View Full Version : Haunt my Orchard!

2008-05-12, 02:47 PM
Background info: I've been DMing my group for a long time (possibly too long...). Due to a crippling inability to DM by the other players (who at least valiantly try), I'm more or less stuck in this role. That's not my problem though, as I quite enjoy it. My problem is that while my various plots and ploys seem interesting to me, they may be starting to show signs of age (at least IMO). I usually find inspiration during my daily commute, and once the snow started melting, I noticed an orchard that was obscured by 8 metre snow banks (I had recently moved, so I didn't notice this orchard before). Upon looking at it (first time was at night), all I could think of was how creepy it was. Row after row of grey, twisted, scraggly branches (they haven't begun to get their leaves yet, so it hasn't lost its appeal)... It looked like a perfect setting for a spooky/horror adventure.

Now to the real deal:
I thought up my own twisted tale about a lecherous charlatan that wanted to own the prosperous orchard and sell it by marrying into the family, and 'arranging' to inherit the land. Long story short, it didn't quite go as successfully as planned, and the orchard ended up growing delicious but cursed apples (and occasionally eviscerating any unfortunates that stayed overnight). After some slashing and sleuthing, the party solved the mystery, freed the unruly spirits, lifted the curse and enjoyed some well deserved cider.

The issue:
Frankly, my creative juices are starting to run dry. There are nigh-unlimited possibilities for an orchard as a setting that I didn't go with. I was wondering if any posters out there had any quick ideas about how they'd go about creating a story with the criteria being that it had to eventually involve a spooky orchard. I'll probably try to adapt ideas into the next side adventure when I think up the next none too cliched setting. I don't need too much (see 'The real deal section') information, just some other fresh ideas (note that it doesn't need to be a supernatural haunting... the atmosphere is more important). How would you haunt my orchard?

2008-05-12, 04:02 PM
magical orchard filled with elves.

No, seriously, let's see... probably gone with undead orchard. The townspeople ages ago planeted an apple tree ontop of a vampire and the roots kept the vampire in place by draining its negative energy, but then it became vampiric itself. So it basically spreads its vampirism by having people bite its apples (filled with a juicy, nutritious dark crimson sap). Each apple is a DC 20 fortitude save not to be turned into a vampire tree in 2d6 hours. The orchard is filled with the villagers. The apples are so nourishing, however, because of the inherent positive energy of nature (fast healing 1 for 10 minutes per apple). So instead of postive negative nullification you have positive negative coexistance. The groove attracts wizards good and evil and magical monsters throughout the land.

Also apples have DC15 fasciniation effect every 6 hours.

2008-05-12, 04:45 PM
Actually, I had a very similar idea.

It involved a wizard who was experimenting with ways of using magic to increase crop size and yield. After his experiments started, nearby villages start reporting horrible, viscious deaths every so often.

The catch is that the wizard's improved crops aren't very healthy: The local critters that eat them turn into horrible monsters (Add an abomination template? Something to this effect.) and go on killing sprees.

I'm not sure how it would go from here. Perhaps the wizard is okay with the players burning his fields to the ground. Perhaps he would rather make an army of angry mutants and fights the players to keep his secret.

I still want to give it a go, but I'm not sure how much "oomph" it has as a story.

2008-05-12, 06:00 PM
Hmm....I've got an idea. Howzabout whoever the villain guy arranges to "inherit" it from (I assume you we're talking murder here) is understandably outraged about this, and his ghost literally posseses the entire orchard, with the negative energy leaving it withered dead-looking.

The trees nonetheless produce delicious looking, completely poisonous fruit, in an attempt by the ghost to kill his murderer(s). At night, the orchard rearranges itself into a massive maze (from the outside, however, it seems normal) with evidence of the crime scattered into numerous places throughout. If someone doesn't solve the crime by dawn, the ghost will assume that the person is working against it, and they'll be swarmed by a horde of trees, vines, rocks, and bushes.

When the PC's stumble in at night, they'll be put in aforementioned situation. How does that sound? :smallamused:

Horribly brilliant? Horribly stupid? Completely different than what you're lookin' for?

2008-05-12, 06:52 PM
The fruit from the trees is delicious. Unsettlingly delicious. Drop some pretty strong hints there.

Villagers also seem to go missing, but yet none of them seem to really talk about it. If the players start asking questions, they'll just be told that whoever it was "moved away" or "run away from home".

It should get pretty obvious at this point that what's going on is that the trees are feeding off of the people.

The villagers themselves could put themselves up to the task, but that's way too ordinary. If the trees had to themselves get up, and snatch a person, it'd be too obvious.

With that in mind, it could be that they have the power to summon anyone within a close distance, into their roots. They could raise their previous victims who come back with new ones. Or, they have some kind of mental domination powers.

As a twist, it could be that the trees themselves can't move at all. They can only affect things with their strange powers.

The villagers put up with this either because either they're terrified of the trees, or (and this one I really like) the fruit they sell helps bring in lots of money to the village.

Yeah, it's not terribly original, but I had to suggest it.

Kol Korran
2008-05-13, 07:59 AM
ain't got a specific idea yet, bue a few resources that would at least may spark some inspiration. they are all horror themed, not necesserily orchard themed, but you could easely adapt ideas:

1) the Mournland from Eberron is the landscape of wierd things and horrors. in the Eberron forum on the Wizards site, there is a thread called "1001 horrors of the mournland" (or something like that). check it out, it has plenty of quite neat ideas, or seeds of ideas.

2) i've recently wirtten a thread about gargoyles (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78129) some elements in it could easely be adapated to any horro r theme- Fade Out, Scribble, GUardian Powers, construct changing their shapes... you don't evene need to implement gargoyles into your game- jsut use ghosts, triants, or whatever, with similar powers.

3) a series of freeware addventure games called the DeFoe quadrilogy is excellent for horror. (5 days a stranger, 7 days a skeptic, trilby's notes and 6 days a sacrifice). they are set in a modern setting, but have an excelletn horrific feel, and you can easely draw on ideas in them (especially the shifting between realities, and flashbacks back in time). i linked one source to download them from- http://www.reloaded.org/Adventure-Games/

general tips for horror:

the place )orchad) must have a hostory of it's own. preferably rich, preferably with parts to known to all, and secrets known to few. the party needs to uncover these secrets as they go along. if done well, the party's perspectives should change several times while investigating the mystery.
each good horror also includes various boundreis/ limitations to the horrific presence- perhaps it is active on certain times only, perhaps it seeks only certain victims, perhaps it is bound to a certain location/ peremiter, perhaps it needs certain conditions to manifest. these limitations are importent both for flavour, and mechanics. the party should learn to use these limitations to avoid/ escape/ push back the presence, but not destroy it.... this must be done in a different manner.
a staple of most horror is also the evil's immunity to annihiliation: it can be barred, warded against, perhpas even destroyed, but only temporerily (look at one of the clasiest horrors- dracula). the party may be able to destroy some elements of the evil, but it always rejuvinates, perhaps even stronger than before. find a reason for this, but don't tie it to game mechanics to much...
the conspirator: usually the horror is helped/ aided by someone who wants it to succeed, to some end or another. it could be logical, devotional, mad, or whatever otehr motive. the conspirator helps from it's own volition, perhaps even not in communication with the horror. the importent aspects of the conspirator are: secrecy, great knowledge of the horror, and usually sabotagin the party's plans, betraying them at acrucial point (and after the party escapes the near disaster, or partial disaster, they confront the conspirator, gaining knowledge)
a place/ time/ conditions of power and menace: thoguh the party faces the horror several times during their investigations, the final confrontation (in which they are supposed to destroy it for good), need to happen at a time, place, or conditions that makes it more powerfull, a far greater danger. (the conditions/ place/ time may be needed to ensure the final destruction). this enahnces the stakes, and also makes the confrontation more challanging.
a good horror always messes with the PCs minds. you need not any will saves effects, far simple things can happen: things who keep to the sides of the playe'rs visions, witnessing an event, and later seeing something that refudes it, cryptic messages left for them, and more... the point is- get personal.
another staple of horror is familiar places, with a slight creepy alteration- it makes you doubt any safe place you've been to. (the DeFoe games series i mentioned does this wonderfully) a body in the players' room (or a shred of it), a clearing with the burnt stump of a tree, which transformed into a blooming tall tree the next time the party reaches it. a person whom the party talekd with and confided from the beginning of the adventure, who suddenly have no recollection of who they are. a ruined temple who by a full moon seem to be built and in the height of ti's glory, a weapon shop the aprty visits, that turns by full moon to be a butchery, bones and meat now replacing the various weapons....

again, i got no idea for the orchad itself, though i might later on. hopw this helped.

The Gilded Duke
2008-05-13, 08:47 AM
Take the entire Necrotic Cyst feat and spell line from Libris Mortis. Remove necromancy tags and make them transmutation instead. Instead of a necrotic cyst inside someone, its an apple seed that has begun to take root. Instead of the little necrotic shambler thing that bursts out of someone when they die instead it is a fully formed, beautiful delicious apple, that implants a single apple seed when eaten.

The "Mother Seed" (Mother Cyst) feat actually has no negative effects. This breed of apple doesn't actually hurt the caster of the spell, but instead uses evil spellcasters as pollinators and seed spreaders. The plant lives of the cruelty of intelligent humanoids.

If an apple isn't eaten, it sprouts into one of two types of trees, one that produces Mother Seeds, another that produces the normal seeds.

2008-05-13, 09:33 AM
Wow! Keep 'em coming if you can! These are great. Different is what I'm looking for. I'll be looking up those 'DeFoe' adventures when I get the chance. They sound quite intriguing. Also, Falconer, your idea is actually pretty interesting.