Author(s): Hugh Jesseman
Appears in: Horror Stories From The Red Room
A long running dispute has been simmering for many years in the rural charm of an English village. Two neighbors appear to be nothing more than sweet little old ladies who wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, a long running argument between the two ladies has festered and grown out of all proportion. As the scenario begins, these two, sweet old ladies have set upon a path to finish the dispute once and for all – with horrific consequences!
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
A long running dispute has been simmering for many years in the rural charm of an English village. Two neighbors, Jane and Emily, appear to be nothing more than sweet little old ladies who wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, a long running argument between the two ladies has festered and grown out of all proportion. Emily has decided to murder Jane with a fireplace poker and stage it as a botched break-in, while Jane, after finding a Mythos Tome among donations to her charity shop, has performed a botched attempt to summon a demon to kill Emily, resulting in a Dimensional Shambler running loose in her house, trapping Jane within her flimsy protective pentagram until the Shambler finds a way to breech the defenses and carry Jane away to another dimension. The investigators must explore Jane's house to find her, question the little old ladies to find out what they are really up to, search Jane and Emily's charity shops to find the magical artifacts that explain where the Shambler came from and how to get rid of it, and then help to bind and banish the Shambler before it is too late.
- None, but passages from The True and Horrifying Confessions of the St. Osyth Witches can be printed, cut out, and used as hand-outs; no maps for the houses, shops, and village are provided, but could be useful for creative Keepers to prepare.
- Modern England, in an unnamed charming rural English village
- "The Briars", a sprawling mansion, home of Jane
- Charity Shops (Jane's cat charity, and Emily's hospital charity)
- Optional, "Rose Cottage", home of neighbor and rival Emily
- Optional, Local Squire's Manor
- Dimensional Shambler
- Humans (Emily and Local Squire)
Tomes and Artifacts:
- The True and Horrifying Confessions of the St. Osyth Witches
- Witch-Bottle (used in binding/banishment ritual for Dimensional Shambler)
- Ceremonial Iron Sickle of poor quality from an East Anglian witch coven (appears to be merely ceremonial, a clue that further connects the scenario to the St. Osyth witch-coven)
Campaigns / Scenarios: (none)
List dedication, trivia, images, anything else of note.
- Note: The full text of the various testimonies for the St. Osyth, Essex Witch Trials can be found online at http://www.witchtrials.co.uk/osyth.html
Comments to Keepers about this scenario; Possibly how to run it successfully. Keep general DISCUSSION on the talk page.
Setting: Nominally set in a rural Modern English village, but could easily be adapted to other settings (could easily be set in 1920s Lovecraft Country with almost no big changes)
- The scenario as-written requires one or more investigators to be related to Jane, as they are invited to her Halloween party (to unwittingly help provide an alibi for her while she attempts to kill her neighbor). Keepers may wish to create alternative hooks for the investigators to become involved in this scenario. (Perhaps the investigators are hired by a worried charity shop assistant to find out what happened to Jane after she disappears for a day or two after the feud with Emily seems to go too far after Emily openly threatens Jane's life in the shop... Jane has actually been trapped in her attic pentagram by the Dimensional Shambler for days when the investigators and a curious and worried Emily independently break into the house to find out whether Jane is still alive....)
- The scenario seems a bit under-developed in places, and may require the Keeper to fill in some blanks. For example, it's unclear why Jane's attempts to summon a killer demon using an account of witches summoning a relatively harmless familiar resulted in the conjuring of a very dangerous Dimensional Shambler, and why the investigators need to talk to Jane to figure out how to banish it; it seems that Jane filled in some blanks and got creative with her version of the spell, but no explicit explanation is given. (Some possible explanations: Jane has some intuitive grasp on Mythos magic by way of psychic phenomena or past involvement in a Mythos cult; alternatively, Jane has access to other and perhaps partial occult Tomes which she used to cobble together a home-made spell to conjure something more than a familiar; either way, it would require the investigators to question Jane for reluctant answers to difficult questions about what she did differently from the instructions in the "True and Horrifying Confessions..." tome; perhaps the investigators realize the pentacle drawn by Jane is a little more elaborate than the one in this tome? If Jane had been involved with a Mythos cult in the past but left it, this might suggest a next adventure in the campaign, as the investigators track down other members of the cult to be sure they aren't causing trouble, or to investigate the mysterious circumstances that resulted in the cult breaking up.)
- The first part of the scenario has a somewhat "sandbox" quality to it, as the investigators wander from room to room of the sprawling, crowded mansion full of hiding places, with Jane, Emily, and the Shambler simultaneously moving around or doing things in other rooms of the mansion. This might be a bit challenging for a new Keeper to take advantage of as written (there aren't any detailed tools to use to make this easy to use, such as timelines describing the characters' actions, diagrams of the houses and shops, etc.), but a creative Keeper could probably create such tools and use them to create a rather tense exploration of "The Briars", as the various characters make strange sounds throughout the house, leave evidence of their passing and activities in each room, are caught by the investigators, etc.
- There's a potentially interesting option to the scenario where the witch-bottle might be sold to "a local squire"; the scenario handles this as simply an excuse for the investigators to break into yet another house looking for the bottle while a squire with poor hearing and a shotgun has a chance of waking up to discover them. This could be made potentially more interesting if the squire instead has some interest in the occult, and the investigators have to talk to the eccentric character to talk him into giving the magic artifact up. The squire might almost certainly want to know why the investigators want the witch-bottle, and upon finding out may want to interfere in the investigation, either to help the investigators, or to obtain other magical artifacts and tomes held by the old ladies or maybe even contact the Shambler and cause entirely different mischief for his own reasons.
Dependence on Halloween: Halloween (Oct 31) is, coincidentally, the date that the two eccentric old ladies choose to kill each other on, and the investigators are invited to one of the ladies' Halloween party to help support her alibi, but aside from that Halloween plays no direct role in the adventure, and with a little creativity Halloween could easily be written out of the adventure if the Keeper desires.
Sequel Plot Hooks: (none)