Friday, February 10, 2017

Haunted Valley: Locales and Villagers of Geron

Geron, France
1627 AD

Geron, 136 souls.
Surrounding farms and valley, roughly 230 souls.
Fishers, farmers, hunters, wood cutters/charcoal men, traders, merchants.

The village is isolated and has a dark reputation with neighboring communities outside of the valley. Few travelling merchants and traders will come to the village and only hastily travel through the area when necessary. Those from the valley who go outside to trade are unwelcome and held in suspicion. They are given the lowest prices when they sell their goods and are overcharged when they buy. A passenger coach runs through north/south trade roads but rarely stops for more than a two hour rest. Travelers are rare.

Villagers of Note
Eurys the Mouse, 37
Appears friendly and meek, with apron and hat covered with flower.
He is the one who killed the Ghost in the cemetery years ago when he was a young man. He keeps a torn out lock of her hair as  trophy. He was seen by the gravedigger Pippin while burying her body in a freshly dug grave recently filled. Pippin has blackmailed him for years. The stress of this and the influence of the cursed valley over the years has slowly eroded his sanity and has  begun to transform him into a Boogeyman. Soon he will complete the transformation and have to kill again. He has already begun to follow one of the tavern maids at night. He is also dreaming of killing Pippin.

Rolf Muller, 48
German by birth he has fled the wars which plague his homeland. Large, bearded, sweaty. He is gruff but professional. He was a member of the witch coven, drawn in by the advances of the witch Yolanda. He is terrified that someone will find out about his involvement and is desperate to keep it a secret. He will kill to do this.

Etaine, 33
A long fingered and pale man. He is secretly in the employ of the Infernal Emissary though he does not know his identity. When the "werewolf" Jaques Savoy was hanged Etaine removed the corpse's left hand to make a hand of glory for his master. Unknown to him the Friar Eric was the illegitimate son of Jaques and has secretly vowed to find and kill the man who took his father's hand.

Clergy (Franciscan)
Father Olwyn, 52
Frail, disheveled, rarely leaves the church. Olwyn has been tainted by the valley curse causing him to give into his temptations by having an affair with one of the villager's wife and to be tormented with visions of Hell in his dreams. The stress is driving him slowly mad. He has begun to hear voices in his waking hours urging him to commit vile acts. He is served by and sometimes cared for by his Friars Martin and Eric.

Friar Martin, 24
A quiet and mostly faithful servant of God he has begun to worry about Father Olwyn whom he is devoted to as much as the church. He is superstitious and afraid of most things outside the church walls.

Friar Eric, 25
The illegitimate and secret son of the hanged "werewolf" Jaques Savoy. His mother made him aware of his father and his fate. Eric has begun dreaming of his father in Hell, holding a bleeding stump and calling his name. He has become obsessed with finding the man who mutilated his father's corpse. He will then savagely try to murder the culprit.

Grave Digger
Pippin the Lame, 34
A tall, thin gruesome man with a club foot and a limp. He has been in charge of digging and maintaining graves in Geron for many years. He hates those around him, especially those who tortured and mocked him for his deformity as a child, and has readily turned to evil and depravity sometimes playing with the corpses before burial. He is blackmailing the baker Eurys after witnessing the man bury the body of the little girl's ghosts many years ago and sometimes steals skin in exchange for coins from Benoist the tanner. He has seen the Little Girl's Ghost over the years but ignores her.

Guard Barracks
Captain Julian, 41
A disgraced officer full of bitterness and cruelty he was demoted as punishment for scarring the son of a senior officer in a duel. He ended up in backwater Geron. After hearing rumors he discovered the coven at Devyll's Mound and, after trailing her from the site,  tried to strike a deal with the witch Yolanda wanting her to ally with him and use her magics to regain his rank and social standing. She instead betrayed him and tried to enslave him. He broke free of her power and with the help of the garrison attacked the coven at one of their sabbaths, killing and unmasking Old Svalovich, and capturing Yolanda, burning her at the stake in the Town Square and refusing to allow any to bury her bones. They still lie at the base of the burned stake. He is aware that members of the coven are still in the area but as long as they do not cause disturbances he will not seek them out. They are of no use to him. He is currently occupied with thoughts of revenge for his situation and collecting a percentage of the loot by the mercenaries/bandits robbing travelers. He allows them to operate in the valley for his split and under the condition that no citizens of Geron and the valley are robbed or molested.

Captain Julian is served by a number of soldiers (four to five  per PC) of questionable hygiene and morality. His Sergeant, Andres, is a hulking brute of a man who enjoys violence, gambling, and drinking. He is frequently found in the tavern engaged in a game of cards or dice with the trader Lazlo.

Reynauld Aubrie, 43
An sickly but average looking man of means. He is always dressed in fine clothing and wears a glove on his left hand, crippled in a fire years earlier in Paris. Aubrie was born in Geron but spent his youth in Paris with his uncle after his parents diet in an outbreak of plague. He returned to Geron years later and reopened his father's mercantile. He is a successful merchant dealing in wine, spices, wool, cloth, oil, and all manner of small goods. He has his supplies shipped in from outside the valley every few months via traders on the roads. He has made many friends in the tavern and has become a prominent citizen. His word carries much weight with the villagers and Captain Julian.

Reynauld Aubrie is secretly an Infernal Emissary. He was inducted into a satanic coven in his youth by his Parisian uncle and rapidly rose in the ranks, eventually killing his own uncle to take control of the coven and serving as his master's servant on Earth. His left hand is twisted and blackened marking his devotion to the Devil. Leaving the Parisian coven he returned to Geron, drawn by the valley's evil. He has been carefully watching the goings on in the valley with his magics and is aware of most of the supernatural creatures and events in the valley. He is unaware of the tower or the curse over the valley and seeks to find out what happened. He is thoroughly diabolic, seeking to manipulate the inhabitants of the valley further down the road of corruption and evil and to sell their souls to his master for favors. When he finds those hidden members of the coven which still reside in the valley he will force them to serve him.

Dr. Elloi Reno, 62
Old, thin with wild white hair, and walks with a cane. Dr. Reno is retired having in his youth and serving as a military surgeon in the wars. Financially well off he treats any serious local injuries and ailments for very little, often a chicken or loaf of bread. He has seen many strange things in his years of retirement in Geron and keeps curiosities from unusual cases he has treated. A number of deformed babies are pickled in jars in his study along with other anatomy specimins and records in his journals.

Benoist, 31
A rotund bald man Benoist is a master leather worker and a decent taxidermist. He provides much of the leather clothing, belts, saddles, satchels, quivers, sheaths, and other items for the village. Benoist has a dark obsession, the tanning of human flesh. He will pay Pippin the gravedigger for specimens of perfect skin, usually from young girls or women whom have died from  the village or the nearby farms. Benoist will tan them and sew them into clothing which he stores in special chests in his cellar. On nights of the full moon he will sometimes sneak off to the Moon Pool and put on his special clothes, drink a bottle of wine, and dream about meeting fairies while gazing at the moon.

If Pippin is murdered by Eurys for blackmailing him, Benoist will become desperate and will have to find a way to obtain fresh pretty skin on is own. He will have no choice, his obsession will drive him to this.

Tavern, "The Fatted Calf"
Jean and Hilda Babineau, 30's
A friendly coupe they are the owners of the only tavern in Geron. Their home-brewed wine and beer is excellent and Hilda is a wonderful cook. They are careful around the town guardsmen who drink here as they fear the drunken louts will become violent. They are suspicious of strangers but have a few rooms for rent upstairs for the rare traveler to stay the night. When the tavern closes for business and the guests are tucked away in their rooms Jean and Hilda's true natures come out. The are masochists and, in the privacy of the tavern's large cellar will strip and whip the servant girls savagely for the slightest fault in their service during the day. They will often lick the girl's wounds and cut each other as well. If they have whipped the girls too much they will allow them to heal, buying a small animal from a local hunter, usually a cat or rabbit or the rare dog, and torture it to death. The neighbors sometimes hear the muffled cries from the cellar but mind their own business. Occasionally a foolish traveler who stays at the tavern goes missing from the the Fatted Calf never to be seen again and his coins hidden in Jean's in a hidey hole he has behind one of the cellar's wall. The victim's flesh secretly ends up in the stew, the offal is thrown in the forest for the wolves or in a convenient pig pen, and the bones end up in an abandoned well not far from the Hanging Tree.

Etta and Sabine, 20's
Slightly above average local women they work at the tavern as serving girls. They have lived a hard life working at the tavern and will make the occasional coin by bedding the lonely locals and guardsmen. Their backs are scarred from the whippings given by Jean and Hilda. They manage to hide their despair during their work but sometimes slip and are punished for it with the whip. They are terrified of the Babineau's and fear they will be killed by them if they reveal their secrets. They share a room in the back of the tavern.

Roche the Barkeep, 41
A former sailor who murdered a mate in Marseilles and fled north ending up in Geron. He is an excellent brewer and serves as the barkeep. He despises the locals, enjoying busting the heads of local drunks, the wine is good and he enjoys a liaison with some of the women in the village now and again. He has heard the noise from the cellar and has seen the sobbing girls but as long as he is left alone he feels it is not his concern. He lives in a small room next to the girls.

Town Square
A large open are in the center of the village. The cobblestone square contains a horse trough filled with water, a large stone-lined well, a pair of stout wooden stocks, and a burned wooden stake with the witch Yolanda's blackened bones and skull at its base. Traders and merchants set up wares here selling firewood, charcoal, furs, fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat among other goods.

Lazlo, 53
Tall, bulky, and swarthy Lazlo is a half-gypsy kicked out of his mother's tribe for attacking and robbing a fellow gypsy. He traveled for years working for a travelling merchant and eventually poisoned the old man and taking his business. He ended up in Geron several years ago, drawn to the area, and set up shop as a trader. He specializes in furs, gold, gems, firearms, shot, and powder. Lazlo enjoys drinking and gambling with the Guard Sergeant Andres and has a tendency to cheat. He gets mean when he drinks.

Those Who Live Nearby
The Mad Hermit
Gaston, 67
A thin, ragged, dirty, old man with a wild hair and beard. Gaston was the child of a farmer whose family died in a fire. Gaston was taken in by an abusive aunt. He fled his new home shortly after and began living in the Eastern Woods. He has lived there for almost 60 years sometimes begging and sometimes creeping around the village watching people. In that time he has seen and learned many things about the valley and its residents. He has seen the Ogre stalking at night. He has seen the Dark Rider and its hounds on its midnight ride. He spied on the witch coven when they danced on the Devyll's Mound. It was here that he saw the leaders of the coven, Yolanda and Old Svalovich, now a revenant in the town cemetery. It was at the Mound that he found Old Svalovich's journal and learned of the hidden Tower in the Eastern Woods. Gaston is a friend of Mother Toad and frequent visitor to her abode.

The Old Crone
Mother Toad, 89
An ancient toad-like crone living in a decrepit house on the edge of the Marsh. Mother is rumored to be a witch but this is not true. She is a healer and wise woman and for a bit of coin, a favor, or food she will help those in need with a charm, a potion, or other treatment that Doctor Reno cannot or will not help with. The Marsh behind her home is filled the bones of animals and unwanted babies. Living in the pond and around her home are  thousands of frogs and toads who will defend her if she is attacked, attempting to smother and drown her attacker(s). She knows many secrets of the valley and is a friend of the mad hermit Gaston.

The Deceased Whom Still Leave Their Mark
Old Svalovich and Yolanda
A refugee from the land of Serbia Svalovich was cast out from his native land as a heretic and devil worshiper. He came to Geron a decade ago, drawn to the valley's darkness. He set up shop as a cobbler and began to quietly recruit members of a new witch coven among the lost and disillusioned residents of the valley. One of his first converts was the midwife Yolanda. She soon grew in power and  lead the coven with the old man as secret lover. The coven grew over the years and they held their rites up on Devyll's Mound dancing with demons and sacrificing souls to their dark lord and master. Members were carefully masked, even from each other, and none could say who was a witch and who was not. Rumors of devil worship and hidden rites spread throughout the valley and beyond but none could be identified and the inhabitants were too fearful to try. This all came crashinig down with the arrival of Captain Julian. His betrayal at the hands of Yolanda prompted the destruction of the coven as Svalovich was killed on the Mound and Yolanda dragged to the Town Square and burned alive.

Svalovich rose as a revenant (vampyr) a month later and has been haunting the village since, greatly reduced from what he was in life. Yolanda remains dead but her familiar was a Midnight Cat, Albraxius,  and it seeks revenge on the Captain, trying to find a way and manipulate others in this task. PC's who acquire and cast a Speak with Dead spell on her bones can speak with her. She knows a few of the secrets of the valley (DM's discretion.) She does know that Svalovich kept a journal and spoke of a ghostly tower he had seen in the valley. (The curse of the tower causes them to forget its location. Svalovich did write in his journal before he forgot.)

The Little Girl's Ghost in the Graveyard
The young victim of Eurys the Mouse all those years past. He kidnapped the young farmgirl, torturing and killing her before burying her in a freshly filled grave, just above the grave's occupant. He took a lock of her hair as a trophy.

She has been seen by a number of villagers and the Gravedigger Pippin. She can only appear on certain nights, phasing in and out of sight, confined to the cemetery. She has no voice to speak and can only communicate with frantic gestures for a short time but phases out of reality before her message can be conveyed. Those with an item such as dust of appearance or a head of revelation can see her long enough for her to lead them to the grave and plead with gestures to dig it up. Her withered corpse is clearly missing a lock of hair and it can be used to track down her killer, especially if Eurys loses control before this and kills another girl and takes her hair as well.

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