View Full Version : DM Help Further ideas for a Halloween One-Shot

2016-09-27, 04:41 AM
If you are a paladin, wizard, ninja or a witch in a german speaking campaign where the last session stopped when a Lamia Matriarch crawled down the outer wall of an old tower, STOP READING NOW or you'll be very disappointed on Halloween and will miss all the fun! Really, I mean it!


And for everyone else... here's my idea for a one-shot Halloween adventure (might take about four to twelve hours or so), where I am in desperate need of further ideas for the setting and the story.

This is going to be looong. I hope you can bear with me.

First things first: It will be a Pathfinder game (although really not important. can be anything else) with something like sanity rules (very important!) from DnD 3.5 (it's on www_DOT_d20srd_DOT_org/srd/variant/campaigns/sanity.htm) and probably Wild Magic rules (really just important for the lolz)

I plan to play my players. The setting is New Orleans in 1900. The players will be level 6 heroes - only restriction is for them to play humans because there are no elves or orcs on earth at this time (as far as I know). They have been tasked to solve a murder series and as far as they know, they just arrive on a ship, and when they get from board, the man who hired them waves a sign with their names.

Now, what's REALLY behind the story:
The characters are fantasy creations of four siblings, in fact little children at age 7 to 11 who are traumatized by a horrific event: Their rich and benevolent parents (father white, mother had a black mother and white father) allowed them to spend a summer night in their tree house where the kids usually played make-believe-games as telling each other fantastic stories about fey, monsters, dragons and the heroes who fight them.
But this night a group of Ku Klux Klan murderers dragged the parents out of their mansion, tortured and burned them on a cross while their four children silently watched them dying from their safe location in their tree house.

The next day their uncle Lafayette came to visit, saw what happened, and the kids were not susceptible for anything anymore. So he decides to bring them to the best hospital in the American south, which is in New Orleans (about 30 miles from their home). The doctors and nurses make huge efforts for the children to get better. They also decided to keep them close to each other since this seems to calm the kids down a bit; but it's just a matter of time until they might be lobotomized since they act very strangely. Sometimes they are calm and seem to talk to each other and invisible people about solving mysteries or discovering strange areas, but there are other times where they kill animals in the petting zoo (which is in the park of the hospital), they put things on fire, they scream and fight against invisible things, they attack nurses, doctors, other patients (children and adults alike) etc.

You might see where this is going: The players play the children in their state of mental insanity, and they have no idea that they are not playing their characters!

I hope this is an interesting premise for the setting.

I see two ways for a character to finish the one shot adventure:
1 - she gets deeper and deeper into their fantasy until the doctors have no other choice than to lobotomize her with a needle through the brain. One way for that is to use sanity points. The more the user interacts with the fantasy, the more she clings to her insanity. (e.g. using spells, killing monsters, etc.) - although I am very open to any ideas from you regarding "gaining sanity points".
2 - she realizes (by flashbacks of the horrific death, and maybe flashbacks of her and her siblings playing fantasy games) that their fantasy is not real. This way she recovers and can get rid of her insanity. Flashbacks may occur in dreams? Only when she loses sanity points? As before, any ideas are very welcome.


What I am looking for as well are meeting points and overlaps for the setting in "real life" and in "fantasy world". I would love to embrace tropes like Voodoo, KuKluxKlan etc.
So far I have:

REAL: Uncle Lafayette who really cares for the children, and puts them into the very best mental hospital available with the best treatment. Money is not an issue.
FANTASY: A private detective who hired the heroes to solve murder series in New Orleans

REAL: the cells for each child which is you typical asylum cell with cushioned walls, barred windows and a mattress.
FANTASY: luxurious hotel room

REAL: petting zoo of the hospital with cats, geckos, piglets, donkeys
FANTASY: wilderness, swamp around New Orelans with pumas, alligators, dire boars, unicorns

REAL: aviary of the hospital with falcons and buzzards
FANTASY: area around New Orelans with Rocs and cockatrices

REAL: dining hall with chairs and tables fixed to the ground
FANTASY: any high end restaurant

REAL: Nurse
FANTASY: Voodoo priestess

REAL: Head physician Doctor Montgomery Lucas
FANTASY: "The Doctor", alchemist? voodoo witch doctor? BBEG?

REAL: common room with various toys, where all kids can play with each other

REAL: vestibule with gravel ground, cypresses, magnolias, lawn with toys like swings, sandbox, etc.

REAL: basement of the hospital with heating engines, lavatory, etc.

REAL: operating room

I also am in desperate need of believable reasons for the characters to visit most of the areas on the hospital ground (which translates to the fantasy areas) on their way to "solve the murder series" (which still needs to be defined, but I am thinking of the story in Dungeon Magazine #71 "Dark Magic in New Orleans", if anyone knows the story).

I'd love to see your ideas, be it details like locations, or murder mystery story.

And what should happen when a character dies in a fight? In real life the kid may have a fit, gets sedated and cuffed and wakes up the next day. This should give the players hints of the whole thing not being "real", since they wake up in their luxurious suite in the hotel where they reside?

Please, share your ideas! My players and myself will be grateful!

2016-09-27, 03:30 PM
Except for waking up the next day if they die, is there any way for the players to realize that their fantasy-PCs are not the real PCs?
Would them solving the murder be, in part, them seeing glimpses of the truth, and the child-PCs reconciling with what happened so the 'real life' breaks through?

--Some ideas--
REAL: common room with various toys, where all kids can play with each other
FANTASY: if you want to go real dark, a room filled with ritual artifacts and cultists. For a lighter feel (i.e., not attacking children), a treasure room or ritual room without the cultists.

REAL: vestibule with gravel ground, cypresses, magnolias, lawn with toys like swings, sandbox, etc.
FANTASY: a vine-laden forest

REAL: basement of the hospital with heating engines, lavatory, etc.
FANTASY: cult room or mad science lab full of strange machines. Or, well, a basement very similar to real life, but used to store dark things by the murderer or its allies

REAL: operating room
FANTASY: ritual room--good place for a 'boss fight' if lobotomy is on the line