 15, 1/round for 6 rounds, 1 save cures).  In addition to losing Sanity, characters begin hallucinating for 1d4 minutes after coming under the effects of the gas.  Pass around slips of paper describing their individual hallucinations.  You can make up as many as you like (personal hallucinations are sometimes the most powerful), but here are a few to get you started:

Roll 1d20 Hallucination
1 Your flesh is rotting, putrefying, sloughing off your bones as you watch.
2 You hear the sound of someone screaming outside the room and down the corridor.
3 The walls are bleeding, streams of blood trickling down and pooling on the floor.  If it   continues at this rate it’s going to flood the room quickly.
4 Something outside the room is breathing loudly.  Something big.
5 Your skin breaks out with pestilential growths, tumours and buboes that make it bubble and suppurate, leprous sores coursing   across your body.
6 There is someone in the room with you.    Every time you move to look at them they seems to disappear, hovering in your periphery, only visible obliquely, out of the corner of your eye.
7 Swarms of vermin are coursing out from holes in the walls, a seething tide of insects writhing towards you.
8 Heavy, hoofed footsteps are audible outside the room.  A hideous bleating echoes   through the asylum, such as might be made by some abominable goat.
9 You can smell smoke, and feel the walls begin to warm.  The asylum must be on fire!
10 Mocking laughter resounds from every corner of the room.  It echoes through your skull, in   the depths of your mind.  It makes you want to laugh too… to laugh long and loud.
11 A rumbling overhead is audible, and fragments of the ceiling are dislodged as the whole room begins to collapse.
12 Your clothing has somehow become animated and is trying to kill you, constricting your limbs and neck, trying to strangle you.
13 Your fingers are becoming webbed, your flesh mottling and secreting slime.  You can feel   gills opening at your neck.  You can no longer breathe air – you need to find water and immerse yourself immediately.
14 The floor is covered in venomous snakes!
15 You’re being petrified!  As you watch your skin begins to turn to stone before your eyes, starting at your fingertips and moving up along your   arms, towards your torso.
16 Fur bristles from your limbs and your nails elongate, becoming claws.  A lupine tail bursts from your back, twitching back and forth.    A bestial rage and animalistic hunger fills you.  You must have meat!
17 Your shadow just moved in a way that it shouldn’t have – like it’s become detached form you somehow, moving of its own accord.  What is happening to you?
18 The walls of the room are closing in.  If you don’t move quickly you’ll all be crushed – but the door to the room has disappeared.
19 Something is squirming beneath your skin – you can feel it writhing, trying to burrow its way deeper into your body.  You’ve got to get it out!
20 Your friends are trying to kill you!  They are advancing upon you with evil in their eyes and weapons drawn.  Have they been psychically dominated, or replaced with evil duplicates?!  Whatever the case, you must defend yourself!

21 – Mirror Chamber

Three walls of this chamber are padded, but the fourth wall consists entirely of a single, enormous mirror reflecting you and your companions.  The room is otherwise completely empty.  A hanging lamp provides illumination.

If the characters linger here, the mirror begins to change (Perception DC 15 to notice these changes begin if the characters want to leave immediately):

As you watch, you realize that your reflections are imperfect – they seem to be smirking back at you, smiling slyly.  Slowly their smiles widen into unnerving grins.  They stare at you, teeth bared.

If they still linger…

The reflections are now moving of their own accord.  One begins beating at the silvered glass as if trying to get out.  The others draw their weapons and begin carving at one another, hacking off limbs and carving hideous wounds into each other’s flesh, still smiling all the while; in fact, they seem to be thoroughly enjoying the massacre.  The carnage is completely silent.  As blood spurts, spattering the reflections’ side of the mirror with crimson, you find yourself wondering whether the mirror is actually just a pane of glass, with another room on the other side inhabited by your murderous doppelgangers.  Then another thought creeps in: what if the images are in your mind, and you’re imagining the atrocities being acted out in the mirror?

Sanity check (0/1d6).

If the ensorceled mirror is broken, the reflections begin screaming silently as their bodies begin coming apart, skin shattering like glass, bones broken and fragmented.  Shards of glass still reflect a twisted version of reality, even if taken from the room.

22 – Personality Transposition Chamber

The walls and floor of this chamber have been tiled in red and black.  Two leather chairs – one red, one black – stand in the middle of the room, each equipped with leather restraints and each hooked up to a complicated apparatus that includes a vise-like device that would be clamped around a person’s head.  The chairs are positioned back to back and are connected by a series of wires, with a switch set off to one side.  A low hum resonates through the room, an ominous drone that makes the walls and floor vibrate very slightly.

This chamber allows for body-switching.  Two characters who seat themselves in the chair, hook themselves up to the apparatus, and hit the switch will swap consciousnesses.  Class levels and mental stats are transferred while physical stats and racial bonuses and penalties remain the same.  This process is mentally taxing, requiring a Sanity check (1/1d6).

23 – Book Chamber


At the centre of this square chamber, illuminated by a single lamp, is a lectern upon which rests a thick tome bound in pale leather.

The book is called the Tome of Nightmares.  Anyone who begins reading it must make a Sanity check or compulsively read on (interrupting them forcefully grants a second check).  The book is telepathic, capable of discerning the worst fears and phobias of the reader; the text which appears on its pages consists of stories directly featuring such objects of terror.  If a character finishes the book, they will be unable to sleep restfully, leaving them fatigued and unable to regain arcane spells for 24 hours.  They also lose 1d6 Sanity.

24 – Chamber of the Flickering Shadow

An inmate, Bertrand (Patient 513), is pounding on the door of the room, trying desperately to escape.  If the characters open the door he rushes out:

A terrified-looking man rushes out of the room, nearly tripping in his straitjacket.  He is blubbering madly, his whole body shaking.

“Don’t go in there!” he shrieks, stumbling down the corridor as best he can.

Inside the room:

This room seems to be nothing more than a padded cell lit by a single lamp.  The lamp flickers continuously, plunging the chamber into momentary gloom.

Perception DC 10 to notice:

As the lamp flickers, you realize that in the darkness you can catch a brief glimpse of a tall, faceless figure, a gaunt, spidery thing with a hole where its face should be.  With each flicker of the lamp the figure takes a step closer towards you.

If the figure is allowed to reach the characters they must make a Sanity check or take 2d6 Sanity damage and attempt to flee the room at all costs, as if they were suffering from a Fear spell.  If their Sanity reaches 0 due to this effect, they die of fright.

The source of the figure is actually the lamp, which can be detatched.  A Lamp of Fear, the object can be lit in order to produce an effect similar to the Fear spell (Will DC 18 to resist, or a Sanity check) to all within 10 ft., but the item only functions in conditions of dim light and consumes oil like a normal lamp.  If someone is holding the lamp and aware of its abilities they are nonetheless not immune to this effect.  The Lamp is worth 12000 gp.

25 – Susurrus Room

The walls of this chamber have been covered in what looks like scraps of human skin, stitched together into macabre wallpaper.  On each patch of sallow, leathery flesh is a human mouth.  Some of the mouths are old, others young; some bear carious teeth or teeth filed into points.  All of them are whispering suggestions – vile obscenities lovingly described, each mouth urging a different act of unspeakable violence and depravity.  Crouched in a corner with her hands over her ears trying to block out the susurrus of evil is an inmate, shaking back and forth and praying loudly.

Simply listening to the constant murmuring requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Pious Mary is a religious maniac (Patient 766) who was condemned to the asylum after murdering several “sinners” who had “passed beyond redemption.”  The susurrus has exacerbated her paranoia so that she believes anyone approaching her is a demon trying to tempt her, whom she will violently attack.  She is unarmed but will use her Rage power to make a bite attack.

26 – The Art Gallery

This chamber has one wall dominated by a large painting, with many smaller paintings occupying the other walls.  The big painting depicts an enormous, dead oak tree with gnarled boughs.  The tree has been used as a gallows: several corpses dangle from its branches.  The other paintings all depict individuals being tortured or executed by robed, faceless figures – being broken on a wheel, stretched on a rack, decapitated by axe or guillotine, pulled apart by horses, impaled, crushed, burnt, and otherwise mangled.

Upon closer inspection (or a DC 15 Perception check) the characters will recognize themselves as the victims in the paintings.  This realization provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).  Once the paintings have been seen by someone they become “fixed” in that form for them, even if later moved.

The Children’s Ward

leonardo fetus drawings


The doors in this ward are locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Brain Key).

The sound of miserable children sniffling, crying, and mumbling in troubled sleep fills this long corridor, which is lined with barred cells.

In total there are 118 children stuffed into the cells in this ward.

27 – Children’s Cell

At least a dozen dirty children, ranging in age from about fix or six to mid adolescence, are packed into the dirty cell visible behind the bars.  As you approach they back away hastily.

Most of the children will not believe the characters aren’t Intellect Devourers and will think they’re being tricked.  It takes a DC 25 Diplomacy check to convince them of good intent, and even then they don’t fully trust the characters.  If released they scatter unless instructed very carefully to remain calm.

28 – The Kid

The child in this cell has been warped through some twisted magic, his body radically altered, grafted with alien flesh: from the waist down the boy’s body has been replaced with that of a goat, giving him the appearance of some miniature hircine centaur.   His eyes, likewise, have been replaced with the eerie horizontal-slitted eyes of a goat.

Sanity check (0/1d4) on seeing the Kid.

The Kid’s real name is Abélard, and has lived at the asylum as long as he can remember.  He is beginning to lose his humanity, occasional interspersing his words with bleating sounds.

The Savour of Madness


Last October, I sent the players in my Planescape campaign to Ravenloft.  This year I’m doing it again, and I’ll be sharing the adventure I’m running here as well.


The adventure centers around an asylum, L’Hôpital de Corbin, located in a mountain range (for the curative properties of alpine air).  Ten years ago, the asylum was infiltrated by a brood of Intellect Devourers fleeing persecution from their former masters (in Ravenloft these would be from the Lovecraftian Domain of Bluetspur; in other settings they could hail from the Underdark, another planet, or an alternate dimension, such as the Far Realm).  The Intellect Devourers, forming an alliance with a tribe of Grimlocks dwelling under the mountains, seize control of the asylum after discovering that the brains of the inmates are especially delectable.  Embalming the bodies of the asylum staff and replaced the orderlies with disguised Grimlocks, the Intellect Devourers continue to pose as alienists, accepting patients for treatment.  However, instead of attempting to cure the insane, the Intellect Devourers seek instead to worsen the madness of those in their care, to “season the meat,” so to speak.  Having become addicted to lunacy, the Intellect Devourers seek ever more creative (and depraved) means of worsening the insanity of their prisoners.

The characters may enter the adventure for any number of reasons, although the version given below assumes they are working for the Vistani, Ravenloft’s version of the Romani people, in exchange for passage out of the Domain of Dread.  Charged with investigating L’Hôpital de Corbin, they slowly uncover its twisted secrets and must confront the Intellect Devourers and their minions without succumbing to madness themselves.


This adventure was heavily influenced by two AD&D Ravenloft adventures – Sea of Madness in the Bleak House boxed set, and RQ2: Thoughts of Darkness.  There are several problems with these adventures – Sea of Madness railroads players far, far too much and depends on their extended capture and torture in a way that I don’t especially approve of, and Thoughts of Darkness is just too consistently strange to feel like classic Ravenloft, at least for me (there’s not enough quotidian, mundane material for the weird and horrific to stand out; the adventure might work in an extended Ravenloft campaign, but not for a jaunt to Ravenloft).  Still, these adventures have superb ideas and imagery which I’ve drawn on.  David Noonan’s adventure Spiral of Manzessine in Dungeon 94, Iain Banks’ novel The Wasp Factory, the works of the Marquis de Sade, and H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness” were also sources of inspiration to varying extents.  I wrote this adventure for my Pathfinder group (playing in the Planescape universe), but it could easily be adapted to other systems, especially horror-based systems.

Notes on Running the Adventure

  • Ravenloft sessions are ideally played in the evening, preferably by candlelight.  If you’re playing a regular campaign in which your players are whisked off to Ravenloft, I suggest making a “transition” from the regular game: at first, make them think an ordinary session is occurring, and then, as the Mists roll in, turn out the lights and light candles.
  • I use music extensively in all of my games, and I think music is especially useful for horror games.  For additional atmosphere, I suggest utilizing some storm sounds.  Play the storm sounds fairly low so that they don’t drown out the music (finding these is very easy; some samples are included below).

 Exterior storm soundtrack      Interior storm soundtrack

  • When players discover documents, make sure you have handouts prepared (preferably aged and crinkled).  Hand them the documents and have them read them aloud, squinting in the candlelight to discern the writing.
  • If characters are making Perception rolls and only one or two characters passed the roll, you may wish to scribble down what they saw on a piece of paper and then pass it to them rather than telling the whole group.
  • Don’t railroad the characters.  If they improvise, subvert the plans of the Alienists, refuse to drink the drugged wine, evade capture, burn the place down, set all the inmates free, or anything else, just go with it.  However, it’s alright to play Delacroix and the other Intellect Devourers forcefully – overly polite passive aggression is particularly suitable – as they try to trick and then eventually kidnap and torture the characters.


Sanity rules of your choice are highly encouraged.  For a basic d20 Sanity system the rules found here work adequately, and are assumed throughout the adventure.


Alternate Settings and Systems

This adventure could very easily be adapted to other settings.  While the assumed setting is Ravenloft – specifically in the Domains of Dementlieu or Richemulot – the adventure could easily be adapted to a different setting, and is particularly well suited to steampunk, Victorian, or urban fantasy settings.  If a historical setting were desired, the adventure could easily be transplanted to eighteenth- or nineteenth-century France or similar settings.

Likewise, while the system used is Pathfinder, alternate systems could easily be utilized (in particular Call of Cthulhu would work well – with Call of Cthulhu d20 most of the statistics and DCs would even remain the same).

Alternate Hooks

Here are some alternative means of getting characters into the adventure:

  • The characters have been contracted by a local government to investigate unsettling rumours concerning the asylum and its staff.
  • The characters are simply passing through the mountains and are caught in the storm, and must seek shelter or else risk exposure.  Wolves or other beasts may also harry them till they reach the asylum.
  • The characters are escorting a relative, friend, or adventuring companion suffering from a mental illness to the asylum in hopes of getting treatment for them.
  • The characters have all been having nightmares in which images of the asylum recur, a side-effect of the psychic ripples the Intellect Devourers’ activities create.  They have traveled to L’Hôpital de Corbin to discover the significance of these dreams.

Into the Mists

procession mist


A thick, dark Mist surrounds you, tenebrous tendrils of the stuff swirling round you, coiling round your limbs, caressing your skin.  Echoes of maniacal laughter resound through the eerie brume as the Mist continues to congeal, enveloping you utterly, and an uncanny sensation fills you, a feeling of deep unease.  Your skin horripilates, hair bristling, and for a moment you can no longer see your companions.  Then, gradually, the Mist begins to thin and clear.  Bone-coloured moonlight shimmers down from a sky black as a skull’s empty socket.  Rain trickles down around you, and you can hear a distant rumble of thunder.

While in Ravenloft, non-Evil characters suffer a -2 penalty to all Charisma checks.  Evil spells are empowered.  Divination spells are impeded (Spellcraft DC 15+level to cast).  Detect Good/Evil spells simply don’t function, nor do regular planeshift spells or other spells that interact with other planes (though extradimensional spaces still function normally).

Vistani Camp

As the Mist continues to clear, you find yourself in a dark mountain valley, lightly wooded.  The Mist is clearing but the rain is worsening, soaking you in a matters of moments.  You seem to be on a rough road winding up into the mountains ahead.

Perception DC 10 to note the camp:

You glimpse flickering, yellow lights off to one side of the road, nestled against the hills.


There’s a small camp up ahead, consisting of several colourful caravans clustered together, gaudily painted and lit by lanterns.  Several men and women move about the camp, stowing things in their waggons.

The Fortune-teller


A young woman with piercing eyes and dark hair partially covered by a red shawl approaches you, a quizzical look on her face.

“You are strangers in this land,” she says, stating a fact rather than asking a question.  “I can sense it.  Have you come here of your own will, or did the Mists take you?”

If they answer (truthfully) that the Mists took them:

The woman nods.  “Come; we have much to discuss.”  She gestures to one of the waggons, indicating that you enter.

The Waggon

Inside the waggon some of the night chill leaves you.  The warmly lit space is decorated with colourful cushions, curtains, and other decorations.  There’s a small table in the middle with a candle and a deck of cards.  In the back, an old woman lies on a cot, stirring fitfully in her sleep, murmuring unintelligibly.  She seems pale – perhaps she is sickly.

The young woman follows you in.  “Take a seat,” she says, indicating the stools and divans spread about the table.

After the characters are settled, the fortune-teller explains:

“My name is Tasaria,” she says.  “A seer in training, of the Vistani, of the Boem Tasque.  Long ago, we Vistani adopted the Land of the Mists as our own, and only we know the secret of travelling through the Mists.  If you aid us, it is possible we could return you to your home.  Is this something that you desire?”

If they say yes:

“My teacher, Madame Sorina, is the raunie of our tribe – the most powerful Seer we have.  She is capable of navigating the Mists, and of many other things besides, but she has taken ill, fallen into a dread sleep from which she has not awakened for days.  Before she succumbed, she spoke to me of visions in her dreams, images of a place called l’Hôpital de Corbin – an asylum established by the people of this land for the treatment of the insane.  She told me that she sensed a great evil emanating from that place, an unclean presence that clouded her Sight.  Then she lapsed into this torpor.”  She shakes her head.  “We Vistani must always move: we are a wandering people.  If we linger for too long in any one place, we begin to sicken, eventually becoming mortu, losing all of our powers.  Little time remains before this fate befalls us.”

She looks out of one of the small windows.  “If you were to seek out this asylum and rid the place of the evil that Madame Sorina saw there, it could revive her.  In exchange, we could return you to your home – or anywhere else you desire, for the Mists can touch all places.  Is this acceptable?”

If they accept:

She nods.  “I suggest you pose as travellers, seeking shelter from the storm.  This will give you pretense to enter the asylum and seek out the source of Madame Sorina’s visions.”

The Mountain Road

Öl, Leinwand34,9 x 48,5 cmFrankfurt (Main), Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Inventar-Nr. 1821, Zugang: Ankauf, 1927

The storm imposes a -4 penalty to Perception checks

The road winds up into the mountains, becoming progressively steeper.  The storm continues to intensify, lightning crackling across the black sky, dark clouds now obscuring the moon completely.  The path is slippery with mud.  You can see waggon-ruts in the road – carts have driven through here repeatedly, wearing tracks in the path.

The Goat

Perception DC 20:

High up on a crag above the path, you glimpse a black goat watching you intently with yellow eyes.  When it realizes it’s been seen the creature shakes its horned head and trots off into the storm, disappearing from sight.

The goat is actually the host for an Intellect Devourer, one of the brood in the asylum.

L’Hôpital de Corbin




The road terminates at the wrought iron gates of L’Hôpital de Corbin, an imposing building of three stories built of weathered, grey-brown stone.  Though quite ornate, the building itself is unremarkable, though its windows have all been barred.  Ivy and lichens have infested the asylum’s walls and roof, and the building looks generally run-down, but smoke issues from the chimneys and some of the windows show lights.  The structure itself  has two principal wings extending from the main building.  Apart from the sanitarium itself the grounds – enclosed by a high, spiked fence – include a small chapel, a cemetery, a coach house, and what looks like the groundskeeper’s cottage.  Rain continues to pour down, and thunder echoes off the surrounding mountains.

The Intellect Devourers

The Intellect Devourers who now run L’Hôpital de Corbin – the Alienists, as they call themselves – will put on a show for the characters, pretending to be a “normal” asylum.  When required, the Grimlock orderlies and other servitors utilize potions of Disguise Self brewed in the alchemical laboratory in the basement in order to masquerade as human.

The adventure assumes the non-Psionic version of the Intellect Devourer, but it would be very easy to adjust it to use the Psionic variant instead.

There are 13 Intellect Devourers total (though, of course, this number can be adjusted as desired).  At the beginning of the scenario, they are assumed to be in the following bodies:

1) Ulthoon is in the body of a goat patrolling the area around the asylum.

2) Ilsenzor is in the body of an inmate, posing as the groundskeeper.

3) Quasiriant, the “leader” of the brood, is in the body of Dr Delacroix (Alienist stats for host, full stats below).  If not escorting the characters, he’ll usually be in his study.

4) Yrgell is in the body of Nurse Genevieve in the Infirmary.

5) 4 more Intellect Devourers are in Alienist bodies, generally in their quarters (16), or in the basement (in Examination Rooms, Laboratories, the Marionette Room, etc).

6) 5 are in the bodies of inmates either posing as staff or in the basement chambers.

Statistics for additional hosts and for particular NPCs are provided in the Appendix.

The Orderlies

At any given time, they are around 20-30 Orderlies in the asylum proper itself.  The rest of the tribe (another 40 or so Grimlocks) lurk in the Tunnels below.

Orderlies are betrayed by their tendency to sniff and their failure to meet the eyes of anyone they come across. They also cannot speak the Common tongue well, doing so brokenly if at all.  Repeated attempts at communication are met with blank looks, hisses, and bared teeth.

When an Orderly is killed the Disguise Self spell dissipates and they revert to their ordinary form, which provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4):

The Orderly falls dead, and his visage seethes and bubbles, an illusion dissipating and skin sloughing away to reveal a different face beneath – grey-skinned, hairless, and with white, blind eyes and a mouthful of fangs.

Seeing a Grimlock alive without the illusion provokes a Sanity check as well (0/1d6).  The maximum sanity loss Grimlocks can provoke is 6.

The Grounds


The grounds are ill-tended and overgrown, the grass tall and unweeded.  Gravel paths wind throughout the sanitarium’s estate, and the now-barren remains of flowerbeds or vegetable gardens can be seen here and there.  Copses of sickly-looking trees loom over the grounds, casting spidery shadows on the pale grass.  The rain has churned the ground to mud.

The Groundskeeper

The “groundskeeper” is nothing more than a gate-guard at this point – he does nothing to actually maintain the grounds.  He’s actually a former inmate that’s been taken over by an Intellect Devourer, Ilsenzor.  The inmate/host has stats similar to these, but wields a dagger (+8 to hit, 1d4+4 damage) and a stout cudgel (+8 to hit, 1d6+4 damage); he may also be equipped with a pistol or musket.  The groundskeeper patrols the estate periodically and will approach characters if they attempt to investigate the chapel, coach house, cottage, or cemetery:

A scowling, red-haired man with a pockmarked face approaches you.  He carries a cudgel in one meaty hand and a lantern in the other, and wears a somewhat shabby uniform of some kind.  He raises the lantern and squints at you with black, beady eyes, rain pattering off his leather hat.  His complexion is waxen and pale; he looks unwell.

“Trespassers, is it?” he asks, baring yellowed teeth.

As with the other Intellect Devourers’ hosts, the groundskeeper is slowly rotting.  Perception DC 20 to notice the man smells awful, somewhat like rotting meat.  A Perception check of 30 or higher reveals a small patch of rotting flesh on his wrist, partially concealed by his fraying sleeve.  The groundskeeper – who calls himself Gerard after the previous, actual groundskeeper – will attempt to escort the characters to the asylum proper.  He has a ring of wrought-iron keys with ornate bows forged in the shapes of body part – the Eye, Hand, and Heart keys.

Coach House

The coach house is built of the same stone as the asylum itself and has an attached stables; several horses can be seen within.  The doors to the coach house are open, revealing a large carriage and a smaller waggon within.  Hitching posts surround the carriage yard.

There are six heavy horses here.  They are well fed and cared for, though there likely won’t be any stablehands around.  The players may need to avail themselves of the horses to escape the asylum at some point; in this event, throw a pair of Grimlocks in to complicate things.

Groundskeeper’s Cottage

The groundskeeper’s cottage is a small, single-story building built next to a stagnant pond.  Like the chapel and the coach house it’s made of stone, though its roof is of wooden slates and looks to be slowly rotting, ridden with moss and fungi.  The windows are dim and shrouded with curtains.

The cottage is locked (Disable Device DC 20 or use the Eye Key).

The groundskeeper’s cottage is a slovenly mess; the furniture (a bed, table, a few chairs, and a chest of drawers) is beginning to rot, the deer-hide rug is tattered and stained, and the place has not been cleaned or swept in quite some time.  There are several paintings of pastoral scenes hanging askew on the walls, but they have been defaced, the figures in them now bear extra heads, limbs, or body parts belonging to animals, scribbled additions in charcoal or what might be blood.  A rusty, double-barrelled musket (leans against one wall, next to an open chest with a small supply of gunpowder and round bullets.

There’s a double-barreled musket here, obviously, along with 30 bullets and 30 doses of gunpowder.


The asylum’s chapel is in a state of disrepair: the door has been boarded up, chained, and padlocked, and some the stained glass windows have been cracked or broken.  A pair of moss-ridden gargoyles leer at you from the thoroughly rotten roof.  A cemetery adjoins the disused chapel.

It requires a Strength check (DC 20) to remove the boards by hand, and the door is locked (Disable Device DC 20 or use the Eye Key).  Inside:

The chapel is small and shadowy, with rows of stone pews set before a modest altar and a wooden pulpit, now beginning to rot.  A rat scurries across the floor.  The stained glass window at the far end of the church depicts a shield with a sword pointing downwards, adorned with a sprig of belladonna.  Despite the dereliction of the chapel, a sense of calm fills you here. The sound of the rain pattering against the stained glass windows is curiously soothing.

Any non-Evil character taking refuse of the chapel heals 1d4 Sanity points immediately (this only occurs once).

Knowledge (religion) DC 25 to recognize the symbol of Ezra, Lady of the Mists.  On the pulpit there is a book of prayers, including this common prayer:

“Blessed Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mists,

She who sacrificed Herself to fill the Hollow,
Healer of the sick, protector of the weak, guide to the lost,
To You we pray. Watch over us, Your people.

Take us under Your protection,
Show us the light when we are lost in darkness,

Defend us when the Legions of the Night draw close,
Lead us to our place in the Grand Scheme,

And bring us through the night to the shelter of peace.”

In the pulpit there’s a compartment (Disable Device DC 25 to pick) containing 4 Scrolls of Protection from Evil and a +1 Holy Silver Dagger with the word “Grace” engraved on the blade.



The cemetery is of considerable size, filled with dozens of headstones marked only with numbers and dates.  Many of the graves are chipped or weather-worn, spattered with bird droppings or overgrown with weeds and lichens.

An examination of the headstones turns up something unusual: the last person buried in the graveyard died over ten years ago (year 735).  Before that point, bodies had been interred fairly regularly.  This is because it was ten years ago when the Intellect Devourers and their servants moved in; the Orderlies have been eating bodies ever since, rather than burying them.

The Asylum





The doors to the asylum open, and a smiling figure minces across the foyer towards you.  Dressed in a dark coat, vest, and stockings and wearing a powdered wig, the man is pale and exceedingly gaunt.  Dark eyes glimmer from his sunken sockets, and his yellow grin reminds you of a skull; in one hand he holds a lamp.  He extends his other hand, pallid and long-fingered, offering it to shake.  Thunder crackles distantly.

“Ah, welcome to L’Hôpital de Corbin!” he says.  “We so rarely receive sane visitors.  I am Dr Delacroix, the Aliéniste Principal.”

Dr Delacroix – actually the Intellect Devourer Quasiriant – will warmly greet characters, offering them food, rooms for the night, and the promise of a tour in the morning (this assumes, of course, the characters have arrived at night; if they’ve arrived in daylight, adjust accordingly).  Perception DC 20 to the person shaking his hand:

Dr Delacroix’s hand is cold and clammy, his handshake is very firm.  As you come close to the thin, elegant figure you catch a whiff of some strong cologne masking a sour smell reminiscent of spoiled meat and acrid chemicals.

Delacroix will invite the characters to sup and will attempt to lead them up to the Dining Room on the second level of the asylum before escorting them to the guest chambers on the third.  Then the real fun begins…

First Floor


1 – Foyer

The foyer is an expansive tiled chamber with a reception desk and a crystal chandelier.  A somewhat rickety but richly carpeted stair winds up to the second and third floors of the sanitarium, while ornate wooden doors to the right and left lead to other parts of the asylum.  Hanging on the walls are several paintings: one is a portrait of a distinguished looking man in a powdered wig with a prominent nose and steely eyes with a plaque reading “Dr Valentin Morel” beneath it, another depicts a local mountain scene, sunny and pastoral, with frolicking goats and locals, and a third is actually a framed anatomical drawing of a giant squid.  A few lit candles provide meagre illumination; outside you can hear the rain and storm.

Perception DC 15:

You can hear noises elsewhere in the asylum – a distant scream, a cackle of laughter, and someone sobbing desperately.

Perception DC 25 (same roll – if they got a 25, just keep reading):

In addition to the sobbing sounds, you can hear someone pleading desperately for mercy, begging someone else to stop hurting them.  You think, also, that you can hear the sound of some machinery, somewhere – the creak of gears, the tautening of a rope.

2 – Mess Hall

This long chamber must be the mess hall – there are a series of long wooden tables with benches arrayed in two columns.  A set of double doors leads to what is probably the kitchen.

3 – Kitchen

The kitchen is unremarkable, with several large tables, a stove, pots and pans hanging from pegs, and a dumbwaiter with a small lever beside it.  A stone stair leads down into the cellar, and an adjoining pantry contains spices, foodstuffs, baking supplies, and other ingredients.

The kitchen staff consist of three disguised Grimlocks.  If the characters barge in during working hours (the day, basically) they will be preparing meals here for the inmates:

Three female servants work to prepare a meal, clad in dingy aprons and uniforms – one is skinning a rabbit while a second chops vegetables and a third kneads dough.  They scowl at you as you enter, saying nothing.  One sniffs loudly and murmurs something unintelligible.

If combat breaks out they use kitchen knives and cleavers as weapons.

4 – Infirmary

The door to the infirmary is locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or use the Heart key).

This room must be the asylum’s infirmary, judging from the rolling steel trays with scalpels, bandages, and other medical supplies and the beds that line the walls.  Many of the beds are swathed in curtains, obscuring any occupants.  You can hear moaning sounds and the rattle of restraints coming from one of the obscured beds near the back of the hall.  An open door to one side leads to a stairwell winding down into the earth.

Pulling aside the curtains reveals the patient:

Pulling back the curtains, you discover a patient strapped to one of the infirmary beds.  Obviously an inmate, the man’s head has been shaved, and his body is covered in a hundreds and hundreds of zigzagging stitches.  For a moment you think the man must be covered in boils, but then you realize the round protrusions that mottle his limbs and torso are not pustules but eyes – a multitude of them in a variety of colours, some obviously culled from animals, others from humans.  The eyes rove and blink, some weeping profusely, some closed, some twitching and rolling wildly.

Sight of the “Peacock” provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4).  As the characters examine the grafted inmate Nurse Genevieve approaches them stealthily, creeping out from behind another set of curtains (Stealth +9).  If she is undetected she will plunge a syringe of tranquilizer (Fortitude DC 20 or become paralyzed for 1d3 minutes) into the neck of the nearest character.  If she is seen beforehand:

A tall, gaunt woman in a nurse’s uniform creeps towards you, a syringe in one hand, a bloodstained scalpel in the other.  She exudes a graveolent stench poorly masked by perfume.

Statistics for Nurse Genevieve are provided in the Appendix.

5 – Games Room

The stuffed heads of local wildlife – wolves, bears, stags, and boars – stare down at you from the walls of this musty games room, which looks thoroughly disused.  There are a number of dusty tables set with checkered boards or strewn with cards, some cobwebbed, rat-eaten leather chairs, and a scuffed billiards table.

6 – Guard Room

This square guard room contains a round table and chairs.  A pair of burly, pallid guards lurk here, speaking to one another in low, guttural voices.

7 – Arsenal

This room is locked (Disable Device DC 40, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Hand Key)

This looks to be a small arsenal for the orderlies, containing dozens of straitjackets, padded armour, protective masks, orderlies’ uniforms, and batons.  There are also many fetters, shackles, manacles, and other restraints, as well as muzzles and gags.

There are 10 suits of padded armour and 20 saps in each armoury.  There is a 10% chance of finding a 6 wheelock pistols, a musket, 100 bullets, and a barrel of gunpowder as well – the Grimlocks don’t like firearms, and the Alienists discourage the use of lethal force in any event (preferring to consume still-living brains that haven’t been dashed to pieces by bullets, thank you very much).

Male Ward



This ward is fairly quiet, punctuated by occasional moans, murmurs, or the sound of rattling chains.  An orderly patrols the corridor, occasionally growling at inmates behind the bars of the ten cells that line the walls of the passage.

All doors in this area are locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Brain Key).

In total there are 97 male inmates here.

8 – Male Cell

You peer through the bars to look into a fairly large cell which has been filled with inmates.  The men here jostle for room, clad in dirty rags or the mouldering remnants of uniforms.  As you approach they shy away, drawing back as far from the bars as they can.  Wild-eyed, thin, and filthy, the inmates look more scared and brutalized than mad, though some of them do mutter and mumble to themselves.

Some of the inmates here are quite disturbed, but a number are clinging to the shreds of sanity and can be reasoned with using a Diplomacy check (DC 25).  They naturally assume the characters are Intellect Devourers in disguise.  If released, they violently attack Orderlies and Alienists alike, but may also attack the characters.

9 – The Satyr

Unlike the other cells, only a single inmate occupies this small chamber.  He grins at you from behind the bars, leering lasciviously, and steps into the lamplight, revealing a twisted body that has been modified through surgery or magic or both: in place of feet he has large hooves, a pair of horns have been sutured to his scalp, and his eyes have been replaced with the yellow, horizontal-pupiled eyes of a goat.  He bleats horribly.

Sight of the Satyr provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).  This poor inmate has been driven quite mad, having convinced himself he’s a faun as a coping mechanism.  He has a gore attack (+2 to attack, 1d6 damage), and will be more inclined to attack female party members.  With proper treatment he can regain his humanity.

10 – The Werewolf

Shackled to the far wall of this room is a malformed figure; at first you take him for a lycanthrope or similar creature, but then you realize the lupine body parts he possesses – the snout, tail, and paws of a wolf – have been grafted on, roughly stitched to his body.  The wretched inmate howls and barks, straining against his chains.

Sight of the Werewolf provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).  This deranged inmate will attack any who releases him with his bite attack (+2, 1d6, plus Filth Fever).  He can be calmed with a Wild Empathy check (DC 25), and with treatment can regain his humanity.

11 – The Mob

Whatever diseased mind created this hideous agglomeration of human flesh, it could not have been human.  The bodies of a dozen inmates have been fused together, resulting in a twitching, writhing mass of limbs, heads, and torsos, moaning and skittering in the gloom.

The Mob provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6+1).  The “creature” is in no condition to fight (indeed, the Mob would have trouble even getting out of the cell), but can attack (10 attacks, +2 each, 1d4 non-lethal) if characters get too close.

Female Ward

mouthpiece 2Anatomy


This ward is lined with barred cells full from which you can hear the occasional whimper, groan, or shriek.

The rooms in this ward are locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Brain Key).

In total there are 124 female inmates here.

12 – Female Cell

This cell is full of women in straitjackets or ragged uniforms, some of them obviously mentally disturbed, others clinging to what shreds of sanity they have left.  They shy away from you as you near the bars.

Some of the inmates ( here are quite disturbed, but a number are clinging to the shreds of sanity and can be reasoned with using a Diplomacy check (DC 25).  They naturally assume the characters are Intellect Devourers in disguise.  If released, they violently attack Orderlies and Alienists alike, but may also attack the characters.

13 – The Spider

At first you think this cell must be empty, but then you spot the woman clinging to the ceiling with six arms, four of them grafted to her torso through some abominable mixture of sorcery and surgery, all six equipped with some means of gripping the bare brick.  Additional eyes have been grafted to her forehead, as well, giving her the appearance of some monstrous spider.  Clearly deranged, the woman hisses and climbs into a corner of the room.

Sight of the Spider provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).  She has the same statistics as other inmates but has six attacks and the multiattack feat.

14 – Pregnant Inmate

The woman in this cell is dressed in inmates’ garb.  Her swollen belly indicates she is in the later stages of pregnancy.

Giselle was interred some time ago for “hysteria,” before her pregnancy was known, and the Alienists have kept her pregnancy secret from her well-off merchant family, who will pay handsomely (10,000 gp) for her safe return.

The next two floors of the asylum, the attic, the basement, and the tunnels beneath will be up soon, plus player handouts and stats for important NPCs.

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