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One day while walking to a remote town situated in a dark redwood forest, you pass a lone, playing girl of about 13 who is drawing an unusual monster in the dirt road with a stick. There are some cuts and scrapes on her body. If you try to talk to the girl, however, she is too shy to say anything and will start running back to town.
When you arrive at the town, the place seems partially abandoned and many of the houses are boarded up. You hear voices from the tavern. If you go in, there’s a meeting where the townsfolk are discussing the disappearances of local children.
They’re clearly frightened, and talking over one another about how the kids have been snatched from their rooms from behind closed doors. The kids will scream or call for help but by the time the parents rush in, they’re just gone. But sometimes there’s… Disturbing signs. The children aren’t just disappearing, there’s something snatching them!
Then a very old man will shake his cane at the crowd, insisting that it smacks of “Elder Blood” but the others will brush him off, saying that’s just a myth and there’s never been any sign of Elder Blood being real.
At this point the locals notice you, and are excited to see that you’re an adventurer. They ask if you could investigate the rooms where the three missing children have disappeared, and then hunt down the monster that took them.
Should you go look at the houses, the distressed parents of missing children will lead you to the rooms of their lost children. There are three in total, and in general the rooms look normal. There are toys scattered about, some scribbles on the walls, or they are otherwise neat children’s rooms. There’s no damage to the door, walls, or window.
If you look closely in the rooms, you might find fingernail scratches leading under the bed-as if a child was dragged there unwillingly. The scratches end under the bed, however, and there is no further damage there or signs where the child went. There’s also sap, from a specific kind of tree, but you haven’t seen any in the area.
As you approach the last room, however, you’ll hear noises from within. The voice of a child, saying “Mom, I’m scared…” But if you go inside, there isn’t the missing child¬-instead, there’s what appears to be an inhumanely tall figure, with pale, slick skin. It’s playing with the blocks on the ground, but when it sees you its face will split apart into a giant mouth and roar at you, with tentacles bursting from its back and writhing, before it disappears into a puff of black smoke that implodes upon itself and vanishes.
You might remember the monster the little girl was drawing on the side of the road, as it’s similar to what you just saw. If you ask the locals about the girl, they’ll explain that she’s an orphan whose parents died in a tragic accident some years back, and give you directions to where she lives.
If you go to the girl’s home (she lives in her deceased parent’s house) and she sees you, the color will drain from her face. She will try to run away into the forest.
Should you manage to catch her, she will cry in distress and say that she didn’t mean to do it. If you ask her what she’s talking about, she’ll explain, sniffling, that the other children were always mean to her. Usually she’d run into the forest and it would be OK, but not last time. The main bully followed her, and pushed her up against a tree after having thrown rocks at her while she ran away.
She was so scared, the girl explains, she screamed and then the tree split open and a monster came out. It killed him, she says, and she managed to escape. At first, she thought the monster was her friend, because after the main bully disappeared, so did two of the others. But now it’s started coming after her and she’s terrified of it. She can… Sense it. It’s full of hatred, and fear, and confusion-and it’s coming after her.
At this point the old man from the town meeting will call out to the girl from afar while away, asking if she’s alright. As he approaches, he says he was worried about her so came to check in. Seeing you, he’ll ask what you’ve learned about the disappearances so far. If you tell him, he’ll sigh and nod his head, saying he thought as much.
He’ll then tell you about the Elder Blood, saying it’s a gift the bloodline of the villagers held, but that it hasn’t been seen in at least six generations¬-until now. He says it gives those who have it strange and powerful psychic abilities which has historically kept their village safe from all kinds of calamities. However, the old man explains, the gift is incredibly dangerous. He says he was one of a select handful trained to recognize the Elder Blood in others, as an untrained mind with the gift can wreak untold havoc. It takes many years of training and mental discipline to control.
He’ll then explain that the girl has the gift, but cannot control it consciously yet. If you ask if the monster is just a figment of her psyche, he’ll shake his head and say no, explaining that the monster is very real. He’ll say that, very occasionally, one highly gifted in these abilities can tear a rip into another dimension, allowing monsters like the one you met to come through. The monsters, called Imitators… Well, they take on aspects of their victims, for a time. What they said before they die, memories of where home was. They eventually fade, but until they do it allows them to better hunt new victims with.
The old man says that you need to go to the tree where the rip is and defeat the monster that’s been coming out of it-but that you need to take him and the girl as well. The girl will be bait, the old man explains, saying that the two are inexorably linked seeing as she summoned it here.
The girl will protest at this, but the old man will look at her sharply and ask if she’d rather the monster hunt her while there are friendly adventurers ready to kill it, or to snatch her in the night like it did those other children?
She’ll pipe down at this, beginning to cry quietly, while the old man continues to explain that once the monster is dead he’ll try guide the girl into closing the rift she created. She needs strong emotions, such as fear, to utilize her powers and close the rift. If she doesn’t succeed, he concludes, more monsters will keep coming through.
Should you let the girl guide you to where the tree is (prodded by the stern old man), the monster will emerge from the rift, sniffing after her with a sightless face. It has the ability to faze between dimensions with a puff of black smoke as you saw in the child’s bedroom, and will attack with bites and its tentacles from its back (which have little toothy protuberances on them).
While you are fighting the monster, the old man will guide the girl in closing the rift. She will struggle but eventually it will seal, and she’ll faint with a bloody nose from the effort.
Once the monster is dead, the old man will come up to you for a quiet word. He’ll explain that if the village learns of what happened, they will want her dead. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen the Elder Blood, and they’ll be afraid of it. He asks that you keep the source of the monster to yourself, but tell them that it has been dealt with, so that he can take the girl on and train her as he was taught to do. It is a precious gift, the old man explains, and one which must not be squandered.
If you go back to the village and lie to the townsfolk, saying that you found and killed the monster, but omitting the other important details, they will all be relieved and pay you with some valuable relics they’ve passed down through many generations. However, the parents of the dead children will break down into tears, having been holding onto hope that perhaps they had just run away or were missing.
Should you tell the villagers the truth instead, they will work themselves up into an angry mob over what happened, and set out to kill both the old man for doing nothing to stop the “young witch” and the girl for her dangerous abilities. But, if they reach the girl, her stress will open another rift while her and the old man will vanish without a trace.
Try make sure your players see the monster jump scare in the child’s bedroom. If you get the feeling they’re not going to go see all the rooms, put it in the first, or the second, that they visit.
If your players decide to follow up the path of the tree sap instead of visiting the girl, the locals will explain that there’s only one tree like that in the forest, before giving you directions. It is the tree that contains the rift, and the sap that was on the monster from where it crawled through.
The old man came to check on the young girl with the Elder Blood because he knows he was right about the blood and was worried that you investigating the monster would lead you to believe she was a witch and try to kill her or turn her in to the other villagers.
The girl is the one who accidentally killed her parents, when she was much younger. One day, while having a tantrum, they just disappeared. Other villagers eventually found their bodies in the forest later, at the bottom of a cliff, and had assumed they had slipped and fallen down while walking together. They didn’t believe the then very young girl’s story of her parents just disappearing.
This adventure was written for our Ravenswood Adventurer’s Guide. If you’d like 6 more adventures and maps for this location, plus even more info and world building for the city, lootable items, NPCs, and more, check out the guide this was written for!
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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.