Monday, 15 November 2010

Adventure Hook: Voices In The Dark

This has monster stats too, come to think of it. A classic "rich landowners are not to be trusted" setup.

Voices In The Dark

The Scottish Highlands. A group of backpackers trudge through a mist-shrouded valley, arguing over where the hostel is supposed to be and why they haven't found it yet, when one of them sees something gleam in the darkness, calls to the others and heads off to take a look. Then a scream echoes through the glen. Running up, his friends find no sign of him. And then something swoops down on them as well.

Two days later, Mountain Rescue are still searching along with local volunteers, including a group from St. Andrew's University lead by an expert in local history and mythology. He's heard stories like this before, legends of Fair Folk and unearthly spirits stealing people away, going back centuries, and reading a lot like reports of alien abductions from more recent decades. A group of passing travellers could be caught up in the search, or a call to UNIT could follow the reported disappearances.

The only village nearby is governed by the local Laird. He offers his manor house as a base camp for the search. He dismisses the lecturer's theory, but he knows more than he claims, revealing this accidentally when correcting the lecturer on a detail in one of his stories.

And some of the local stories involve lairds and other noblemen in league with magicians and devils. Such is the case here.

The Laird is harbouring the Leannan, an otherworldly psychic entity. Decades ago, he found the carved sacrificial stone she inhabited, broken after a cave-in, and took a piece in order to control her. He has been feeding her victims for years to give her the power to heal him of a fatal heart disease. The Laird is keeping the rest of the backpackers locked in the manor's cellar for now, hoping to barter their lives for a complete cure and an extended lifespan. But now she is powerful enough that with just a few more deaths she can take physical form and escape, kill him and take her revenge on humanity for her treatment.

Things To Do: Organise the search with the Laird's apparent help, find and free the surviving backpackers, stop the Laird and the Leannan before either of them can kill again.

Antagonists: The Leannan, a beautiful and deadly psychic "ghost". The Laird, and some of his staff like a ghillie armed with a sniper rifle. Wary local authorities might add to the complications if the characters lack apparent official backing, or if the Laird tricks them into action.

Action Scenes: Escaping through the misty woods, sneaking into Laird's manor, confronting the Laird and the Leannan.

Problems: If the Leannan escapes, she will escape to the caves under the hills, to bond with the stone she was born from. She could be impossible to reach, until she emerges at full power. If the Laird has a chance, he will raise a hue and cry among the villagers against the Leannan, or the characters if he thinks he can frame them for the deaths of the backpackers. A persuasive leader could stop this.

Things To Prepare For: Maps of the village and the manor could be helpful. The sense of isolation and wilderness, The Thirty-Nine Steps by way of The Wicker Man and The Descent, might jar with the knowledge that the group are less than twenty miles from a decent-sized city - so the Laird's men could sabotage their vehicle and cut off their communications.

Continuing the Adventure: Are there other unearthly beings waiting in the caves? Are the stories of a way to the land of the Fair Folk under the earth true? Are people taken there still alive, perhaps in stasis, years or even centuries after they vanished?


The Leannan


Awareness 3
Coordination 4
Ingenuity 3
Presence 5
Resolve 5
Strength 2


Athletics 3
Convince 4
Craft 3 (Singing and dancing)
Fighting 2
Knowledge 4
Medicine 3
Subterfuge 2

Good Traits

Fear Factor 2
Immortal (Major)
Insubstantial (Special): She can become ghostly at will, able to pass through solid objects and immune to physical attacks. She cannot fly, but she can walk on water.
Natural Weapon (Deadly Touch): The Leannan drains energy from every living thing she wishes to, causing damage up to her Resolve +2. She can use this energy to heal injuries, or to temporarily increase her Resolve up to +3. The Deadly Touch bypasses physical defences, even the armour of a Cyberman or Dalek, though a forcefield will provide protection until it is leeched of energy. Those she does not kill outright will recover at a Rate equal to half their Resolve (round down) per day of rest. She can also heal with her touch, although this costs her Resolve to do so.
Psychic (but does not receive the +4 bonus)

Bad Traits

Technically Inept
Weakness (Heart Of Stone): The Leannan is bound to a carved stone. It is susceptible to damage like any normal stone, although hard as granite, and damage done to it will remove her Strength and Coordination until it destroys her. Naturally she will attempt to hide and protect it, but it can be stolen and hidden from her while she is out hunting or musing.

Story Points


"The Leanhaun Shee (fairy mistress) seeks the love of mortals. If they refuse, she must be their slave; if they consent, they are hers, and can only escape by finding another to take their place. The fairy lives on their life, and they waste away. Death is no escape from her. She is the Gaelic muse, for she gives inspiration to those she persecutes. The Gaelic poets die young, for she is restless, and will not let them remain long on earth..."
W.B. Yeats, Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

The Leannan seems to be a spirit being, sometimes substantial, sometimes spectral, that feeds on life and love. Her victims could be drained of all life in seconds, or visited by night for months, even years. She is part physical, a psychic projection born from an ancient stone. The stone is her tether to the world, and destroying it can destroy her. Threatening it can force her to do one's bidding... but if she escapes, her vengeance will be threefold what she suffers.

Once revered as a goddess or feared as a demon, now she is a legend known only to experts in folklore - and those who have met with her.

She can appear entirely human, slender and beautiful, with auburn hair, green eyes and fair skin, traditionally wearing a green kirtle, but she is pallid and sickly unless she has fed recently. More often, she is transparent, insubstantial, faded, and then her eyes gleam like a cat's. Those who can see with more than human perception might see her as translucent and bright-eyed even in her solid state. Many artists have tried to capture her image, but few have succeeded - and to date no-one has been able to take a clear photograph of her.

As well as inspiring artists, she can also give some of her life-draining power to others. With enough sacrifices, she could provide one who traps her with unnatural health and longevity. Of course, the longer she is kept, the greater her fury and desire to escape. And if her jailor dies before she can take her revenge, she will turn on his friends and loved ones. She can wait for ever if she must...

Whatever she is now, she may once have been human, which is where her vengeful streak and tendency to toy with her prey comes from...

If the Doctor's around, she's a postcorporeal psychovore who survived the destruction of her world by taking on an insubstantial metastate and bonding with a stone which escaped the destruction and fell to Earth as a meteorite. Otherwise she's a faerie.

Thanks to allivingstone for the Deadly Touch rules.

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