There comes a time in the life of every PC when they come face to face with the worst evil that can be imagined. No, I don’t mean the tax collector or the mother in law, I mean the penultimate villian, the Demon. (The dragon being the ultimate villian) But there in lies the problem. Like the dragon, the Demon has been diluted, damaged, watered down and so thouroughly distributed that it has lost it’s vital essence. Demon Hysteria should do a nice bit of refueling that essence.
A week or so ago there was an event at Widow Suvari’s wine cellar. (Feel free to insert your own slightly out of the way and eccentric NPC) It was the subject of all the gossip in the region, reaching the lips of barkeeps and hostelers even in the next county. There might even be a small mention of the event in the circles of the lesser nobility. According to local witnesses, mainly the farm-hand James Barley and two local thugs turned mercenary, there was a demonic event in the wine cellar.
All three witnesses reported screaming and an invisible assailant that smashed most of the wine bottles, dousing them with the contents as they were working for the Widow to stock the cellar for the winter. To their honor, each of the men were badly scratched, bruised, and one of the mercenaries, Von Lout, had suffered a bruised brainpan and a broken arm. Each of the men had been so badly frightened that they quickly consumed as much of the partially fermented drink as they could to avoid their memories.
Burning Through the Grapevine
Gossip spread quickly through the community. Some, Von Lout and his fiance accused Widow Suvari of demonolatry, and keeping evil spirits in her basement. A few locals laugh off the account and claim that the only evil spirits in her basement are the bottles of wine that sour over the winter and end up being sold as vinegar.
James Barley accosts any new comers at the local tavern with a beer soaked account of his horrifying encounter with the demon that he was barely able to survive. If not for his Medallion of Saint Duncan/Amulet of Demon Repulsion he would have surely died. This goes on for a week or two before the seed finds fertile soil.
Hellfire and Brimstone
A traveling priest and entourage hear the story and decide to follow it up. The Priest speaks with the Widow and is allowed to explore her wine cellar. He ventures into the structure and is suddenly accosted by an unseen presence that defies his attempts to exorcise it. Panicked, the Priest flees. Later forays are planned into the Wine Cellar. Quite daunted by the prospect of a genuine demon, the Priest sends for clerical reinforcements.
All Hell Breaks Loose
It isnt long before con-men and hucksters flock to the community, some come for the chance to see the Suvari Demon, others come to pander demon charms and other false relics. It isnt long before ‘sure signs’ of demonic influence are passed around. Severe headache, strange noises, unexplained lights after dark, bizarre animal behaviour. Soon half the community is stricken by Demon Hysteria. Little imps are everywhere, scaring off livestock, tearing up clothing on drying lines and causing no end of mischief and suffering. Many of the grange-ladies are laid up with demon-spawned maladies. (Or they attribute demonic power to their normal maladies)
Soon heros and would-be heros start flocking to the area, after all there is a demon to take down (and we all know demons have PHAT XP!) Fights and brawls break out, and it is obvious to all that the elusive Suvari demon is to blame. Some folk begin to whisper that it was Widow Suvari’s minion all along…
There is no demon, nor was there ever one. Barley and the Von Lout Brothers concocted the story to cover up the fact that the trio ended up drunk in Widow Suvari’s wine cellar and a drunken brawl broke out. Rather than have to apy for damages inflicted and stolen wine, they concocted the story to save their own hides. Besides, everyone knows that the locals are gullible.
When the Priest arrives, Barley lets the Von Lout brothers know he is about, and they decide they dont want to be exposed as liars and fakers by the Church. The brothers lay in wiat for the priest and stage a mock demonic attack. Since there is no demon at all, the Priest’s spells of Exorcism do absolutely nothing, convincing the priest that the demon is incredibly powerful.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, and the priest’s actions have validated the claim of the deomon, the locals suffer ‘sympathy pains’. Barley and Louts become local celebrities, each willing to recount how horrible the demon actually looked (previously it was invisible) talks with the priest are the same, he could ‘feel the grasping black claws of the demon about his neck as he fled the wine cellar.’ He wouldn’t want to reveal that he was run off by screaming and breaking bottles, now would he.
Fun time begins as the Von Louts and Barley discover that they can have alot of vandalistic fun that is going to be put off on the local demon. Their merry rampage gains speed and destructive power. Animals are let out, windows are broken, and all of the sort of juvenile deliquincy that can be expected of grown men half drunk with the promise of no consequences. They themselves are even ‘attacked’ to throw off suspicions of the locals.
The Breaking Point
The locals, now brimming with fear over the demon decide to nip it in the bud, and go forth and burn down Widow Suvari’s house with her inside. The death of a rather harmless old lady shakes the trio, and one of the Von Lout brothers confesses that the entire thing was a hoax…
Now that is a heck of a story, but how can I use it in a game, O Rogue Scholar?
Good question and I am glad you asked.
The PCs encounter James Barley or one of the Von Lout brothers and they recount the tale of violence and destruction. They are having so much fun they dont want to stop, but some of the more canny locals, and that dang sherrif, have started noticing there is a limit to the range of the demon’s power. The trio (or a single member) decide to bring in some other people on the action. If the PCs are of a rogueish bent and might enjoy letting loose with some reckless mayhem this would be a good option. They cause some destruction and are later interviewed by the locals for descriptions of the demon. How much fun can they have before the inevitable death of the Widow?
Jeenkies, a Clue!
In true Scooby-Doo fashion, the PCs come to investigate the rumor of the Suvari Demon and end up hot on the tail of the rampaging trio. Can they uncover the truth before the locals decide to take matters into their own hands? Can they save the Widow (she’s wealthy yo!) before they burn her home and kill her in the process? What if they do the opposite and rouse the locals to burn her house, or even go after the Widow herself? They’re criminals now.
The Real Deal
Perhaps everything above is fake, and there really is a demon loose. Rather than appear as a blazing ball fo fangs, tentacles and obscene writhing organs, it has decided to play a shadow-game and uses the trio as it’s unwilling and unwitting puppets. They have actually seen the demon, and their descriptions are accurate. Opposite of the Scooby-Doo caper, can the PCs discover the real power behind the Suvari Demon?