View Full Version : [4e] Need help with making a Halloween/Horror adventure

2008-10-28, 12:26 AM
Exactly what the title says, I'm trying to make a one-off, or possibly larger, adventure in honor of the season.
What I've got so far:
Starting Character level 2; personal choice, feel like its the best starting point for this because of the monsters that make up the low-mid heroic tier.

For reason X the PCs are hunting down some bandits (random level 2 humanoids, human rabble minions, maybe some wolves aka attack dogs) whom they eventually encounter at a cave that's serving as their current lair. If its day, fine, if they go at night the moon is full. The PCs then have reason Y for entering the cave. Its... a very deep/long cave, like way more than expected. I don't think that there should be any encounters here, afterall the bandits were dealing with it just fine, this is really just a place to fluff up the creepiness. At some point they either get the goods they were after or discover they're lost (dungeoneering check?) and should double back.

As they make their way back the cave gets much more menacing. The bats on the wall seem to be larger than they were before, the cave bugs more numerous and creepy looking. I'm thinking at some point they either have a combat encounter here, or perhaps even better they get hit by a massive swarm of bats. This massive swarm of bats exiting the cave is non-combative, its just a bunch of bats. The bats don't harm the PCs they just swarm past them for a damn long while. PCs that duck down/get knocked down (some sort of check) to avoid the swarm get a face full of cave floor bugs. It isn't harmful but is damn uncomfortable. The last batch of bats, if the PCs care to notice, are real big (shadowhunter bats) but likewise do not initiate combat.

Upon exiting the cave it is either now night with a full moon (if it was day) or its a moonless night (if it were a full moon when they went in.) The PCs notice that the bodies of the bandits/dogs aren't there and are soon jumped by their zombie counterparts. This would probably be a level 3 or 4 encounter, the PCs still being level 2 of course.

Not sure how to continue this. But I want to be throwing everything from ghosts, to ettercaps, to flying zombies at them and to have them be as freaky as all those things should be. In case it isn't obvious I want it to be that the PCs stumbled through a portal into the Shadowfell and are now in an alternate horror reality. I want it to be a kind of combo of the Mirror Universe (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MirrorUniverse) and Dark World (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DarkWorld). The goals of the PCs are to survive and, if they do that, make it back to their world. Its horror, the only 'treasure' is making it out alive.

So, some fluff suggestions would be great (have Heroes of Horrors btw), suggestions for how to continue this, other 'horror' encounters, etc. Also, suggestions for X and Y.

2008-10-28, 12:51 AM
Horror does not come from the plot but from the description of what's going on. Its the little things that make it scary.

Perhaps the bats just stare at them as they pass under them, the smell of guano dank and pervading. Perhaps they see the corpse of some unknown creature festering deep within the cave.

The sound of bone rubbing through flesh and the stench of rotting flesh even though they are only two hours dead.

Don't skimp on smell and texture. Those are the two things that tend to inspire the most dread with my group.

Also, give them something unkown that they never find out the source of. A sound deep in the cave that seems to come from all around them or slimy substances on the walls every once in a while.

For fluff, make the bandits real evil guys. Pedophiles, rapists, and the like. That way there is already a sense of perversion pervading the session.

Perhaps make the reason they go into the cave the voice of children calling out for help and screaming.

2008-10-28, 06:40 AM
For ideas to keep them in the cave, or to make them go in:
- Yeah, wailing children works.
- As does screams for help, of any age.
- Unearthly glow will persuade most players to come have a looksie.
- Dark, mysterious storm. They go for shelter?

2008-10-28, 06:47 AM
Read this (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1828). It's about video games, but the discussion of real v. perceived danger is a big part of trying to scare people in a fictional medium.

2008-10-28, 11:53 AM
Awesome, I really like the ideas of the screaming kids/storm to push them in the cave and of the overly-evil nature of the bandits, they aren't just bandits, they're criminally insane. Sstoopidtallkid's link has also helped jog my thoughts a little.

As for the cave portion (which I could easily turn into a claustrophobic nightmare a la Descent and make it the focus of the whole thing, rather than 'just a gateway') I'm thinking of making it a bit narrower. The PCs will definitely have to get through a nice section of area that requires a looong squeeze. At the end of the trip, and perhaps of the entire cave if I don't make the cave the focus, I'm thinking of placing the mangled remains of someone. Not sure if I should have it be the unseen 'kids' or have a mook/sheriff from the home-village come along with them, go into the cave first, and die silently and horribly. I like the idea of someone going in and being found dead in the end of the very narrow cave that the PCs just made their way through.

Now, as for the plot... if I keep it in the cave the plot is really just 'get out of the cave', again, like Descent. That doesn't really require anything more than almost aimless exploring. If they exit the cave into horrorland I need to point them towards something that might get them out. Since they'll probably make their way back to the town of origin for the 'get the bandits' quest (why shouldn't they?) I can work with that. Possibly by placing a "wise old gypsy" NPC in the villages horror-duplicate or by having the area instead be a swamp with a hag living in it. The PCs then have to make a harrowing journey to Z destination or recover A item (like in Army of Darkness... but with less comedy) in order to return home.

And yeah, as the earlier link points out... no one HAS to die, they just need to feel like they're going to.

2008-10-28, 01:30 PM
Three words: Tomb of Horrors

2008-10-28, 01:41 PM
Three words: Tomb of Horrors

It's not scary, it's annoying.

2008-10-28, 02:10 PM
Have a look at some sites about horror RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu, Chill, some World of Darkness stuff etc. There are often lists of weird stuff to throw at PCs. This one is good:


2008-10-28, 03:16 PM
Have a look at some sites about horror RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu, Chill, some World of Darkness stuff etc. There are often lists of weird stuff to throw at PCs. This one is good:


You know, I've never played a CoC game... or even really understood the people that do. (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1168) :smallsmile:

Anyway, Kami, I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly where on that site I should be looking... downloads, the wiki, the tons of sidebars?

2008-10-29, 05:18 AM
The Scenario Downloads section on Yog-Sothoth (http://www.yog-sothoth.com/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownload&cid=2) may be of use.

2008-10-29, 06:39 AM
Zombies are an excellent horror tool. I like the setup. However, the key to every horror story is showmanship.

When they exit that cave, rather than seeing the zombies over corpses...

They see, in the pale moonlight, the bandit dogs strewn about the clearing, dead. A couple bandit corpses are mixed in with the dogs. All seem ripped apart, as if by a bear, or something incredibly powerful. Over one bandit, several humanoid figures are silhouetted in the moonlight, hunched over. It's difficult to make out what they're doing, but it's clear they're doing SOMETHING.

Then, when they catch their first good look?

As it enters the torchlight, you notice a horrific wound on its neck, as if half its throat was torn out. Fresh blood covers the front of its armor, but even if its on death's door, it certainly isn't showing any signs. Fresh blood is all over its face, and you realize that this blood is not its own, but rather from the body of its bandit companion. Behind it, you begin to see one of the corpses move, and lurch to its feet. To your left, two more begin to do the same.

Remember, to make any story memorable, especially horror, it's all in the way you tell it.