The Swallowed Town
For three long days the violent storm had ravaged the town of Iolinas, and the townsfolk had begun to wonder if it would ever end. Strangely, towards the end of the third day, the rain stopped suddenly, though the winds still buffetted the town relentlessly; some townsfolk thought it was finally the break in the storm. Others thought it was a portent of worse things to come… These people were correct.
About an hour before dusk had fallen, the folk of Ionilas noticed that they could see blue sky on the horizon. But wait… this was strange - the sky could be seen in all directions, but the clouds were still above the town! It was as though the storm were concentrating above them. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes, the edges of the clouds began to taper downwards. The wind grew wilder; stronger, and ominously, the blue sky on the horizon began to be blotted out by a wall of cloud lowering to the ground around the outskirts of town. Panic ruled the streets as the city began to darken. The wall of cloud touched the ground outside the city, and suddenly, the wind stopped. For several minutes, all was dark and all was still.
Then, in the darkest corners of the buildings and the darkest alleys of the town, something sinister stirred…
The Town Eater
The strange event seen as Town Swallowing is actually caused by a creature known only as the Town Eater. Due to bieng so rare - showing up only once every couple of centuries - this is the only name the creature is known as.
The Town Eater is a sentient bieng which lives on a rift between two dimensions; the real world, and a nightmare world. It mostly lives in hibernation, but once every several centuries it awakes to feed, and assaults the real world in the form of a violent storm. This storm will travel across the sky in the same manner of any storm, until it travels over a largely populated area (By the convenience of human-kind, usually a town or city). If enough life is concentrated in that area, the Storm will encircle the spot and lower its sides, trapping it in a dome of cloud. When the cloud is safely down, the cloud will open a rift between reality and nightmare, and cause the two places to exist as one.
The Town Eater feeds on the life energy of mortals, but to access that energy, it must collect it just as the life is snuffed out of the physical form. As such, it unleashes all things nightmarish on the mortals to kill them.
If there is too few people left to sate it, it will detach from the town and seek out another, but if it meets its quota, the cloud will then disappate into nothingness as the creature retreats back to the place between dimensions. The Town Eater usually lingers over one town for three to four days before moving on.
Scene: Crowded Tavern. A.K.A Darkness Lingering.
After their respective adventures, the players have decided to shelter themselves from the storm in this tavern. The smell of fresh boar on a spit makes their mouths water, and the sound of lighthearted conversation can be heard throughout the room. Slowly, it darkens outside.
Suddenly, the sound of the wind buffetting the windows stops, and the torch-lights flicker weakly, actually going out for several seconds. Reality seems to flicker as well.
As the torchlight slowly relights, the PCs will notice that the tavern is different to how it was just moments ago: Hellish runes have been etched into the wooden walls. Trickles of blood trail along the roof, walls and floor and the room itself seems twisted and warped, the pillars are no longer straight, the tables seem to be uneven and the chairs uncomfortable.
After taking this in, the Players may notice the air is uncomfortably warm. The once-pleasant aroma of pig-meat is now a pungeant smell of burning flesh and death, and if they look, instead of a boar on the spit, there is now a naked human. The Chef is the first to scream; but his scream is stifled as - out of the darkness of one of the corners - A horrific amalganation of teeth and claws leaps at his throat. Soon the entire tavern is screaming. The sound of steel unsheathing is heard as people draw their swords, and horrid growls echo in the room as more demonic creatures emerge from the various shadows and begin attacking the inn patrons.
Scene: Outside the Tavern. A.K.A Beware the Bear!
After the threat in the Tavern is Nuetralised, the PCs should make their way outside. They will discover that the world is now completely black: The only lights illuminating the town are the street lanterns and various torches and candles. It seems the town is the only thing existing in an eternity of darkness. The town itself is warped: The architecture of the buildings are askew, and the walkways and steets seem to be made jagged and rough. In the darkness of corners and alleyways, soft growls may be heard, and reflections of eyes may be seen.
"Katie! KATIE!? Where are you!?" A deranged old man is stumbling around the street outside the tavern. He is calling out the name of a girl - perhaps a granddaughter? It is obvious he is extremely distraught. In one hand he is carrying a sharp letter-opener threateningly, and in the other he is clutching a pink, fluffy teddy bear tightly against his chest. His eyes shift from one dark alleyway to another, half in fear and half in desperation.
If anyone attempts to approach or talk to the man, he will scream violently, yelling, "NO! YOU CANNOT HAVE HIM! KATIE!??" The man will then attack relentlessly with the letter-opener, and will not cease attack unless the group runs away (The man will chase them as far as his tired legs can run, however) or kills him. The only ‘loot’ found from the corpse will be the letter opener and the teddy bear: Perhaps one of the more moral of the group will think to take the bear to give it to this ‘katie’, if they find her.
- Katie will never be encountered, but if that bear is kept, it may prove to be a big mistake after this entire incident is over.
Scene: Lamp-lit Street. A.K.A Firelight’s Burden.
Whatever path they travel, the adventurers will end up on a quiet steet, lit by lanterns which line the street sides. In the distance is a large, gothic church, and behind the church is a Graveyard. Just beyond that graveyard lies the wall of cloud. It was in view!
To start, the street seems calm and quiet: Besides, to their knowledge the demons only come from out of the shadows, and this street was brightly lit.
As they start walking down it, however, they will begin to hear occasional footsteps and several low moans that could only have come from undead lips: They sounded like it came from just ahead on the street, but there was nothing there! If they continue on, they will suddenly be attacked by what appear to be invisible zombies! However, if one of the lamplights are extinguished - whether by accident or on purpose - the group will begin to see outlines of the undead creatures. The more lights that are broken, the more easily the creatures will be seen until they practically light up the darkness as though they were flourescent lights.
If your group needs more clues, have one of the lanterns lights not lit, and halfway down the street, make them see a faded, washed out image of a zombie as it passes in the dimmer light where the lantern was out.
Once the party makes their way through the group of slow-moving, but dangerous zombies, they will notice a commoner of the town just outside the church waving to them frantically, "Quickly, come to the church! Surely this darkness cannot corrupt the holiness of our lord!" The commoner flees in terror into the church at the end of the street. Once the group reaches the church, they will hear and see that there are as many zombies on all the other streets on the road - going any other direction but inside would be suicide.
Strangely, one of the players will hear a voice in their heads at this moment: A quiet whisper of despair, urging, begging them not to enter. None of the other Players will hear this though, and there is no other way out barring through hordes of undead, anyway.
Scene: Stained Glass Church. A.K.A Death’s Loom.
After the lamplit street, the party enters a high-roofed, Ancient stone-walled church. There are several enormous, stained-glass windows lining the walls, illuminated by many lit candles and torches. The images depicted on the windows are of horrid scenes of torture: Holy people mutilated and righteous figures begging for mercy. The church is large; several tall stone pillars next to the entrance rise to the darkness of the roof, and the room is divided into two by a walkway between two long rows of wooden pews. At the front of the church is a large altar. Covering the altar, and pooling several meters down the walkway is a river of blood. The commoner who entered the church was already halfway up the walkway, and had stopped in horror at the sight of his defiled church. Behind the altar and up against the far wall is a large chest. At the back-right of the room is a door - presumably to outside, behind the church. A selection of ceremonial spears array the front wall of the church.
If a listen check is made, a rythmic sound of dripping could be heard, and then in the dim light, the PC’s will be able to see that there is more blood dripping onto that altar. If any look up, they will see what appears to be a skinned human corpse lying on the roof, as though the roof were the floor and it had fallen there. However, if either the PC’s or the commoner make another move, that corpse will suddenly drop from the roof. Midway through the air, the former corpse will twist and then land on hands and feet, clutching the Altar. A horrid, wilting screech will echo loudly through the church. Now in the light, the PC’s will notice that the ‘corpse’ was not a corpse at all.
Two small pinpricks of white light shine in the hollows where it’s eyes used to be. The skinned head has no lower jaw, and it’s teeth and fingertips are sharpened to wicked points. The entire body - muscles exposed - glisten with fresh blood, and drops of the liquid seem to drip endlessly on the ground below it. This creature is a Mogrolyth - An exceptionally rare but phenominally potent undead creature.
Before any player can react, the Mogrolyth will leap down from the altar and spring at the commoner with such speed it’s movements will seem almost a blur. The commoner and Mogrolyth both will crash through eight rows of pews before coming to a halt, and the players will notice that the commoner was dead before the first row was broken. Ignoring the adventurers for now, the Mogrolyth will be busy tearing apart the corpse of the former man; a haze of blood and strips of flesh will fly everywhere as the Mogrolyth consumes the corpse. It is obvious that it’s too late to save the man. The path is free to exit out the back door, however if they want to leave before the Mogrolyth pays them any attention, they must give up searching the church for anything or looting that chest. Alternatively, option is open to attack.
If this is anything but a very high-level game, it should be highly advised to the PCs that running is a good idea. Otherwise, the option of fighting the Mogrolyth is available. Running is a valid option at all levels, however defeating it will result in a very generous portion of XP, plus the chance to raid the chest behind the Altar.
Optional Major Encounter: Mogrolyth
Attacking a Mogrolyth is no easy task. Bludgeoning weapons do no damage to it whatsoever, apart from pushing it around and making it angrier. Slashing weapons deal half damage and piercing weapons deal full. If the Mogrolyth’s hitpoints reach zero, it will still not die; it instead means only that you have torn enough muscle away to make the Mogrolyth only able to crawl away in retreat. However, At this point, it is vulnerable to an attack at it’s only weak spot: It’s heart. If the heart it pierced, the Mogrolyth will die: it’s flesh will dry up, the light of its eyes will fade and it will stop moving. If the object that pierced its heart stays in, the Mogrolyth will stay dead until it is removed. If there is nothing obstructing it’s heart, within a few hours of death, it will arise once more. No force can cut through the bone of a Mogrolyth - dead or alive - which is also why bludgeoning weapons are so ineffective against it: they cannot pass through the ribs to reach the heart.
Fire - magical and mundane - may injure a mogrolyth if its flames are hot enough to burn through the outer flesh and reach its heart. Other magics are generally ineffective, unless they are able to damage the heart in some way.
Death from above: At any point in the battle, the Mogrolyth can climb the pillars of the church into the darkness of the roof, where it cannot be seen. From here, it can leap down for a drop-attack on any PC with great effect This will take two rounds. If players make a listen or spot check to see where blood is dripping down from, they will be able to see which target the creature has in mind, as as such be able to dodge out of the way or ready to attack it.
Wilting Screech: The howl of the Mogrolyth is so potent and pain-filled that anyone nearby must make a will save (or equivalent) or be frozen with fear for one to two rounds.
Due to its speed, it gets 2 attacks in one round and it will rarely use that attack on one person; instead it would attack one adventurer, then leap to another one.
Spells such as Turn Undead do not drive off or injure the Mogrolyth, however they do slow it down somewhat, making it only able to attack once a round for the next several rounds.
Scene: Graveyard and the mist A.K.A Out of the Woods?
Whether or not the group attacks the Mogrolyth or flees from it, as soon as they all leave that far door of the church and shut it, it will disappear: There will only be stone wall there. If left alive, the Mogrolyth will not chase the group outside that door. Now, however, they find themselves in a large, quiet graveyard. About three hundred meters in front of them lies a wall of swirling fog and mist; the edge of the cloud! Of course, their views now focus from the cloud to the graveyard itself, and the spirits lower once again: All manner of undead beasts lurk in the dim light (Add your favourite undead creatures here!). None have seen the group yet, but it won’t be long. Now, the choice is three-fold: Will the party make a run for it? Will they choose to fight their way through the creatures? Or will they slink behind the tombstones and try to sneak by?
Whatever their choice, if and when they make it past the graveyard and into the mist, the undead will not follow. However, they are not out of danger just yet. The cloud is about one mile thick, and they must traverse through it. It is eerily quiet within the mist, and all the sounds made seem insignificant. Vision stops about four meters ahead of the person.
For some time, there will be no encounter, just quiet walking, but after a while, they shall begin to hear whispers. Voices on the edge of their senses, and footsteps just out of sight through the mist. Soon, they will begin to feel clawed hands scraping softly against their necks, and teeth gnashing next to their ears.
Dispite all this, nothing will happen to the players if they keep calm: This is simply the Town Eater’s way of trying to make escapees become scared and lose their direction, for the chance that they will become lost in the mist and re-enter the dark. As the group gets further and further away from the town, this ghoulish touch will become less frequent and not quite as corporeal, and soon they will break through to blessed freedom: The moon shines brightly above them and the sounds of nature echo everywhere. As they break free and make their way away from the cloud, they will notice just how enormous this thing truly is: A dome of mist covering the entire town, swirling and shifting violently.
- The Town Eater can be used to start a roleplay and form bands; "We have to make it to the edge of the clouds… now Who’s with me!?" Or to just add an interesting diversion to the normal adventures. The difficulty of the creatures can, of course, be altered in given situations based on the levels/powers of the players. Ideally, any evil type of monster may be substituted: Anything which may seem at home in a nightmare.
- This would be a fun, devious card to play on your PC’s: Make a certain town a ‘hometown’ for them; a place which they come back to after their epic journeys to rest. One time when they come back from a particularly volatile adventure, make a note that it is currently storming in the town. Half an hour later, make a small note that the rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing. Have them book a room to rest at a local inn, and then slowly mention on how it is getting dark early… then bring to attention the sudden silence…
Then have a pair of golden eyes peer out at them from the darkness and a low-toned growl echo…
- This submission is intentionally short on ‘scenes’, because each different town may have any number of places unique to your roleplay. If there’s a smith/weapon shop that your party used to frequent; have them go though it and make all the weapons become animated and attack. If there was an entertainment section where clowns used to juggle knives, make it a twisted version of itself, and have ghastly jester-like zombies armed with throwing knives. Your city has a park? Living trees, anyone? Really, the choices are limited by your own nightmares.
Aftermath: If the party comes back to the town after the Town Eater has swallowed it, there can be hundreds of side-quests ranging from finding lost people, to helping rebuild places to investigating the whole thing. If the Town Eater has not had its fill and has left in search for another town, perhaps the PC’s will be charged with following the Storm so they can warn the next town to evacuate before it’s too late.
I’ve made this submission a Scroll: If anyone is inspired and wishes to add a scene to it, feel free to do so!