If the player characters already work for a guild or noble then the adventure can be easily presented as a standard assignment, if they are freelance adventurers they can be approached by a minor noble and hired as freelance muscle to solve this matter discreetly, as their guards are currently busy with a disturbance in a near by territory over some matter of cattle giving birth to monsters.
Either way, once the players agree to listen to the sales pitch at the nobles keep, (the noble will speed their journey via magical teleportation a clue to the players this situation is serious.)
After being escorted to a small richly adorned room by the guards and settling yourselves in the old but classy chairs provided a older gray haired gentleman who looks to be roughly 60 rises from a well upholstered chair the introduces himself as Baron Von Neumann. After making introductions he sets down and begins to speak in a voice that is firm, despite the man's apparent age.
"Gentlemen," (and or ladies) As you may have already heard by rumor a freak storm has arisen in by nobility blanketing the town Calvert and surrounding territory in several feet of snow. This, combined with nearly arctic temperatures has virtually cut the town off from civilization. We of course evacuated the area but some residents were unable or unwilling to leave We lost contact with them three days ago. Our wizards have confirmed this storm is not a natural act of nature and is caused by supernatural means. We need you to go in there, find out what's causing this tragedy and put a stop to it.
Due to the severity of the storm we are unable teleport you in, however we have made available winter equipment, (cold weather clothing, rings of cold resistance snowshoes etc...) You will also be provided with a magic pigeon rings and a horse drawn carriage fully equipped to handle the winter conditions..
Now I am prepared to offer you a substantial amount of gold each for your assistance in this matter as well as letting you keep all equipment issued to you including the ring of cold resistance and coach.
I assume you all are familiar with these type of situations, but as an added measure of security I will be sending a Janissary, William S. Donavan along to supervise the situation and report any major breakthroughs to me. He is however only a advisor, and the best course of action will be left up to you."
(G.M note. Von Neumann will also inquire about the players weapons, and if needed will supply them each with a magical weapon of choice and enchanted armor.)
(Also note in the back of the carriage will be an armored case 4x2x3' locked by padlock with wards of death, agony, and mystic alarm upon the chest. Inside will be the following: three small wands of flame projection., three pump cross bows with 20 spelled silver arrows each, rings of armor (enough for one per character) and one silver moon skeleton key.)
Characters who are not normally part of the barons dukedom will NOT be told about the contents of the locked case, and if they inquire will be told it is alchemical equipment. If at any point in the game Jannisary William becomes critically injured he will regain consciousness long enough to hand a key to the characters that will access the case before dying. He is the ONLY one besides Von Neumann that has a key to the chest.
Also the chest and its contents will NOT be allowed to be kept by the players after the mission. Failure to return any part of the treasure, especially the moon gate key will result in forfeiture of payment and a possible death sentence, especially if the players “cut and run” with the contents after completing the adventure rather than return for payment. If player do this they can be expected to be dogged by assassins throughout the empire and be wanted for a substantial portion of goldeach!
After equipping themselves for the adventure the players will be teleported to a town closest to the incident along with Donavan.
Donavan will be friendly to the player characters but somewhat cold and aloof. He privately feels that the characters are out for themselves and care little about the town or it's residents. (good role playing on the players parts will see him open up a little and be slightly more friendly.)
After they have boarded the horse drawn carriage at the town a couple of hours away the effects upon the area will be readily apparent.
“As you leave the town the sweltering heat draws beads of sweat on your foreheads and makes your shirts cling damply to your skins. Once again you find yourself wondering how snow can possibly exist in weather like this in the middle of July.
After only about an hour of riding you can see the dark clouds looming on the horizon like a thunderstorm gathering force. However this particular storm is more whitish gray than bottomless black and stays centered over a 50 mile or so area. The sky overhead however is bright and sunny and the air slight breeze fights the unending battle against the heat. Heavy horse shoes and oversized wagon wheels bump along the road at 12mph.
The road slides by and you begin to notice an hour or so later the grass changing from green to an unhealthy yellow, the cornfields showing signs of frostbite. Agent Donovan stops fanning himself off and rolls the window down, the once sweltering air having turned to the coolness of late autumn. Not too far in the distance you see the first flakes of snow starting to fall.
Less than twenty minutes later the oil heater is roaring against the biting cold outside, the road ahead obscured by an all out blizzard, your speed reduced to a crawl as the carriage is buffeted by harsh arctic winds."
After another half hour of creeping through the blizzard you notice the road up ahead abruptly ends in a deep ravine where a bridge should stand by the map.
Actually, a bridge used to be there but was burned down. Players who get out to examine where the bridge was will find deep drifts of snow and frigid winds. Digging beneath the snow at the edge of the ravine where the road ends will reveal charred wood beams burnt through.
After making a navigation roll and consulting a map of the surrounding area the players will discover an alternate route two or three miles back along a back road. This route will take them to the town, but will take considerably longer.
While traveling along the back road players will see through a brief break in the storm a log cabin set back about 50 or so feet from the road with smoke curling from the chimney. However the front door will be hanging open connected by one hinge.
If the players stop to investigate they'll find the door looks to have been busted out from the inside with claw marks all along the inside of the door. the wind has blown too much snow around to make out any tracks.
Other than that the inside of the house is undisturbed and everything appears to be in order. There's even a crossbow hung on the wall between a set of deer heads. (it's a heavy crossbow in good working order but unloaded. 12 bolts of ammo is on the mantle in a quiver.)
Psychics and those with sixth sense will get a vague feeling of unease inside the house mixed with fear and hunger. Also while exploring the cabins four rooms (one bedroom, one bathroom, one kitchen/living room/ one pantry fully stocked with fresh and dried food.) players will hear the howls of wolves in the distance. If they contemplate staying at the place for the rest of the day until tomorrow Donovan will suggest they head for Inn in the town as planned and stay there. (it's roughly 2:30 in the afternoon.)
If the players insist on staying have the wolf howls grow closer and more numerous until it's clear the wolves have their scent and are closing in. Unless they move on the wolves are likely to kill the horses, potentially stranding them in the arctic like wilderness.
The players should arrive at the town about 7:00pm that night, the storm having slowed their progress significantly. As they drive through the town they'll see a few houses with their lights on, but the street will be absolutely deserted.
Upon arriving at the Inn they'll find the lights inside seem bright and cheerful. However, upon entering the players will be assaulted by an odd musty odor that smells faintly sour and rotten, along with bitterly cold air, maybe even colder than the air outside. Psychics will feel absolute dread and terror inside the building.
The front desk is abandoned, with parchment scattered randomly and half a sweet roll partially dunked in a cup of frozen coffee. The chair behind the desk is also knocked over and a few drops of blood leading down a hallway to the right.
Following the blood will lead the players to a supply closet door. Inside the closet are six bodies that will fall out to the floor when the door is opened. The bodies look as if they were stuffed into the small closet and their skin will be shrunken, almost mummified, the blood drained out of them completely. Closer inspection will reveal looks of horror on their shrunken faces.
The smell, while hideous, is lessened to a large extent by the freezing temperature but is putrid none the less. Players will also see more blood drops leading to another door down the hall, this one the Inn cellar.
When the players open this door a miasma of smells resembling a slaughter house will flood the corridor.(make the players make a roll to save vs. vomiting or blow chunks in the hallway, possibly on Donovan.)
The players will hear from the basement a faint moaning, the torch bracket near the entrance is empty and the basement is way too dark to see normally. Agent Donovan will excuse himself for a moment and return with one globe of daylight ring for each member of the group.
The stairway leading down to the basement will be bathed in dried and frozen blood, making travel hazardous and slippery. Once down there the stench will make everyone gag and those that have not already vomited must roll again to keep from doing do. The players lights will reveal numerous bodies in various states of frozen decay piled about waist high in half the basement. The moaning sound is coming near a large unlit. fireplace Players will also notice the torch brackets have been smashed and arms jammed into the holders, frozen blood hanging in long icicles from them.
Closer inspection of the fireplace to discover the moaning sound will reveal two things. The fireplace is extinguished because buckets of internal organs have been dumped into the opening, coiled lengths of intestines draping over the sides, frozen organ mucus and slime covering the heater in a thin coating that sparkles underneath the players lights. The mysterious moaning is nothing more than the wind howling up the chimney.
Shortly after the characters will hear dripping sounds coming from all around them, followed by dozens of small crackling sounds. Exploring with the lights will reveal the arms jammed into the torch brackets are starting to move and drip blood, as well as grasp fitfully at the air.
The characters are then likely to retreat quickly as possible. (remember the icy steps, the players probably won't!) If the players slip and fall back down then they are just in time for the arms to crawl out of the torch brackets and attack them.
(you might want to have the players roll to save vs. insanity roll for a random temporary insanity. Some good insanity's are fear of the dark, fear of blood, basements confined places, or fear of dismembered corpses.)
The whole inn is possessed from the horrible deaths that occurred in the basement. At the very least a few haunting entities are liable to arise out of it all.
While leaving the inn characters may catch a glimpse of something moving outside one of the windows, something pale blue and humanoid, although it's hard to tell from the storm.
Once safely inside the carriage agent Donovan will send a magic pigeon report to Von Neumann on the status of the inn, while characters are calming frayed nerves and possibly cleaning blood and organ pieces off themselves.
If the players ask Donovan for advice he'll suggest they visit and spend the night at one of the other houses that someone is occupying.
After taking the carriage back to town players will find the storm is letting up, although it is still bitingly cold. They also notice most of the lights are out in the houses except for a few. After selecting a house when the players knock on the door it will open, as if not properly latched. Inside the house characters will notice the smell of home cooking and the interior will be warm and cozy, complete with fire in the fireplace.
Unfortunately the place is also deserted, except strangely enough a full course meal is setting on the table, some of it partially eaten. Searching the house will reveal nothing out of the ordinary. Though it seemed it used to be the home of a married couple with two children and a dog, (a poorly painted family portrait hangs above the fireplace) There are no clues as where the family vanished to or why. Psychics will sense nothing out of the ordinary except a background evil that seems to be more a part of the town than the house itself.
After about an hour of searching the players will get a knock on the door. Upon answering they will see an old farmer that’s on the slow side mentally. (late 50's thinning dark brown hair streaked with a gray badly trimmed beard.)
The farmer Jeremy Hartland will be nearly frozen to death and will ask for lodging for the night. If questioned he will be able to provide the following information:
Q: What's going on with the town?
A: "I can't rightly say, bout two, two'n half weeks back things started getting cooler, kind a chilly. People blamed it on a freak summer, not much really interest'n. Then it just got colder'n colder, till one day snow started fallin! Cin you imagin that? Snow! Right here in the middle o' Summer!"
He shakes his head in disbelief. "Some folks left in a big hurry, said the next ice age was comin, others claimed demons did it. Some folks with with armor and some weird ass wizards came and poked into stuff. Ordered everyone out till they could solve the problem. Thing is, not everyone's got some place ta go see? So most of us just bundled up an dealt with the early winter.
Lots a kids out playing in the snow, farmers like myself didn't know what ta do! Our crops'n livestock're what we make our money offa! The Empire says we'll be paid for any losses so we all jus sit real nice'n tight and wait. 'Cept this morning I git up and find ma wife'n kids 're all vanished! not a trace of 'em ta be found. Likes they just up 'n left without saying's good bye!
But they must a gone ball lucky bare ass naked cause none 'o their clothes's missin. So's I goes out to the barn an looks around thinkin maybe they's all hid'in on me, playing some sorta joke, an I find all muh cattle'n pigs'n sheep torn wide open, like somebody shoved a keg 'o moonshine down their throats then shoved a match up their rears! Guts strewn everywhere, blood'n bones."
He shudders and turns pale. "Then I see a patch of my field ripple an slide over quiet as a mouse fart an swallow up ma plow! Then it came a slide'n towards me. So's I just a hopped on muh horse an rode it like ah bat from hell till it died a couple a miles from town. Then I jus' walked the rest of da way an saw yer carriage out front oan figured you folks'd let me git a bite ta eat. Speakin' a which, is that chicken n' mashed potatoes I smell?"
Q: Will you show us the way to your farm?
A: "Not tonight I won't! That place's haunted! I ain't never goin' back there alone, or ever at night, even with you fella's as company.!" (he'll promise to show them the way tomorrow and explains the directions, but refuses to go back there tonight under any circumstances.)
Q: Where's everybody in the town? You said a lot of people stayed behind.
A:"Don't rightly know that neither." Maybe they jus up'n vanished like ma family!"
Jeremy honestly doesn't know anything about what's going on in the town and will try to be as helpful as possible to the players. Due to his lack of intellect he mostly let his wife run things, and hardly ever questioned what she told him.
About two hours after the players have settled in the house for the evening a broken branch from a overhanging tree smashes open a window, blowing out any light candles or torches plunging the place into total blackness, except for the light of the fireplace, which casts crazy and demonic shadows across the walls. In the silence all that can be heard is the howling of the wind outside and the far off wail of a dog, or maybe a wolf.
Characters are liable to conduct a thorough search of the house suspecting something. This makes a perfect opportunity for GM's to psyche the players out with half imagined sounds and make the simple perimeter search eerie in the darkness.
Psychics will sense growing danger if they check, and anyone who looks out a window will notice the storm has stopped completely and the sky is coal black, the full moon peaking up over the horizon, casting a pale hue over the dead town, the only sound is an occasional gust of wind that rattles the house and makes old timbers creak in protest.
Jeremy will quickly offer to stay and watch the fire while the players investigate, claiming "I had enough o' spooks back on the farm an I ain't no heroes like you folk." Since he is unarmed it is unlikely he would be of much help anyway. If players pressure him to help he will say as much and firmly plant himself near the fire in a lounge chair.
Less than a half hour after they complete their first search, or perhaps while in the middle of the search they hear the shattering of glass somewhere upstairs, or down if they are all up stairs.
Psychics will sense danger is closer than ever, however it was only the wind blowing open a poorly secured window nothing more, but serves to further crank up the tension.
After returning from the second search, or finishing up the first one, they will find Jeremy has found a bottle of whiskey from somewhere and drunk himself into a stupor. In his drunken state he will blabber on about his wife's obsession with the dark crystal moon and how she should leave past sins buried. He will respond to any questions with curses directed at the moon and the cold. Shortly thereafter he will pass out and snore loudly, muttering references to the "Dweller Beneath" in broken sentences, as if it's chasing him.
By now the players should feel tired and be ready for sleep, after settling down for the night, (Donovan will suggest posting guard and sleeping in the living room next to the fireplace after making the evening pigeon report to Von Neumann but not force the issue.) The characters will sleep fitfully, their dreams troubled by nightmares of dark demonic shadows chasing and attacking them. (subtle psychic influence from the forces controlling the town.)
Later on that night whoever is on guard (ideally a player character) will hear a thump on the picture window of the living room. Drawing back the curtain will reveal the naked form of a lady clinging to the window like a fly. Her fingertips, toes and heels have grown suction pads that secrete a sticky slime enabling her to cling to virtually any surface.
(If the players didn't post guard have them awoken by the thump on the glass) Should they look outside they will find themselves greeted with the following:
“As you peel back the curtain you see clinging to the window the pale naked form of a young lady, she looks to be roughly 23 with a athletic build, her skin silky smooth and tinted a light bluish purple, almost glowing in the light of the full moon.
You also notice the sucker like cups growing out of her finger tips, toes and heels, which stick to the glass like glue. Her eyes are pupil-less and solid gray like chips of ice, the expression on her face is blank, like a statue given life, her naked form pressed grotesquely against the window."
Observant Characters (call for a perception roll) will notice she doesn't appear to be breathing or give any outward signs of life.
Psychics or magic users using see aura will notice her aura is a hypnotic swirl of colors streaked with black and fiery red. She is obviously possessed and altered in some way. Those with sixth sense will feel danger from her. An exorcism ritual will instantly kill the creature, causing it to fall boneless to the ground.
Jeremy will be to drunk to be of any assistance, if he can be woken at all.
If he can be awoke, his only drunken response will be: "Gitta load of dat! If'n I did that kind a thing when t'was her age muh daddy woulda whipped my butt till the cows came home!" After which he'll promptly pass back out. If the players decide to go out after it,then read the following:
"As you step out into the frigid night air, your footsteps are muffled under the fine, powdery snow, the glare of the moon dazzling your eyes for second and lighting the neighborhood like noon. As you cautiously approach the clinging woman she pays you no mind, clinging stubbornly to the window."
The lady will ignore any attempt the players may make at distracting her, focusing upon the fireplace. (The lady is really after Jeremy, having tailed him from where his horse died to this house, she desires his blood only.)
This presents players with another problem: How to get her off the window. (It's well below zero outside and breaking another window will help freeze the interior of the house) Shooting her has a chance of going through her and shattering the glass, (depending on the size of the bolt) Hitting her risks driving her through the window, and she is immune to psychic and magical paralyzation, sleep, or any other ability that would influence her body. (the possessing entity has an iron grip on her mind and body.)
Cutting her throat or something similar will work, but even after she's dead, her body will still cling limply to the window and must be cut or pried off.(the latter option requires considerable strength and may still break the glass.)
She will not resist or fight back against any attacks directed at her, but upon her death several of her companions will leap out of the snow and attack the players! All are completely naked and carry no weapons, except for the sucker pads on their hands and needle like teeth.(GM's alter the number as you see fit, depending on the abilities of the players and their level.)
Attacks include open hand sucker slap, that not only does damage, but also clings to shirts, pants, etc.. and when pulled away will tear strips of clothing with it. (exposing characters to the cold and possible frostbite.)
The creatures instinctively aim for the face or patch of exposed skin.
The creatures will fight to the death and pursue fleeing characters inside the house by punching through doors, windows, etc. If players decide to ignore the creature and wait until morning, have the creature detach from the window during the night and spring the ambush on them with it’s companions as soon as they leave the next morning.
The only difference is the woman will be clinging to the front door, and immediately leap upon the person who first opens the door.
If the players dealt with the lady last night then the way to the carriage will be all clear. Once at the carriage Donovan (if he survived the ambush) will pigeon in with a report and gain authorization to access the armored chest in the carriage. He will distribute the weapons among the group, and politely but firmly refuse to arm Jeremy. Also note that Jeremy will remember nothing of his drunken stupor the previous night.
If Donovan didn't survive the ambush when they report in that morning, Von Neumann will order them to access the weapons case and arm themselves, but not to arm Jeremy, (telling them he can't be trusted with such deadly weapons) The weather that morning will be overcast and chilly with snow starting to fall, the players should realize that the storm is far from over, and this is only a brief respite.
While traveling back through the town on the way to Jeremy's farm, The players will see a Doberman Pincher on the side walk staring at the vehicle. (This is the first animal the characters have yet to see, even birds aren't in the town.) Jeremy will immediately rush to the door window and recognize the dog as his and demand the players stop.
"That's ma dog Rex, you gotta let me git him, he don't mean no harm to no one." If the characters should refuse to stop Jeremy will try to open the door and leap out of the carriage. If he is restrained he will become violent and fight to the best of his ability to be let outside.
Once he is outside Jeremy will proceed over to his dog all smiles, the dog merely standing there and waiting for him, not reacting to his calls or approach. Psychic's will sense danger, and see aura spells will reveal the dog is not even an animal, but some "thing" in the shape of a dog.
Jeremy will ignore any warnings the players may shout and still reach out and pat the dog. As soon as Jeremy's hand touches the dog it will shape shift into a black blob and seal his fate.
"As Jeremy's handreaches out and caresses Rex's head you notice the dogs fur start to ripple, like waves of energy coursing through him." "Rex?" You hear Jeremy ask with a hint of uncertainty to his voice as the dog shudders again, its eyes turning coal black and the hair sucking itself inwards, the dog blurring into a formless black blob that pulsates with evil energy. In one smooth motion, like liquid pouring itself through the air the patch of unholy darkness flows over Jeremy's hand, rushing up his sleeve and under his jacket. With a scream Jeremy collapses into the snow."
At this point the players hear a scream and see a lady across the street, horrified at the scene unfolding before her. The black goo reacts to the scream like a magnet and starts flowing towards her.
If the characters do not rush to attack, the woman will scream again and run into the home she came out of; at which point the blob will seem to melt into the snow and vanish.
These things are fragments of a greater deity, The Black Maggot Of Death and can assume virtually any form and even imitate specific people or objects! This is ability only works after the fragment has "digested" a particular individual or covered an inanimate object for several minutes.(note that each fragment is part of the whole, so what one fragment learns to imitate all of them do.) Its one main weakness of imitation is the fragment cannot speak, and animals can easily sense the fragment is evil and will flee the vicinity.
The creature is also invulnerable to normal weapons. Weapons of silver and fire weapons inflict double damage, as do magical spells and offensive psychic powers. Poisons and paralysis spells do no damage. The fragment is roughly 4' but can separate any number of smaller fragments.
Its attacks are either a blunt strike or it can form a mouth and fangs. Its preferred attack is to "touch" its victim with part of its body and suck them dry, drawing the out blood through the skin, a painful process that leaves massive bruises. Victims suffering more than five touches a day will have penalties from blood loss for 2 days. and tire twice as quickly.
The touch will also feel icy cold, then burning hot as the blood is pulled through the skin. A successful roll under Lore will give players a vague memory of some reference to "black maggots" in some text or another, as well as mentioning its weakness to flame.
If however the characters remain inside the vehicle until the blob melts into the ground they will be able to hear the ladies pleas for help from inside, asking if it's safe to come out.
Once players leave the vehicle to inspect Jeremy's body or coax the lady outside the blob can either remain hidden, or rise up and assault the players in an ambush.
Jeremy's body will look almost mummified and dead beyond a doubt. Closer inspection will reveal no obvious wounds, or hint how he died (due to blood loss there is no bruising)
The woman once she emerges from the local store will identify herself as Megan Wilder, she is quite pretty, around 32 and much relieved to see people.
She will introduce herself and give the players the following story:
"I'm so glad you guys came! Since this freak winter storm arrived people and pets have been vanishing all over. I was staying in my house until my cat turned into a puddle of black ink and oozed through a crack in the floor.
After that I ran from the accursed home and. I've been hiding out in the general store since, and that was a couple of days ago. last night I ran out of wood and it started getting freezing in there. Lucky for me I heard your horses this morning, I ran out just in time to see old farmer Heartland get attacked by that blob. By the gods, how horrid! is he okay?"
After finding out he's dead she will respond with: "A pity, he was a good man, even is his wife is a witch."
If questioned further on this comment, (if the players don't Donovan will) she will simply reply:
"Yeah, his wife Francis was a witch or something, everybody in town knew that. She was caught several times wandering around the woods and outskirts of town at night on a full moon picking plants, and once was seen by Josh sacrificing a chicken on some alter in the woods. Josh was one of the town guards, he followed her into the woods one night to see if she was stealing from nearby farms and said he saw her sacrifice it to the black mother of something or other.
Old Jeremy never knew anything about her worshipping demons, he was a little touched in the head if you know what I mean. Someone once mentioned it to him and he flew into a rage and beat the hell outta the man that said it, claiming he knew she loved the gods cause the gods loved him. A real shame he ended up like that."
Megan honestly knows nothing else of value but will try to help the players in any way possible.
After the players explain who they are and what their purpose is she is likely to suggest they check out the farm as well as ask if they can arrange for her to be teleported out or something.
(Note: Requesting teleportation will do no good as the magic from the storm worsening again would make teleportation highly dangerous, if not impossible.
The players will be instructed to protect Megan to the best of their ability and continue on with the mission.)
The journey from the town to the farm is without incident, although the storm is raging in full fury again, plunging the world into gray snowy shadows once more. Once the players arrive at the farm they will notice indeed it does seem deserted. Psychics will sense an evil presence here stronger than any they've felt since entering the town, although not as blindly terrifying as the hotel.
(Megan will insist on coming with them, saying she's too scared to be alone in the Carriage, and might be of help if they get hurt.)
When the players debark from the buggy they will find the storm has resumed its assault upon the area.
"Amidst the blinding, swirling snow you can just barely make out the outline of the farm house, even though it only rests 15 or so feet from you. As you traverse the short distance the wind claws at your clothing with icy fingers, snaking tentacles of cold air under your collars and along your spine. When you're within five feet of the house you notice the door to stands wide open beckoning you silently, the dark silhouette a gaping maw into the unknown."
Once inside players will find themselves in a short hallway where winter jackets are hung. The hallway leads to the kitchen. Inside the kitchen there is little of interest other than dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, it will be hard to see anything due to the storm raging outside the windows and no torches inside. (missing from the brackets, remember the beast hates fire.)
While exploring the rather large kitchen the sink pump will start to pour another of the black maggot fragments into the sink. (Have characters make a perception roll notice this.)
Otherwise the black maggot fragment automatically gets initiative and will attack whomever is closest to the sink.
After the fight ss they proceed into the interior they come to the den/living room read the following.
“Aside from a dark blue carpet and rocking chair the only other real adornment is a bookcase along the side wall filled with all manner of books. Also you notice the fireplace is packed full of snow, as if it was carried in here by the shovel full and packed solidly inside, possibly even up the chimney.
Perceptive characters will notice the carpet ripple slightly as they approach it, cluing them in as to its real nature and another fight with a maggot fragment.
Upstairs they find the old ladies diary filled with notes about her summoning and worship of the Black Maggot Of Death, most of it is incomprehensible rambling of defiling the town and consuming everyone with her wrath.
In the basement they will find numerous devices of torture and an old wooden chair stained with blood with metal shackles fixed to it. Further exploration within will reveal a hidden underground passage lined with wind chimes on the ceiling made from bones. After proceeding along this hallway they emerge in the middle of the forest in an icy glade.
Immediately visible is a small stone altar with a boy perhaps 12 years old sacrificed upon it. His body looks to be slit down the middle and the heart removed, frozen blood still covers the corpse and stains the snow around the altar.
Standing on either side of the altar are two conjured ice elemental guardians. They immediately attack as soon as one of the characters moves towards the altar. After the defeating the elementals behind the altar they find partially obscured footprints in the snow leading off in the distance. Following them will lead the players to a small cave entrance.
Inside the entrance a narrow tunnel curves down into the heart of the land. Its ringed with ice and bloody footprints lead downwards. Following them will bring the characters to a huge cavern deep underground that looks to be carved out of some even larger glacier buried under the surface. I
Inside is a huge black blob nearly a hundred feet across pulsing in the back of the room, fading in and out of existence as well as an altar carved from ice, which has a girl no more than 14 to sixteen years old bound to it in silver chains shivering visibly. Standing behind her crouched with a sacrificial dagger poised in her hand is the woman, staring at the characters with an evil grin.
She is flanked on either side by multiple flesh golems. With a shriek she declares that until the characters are slain she cannot proceed with the ritual to bind the Maggot mother to this world and orders her flesh golems to attack She then drops to her knees and prays, becoming enveloped in an impenetrable shroud of dark energy emanating from the altar.
After slaying the flesh golems they characters only need to smash the altar to destroy her energy field. As soon as the altar is smashed the dark shape solidifies and enveloped the woman in one of its tentacles where she emits a horrid shriek seconds later the tentacle squirts out white bones across the floor and fades from existence, leaving behind a small black stone that glitters evilly. Slowly the ice begins to groan and crack, slowly closing in around the characters.
If the characters flee they will find the woods slowly returning to a warmer state and becomes a hot summer day within 4 hours, the rapid thawing causing flash floods in other areas.
The 14 year old girl is cold but unharmed,. She remembers nothing of her experience, only that her mother tried to drown her under ice. She will be extremely grateful to be rescued.
Donovan will adopt her readily, mentioning he already has a son about her age.
After these events the magic aura will have faded from the town and they can safely teleport back to the Von Neumann..
Upon their return the characters will be thanked and paid in full, possibly being allowed to keep some of the chests equipment (GMs call) if they managed to save the girl and Donovan survived.
Additional Ideas (1)
Thank you, OP.