BEARDED DEVIL

Monsters, Horror, Gaming

Tag: Ravenloft

Fever in the Blood: The Belle de Nuit Plantation

 The Belle de Nuit Plantation

Belle De Nuit

The descriptions below generally presume that the characters are exploring the plantation at night, but they may wait for the day, in which case any Vampires of Vampire Spawn will be resting rather than active; adjust descriptions accordingly.-

The plantation should be treated essentially as an outdoor dungeon, the various buildings functioning much like rooms.

Soundtrack

The Green Maiden

A steamboat – or what remains of one – lies beached on the bank of the bayou. The vessel has been reduced to a charred skeleton of a craft, its beams blackened, its pilothouse an incinerated stump. It looks like anything of value that might have been found in the boat has been stripped. Detritus and a few partially burnt bodies bob in the water around the vessel. Beneath the soot and burn-marks you can just make out the name of the boat – The Green Maiden.

Perception DC 20 to notice several other steamboats that have been sunk to the bottom of the bayou.

OutbuildingsViewofLouisiana

Slave Quarters

Soundtrack

The slave quarters are now used as a kind of prison, run by the Vampiric overseer. Passengers snatched from steamboats or even bred on the plantation can be found here was well as in some of the animal pens in other parts of the plantation. A number of Vampire Spawn and other creatures also lair in this area.

Slave’s Cabins

The former slave cabins are grouped in a kind of village here. They’re small wooden houses, little more than shacks; many have had their doors and windows boarded up. You can hear noises coming from several of them. There are roughly two dozen cabins in all. Gaunt, shadowy figures shamble between the cabins as if patrolling.

The shambling figures are 10 Juju Zombies created by the former slave, now Vampire Dorothea, who lives in the plantation house. Being attacked by one of these undead guards provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6). The Zombies can still function in sunlight and thus ensure that the prisoners in the cabins do not escape.

All cabin doors are locked (Disable Device DC 25 to pick, Strength DC 22 to force). Those containing human prisoners are also usually boarded up, requiring an addition Strength check (DC 22) to remove the boards, unless the characters use weapons. The overseer’s key opens the doors. Most cabins have roughly the following properties:

The cabin has a rough dirt floor. Its walls are lined with mouldering bunks, and a tiny, rusted stove sits in one corner. There’s a strong smell of rot.

There are 26 cabins total. Their inhabitants and other contents are shown below:

1 – 4 Vampire Spawn slumber here during the day, but at night they can be found in the kitchen yard and elsewhere in the grounds.

2 – 6 human prisoners are crammed into the filthy room of this cabin – survivors of the Green Maiden. Unlike many, they’re not infected with marsh fever.

3 – 5 human prisoners are quartered here, all of them sick with marsh fever and hallucinating violently. A sixth has been cannibalized, her blood spattering the walls and floor, gnawed bones scattered everywhere (Sanity check 1/1d4+1).

4 – 4 human prisoners are crammed in here, not afflicted with fever badly malnourished. Two corpses moulder in the corner, but the prisoners have not brought themselves to touch them. The smell is atrocious as the cadavers begin to rot.

5 – 3 Vampire Spawn slumber here during the day, but at night they can be found working in the plantation house.

6 – 4 human corpses lie in this room, all dead from fever. An appalling stench requires a Fortitude save of DC 15; otherwise, those in the room are Sickened for 1 hour.

7 – 5 human prisoners are quartered here, 3 of them near-death from exsanguination.

8 – 3 human corpses lie here, all of them bloodless. After sundown, 2 rise as Vampire Spawn and will begin battering at the door to get out.

9 – This cabin is empty, the floor and walls crusted with old bloodstains. Till recently there were prisoners here, but they died and have been moved to the charnel house in the cemetery.

10 – This cabin is used for storage purposes; heaps of old clothes, some partially rotted, are kept here, along with piles of cheap jewellery (worth a total of 50 gp if gathered up), all of it taken from steamboat passengers.

11 – A solitary Ghoul lives in this room, which is spattered with gore from the creature’s victims – it was a passenger who resorted to cannibalizing its fellows before dying and revivifying in Ghoul form. The sight of it crouched amidst a mass of bones provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6). Unlike the Ghouls in the cemetery it has not yet been let loose.

12 – This cabin has lost its roof and part of its wall; it’s uninhabited.

13 – 2 drugged, unconscious human prisoners (former passengers) are kept here, both covered in leeches from the cistern (see below).

14 – A dying human woman and two corpses can be found here; the woman is bruised and bleeding from a pair of ugly bite-marks in her neck, and the corpses both have been staked with bits of snapped-off furniture. The woman has been severely traumatized by having to kill the two Vampire Spawn (her sisters) who attempted to drain her after revivifying.

15 – 3 swamp-folk have been taken prisoner here; they may be helpful allies against the Vampires, but are currently unarmed. None are infected by fever.

16 – The doctor Terrence Merrick is kept here, along with 2 other prisoners and 1 corpse from the Green Maiden. Though afflicted with fever the doctor may be of use against the Vampires, or in treating the infected.

17 – This damp, empty cabin has been given over to brown mold.

18 – There’s a hole in the roof of this cabin, which contains 3 charred skeletons – Vampire Spawn, newly revivified, who were killed by sunlight.

19 – 6 human prisoners are crammed into the filthy room of this cabin – survivors of the Green Maiden. 3 are infected with marsh fever and beginning to lose it; 3 are still uninfected, for now.

20 – A large hole in the floor here leads down for 20 ft. into the Nest. Otherwise, the cabin is uninhabited. Unlike the disused tunnel in the springhouse, this entrance is frequently utilized by the plantation owners and their minions in addition to the entrance in the cellars of the plantation house.

21 – 4 human prisoners from an older steamboat are imprisoned here, quite mad but otherwise reasonably healthy. They will perceive any rescuers as Undead and likely attack them or cower in fear.

22 – A swarm of rats afflicted with marsh fever instead of filth fever feasts on five human corpses here, several little more than skeletons. The rats live in the rotting walls and roof of the cabin. Being attacked by the swarm provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).

23 – This cabin is used for storage purposes – heaps of cutlery, plates, pots, and dozens of bottles of wine, brandy, ale, absinthe, and other liquor. The cutlery isn’t especially valuable, but there are seventeen bottles of fine wine (10 gp each) in amongst the heap of bottles. The bottles could be used as makeshift grenades or as a means of starting a large fire (say, burning down the plantation house).

24 – 5 human prisoners are crammed in here, including the former captain of the Green Maiden, Mortimer Oldstone (a foreigner, as it happens, from Mordent), who wants revenge against the Vampires. 2 are suffering from marsh fever.

25 – 3 Ghouls and a Ghast feast on the jaundiced bodies of several dead prisoners here. If discovered by Vampire Spawn they will be driven off – they killed these prisoners without prior permission.

26 – 2 Vampire Spawn children dwell here during the day. At night they can be found by the animal pens, “playing.”

slave cabins

Slaves’ Infirmary

A wooden building somewhat larger than the slave cabins moulders at the edge of the slave quarters here, its roof decaying, its windows boarded up.

Inside:

This looks to be an infirmary: there are a number of beds, as well as some rusted-looking medical equipment scattered about the counter of a large glass cabinet storing numerous bottles and jars, as well as bandages and similar supplies. Footprints through the thick layer of grime suggest that this place does occasionally see use.

There’s a masterwork healer’s kit here, along with 10 phials of antiplague, 6 phials of antitoxin, 12 doses of smelling salts, 6 doses of stillgut, 4 doses of soul stimulant, 3 doses of vitus flask, 4 potions of Delay Poison, and 6 potions of Restoration. There are various other reagents, here, but they are not especially useful on their own.

Overseer’s House

A small house only a little larger than the slave cabins sits at the edge of the slave’s quarters. It’s in slightly better repair than some of the other structures here, but fungus still mottles the wooden walls, and the chimney has collapsed. The windows have all been boarded up.

The overseer’s house is always locked – Disable Device DC 25 to pick, Strength DC 25 to force.

Inside are two rooms – the front room and bedroom.

Front room:

You enter the parlour or front room of the house, a small, cluttered chamber with a ragged but rich-looking rug on the floor and faded landscapes on the walls. Old books and records are stacked haphazardly here. There’s also a few chairs, a hearth, and a cabinet of duty crockery. Cobwebs shroud the ceiling, and there’s a strong smell of mildew. A door, slightly ajar, leads to the next room.

Bedroom:

The bedroom contains not a bed but a wooden coffin overflowing with rancid-smelling grave-dirt. Empty bottles smeared blackish-red are scattered about the room like a drunkard’s leavings. A stained, round table stands to one side, a coiled whip upon it. A heavy wooden chest sits at the foot of the bed.

During the day, the overseer slumbers in the coffin; during the night he drinks blood at the table. The overseer:

The overseer of the plantation is a corpulent, bloodless creature with red-smeared lips. At his belt a ring of keys jangles; in one bloated hand he holds a mostly-emptied bottle of half-clotted blood. His tatterdemalion clothes are stiff from old bloodstains.

This horror provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6). Statistics are supplied in the Appendix.

If a fight breaks out at night in the slave quarters he will likely come and investigate instead of remaining in the house. His keys can be used to open any of the doors in the slave quarters.

The chest (locked – Disable Device DC 30 to open) contains 123 gp

outbuildings

Kitchen Yard

Soundtrack

The kitchen yard is a large courtyard enclosed by a low stone wall, just behind the plantation house. Eight buildings can be found here. Overgrown with weeds and grass, the kitchen yard is nonetheless one of the more active parts of the plantation, as evinced by the well-trod paths that lead to and from several buildings and up to the back door of the house.

At any given time there’s a 50% chance that a group of 1d4 Vampire Spawn are roaming here on some errand or other, provided it’s at night. Sounds of fighting have a 25% chance of attracting a pack of 6+1d6 Ghouls from the cemetery.

Cookhouse

The cookhouse – a detached kitchen – stands not far from the main plantation house here, and unlike most of the outbuildings it hasn’t yet reached complete dilapidation, though ivy and moss grow on its brick walls and obscure its windows. The building is long and low, with two entrances, one boarded shut. You can hear movement from within, followed by chilling screams!

Inside:

A scene of horror assails you as you enter – a young man, pale and haggard-looking but still alive – is being prepared for a meal, here, as a yellow-eyed man in blood-spattered chef’s whites extracts the screaming victim’s entrails. The man has been pinned to the table with metal cooking skewers.

“Quit yer yammering and hold still,” the gruesome cook instructs irritably. “Chitterlings ain’t gonna stew themselves ya know!”

Two other pallid, shuffling figures lurk in the background, busying themselves with grimy pots and pans by the large stove. A third grinds sausage in the corner. Cabinets full of more cookware and preserved herbs line the walls.

This macabre cookery-in-progress provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1). There are four Vampire Spawn here who attack immediately if disturbed, provoking a second Sanity check (1/1d6). The head cook has a copy of the servant’s key.

Though salt is absolutely never used in food preparation here, four large sacks of the stuff can be found in one of the cabinets. They’ve lain here for the better part of a century: the cooks can’t touch the stuff. The salt can be used to create a safe place to rest even in the heart of the plantation.

Washhouse

The old laundry or washhouse of the plantation is badly decayed, a long wooden building with broken windows and a roof riddled with bird’s nests and moss. The door stands open.

Inside:

Despite the decrepitude of the building the washhouse looks to be one of the plantation outbuildings still in use: clothes hang from several lines stretched across the room, and there are basins and tubs for washing. Though several are full of dirty, stagnant water, another with cleaner water is being used by a bloodless, yellow-eyed woman in rags, washing a fine shirt.

This former slave is now a Vampire Spawn. If she attacks a Sanity check (1/1d6) is required. She has a copy of the servant’s key.

Milkhouse

A dilapidated wooden shack with peeling white paint and a shingle roof now mostly rotten, letters over the door indicate that this was the milkhouse. The windows have been boarded up.

Inside:

Shelves with old milk bottles line the walls of this room, filled not with milk but with semi-coagulated blood, thinned to keep it liquescent. A butter churn with a wooden plunger sits in one corner, though it looks to have been used to churn organs and cruor rather than butter. Almost every surface has been spattered with blood.

The gruesome milkhouse provokes a mild Sanity check (0/1d3). The bottles of blood can be used to throw Vampires off the scent and to distract Vampire Spawn for 1d4 rounds if broken – the Spawn stops to lap up the blood, although they will defend themselves if attacked. Full-fledged Vampires are not so easily distracted.

Smokehouse

The smokehouse is a small building with a sloped roof, now riddled with moss and lichens. The walls are of crumbling, discoloured brick. There are no windows, and only a single entrance. A firebox half-buried in the earth stands to one side.

Inside:

Within the smokehouse, dismembered human limbs and decapitated heads dangle from where hams might once have dried. Smoke has preserved these gruesome morsels, piped in from a hole in the floor, though currently the firebox outside is unlit. Despite the preservation flies buzz about the body parts, and some writhe with maggots.

Sight of the meat provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1). Though there is no treasure here, the human body parts can be used to distract Ghouls or other flesh-eating Undead, as well as animals. Throwing the meat will buy characters 1d4 rounds while a Ghoul or other creature devours the morsel (obviously, Ghouls will still defend themselves if attacked while feeding).

Pigeonaire

pigeonaire

A two-storey octagonal tower of stone, the pigeonaire has a steeply angled roof. Masses of black ivy strangle the tower and obscure the solitary entrance. Small holes in the side of the building would allow pigeons to enter or exit.

The ivy must be hacked aside to gain access to the pigeonaire; the door is also swollen shut, requiring a DC 20 Strength check to open, and locked, openable with a servant’s key.

Inside:

The pigeon holes piercing the sides of the tower admit slender shafts of light here. The bloodless husks of birds, and small rodents cover the floor, along with hundreds of tiny, crunching bones. Small, leathery shapes roost in some of the pigeon-holes, and you can see a number of eggs in nests of twigs and bones as well.

During the night, the swarm of stirges that dwells in this building are out mostly out hunting – only 1d12 will be encountered here at any given time, these half-full (they will only drain 2 Con before being sated). During the day, all 36 of them roost here, and will attack any characters who disturb their nest. Like her pet mimic and many of the Undead kept in the barn, the stirges are the result of Damienne’s strange experiments. All of them carry marsh fever. The swarm will pursue characters from the pigeonaire if disturbed. If any of the stirges are killed at night their shrill keening will attract others of their ilk, and within a minute another 5+1d12 of them will arrive at the pigeonaire to defend the nest.

The only way to deter the stirges is to offer them blood – a large quantity of it can be found in the milkhouse, and there are also animals in the pens. If sufficient blood is spilled, the stirges will drink it instead of attacking, and, once sated, will ignore intruders.

Attack by the stirges provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).

Chicken House

chicken house

While most of the animal pens are outside the kitchen yard, a derelict chicken house moulders in the shadow of the pigeonaire, here. A fenced outdoor coop lined with etiolated straw sprawls beside the chicken house itself. The coop is strewn with scraps of some translucent, scaly substance. There’s no sign of any chickens, but you can sense something moving inside…

Inside:

Within the low-ceilinged chicken house are rows of perches and nesting areas for chickens. Instead of birds, however, the house has a different occupant: a massive, coiled snake. It moves sluggishly, its eyes gleaming with an unearthly light; you can see that its body is putrescent and partially decomposed, patches of missing scales and flesh exposing rotten muscle and innards. Hissing, the undead snake slithers slowly towards you, tasting the air with its forked tongue!

This zombie constrictor (see Appendix for statistics) is one of Damienne’s experiments; she keeps it here as a pet, feeding it scraps from the kitchen. Seeing the creature provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Cistern

You approach a round, brick building with a rotten wooden door and a domed roof. Mildew mottles the decaying brickwork.

Inside:

This building is a cistern, a central depression in the floor holding a large quantity of water. Buckets are piled near the rim of the depression.

Three leech swarms lurk in the water, here – Stealth is +16 in the (relatively) clean water, assuming adequate light or vision. The Vampires are breeding them in the cistern; they occasionally have a prisoner thrown into the water and drained. Their corpse is then hauled out and the leeches removed. The Vampires can then feed on the leeches, cutting them open to get at the blood within. This is somewhat easier than bringing a prisoner into the plantation house. Other times thralls will cut the leech open and drain it of blood, to be bottled and stored in the milkhouse.

Being attacked by the leech swarms provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4).

Springhouse

A half-buried wooden structure protrudes from a mound of dirt here. The door is shut.

The door is swollen shut and requires a DC 20 Strength check to open.

Inside:

Foodstuffs might once have been kept in this cool, gloomy spring house, which has become infested with mould and mildew, puffballs of fungus riddling the walls and yellowish mould covering almost every surface, filling the air with spores and a sour pungency. There’s an old well here, leading down into darkness.

The well now connects with the Nest below the Plantation House. This entrance is not used by the Vampires or Elders and has largely been forgotten about. Perception DC 25 to hear soft footsteps padding down below, and the faint echo of a moan…

The fungus riddling the walls is dangerous yellow mould that bursts forth spores if the room is explored at all.

Well

An old, crumbling well sits in the middle of the kitchen yard; the shaft descends down into blackness.

The well leads directly to the Summoning Pool, but it’s tricky to enter this way – Climb DC 30. Falling, however, is not especially dangerous in and of itself, since the Pool lies below. Of course, anyone who falls in will have to face several Elders…

Ancillary Buildings

creepy farmhouse

Soundtrack

Carriage House

Two rather handsome coaches stand in the carriage house here, the rotten doors hanging off the building’s hinges to reveal the vehicles within. The large carriages are black, with heavily shrouded windows; anyone inside would be safe from the sun, with the curtains drawn. Four horses would be required to draw the heavy carriages.

The carriages are fully useable. Each carriage can hold up to 6 passengers in the cab.

Stables

A repellent, rotten odour wafts from the decrepit stables, their roof weighed down by moss and hideous fungal growths. Something whickers from within…

Inside:

The horses stabled here are grey, dull-eyed things covered in necromantic glyphs. A few near the back have decomposed – putrescent, hoofed horrors, their near-fleshless equine skulls gleaming. There are twelve in all. The hay here is matted, filthy, and brittle.

The horses attack any non-undead who approaches them, provoking a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Blacksmith’s Workshop

Little remains of the former blacksmith’s workshop but a few scattered tools and loose timbers.

A set of blacksmith’s tools can be scavenged here.

Schoolhouse

This small building might once have been a schoolhouse. A small, dark hand-print stains the front door…

At night, young voices can be heard inside, and giggling.

Inside:

Small desks fill most of this room, which has a large chalkboard on the far wall and piles of dirty books around the periphery. Old blood stains the walls, as if a group of children have been finger-painting. The chalkboard is covered in Aklo letters.

At night, several undead children and a teacher will be present – naturally, some Vampire Spawn created from passengers are children. Statistics are included in the Appendix.

Half a dozen young children – all of them pallid and well-dressed – sit in the desks, watching a lesson from a gaunt, white-skinned woman; she appears to be instructing them in some sort of religious matter, leading them in a hideous chant.

Cemetery Grounds

Graveyard_in_Black_and_White

This area is mostly shunned by the Vampires, since the church itself is consecrated ground. While they dump bodies in the Charnel House, they rarely come here. However, the entire area has been overrun with Ghouls and Ghasts – mostly former prisoners who cannibalized one another and then rose from the dead due to the necromantic energy emanating from the White Leech. These feral creatures are not under the control of the Vampires, but maintain a largely peaceable relationship. However, they tend to resent the Vampires’ control of the plantation – after all, they’re former prisoners – and may prove useful allies if carefully negotiated with. Their leader, Susana Gautreau, now known as Madame Yellow-Teeth, can be found in the mausoleum.

Cemetery

The cemetery is a muddy, overgrown expanse, the grass nearly waist height. Dozens of rotting wooden grave-markers protrude from the damp earth, along with a handful of stone slabs, mostly hidden by vegetation. Many of the graves have been disturbed, some dug up, others clawed open. Splinters of coffins and gnawed bones are scattered about the desecrated graveyard. A dilapidated chapel stands nearby, as well as a long, low building from which an awful stench emanates. Perched on a low hill at one end of the cemetery is a stone mausoleum, its stern, graven doors violated.

At night, somewhere 20+1d20 Ghouls and 3d4 Ghasts roam the cemetery – Perception DC 15 to hear rustling in the grass. They do not necessarily attack on sight, but neither are they friendly to the characters:

Scuttling forms emerge from the high grass, crawling on all fours like beasts. Emaciated and spindly-limbed, these creeping horrors bare grotesque fangs, their pale eyes glowing in the mist. You can smell their reeking breath, a putrescent miasma that makes you gag. The things do not seem to be Vampires or their Spawn – they are too feral, too animalistic. They seem to be very numerous. Circling you and watching you carefully, they make hissing sounds and lick their scabrous lips with grey, swollen tongues.

The pack provoke a Sanity check (1/1d8).

Chapel

The rickety old clapboard chapel looks thoroughly disused, the paint peeled, windows dusty and cobwebbed. Despite its decrepitude the chapel is strangely peaceful.

The chapel is a place of refuge. The Vampires and their Spawn cannot enter it and even the Ghouls and Ghasts are uncomfortable near it.

Inside:

A thick layer of dust covers the floor and pews of the chapel. At the far end hangs a rusted shield with the image of an inverted silver sword and a sprig of belladonna adorning it. Scattered about are a number of musty books and scraps of parchment, presumably scriptures, as well as several holy icons in the shape of an inverted sword. One such tome stands on a lectern near the shield.

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

The book is the First Book of Ezra; it is open to the following page:

In the time before, in a land cloaked in Mists, there was a woman, and She was Ezra.

Ezra was a healer of the sick and protector of the weak. Such was Her lot in life. Such was Her role in the grand scheme. Ezra took pride in the role Fate had given Her. Her duty was Her joy.

For many years, Ezra healed the lame and watched over Her people. Yet as time went on, Ezra began to see the Hollow. From the Mists of Death came horrors of the night. They were the drinker of blood and the stealer of breath and the beast that rends. Many were their legions. Many were the roles played by darkness in the Grand Scheme.

Ezra knew that Death would come for Her, as it comes to all in time. When Ezra entered the Gray Land, there would be no guardian to fill Her role. There would be no one to stand between Her people and the Legions of the Night.

Ezra set forth on a quest to find a guardian for Her people. She sought the One Pure Heart who would assume Her role. Ezra sought for the One Pure Heart in many lands, but ever did She seek in vain.

In time, Her quest brought Ezra to the end of all things. Behind Ezra stretched all the lands of the world. Before Ezra rose only the Mists of Death.

Ezra spoke to the Mists. Asked She, “The world is yours. You set its shape. Why do you allow its people to wander, lost and afraid?” But the Mists did not answer.

Again Ezra spoke. “Why have you filled your world with the Legions of the Night?” Yet the Mists would not answer.

A third time did Ezra speak. “All things have their role in the Grand Scheme. The Legions of the Night have their place, but Guardians and Guides have their roles in turn.” Still the Mists offered no reply.

Ezra spoke once more. “I have searched all the vastness of your lands, but I have found no Guardians for My people. I have found no Guides for the lost.” Again the Mists were silent.

For the last time did Ezra speak. “You have failed the Grand Scheme. You have created a Hollow that must be filled. If you will not watch over your people, then that task falls to me.” Upon the fifth entreaty did the Mists of Death reply.

From the Mists came a Voice, and the Voice spoke, saying, “Turn back, Mortal. You know nothing of the Grand Scheme. You know nothing of the Mists. You have reached the end of Your world. Continue and You shall find only Your destruction, nothing more.”

Yet Ezra held fast against the Mists, saying, “You cannot bid Me enter, yet I cannot turn away. I offer Myself to you so that you may know the suffering of My People. If I must be destroyed for them, then that is what must be.” The Mists of Death fell silent.

Then the Voice spoke once more. “Enter the Mists if You must, Mortal, but not as You are. Your kind has no place here. To enter the Mists, You must become as one with the Mists. Never again shall You leave them. Will You forever sacrifice Yourself to watch over these few mortals?”

Spoke Ezra, “Such is My role in the Grand Scheme. So must it be.” And with these words did Ezra become Our Guardian in the Mists.”

These aren’t especially relevant to the scenario, but they do provide some interesting insight into the lore of Ravenloft.

The shield on the wall has been imbued by Ezra with holy significance. It functions as a +1 Heavy Steel Shield; once per day it can be used much like an Elysian Shield to release a wave of positive energy that panics undead, as the Turn Undead feat (Will DC 20 negates).

A thorough search of the scattered parchments or a DC 30 Perception roll on a general search reveals a single Scroll of Sunburst (Caster Level 15th).

There are also 8 holy symbols scattered about here – usefully for repelling Vampires.

Charnel House

This fungus-riddled building might be some sort of charnel house. A cloying, putrid reek curdles the air.

Inside:

A hideous mass of bloodless and jaundiced corpses is piled up within the confines of the charnel house – dozens and dozens of corpses stacked haphazardly, writhing with maggots, their flesh riddled with circular bites. Dragging several of these bodies out of the pile are half a dozen hunched, gruesome creatures scuttling on all fours.

6 Ghouls harvest bodies here; this is essentially their larder. The sight of this appalling heap provokes a Sanity check (1/1d10). Occasionally some of these bodies rise as Spawn and must contend with the Ghouls to survive.

The bodies have been thoroughly looted of valuables.

Mausoleum

The mausoleum is quite large and ornate, though overgrown with writhing creepers. Its doors have been forced open, and a vile reek emanates from within…

Within the mausoleum are rows of violated sarcophagi; a black pit gapes at the far end. Squatting amidst the heaps of gnawed bones is a corpulent Ghast or grotesque size, attended by half a dozen Ghouls. The monstrous queen feasts on a human arm with long, yellow fangs. Heaped in a corner are numerous valuables – gold and silver jewellery, fine clothes, and similar items.

This is Madame Yellow-Teeth, the gluttonous Ghast matriarch (Sanity 1/1d6). She is voraciously hungry at all times and will send her minions to fetch the characters as a snack – unless they convince her otherwise. If they persuade her that getting rid of the Vampires would somehow help them, she might become allies with the party, but this is a tough sell: though marginalized, the Ghouls survive on the leavings of the Vampires, and the arrangement is mostly equitable.

The heap of valuables are scavenged grave goods totalling 3500gp (total weight is around 150 lbs).

Agricultural Buildings

plantationSugar Mill

This run-down building has clearly not been used in years. A large chimney juts from the decaying roof.

Inside:

Rusting machinery fills most of the building’s interior; the air smells of corroded metal. There’s a huge wheel and a series of cranks and levers. Heaped in one corner in mouldy burlap sacks is a large quantity of raw sugar; in another, masses of rotten sugar cane are strewn. Rats swarm throughout the building, some gnawing on the sugarcane.

There’s a pack of 3 rat swarms here.

Loom House

This rather nondescript building has a sagging roof and walls riddled with moss. Its windows have all been broken and the door has rotted off its hinges.

Inside:

Weaving equipment, including several large wooden looms, fills this space, along with masses of rat-gnawed yarn.

Granary

An old granary stands here; unlike many of the the buildings on the plantation it’s quite well preserved, a stout building of wood and brick.

Inside:

Perhaps surprisingly, the granary is filled with actual grain. Some of it is mouldy and stale, but much of it would still be edible.

The grain is used to help feed prisoners.

Pens

These animal pens have been surrounded by sharpened stakes and brambles. A few lean-looking animals – pigs and goats – wander about within.

The animals are alive, and used to feed prisoners. Animal blood can also be used to temporarily distract Spawn or stirges.

Tobacco Barn

barn

This old, derelict barn – which smells faintly of tobacco – has been boarded up, its doors barred and reinforced, the holes in the walls covered. You can hear something large shuffling around within, occasionally bumping loudly against the walls…

Inside:

The shadows of the tobacco barn are black, obfuscating the thing that lurks near the far wall, but a carrion stench assails your nostrils as you enter. Then the creature moves, hauling itself from the darkness with too many limbs. Unfinished, the legless horror sprouts half a dozen arms, some terminating in blades or tools. Four heads loll haphazardly from the overlarge, stitched-together torso, patchwork scraps of flesh adorned with Aklo glyphs. The horror moans in what might be pain or hunger and begins dragging its bulk towards you!

The Failed Experiment requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).

It has statistics similar to this Golem but with the “Unholy Flesh Golem” rules.

Cotton Barn

This large barn has been firmly locked, the doors chained shut, the holes in the roof patched. Something within scrabbles and scratches at the walls as if with long fingernails.

Inside:

The fleshless horrors that scuttle along the walls and floor of this barn are the stuff of nightmares – flensed corpses infused with horrible unlife, digging long talons into the earth and wood. There are three in all, some partially dissected – one has a gaping chest cavity, another has its belly slit open, and the third is decapitated.

The Dissected provoke a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Corn Barn

This barn is abandoned and badly rotted, one wall having entirely collapsed, the roof mostly disintegrated. Mould and lichens infest the ruins.

Unlike the other barns there’s little here, though the barn might be a good place to hide temporarily.

Fever in the Blood: Events

independence_startofthesantafetrail1842_johnstobart1250x719

These events can be interspersed throughout the journey. Modify and improvise as required.

First Case

Perception DC 15 in a hallway or promenade:

You notice that one of the passengers seems somewhat pallid, with a sallow cast to his skin. He’s sweating heavily and shivering, stumbling along in a daze.

The marsh fever is a virulent illness. This passenger – a cabin passenger, seduced by Francois, though without memory of the encounter – is named Bertrand Isnard. He was on his way to Port d’Elhour to take a job as a clerk. A successful Diplomacy check to Gather Information (DC 20) or speaking closely to the bartender reveals the following about him:

“He’s been aboard two days now. Was drinking last night with that fellow Francois Suzeneau; the two seemed pretty friendly. I’m not one to pry, but my suspicion is that old Bertrand wasn’t much one for the ladies, if you catch my drift. I saw Francois slip into his cabin later that night.”

Of course, the characters may not discover this information at all. If asked about Bertrand and their encounter, Francois says the following:

“He seemed a decent fellow; excellent company,” the dark-featured man says. “He was good enough to invite me for a night-cap in his cabin. If you’re implying that anything indecent went on, I’d ask you to mind your manners.”

If Bertrand’s disease is disclosed:

“As you can see, I am quite well. I thank you for your concern, but I feel perfectly healthy.”

Naturally, Sense Motive checks will shed further light on such things.

Close examination of Bertrand’s body reveals a leech-shaped bite-mark on his left wrist.

If Doctor Lafitte is summoned he will inspect the patient in Bertrand’s cabin:

Doctor Lafitte examines the patient carefully, checking vitals, listening to his chest with a wooden tube, peering into his eyes, measuring his temperature, and asking a series of questions about symptoms, which the patient discloses as headache, pain in the joints, and sudden coldness. After concluding the examination the doctor looks grave.

“It may be simply an autumn ague, but I fear the worst,” he says in a quiet tone. “I suspect this man has contracted some variety of malaria, commonly known as marsh fever. I will begin treatment at once – quinine and frequent leeching – but in the meantime someone must fetch the captain.”

This is a good job for the PCs, of course. If they can actually reach Captain Leathers he’ll begrudgingly come and speak with the doctor and the characters, plus the first mate, Pierre:

“We must keep this situation quiet,” the captain says. “There’s no sense in causing a panic. Doctor, any expenses incurred by this man’s treatment will be paid by me in full, in addition to one hundred silver dollars for your discretion.”

“I would advise that you burn the patient’s clothing,” the doctor suggests. “It may be contagious. Medical experts are currently divided as to whether marsh fever is caused by bad air, as wisdom has long held. I subscribe to a somewhat more unorthodox theory. I believe that certain parasitic organisms, too small to be seen by the naked eye, may be responsible for the disease, though I am not entirely certain how such parasites are transmitted. By burning the clothing we may prevent a spread of the ailment through the laundry.”

“I’ll see to it,” the first mate says. “Sir, you’ll be reimbursed for the expense,” he adds to Bertrand.

If the characters manage to get Evangline Pardoe, the clairvoyant, to use her hypnosis to Recall Bertrand’s memories, he will lie about the incident, ashamed of his encounter (Bluff is +1). He will only divulge the truth under duress, but will reveal the following before snapping out of the hypnotic trance:

“Francois… came to my room. Had us a night-cap. Nice fellah… mouth like a woman’s. But all those teeth! He came towards me, put his lips to my wrist…” He shakes himself, coming out of the trance. “Get this witch away from me!” he snarls. “She’s making me spout lies and blasphemies!”

Although the vampires usually kill their victims before the marsh fever can, in Bertrand’s case the fever takes him in the night, and by morning he will be dead. Because he has been fed on and died in part from blood loss he will rise as a Vampire Spawn – sometime during the next night.

The characters will be summoned to his cabin.

Bertrand lies sprawled on the bed, deathly pale, his body contorted into an expression of anguish. He’s clearly dead, his eyes wide and staring. The doctor stands with the captain nearby, looking down at the corpse.

“Close the door,” the captain urges.

“As you can see, the patient expired,” the doctor says. “He was raving madly towards the end, gibbering and hallucinating. He seemed to believe he’d been the victim of some monster, and kept demanding drink. He became violent and had to be sedated. Shortly after, death took him.”

“We will need to get rid of the body,” the captain says, rubbing his eyes. “And we will need to do it surreptitiously. If the body is seen it may incite a panic.”

“My suggestion is to burn the body,” the doctor says. “Throwing it in the river may contaminate the water. But if he were taken ashore and cremated, there would be no risk of spreading the infection.”

“You’ve already been exposed,” the captain says to you. “And you seem men and women of substance. If you assist me in disposing of the cadaver, I would consider you my guests aboard this vessel, and the fees for your passage and meals would be reimbursed.”

If the characters agree…

“We are due to stop to refuel at a small woodyard tonight,” the captain says. “That would be an opportune time to go ashore. The passengers will mostly be asleep.”

If the characters go through with this plan, Bertrand will reanimate before being cremated:

As you lay the body out on the swampy earth, its limbs suddenly twitch. Jaundiced eyes flutter open, swivelling towards you, as the cadaver groans, opening a mouth filled with new-grown fangs, hundreds of tiny teeth crowding the inside of his cheeks, giving his gaping rictus the appearance of a lamprey’s maw. Crooking his hands into claws, the undead Bertrand rises, hissing with bloodthirst!

Sight of the creature provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Disappearance

antebellum geek girlThis is good to spring on characters after they’ve been introduced to the First Case but before they cremate Bertrand.

A dark-haired young woman approaches you, a worried look on her face. She’s well-dressed and wears gold-rimmed spectacles.

“Please, have you seen this man?” She holds out a locket containing a small painting of a handsome, dark-haired young man in a pale suit. “He’s my brother, Martin. I can’t find him anywhere aboard; he seems to have gone missing.”

The siblings are Martin and Lisa Favre, travelling to Port d’Elhour to sell some of the town properties of their dead father. Martin was seduced by the beautiful Angelique, but she was over-eager in her feeding and killed him accidentally. He’s currently stowed in the bathtub, in the locked bathroom of Angelique’s suite (the lock is DC 25 to pick), the top-right suite on the Cabin Deck (Suite D):

The corpse of a young man lies sprawled in the bathtub, bloodless and inert, eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. He’s naked, and his body is covered in small, round bite-marks, like those of a leech – particularly around his neck.

Martin will reanimate as a Vampire Spawn under Angelique’s control within 24 hours, so the disappearance will eventually be “solved” – Martin will claim to have been wandering the ship, gone ashore during a stopover, etc. Lisa will be relieved but still a little unnerved. Of course, she’ll be next – Martin will Dominate her and lead her to Angelique.

If asked about Martin before he reanimates, Lisa has this to say:

“I saw him last night, in the Saloon. I’d gone to bed – I’d been feeling a trifle light-headed – but he was drinking with some of the other passengers. This morning, I knocked at his cabin door, but there was no response. I haven’t seen him since.”

If Martin’s cabin is entered, all that characters will ascertain is that his bed was not slept in. Speaking to the chambermaids will confirm that his bed was unused. Lisa last saw Martin speaking with the traders (Gustave, Renault, etc). Renault will confirm this, but adds some more details:

“Ah, the dandy-boy? Yes, he drank with us for a time, but then he became somewhat distracted by a young woman, one of the beauties aboard this boat… the blonde, young one, I forget her name. He began speaking with her, and they seemed to be quite merry. After that I confess my memory gets a bit fuzzy! I had been imbibing a good deal myself…”

If asked about Martin, Angelique has this to say:

“The handsome young man? Yes, we spoke last night. When I retired for sleep he was still in the Saloon.”

Sense Motive vs. Bluff to discern the lie.

The Scream

 Soundtrack

This is a good event to spring on the characters if they seem at loose ends or unsure of how to proceed. It is ideally placed in a somewhat out-of-the-way location on the ship (i.e. not the Grand Saloon), at night.

Perception DC 15:

Over the hubbub of the boat and its passengers you hear the unmistakable sound of a scream, somewhere up ahead. The shriek is cut off, as if someone muffled it.

Racing ahead reveals the following:

A thin, red-headed woman lurches from the shadows, her dress rumpled. She looks pale and confused. Her garments are stained with blood – her own. A wound at her wrist drips onto the deck. She stumbles towards you, shaking her head.

“How…” she begins, as if unsure of herself. “How did I get here…?”

The woman is Charlotte Soileau, a deck passenger. She has no memory of what occurred to her. Close inspection of the wound reveals what looks like a leech-bite.

Henri lurks in the shadows – his Stealth is +17. A successful Perception check reveals his silhouette just before he assumes his gaseous form:

A wisp of fog lingers near the deck here, bilious and yellow in hue, like a patch of curdled air.

If Evangeline hypnotizes Charlotte at the behest of the characters (using her Recall ability), she can retrieve the following:

“There was… there was a creature. A thing, it looked like a man – handsome, well-dressed – but its mouth was all wrong, filled with hundreds of tiny teeth. I remember he came toward me, gliding out of the shadows, and suddenly it was like I couldn’t move, couldn’t look away. He bit me, and for a moment I broke the spell, managed a scream, before he clamped his hand over my mouth. He was strong, stronger than anyone I’d ever met, and his touch was cold, clammy and moist.” She shudders.

Of course, Charlotte has been infected by marsh fever. She will begin showing symptoms after a day, but by then things will have gotten considerably worse aboard the Somnambulist.

The Race

race

This event should take place on the first day of the journey.

The horn of the steamboat blows, and you can hear whistling steam as the Somnambulist begins to speed up. Passengers and crew alike rush out onto the promenade to see what’s going on. A second steamboat – slightly smaller than the Somnambulist but still sizable – is pulling up alongside it: the Nightjar. Painted in darker colours than the Somnambulist, the Nightjar is also a sidewheeler, sleeker and lower, with three decks instead of four.

Both ships sound their horns again, and suddenly fire and white smoke burst from the Somnambulist’s smokestacks, and the vessel begins rapidly accelerating. The Nightjar sounds her horn once more and likewise speeds up – it looks like the two boats are going to race. Money begins changing hands amongst the spectators.

This is a good chance for the characters to make some cash, but it also means that the interior of the boat is basically abandoned, giving them a chance to search rooms or cabins if they wish. Only the conspicuously absent vampires are still in their suites.

Those that want to observe the race can observe the following:

The two steamboats round a bend in the river, the Somnambulist a little ahead of the Nightjar. Another bend is imminent, forcing the steamboats to turn rapidly. On the Nightjar’s decks you can see crew and passengers cheering for their own boat.

Perception DC 25 to notice:

Through the trees obscuring the river round the next bend you can see a third steamboat – it seems to have ran aground! If either the Nightjar or the Somnambulist take the corner at the wrong angle they could plough into this vessel!

The characters may want to try and warn the pilots, in which case the Somnambulist will steam ahead and win the race. Otherwise, the boat will graze the steamboat run aground and lose, while also being hampered itself:

The Somnambulist turns the corner only to face a third steamboat, run aground on the riverbank! It’s too late to stop and the vessel continues on, smashing into one corner of the other vessel. It slows to a stop with a grating of gears – something must be wrong with the engines.

The smaller vessel, called the Gypsy Moth has been wrecked, smashed nearly to pieces. It was a snug sternwheeler, built for cargo rather than passengers. Curiously, there’s no sign of the crew…

This delays things considerably. The vampires had nothing to do with this incident, however – rather, it was the swamp-folk. They attacked this vessel and took the crew captive, dragging them into the swamp, as a Survival check of DC 12 will show:

The soft earth discloses several sets of footprints leading both to and from the steamboat wreck. You also note several bloodstains, not yet fully dried, on the deck of the grounded steamboat, as well as a number of bullet-holes riddling the wood and nearby trees.

If the characters want to take the time, they can track the footprints deep into the marsh to find the swamp-folk camp – about a dozen swamp-folk dwelling in four crude shacks, half-eaten human and animal remains strewn about their cooking-fire. Numerous bear-traps and spiked pits will be found en route. 4 of the crew can be found still alive, kept in a deep pit (30 ft.) outside the camp with thorns and sharpened stakes around its edges; while alive, their hamstrings are cut.

The Séance

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The observation lounge has been shrouded in thick curtains and lit with bubbling lamps. A small crowd has gathered – it looks like a good number of the cabin passengers are in attendance, though notably the preacher is absent. The genteel men and women you saw in the saloon earlier are all here, as well as a small number of the crew. The medium sits at a large table at one end of the room.

“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen,” the clairvoyant says theatrically. “Welcome. I am Mademoiselle Evangeline Pardoe, spiritualist and clairvoyant extraordinaire. Tonight, we will make contact with the Spirit World! As the steamboat passes down the river, we may encounter the shades of those that met their end upon it, or the ghosts of lost relatives or friends, drawn through the Veil… but first, let me warn you. No matter what occurs – no matter what manifestation may appear – do not approach me. For your own safety I urge you to keep a healthy distance.”

The spiritualist closes her eyes, palms upturned. She speaks in a low voice.

“Spirits! I call you from beyond the Veil. Speak to me now, if you would commune with the living!”

The characters will be able to recognize many of their fellow cabin passengers – including Damienne Suzeneau and several of her relations – in attendance.

You may wish to improvise or prepare scenes specific to the characters. However, several results of the channeling will not vary. The following constitutes a list of spirits that Evangeline channels:

The Good Father: The clairvoyant opens her eyes, her irises glowing with a pale light. Her expression changes drastically – it’s almost as if the flesh of her face was rearranging itself – and she assumes a stern glare. Standing from the chair she assails the audience with a thunderous, booming voice, mostly certainly not her own.

“The pit of fire and the gnashing of teeth!” the spiritualist declares. “All sinners will burn in the lake of brimstone! Punishment eternal awaits those of you who dare to disobey the laws of god and nature… thieves and liars, murderers and violators, adulterers and deviants… all will be consumed in the flames come the end-times. This sickness, this sickness is a sign, I tell you! A sign from the heavens that the end of all things is nigh!”

Ghostly blue flames flicker from the woman’s fingertips as she points at the audience, gesturing imperiously.

This is the spirit of the priest from the Green Maiden; he doesn’t realize he’s dead. If convinced of his own ghostly nature he becomes very distraught that he’s not in the promised paradise and will attempt to burn up Evangeline. She will suppress him but will come out of the channelling singed and smoking.

Claude: Again the clairvoyant’s eyes open, and again an unearthly luminescence shines forth.

“Where… where am?” a voice says. “Am I… am I in Souragne? Is this the vessel known as the Green Maiden?”

This is Claude, one of the Green Maiden’s passengers. His memory of his time aboard the vessel is garbled, and he can only communicate fragments – mist, fire, blood, screams and laughter, mad dancing, the feeling of breath on his neck. However, upon seeing Damienne Suzeneau he begins to recollect a few things:

“You…” the man says, looking towards Damienne Suzeneau. “Madame, are we acquainted? I could swear I have met you before.”

Damienne raises an eyebrow. “It is possible, sir. I have met many people on my travels, though I have never taken passage on this Green Maiden. Perhaps we met on some other vessel?”

Sense Motive vs. Bluff (+20) to notice that Damienne seems amused, as if in on some joke.

Madame Roslyn: Once again the clairvoyant opens her eyes, a soft blue glow shimmering from her irises. She looks around curiously.

“Ah,” she says in a pleased, knowing tone. “A séance. How appropriate… I had sometimes imagined that, one day, I might converse from the other side of the Veil.”

Unlike many of the other spirits, Madame Roslyn can communicate a few more concrete details. If asked about the circumstances of her death she can provide the following information:

“My death was quite sudden, I believe. I was on a steamboat, much like this one. There was some sort of sickness aboard, some variety of fever. Quite ghastly. It seemed to be driving the passengers mad. I had locked myself in my cabin, listening to the commotion outside… but then the insects began creeping in, buzzing and crawling. I remember them quite distinctly – a veritable swarm of mosquitoes. They seemed to seep like a cloud of black mist beneath by door and then to buzz all around me. Quite understandably I was alarmed, and began waving my arms to bat them away, but they formed a kind of dense cloud, like to the figure of a man, almost solid. The cloud embraced me, and I could hear the buzzing of thousands of wings… and then I remember nothing else, till I had passed the Veil and entered upon the Spirit World.”

Madman: Yet again the clairvoyant closes her eyes only to open them again, but this time the light shining from within is red, not blue. Her body contorts and twists, hunching over, her muscles tensing, the veins in her neck standing out. The audience gasps.

“It is coming!” she says. “The Thousand-Suckered-One, who dwells in the City of Black Liquid! The Thirsting Sire who spawned the Pallid Brood! Beware his harbinger, the White Leech from the Mists of Time! Beware the Squirming Man! Iä! Iä! They are here! The Afflicted Ones! Beware their yellow breath, their crimson lips, their eyes like pits of night unending!”

The characters can ask questions of the spirits, which they may or may not answer. They may also request that Evangeline contact a certain spirit. If they know the name of the spirit, and especially if they have something of their body, or a personal possession, contact becomes more likely. Each attempt to contact a spirit requires a Concentration check on Evangeline’s part (+10). The DC for contact is 15+1 per year the character has been dead.

Dissidence

Goya_Dona_IsabelThis event needs to be triggered carefully, if at all. It might need to be sped up if the characters are moving quickly (discovering who the Vampires are, making plans against them)… or, alternatively, excised altogether. Consider it an option. The story plays out perfectly well without it, but it can provide a stronger bridge to the plantation portion.

The vampiress Isabelle does not agree with Damienne and her coterie. She wants to break free of the Elders and believes the vampires should abandon the plantation and move to Port d’Elhour or another city; she’s tired of the rural lifestyle and believes the devotion of the other vampires to the White Leech and the Thousand-Suckered-One a doomed fanaticism. If approached carefully, she will be willing to betray the vampires, to lead the characters to the plantation, and to provide them with useful information.

However, it should be clear that Isabelle is no saint. This is not a vampire with a soul – she’s just as bloodthirsty as the others. It’s merely that she’s a decadent, and her hedonistic ways clash with the values of the others.

Here’s a physical description:

One of the women seems aloof from the rest of the group – though just as finely dressed and elegant as her compatriots, she speaks little, sipping periodically from a glass of dark wine and casting bored-looking glances around the room. She wears a black dress perhaps a trifle more risque than those favoured by those around her. Long crimson tresses fall past her white shoulders.

She can reveal some details of the ceremony to summon the Thousand-Suckered-One, and how it might be averted:

“The night of the ceremony draws near; the time of Alignment approaches. It will be marked by the appearance of a red moon in the sky – the result of an eclipse, the earth caught betwixt sun and moon. At this time the Elders will awaken, stirring in the Nest. My kindred will prepare the sacrifices for slaughter, shepherding prisoners down into the darkness. These will be bled into a vast pool in a cavern deep beneath the plantation house of Belle de Nuit; cauldrons of blood will be overturned till the pool turns red. The Elders will bite their own wrists and add their own blood to the Summoning Pool as they chant the Aklo words of the Crimson Rite. Red moonlight shed through a narrow shaft in the ceiling will shine upon the Pool, transforming it into a portal, a wound between worlds. From out of that rupture the Thousand-Suckered-One will emerge, to slake its thirst and wreak red terror on all that stand in its path. It will devour everything, leave the land empty and desolate.

“My kindred have deluded themselves into believing the coming of the Thousand-Suckered-One will usher in an era of vampiric domination, a paradise for our kind, when all will be subjugated to our rule… but I see the truth. The Thousand-Suckered-One is an elemental thing – an incarnation of the Thirst. It has no intellect, no taste, no refinement. It exists only to consume. My kin call mortals cattle, animals, but they do not see the irony in their own judgement; the Thousand-Suckered-One is little better than an animal, a great verminous parasite, a mewling, idiot god. Why would I want the mortals enslaved when I can already bend them to my will as I please? Why would I want their civilization destroyed when it provides me with endless pleasures?”

Sabotage

explosion

This should likely take place 2-3 days into the journey, after the characters have settled in a bit.

There’s a tremendous grinding, shearing sound from the lower deck, followed by a wrenching sound and a series of colossally loud bangs. The Somnambulist shakes violently, and the engines stop.

The Somnambulist is now dead in the water, stranded on the river. If the characters investigate on the main deck they’ll discover the following:

The boiler room is in a state of chaos – a significant section of the boiler machinery has blown, and it looks like a small fire was only barely suppressed. Burst pipes leak steam and moisture throughout the room, and a badly scalded crewman writhes in pain on the floor, while other deckhands desperately tend to the ruptured workings of the boat. It doesn’t take an engineer to confirm that without repairs to the boilers and associated pipework, the Somnambulist is not going anywhere.

Search for the spare parts that would normally have been used to conduct repairs reveals that they’re missing; in fact, they’re hidden in the cabin of Narcisse and Phillipe.

The Sickness and the Atrocity

The sickness and the atrocity happen after the sabotage, with the latter taking place about 2-3 days after the former, but you should play fast and loose with the timeline when required. Details on these events can be found in the Somnambulist notes. The sickness progresses gradually, so you may want to introduce it bit by bit. The atrocity happens much more rapidly, when the vampires decide to commit to their slaughter. Both can be averted or mitigated with clever thinking – in no sense should they be considered inevitabilities.

Following the atrocity, the vampires steer the Somnambulist back to the Belle de Nuit plantation…

Fever in the Blood: The Somnambulist

The Somnambulist

Somnambulist

Soundtrack

A horn sounds over the water, cutting through the chittering of insects and the other sounds of the night. Light glimmers on the river as a vast, pale shape pulls into view round a corner – a huge steamboat, two enormous wheels churning the water to either side, propelling it forwards. Four decks tall, flat-bottomed, and over three hundred feet long, the boat is truly massive, its huge iron chimneys jutting a hundred feet into the air, breathing out plumes of steam into the black sky. Despite its behemothic size, the vessel has a delicacy about her, with wrought iron railings teased into the semblance of flowers, women, and gargoyles. The cupola of the pilot house glitters, catching a ray of moonlight. Even at this distance you can see that the boat’s woodwork is ornate, carved and painted with images of trees and fanciful beasts. The curved wheelhouses bear the steamer’s name: the Somnambulist. As you watch, this pale beauty pulls into the wharf, and a gangplank comes down. You can hear roustabouts yelling and other crewman shouting instructions as the boat begins to disgorge cargo while taking on new freight, fuel, and passengers.

The steamer stays in Les Hiboux for a short spell; the characters can purchase passage for 5 silver pieces per day (for a place on the main deck), 5 gold pieces per day (for a personal cabin), or 10 gold pieces per day (for a suite).

The Somnambulist should be thoroughly explored. Feel free to provide the deckplan to the players – this will help them visualize the boat and navigate it.

The next section of the adventure should play a bit like a murder mystery. The steamboat may feel claustrophobic, at times, and the characters will have little to do save to converse, carouse, and explore. Encourage them to get to know the different crew-members and passengers before proceeding to the “Events” which precipitate later portions of the adventure.

The main descriptions of different areas of the boat are delivered as if the boat were empty, since at different times of day or night different individuals will be present or absent. Adjoining most descriptions are supplementary descriptions to be added for Day and Night, as well as during the Sickness and during the Atrocity that will likely take place later on. These descriptions should of course be modified as required.

Marsh Fever

leech

Every day that the characters spend on the Somnambulist they have a 25% chance of being exposed to marsh fever via mosquito, +25% per day. Marsh fever has the following characteristics:

Type disease, injury; Save Fortitude DC 20

Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day

Effect 1d3 Str damage, 1d3 Con damage, 2d6 Sanity, and target is fatigued; Cure 2 consecutive saves.

Main Deck

the_omaha_cuttingfirewoodbymoonlight_1856_gary_r_lucy650x390

The Stairs

A pair of grand stairs sweep up from the main deck towards the boiler deck, the broad steps leading upwards into the grand saloon above. Rich, ornately patterned carpeting covers the stairs, lending the ascent an air of luxury.

Boiler Room

The boat’s eight boilers – huge, metal cylinders – run along either side of this large room, fixed to brackets that suspend them off the floor. Furnaces stoked with wood heat water in these boilers; steam-lines radiate out from the boilers along the ceiling towards the adjoining engine room.

Day/Night: The boat’s firemen are busy loading the furnaces with more fuel, sweating profusely in the heat. The boilers fill the air with the sound of hissing steam.

See the Firemen under Crew for more details.

Sickness: With the boat dead in the water, the boiler room is currently unoccupied, the furnaces cold.

Atrocity: Someone has restarted the furnaces, but instead of coal the furnaces are stuffed with dismembered body parts, the boilers filled with blood instead of water. A white-faced, mad-eyed crewman – or possibly a passenger – hacks a corpse to pieces with an axe in the middle of the room.

This Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) attacks anyone who interferes with his butchery.

Engine Room

SS_Humboldt_engine_room

The engine room is a greasy, churning mass of machinery, powered by the steam-lines that run from the boiler room into this one. Here the boat’s massive engines turn the two wheels on either side of the vessel, propelling it through the water. The air smells of hot metal and steam, but not of rust – the engines are well-maintained. Portholes command a view of the river outside. A series of bells that ring occasionally seem to indicate when the boat needs to turn, slow, or speed up.

Day/Night: The engineer barks orders to assistants here, ensuring that the engines are kept running smoothly.

See the Engineer under Crew for more details.

Sickness: With the boat currently drifting, the engine room is quiet, the great paddlewheels still.

Atrocity: The engines churn once again, tended by dull-eyed, shambolic crewmen.

The crew here are either Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) or simply Dominated humans.

Galley

The galley on the boat is large and well-stocked, with a pantry, barrel after barrel of preserved food, and several long tables for preparation. Knives, cleavers, pots, pans, and other cooking implements hang from pegs along one wall, next to the stove. Stacked in the corner are cages containing live chickens, robins, pigeons, pigs, rabbits, and other animals. Haunches of cured meat dangle from the ceiling, alongside bushels of herbs and netting containing potatoes, turnips, leeks, onions, and other vegetables. A dumbwaiter connects to the floor above.

Day: The kitchen staff are busy preparing a meal, here, slaughtering chickens and plucking their carcasses and dicing vegetables and herbs.

See Chief Cook and Assistant Cooks under Crew below for more details.

Note that salt can be found here in very significant quantities, which is very useful for protecting rooms at night against the Vampires or otherwise deterring them (unlike most Vampires, the residents of the Belle de Nuit are deterred by salt, not garlic).

Night: The kitchen is deserted at night, the kitchen staff having turned in for the day.

Sickness: The cook and one of her assistants still labour here, though they look somewhat worse for the weather, wheezing and groaning, their skin pallid. Several of the animals slumber fitfully in their cages, but others look as if they might have died. Flies buzz about them. Lethargic, the kitchen staff have let the place become grimy and unwashed. A soup lies cold and congealed on the stove, and a haunch of meat gone bad festers on a table.

Atrocity: The cook is in the midst of butchering the corpse of a passenger here, carefully removing organs and disjointing the man as if she were carving up a chicken. She hums to herself as she cooks. On the stove, blood and brains simmer in a thick stew next to a panful of eyeballs braised in a fragrant wine sauce. Half a dozen decapitated heads, their eyes plucked out, lie amidst discarded onion skins, chicken bones, and other kitchen detritus in the corner. The galley is covered in blood and feathers. Perhaps most hideously, the smells in this room are quite delectable.

Seeing this culinary grotesquery provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1). The cook is not hostile unless someone messes with her meal, in which case she attacks them with a cleaver (1d6).

Freight

The cargo room of the boat is crammed with crates, barrels, and boxes of every size and description. Labels indicate shipments of indigo, tobacco, cotton, grains and other foodstuffs, and similar goods. In addition to trade goods, the boat’s fuel supplies can be found here: lumber, coal, and barrels of lard, stored neatly away from the rest of the freight.

Day: Passengers, roustabouts, and other deckhands lounge around here, some playing cards or dice, others eating, reading, or talking.  A few passengers nap, lying against the walls of the cargo room.

Night: Poorer passengers sleep in amongst the cargo, unfurling bedrolls and blankets on the floor to provide some small degree of comfort.  A few sit up, gambling or reading by lamplight.

See the Deckhands section for more details.

Sickness: A great chorus of nauseous groans fills the cargo hold with echoes, as dozens of deck passengers languish here, leaning against crates or the walls or one another. One vomits blood, a great gout of blackish, putrid fluid. Deckhands and roustabouts vainly try to keep order, but they too are afflicted, sluggish. A woman in the corner is ranting about rats and fending off anyone who comes near with a hatpin, while a man of middle years seems to be self-medicating with copious amounts of alcohol, swilling the stuff in great glugs as if terribly thirsty.

Atrocity: Looters openly pry open crates, scattering everything from tobacco and grain to fine clothing about the cargo room. The floor is slippery with blood; several corpses are strewn about here, some with throats slits, others covered in hideous leech-bites. Hallucinating passengers shriek and tear at the crates or else huddle in the corners, ranting and gibbering.

Promenade

The promenade on the Main Deck is fairly plain and very low to the water, with only a small railing and a few feet between the promenade and the river. The walkway curves around towards the enormous paddlebox containing one of the sidewheels.

Day: By day the air is hot and unbearably humid, mosquitoes buzzing in a thick black cloud about the promenade, feasting on anyone who happens by. Passengers lean against the rails, watching the water and swatting at these bloodsucking insects, while the occasional crewman wanders by on their way to some other part of the vessel.

Night: By night the promenade is nearly deserted. The air is muggy and close, though the night brings with it an eerie chill.

Sickness: Passengers and crew lurch along the promenade like damned souls, aimless, some staring out across the river vacantly, others slumped against the wall. One deckhand retches over the rail. Now that the ship has stopped the mosquitoes have grown even thicker than usual and now swirl about in a dense, buzzing cloud.

Atrocity: You arrive on the promenade in time to see a jaundiced, mad-eyed crewman throw himself from the deck into the river below with a splash. Bodies of the sickly, the dying, and the dead are draped across the floor or leaned against the wall. A feral-looking woman with torn skirts and flushed skin is rifling through the belongings of the fallen, poking the bodies with a hatpin to ensure they’re dead or passive enough to loot.

Boiler Deck

Grand Saloon

Stateroom_Saloon_of_the_Isaac_Newton

The Grand Saloon runs nearly the length of the boat; a huge dining and living area, all gilt and polished hardwood, with a crystal chandelier, long tables, a number of private dining booths, and a fully-stocked bar where bottles of ale, wine, and liqueur are stored. The floor is richly carpeted and the walls decorated with fine oil portraits and landscapes, including pictures of steamboats racing down the river and several paintings of women that verge on the scandalous. The plans for the Somnambulist are also framed here, for all to see. Stairways lead up from the Grand Saloon to a gallery encircling the entire room, adjoining the passengers’ cabins. Doors lead to the library, the barber’s room, the steward’s office, and a dance room.

Day: By day, the Saloon bustles with passengers sitting, talking, eating, smoking, and otherwise wiling away the time. Many drink coffee, though a few are already at the bar, some obviously nursing hangovers from the night before. They’re a variegated lot aboard the Somnambulist: men and women in plain country garb mingle with those whose finer clothes mark them as well-heeled merchants or gentility.

Night: The Grand Saloon comes alive at night, with passengers and crewmen alike drinking wine, beer, whiskey, sherry, absinthe, or steaming black coffee, carousing merrily. The bar is nearly packed and the tables are crowded as well.

Sickness: As sickness takes hold of the boat the Saloon has become increasingly deserted. Now only  a few passengers linger here, drinking away their sorrows or sprawling in chairs, eyes staring up at the ceiling, dancing with unknown visions. A few wander the length of the Saloon, endlessly pacing up and down, like prisoners in a cell. The bartender keeps her post, grimly pouring drinks for those that need their whistles wet.

Atrocity: The Saloon is in a state of debauched frenzy, as a dozen diseased crewmen and passengers gorge themselves in a cannibalistic feast, the butchered body-parts of the waiters and several others spread over the long tables, wine glasses brimming with blood and looted liquor. Presiding over the feast is Damienne Suzeneau and several of her relatives. She raises a crimson glass in toast.

“To the White Leech!” she declares, taking a deep draught.

This assumes, of course, that Damienne is alive and on the boat. The Saloon has no windows, so it’s safe from sunlight.

This scene provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6+1).

Private Dining

The private dining room is well-appointed and spacious, with a large table set for up to twelve, side-tables for serving, and a cabinet of china. Windows looks out along the promenade. A painting of the river hangs on one wall.

During both day and night the dining rooms may be filled by passengers eating or drinking. They also make good places to hide, or to pull characters aside for a quiet talk.

Sickness: A few sick passengers lounge about the private dining area. A half-eaten meal lies on the table, not yet cleared away by the crew. The tablecloth is askew.

Atrocity: The words “The Thirst Is All” and “Hail the Thousand Suckered One” are daubed on the walls in blood here. The table and chairs have been broken to splinters.

Barber

The barber’s room includes several chairs, cabinets full of tools, oils, and salves, a countertop, and a large mirror. A selection of scissors and straight razors are evident on the countertop.

Day: A heavy-set man with a bristling red beard is having his whiskers trimmed in the barbershop at present.

See the Barber under the Crew below for more detail.

Night: At this time of night the barber’s room is empty and dark.

Sickness: A woman is seated in the barber’s chair, but the barber is absent. She’s slowly cutting her own hair, giggling to herself, and then quite deliberately eating each hank of shorn hair.

Atrocity: A decapitated corpse is strapped into the barber’s chair here. Four bodiless heads sit on the counter, their hair partially cut. The mirror has been broken, covered the floor in shards of glass. Hair sticks in the drying blood covering the floor.

The heads provoke a Sanity check – (0/1d4).

Steward’s Office

The steward’s office includes a dumbwaiter and series of shelves and tables storing table linens, cutlery, and other serving implements.

Day/Night: See the Steward in Crew below for more detail.

Sickness: The steward’s office is in a state of disarray – drawers opened and linens rumpled, cutlery littering the floor. There’s no sign of the steward himself.

Atrocity: A corpse chokes the dumbwaiter – it looks like someone attempted to climb up the shaft and got stuck on the way out. Everything in the office has been looted.

Library

The Somnambulist’s library is small but cosy, with several plush leather chairs and a few small tables. The books here are mostly for the entertainment of passengers: novels, plays, volumes of poetry, travel guides, and atlases are all common. There are also some books of history, and a number of religious works. A large gas lamp and a number of candles provide illumination.

Day: Several passengers are seated at tables and reading or browsing the shelves.

Night: At night, the library is quiet and still.

Sickness: Great stacks of books have been taken off the walls and piled haphazardly about the tables. The doctor is here, combing madly through a medical text, a look of frenzy on his pale, sweat-smeared face. There is a strong smell of mildew and decay.

Atrocity: A small fire has been started here by a pair of serious-looking passengers with a book of matches and some lamp-oil. They’ve heaped most of the books into a great pile and have lit it ablaze, but fire keeps burning itself out and they’re forced to add more oil and matches. If the heap gets properly lit the whole boat might go up in flames!

Dance Room

The dancing room on the boat is a long hall with a mirrored ceiling and wooden floor, cleared for dancing. The walls are  adorned with paintings of celestial figures dancing through the clouds. There’s a huge piano here, and a dais for other musicians to play on.

Day: By day, few frequent the dance room, though a few off-duty crewmen linger here on a break.

Night: A lively dance is in full swing, one of the crew playing a rousing piano tune while passengers accompany on other instruments. The room is quite crowded with bodies, the skirts of the ladies twirling and flashing.

Vampires are not reflected in the mirror above – anyone looking carefully (Perception DC 20) will notice this if dancing with one.

Sickness: A couple dances madly in the middle of the room, though no one is playing the piano. Deck passengers slump against the walls or lie on the floor of the hall, oblivious to the world.

Atrocity: A pile of mutilated and bloodless bodies sits in the middle of the dance floor – at least a dozen of them, perhaps more, along with a number of dismembered limbs and random organs. Several refined-looking passengers waltz around it, their footprints bloody, while a crazed, pallid man plays piano.

Some remaining Vampires can be placed here; the piano-player is a Vampire Spawn. The corpse-heap provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1).

Storage

The storage rooms are locked (Disable Device DC 25), but the iron key carried by all crewmen opens them.

Boat’s sundries are stored here – spare linens for beds and tables, additional cutlery, uniforms and other clothes, pillows and pillowcases, candles, lamps and lamp oil, rope, tools for carpentry, spare wood, nails, furniture, art, and even mechanical components for the engine.

During the sickness/atrocity these rooms may have been broken-into and looted.

Promenade

On the boiler deck the promenade is some distance from the water, but the muddy stink of the river is still palpable. The promenade is well-lit, with lamps along its length; occasional doors admit passengers to the interior of the boat.

Day: The promenade is crowded with passengers and crew alike, some peering over the rails, others perambulating the length of the ship.

Night: The promenade is quiet, with only a few passengers out for a walk; most are either in their cabins or merry-making in the Grand Saloon.

Sickness: A few passengers shamble along the length of the promenade in a daze, barely aware of their surroundings. One man is attempting to climb down the railing to the main deck below, for some reason.

Atrocity: A naked passenger with a stolen knife runs up and down the length of the promenade, screaming about the Pallid Brood and the Thirsting Sire and slashing the air.

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Cabin Deck

Gallery

This long gallery stretches the length of Grand Saloon, a railed walkway looking down on the room from above. Lining the gallery are dozens of doors leading to the many cabins of the Somnambulist. At the far end, doors to the larger, more expensive suites can be found.

See Grand Saloon for more information.

Cabin

Most cabins are locked. Each and every cabin has its own key, and duplicates are kept in the captain’s cabin; the locks require a DC 25 Disable Device check to pick.

The cabin is small, but well-appointed and nicely decorated, with a desk, chair, a mid-sized bed, a wardrobe, and a night-stand, along with a small wash-basin and chamber pot. There’s a window that can be shrouded with curtains for privacy, and two doors – one leading out onto the promenade of the cabin deck, the other onto the gallery above the Grand Saloon.

By day most cabins will be empty; by night, there’s a good chance (50%) they’ll be occupied by sleeping passengers.

During the sickness most cabins will be occupied by sick passengers, naturally.

Here’s a list of the cabins’ occupants:

1 – Rachel & Simon Zeringue’s cabin

2 – Perrine Alva’s cabin

3 – Edouard Duplessis’s cabin

4 – Christophe Galafante’s cabin

5 – Father Eugene Fontenot’s cabin

6 – Quentin & Antione’s cabin

7 – Juliette’s cabin

8 – Gustave’s cabin

9 – Renault’s cabin

10 – Bertrand Isnard’s cabin

11 – Guy’s cabin

12 – Evangeline Pardoe’s cabin

13 – Lisa Favre’s cabin

14 – Martin Favre’s cabin

15 – Doctor Armand Lafitte’s cabin

16 – Michel’s cabin

17 – Andre & Marianne Jarossay’s cabin

18 – Margeurite & Mathieu Faillard’s cabin

19 – Celestine Maurin’s cabin

20 – Carmelite & Manuel Toutant’s cabin

21 – Empty (this and the remaining cabins may be occupied by the PCs)

22 – Empty

23 – Empty

24 – Empty

Suite

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare

The suites are all locked (Disable Device DC 30 to pick); their owners have keys, as does the captain (kept in his cabin).

The suite consists of three rooms – a lavish living space with a small table, divan, chairs, and bookshelf, a luxurious bedroom with a four-poster bed, a wardrobe, a cabinet, and a writing desk, and a private bathing room with a tub. Though smaller than the sort of accommodations one would see at an inn the suite is well-appointed and richly furnished, with elaborately patterned carpets, paintings of comely women on the walls, and fine dark wooden furniture.

The vampires have booked the various suites for themselves. A thorough search of the suites turns up some incriminating evidence. In the locked cabinet in each suite (Disable Device DC 25 or use the same key that unlocked the suite’s door) the vampires all keep spare vials of blood – 12 per cabinet – to slake their thirst in emergencies. Some of their clothes will also be bloodstained, as a thorough search of the wardrobe will reveal. See Events, below, for more details. Further notes follow:

A – Damienne Suzeneau’s suite

Within Damienne’s suite’s writing desk is her diary. It may seem strange that she carries with her an incriminating document of this sort, but the idea that a mortal could actually do real harm to her is ridiculous to Damienne; like many vampires, she is very arrogant. Still, she keeps the desk drawer locked (DC 25 or use the same key that unlocked the suite’s door). The book itself is also warded with an Alarm spell setting off a Mental Alarm if opened by anyone but Damienne; thus, if read without first being Dispelled, Damienne will hone in quickly on the reader. Note that while Alarm is not a trap, it can be detected with Detect Magic.

In addition to this precaution, Damienne keeps another surprise in her suite: a Mimic disguised as a piece of luggage. The Mimic was created by elder vampire alchemists in ages past. If an intruder enters the suite, it creeps up on them and attacks:

The brown luggage trunk you noticed when you entered the suite has opened itself, revealing not clothes and personal effects but a salivating maw lined with thousands of teeth. Sprouting a mass of dark, writhing tentacles, the shape-changing horror lurches towards you, gnashing its innumerable fangs!

Encountering the mimic requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Damienne’s diary:

Diary0001Diary0002

Diary0003Diary0004Diary0005Diary0006Diary0007Diary0008

Diary0009Diary0010Diary0011Diary0012Diary0013Diary0014Diary0015Diary0016Diary0017Diary0018Diary0019Diary0020Diary0021Diary0022Diary0023Diary0024Diary0025Diary0026

B – Isabelle’s suite

C – Nanette & Vistoire’s suite

D – Angelique & Philomene’s suite – see the Event “Disappearance” for more details on this suite.

E – Phillipe & Narcisse’s suite

F – Henri & Francois’ suite

Promenade

The promenade here is high above the water, but you can still catch the occasional whiff of the fetid, murky river. Though the swarms of mosquitoes are less dense here than they are nearer the water, they still buzz about incessantly.

Day: Passengers drift about the promenade gazing out across the river. One young man is sketching the scenery carefully as it passes by. Occasional crew squeeze past on their way up to the hurricane deck above or the boiler deck below.

Night: The promenade on the hurricane deck is quite deserted at night – not a soul can be seen up here. Down below, you can hear sounds of merriment from the Grand Saloon.

Sickness: Few passengers walk the promenade now that the boat is dead in the water; most of the cabin passengers are probably in their rooms.

Atrocity: Passengers roam to and fro here, some crawling on all fours like beasts, others succumbing to the last stages of the fever.

Hurricane Deck

Crew’s Cabin

Most cabins are locked. Each and every cabin has its own key, and duplicates are kept in the captain’s cabin; the locks require a DC 25 Disable Device check to pick.

The cabin is small and sparsely furnished, built for utility rather than comfort, with a desk, chair, a small bed, a wardrobe, a night-stand, and a wash basin. There’s only one door, here, and a small, curtained window.

At any given time there’s a 25% chance a crew’s cabin will be occupied – crew work both days and nights.

During the sickness at least half of the crew (probably more) will be in their cabins, languishing from the marsh fever. During the atrocity the crew barricade their cabins and the entire crew’s quarters as best they can. Several deranged crew-members will be locked in their quarters to keep them from rampaging throughout the boat.

Crew’s Mess

The crew’s mess is a long, plain room with several spare wooden tables and cabinets of crockery. There’s little decoration, save for a large deckplan of the boat.

Meals are served on a regular schedule three times a day; otherwise, the office is unoccupied.

Sickness: A great heap of dirtied dishes moulders on one of the tables, not yet cleared away. A few crewmen sit here, mechanically eating rations, their movements reminding you of wind-up toys.

Atrocity: A few crewmen with pistols, clubs, and knives have gathered in this room, facing down any intruders. They’ve got a plan of the boat spread on the table.

Clerk’s Office

The clerk’s office contains a large, finely carved writing desk and several shelves of books, as well as spare candles and lamp oil, ink, quills, and other writing implements. A door in the back of the office leads to the records room.

See the Clerk under Crew, below, for more details. At night, the office is dark.

Sickness: The clerk is madly scribbling in his office, and a great stack of ink-stained sheets beside him indicates he’s been working for some time.

The clerk is describing his nightmarish visions with frantic intensity, writing out long accounts of cannibalistic feasts and awful depravities.

Atrocity: Reams and reams of paper are strewn everywhere here, covered in crabbed, hastily-penned writing. Several ink-jars have been spilled. There’s no sign of the clerk.

Records

The boat’s ledgers, passenger manifests, inventory, and other records are stored in large cabinets in this large but dimly lit chamber. Unlike most of the vessel this area looks a bit neglected, cobwebs having gathered in the corners.

This room remains essentially unchanged even during the sickness/atrocity.

Storage

The storage rooms are locked (Disable Device DC 25), but the iron key carried by all crewmen opens them.

A – Spare linens, furnishings, cutlery, and unused art are stored in this room.

B – Clothing is stored here; although not all of the boat’s crew wear uniforms those that do have spares in this room.

There are uniforms for servers, the engineer, captain, mate, and clerk here. Deckhands don’t use uniforms on the Somnambulist.

C – Firearms and other weapons are neatly stored here: muskets, pistols, blunderbusses, powder, bullets, as well as few swords, clubs, knives, and hatchets.

6 muskets, 8 pistols, 4 blunderbusses, 6 kegs of black powder, 500 bullets, 10 short swords, 10 clubs, 20 daggers, and 20 handaxes can be found here.

Captain’s Cabin

The captain’s cabin is always locked (Disable Device DC 30 to pick the lock); only the captain himself has the silver key.

The captain’s cabin is more spacious than the rest of the crew’s quarters. Maps of the river and the surrounding country paper one wall, and bookshelves and cabinets holding accounts, ledgers, packet schedules, and similar documents line the others. A writing desk and chairs can be found here, strewn with papers. There’s also a large, glass cabinet full of liquor – mostly bottled spirits of various sorts. The bedroom adjoining the main cabin is quite plain, but comfortable-looking, with a large bed and wardrobe.

In a locked drawer of the desk (opened by the brass key kept on the captain’s person is a key-ring with duplicate, numbered keys of every cabin aboard the Somnambulist.

The Captain is present most of the time – see his entry under Crew below for details.

During the sickness/atrocity, the Captain holes up in his cabin, emerging only to give orders to keep the barricades up and manned. He drinks heavily and guards the door with a blunderbuss.

Observation Lounge

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Huge glass windows provide an excellent view of the river here while protecting observers from insects and rain. A coffee cart services those who choose to lounge in the plush chairs arrayed about the windows.

Day: The observation lounge is quite crowded at this time of day.

Night: At night, there is little to see from the lounge – only darkness. It’s currently empty.

Note that the Séance (see below) will be held here at night.

Sickness: A number of sickly crew languish here, moaning dully. One pounds his head onto the glass repeatedly.

Atrocity: The huge windows have all been smashed, covering the floor with broken glass. Several bloodless corpses are sprawled on the floor, one being feasted on by a pale former passenger with clawed fingers.

This Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) will attack anyone who disturbs her.

Games Room

A billiards table and several smaller tables featuring chess, cards, and other games adorn this spacious games room, the stuffed heads of alligators and wild boar staring down at you from the walls, along with several antique muskets and paintings of hunters and their quarry. A small bar can also be found here. The room is lit by several lamps, the floor carpeted by animal skins. The room stinks of cigar smoke, which stains every surface.

Day: During the day, the games room is filled mostly with couples and youngsters playing games of chess or cards.

Night: The games room is quite full at this time of night, riverboat gamblers engaging in games of dice, cards, and billiards for a variety of stakes.

See the Gamblers under Passengers below for more detail.

Sickness: The games room has been abandoned as sickness grips the boat.

Atrocity: A pair of gamblers attempt to play billiards with a human eyeball ripped from the socket of a nearby corpse. The results are messy and imprecise.

Tea Room

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This tea room has a refined, feminine feel to it, with pastel walls and delicate furnishings. Paintings of romantic-looking cityscapes decorate the room, and a cabinet equipped with fine china fills one wall. The air smells fragrant here, like honey and vanilla.

Day: Ladies of sophistication currently pack the tea room, sipping their drinks and gossiping.

Night: At night, the tea room is quite empty.

Sickness: Someone has removed most of the fine china. Some of it lies broken on the floor.

Atrocity: Teacups brimming with blood sit on plates here, while the sandwich tray has been stocked with severed human fingers. Several ladies in bloodstained dresses and a few men wearing the same sip their blood with milk and honey.

4 Vampire Spawn can be found here (Sanity 1/1d6).

Promenade

The high promenade here is not covered like the others below but stands open to the air, the wooden walkway spattered with rain. From here, you can see the immense smokestacks of the Somnambulist thrusting skywards, along with the ornate cupola of the pilothouse.

Day: Passengers and crew bustle about the promenade, enjoying the excellent view afforded by the hurricane deck’s height.

Night: At night, the hurricane deck promenade is almost totally empty; only a few lone crewmen are evident.

Sickness: The hurricane deck promenade is devoid of passengers or crew.

Atrocity: Several passengers are attempting to break into the crew’s quarters here, battering at them with tools and fists.

Pilothouse

The pilothouse is a gleaming glass temple, spacious and fancifully adorned with rich red and gold curtains, a leather sofa, an oil-cloth floor, and a fine stove. Dominating the room is a gigantic wheel, almost comically large. A series of gongs and tinglers are reconnected to cords that, presumably, allow communication with the engine room; there’s also a fluted speaking-tube here allowing for more direct discourse.

Day or night, at least one of the pilots – often both – are present. See The Pilots under Crew, below. During the sickness the pilothouse stands empty; during the atrocity, it will be empty until the Vampires and their spawn seize control of the vessel, at which point the newly-made Spawn (formerly the pilots) will be taking the Somnambulist to the Belle de Nuit plantation.

Crew

Statistics for the crew can be found in the Appendix, but will probably not be required for the most part.

In total, there are 46 crew in total.

The Captain

A billowing blue coat and jauntily angled cap marks a very tall, very thin man as the boat’s captain. A great shock of white hair bursts from beneath his cap. He wears a pistol on his hip and dresses finely, in a well-tailored grey suit and waistcoat. Periodically he checks the time with a gold-plated pocketwatch.

Captain Will Leathers commands the Somnambulist. He’s something of a recluse and spends most of his time in his cabin, leaving many of his duties to the first mate. He’s a somewhat taciturn individual, brusque to the crew, though still respected for his many years on the river – he used to be a pilot before becoming captain. He’s polite to passengers, though, and possesses a refined sense of chivalry.

The Pilots

The pale, freckled woman at the wheel chomps on a cigar and never takes her eyes off the river. Reddish-gold hair spills down her back from a tightly cinched ponytail. Unlike most of the ladies aboard the Somnambulist, this one wears trousers and a waistcoat.

Lounging on the sofa in the pilot’s house is a bronze-skinned rake of a man who puffs a cigar of his own. He’s garbed all in black, including a black slouch hat that shadows his stubbled features.

This pair are the pilots – Justine and Henry Fortier, a married couple. Henry has been a pilot for fifteen years and taught Justine the river, but now she pilots a steamboat as well or better than her husband. She’s lively, strong-spirited, and quick-witted; he’s a bit surly, but doggedly loyal to the captain and to his wife. They are usually in the Pilothouse.

The First Mate

A blustering, barrel-chested man with a full black beard and wooden teeth, the first mate of the boat is identified by his blue cap and uniform – and by the way he barks orders to the crew, occasionally threatening bodily harm to dawdling deckhands.

Pierre Duplantis, the First Mate of the Somnambulist, is a hot-tempered, hard-drinking man who ends most nights passed out from too much rum. Despite his penchant for liquor, however, he’s a strong leader, if a stern one. He has his eye set on making Anna Drake, the head cook, his wife, but his affections are not returned. He can be found throughout the ship, often on the Main Deck.

The Steward

The steward is a sallow, gaunt-cheeked man whose face tells of a violent past – he’s got a glass eye, a broken nose, and a long scar along his jaw. One of his teeth glints gold. Despite his grizzled appearance he’s quite dapper in his dark, well-groomed uniform.

The steward is “One-Eyed Jacques,” a former naval officer who turned to the river trade in times of peace. He’s a crotchety, suspicious fellow assisted by several other servers – Gregory, Joseph, and George – in keeping the passengers in food brought up from the galley. He can be found in the Steward’s Office of the Boiler Deck.

The Head Cook

A stern dark-skinned woman serves as the boat’s cook, assisted by two girls who might be her daughters. She barks orders and gestures menacingly with a large cleaver, imperiously ordering soups to be seasoned, fires to be stoked, or water to be boiled.

The head cook is Anna Drake, a fierce but warm woman and one of the best cooks on the river. Her speciality is blackened catfish. She’s a demanding taskmaster but extremely knowledgeable and talented. In addition to being an excellent cook she knows a few Voodoo charms and spells, but she keeps this knowledge to herself. She’s usually in the Galley of the Main Deck.

The Assistant Cooks

The assistant cooks are a pair of dark-skinned girls, identical in every detail save for their hair – one keeps it short, the other keeps it long and tightly bound behind her head. Both wear white aprons and crew’s uniforms.

The twins Adeline and Claudette are Anna’s daughters, the assistant cooks. Unlike their mother they’re quiet, demure, and rather sardonic, given to sly glances and gossiping between one another. They’re usually found in the Galley on the Main Deck.

The Engineer

The boat’s engineer is a bald, fleshy fellow with the trace of old burn-scars on his hands and the side of his face, the tissue puckered and shiny. Despite his disfigurement he seems genial enough, humming to himself as he tinkers with the engines.

Archibald Jennings is kindly, but those who interfere with his engines will see his dark side – he has a terrible temper, rarely roused but awful to behold. He’s a good engineer, and has kept the boat running well for years. He’s usually in the Engine Room on the Main Deck.

The Clerk

A stooped man with a crooked back and dark, glinting eyes, the clerk has long-fingered, ink-stained hands and a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. Though hunched, he is quite young, perhaps in his early thirties. He walks with the aid of a cane.

The kindly but deformed Felix Lamb is staggeringly intelligent, capable of performing complex calculations in his head. Though some passengers avoid him he is very well-respected by the crew. He’s usually found in the Clerk’s Office on the Hurricane Deck.

The Barber

The barber is a cheerful, dark-skinned man with a gleaming white smile that goes well with his starched uniform.

Oliver Fox is the barber aboard the Somnambulist, a compulsively cheerful man renowned for his speed. Naturally, he can be found at the Barber’s on the Boiler Deck.

The Barkeep

A burly blonde woman tends bar in the Grand Saloon, chatting amiably to passengers and mixing a variety of drinks. Her arms are covered in intricate tattoos – roses growing on thorny vines. Unlike many of the crew she doesn’t wear a formal uniform, preferring a flouncy black and red bodice and skirts.

Giselle LaRue tends bar. She’s a good source of gossip on the boat – she knows who’s sleeping with who, who lost his wages at cards, who’s got a drinking problem etc. She can be found in the Grand Saloon most times.

The Porter

A pallid, dark-eyed young man slouches against one wall, smoking a cigarillo and watching the passengers – particularly the women. Judging from his dress he’s a crew-member of some kind, but he doesn’t seem to be doing much work.

Sly, lazy, and conniving, Fergas Gray is the boat’s porter. He frequently steals from passengers, burgling cabins when no one is watching and filching valuables lying around. One for the ladies, he can frequently be found chasing skirts, particularly the chambermaids, and Adeline and Claudette in the galley. Many stolen items and a fair amount of stolen cash can be found in his cabin on the Hurricane Deck. He’s usually found on the Cabin Deck.

The Firemen

A massively muscled man with skin black as coal and a bristling beard serves as the boat’s chief fireman, stoking the furnaces with the aid of three other workers down in the boiler room, sweat pouring off them constantly.

Tobias Stone is the Chief Fireman, something of a gentle giant. He is assisted by Murray, Aubrey, and John, the three other firemen. They’re to be found in the Boiler Room.

The Chambermaids

Chambermaids in fetching uniforms flit from cabin to cabin here, cleaning, tidying, and changing sheets. Most of them are quite young and have the dusky complexions common amongst the folk of this land.

The six chambermaids are Emile, Alexandrine, Camille, Delhpine, Rosette, and Isadora, and are usually found on the Cabin Deck or Hurricane Deck.

The Waiters

Four smartly-dressed servers circulate through the Saloon, attending to the needs of the passengers.

The servers are Henrietta, Sabrina, Byron, and Louis. They can usually be found in the Grand Saloon.

The Deckhands

Strapping deckhands – most of them young, well-muscled men with louche manners and unsavoury personal habits, help to haul and pack freight in the cargo room, some singing work-songs, others swapping stories of the river.

There are twenty deckhands in all. In addition to hauling freight they’ll fulfil other tasks on board as needed. They’re usually on the Main Deck.

Passengers

Total, there are 35 cabin passengers and 55 deck passengers aboard, though exact numbers fluctuate.

The Preacher

Edward Pusey

A plump, pale man, heavily jowled, preaches a sermon to a group of passengers here, reading from a leather-bound book. He wears a black coat, somewhat stained and tattered. His selected passage speaks of the terrible plagues and afflictions visited upon those who stray from the path of righteousness into sin and temptation. Some of his audience are quite rapt, but just as many seem to be listening more to pass the time than anything.

The preacher is Father Eugene Fontenot, a rabid, hellfire-and-damnation priest. He may be of minor use in a fight against the vampires – he has several vials of holy water with him, at the very least. He’s extremely pious, prudish, and judgmental, however, and will condemn anyone who exhibits signs of sin i.e. lasciviousness, gambling, thievery, etc, unless they confess their crimes and make a sincere effort to repent.

The Doctor

A well-dressed man sits in the lounge, reading what looks like a book of anatomy and occasionally making notes in another book to one side. He’s of middle age, with a well-kept grey beard and a pince-nez, and skin the colour of caramel.

This is Doctor Armand Lafitte, a physician of some repute. He’s travelling home after a sojourn into the swamps to treat an outbreak of pox in Marais de Tarascon. He’s a rather unsociable fellow who prefers to be left alone, but when the fever breaks out he’ll be very important (see Events, below). He has a full healer’s kit in his quarters.

The Duellist

Drinking quietly in one corner of the saloon is a dark-featured woman with eyes like flint, openly displaying a brace of duelling pistols on her hips. She wears a multitude of earrings and keeps her hair cropped short. Her features are partially shadowed by a black slouch hat.

This is Celestine Maurin, an accomplished duellist and pistol-for-hire, said to have killed thirteen men with her two pistols. She may be a useful ally against the vampires later in the adventure. Treat her as a 7th level Gunslinger.

The Clairvoyant

antebellum lady

A pale, rounded woman in a black dress speaks to a rapt audience in the Saloon, moving her arms theatrically.

“The ectoplasmic hand materialized from the aether and attempted to strangle me!” the woman declares. “In my trance, I was scarcely aware of this phantasmal assault. Yet even as the unctuous, slimy fingers tightened around my neck, and those present at the gathering screamed, I summoned enough strength to banish the poltergeist back to the Spirit World.”

The listeners ooh and aah, assailing the woman with questions. One asks if the woman will be conducting a séance aboard the steamboat.

“I shall,” the woman declares. “The captain has agreed to let me converse with the spirits tomorrow night, in the observation lounge on the hurricane deck. There will be a small cost of admission – only a single silver dollar.”

The woman is Evangeline Pardoe, a spiritualist and clairvoyant – and, despite her theatricality and overblown self-presentation, not a charlatan. She may, in fact, be very useful in conducting an investigation of the sicknesses and disappearances aboard the boat – particularly her ability to retrieve memories through hypnosis (her Memory Domain ability Recall).

For more details, see the Event “The Séance” below.

The Traders

Four well-fed and well-dressed men are seated at the bar. Judging from the empty glasses before them and the redness of their noses they’ve been drinking for some time. From what you can hear of their conversation, they’re discussing shipments, profit margins, and similarly commercial matters.

These merchants – Gustave, Renault, Guy, and Michel – have cabins aboard the ship and are heading to the Port d’Elhour in hopes of making a major deal to ship tobacco across the sea to Dementlieu. They have a sizeable quantity of funds aboard (1200 gp in a locked chest – DC 25 to pick – in Gustave’s cabin) and spend money liberally. Most have expensive baubles (rings, watches, snuff-boxes, etc) on their persons, worth roughly 25 gp.

The Gamblers

Ruffian

A pair of rather rakish, disreputable-looking men and a full-figured, heavily made-up woman play cards here in the games room. The men have a decidedly roguish cast; one, a wiry fellow with long black hair, is missing an ear and sports a series of small skull-like tattoos on his forearm, while the other, bald-headed, fidgets dextrously with a small knife, a black cigarillo dangling from his lips. Both wear leather vests and travel-stained clothes. The woman, who cools herself with a small hand-fan, would not look out of place in a brothel in her tight-fitting corset, flouncy skirts, and netted stockings. The three of them clearly know each other well from the way they are conversing.

These three gamblers – Juliette, Quentin, and Antoine – are scoundrels who roam the river and its ports swindling those they find out of their money. They can usually be found in the Games Room on the Hurricane Deck. These statistics are usable, sans magical equipment.

The Vampires

antebellum gentlemansultry portrait

There are ten vampires aboard the boat: Damienne (the leader), Angelique, Philomene, Nanette, Vistoire, Isabelle, Narcisse, Henri, Francois, and Phillipe (all of these are pseudonyms, incidentally; the vampires’ real names can be found in Damienne’s diary). The ladies are all Sorcereresses, the gentlemen Fighters (see appendix for stats). They can be found throughout the boat, but can frequently be found in the Grand Saloon and the Observation Lounge, or walking the promenades. Naturally, they are seen only at night. More details can be be found in the Events section.

A group of elegantly dressed men and women lounge in the Grand Saloon, drinking wine and talking merrily with the other passengers. Judging from the richness of their attire they’re ladies and gentlemen of considerable means. The men have the look of dandies in their fine, colourful coats tailored outfits, while the ladies are all pale beauties, dark-haired and fine-boned, garbed in elaborate dresses of black, red, and blue. Certain similarities amongst the features of these bon vivants suggests they are related. The evident matriarch of the group is a beautiful woman of indeterminate age – she has the unlined face of a girl of twenty, but holds herself with the poise and confidence of a much older woman.

The vampires will try to befriend and even seduce the characters, luring them into dark corners or cabins to feed on them. However, don’t give the game away too quickly – remember that the vampires can use Charm and Modify Memory. You may wish to record Will saves so that you can roll them instead of the players.

Damienne Suzeneau, if approached, will explain her reasons for being aboard:

“Always a pleasure to meet fellow passengers,” the woman says. “Mademoiselle Damienne Suzeneau. Charmed, I’m sure.”

“My cousins and I are travelling to Port d’Elhour for the coming social season – six months of balls, parties, and exhibitions. It will be Angelique’s first proper season.” She gestures to a pale girl with dark blonde hair seated nearby, who looks over with large, curious eyes. “After so many months of the dreary old plantation house it will be a relief to reach the city.”

Any encounter with the vampires that reveals their undead nature requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).

Fever in the Blood

vampyre

As part of what is now an annual tradition my Planescape players will be spending October in Ravenloft. I will be posting the adventure here as I run it for them. Last year’s adventure, “The Savour of Madness,” can be found in its entirety on this blog under the tag of the same name; the first part of that adventure can be found here.

Synopsis

The adventure focuses on a group of vampires, a brood of decadent belles and their gentlemanly attendants led by the alluring Damienne Seuzeneau. These depraved creatures dwell in a ruinous estate, the Belle de Nuit Plantation, its fields long gone to seed, attended only by ghouls and their own misbegotten spawn. Beneath the plantation lies their true lord and master, a repulsive elder vampire of primordial age that has transformed into the form of a gigantic leech. It is attended by its ancient kindred, vampires so old they have sloughed off most of their human semblance altogether and appear as monstrous hybrids of leech and human.

Whenever their thirst grows great, those vampires still capable of passing for human put on the remnants of their best finery and travel to the nearest town to take passage on a passing steamboat. Rather than simply draining a few passengers or crewmen dry and then departing, however, the vampires enact a far more sinister scheme. They long ago discovered that all of them carry a wasting disease that causes delirium, fatigue, and weakness in humans – a nightmarish form of marsh fever, made more virulent by its vampiric hosts. Unaffected by the sickness themselves, the vampires infect as many on board as they can, and the disease quickly spreads on its own with the aid of local mosquitoes. Once those aboard the boat begin to succumb to the disease, the vampires (sometimes with the aid of mentally dominated crewmen) seize control of the boat, slaughtering those aboard in a haematophagic frenzy, an orgiastic feast. Those they do not drain are locked in their cabins while newly-acquired spawn steer the vessel back to their lair. They drink from the remaining victims for a few more weeks, eventually sinking their stolen steamboat into a deeper part of the bayou. They send a few servants to sell what valuables they took from the dead in town, acquiring funds for their next journey and for other expenditures.

The characters, having strayed into Ravenloft, encounter the vampires after taking passage themselves on a steamboat, the Somnambulist. The boat quickly falls prey to the creatures’ malignant marsh fever, potentially afflicting the adventurers themselves. In the ensuing struggle for the boat, the characters may or may not fight off the vampires – if they fail to prevent the take-over the surviving characters will be locked in their cabins. If they succeed on fighting the vampires off, they must seek them out in the depths of the plantation in order to fulfil the terms of a Voodoo divination concerning their return home.

Influences

This adventure was loosely influenced by the AD&D Ravenloft adventure RQ1: The Night of the Walking Dead, and draws inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s antebellum Gothic novel Fevre Dream, Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, and China Miéville’s The Scar… and perhaps a little True Blood. Most Souragne material in Ravenloft emphasizes Voodoo, and while this adventure includes a bit of Voodoo, I wanted something that played more on the Southern Gothic tradition of vampire literature. The idea of a steamboat adventure through disease-infested swamp obviously owes much to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Sanity

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..

Notes on Running the Adventure

Some of this advice is repeated from the Savour of Madness 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 my games, but it’s particularly useful in horror games, where mood is everything. For additional atmosphere, I recommend using swamp sounds, such as those found at tabletopaudio.com/ – specifically the “Swamplandia” track. Other possible swamp sound compilations can be found here:

Swamp Sounds

Swamp Sounds 2

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 players. They may devise novel ways of approaching the scenario – perhaps they manage to trap the vampires inside the Somnambulist’s cabins somehow and kill them there, or maybe they convince the captain using magic or money to evacuate the boat and burn it while the vampires are inside. Be ready to improvise! That said, the vampires are exceptionally intelligent and have a wide array of powers at their disposal, including mind-influencing effects and the ability to transform into animals. They should not conveniently forget these abilities to enable the PCs’ plans. Allow player agency, but pull no punches.

Alternate Settings and Systems

This adventure would be adapted to other settings very easily. The assumed setting is Ravenloft, specifically the Domain of Souragne; however, any steampunk or vaguely 19th century setting would do. If you wanted to run it in a historical setting the adventure could easily be transplanted to antebellum Louisiana, although Florida, Alabama, or Mississippi would also work well. The adventure would fit admirably in Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms, especially near Corvis.

The system used is Pathfinder, but other systems – Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Call of Cthulhu in any of its variations, d20 Past, or even Fear Itself or a similar GUMSHOE-based game – could all be utilized instead.

Alternate Hooks

Here are some alternate means of involving the characters in the adventure:

  • The characters have been hired by the local authorities to investigate the disappearance of several steamboats over the last few years.
  • A local merchant’s son has gone missing after a steamboat journey – his vessel never arrived. The characters are hired to find out what happened to him.
  • A wealthy trader lost a very valuable piece of cargo – gold, a rare jewel, or some similar item – when the boat carrying it disappeared; he has employed the characters to recover it.
  • The characters simply require passage down the river on some other errand and are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Into the Mists

BAYOU!

Perception DC 20 to notice a mosquito alight on a character’s arm…

As you walk, a dense shroud of sallow mist the greyish-yellow of spoiled meat congeals around you, miasmatic tendrils caressing your limbs and face. The sudden fog brings with it a blast of humidity; caught in the swelter, you feel yourself begin to sweat, even as a cloud of insects swirls about your head. Along with the sticky heat the mist carries a foul stench, the reek of stagnant water and rotting vegetation. Taking another step you nearly stumble as your foot splashes into knee-high water and soft mud below. The mist, for a moment nearly too thick to see through, parts a little to reveal the twisted hulks of bald cypress trees, their curving, contorted trunks emerging from the water, bark gleaming like pale flesh in the glimmer of sickly moonlight shining through the tattered canopy above. A chorus of batrachian croaks resounds throughout the bayou, as if welcoming you to this dripping, fetid swamp.

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).

Below are a number of swamp encounters to be used as desired before the party arrives at Marie’s hut.

Leeches

It won’t take the characters long to acquire a few unwelcome guests: leeches. Upon emerging from the water:

To your horror, you discover that you have acquired several parasites – fat, greenish-black leeches, their jaws clamped to your skin, sucking away at your blood!

The leeches do not form a swarm but do require a Perception check to spot (Stealth +24) to avoid. On a failure, 1d6 leeches latch on to the character, draining 1 point of Strength and Constitution. They also require a DC 15 Fortitude save to avoid 1 Dexterity damage from poison (1/round for 2 rounds).

They can be removed by hand or with salt or fire. Each hour the characters spend wading or swimming in water they must make a second check or acquire another 1d6 leeches and another point of damage (and another dose of poison). A Survival check of DC 20 can allow a character to deter leeches for one hour without making Perception checks.

Bodies

Soundtrack

Perception DC 15 to see the bodies:

A dark shape bobs in the water, exuding a reek even fouler than the ambient fetor of the swamps. As it floats nearer you see that it is a human corpse, clothing tattered and sodden with water; a moment later, a second cadaver floats into view.

On closer inspection:

Bloating, darkness, and decomposition make determining the cause of death difficult, but judging from the extreme pallor afflicting both men you’d say they died of blood loss. Though drained of blood their skin is also discoloured, sallow and unhealthy-looking. Closer inspection reveals a number of semi-circular bite-marks on the bodies, including a series of particularly vicious bites around the face, neck, and shoulders of both men.

Perception DC 12 to notice a number of smaller pin-pricks or jab-marks on one man’s forearm. Close examination of the bodies provokes a sanity check (0/1d3).

While the bite-marks suggest the work of a swarm of killer leeches, the men were actually the victims of the residents of the Belle de Nuit Plantation, cast overboard after being drained. They carry the following items:

1 water-logged pepperbox pistol (treat as Broken condition)

1 rapier, rusted but useable

2 daggers

2 purses, empty

The following slightly water-damaged diary, tucked into an inside pocket and so spared complete obliteration:

journal0001

journal0002 journal0003 journal0004 journal0005 journal0006 journal0007 journal0008 journal0009 journal0010 journal0011 journal0012

Alligators

This group of smaller alligators can catch characters unawares: Perception check (Stealth is +17) to see dark shapes beneath the water, along with a few ripples, before the gators attack:

Something dark and long swims past you, and you feel it bump against your leg. Before you can react a second shape breaches the murky surface, fanged jaws parting, reptilian eyes gleaming with terrible hunger – a vicious alligator!

Soundtrack

There should be 1 alligator per party member.

Wild Empathy DC 20 to distract the alligators with the bodies, so that they eat those instead of the characters.

Boat

bayou3A rickety wooden flatboat bobs along in the water, here. Its sides have grown mossy and partially rotten, but it’s not yet dilapidated enough to sink. Its oars are still in the oar-locks; the whole thing is snared in the roots of a large willow, its branches drooping down to kiss the water’s surface.

This boat is still river-worthy, albeit barely. It can fit up to 8 people.

Voodoo Priestess’ Hut

A bulky shape materializes out of the fog – not a tree but a building, a small wooden house built on stilts to keep it from the water. A sodden rope ladder leads up from the muddy earth into the rickety shack, whose eaves are bedecked with curious trinkets: crude dolls, the skulls of birds and frogs, fetishes of fur, feathers, and crocodile teeth, shrunken cat’s heads, and carved wooden symbols. Candlelight flickers from inside the hut.

Within…

The door opens easily. The room within is dim, lit by flickering candles that cast black, spidery shadows on the wooden walls. The air smells pungently but not entirely unpleasantly of incense, spices, and paraffin, with a trace of decay beneath. Dangling from the ceiling and festooning the walls are more of the totemic objects that hang outside: preserved animal parts, gourds and bottles of reagents, wooden masks, dried herbs, charms, bones, powders, and other gris-gris.

Sitting at a table amidst these objects, shuffling a deck of tarot cards, is a woman of early middle years with eyes blacker than the night outside, skin the colour of caramel, and a mass of black hair cascading down her back. She smiles knowingly and beckons you forward.

“You have come,” the woman says. “The Dark Powers have heeded my prayer, called you here. I am Marie Vidrine.”

MarieLaveau

Marie Vidrine is a Voodoo Priestess, a Mambo or “Voodan” in the terminology of Ravenloft – a descendent of the Vistani and other peoples, she carries on the traditions of her ancestors, blended with those of Souragne. Try your best to do a proper “voodoo priestess” Haitian accent here…

If the characters wait for a response, or ask why she has brought them here, she says the following:

“The swamps are home to many spirits,” the woman claims. “The Loa, Mystères of the Invisible World, act as intermediaries between the land of the living and that of the dead. Though many fear them, and with good reason, they are not entirely malevolent, and protect those that serve them well. As a Mambo, a priestess, I speak often with the Loa. They have told me that a great evil has entered this land – ancient and yet foreign, polluting the swamp with its vile presence. This evil is a thing of sickness, bringing with it a plague of unnatural origins. Disease and decay – these things are part of the natural world, the cycle of life and death. This sickness is something else, something other. It perverts nature, corrupts it, rather than working as a part of it.

“I have brought you here to act as a medicine. You must find the source of the infection and expunge it, cure this land of what ails it. Only then will the Dark Powers permit your return.”

So you’ve kidnapped us?

“I asked the Dark Powers to help me expel this evil. They were the ones to summon you. Why they chose you, I cannot say. Perhaps you have attracted their favour, somehow.”

How can we cast out this sickness? Where do we begin?

“The rivers of Souragne are this land’s veins, its arteries,” Marie Vidrine explains. “I believe this evil, this sickness, is using the rivers to circulate. Like a fever in the blood, it spreads itself throughout the land. Begin at the river; travel its length. It will lead you to the source of the infection. Follow the tributary upstream and it will join the river soon enough.”

Marie can use Disguise Other to transform obviously non-human PCs into a more human-like form for the purposes of investigation (technically this spell is not on the Witch spell list, but in my opinion it should be).

Marie will also impart a word of warning as the characters leave:

“A word of warning,” Marie says. “The swamps are home to many beasts, some of them in the skins of men… there are ill-bred folk who dwell deep in the marsh, and do not take kindly to outsiders. Be wary as you seek the river, for they are a cunning people, skilled in the ways of pain.”

The Swamp

bayouNavigating the waterways of the swamp is tricky, as they form a kind of watery labyrinth in which it is easy to get lost. A Survival check of DC 15, however, will set characters on the right course. You can read out this atmospheric text, if you wish:

The waterways of the swamp are intricate and many-branching, forming a labyrinthine mass of intersecting streams and pools. Crickets, frogs, insects, and night-birds haunt the black, dripping undergrowth, which emanates a stench of both decay and fecundity. The moon has clouded over now, and a few drips of rain patter on the trees and water.

Swamp-Folk Ambush

These inbred swamp-dwellers are little more than bandits, waylaying passersby, sometimes killing them for fun or meat, more often simply robbing them and leaving them for the gators. There are 6 in all – see Appendix for statistics. They are well-concealed, their base +7 Stealth check is increased to +9 due to Favoured Terrain, and swamp-sounds and generally unfavorable conditions add an additional +4 for a total of +13. A successful Perception check will reveal that the party are being tracked:

Someone is following the boat in the underbrush – at least two individuals, judging from the discrete signals they’re exchanging in the form of bird-calls. You don’t get a good look at them as they’re well-concealed by the drooping mosses, gnarled trees, and other foliage, but they seem to be humanoid, and you think you catch a glint of metal.

If spoken to, the swamp-folk attack immediately, without a surprise round. They begin by attacking with nets (remember to use touch ACs) and prepare ranged weapons:

Suddenly, a net flies from the undergrowth, followed swiftly by another. A bedraggled figure clad in poorly tanned skins, scraps of alligator hide, and a broad-brimmed hat steps out of the undergrowth, a handaxe in one hand and a pistol in the other.

“We’ve got ye surrounded,” the man says, with a near-toothless grin. His features are misshapen, his brow overlarge, his eyes small and glinting. He spits into the river, keeping his pistol trained on you. “Best be dropping those weapons and putting aside thought o’ struggle. Behave yerselves and we’ll let ye live. Give us a struggle and things’ll go bad fer ye.”

The swamp-folk retreat if more than 3 of their number are killed. If captured, they can be interrogated concerning the source of the sickness, and can also be forced to act as guides. It takes a successful Intimidate check (DC 15) to get them to divulge information in this manner.

They know little of the vampires’ doings but do know that steamboats have been going missing on the river:

“Heard tell o’ fever on the river,” the malformed man reluctantly admits. “And other troubles besides. Steamboats goin’ missin’, spirited away off the river by some bogey. One night, Eustace an’ I were trapping gators down by the riverbank, saw a steamer comin’ by, folks laughin’ and singin’. First we thought it was jus a reglar ol’ party they havin’, them fancy folks in the grand saloon, but then the boat come nearer and we sees there ain’t no lights on, not anywhere on the boat, not even the pilot’s house, an’ its well past sundown. How they’re steerin’ without runnin’ argound I can’t rightly say.

“Then we started hearin’ the screams an’ whimpers, like folks were bein’ tortured, skinned alive… Now I ain’t no lily-livered dandy what grows faint at a few shrieks. I done my share o’ reddish work by candelight, and never minded the squealin’ – maybe even enjoyed it some. But these sounds… twas Hell itself on that boat that night. Set my teeth on edge. Eustace and I high-tailed it home after that.”

The River

Joseph_Rusling_Meeker_-_Bayou_PlaqueminesAt last you reach the river itself, a greenish-black expanse of water twisting and turning through the swamplands like the coils of some impossibly long snake. The current is not particularly strong, here, and mosquitoes buzz about the riverside in a thick and irritating cloud.

Les Hiboux

Soundtrack

Lights glimmer from out of the fog ahead – a village, perhaps, on the riverbank.

This is the village of Les Hiboux, named after the owls who live nearby. It’s a pretty pitiful settlement – a dock, a saloon, a tiny church, a few houses, and a woodyard:

A squalid little village clings to the riverbank here, its crude wooden buildings infested with moss and fungi. There’s little here save a rickety old wharf jutting crookedly out onto the water, with a woodyard nearby. A tiny saloon with a couple of wagons parked outside spills light and music out into the night, but apart from the drinking hole and a rundown church, the only other buildings of note are a few mouldering old houses, some of them so rotten-looking they’re like an extension of the swamp itself. An owl hoots, perched on a sign that declares the village “Les Hiboux.”

The Church

The church looks to be only a few years away from rotting away entirely, but despite its dilapidation there’s evidence it’s still in use – the inside, visible through the square windows out front, is swept and moderately clean, and there’s a book and a few ecclesiastical oddments and icons near to the plain, wooden altar. Candlelight in the rear window suggests that whoever ministers the church lives within it, too. Out back there’s a small hill, a mound of solid earth that serves as the village’s cemetery – a few rows of wooden stakes and a handful of stone grave-markers.

Les Hiboux’s local priest is Father Chastain, an old drunk who spends most of his time dipping into the sacramental wine, sleeping, and unsuccessfully seducing the local women. There’s little reason for the characters to disturb him at this time of night, however.

The Red Moon Saloon

The saloon is a disreputable looking two-storey establishment that bleeds lamp-light, laughter, and piano-music into the night; a crescent-shaped, crimson sign declares the place the Red Moon. One of the windows is broken and has not yet been repaired.

Inside:

The Red Moon is lightly crowded with travelers – mostly merchants, by the look of them – as well as a small handful of locals. Garishly decorated with pornographic paintings and decapitated animal heads, the place is tended by three fancy-girls in red and white skirts and bodices, their faces heavily painted. A scarred woman of quite a different stripe leans against one wall, cleaning her nails with a knife and keeping an eye on the clientele, while a pock-faced fellow with masses of greasy red hair serves cream sherries and glasses of pale wine to those seated at the scratched wooden bar. A crooked old man plays piano in the corner.

The bartender, Moon-Faced Bill, is a good source for local gossip and rumour. He’s got a copy of the steamboat schedules for the major packets, including that of the Somnambulist, a side-wheeler arriving this very night.

If asked about marsh-fever, trouble in the swamps, or the steamboat disappearances, he can be convinced to pass on what he knows for at least 10 gold pieces or with a DC 22 Diplomacy check, DC 17 for female customers.

On the subject of marsh-fever:

“Keep yer voice down!” the barman says, leaning in close. “Don’t want to spook people. I can tell yer not from round here, but a word of advice – don’t go mentioning sickness to just anyone. People hear the word ‘fever,’ they start panicking, start acting irrational. Truth be told, I have heard tell that there’s been a few cases on the river recently. Boat awhile back called the Dervish got hit bad, lost a dozen crew and passengers besides. But what’s queerer’n that’re the disappearances…”

Disappearances?

“There’s been boats gone missin’, just disappeared into the night, like somethin’s snatched em right off the river. Not many, mind you, but enough that old Bill here’s noticed. I pay close attention to the packet schedules, see – keep copies here in the saloon – and I noticed some boats that’ve never turned up. Not late mind you, just gone. Last was the Green Maiden, supposed to dock here to take on wood and cargo nearly a month ago. Never showed up, an’ it didn’t just pass by neither, an’ I been watchin’ close.”

Any idea what’s behind it?

The bartender shrugs. “There’s plenty o’ stories. Phantom boats that steam up in the night with hordes o’ ghosts aboard, hungry wraiths that board a vessel an’ turn the passengers into new recruits, kill em and bind their souls to the river. Gators the size o’ paddle steamers that can swallow a boat whole. River spirits that hate the sound of an engine an’ make the river fork an’ twist in unexpected ways, lurin’ boats to their doom. You ask me, it’s a bunch o’ rot, probably. More likely there’s some group o’ bandits out there ambushing boats on the river an’ then sinking em after. Still, most cutthroats wouldn’t go after a boat the size o’ Green Maiden. Too many crew, too many passengers with pistols.”

Ravenloft Table

The last two years, I’ve surprised my players with a jaunt to Ravenloft, bringing out candles and turning out the lights to set the mood. This year, they knew they were heading back beforehand – there was no way I could surprise them three times – but they surprised me with a blood-spatter tablecloth and coasters!

Ravenloft Table

With the lights off (as Ravenloft should be played):

Spooky Table

Expect more Ravenloft updates akin to last year’s Savour of Madness here soon!

The Savour of Madness: Tunnels

cave 2

The Tunnels

cave

Soundtrack

The tunnels are completely dark.  Anyone with anything less than Darkvision will require a light.  Fortunately, lights don’t alert the Grimlocks that lurk in the tunnels to the characters’ presence, but any Intellect Devourers in the tunnels will see an approaching torch or lantern.  The Alienists flee to the tunnels if all else fails – if the inmates are set free, for example, or the asylum set on fire, or if they are simply driven back through the basement.

56 – Entrance Cavern

An incessant dropping sound fills the air here, along with the rancid stench of carrion.  Three passages lead from this round cave.

Perception DC 15:

One tunnel reeks especially strongly of rotten flesh, and another smells of mould.  What sounds like the bleating of a goat echoes down the tunnel in the middle.

58 – Heap

A vile stink fills your nostrils in this cavern, the reek of rotting flesh making your stomach roil.  A huge heap of half-eaten corpses is pied at the center of the cave, filling the air with the sound of buzzing flies and rustling maggots.  All of the corpses have had their skulls shattered.  The floor is slick with half-coagulated blood.

This is where the Alienists dump bodies they’re no longer using (those they don’t keep in the larder, anyway), keeping their servants well-fed.  The gruesome sight provokes a Sanity check (0/1d4+1).  Perception DC 20 to hear chewing sounds from behind the corpse-pile, where two Grimlocks eat.

59 – Drinking Water

water

A pool of murky water fills most of this large cavern; within you can glimpse blind cave fish and other creatures, stunted albino things.    A hunched, eyeless humanoid, its skin a mottled grey, its hands clawed, stoops and drinks from the pool.  Fungi riddle the cave walls, filling the air with their pungent smell.

A single Grimlock can be found here.

60 – Larval Pool

A huge pool of greenish, slimy liquid dominates this cavern; within the murky depths you can glimpse small, brain-like creatures swimming, propelling themselves with their tentacles in a way that reminds you of jellyfish.  Adhered to the banks of the pool are vast quantities of small, round eggs in mucilaginous sacs, reminiscent of frogspawn.

Dozens of Intellect Devourer larvae – Ustilagors – lurk in the pool.  Falling in is probably a bad idea…

61 – Chasm

A seemingly bottomless chasm interrupts the tunnel here.

Acrobatics DC 20 to leap across here; fall damage is 10d6.  Climbing down requires a DC 20 Climb check.  Grimlocks will chase characters fleeing here to try and trap them.

62 – Feasting Chamber

saturn

Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of gnawed bones, both human and animal, carpet the floor of this chamber.  Crude images of beasts, intellect devourers, and humanoids are painted on the walls.

If the characters have been stealthy they may witness a particularly gruesome feast-in-progress:

A trio of twisted, eyeless humanoids tear apart a mountain goat here; the creature’s piteous bleats echo through the caves as they tear it open, blood gushing everywhere as they begin to gorge themselves on its entrails, stuffing dripping gobs of viscera into their fanged mouths.

63 – Mountain Tunnel

A faint whiff of fresh air and the sound of wind relieves the musty staleness of the caverns here.

This passage climbs upwards (Climb DC 15) out into the mountains.  If truly outmatched the Alienists will flee here, though this could also make a convenient escape route for the characters.  The Grimlocks use this entrance to go and hunt.

64 – Grimlock Warren

caves 3

Soundtrack

Something stirs in the darkness of this large, dripping cavern – you are not alone down here.  Stalactites loom out of the darkness, and shallow pools of water have collected on the floor.

At any given time there are at least a 15-25 Grimlocks in this large cavern, sleeping, creeping about, mating, or eating.  Here’s a glimpse of some of them:

Half a dozen loping figures emerge from the darkness – pale, malformed humanoids with pronounced nostrils and ears, no eyes, and mottled greyish-white skins.  Sniffing the air, they hiss and move towards you, and more shapes stir behind them!

65 – The Pit

A gaping pit yawns at the center of this chamber, its walls slimy, plummeting down into darkness.

This pit leads down into an intricate cavern system that riddles the mountains; it’s here that the Grimlocks entered these caverns.  Clambering down is tricky, however, requiring a DC 25 Climb check (fall damage is 20d6).

Appendix: Statistics

horrible

QUASIRIANT/DELACROIX – INTELLECT DEVOURER SORCERER 8

CR 11

XP 12, 800

Intellect devourer sorcerer 8

CE Small aberration

Init +11; Senses blindsight 60 ft., detect magic; Perception +21

DEFENSE

AC 23, touch 18, flat-footed 16 (+7 Dex, +5 natural, +1 size)

hp 164 (16 HD; 8d8+8d6+96)

Fort +11, Ref +12, Will +16

Defensive Abilities: invisibility, mirror image; DR 10/adamantine and magic; Immune fire; Resist cold 20, electricity 20, sonic 20; SR 23

Weaknesses: vulnerability to protection from evil

OFFENSE

Speed: 30 ft.

Melee: 4 claws +18 (1d4+1)

Special Attacks: acidic ray (1d6+6 acid, 12/day), body thief, sneak attack +3d6

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +17)

Constant—detect magic

At will—confusion (DC 22, single target only), daze monster (DC 19, no HD limit), inflict serious wounds (DC 20), invisibility, reduce size (as reduce person but self only)

3/day—cure moderate wounds, globe of invulnerability

Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +17)

4th (4/day)— phantasmal killer (DC 20)

3rd (7/day)— gentle repose, suggestion (DC 21)

2nd (8/day)— touch of idiocy (DC 18), hideous laughter (DC 20), mad hallucination (DC 18)

1st (8/day)—charm person (DC 20), disguise self (DC 18), hypnotism (DC 20), memory lapse (DC 20), sleep (DC 20)

0 (at will)—arcane mark, dancing lights, detect poison, ghost sound (DC 17), mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation

Bloodline: Aberrant

STATISTICS

Str 12, Dex 25, Con 19, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 24

Base Atk +10; CMB +10; CMD 27

Feats: Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Extend Spell, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Improved Initiative, Quicken Spell, Silent Spell, Spell Focus (enchantment), Still Spell, Weapon Finesse

Skills: Bluff +34, Craft (alchemy) +13, Diplomacy +16, Disguise +23, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (psionics) +11, Knowledge (local) +14, Perception +17, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +19, Use Magic Device +19

Languages: Common, Aklo, Grimlock, Undercommon (cannot speak); telepathy 100 ft.

SQ: bloodline arcana, long limbs (+10 ft.), unusual anatomy (25%)

Gear (only if encountered in a host body): doctor’s outfit, masterwork dagger, keys (Eye, Hand, Heart, Brain)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Body Thief (Su): As a full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity, an intellect devourer can reduce its size, crawl into the mouth of a helpless or dead creature, and burrow into the victim’s skull to devour its brain. This is a coup de grace attempt that inflicts 8d4+3d6+8 points of damage. If the victim is slain (or already dead), the intellect devourer usurps control of the body and may use it as its own, as if it controlled the target via a dominate monster spell. The intellect devourer has full access to all of the host’s defensive and offensive abilities save for spellcasting and spell-like abilities (although the intellect devourer can still use its own spell-like abilities). A host body may not have been dead for longer than 1 day for this ability to function, and even successfully inhabited bodies decay to uselessness in 7 days (unless this time is extended via gentle repose). As long as the intellect devourer occupies the body, it knows (and can speak) the languages known by the victim and basic information about the victim’s identity and personality, yet has none of the victim’s specific memories or knowledge. Damage done to a host body does not harm the intellect devourer, and if the host body is slain, the intellect devourer emerges and is dazed for 1 round. Raise dead cannot restore a victim of body theft, but resurrection or more powerful magic can.

Vulnerable to Protection from Evil (Ex): An intellect devourer is treated as a summoned creature for the purpose of determining how it is affected by a protection from evil spell.

ALIENIST (HOST BODY)

delacroix

CR 5

XP 1,600

Human expert 7

CE Medium humanoid

Init +2; Senses Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+1 armor, +2 Dex)

hp 31 (7d8)

Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +5

OFFENSE

Speed: 30 ft.

Melee: masterwork dagger +5 (1d4–1/19–20)

STATISTICS

Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 11, Cha 17

Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 13

Feats Alertness, Combat Expertise, Deceitful, Persuasive, Skill Focus (Profession [alienist])

Skills Appraise +13, Bluff +19, Diplomacy +13, Disguise +11, Heal +12, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (local) +14, Knowledge (psionics) +11, Perception +19, Profession (alienist) +13, Ride +6, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +9, Use Magic Device +11

Languages: Common, Aklo, Grimlock, Undercommon

Gear: doctor’s outfit, keys (Eye, Hand, Heart, Brain), masterwork dagger

These stats were modified slightly in light of the Body Thief ability; it doesn’t make sense to me to use the host body’s Bluff bonus, for example, given that the host’s brain has been eaten.

Of course, it’s quite possible that the Intellect Devourers will switch bodies at various points.  When one of the Alienists’ hosts die, the Intellect Devourer shows itself:

The body falls to the floor, eyes staring lifelessly ahead.  Then, suddenly, the corpse twitches, limbs flailing.  There is a sickening cracking sound as the corpse’s skull breaks open like an egg, a black talon emerging from the wound, followed by a whipping tentacle.  The tendril pushes aside the fragmented wreckage of the man’s head and something climbs out.  It looks exactly like a brain, save for the greyish fungus covering it, its lashing tentacles, and the many-jointed limbs unfolding from beneath it.  The thing seems temporarily dazed.

The sight of an Intellect Devourer provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4).  Intellect Devourers can also exit the way they came in, through the mouths of their hosts, but this process is more cumbersome (they use this process when they want to leave a host undamaged).

After losing a host an Intellect Devourer will usually scuttle away, becoming Invisible (or Clouding Minds if you’re using the Psionic variant).  If the characters are injured, however, or if there are other Alienists or Orderlies around, it may attack, using Confusion, Inflict Serious Wounds, and claws.  If a corpse is around, it’ll use Body Thief on it.

ORDERLY

nomnomnom

CR 3

XP 800

Grimlock rogue 1/warrior 3

CE Medium humanoid (human)

Init +2; Senses: Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+1 armor, +2 Dex, +4 natural)

hp 42 (6 HD; 1d8+5d10+9)

Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +3

OFFENSE

Speed: 30 ft.

Melee: sap +7 (1d6+2 nonlethal)

Special Attacks: sneak attack +1d6

STATISTICS

Str 15, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 6

Base Atk +5; CMB +7 (+9 grapple); CMD 19 (21 grapple)

Feats: Alertness, Skill Focus (Perception), Improved Grapple

Skills: Climb + 7, Stealth +11 (+21 in caves or mountains), Swim +8, Perception +12

Languages: Grimlock, Undercommon

SQ: trapfinding +1

Gear: padded armour, sap, key (roll 1d4: 1-Eye, 2-Hand, 3-Heart, 4-Brain), 1 Potion of Disguise Self (Human)

Handouts

Here is the text of the handouts:

Valentin’s Journal

Year 735, 7th of Vendémiaire

The groundskeeper Gerard, a man from the village of Saint-Sæthryth, was found dead this morning not far from his cottage, a dog worrying at his body.  The condition of his corpse was most alarming.  The top of the man’s skull had been completely shattered and his brain was missing; what’s more the inside of his head showed a number of gashes and other marks disturbingly suggestive of bite-marks, though I am unsure what beast could have made them.  As chief physician and aliéniste here at L’Hôpital de Corbin I believe it must fall to me to conduct the autopsy; I shall have Dr Delacroix assist me.  With luck our examination will reveal some clue as to who perpetrated this awful crime.  I wish to believe it to be the work of some animal, or else nothing more than a tragic accident, and yet I fear the worst.  Many of the patients here at the asylum have violent pasts.  One woman, a hysteric, murdered her husband in cold blood when he attempted to initiate marital relations between them, mutilating the man till there was naught left to identify him as such.  Another patient, gripped by powerful delusions, was found to have cannibalized several street urchins before being sent here.  We keep the inmates under close watch, of course, but if one were to have somehow slipped away, even for a brief spell, there’s no telling what horrors they could inflict.  They are not all imbeciles, either: there is a certain deranged cunning to some of them, and they can be artful dissemblers at times.  Of course, after the body was discovered I had the entire facility carefully locked down, and all patients have been thoroughly accounted for; if one of them is responsible for this hideous crime, they are now safely locked in their cell.

There are other theories circulating amongst the staff, some of whom come from local villages – wild talk of hill-men and goblins and ghouls living under the mountains.  I almost wish it were some bogeyman responsible.  After the autopsy I may have to interview the patients individually.

Year 735, 8th of Vendémiaire

The autopsy of the groundskeeper’s body has been completed, but I admit to being even more perplexed than before.  I have carefully reconstructed the skull and examined the wounds thoroughly, and I have come to one inescapable but bizarre conclusion: the man’s skull was not caved in from the outside – as from a blow to the head – but broke open from the inside out.  A powerful gunshot might have caused such explosive fragmentation, yet there is no gunshot wound visible on the man’s face or elsewhere on the corpse.  Stranger still, I discovered subtle but unmistakable trauma to the jaw, as if it had been recently dislocated and then jarred back into place.  I also discovered lacerations, faint but still distinct, around his lips and in the inside of his mouth.

Continuing my examination, I found that the back of the man’s throat had been gashed open, as if something had been forcibly thrust through his mouth and up into his brain.  To make matters even more bewildering, the wound had been sealed with a membranous growth of some kind, and traces of other foreign material – webbing, a greyish substance resembling fungi, and some sort of congealed mucus or slime – was discovered in his emptied cranium.  All traces of the brain itself were completely gone save for some portions of the brain stem, including the bulb, pons, and a portion of the midbrain.

As I continued the autopsy my findings grew yet more bizarre – and disturbing.  The groundskeeper was seen alive the previous night, so we can assume he was killed at some point during the night or in the early morning.  However, the corpse shows signs suggesting advanced decomposition.  The body was bloated, and I discovered maggots in the corpse’s orifices and the beginnings of putrefaction setting in.  All indications suggest that the man has been dead for several days at least.  Is it possible that somehow the rate of decay was accelerated?  The mystery is maddening.

Year 735, 11th of Vendémiaire

Interviews with the patients have been concluded, but have revealed nothing new.  One of the patients, however – a certain Madame Angélique, a hebephreniac afflicted with la folie circulaire – seems to have made surprising progress.  Perhaps the rotary chair has done its work; or perhaps the leechings, or simply the fresh air, have relieved her lunacy.  Whatever the case she seems much recovered, cheerful almost to the point of euphoria and yet displaying none of the frenzied agitation typical of a manic episode.  We will continue treatment as usual, of course, but I am optimistic.  With any luck, in a few months the girl can be sent back to her husband.

The groundskeeper has been interred in the asylum cemetery; we must send for a new one, as already the lawn is going to seed.

Year 735, 16th of Vendémiaire

Another shocking episode has occurred – Patient 616, Madame Angélique, was found dead in her room by one of the orderlies, Monsieur Falret.  What’s more, the manner of her death was exactly the same as that of the groundskeeper, her skull shattered and her brain missing, her brainpan infested with greyish fungus and covered in slime.  I did not have to perform a thorough autopsy to note the signs of premature or accelerated decay on her body.  It is now almost certain that the person responsible is either an inmate or a member of the staff – how else could the killer have gained access to her room?  What is going on?

If these incidents continue, I fear for the future of this institution.  L’Hôpital de Corbin must be a safe place, a place of respite, a haven for lost and troubled souls.  It cannot be a place of fear.  I have devoted my life to this place and am loathe to lose it, but if I cannot guarantee the safety of the staff and patients here I am afraid the asylum will have to close.

Year 735, 23rd of Vendémiaire

M Falret, the orderly who discovered Patient 616’s body, has gone missing.  He appears to have left in the middle of the night, without warning, and left no note.  Some part of me fears the man must have been abducted, perhaps by the same person responsible for the deaths of the groundskeeper and Mme Angélique, but everyone else in the asylum is fully accounted for: if the perpetrator is indeed an inmate or a staff member, abduction would seem unlikely… perhaps M Falret, traumatized by the incident with Mme Angélique, found himself unable to cope with the stress of working in L’Hôpital de Corbin and, accordingly, fled?

I have spoken to other members of the staff, who report that M Falret’s behaviour has been unusual ever since he discovered Patient 616.  Colleagues describe him as detached and somewhat depressed, and report that they often caught him watching them strangely, with a curious unblinking gaze.  Such a personality shift may have been a response to trauma, and yet the orderlies at this institution are used to dealing with pain, and even with corpses – try as we might to prevent them from harming themselves, some inmates do manage to commit suicide, and the discovery of a body in its cell is not, tragically, as rare a circumstance as we would wish it.

There is another possibility, of course – M Falret may have been responsible for both murders and, fearing discovery, he has fled.  I have written to the gendarmerie alerting them to the man’s sudden disappearance.  Some part of me hopes he was responsible.  If Falret was the murderer, at least now L’Hôpital de Corbin will be left in peace.

Year 735, 13th of Brumaire

Weeks have passed since the incidents visited upon us, and I had hoped the horrors had come to an end, but I fear my hopes were naïve.  I was examining one of the inmates today – Patient 874, Monsieur Augustin – when I noticed signs of what looked to be advanced necrosis or gangrene, as from leprosy or any number of other ailments.  Further inspection revealed the rot was widespread, and that the man was host to a number of eggs already hatching into maggots.  When he saw that I had discovered his affliction Patient 874 flew into a psychotic rage, baring his teeth and uttering a sound that I shall never forget so long as I live.  I am a practiced aliéniste with a long career: I have heard men and women screaming in the night, spouting glossolalia, imitating the sounds of animals, raving in singsong or shrieking with rage or terror or both.  The sound that issue from M Augustin’s mouth was unlike anything I have heard before – a chittering, clicking ejaculation of indescribable strangeness.  It sounded like nothing human.  Were I a superstitious man I might believe him to be the victim of some demoniac possession!

He came at me with hands clawed, tearing at my throat.  I managed to wrestle the man off me, and with the aid of two orderlies he was secured.  We attempted to sedate the patient, but the normal dose had no effect, and he continued to make the same chittering, hissing expostulations.  Eventually one of the orderlies simply bashed the man on the head, sending him into unconsciousness – normally I would disapprove of such violent methods, but given the circumstances I gave my permission.  We are treating the man’s affliction as best we can, but I am flummoxed as to the cause of his illness.  There is no fever whatsoever: the man is cold as a corpse!  He has been quarantined for the time being.  I will consult every medical text I can.  Could this strange sickness somehow be related to the recent deaths?  Mysteries piled on mysteries.

Year 735, 31st of Brumaire

They are everywhere.  I do not know who to trust, who has been turned.  Delacroix has been compromised, I think – I could smell the stench of the grave upon him.  They can smell me, too.

I have barricaded myself in the office.  I can hear them outside, giggling obscenely, stalking the halls.  They speak in their abominable tongue, if speech it is.  More like the drone of insects than speech.

I have seen what they are.  These Things that now walk among us, that wear our stolen flesh.  Such Things were not meant to be seen by human eyes.

Perhaps I am mad myself.  I can no longer tell truth from reality, fact from fiction, science from fantasy.

They will come for me soon.  I will not let them take my mind, will not let them use my body like a marionette.  There is a wheellock in my drawer.  I will blow by brains from my skull before I let them feed on my mind.

To any who reads this: L’Hôpital de Corbin is no longer an asylum, no longer a hospital for the treatment of illness.  They have taken over the Intensive Treatment Ward, use the machines not to ameliorate but to exacerbate.  They torment the inmates to worsen their lunacy.

They feed on insanity.  It is like a drug to them.  As the dipsomaniac craves alcohol so do they require brains, brains addled by madness.

Someone knocks at the door.  The handle turns.  They say they are Delacroix but I know the Truth!

The gun is loaded, primed.  I go now to whatever fate awaits me.

Cordialement,

Dr Valentin Morel

Aliéniste Principal de l’Hôpital de Corbin

Quasiriant’s Journal

Entry 1:

I feel compelled to transcribe my thoughts, to put them to paper – a strange urge, and unfamiliar.  The human whose body I now control, whose mind I devoured, was much given to this habit.  We all take on aspects of our prey after feeding.  I crouch now in the damp, hunched over a sheaf of parchment, my brothers and sisters around me, and write this chronicle with borrowed hands that even now begin to decay.

We have escaped the mountains of our homeland and arrived at last in the man-realm.  The God-Brain and Its Inquisitors cannot follow us here: our thralldom is at an end.  No longer can Its servants feed upon our young.  No longer will we be used as the humans use guard-dogs, somewhere between pets and slaves.  We are free.

Soon we must feed.  We can sense the minds of humans nearby, their consciousnesses succulent, nourishing.  Our bodies are rotting; I can feel maggots squirming in my breast, eating at my host’s innards.  If we do not find sustenance soon we will be forced to abandon our hosts and travel naked beneath the sun and moon, vulnerable and exposed.  The others look to me for guidance, for leadership.  It was I who led them from servitude, who found a way to this place.

Entry 2:

I have found us a place, nestled in mountains that remind me of the homeland.  There are many minds here, consciousnesses which exude a subtle aroma unlike any I have tasted before.  The humans who dwell here are broken things, wretched, consumed with fear and despair and confusion of unspeakable succulence.  Other humans watch over them, tending to them, trying to mend their shattered minds.  Fools!  We will be Masters here soon.  I have taken the body of one of them, a man I found tending to the grounds.  The other humans suspect nothing.  I will continue the man’s duties, biding my time, watching.  Soon I will bring the others here, and we will feast.

Entry 3:

I could resist temptation no longer.  I have glutted myself, eaten my fill, devouring the mind of one of the inmates, a woman I found wandering in the gardens.  The alienists here – so the Masters of this place call themselves – allow their patients to walk the grounds if supervised.  This one must have strayed from the group, unnoticed.  I found her gibbering, raving to herself and scratching at her flesh, and when, unable to contain myself any longer, smelling the irresistible enticement of her delirium, I burst from the skull of my former host and leaped towards her, she seemed unafraid, as if welcoming me, as if eager.  The taste of her mind was ambrosial – the savour of her madness!  The richness, the subtlety of her derangement, the obscene deliciousness of her lunacy!  It is like nothing I have tasted before.  I must have more.  I will hide this chronicle in the groundskeeper’s cottage for the time being and return to the asylum wearing my new guise.

Entry 4:

I was nearly discovered.  For the past few days I have been observing operations in this place, noting routines, evaluating strengths and weaknesses.  The brood could find a home here… so many nourishing minds to feed upon!  Yet as I languished in their cell, I found myself reminded powerfully of the homeland and our mistreatment by the Masters.  A rage grew within me, seething, boiling up and overflowing, and when one of the humans entered my cell to feed my host body I flew at him, bursting from my host’s skull and leaping for his throat, forcing his jaw open and burrowing my way up, up into his skull.  I ate my fill and fled, leaving the body where it fell.  The other humans are most agitated, believing that one of their own is the killer.  Soon I will take this body and leave, and rejoin my kindred.

After the rapturous richness of the last brain I devoured this one seemed bland, tasteless.  Now that I have tasted the nectar of madness, a sane mind is flavourless.  I must return with the rest of the brood soon, to satiate myself once again.

Entry 5:

The others have made contact with a group of beings that dwell under the mountains.  The humans drove them down into the darkness long ago, and they have lingered there since, in the bowels of the earth.  Their hatred for the top-worlders is matched only by their hunger for flesh.  They will make worth allies, for though my ilk and I must feed, we desire only brains, not meat.  We will require a few bodies to use as hosts, of course, but the rest can go to sate the appetites of these blind ones, these deep-dwellers.  They can help us to keep the humans in order, once we seize control of the asylum and make the place our larder, our abattoir – for though my brood and I are powerful, we are few in number, and the humans are many.

I have told the brood of the savour of madness, the lush ripeness of an unhinged mind.  Soon we shall return and eat our fill.

Entry 6:

I have assumed control of the body of Dr Delacroix, one of the alienists here at  L’Hôpital de Corbin.  I shall continue to use this body as required, when other humans bring more inmates for us from their cities: it will be necessary to maintain the appearance that the facility is still under human administration.  Once my kindred and I had infiltrated their ranks the rest became easy.  The humans’ leader, Dr Valentin Morel, discovered our presence, but by the time he realized what we were it was too late; we had already seized control.  The Grimlocks now serve as our orderlies, and the inmates are safely tucked in their cells, like livestock awaiting the slaughter in their pens.  The cravings grow stronger and stronger.  With each brain I consume, each maddened consciousness I devour, the hunger grows more intense, the sensations dulled.  I must find a way to relive that first ecstatic devouring.

When I consumed the consciousness of Delacroix I absorbed some of his knowledge, his expertise.  There are degrees of madness, I have learned, and methods of ameliorating lunacy.  Might the same techniques, the same scientific approach, be used to cultivate rather than expunge madness?  And then there are the arts of our Masters, methods for sculpting flesh and dominating the mind… perhaps, if the two were combined, I might contrive a means of seasoning our meat, of sweetening the brains of our prey.  With time and patience, I will sow the seeds of delirium in the minds of the inmates here, tend to a garden of the deranged and the demented – and, when the time comes, harvest my crop.

Experimentation must begin at once.

The Savour of Madness: Attic and Basement

 Faust 4

Attic

Attic Map

There’s not much of value in these old storerooms, but they do provide a stealthy means of navigating the third level of the asylum.

34 – Storeroom

Dusty old crates and trunks swathed in cobwebs fill this mouldering attic storeroom.

If the characters decide to investigate the crates and trunks, roll on the following table to determine their contents:

Roll 1d20 Crate Contents
1 Yellow mould
2 Muzzles
3 Fetters and shackles
4 Bedclothes
5 Parchment, somewhat mouldy
6 Orderlies’ uniforms
7 Spare rug
8 Bandages
9 Straitjackets, musty but useable
10 Spare parts for the rotary chair
11 Rusty carpentry tools and nails
12 Rusty surgical tools
13 Rusty kitchen implements
14 Lamp oil (6 jars)   and a hooded lantern
15 Healer’s kit
16 30 candles
17 50 ft. of coiled hemp rope
18 Rolled painting worth 25 gp
19 12 silver candlesticks worth 10 gp each
20 Floor plans of the asylum (basement only)

35 – Study Storeroom

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This dim attic storeroom has a large trapdoor in one corner.  The storeroom is mostly empty save for an old chest gathering dust.

The chest is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or use the Heart key).  Inside are a number of phials containing drugs of various sorts: 6 doses of Æther, 6 doses of Opium, and 6 phials of Oil of Restfulness.

36 – Hole in the Roof

A hole in the roof lets water into this old storeroom.  Years of rot have caused a partial collapse of the ceiling below – it’s a short drop down into what looks like the mould-infested remnants of the asylum’s library.

1d6 non-lethal damage unless a DC 15 Acrobatics check is made to jump down.

37 – Tower Garret

Three small dormer windows look out over the asylum grounds in this cramped garret.

The Basement

Basement Map

Soundtrack

38 – Cellar

cellar

Large barrels and kegs fill this cellar, and there’s a small wine-rack with some dusty bottles in it as well.

There are 20 bottles of fine wine here (10 gp each), and a lot of lower-quality wine.

39 – Storage

This large chamber holds supplies for the asylum above: linens, bedclothes, tools, machine parts, curtains, cutlery, spare pots and pans, and other miscellaneous objects.

There’s little of actual value here, though if the players need improvised weapons for whatever reason, some spare kitchen knives could be used as daggers.

40 – Wardrobe

This extensive storage chamber contains hundreds of suits of clothes, ranging from the white straitjackets of inmates to the plain uniforms of the orderlies to the fine coats, vests, wigs, and other garments of the alienists.  All are neatly folded on shelves or hung on pegs or hooks.

This room is perfect for characters to turn the tables on those above and disguise themselves.  In addition to 50 straitjackets and 25 orderly uniforms there are 20 doctor’s outfits and 12 courtier’s outfits here.

41 – Makeup

This small room includes a table set before a large mirror, with several smaller mirrors on its surface.  An array of cosmetics are arrayed on the desk, along with brushes and tools for applying them.  A small cabinet along one wall is filled with a variety of perfumes and colognes.

The makeup is the equivalent of a masterwork disguise kit.  The perfumes are worth 50 gp apiece (there are 30 bottles in total).  They are very delicate and bulky, however.  The Intellect Devourers use this room to disguise their rotting flesh when required.

42 – Larder

This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Hand Key).

This refrigerated room is obviously a larder.  Several shelves are devoted to mundane foodstuffs, but other shelves contain more gruesome victuals: severed limbs, human organs, and dozens of brains.  All are well-preserved; some are picked in jars, and large haunches of meat of uncertain origin dangle from meathooks on the ceiling.

Sanity check (0/1d3) for the mangled body-parts and brains.  The brains are an “emergency store” for the Intellect Devourer – they prefer to consume the brains of still-living or recently deceased hosts, but will feed on refrigerated brains if necessary.  The body parts are, of course, for the Grimlocks.

43 – The “Marionette” Room

This room is very cold – it must be refrigerated somehow, rime coating every visible surface.  Meathooks line the ceiling, dozens and dozens of them, every one of them holding up a naked human corpse.  A wide variety of ages and body types are evident, and there are slightly more male corpses than female ones.  Some of the bodies have been severely mutilated: some are missing fingers, limbs, eyes, or other features, while others sport grotesque grafts and augmentations harvested from other human corpses or from animals.  One corpse dangling near the entrance sports two heads – one male, one female – and a stitched body exhibiting characteristics of both.  Another has had its mouth replaced with the beak of a large bird and its arms replaced with massive wings.

Sanity check (1/1d4+1).  This is the “marionette” room: a chamber used by the Intellect Devourers to store hosts when not in use.

44 – Alchemical Laboratory

lab

Counters covered in alchemical apparatus dominate this laboratory, whose walls are lined with shelves stocked a variety of reagents – herbs, preserved organs, bottled chemicals, tinctures, oils, and essences, live insects, dried body parts, and similar components.  Beakers, crucibles, burners, boilers, mortars and pestles, and other equipment cover the counter-tops, and gaps between shelves are papered with alchemical charts.

Alchemist’s laboratory; no finished potions here.  If the alarm hasn’t been sounded there is a high probability of encountering an Alienist here.

45 – Potion Storage

This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or open using the Brain Key).  Anyone attempting to open the door who isn’t an Intellect Devourer activates a Symbol of Insanity placed upon it (Perception DC 33 to notice, Disable Device DC 33 to disable, Dispel DC 19).   In addition to a Confusion effect such a Symbol drains 2d6 Sanity points.

Racks of glass syringes line the walls of this chamber – they’re labelled using alchemical symbols.  Some of the syringes are empty, but many contain coloured liquids.

There are a lot of potions here: 30 Potions of Disguise Self (Human), 5 Potions of Cure Moderate Wounds, 5 Potions of Delay Poison, 5 Potions of Lesser Restoration, 5 Flasks of Oil of Restfulness, 3 Potions of Neutralize Poison, 3 Potions of Remove Paralysis. 3 Potions of Remove Diseases, 3 Syringes of Mindfire Serum

46 – Embalming Chamber

This chamber smells of formaldehyde and other preservatives.  Jars of embalming oil sit on shelves around the periphery, while at the center lies a partially embalmed body sprawled on a steel table, its organs carefully piled on a tray nearby, its torso split open.  Various tools, pumps, blades, and other instruments are arrayed on a worktable along one side of the chamber.

There are 10 large jars of (flammable) embalming fluid here.

47 – Delacroix’s Study

This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30, Strength DC 25 to force, or used the Hand Key).

This old storage room has been converted into a small study, with an antique wooden desk strewn with papers, some of them scrawled with occult symbols and formulae, others with anatomical illustrations, and others still with notes.  In one corner stands a naked human corpse, stuffed and mounted on a wooden base, its face frozen in an expression of terror.

Pages of Delacroix’s journal can be found here:

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In addition to Delacroix’s journal the following scrolls can be found in this room: 1 Scroll of Insanity, 1 Scroll of Phantasmal Killer, 1 Scroll of Feeblemind, 2 Scrolls of Confusion, 2 Scrolls of Touch of Idiocy, 3 Scrolls of Fear, 3 Scrolls of Touch of Madness, 4 Scrolls of Lesser Confusion, 6 Scrolls of Cause Fear

There is a good chance Delacroix is here, or else in the Grafting Laboratory.

48 – Grafting Laboratory

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Three long, steel slabs dominate this room.  Lain upon them are inmates that have been hideously mutilated, surgically altered in uncanny and disturbing ways.  One has been given a dog’s snout, grafted incongruously to the lower half of his face, and his hands and feet have been replaced with hairy, canine paws; a second bears suckered tentacles in place of forearms and a gaping lamprey maw on his stomach.  The third victim has had her lower body replaced with some kind of overgrown grub-like creature.  At first you take them for dead, but then you see that they are breathing, barely – they’re likely sedated somehow.  Cabinets with an array of bottled chemicals line the walls, and trays of surgical instruments – scalpels, bonesaws, needles, lancets, calipers, hand drills, and more – are affixed to the slabs.

The sight of the grafted bodies requires a Sanity check (1/1d4+1).

The chemicals are mostly sedatives similar to Oil of Restfulness.  There are 12 jars of the stuff, along with 4 Potions of Cure Serious Wounds (each restores 3d8+5 hp).

If awakened, the inmates become very distressed and probably violent, refusing to believe that the characters aren’t Intellect Devourers in disguise.  The Alienists have grafted them for two reasons: firstly for their own depraved amusement, and secondly to further traumatize the minds of their victims, cultivating the delicious madness they long for.

A thorough search of the tools turns up a Wand of Sculpt Corpse with 13 charges remaining, made from a human ulna.

Delacroix/Quasiriant is often in this room with another Alienist or two, working on the inmates.

49 – Examination Room A

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This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or open using the Eye Key). 

A large cage occupies the recessed centre of this round room.  Within, gibbering and raving in the throes of lunacy, are two inmates who have been surgically grafted together, their legs removed and their torsos fused with stitches and eldritch puissance.  The miserable pair are forced to walk on their hands, crab-like, their heads forever facing upwards, gibbering incoherently.  Curved benches are arrayed around the room.

The Dyad, as the pair are called, provoke a Sanity check (1/1d4+1).  The door to the cage is locked (Disable Device DC 30 – can be opened with the Hand Key).  The Dyad is/are basically incapable of fighting in any meaningful way.  However, if the alarm hasn’t been sounded there is a high likelihood that two of the Alienists are here, observing their creation.

50Examination Room B

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This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or open using the Eye Key). 

A brass cage sits in the middle of this round viewing chamber.  A solitary figure writhes in the cage; at first you take him for an inmate struggling in a straitjacket, but then you realize the straitjacket is made from flesh stretched over the man’s limbs.  He’s been muzzled, again with grafted flesh.

The figure provokes a Sanity check (0/1d3).  The door to the cage is locked (Disable Device DC 30 – can be opened with the Hand Key).

51 – Examination Room C

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This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or open using the Eye Key). 

In the middle of a brass cage at the recessed center of this round viewing chamber stalks a figure that has been afflicted by twisted magic.  Though obviously originally human, the creature is metamorphosing into something else, tentacles sprouting from its limbs, flesh mottling and turning a sickly greenish-purple.  The inmate’s mouth has been replaced by a fanged lamprey maw that mewls and salivates, dribbling bilious spittle.

The figure provokes a Sanity check (0/1d3). 

This inmate is becoming a Fleshwarped creature.  If released from its cage (Disable Device DC 30 – can be opened with the Hand Key) it goes berserk and attacks the nearest Intellect Devourer or orderly; otherwise it simply attacks the characters.  Its base statistics are those of a regular inmate but it has a Strength of 16, Intelligence 9, Charisma 6, and a Tentacle attack (+6, 1d6+3).

52 – Examination Room D

Fig-1-5-APPARATUS-USED-IN-VIVISECTION

This room is locked (Disable Device DC 30 or open using the Eye Key). 

A large glass box dominates this room.  Within writhes a disgusting conglomeration of tentacles, eyes, hooves, talons, and gnashing teeth – an amorphous abomination that hurls itself repeatedly against the inside of the glass, tendrils flickering, claws scratching.  Benches are arrayed around the room where observers could sit and examine the thing.

The figure provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1). 

The creature is a Chaos Beast, a former inmate exposed to too many mutagenic compounds.  If released from its cage (Disable Device DC 30 – can be opened with the Hand Key) it attacks the nearest creature.

53 – Implantation Chamber

view-of-a-skull

This dingy, stone chamber is dominated by a single chair, a leathery monstrosity with straps and other restraints that sits in the middle of the room in the glare of a lamp dangling from the ceiling on a chain.   A selection of bloody tools are evident on a nearby trolley – forceps, hammers, clamps, hand vises, retractors, and the like.  Strapped into the chair is a man wearing inmates’ garb, obviously sedated.  The man’s jaw has been dislocated and his lips and cheeks forcibly pulled back with metal instruments.  Nearby stands a large, glass tank on rollers, containing a sallow alchemical solution.  Swimming within the tank are four strange creatures resembling undersized human brains equipped with writhing tendrils and small, squirming limbs.

The sight of the inmate requires a Sanity check (0/1d3).  If awakened he reacts with panic and struggles, trying to flee from the room as swiftly as possible.

Four Intellect Devourer larvae swim in the tank.  This chair is used when one of the Alienists needs to switch bodies, or when a young Intellect Devourer is to be implanted for the first time.

54 – Tunnels Entrance

This square storage room reeks of rotten meat and animalistic musk.  A hole in the wall gapes like an open wound, leading into a roughly-dug tunnel winding down into darkness.  You can hear dripping from within, and the vague splash of something moving in water.

55 – Symbiont Chamber

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Half a dozen glass jars are arrayed on counters along the edges of this room, canisters brimming with bilious liquid.  Suspended the jars are various creatures, each seemingly more alien and disturbing than the last.

There is a high chance of finding an Intellect Devourer in an Alienist host in this room if the alarm hasn’t been raised, carefully injecting one of the Symbionts with a syringe containing an alchemical mutagen.

A description of each Symbiont and its abilities follows:

Jar 1: Suspended in this jar is a grotesque, fleshy thing that looks like a pair of sallow-skinned, bony hands joined at the wrists, long digits spread as if ready to clamp down upon something.  Two small, fanged maws are visible on the palms of the creature.

When placed around someone’s neck, the Necklace clamps down around them, fingers interlacing tightly – it will not choke the person to death, but it does constrict their neck somewhat, making their face slightly paler than normal.  Meanwhile, the small mouths feed on the host’s blood, tongue-like tendrils flickering from the mouths into the host’s neck.  The Necklace can be used to cast the spell Spectral Hand at will.  The Necklace occupies a magic item slot normally used for an amulet or broach.  It has an Ego of 6 and is Chaotic Evil in Alignment.  It has a speed of 1 ft.

Jar 2: Floating in this jar is a segmented, worm-like thing that somewhat resembles a disembodied human tongue, pinkish-yellow in hue.  At its base are a number of cruel organic barbs, while at its tip there’s a small, worm-like mouth.  As you watch the tongue-thing spasms and twitches, elongating itself considerably.

The Tongue is placed in someone’s mouth, it uses its barbed hooks to sever the host’s tongue (1d4 Con damage) and implant itself in its place.  The Tongue endows its host with a Bite attack with a reach of 10 ft (1d6 damage plus 1d4 acid).  It gives its user the ability to speak and understand Aklo.  It has an Ego of 4 and is Chaotic Evil in Alignment.  It has a speed of 1 ft.

Jar 3: A vaguely insectoid creature somewhat resembling a scarab beetle or cockroach swims about in the fluid of this jar, chelicerae wriggling.  The creature has a skull-shaped design on its carapace.

The Roach attaches to its host by burrowing beneath their flesh, dealing 1d6 damage upon attachment.  It feeds on the host’s blood.  The Roach functions similarly to a Scarab of Protection, endowing its host with Spell Resistance 20 and absorbing up to 12 energy-draining attacks, death effects, or negative energy effects before dying (upon perishing it erupts out of its host’s flesh, dealing another 1d6 damage).  The Roach has an Ego of 6 and is Chaotic Evil in Alignment.  It has a speed of 20 ft.

Jar 4: Bobbing in this jar is another hand-like organism, this one with seven extremely long, many-jointed fingers with membranous webbing between them and some kind of suckered tendril at its wrist.  The fingertips of the hand-thing are likewise equipped with suckers.

The Caul adheres itself to the back of a person’s head using its suckers, which is uses to feed.  It gives its user +2 Intelligence and Telepathy 100 ft. (though it does not grant the ability to Detect Thoughts).  The Caul occupies a magic item slot normally used for a cap or helm.  It has an Ego of 10 and is Chaotic Evil in Alignment.  It has a speed of 1 ft.

Jar 5: A leech-like creatures crawls along the inside of its jar, bloated and sickly-looking.  The disgusting creature has a hideous triangular mouth.

The Leech attaches itself to a host simply by adhering to a patch of bare skin.  It secretes healing enzymes that facilitate healing.  It functions exactly like Bandages of Healing but cannot be destroyed.  However, it drains 1d3 points of Con per day, not just 1.  The Leech has an Ego of 2 and is True Neutral in Alignment.  It has a speed of 10 ft.

Jar 6: The thing in this jar looks like nothing more than a fleshy corset, but then the thing twitches, and you realize it is some kind of ray-like creature with two enveloping fins or wings that can join together, interlocking.  Bony joints like struts or ribs give the thing a rigid shape.  The inside surface of the creature is lined with tiny hooked barbs like hairs.

The Bodice attaches to its host by closing itself around their torso and then digging in with its barbs.  When worn, the Bodice enhances the Charisma of its host by +4 but fills its host with lust.  If its host refuses to seek out amorous partners, the Bodice attempts to assert control of its host to fulfill its agenda, as it feeds off emotions as well as blood.  The Bodice occupies a magic item slot normally used for a wrap, robe, or vestment.  It has an Ego of 10 and is Chaotic Evil in Alignment.  It cannot move without a host.

Symbionts feed on their hosts’ blood, draining 1 point of Constitution per day – though since characters generally heal 1 Con per day, this is not severely debilitating; if a symbiont is displeased with its host, or if the host attempts to remove it, it can overfeed (1d4 Con damage once per day).  The Symbionts detailed above cannot attack on their own.  They can be attacked independently of their hosts, and have AC 20 and 10 hp, but gain the Dexterity bonuses of their hosts; attacking a symbiont provokes an attack of opportunity from the host.  Damage to a host never harms a symbiont.  In the event a symbiont is in conflict with its host it may attempt to exert control – a Will save with a DC equal to the Ego of the symbiont is required for the host to remain in control, otherwise the symbiont gains control of its host for 1 day.  While a symbiont can choose to voluntarily detach itself, removing it requires a Will save of the type described above.

faust 2

Last but not least comes the tunnels.

The Savour of Madness: Disused Ward and Guest Ward

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Floor 3

Asylum Map, Floor 3

29 – Alienists’ Quarters

These tidy quarters are well-furnished, with a large bed, a writing desk by a window, a deer-skin rug, and a handsome chest of drawers. Paintings, mostly depicting rustic tableaux or hunting scenes, provide decoration.  There’s also a large chest at the foot of the bed.  Outside, rain patters against the windows.

Apart from a spare doctor’s and courtier’s outfit (in the chest of drawers), the Alienists keep a few personal effects in their chests, which are locked (Disable Device DC 25 to open or use the Brain Key).  Roll 1d3 times to see what each contains:

Roll 1d20 Result
1 2d100 gold pieces.
2 A fine gold pocket watch (250 gp)
3 Book on human anatomy (10 gp)
4 Scroll of Feeblemind
5 Book on mental illness (10 gp)
6 Spare Hand Key
7 Scroll of Lesser Confusion
8 Masterwork dagger
9 Scroll of Rage
10 1d3 putrescent human brains
11 Putrescent human brain, partially eaten
12 Spare Brain Key
13 Scroll of Touch of Madness
14 Daguerreotype camera and 1d100 photographs of inmates in various states of distress, some of them hideously mutilated or grafted
15 Masterwork wheellock pistol and 10 bullets with gunpowder
16 Spare Eye Key
17 Scroll of Confusion
18 Wand of Fear (25 charges remaining) made from a human radius
19 Spare Heart Key
20 Floor plan of the asylum (above-ground only)

The Guest’s Ward

Soundtrack

The corridor has a trapdoor leading to the attic near the end of the hall.  The trapdoor locked (Disable Device DC 25 to pick, DC 20 to, noisily, force, or open with the Eye Key).

30 – Guest Room

This small room was obviously once a cell, judging from the bars on the windows and the bare brick walls.  A small bed, a chest of drawers, a chamber pot, and a stool are the only furnishings.

If the characters go to sleep after being escorted by Dr Delacroix, they’ll find themselves locked in.  As Delacroix explains:

“I’m afraid these rooms are all we have.  We used to have rather more patients, but in recent years we’ve had this ward converted into additional chambers for staff and visitors.  Unfortunately the doors can only be opened from the outside; a safety precaution.  I’ll be sure to have someone come by and let you out early tomorrow.”

Though the doors do indeed lock automatically, they can technically be picked (Disable Device DC 40) or forced (DC 25).  If the characters were guileless enough to drink the wine provided them by Delacroix in the dining room, the delayed-onset poison they ingested kicks in around now (about 1 hour after ingestion) – Fortitude DC 15 to resist.  If they fail they fall into a stupor for 1d3 hours and will wake up in one of the chambers in the Intensive Treatment Wing, or even strapped down to a slab in one of the Laboratories in the basement if they annoyed Delacroix somehow.  Of course, with any luck the characters either pass their saves or avoided ingesting the poison in the first place.  If they did pass their saves, they’ll be treated to a visit by a pair of Orderlies later in the night (they come in through the door) – make Stealth checks for the Orderlies (+11) as they approach (if the character perceives them, they hear approaching footsteps).

Disused Ward

Soundtrack

The door to the disused ward has been locked (Disable Device DC 25, force DC 20,   or use the Eye Key) and boarded shut (Strength DC 20 to quickly pull off the boards).  The Intellect Devourers and their minions shun the ward because of the spirit of Valentin Morel, who has become an allip and haunts the ward.  If dispersed Morel’s spirit re-forms the next night.  It will only depart if the Intellect Devourers are slain or their experiments otherwise ended.

Dust and cobwebs shroud this hall, which has obviously not been in use for quite some time.  An door with the words “Dr Valentin Morel” on it is evident to the left.

31 – Dr Valentin’s Study

Soundtrack

The door to the study is locked (Disable Device DC 30 to pick, Strength DC 25 to force, or open with the Brain Key).  However, there is a trapdoor from the attic (Disable Device DC 25 to pick, DC 20 to force, or open with the Eye Key).

You enter a spacious, well-appointed study with fine wooden furniture.  The walls are lined with handsome shelves containing numerous medical texts, most of them pertaining to mental illness – its causes, effects, and methods of treatment.  A large writing desk and a leather chair are placed near the curtained window; there are some papers on the desk, but in general the place looks disused, with a thick layer of dust lying over everything.  There are some old stains on one wall and on part of the floor; they have been partially scrubbed off but are still visible, though faded, under the dust.  There are also some heavy scuff-marks on the floor around the door.

The papers are diary entries.  It would probably have occurred to humanoids to burn these papers and so dispose of them, but this has not occurred to the Intellect Devourers (their Grimlock orderlies do think like other humanoids, broadly speaking, but lacking sight they have never developed a written language and so have not noticed the diaries).

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After reading these documents, the characters will be confronted by the spirit of Dr Valentin Morel – having been driven mad himself by the sight of the Intellect Devourers and their handiwork, and having committed suicide, he has returned as an (advanced) Allip:

There is a flash of lightning and suddenly you become aware of a figure standing in the corner, watching you intently.  Dressed in a tattered doctor’s coat, the spirit bears the stern visage of Dr Valentin Morel, recognizable from the portrait in the foyer, albeit contorted into an expression of madness and despair.  As he moves towards you, you see that the back of his head has been blown out, as if he put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.  Gliding forwards, flickering through furniture, the spirit begins babbling incoherently, reciting random passages from medical textbooks in a hideous, inhuman voice.

Harry-Clarke--Poe

Sanity check on seeing the Allip (1/1d6).  If you’re using the d20 Sanity rules, note that the Allip’s Touch of Madness ability deals 2d6 Sanity damage rather than Wisdom drain.  If a character is reduced to 0 Sanity by the Allip, they die immediately and become an Allip as described under the “Create Spawn” ability of the advanced Allip.

The wheellock pistol is nowhere to be found.

 32 – Archive and Map Room

This must be the sanitarium’s archive – there are shelves full of rolled up scrolls and record books here.  Most appear to simply be inventories of supplies, payment records, and rosters of inmates or staff.  On one wall are framed floor plans of l’Hôpital de Corbin and its basement.

The characters can liberate these maps, greatly assisting exploration of the asylum.

33 – Library

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A hole in the roof has let water into this library room, and the books lining its shelves – mostly medical texts, by the look of things – have become thoroughly infested with mildew and yellowish mould.

The stacks are infested with yellow mould.  There’s really not much to salvage here.

Next up: the attic and the basement.

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

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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

restraintphrenologicalchart

Soundtrack

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

rotarychair

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

Old_book_gathering

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

Soundtrack

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

brain2

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.

Synopsis

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.

Influences

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

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.

Lyell_Structure_Of_Braintumblr_lh6b4eQoC61qh8l8yo1_500

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

Soundtrack

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.

Nearer…

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

fortuneteller

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

Edinburgh_Infirmary

madhouse

Soundtrack

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

Ernst_Ferdinand_Oehme

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.

Chapel

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.

Cemetery

cemetery

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-madhouse-1735

Soundtrack

Greeting

delacroix

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

Asylum_Map

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

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Soundtrack

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

Soundtrack

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 (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/npc-s/npc-2/prisoner-human-expert-4) 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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