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?
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? Responses (14)-15
Nice. We need down to earth scenarios like this. Thank you for taking the time to write it for us :)
Yes, nice and solid - excellent for PCs of whatever level. I'm glad you put in the 'how to use it' suggestions. Another possibility, only suitable for a one-off session or the start of a campaign, is that the PCs are local villagers. The events surrounding this 'demon', real or imaginary, are what could bring the group together in the first place.
Perhaps that with those that flock to the call of demon, other than would be panders, people selling demon charms, people of questionable nature come to rouse the demon and begin silently worshiping to this unknown demon.
Then by chance that there wasn't a demon, the group who are now wishing there was one actually cause one to arrive. The cries of the Lout brothers and Barley of there was no demon are ignored as a real demon now sweeps through the village.
Possibly killing off everyone except for the three responsible drunks are left alive to feel the pain of their actions and the demon runs off with his new followers. Enter PC group stumbles across a burned village with three raving mad drunks speaking of demons and false demons. COuld be interesting since the demon was headed to the next town where the PC's are heading or have to go.
I found out that my recent demon submissions helped Scrasamax create this beauty here. I am glad. I would love to see an united effort to get a demon campaign thought out maybe even detailed what the demon armies you think should look like kind of thing. I'm hell bent on demons lately thats why I was drawn to this.
Hell bent...heh heh
Very good-a plot that can have a real demon brought in or do without one.
A great plot that can be easily played in pretty much any setting. Bonus for the Scooby-Doo option. :)
Really great - the kind of high-quality plot that doesn't rely on uber-powerful, super-munchkin monsters
A good solid basic plot, suitable for beginning level characters
4½ / 5
How right you are: it IS suitable for beginning adventurers.
Linked to the proper list now.
Nicely done - it's well set up, with a simple, reliable basis for the plot, with several variations that can let a GM run any way they want with it - whether it's troublemaker PCs with a need to cause havoc, sleuthing heroes discovering the trickery, or even a genuine demon causing havoc with the mortals as pawns.
The thought that occurs to me is that demons tend to be rivals with one another; suppose another demon had already been about the town when the brothers either invented or fell prey to this one? If it's false, the real demon is going to be angry and likely wreak havoc on the trio for insulting demonkind in such a way. If the demon is real, then the one already in place is going to be itching for a fight to prove who the real master of the town is, and the entire town could almost literally go straight to hell when the fight breaks out.
I liked the idea of another demon in town.
Suppose, that demon was made up by the drunkards and the real one (with his devoted followers) gets really angry. In this case the situation may turn such a way: first the town is filled with rumors and those brothers feel like heroes. Then comes the priest - they successfully frighten him and begin playing those little tricks to amuse themselves with the folks' panic.
At this stage PCs may got interested and perhaps make some night sorties to learn the truth. But then the real demon comes onto the stage. He begins a bloody hunting for the brothers and the widow. Their death can be really terrible and ritual and PCs may even become witnesses of it if they are going out at night.
So, when only one is still alive and hiding. He may come to the PCs asking for help. He tells them the truth about their fake and about the real bad things that are now happening. He is almost mad because of constant chase - it may be dreams, noises, shadows of some pursuers etc. And now it's for PCs to investigate the whole story.
That priest might help them or turn out to be a follower of the real demon (then he was not frightened of course, just pretending and finding out). If PCs are not good at thinking and planning DM can 'panish' them - they may be a second late for saving the last survivor, the priest fled, the demon is not showing himself - so, all the clues are lost, the quest is lost.
I think sometimes it's a good lesson for PCs to lose. But I'm not for killing them, so this would be a nice variant.
I'm going to use it in one of my nearest sessions. A great idea indeed!
Nice... Very well put together and an excellant bundle of ideas in the comments as well.
I love how this is so usable at low levels of power and magic Though the occultist might be sad nothing is truly occult here, it may be that the hysteria might in fact open a door somewhere.