Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Community Challenge: Night Terrors - Preview

The following is a submission to the GLOG Community Challenge (Halloween 2019) by Joseph Lewis and myself. It's the 0.1 version of an adventure to be published later this year. This plaintext preview contains the introduction and first realm of three. It's still under construction, so feedback and critique is very much appreciated!


In the walled city of Erebopolis, between the painted walls of the palace there, the feast fires burn. The suitors of Princess Dafni gather dance, eat and curry her family’s favor. But the princess has not appeared at her party. She lies fevered in her chamber, fighting off a malicious curse. The witch Agatha does her best to treat the girl, but it is beyond her power to untie this knot. She calls brave adventurers to enter the princess’ mind and fight back the wicked spirit - and all before the next dawn, when the princess’ mind will be gone. 

Image result for sleeping beauty fantasy art


  1. The local lords are partying it up on the eve of the princess’ birthday. You weren’t invited. As the sun falls and you gather at the inn, a messenger in plainclothes approaches your company. The princess has fallen under a dreadful sleeping curse, and the resident priests can’t lift it alone. Keep this nice and quiet, and you’ll be rewarded greatly. You will be snuck into the palace under the pretense of being beggars receiving hospitality. 
  2. Rumor has it the local princess is deathly ill and her desperate parents are willing to pay any price to the heroes who can revive her.
  3. A raven lands on a tree branch overhead, opens its beak, and a woman’s voice says, “Princess Dafni has fallen ill, and a noble reward awaits those who can save her. Come to the palace in Erebopolis and ask for the witch Agatha. But hurry! She grows weaker by the hour!” And the raven flies off.

When you arrive at the Castle

The palace of Erebopolis is set on a low hill overlooking the surrounding plain; the wine-dark sea churns to the west. A thunderstorm threatens to break out as the sun sets, the last rays of light tinting the dark clouds gold. The fires of the palace flicker over brightly painted walls and pillars. The smell of roasting meat and the aroma of mellow wine wafts down the hill; it is set for a feast. 

Entering the palace, the clapping, singing and chatter of the guests overwhelm you. About of the clamor and revelry, a few characters jump out at you.

In the center of the hall, a tall, graceful woman flanked by a troop of handmaidens entertains a crowd of feasters, weaving old war stories. This is Queen Magda.

At the end of the hall, half hidden in shadows, a pot-bellied man in garish robes is speaking with an old woman, stooped over and leaning on a knobbly staff. She appears to be blocking the hall to the bedrooms. These are King Evangelos and the witch Agatha.

Milling about the party are three men who stand out from the crowd. Prince Kostas, a middle-aged soldier, is displaying a collection of spears to a rapt crowd. Lord Nikolas is complaining, loudly and drunkenly, to the butler about the wine. Count Stavros, visibly gorged on the roast, is failing to stay awake through the bard’s song.

The King
Evangelos has been a nervous wreck since Dafni fell under the curse. He desperately searches for a cure, and has enlisted Agatha’s aid. He is well-respected throughout the local kingdoms, and will richly reward any who can awaken her before she is to select a husband. 

The Queen
Magda is increasingly worried about her daughter’s marriage, and the curse has been no help. She has prohibited Evangelos from placing an open call for aid, instead sending covert messengers. She put on this feast for her daughter to select a husband, and stalls the feasters to maintain an appearance of normalcy. 

The Suitors
There are many would-be suitors, but only three of note; Prince Kostas, Lord Nikolas, and Count Stavros. Kostas is the prince of a neighboring isle, long gone on a decades-long series of campaigns, and only now seeks to settle down. Nikolas is a local noble engaged in trade and farming, fabulously wealthy and accustomed to a very high standard of living. Stavros is a good-for-nothing and a bore, but he belongs to a family that Erebopolis has long feuded with, and seeks to bring peace to their houses. 

Agatha is a wise woman and a seer, the matriarch of the local temple. She was called for as soon as Dafni fell ill, and has discovered the source; a psychic invasion by a powerful dream spirit. Banishing it requires entering the princess’ dreams and fighting back the invasion directly. To that end, she has instructed the King and Queen to find courageous souls willing to risk their lives. She also knows that Dafni has only a few hours left; by the next sunrise, the spirit will have destroyed the princess’ mind. 

Entering the Dream Realm

When the PCs arrive, whether openly or by subterfuge, they will be directed by servants or by the King and Queen to Agatha. She will lead them to the princess’ chambers, where she twists and turns, fever hot. Agatha will perform a ritual with the branch of a Dream-birch tree to transport the PCs bodily into Dafni’s dreams. 

Mechanics - The players enter with their current equipment and spells. Items consumed in the dream realm are untouched in the real world. Those who die in the dream join the coma, and may be saved by banishing the spirit. 

Realm 1 - The Half-Forgotten Realm

  • Conceptual Description - A realm of childhood memories, half-forgotten, hazy and indistinct, where everyone is bigger than you and ignores you, and you are easily injured by accident
  • Physical Description - Supernatural fog prevents you from seeing farther than 10 feet, and any sound originating outside that 10-foot radius is muffled and unintelligible. Strong smells fill the air, leading in various directions. In each area, giant people go about their business, ignoring you. Trampling is a concern. Navigating the area will require clever problem-solving to climb, descend, squeeze, swim, etc. 
  • Boss Creature - The Baku is a giant beast that is peacefully devouring the walls and floor, only fights if provoked, leaves holes in reality that will dump you back out into the real world if you fall into them - you can absolutely ignore/avoid the Baku, but the longer you are here, the more dangerous the holes become. 


For each hour the PCs spend in the first Real, move up one step of the ladder. 
1. The party has the sudden sensation of being watched by disapproving parents. 
2. The earth rumbles, and cracks spiderweb across the dome of the sky. 
3. When wandering through the Haze, players hear each other’s voices whimpering and moaning. On close examination, the voices come from their shadows. 
4. On every Mishap or critical failure, 50% chance that player falls into a reality hole (see Baku)
5. A party member vomits blood. A few seconds later it’s gone, and nobody has moved. 
6. On every Mishap or critical failure, that player falls into a reality hole (see Baku)


BAFFLING HAZE. You find yourself walking on firm ground through a dense gray fog. You can see only 10 feet in any direction. Muffled voices and muted knocking sounds echo in the distance from all directions, or no direction. You detect several distinct smells, which grow stronger as you move about in various directions. Smells include:
  • Perfume. Leads to Royal Baths.
  • Bread. Leads to the Chaotic Kitchen.
  • Roses. Leads to the Overgrown Garden.
  • Fresh Paint. Leads to Messy Nursery.

Smell of perfume and oil. A lake-sized pool stretches before you, gleaming white porcelain and pale rose tiles. Giant Yellow Ducks swim serenely around tall islands of iridescent bubbles. Pink bars of soap the size of small rafts litter the edge of the pool. A dark shadow occasionally sends ripples across the surface. House-like mounds of terrycloth towels lie in haphazard piles on the tiles. In the center of the pool floats a wooden tray the size of your average tavern, and it is piled high with sweetbreads, sliced apples, cups of spiced cider, cherries, and puddings.
  • One yellow duck glows faintly gold - it has swallowed a gold ring which, when recovered, reveals the Princess Memory of Saving the Drowning Cousin, a proud memory that makes the princess confident in confronting a challenge OR gives one character a Charisma boost (+2). Killing the duck at range results in the ring falling into the water and swallowed by a squid. 
  • Located high on the floating tray is a bright glowing red cherry - when obtained it reveals the Story of the Sirens worth 200 XP. 

Yellow Duck. HD 1 HP 1 DEF 6 ATK 6(bite 1d4) MOR 2 MOV 1/2x paddle SAV 0

Soapy Squid. HD 3 HP 15 DEF 12 ATK 12(tentacle 1d6) MOR 6 MOV 1x swim SAV 5
Drown: The squid will attempt to grapple a PC (STR 14) and drag them into the water on the next round. The PC may spend three rounds underwater before making CON rolls. 

Smell of baking bread and mixing wine. A massive chamber of precariously piled pots and pans. Four faceless giant chefs in flour-dusted clothing bustle about as two giant servants stomp in and out through the door, carrying trays of food. The giants ignore you, unless you attack them, in which case they merely kick you away and continue their work. The oven blazes like a furnace and choking smoke fills the air. Burning oil and boiling water splash on the floor. The occasional giant knife is dropped. Giant Mice dash along the floorboards. 
  • One Giant Mouse has a faint golden glow - it stole a bag of cookies which, when recovered reveal the Princess Memory of the Fresh Cookies, a happy memory that makes the princess kinder toward the chef and servants OR gives one character a Wisdom boost (+2). 
  • Located high on the back of the giant stove behind the roaring flames and bubbling pots is a bowl of sheep cheese with a faint red glow. When opened it reveals the Story of the Cannibal Cyclops, worth 200 XP. 

Giant Chef: HD 15 HP 150 DEF 20 ATK 20(kick 1d6) MOR - MOV - SAV -

Giant Mouse: HD 1 HP 10 DEF 6 ATK 10(plague) MOR 4 MOV 1.5x SAV 0
Plague: Save vs Disease. If you fail, lower your unencumbered inventory by 1d4 points. 

Smell of roses and cheese. A dense verdant jungle of towering flowers and cathedral-sized bushes with trees that vanish up into the clouds. Mud puddles stretch like vast pools, rippling with Giant Worms. A giant gardener wields massive rusty shears. Flower beds reek of mulch and choking clouds of pollen fill the air, as Giant Bees circle overhead. 
  • One Giant Bee has a faint golden glow - when killed it reveals the Princess Memory of the Horrible Sting, a scary memory that makes the princess frightened of going outside OR gives one character resistance to poison damage. 
  • In the center of the garden stands a huge black tree full of rotting apples, but one apple on a high branch shines like a red jewel - when obtained it reveals the Story of the Golden Apple worth 200 XP. 

Giant Gardener: HD 15 HP 150 DEF 20 ATK 20(kick 1d6) MOR - MOV - SAV -

Giant Bee: HD 1 HP 5 DEF 8 ATK 14(agony) MOR 4 MOV 2x flight SAV 3
Agony: Spend a turn writhing in pain or take 1d6-rounds damage. Effect lasts 1d6 rounds. 

Smell of fresh paint. A rich carpet like high grass covers the ground and entangles the bodies of uncountable toy soldiers. Far above, Giant Maids in grim uniforms march back and forth across the room, trying to tidy up the lost dolls, tangled clothes, and piled cushion forts. Prince Fluffyshanks, a cowardly dragon-sized cat, lounges under a massive rocking chair. He guards a pile of dismembered toy soldiers, puppets, horses, and dolls.
  • One toy soldier has a faint red glow as it lies on the floor, trapped under a Giant Maid’s trampling shoe, his fine painted uniform chipped and faded, his lead sabre sundered. Half a lead skull grins from behind his broken face. When rescued, it reveals the Story of the Loyal Swineherd worth 200 XP. 
  • Prince Fluffyshanks with his bright golden eyes is amused by conversation, but if provoked will attack. If slain, he grants the Princess Memory of the Great Scratch, a shameful memory which makes the princess regret mistreating the palace animals OR gives one character a Dexterity boost +2. 

Prince Fluffyshanks: HD 2 HP 20 DEF 8 ATK 12(claw 1d4/1d4) MOR 4 SAV 5 MOV 2x
Roguish: When first reduced to 0HP, will run and disappear. From that point, will stalk the party, hiding in containers too small for him, waiting for a moment to ambush the party.
Sneak-Thief With a successful attack roll, can choose to instead shred a player's backpack and steal an item of choice.

Giant Maids: HD 15 HP 150 DEF 20 ATK 20(kick 1d6) MOR - MOV - SAV -

Boss Monster: BAKU

HD 4 HP 40 DEF 12 ATK 12(stomp 1d6) MOR 8 SAV 10 MOV standard 
This hulking reptilian boar shuffles through the haze from one room to the next, grunting and snorting as it devours the walls and floors of the dream-realm, leaving behind gaping holes of perfect black void. If you fall into such a hole, you immediately exit the dream-realm and return to reality, where you awaken with 1d6 psychic damage. The baku ignores you unless you attack it, in which case it will defend itself with biting, stomping, and charging attacks. If it eats an item you are carrying, that item ceases to exist in any realm.

Roll 1d4 to determine the current location of the Baku:
  1. Baths
  2. Kitchen
  3. Garden
  4. Nursery

Princess Avatar: CHILD

This eight-year-old version of the princess has dark curly hair, wide curious eyes, and an infectious giggle. She runs about, climbing everything in sight, easily distracted by shiny or cute things, but just as easily terrified by the giant animals and servants. 
  • Whichever room she is in, she is either climbing high on a dangerously unstable pile of objects or cowering in a small dark space to hide from a creature.
  • When you find her, the Child asks whether you found anything that belongs to her. You can volunteer to give her any Princess Memories you have found, or claim to have none. She will believe whatever you tell her.
  • When you touch her, she says, “I’m ready to go now” and she pulls you through a deceptively deep puddle to Realm #2.

Roll 1d4 to determine the current location of the Child:
  1. Baths
  2. Kitchen
  3. Garden
  4. Nursery



The Sirens: “Never has any sailor passed our shores in his black craft until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips, and once he hears to his heart’s content sails on, a wiser man.” So they sent their ravishing voices out across the air and the heart inside me throbbed to listen longer. I signaled the crew with frowns to set me free-they flung themselves at the oars and rowed harder.

The Golden Apple: All were of this mind save only Hera, Poseidon, and Zeus' gray-eyed daughter, who persisted in the hate which they had ever borne towards Troy with Priam and his people; for they forgave not the wrong done them by Paris in disdaining the goddesses who came to him when he was in his sheepyards, and preferring her who had offered him a wanton to his ruin. 

The Cannibal Cyclops: Lurching up, he lunged out with his hands toward my men and snatching up two at once, rapping them on the ground he knocked them dead like pups-their brains gushed out all over, soaked the floor-and ripping them limb from limb to fix his meal he bolted them down like a mountain lion, left no scrap, devoured entrails, flesh and bones, marrow and all!