The Haunted Valley
What is this:
This is a supernatural and mystery setting inspired primarily by Clark Ashton Smith's Auveroigne, Hammer Horror films of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, the film Brotherhood of the Wolf, and probably a bit of Dark Shadows as well.
The setting itself is a small haunted French valley in the year 1627 AD. Originally I had intended to make the valley generic in descriptions of year and trappings so that it could be set anywhere from dark ages to the 1800's but I set that aside as I found setting in a specific year and location gave me more focus. It can easily be set in other times and places with simple name and equipment changes.
I will be adding posts to this as I go. First up is the valley itself followed by the village of Geron. I will be adding in lists of creatures, NPC's, mysteries to explore (including the ultimate mystery of how the valley was cursed and what can be done to end it) and NPC's. I'll also include a few ideas on how and why the PC's would be sent to or be interested in exploring Geron.
The Valley (Known colloquially as the Valley of Wolves)
Forests, marsh, hills, river.
Roads, ruins, farms, fields.
Village of Geron
The Valley is divided into Six sections:
The West Wood
A thick hilly forest. Bordered by the West Trade Road, the South Trade Road, and the River on the south. A large area near Geron has been leveled and turned into fields by the local farmers.
Former meeting place of the now defunct witch coven. Stone pillars on the tall hill were used for diabolic rituals, sabbaths, and sacrifices. The stone alter is hollow with a sliding stone top to hide the coven's long forgotten ritual items. Few have the nerve to go to the mound.
The Moon Pool
A clear pool of water fed by an underground spring. Said to be haunted by elves and other fairies on moonlit nights. A Celtic cross, worn with age and partially covered with moss and weeds, stands at the edge of the forest just south of the pool. This marks an ancient battle site with the Romans. Ancient corpses are buried in the ground near the marker. Buried with them is an unrusted gladius, a +1 Roman short sword of some long dead Roman officer.
This hill is the burial mound of a long forgotten noble. A mudside revealed the brick and timbers of the tomb's opening in the side of the hill.
The Wolf Wood
Thick woodland bordered on the north by the West Trade Road and on the south by the River.
A few half standing stone walls and rubble of an unknown people and time. Crude cavings of wolves and human-like figures with wolf heads decorate the walls. Many wolf trails cut through the forest here.
The largest wolf pack lairs in a man-made stone grotto beneath a low hill. The cave is of the same construction as the ruins. Chewed bones of men and animals lie strewn around the mossy ground and grotto. No man who has back trailed to the cave have ever left alive.
The Old Forest
Heavily mossy forest bordered by the North Trade Road, The East Trade Road, and the mountains to the north. A series of large hills lies to the north of the East Trade Road. Large portion has been cleared for fields near the village. Scarecrows dot the road running past the fields.
An ogre lairs in a ruined stone temple overgrown by the forest in the trade road hills. The ancient temple is little more than a knocked over pile of stone walls and rubble with a large pit covered by the fractured masonry. Part of the pit is filled with rank green water from the frequent rainfall. The ogre came down from the mountains in search of food and discovering the ruined temple decided it would remain. It usually only comes out at night and, other than the occasional massive footprint and other spoor, has managed to keep its presence hidden. It survives by preying on wild boor, deer, sheep, and the occasional traveler on the trade roads.
The Eastern Wood
The trees in this wood are large and seem to have an air of menace, little sunlight gets through the canopy and mists often drift through the forest from the large Marsh. Bordered by the East Trade Road to the north and the River to the south.
The Hanging Tree
This ancient gnarled tree sits less than a hundred feet off of the South Trade Road. It has been used for generations to execute highwaymen and other criminals in the village and surrounding farms. It is rumored that on certain nights the ghost of one of the condemned appears in its noose and can be compelled to answer questions not known by living men.
The Hermit's Lair
A crumbling mossy hut of the mad hermit Gaston. The hut is hidden away in a dense stand of bushes and protected by thorns. All manner of junk, rags, bone, and other trash is stuffed in the small squalid shack. Gaston is mostly here at night or during severe weather. He spends most of his times wandering and watching.
The Darken Woods
A dense grove of enormous trees which is shrouded in perpetual darkness from the thick canopy of leaves. Only wolves dare enter the grove. This is the location of the hidden cursed tower which has infected the valley. (More later.)
A fetid stretch of water and rotting vegetation overhung by the trees. The water is rarely more than knee-deep but ravel on foot is slow due to the mud and muck. The are is overrun with frogs, snakes, turtles, and insects. Two raised hills form a dry island in the center. A ruined and long abandoned monastery and above ground tomb sits on the island.
Mother Toad's Home
On the western edge of the Marsh sits a small cabin made of moss covered logs, mud, stone, and cured hides. This is the abode of the ancient crone known in the village as Mother Toad. Thousands of frogs and toads swarm the waters behind her home.
The Southern Wood, beyond the River
This sparse lightly-wooded area is divided by the South Trade Road. The forest is noticeably less dense and many remark that is is less 'sinister' than those across the River.
Not far from the River bridge is a semi-permanent camp site for the wanderers. There is a permanent stone fire circle and clearing cut from the trees. The Gypsies rarely cross the River towards Geron for goods and trade.
The Village of Geron
Detailed in the next post.
Example of Encounters in the Valley
Day time Travel, 1-2 on a 1d6. Check every hour.
1. Lone wolf watching the party. He will keep an eye on the party from afar, scouting for his pack. After an hour he will lead his mates to ambush the party.
2. Animal (see below)
3. Animal (see below)
4. Men (see below)
5. Men (see below)
6. Men (see below)
7. Broken wagon off of the trail (see below)
8. Corpse. 1-5 animal, 6 human (see below)
9. Abandoned campsite. Old fire pit, rusty pants, etc. A short way into the woods there are chewed human bones scattered around a ragged blanket. A wolf pack vicim.
10. Old Ogre tracks. A trampled pile of crushed bones, rags, etc amid huge footprints.
1. Merchant. A travelling merchant with a cart and pony. He has basic goods but no weapons or armor.
2. Monks/Friars. Travelling either to or from a distant monastery for or from a visit. (1d6 encountered)
3. Woodcutter/Charcoal-man. Native to the valley. Will be helpful but eager to get home before dark. Not fan of the village.
4. Hunter. Watching from the forest. Friendly but cautious. Warns that he village is an unpleasant place filled with strange and wicked people.
5. Town Guard. Arrogant and refusing to give way on the road. Dicks. (1d6 encountered)
6. Farmer. Cautious and superstitious. Would rather avoid the party.
7. Bandits. Jump out from the woods. Demand payment to pass. Will flee after taking a few licks. (1d6 encountered)
8. Vagabond. A poor beggar travelling farm to farm, town to town. Will eagerly help the party with tasks and act as a guide for a few pennies.
9. Entertainers. A group of jongleurs: clowns, jugglers, story tellers, puppeteers, etc. They have never been to the village before and would appreciate travelling with the party. (1d6 encountered)
10. Gypsies. On their way to Geron to trade for medicine for a sick boy. They will also buy or trade for wine. Will happily engage in games of chance. (1d6 encountered)
1. Snake. The viper has a 1-4 chance to surprise a party member. If struck and a Saving throw is failed the character has 1d4 hours to find help (either magically or a anti-venom brew from Mother Toad) or die.
2. Hawk. The hawk curiously swirls around the party. Any small pets or other animals are fair game to the hawk.
3. Boar. The swine bursts from the forest surprising on a 1-3 and attacks the party as it defends its territory.
4. Deer. A possible meal, watching from the forest.
5. Bear. It will threaten but not attack unless the party does.
6. Skunk. The party stumbles into the skunks path and freaks him out. One random PC gets sprayed. He will smell horribly and cannot surprise any foe until the smell is removed. This takes 1d4 days of staying bathed. If using tomato juice it takes only 1d2 days.
1-4 looted. 5-6 not looted (1d6 gold pieces, 1d8 silver pieces, possible special item placed by DM). No bodies, blood, etc.
1-4 looted. 5-6 not looted (1d6 gold pieces, 1d8 silver pieces, possible armor, weapons, or special item placed by DM.)
Night time Travel, 1-3 on a 1d6. Check every 2 hours.
1. Batswarm. Fly in low and attack for three rounds and then flee into the night.
2. Hungry wolf pack. The pack will circle seeking to take down one person to drag off into the woods for a meal.
3. Animal (see above)
4. Men (see above)
5. Fearful animal (see above)
6. Human corpse hanging in a tree (see above)
7. Corpse: 1-5 animal, 6 human (see above)
8. Witchfire in the trees. Dancing through the tree tops in the forest. The party must each make a Saving throw or be at a -2/10 percent penalty to rolls til dawn.
9. Bloody white horse. He has lost 1d6 hit points from a wolf attack. The animal comes up to the party seeking aide and will let them saddle and ride him.
10. Special (see below)
Night time Camping, 1-2 on a 1d6. Check every 2 hours.
1. Batswarm. Fly in low and attack those in camp for three rounds and then flee into the night.
2. Hungry wolf pack. The pack will circle the camp seeking to take down one person to drag off into the woods for a meal.
3. Men (bandits). The bandits will sneak up and look for an opportune time to surprise and attack the party. They are masked and only with to take the party's wealth not kill all of them.
4. Fearful animal (see above). A loud crashing in the trees is the herald of a frightened animal which blunders into the camp. If the party gets in its way or attacks it it will fight for three rounds and then try to flee.
5. Witchfire in the trees. Dancing through the tree tops in the forest. The party must each make a Saving throw or be at a -2/10 percent penalty to rolls til dawn.
6. A slight rain begins and fog moves in reducing visibility to 30' until dawn. The odds of surprise for anyone or anything coming into camp are now 1-3 on a 1d6.
7. The campfire sputters and sparks as if it going to go out. It then burns with and intense green fire. Unless put out it draws an encounter from
8. Something big in the treetops flies away waking sleeping party members as a chill descends from the tree tops.
9. Fell chanting on the wind. Each party member must make a Saving throw or be struck with a Sleep spell. They can be shaken awake by party members unaffected.
10. Special (see below)
⦁ Procession of ghosts moving through the trees before disappearing. If asked a question or bothered in any way all stop, stare and then point towards the direction of the Devyll's Mound. They were sacrificial victims of the witch coven.
⦁ Graveyard Revenant hunting for blood. One of Old Svalovich's victims that has recently clawed out of its grave for a midnight snack. It will try to drink the blood of a sleeping party member.
⦁ The Midnight Cat watching the party. The Cat is sizing the party up, figuring a way to use them for revenge against the Guard Captain for his deceased mistress. He will let them see him before disappearing.
⦁ The Rider and Hellhounds. The wind rises and the sound of baying and horse hooves pound through the forest. The Rider is coming for the PC's souls.
⦁ The Mad Hermit. Mad Gaston hails the party and asks for food and wine. If they are kind to him he is willng to lend them assistance in the future.
⦁ A pack of ghouls prowling the woods. They seek to surprise the party, convert them to corpses, and let them rot for a later meal.