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GMs, would you allow Turn Undead, instead of instantly destroying a ghost, to move them on to their next life? Let me know in the comments below! As always, keep scrolling for the one-shot adventure written for this Ruins of the Dwarven Village of Blandr’vist free TTRPG battlemap! ⬇
When stepping inside a tavern in a dwarven underdark town, you come upon a sombre meeting. An elderly dwarf inside is pleading with the local townsfolk, asking if there’s not anything they can do to go to Blandr’vist and save the holy man he sent there. But the rest of the locals only shake their heads sadly, saying that none of them can risk setting foot in that haunted ruin, and the cleric should have known better.
If you ask what this is about, the elderly dwarf will approach you, saying that you look like mercenaries and plead for your help. He introduces himself as Modek, and explains that he sent a holy man to the ruins of Blandr’vist, a town several days’ journey away. He wanted him to deal with the ghosts there, but now the holy man hasn’t come back and he’s worried he’s gotten him killed.
Should you ask why he wanted to deal with the ghosts, Modek will pale and stutter, unable to answer. Another dwarf will stand up and pat Modek on the back, explaining for him that the people of Blandr’vist were massacred to quench a rebellion, in a most horrific fashion. Modek is one of the only survivors, but his family didn’t make it out with him. The only peace he could try to find was by sending in a holy man to help the ghosts of his wife Bovolda and son, Heni, move on to the next life.
It was foolish, the dwarf finishes, but there’s not a soul here who can’t understand why he did it. The dwarf guides Modek, who is still stiff and silent, to sit down at the nearby table. He then continues, saying that it’s tragic, but no-one else should die for what happened there, so if you’re willing to go and try to save the holy man from the bloodthirsty ghosts, the whole town here is willing to pitch in to pay you. Modek is a healer, and has done nothing but help all of them–asking almost nothing in exchange–since he moved here, and they’re willing to do what they can to return that kindness.
But you must know that the ghosts at Blandr’vist are incredibly dangerous, some have even become like wraiths. Everyone in the nearby area avoids it, lest they have a death wish. As a result, they’ll pay you as much as they can afford, but if you agree to the job it must be with open eyes. Very few go to Blandr’vist and make it out alive.
Should you agree to the job, Modek begins weeping, saying that he never wished for other people to get hurt, and the other locals cluster in to comfort him. The original dwarf who took over the conversation takes you discreetly outside the tavern and gives you directions for where to go. He also warns you in a low voice that you may have to kill the ghosts that Modek hoped to save, but that it would be better than letting another innocent dwarf die to the hands of the tortured souls. If a cleric cannot redeem them, he suspects no-one can, and the ghosts would be better off to cease existing if that is the case.
When you arrive at Blandr’vist, a cold chill comes over you. It creeps into your bones, and makes your skin rise with goose bumps. Mist forms on your breath when you exhale. Even the light of your torch seems oppressed by the heavy darkness, and dims.
Around you, there are strange, echoing cries, weeping and other noises like rattling which you notice from the edge of hearing, but can’t clearly focus on if you try.
There are incredibly angry ghosts all throughout the ruins. They are made of shadowy mist and swirling rags of cloth, created by deaths so brutal and enraging that the spirits lost all sense of humanity or compassion. They come at you screaming, with some human features wafting out from their shadowy appearance; skeletal hands with rotting flesh, eyeballs glaring out from skinless skulls with ragged, drifting strands of patchy hair…
As you move deeper into the ruined town, you spot a pale figure facing away from you in one of the houses, and while you’re looking at it your torch flickers and dies. Suddenly you are swarmed by a number of pale ghosts and reaching hands in the darkness, surrounding you and pressing against you. They are hideously disfigured by burns, with peeling skin and exposed, charred bones. They’re yelling “help us, save us, please!”
However, as they say this, some attack you while reliving their death and seeing you as the one responsible. If you try to reason with any of the ghosts by telling them they’re dead, they become even more stressed and unreasonable, saying that they don’t want to die which is why you must help them!
If you fight back against the ghosts, they become angrier and more wraith-like, similar to the ghosts you encountered earlier. When you have either defeated or escaped the group, you’ll feel a small tug on your clothing. If you look down, you’ll find the ghost of a small boy holding onto you. He doesn’t appear to have any burns on him. He says “The others are scared, but mom told me not to be afraid.” Then he’ll try to lead you through the ruins, to the cellar of an old house.
As you get closer to the cellar, the ghosts seem to become less common until you don’t really see any at all, aside from the young boy. Once you’re outside the cellar of the burned-out house, you can see light that looks like daylight peeping through an entrance that’s been haphazardly boarded up with burned pieces of timber and crumbled rocks. “Mom told me it’s safe here,” says the boy, and he walks straight through the rubble.
There is a shocked voice from inside, and you can hear the boy talking to it. If you move the rubble and go inside, you’ll see a dishevelled dwarven cleric with torn clothing and some scrapes. He looks like he was kneeling in prayer before being disturbed, and a small orb of sunlight floats at the center of the room.
The boy will smile when he sees you, emphasising that it’s safe here and his mom told him to hide. The cleric will be surprised to see you, and ask why you’re there. If you explain, he’ll sigh and say that he really thought he could save these spirits, but there’s just so many of them, and they all died so horribly…
If you ask what he means, he’ll pilfer through his bag and pull out a singed journal and throw it to you. He explains that the people were part of a rebellion that was spreading in the region, and a general was sent by the nobles to quell it. Rather than risk fighting a long and bloody civil war, with a significantly higher body count, the general made an example of the town. He lied to the residents, told them to stay inside their homes while his men guarded the outside. Told them it would be all right, so long as they complied. They killed anyone who resisted–mercifully–and those who obeyed waited while their homes were boarded up, and stacked with tinder at the front. Then the general had his men light the fires, and all the remaining inhabitants of Blandr’vist were either burned alive in the flames, or slowly cooked inside their stone homes.
The cleric shakes his head, saying he’s never encountered anything like it, and that it was so much worse than he could ever have imagined. He shivers as he finishes speaking.
Should you look at the journal, you’ll find it was written by the general responsible. At the end, he summarises that the decision was a tactical one through and through–and one which successfully quelled the rebellion at its heart. However, the author laments that he learned too late the difference between theory and practice. The screams and the smells which he heard on that day… he’ll never be able to un-see them. He doesn’t know if what he did was the right thing, and feels his soul is ultimately condemned to the hells. The journal concludes that he’ll leave the dairy in the ruins, which is where he intends to bury this terrible deed, and the rest of his life leading up to that moment.
If you ask whether or not the cleric achieved his goal of moving the ghosts of Modek’s family on, he’ll shake his head sadly, and say that there’s so many ghosts and wrenched souls here he can’t possibly tell them apart. The only semi-lucid ghost he’s met is that little boy, and he hasn’t helped the child move on because he saved his life and he might need him to get out.
Should you ask if there’s any other way to help the ghosts in the village to move on, as Modek wanted, the cleric will stroke his braided beard thoughtfully. Then he’ll say that many of the ghosts are so far gone that it’s hard to even reason with them, let alone discover what their unfinished business is–or help them solve it. And he suspects that, even if one were to successfully communicate with the ghosts about what happened, resolving the unfinished business of so many could take years.
The likeliest chance of survival, amidst so much hatred and fear, is to flee and hope you make it out alive, says the cleric. However, he cannot bring himself to leave when there are so many tortured souls here. He has prayed for guidance from his god, and the only way he can leave this place with a clean conscience is to do his best to force the spirits to move on, through channeling divinity. If you would help him in this, by distracting the ghosts so he only has to handle one or two of them at a time, it would make his survival more likely.
If you do not wish to help him, he understands. He would prefer to stay and do this regardless, as he feels it is a holy calling and knows that–should he be slain–he will find himself in the arms of his god.
Should you help him, the cleric will thank you and lead you out into the fray. As he does so, the light he was creating disappears, and the cleric explains that he cannot focus on keeping the light aglow while forcing the ghosts into the next life.
The strange noises, whispering voices, and echoing sobs get louder as you leave the cellar. However, as you do, the child ghost begins to panic. He says that it’s not safe out there, and his mom told him to stay inside and hide. If you point out that the child was running about when you got there, the boy will look down in shame and say that he was trying to find his mom, to make sure she’s alright. She was meant to come back, and she still hasn’t.
The cleric will then tell the boy that if he comes with you, the group will keep him safe and maybe they’ll be able to find his mom together. The boy will agree reluctantly before trailing along.
Now that the holy light is extinguished, ghosts begin to draw closer to you. Objects start moving, and you can feel light touches on your body, while the light on your torch begins to flicker, before the ghosts finally arrive.
Once you have helped the cleric force many of the ghosts to the next life–his touch or pointed hand causing them to dissolve in either a burst of light paired with laughter or sighs of relief, or fiery, red heat and screams–the ghosts will finally begin to thin out. The chill in Blandr’vist will begin to fade, and if you light your torch it will seem to give more light and no longer blow out.
The child ghost, however, is sad. He says that he still hasn’t found his mom, and wonders if he should maybe go back to the cellar to wait for her. If you ask him to take you to where he thinks his mom might be, he’ll lead you throughout the ruined town to a secret room. He’ll open the door using a lever, explaining that his mum showed him how to open it as she’d meet with her friends here.
Once inside, you see the wreckage of an old table, and skeletons lying on the floor in torn, bloodstained rags. Crossbow bolts are lodged into the fabric.
The ghost of the boy’s mother is in the room, and she turns around to face you, in an ephemeral dress peppered with arrows and stained in blood. Thinking you are the nobles who killed her, she scornfully says that you’ll never stop the rebellion, and that what you’re doing to these innocent people only shows everyone the true face of the money-stealing nobility! You never cared for them, only their taxes–everything else you said were lies and propaganda!
Before she can attack, her son runs up to her and hugs her skirts. The woman pauses, and blinks several times, looking down at her son. The boy says happily that he waited and waited for her in the cellar, until it became hard to breathe, but he’s glad he finally found her. Then the woman’s face softens, and her dress mends; the arrows and stains fading. She strokes his head, lovingly calling him Heni and saying that she’s so happy he’s ok. Then she looks at you again, as if seeing you for the first time, and thanks you for bringing her son back to her.
Then, as if remembering something, she asks after her husband, Modek. She says in a distressed voice that he left to heal a man in another town who had injured himself a few days before the attack. She says she needs to know he’s ok, that his ties to the rebellion weren’t discovered.
If you explain why you were sent there and that Modek’s ok, she cries tears of joy and clasps your hands thankfully. The sensation feels like cold tingling on your skin. Then she asks you to tell him that what happened to them was quick, that… they didn’t suffer as much as some of the others. And to tell him that they still love him, and will wait for him in The Great Beyond.
Should you agree, she thanks you again. Then her son, Heni, asks if it’s time to leave yet, because he’s tired. Bovolda nods and says that they can finally go, before kneeling and embracing her son. They both disappear in a shimmer of golden light and laughter.
Modek will cry tears of joy at your players’ news when they return, saying he can finally find peace in his life and it has lifted a great burden from him to hear that their deaths were not like the others. He’ll happily patch up the cleric and your players if his energy is too depleted to heal anyone.
Modek’s whole–rather small town–community will be very happy for their friend, and congratulate him on doing the right thing. It’s not something they all believed would work, but has finally put those ghosts in that cursed town to rest. Then the villagers will pay your players the sum they offered earlier, and tell them they will always be welcome in their town if they need it.
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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.