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One day you receive a letter from a concerned mother who has heard word of your good deeds from a family relative you helped once. She asks for you to come to her village, and investigate the disappearances of young girls, saying that she is worried for her own daughter but their lord isn’t giving anyone permission to leave the village. In the letter, the woman writes that she can pay you in jewelry that has been passed down through her bloodline for many generations.
When you go to meet with her, the mother will be in tears as she invites you inside her home, saying that her daughter has now gone missing, too. She explains that young girls have begun going missing for about a month now, and no-one has been able to find them. The whole thing smacks of magic, and it terrifies her. Strange, shadowy… things… have been spotted in the woods, the mother explains. It reminds her of this village’s dark history, repeating itself again.
If you ask what she means, she’ll explain that many generations ago little girls went missing and it turned out a coven of evil witches had been indoctrinating them. The witches couldn’t be killed, but eventually heroes trapped their spirits were trapped in a small, red gemstone. The crystal was buried somewhere in the forest, because they couldn’t find a way to destroy it without releasing the spirits again.
Just like last time little girls-even her own little girl-have started going missing again! The mother will burst into tears again at this. However, unlike last time, a part of the forest is beginning to die and all of the villagers have been forbidden to go there.
Should you-not a villager-go to the part of the forest that is dying, you will find a young girl humming happily to herself while sitting on a small wooden stump, at a larger wooden stump “table” surrounded by more small stump “seats”. She is pouring an imaginary teapot into an imaginary cup, before putting it down on the “table” in front of a life-sized doll made out of sticks and twine, with a deer’s skull for a head. Two more of the dolls sit at the table. The girl will say here you go, drink it while it’s hot, before gasping and turning around to look at you.
If you ask the girl what she is doing, she’ll say adults aren’t supposed to come here. If you ask her again, she’ll haughtily explain that she is having tea with her friends. If you ask why she is all the way out in these dying woods, she’ll say that the other girls were always mean to her, but not her friends. She tried introducing her friends to her mum, but she told her they were imaginary. It hurts her friends’ feelings when people say that, the girl will whisper, before continuing in a normal voice that that’s why she built them bodies and now they play out here. In the forest, where they won’t be bothered by meanies. The girl will finish by sticking her tongue out.
Should you try to take the girl back to the village, saying it’s dangerous out here and children have gone missing, she will shake her head and refuse to go with you, saying it’s not dangerous and her friends keep her safe. But if you try to take the girl by force, the “dolls” will suddenly move, standing up sharply and staring you down, before one says in a hollow, woman’s voice to leave the girl alone.
The other dolls will start bickering to the first, saying in a different woman’s voice that they were meant to stay still if anyone else came out here, but the first will quip that they’re meant to watch the girl and that’s what they’re doing-whether it means ridiculous tea parties or whatever, they have their orders and gods know she’s waded through enough shit already in the name of the High Priestess.
If you draw any weapons, the young girl will grow visibly distressed and try to step between you and the dolls, saying please don’t hurt them, they’re her friends. At this point, a few more girls will run out of the woods, asking what’s going on. When they see you, they’ll drop anything they’re holding and rush towards the dolls. The dolls will tell them that they had to drop the pretense because you were going to take the girl.
Should you point out that the first girl said the other girls were mean, the first girl will awkwardly say that yes, well the girls always USED to mean to her but her friends asked her to bring them here and now they’re nice!
If you ask the dolls what they are, they’ll say that they are the first girl’s friend and that she’s very special to them, but you wouldn’t understand that. Then one of the young girls will step forward with her hands on her hips and look at you with a completely un-childlike gaze, saying that you should leave.
Should you refuse, the other girls will begin to attack you with weak magical spells, while the dolls will attack with their twiggy claws or antlers. When this happens, the first young girl will begin crying and screaming. If you come close to killing any of the girls or dolls, they will start fleeing over a river towards a giant, red, crystal that’s partially unearthed, while making snide remarks to each other about how it’s someone else’s fault this is happening and the High Priestess won’t be pleased they got them into this mess.
If they get to the crystal, it will begin to glow brightly. A commanding woman’s voice will then demand to stop the fighting, before saying enticingly that she is willing to make a deal. She says that if you leave the girl with them, they will “leave” the other girls so you can take them back to their families.
The other girls, now cut and scraped up badly from the battle, will be horrified at this-saying to the crystal that she can’t do this and where will they go, but the High Priestess will shush them all, saying they can return to the crystal without dying and that they can figure out what to do about it AFTERWARDS.
If you ask why you shouldn’t just kill them all, the High Priestess will laugh and say that you can of course kill them, but then the little girls will die too. You see, there’s no way the girls are going back to their families unless the witches CHOOSE to leave their bodies. The only way you can kill the witches would be to kill the bodies they’re in, and somehow destroy the stone-a feat no-one so far has managed. Then, the High Priestess says smugly, you’ll have the pleasant experience of telling their families what happened to their little girls.
Should you agree to the deal, the coven will keep their word and leave the bodies of the young girls for the crystal. The young girls, now themselves again, will burst into tears and tremble with fear and pain, begging to go home to their mommies. However, the spirit of the High Priestess will possess the first girl, who has been groomed for the role for a number of years. Then, in her new body, she will place a hand on the crystal, and utter a word that shatters it. She will then stand up and stretch comfortably, remarking that her sisters were incompetent to mess up such a simple plan so disastrously, and that she supposes she should thank you for ridding her of them. She will then try to leave the area, where she will plan and educate herself so-once her body is old enough-she can regain the political sway and power she once held in ages past.
Should you refuse to make a deal and kill all the girls and dolls, then make to destroy the crystal (which has been weakened by the spirits of the witches escaping, if you look closely you can spot some cracks running through it) the spirit of the High Priestess will flee the crystal and attempt to possess the first little girl. If she succeeds, the most peaceful outcome might be capturing the first girl using non-lethal force and restraining her, as perhaps someone else will know how to exorcise the spirit from her body.
If you return the scared little girls to their mothers-one of which was the daughter of the woman who hired you-the parents will be balling their eyes out in relief, and shaking as tenderly as their children. All the mothers of the missing children will give you what valuables they can as thanks for such a priceless gift; that of returning their loved ones to them. They will then say you will always be welcome in their village, whatever you need in future.
Should you instead return to them bearing news of their dead daughters, they will cry tears of grief but say some part of them knew their little girl was dead, or that they had lost hope days ago, or how some part of them has died as well, etc, etc. But the woman who hired you will pay you as promised, then soberly request you leave her alone to her mourning.
The coven has been grooming the first young girl to become the body for their High Priestess for a very long time, as she has a natural affinity for magic that will make the High Priestess more powerful. That affinity is what allowed the young girl to hear the spirits of the witches, before she made them “bodies” out of the sticks and skulls she found lying around in the forest.
When the coven was sealed away in the crystal, the gemstone was little bigger than a ruby. It has been growing slowly over time while the witches syphoned energy and life from the forest around it, killing the greenery but building up enough power to eventually escape. However, the spirits of the witches cannot live long outside the crystal, unless they find a “host” body to attach themselves too. It is hard to possess adults, but children have less willpower.
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.