This post contains a larger adventure hook or say an outline for an interesting adventuring location with quite some horror and weirdness in it, and the potential for a grim outlook for your player characters. But first, endure some endorsing and rambling:
Okay, so let’s be honest now. What did I really start a blog for? Well in order to get free stuff of course! All you fancy internet snobs, never buying your games and books anymore, always getting Playstations and VR goggles and everything just sent to your homes like it’s nothing. Sheer envy made me do it. And it already worked! I’d just recently published my very first blog post, no followers and nothing, but still: a nice DIY roleplaying blogger, Gregorius21778, contacted me via form and among friendly words gave me a 100% discount link to a DriveThruRPG product of his! Well, it’s a four-page PDF that amounts to something around 1 €, but still … baby steps. Playstations will come.
The PDF in question is called Strange & Cruel Personal Titles, which is basically a three-column d100 random table that yields results like Warrior of the Ravenous Corpses, Annointed of the Cannibal Baptism and other fun constellations of words, like the ones you can see in the title of this blog post. For the most part Gregorius21778s blog contains various scraps and snippets of interesting referee/GM material, much of it for Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy, but also lots of useful resources for weird fantasy OSR campaigns.
The point of this particular blog post of mine is my playing around with this Strange & Cruel Titles thingy and getting kind of inspired by the results. (Thanks for that, Sir Gregorius XXMDCCLXXVIII, oh Father of the Razing Curse, Mouthpiece of the Stillborn Prophecy.) So what I want to do, in honor of my first donor (and also my first follower), is create a collection of useful RPG resources of my own, based on this random table:
Vassals of the Blood-Drinking Pit
In the age of perpetual midnight, when the unliving freely roamed the earth and mortals were merely prey, persevering their short and hopeless lives in caves underground, a red moon bore witness to a great battle between two particularly sanguinary vampire lords. Legions of the immortal engaged in a massacre that went on for eons and in the process they soaked the land with their tainted blood until the black earth became a red swamp. But after for centuries the regiments of vampires just kneeled in the bloody mire motionlessly, weakened and weary of unlife, the first rays of sunlight crawled into the darkness from beyond the horizon, ushering in the age of the living. The pale, drained and mutilated bodies burst into flames, crying out in final gratitude.
Blood Moon and Creepy Swamp Trees by Gerry Smith
This land is now known as the Sanguine Marshes, for the strangely red hue to the plant life here. The vast area is sparsely populated and has to be traversed in order to get from [insert important place in campaign world] to [insert other important place in campaign world] without putting up with a significant detour. The truth about this swamp is, that by sucking up all this vampire blood, the land itself became vampiric (and sentient). It slowly corrupts the minds of those that eat and drink what it provides and makes them its lackeys. The odd settlements that litter this swamp are populated by the swamp’s puppets and reigned by the Vassals of the Blood-Drinking Pit, the highest of the vampire swamp’s servants and themselves vampires. The Blood-Drinking Pit itself is the “mouth” of the swamp, a gaping hole in the ground, teeming with blood red leeches the size of cats, that crawl in and out of the earth, so that the hole moves just like a mouth. Deep in the pit there are rings of hooked teeth to hold fast trapped prey. The people of the Sanguine Marshes collect food for their master by luring travellers into their settlements, finding out if their vanishing would provoke the arrival of tiresome search parties and then kidnapping them and feeding them to the pit. Particularly powerful individuals (magic-users for example) are allowed to crawl from the pit, half-drained, turning into Vassals of the Pit within the night. Remember that even the herbivorous and omnivorous animals, such as deer or birds, eat the fruit of this land and are thus minions of the vampire swamp. (I’m pretty sure I’m gonna make this one a full-fledged adventure module to be downloaded on PDF. Like, with maps and stats and everything. Give me some time though.)
Spawn of the Sanguine Beast
This one will pretty obviously become a part of this vampire swamp setting I have fabricated from the first title. The swamps herbivores become lackeys of the Blood-Drinking Pit, but the carnivores, feeding on the corrupted creatures that dwell here, become something else entirely. They gain abnormal intelligence and develop a mixture of loathing, reverence and lust for the blood-thirsty god that tainted their territory and their bodies. They compete for the swamp’s affection and acknowledgement and the swamp only abides them so that every full moon it may choose the strongest and most ferocious of them as it’s mate. It will call a chosen Sanguine Beast to the pit, where it impregnates the beast in a most excruciating and abhorrent procedure that includes swarms of leeches penetrating the beast, whose tortured howling and wailing will harrow the swamp until the new moon, when the beast will luridly burst open and release the Spawn.
The Spawn is an unbeing that bears both features of the Sanguine Beast and of a pale, thin and disturbingly shaped human vampire (think Nosferatu, as in the 1922 movie by Murnau). It is the eyes, ears and mouth of the swamp, the Avatar of the Blood-Drinking Pit if you will. It’s mere existence mocks nature and it will quickly wither away as the moon grows, becoming ever more grotesque and rotten, until it dissolves into stinking bloody sludge on the day before the full moon. Then, the cycle begins anew. (Stats and more details will be part of the aforementioned PDF, probably.)
So far so good. I have a mind of making a series out of this. How about the Harbinger of the Many-Mawed Majesty next time? Or the Vessels of the Torn Faith and the Idol of the Riven Angel? Also the Captive of the Brutalizing Book sounds fun.