1. Bayn o’Boon

1. Bayn o’Boon

A. An Evening Most Spooky

Character Level: 1
Stipulations: Starting equipment only
Session Date: October 14th, 2019

[DM’s Note: The following is a Halloween-themed one-shot that was used as a transition from a tabletop-only setting to a Fantasy Grounds-based campaign, online. As such, characters were allowed to be fluid and amended on-the-fly.]

i. Sunset over Bayn o’Boon

Shadows stretch as you make your way along the forested trail. The dimming sunlight colors your steps with autumn hues as you make your way towards the enigmatic hamlet of Bayn o’Boon. You have heard stories of the “charming” harvest celebrations that the villagers throw, nearly in secret, far from intruding civilization. Stories of plentiful piñatas, plump pumpkins, and sugared candy skulls.

You have also heard other tales, more chilling, of ghosts that haunt, and dead that walk, only on this special night of feasts.

A sudden cold breeze makes you pull your shirt tighter. While you look forward to the festivities, you can’t help but imagine that something darker lurks in the gathering dusk.

As the paladin and cleric made their way towards Bayn o’Boon, they entertained themselves by looking for fish in a nearby pond. As they did so, they were beset upon by two separate groups of the strangest creatures they’d ever encountered.

Glow-in-the-Dark Skeletons
These skeletons glow with a strange phosphorescent hue…and their black eyes seem simply painted on. Their soft forms don’t appear to be made of actual bone. Whatever they are, they jiggle and wiggle in a maddening caper, and they advance towards you with weapons drawn.

Plastic Spiders
Though, at first glance, they appear to be ordinary giant wolf spiders, a closer inspection reveals that they are made of a strange, black cartilage-like substance. The creatures bounce in a nauseating fashion, as if dangling from invisible strings.

What manner of strange beasts be these?

The strange spider-like creatures bit much harder than was expected, but a few timely healing spells helped the heroes defeat the monsters. Upon the strange bodies, small pieces of confectionery were found:

When eaten, this candy returns 1 lost hit point and applies an additional random effect. (Only one effect may be present at a time.)

  • Guidance
  • Druidcraft
  • Friends
  • Thaumaturgy
  • Resistance
  • Primal Savagery
  • Prestidigitation
  • True Strike
  • Protection from Poison
  • Protection from Energy
  • Cure Wounds
  • Regain lowest spell slot OR spent daily skill

ii. Welcome to the Party

The encounters with the strange artificial creatures have rattled your nerves somewhat, yet you still continue on towards the welcoming firelight ahead. Perhaps, among the nighttime festivities, you might be able to forget these strange apparitions, and your growing sense of dread.

“Bane or Boon!” the children shout as you enter the village, demanding treats. In the village square, numerous stands have been erected for the celebration. In addition to food stalls and costume shops, there are six different activities that townsfolk compete in for prizes.

Perhaps an earned trophy (or a candied apple) might ease your mind.

We have to be able to win at least ONE of these, right?
  • Ring-the-Bell (Strength Check DC15)
  • Bobbing for Apples (Dexterity Check DC15)
  • Pie-Eating Context (Constitution Check DC15)
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest (Intelligence Check DC15)
  • Ball-and-Cups Game (Wisdom Check DC15)
  • Costume Contest (Charisma Check DC15)

NOTES: Each event may only be attempted once, by 1 member of the party.
REWARDS: Roll on the associated “Festival Events Rewards” table for a SPOOKY prize:

  • Rubber Scimitar (+2 vs. “spooky”-type creatures)
  • Felt Cape (+10 ft. movement each round)
  • Princess Ice Wand (“Ray of Frost” as an action vs. “spooky”-type creatures)
  • Silken Witch Hat (1/day, Turn “Spooky”-type creatures)
  • Rubber Bat (gain familiar, but only on spookiest of nights)
  • Painted Wooden Shield (“spooky”-type monsters have disadvantage against user)
  • Toy Slingshot (grants +1d4 bludgeoning against “spooky”-type monsters, when using Halloween candy as ammunition)
  • Fake Fangs (gain Bite attack that deals 1d4+STR damage as a Bonus action, but only against “spooky”-type monsters)
  • Foam Hammer from Ring-the-Bell Contest (special) (regular stats as Warhammer when used against “spooky”-type monsters, but can be wielded by everyone)

Luck was not on the paladin or cleric’s side, and they were unable to win a single contest. Still, the townsfolk were generous, and they gifted each with a large bag of candy and one random trinket, in spirit of the celebration.

iii. Smiles Everywhere

You have nearly forgotten your earlier troubles, soaking up the warmth and joy of these annual festivities, when a sudden scream of real fear silences the crowd. First one–then two, then three–of the entries to the Pumpkin Carving Contest slowly lift themselves up on stilt-like legs. As the crowd begins to panic, they slash with tiny claws at the party-goers nearest to them.

(Out of the corner of your eye, you notice one such Jack-o-Lantern that had been filled, not with a candle, but with candy bits for the waiting children. As it lurches to life, it emits a tiny shriek of agony and quickly dissolves into soup.)

The two phenomenons copy themselves around the market, wherever a pumpkin had been carved for decoration. You draw your weapons and ready yourself to defend the villagers.

Jack-o-lantern
Small vines sprout from the sides and underside of the carved gourd, and it wobbles ponderously towards the nearest frightened villager.

Time to add a few finishing slashes to these upstart pumpkins!

The silence following the last animated Jack-o-Lantern’s demise is welcome but brief. In a sputtering display of angry sparks, a new apparition arises from the nearby fire. As molten flames surround its form, an old woman’s cackle can be heard, carried on the fell nighttime winds:

“Bayn o’Boon! What’s this I see? A bane for you, a boon for me!
“Did ye think to keep me stilled? A spirit walks where’er she wills!
“The chill of death gives but penury, when none doth keep thy memory.
“And since that night, ten times ye’ve blest yer favored departed, but not the rest!
“And still I see, like embered coals, the shame that lurks within your souls!
“So now’s the end for ‘bane’ or ‘boon’…From grave’s dark depths, I send thy doom!”

The silence following the last animated Jack-o-Lantern’s demise is welcome but brief. In a sputtering display of angry sparks, a new apparition arises from the nearby fire. As molten flames surround its form, an old woman’s cackle can be heard, carried on the fell nighttime winds:

Some of the older members of the town seem to wince in recognition of the voice, but you have no time to ponder this. The fiery monstrosity moves to attack!

Witch’s Ire
Unlike the other creations of whimsy and mischief, this flaming tower is an incarnation of pure malice. Its heated body quickly sets fire to any unattended flammable objects in its vicinity.

The animated jack-o-lanterns had been sturdy, but easily-dispatched. The swirling conflagration, on the other hand, burned them whenever they got close. The paladin and cleric were able to deal damage at range. Just when the paladin collapsed under the onslaught, the cleric struck a killing blow with a slingshot and a piece of magical festival candy!

B. Witches Westward

Session Date: October 21st, 2019

i. A Dark Secret, for a Dark Night

After being pressed, one of the older members of the village finally speaks up.

“Aye, I know what’s brought down these fell tidings. It’s our own blind stubbornness and cruelty.” He quickly shushes another villager who tries to quiet him.

“Ten years ago, there was yet another member of the town–an old lady, who lived some distance west, in an abandoned windmill. ‘Mad’ Maud they called her. She ne’er harmed us nor our livestock, and she kept to herself; but she was an odd sorts, and the children liked playing their cruelest jokes on her.”

His statement was punctured by a few angry glowers from some of the younger males.

“One fall night, we found all our our milk had turned sour. The next, a mare gave birth to a foal with two heads. Some of the same youths in the town somehow got it in their minds that this old lady was a witch, and…well, they ‘took care’ of her.”

The man hung his head in shame. “The rest of us didn’t find out about their plans until the morning after, but–we could have known, if we’d paid attention. If we’d cared. But just as the old lady had made no enemies, likewise she had made no friends. And none of us thought to raise a finger.”

The elder would give no more specific details; it was clear he still felt some measure of guilt on the matter. “Go west until you see the ruins against the sky,” he would advise. “There you will find her resting place. And, perhaps, answers.”

Adding another member to their team, the heroes now consisted of a paladin, druid, and cleric. They attempted to ply some further information from the surly young men in the village, but were stonewalled, thanks to their status as “outsiders.” They decided to seek answers further west.

ii. Those Gone Before

Your path takes you west of the town, where lies the Bayn o’Boon cemetery. The plots here have all been carefully and lovingly tended. Candles adorn most headstones, along with individual offerings of flowers, brandy, or even baskets of candy.

Wispy, glowing forms float above all the tended graves. Though you are unnerved at first, you quickly realize these must be the spirits of those whose came before. The apparitions neither speak nor stray far from their offerings, but they welcome you with silent smiles and an occasional nod of the head.

Realizing the importance of the gravestone decorations, several of the party gave their own offerings to the ancestors. They felt a temporary Blessing bestowed in return. Suddenly, from either side of the cemetery, more apparitions approached!

Bed-sheet Ghost
The linens flit through the air as if carried on a strong breeze, though the evening air is perfectly still. While its haunting visage might turn the heels of even the most steadfast warrior, the true danger lies in its ability to wind itself about victims’ heads!

Tissue Mummy
This less-than-successful reanimation seems reinforced by less-than-standard bandages. Still, it might be able to use these to entangle a hapless hero.

Toiletries and bed-sheets! Whose bedroom did we anger?

The three heroes found these to be their strongest adversities yet, and the paladin dropped to the ground more than once. In the end, the druid Produced Flame to effectively end the Tissue Mummy, and the others simply beat the bed-sheets until they stopped moving.

ii. Memories of Hate

The lights of the village have disappeared behind the trees of the sparse forest outside the village, leaving you only the light of the moon and stars to see by. Phosphorescent fireflies guide your way through the woods, until a more malevolent green hue darts between nearby trees.

Then, as if on cue, a rag tag group of ethereal children block your way. You do not feel the same peaceful calmness that the ghosts of the Bayn o’Boon cemetery proffered. Instead, the wispy edges of their form flare like thirsty flames, and their faces contort in jeers and sneers.

“Go on up, then, old woman!” they yell simultaneously, in a sing-song fashion. “Go on up!”

Then the rocks start.

Shade of Cruelty
These ghostly children aren’t real, but their hate very much is. As are the rocks and bottles of flaming oil they throw your way.

Finally, an easy foe!

For once, the heroes did not have to stop and catch their breath after a battle. They dispatched the smokey wisps easily, reassuring themselves that it was not actually children they were fighting, but only memories of them.

C. Confronting the Source

Session Date: November 4th, 2019

After having made hasty acquaintance with a sorceress who had also caught up to them from the village, the four pressed on towards the west, to where fields of corn now lay.

i. Silent Sentinels

A glow begins in the west–not from the sun, for that has long set. A tall black silhouette squats on a hilltop still some distance ahead–your goal and destination. An ominous red hue lights its form.

Between you and the mill’s hilltop stretch fields of golden-ripe corn. No one has tended these crops for a decade, yet somehow they continue to be planted, raised, and harvested.

As you approach the nearest stalks, familiar angry faces burst from the trees around you. “There’s the old hag’s place now!” one of them chortles. “Let’s knock down her scarecrows!”

The cries of vicious delight turn quickly to cries of surprised terror as the nearest scarecrows–towering perhaps 15 feet in height, calmly scoop the children up in their enormous hands and deposit them back outside the corn rows.

“Witch! Witch!” the ethereal miscreants shout, dashing back towards the village. They fade quickly once they pass into the trees, their role in this little play at its end.

Large Animated Scarecrow
A towering contraption of cobbled wood and straw, it appears lifeless…until a wayfarer trespasses within its domain.

As soon as the paladin had stepped onto the corn field, one of the towering scarecrows too picked him up and unceremoniously dumped him back outside.

Go back to Start. Do not pass Go.

The four adventurers together attacked the contraption, discovering their blows did little damage against the animated straw and hay. The only effective tactics seemed to involve fire, or “confusing” the scarecrows. (When the paladin managed to drag the scarecrow past the edge of the corn field, it ignored everything beyond simply returning to its station.)

Eventually, after a helpful suggestion from the cleric, each of the party simply waited until the scarecrows were motionless again before madly dashing across to the other side.

A mad Dash action to the other side!

ii. The Abandoned Warehouse

The farmhouse that you come upon is dilapidated, obviously unkept for years. The shutters have come off the windows, wooden slats have fallen from the walls, and the thatch roof has collapsed in places.

And yet, for some reason, there is still movement. From out of the door, a broom toddles on worn bristles. With fraying splinter arms, it carries a bucket and dunks it into the nearby well. Though the water’s contents slowly drain through a hole in the bottom of the pail, the broom continues its eternal task of fetching water from the well.

A wet morass on the south, downward slope of the house (complete with thick colonies of moss) suggests the broom has been doing this for a very long time.

Animated Broom
Having never been instructed to stop, it will continue its thankless task day and night, until time finally takes its toll.

Careful that broom doesn’t “sweep” you off your feet.

The four adventurers further encountered a wizard, who claimed he’d been attracted to this house by a sense of transmutation magic. The source was soon apparent, as several animated objects continued daily chores they’d begun ten years before.

iii. The Chopping Block

The farmhouse is mostly empty, save for the kitchen on the west end. Hanging from the far ceiling are a number of animal corpses, in various states of decay. Some still seem fresh, with flies swarming about their prepared carcasses. Others are only bone and gristle, having been left to rot for months (or even years).

Interestingly, there are more than just geese, pigs, and sheep here. There is also a deer, several mice, a badger, and what appears to be someone’s pet dog.

A set of old, rusted armor stands motionless near the chopping board, in the middle of the kitchen. A stained and rusty cleaver rests near it, on the table.

Animated Armor
Its instructions were clear. Clean and prepare any animal brought to it.
Any. All.

As soon as the paladin approached the suit of armor, it snatched up the nearby meat cleaver to gut and prepare him and hang him with the other animals. The cleric attempted to pull him out of the way, but only succeeded in getting them both stuck in the doorway.

Their new sorceress friend averted disaster by casting an illusion of a fat pig near the suit of armor. Not being the smartest construct, the armor spent the next minute attempting to butcher the image, while the adventurers slipped away.

iv. A Sorcerer’s Apprentice

There is little else of note in the structure, save in the southwestern room. A stack of moldy books are too faded and moldy to read, but some of their titles can still be deciphered:

“Animating Objects for Fun and Profit”

“The Homesteader’s Guide to Basic and Useful Magic Around the Domicile”

“Necromancy or Transmutation? A Comparison of Practicality”

“Unseen but not Unappreciated: Making Your Servants Work for You!”

No witch lived here, perhaps, but certainly a capable student of the occult arts.

After gaining a better understanding of the “witch’s” origins (and after an impromptu Thaumaturgy contest between the paladin and cleric), the five took their last few steps towards their destination: the blackened mill.

v. No Rest for the Wicked

True to the old man’s word, the ruins of the windmill lay due west of the village, perhaps three kilometers distance. A fiery inferno had engulfed it sometime in the past, and now only a husk of stone walls and blackened beams raised itself against the sky.

In the gloom, it seemed itself like a towering tombstone, and it may as well have been. Even from this distance, you can see a pile of large stones in front of its only door, pinning it partially closed. These must have been set before the fire itself was started…dooming the only occupant of the mill.

Yet SOMETHING yet awaited. Eerie orange flames licked the outline of the structure, as if a pained memory of an old betrayal. From the top of the tower, a ball of red fire light could be seen–a ball held in the outstretched hand of a charred, wizened hag.

“Ye see me as they saw me!” she cries out, in anger or in anguish, into the winds. “This is their legacy! And now the time for games and riddles has ended. No rest! No peace! Not even in death!”

As she speaks, shapes slowly emerge from the surrounding cornstalks. Towering scarecrows, glowing skeletons, bouncing toy spiders, tottering jack-o-lanterns, and others approach you with menace in empty eyes. Whatever fate this night has in store for you, it will be made manifest here.

And with that, the orbs of fire begin to fall.

“Mad” Maud
The victim of a murder carried out by children ten years prior, the ghost of this wronged woman still clings to the place where she died. Now, empowered by the memory of her final moments, she is wreathed in hungry, spectral flames.

Realizing they were no match for the army approaching from the corn, the party raced towards the mill. The paladin tore the blackened door from its frame, and the druid cast Grasping Vines behind once they’d entered. This gave them enough time to plan their next move.

The paladin led the charge up the stairs to the fourth floor, where the vengeful spirit waited. Its wispy shape hovered over a blackened skeleton–presumably where “Mad” Maud had spent her final moments. It was clear she would not return to the grave easily.

First, a Hellish Rebuke ignited the druid in a supernatural conflagration, knocking her unconscious (and nearly killing her outright). Then, from Burning Hands, a spray of fire engulfed the rest of the party.

Fortunately, the heroes had come prepared. Though Maud’s form was ethereal, it could still be injured. The combined attacks of five adventurers did much to dissipate her wrathful form.

The final blow came from the sorceress, who reached into the specter’s thoughts with Dissonant Whispers. Suddenly, “Mad” Maud’s mind was filled with the sounds of laughing and jeering children–the last thing she had heard as she’d died in flames.

With an ear-piercing departing shriek of agony, the apparition dissipated. The haunting flames surrounding the husk of the windmill faded, and the animated contraptions outside collapsed where they stood.

Peace had once again been restored to Bayn o’Boon.

D. A Formal Invitation

As you stand together, contemplating the night’s events, three strangers ride towards you quickly atop armored mounts. The man at the fore, obviously a paladin from his many displayed crests, dismounts and greets you.

“Hail and well-met, travelers! I am Inspector Damien, an agent of Torm’s Order of the Shining Blade. We are well-known in these parts for funding universities, uncovering cults, and even giving council to kings. It is our duty to ferret out the hidden and secreted, in order to bring it to Light.

“Our diviners were only just alerted to a growing danger that lurked on these grounds, somewhere near the nearby town of Bayn o’Boon. Knowing little else, we were dispatched to investigate. However, it appears you were able to arrive first and end a threat before it became too great.

“Such initiative and fortitude shows promise. If you are interested, I would like to extend an invitation to apply for the Order. We could use more adventurers as yourself in our ranks.”

Epilogue

Mission Report – DR 1521.10.31

…having tracked the ethereal disturbance to the vicinity of the hamlet Bayn o’Boon, three agents were sent to investigate. To our surprise, we discovered a small party of adventurers that had already dispatched the threat–an old vengeful spirit that had been murdered there, ten years prior. Invitations to apply for the Order were given to all present.

Following up on the situation some time later, agents further deduced that while the old lady’s death had indeed wronged her grievously, it was not this that held her spirit to the physical world. Instead, it was the fact that the nearby villagers had never put her soul to rest. Each of their own relatives and ancestors had carefully-tended gravestones that were honored every year on this date. “Mad” Maud, on the other hand, had had no family and no one to ease her into the afterlife.

Our agents reached out to the villagers and convinced them to move Maud’s remains into a proper receptacle in their cemetery. She was interred via a proper burial ritual, and she will be honored each coming harvest festival. We trust this should prevent her spirit from rising again.

To Light and Truth!

–Inspector Damien

Investigative Squad “Chimera”
Order Headquarters, Lyrabar, Impiltur