Dead of Night
This adventure can take place in any town of the GM’s choosing. It can be set in most time periods.
A colony of ghouls is operating out of a local graveyard on the property of Saint Joseph’s Catholic church. They have no particular animosity toward the townspeople, but this will change if they are provoked. They are a literate group and are primarily interested in access to the local public and university libraries. They also enjoy many of the same items as humans.
A local ghoul cult collects money to fund the purchase of these items, and turns this cash over to a woman named Ronnie Pritchit, who does the shopping. Ronnie also happens to be three months pregnant with a ghoul/human hybrid. As such, the ghouls are especially protective of her.
The cemetery night caretaker, Mr. Isaac Myers, stumbled upon a ghoul emerging from a grave and was shocked into a catatonic state. He was found the following morning by the day man, Mr. Louis Fields.
The priest of the Church, Father Daniel Keller, prefers not to draw attention to the incident. Of course, it has made the local paper anyway. He knows nothing about the ghouls and attributes Mr. Myers’ experience to alcohol and imagination.
(Do not tell them why but, as the adventure begins, have the PCs each make one Detect Lies check, (defaulting to PER -6 or Psychology -4), to notice any discrepancies in the statements of those they interview. They also should each make a PER-4 check, adding any bonus for Acute Smell. Make note of those who succeed at these rolls.
Any one or more of the PCs may be in the congregation of Saint Joseph’s, a personal acquaintance of Father Keller, a person known to have some knowledge of the bizarre, etc. Father Keller will request that the PCs look into the matter, primarily to reassure Mr. Myers there is nothing to fear. The GM may also want the PCs to learn of this incident from a small article in the back pages of the local newspaper, and/or from local gossip.
Player’s Information and the Investigation Begins
The night caretaker of the cemetery at Saint Joseph’s Catholic church, Mr. Isaac Myers, was found in a catatonic state Saturday morning by the day man, Mr. Louis Fields. After recovering, Mr Myers claimed that, while working in the cemetery Friday night, he witnessed a “terrible creature that stood like a man, but had dog-like features. It smelled like mildew and a grave.”
St. Joseph’s is a moderate sized, well attended, church. There is nothing sinister here.
Father Daniel Keller: Father Keller is a gregarious white male in his late forties, of medium build and with thinning, greying, brown hair. He is happy to help the PCs in any way he can, and most of his days are occupied with writing and giving sermons and counseling church attendees. He also enjoys reading history and playing chess.
He will state that both Mr. Meyers, the night caretaker who had the incident, and Mr. Fields are both good, honest hardworking men and there has never been any trouble before. Mr. Meyers works from 8 pm to 4 am, and Mr. Fields works 4 am to noon.
Though he prefers not to cast dispersion on anyone, especially someone he respects, he ascribes Mr. Meyers’ experience to a combination of alcohol, sleepiness, and imagination.
Isaac Meyers: Mr. Meyers is a slight, agile, African American man. He seems mildly agitated, though otherwise normal. When questioned about the event, he states “I was doing my rounds and I smelled something awful, like mildew, real strong. I shined my flashlight around and there it was. It stood like a man, but was all hunched over and its face was kind of like a dog’s face. The next I remember, Isaac was waking me up.”
Mr Meyers’ breath smells like alcohol though, if asked, he claims he is not normally a drinking man. (This is true.) Isaac has no memory of where in the cemetery he was at the time.
Louis Fields: Mr. Fields is a white male, of medium build with a noticeable belly. He has a little ring of brown hair surround an otherwise bald head.
He speaks highly of Mr. Meyers, and states they get along quite well, and that Isaac is a good worker, an honest man and not much of a drinker.
Congregation: This list is not exhaustive, but gives some names to apply to various church attendees: Jason and Margaret Newman, Russell and Lindsay Anderson, Maurice and Patsy Freeman, Darcy Ertle (elderly widow), David Titoni, Ira Eisen (M), Ronnie Pritchit (F) and Leona Vallance.
All the congregation have an acceptable or high opinion of both caretakers and are concerned for Mr. Meyers.
While interviewing Ronnie Pritchit, any PCs who made the Psychology check mentioned above notice she is being evasive. Any who made the PER-4, plus any bonus for Acute Smell, will notice a faint but distinct odor of earth and mildew. If the PCs mention this, she states she has been cleaning out her basement.
Ronnie Pritchit virtually always carries a book bag, in which are several books on various topics: history, the sciences, fiction, etc as well as recent magazines and newspapers. If asked about this, she states she is a voracious reader.
Ronnie is of medium frame, and is fit. She does, however, have a bit of a belly. (She is three months pregnant with a human/ghoul hybrid.)
Following Ronnie Pritchit: Ronnie goes about her day in much the same way as anyone else. She spends time at home, goes out shopping, etc. She spends a fair amount of time in bookstores and at news stands, and makes several purchases at both. She also visits various shops, purchasing ordinary items.
The only thing unusual about Ronnie’s routine is covered in Watching the Cemetery (At Night), below.
Watching the Cemetery
During the Day: There are generally a few to several people in the cemetery during the day–visiting graves, placing flowers etc. If the PCs pay specific attention, they will notice Ronnie Pritchit does not visit the cemetery during the day.
At Night: A few people visit the cemetery at night, engaged in much the same activities as during the day. If the PCs pay specific attention, they will notice Ronnie Pritchit visits the cemetery during the night.
Ronnie has a PER of 12 with Acute Smell 2, and a Sneak of 12. Assuming they are adequately stealthy, and Ronnie doesn’t notice them, they will see her move to a far corner of the cemetery. She will be carrying her book bag and a duffle which appears to hold bulky, solid objects. Her book bag contains several books on various topics: history, the sciences, fiction, etc as well as recent magazines and newspapers. Her duffel holds a chess set, a bottle of good scotch and a US army helmet. (The helmet type is appropriate for a recent conflict.)
With a successful PER roll, adding any bonus for Acute Hearing, the PCs will hear Ronnie speaking in a low voice. With a success by four or greater, they will make out the words “I have some things for you.”
At this point, a rectangle of ground will raise upward, hinging on the cemetery side, the opening facing the fence at a distance of about six feet. If the PCs are close by, they smell an earthy, mildew odor.
In the moonlight, grey arms, ending in large, black-clawed hands, reach out from this opening and gently help Ronnie down. The hatch then closes. If examined, this spot will prove to be a cleverly placed rectangle of sod, clinging to a granite slab–2′ wide by 3′ long.
Essentially, this is a horizontal door. There is no non-destructive way to open this door from above, as it is bolted shut underneath.
Since it opens upward, the hinges are on the top. However, the hinge pins have heads at both ends so they can not simply be slid out of place. They would have to be cut with bolt cutters or loosened by smashing through the granite. Since the hinges are set against the granite, it will take a (dramatic) several moments to cut each of them. Smashing through the granite will make loud, echoing noise. It has DR: 10 HP: 80/
If the PCs have instigated hostilities against the ghouls, there will be two meeplings on guard. One will attack while the other attempts summon a ghoul from the tunnel, allowing all three to fight the PCs.
Any ghouls and/or meeplings will prioritize Ronnie’s safety.
Beneath the Granite Door: This door sits atop a frame of cement, with walls at the back, where the hinges are, and both sides. The other end slopes down, with hard-packed earthen stairs, 45̊, to a depth of 10′. This tunnel, therefore, runs beneath the alley.
This tunnel is dark and the PCs must use some sort of artificial light. No matter the time of day, after twenty feet of travel in the tunnel, the darkness penalty is -10. (The author halves this, so that -5 is the darkest it gets, prior to complete darkness.) Remember to check for fear of darkness and/or claustrophobia.
Anyone traveling along this tunnel for at least twenty feet must make a Will roll, plus any bonus for Magic Resistance. If this roll is failed, they must make a PER roll. If this roll is failed, they are somewhat confused about where they are and how to get back. This is negated by Absolute Direction level 1 (5 points) however, Absolute Direction only helps on this first attempt. Each time these rolls are required, the PCs feel increasingly sleepy.
If the PCs continue, this process repeats, with an cumulative -1 to the Will and PER rolls, until a third consecutive PER roll failure. (This means those with Absolute Direction are allowed a fourth failure.)
After two (or three, for those with Absolute Direction) PER failures, the PCs can still find their way back, though this will take some time and should be depicted in a dramatic fashion. Remember to check for fear of darkness and/or claustrophobia.
After three (or four, for those with Absolute Direction) PER failures, the PCs are utterly lost and can only find their way back with the help of Ronnie or a ghoul. If the PCs have instigated hostilities against the ghouls, they will instead be attacked–in which case they will be killed, hopelessly lost and/or taken to a vast cave, filled with a gray light and filled with ghouls. This is the home of the ghouls in the Dreamlands. This ends the scenario.
During the Day: Ronnie Pritchit lives in a moderate sized house. The outside is entirely normal, with a yard, a garden, a one-car garage and no pets. She is in and out at various times, as in “Following Ronnie Pritchit,” above.
At Night: Quite often, Ronnie stays in, unless she goes out for a walk. Sometimes these walks are ordinary. More often, she goes to the cemetery. See “Watching the Cemetery: At Night, above”
Also, every few nights, a man will arrive and knock on Ronnie’s door. When she answers, he hands her a small canvas bag, such as bank customers use to carry cash. In this bag are several hundred dollars. This man is Roger Thompson, who is a member of the local ghoul cult. The money is collected from members to fund Ronnie’s shopping.
Breaking in to Ronnie’s House: Ronnie’s doors and windows are locked but the locks are pretty basic. The basement doors are bolted and rusted, so the glass would have to be broken–they’re also fairly small so only someone with neither a positive size modifier nor ST above 10 can enter, and the shards will “attack” with an effective skill of 12, allowing no defense roll, for 1d-3 cut damage.
The ground floor: is entirely mundane.
1. Living room, with closet.
2. Dining room.
4. Kitchen, with stairs to basement.
5. This space contains a desk and various items for a newborn: a crib, baby clothes, diapers etc.
The Basement: Furnace, laundry facilities, several tables piled with various items and an ice box. On the tables are: several books on various topics: history, the sciences, fiction, etc as well as recent magazines and newspapers, two clipboards, a frog in a bottle of formaldehyde, a t-square, a spinning wheel, six blank journals and a 2′ tall, white ceramic vase.
In the icebox are two, matching, human thighs: meat, bone and all.
Advancing the Plot
Here are some possible results and situations that can occur in response to PC activity or in case the GM needs to move the action along.
Breaking into Ronnie’s house: This option assumes the police are not involved in the cult. The GM may wish to have the police arrive. They could be summoned by a neighbor, happen to be nearby etc. When the police contact Ronnie, she will tell them the PCs are friends of hers and had permission to be in her home. She will then confront them, demanding to know what they are up to.
Threatening Ronnie: This option assumes that some members of the police are involved in the cult. The GM should not simply allow the police to find and arrest all the PCs, thus ending the scenario prematurely and in a very anticlimactic way.
Still the police might threaten the PCs, bring them to the graveyard to speak with the ghouls or anything the GM feels appropriate. It is probably best for the police to capture only some of the PCs, thus allowing for a rescue attempt and/or hostage exchange.
Smashing the granite door: Gets the notice of ghouls and possibly cultists. They will, most like, approach to discuss the situation, but the PCs may or may not react well.
Attacking the ghouls: Naturally, this negates any possibility of peaceful resolution.
Ghoul: 6′, 200#, dog-like humanoid Dodge: 9 Parry: 10 Block: 7
Basic Speed: 6.75 Move: 6
HP: 17 0/-17/-34/-51/-68/-85
Advantages: Amidexterity, DR: 6 imp and pi types only, DR: 2, Darkvision, World tunnel, Nictitating membrane 2, Immune to most toxins, Terror: Will -0
Skills: Climbing 12, Stealth 16
Disadvantages: Appearance (monstrous), Bad smell, Disturbing voice, Frightens animals, Hunchback,Odious personal habit (eats humans), Restricted diet (human corpses)
Punch 14 1D+1 cut (parry 9)
Bite 14 1D+1 cut
Kick 12 1D+2 cut
Bone club swing 12 3D cr (parry 10)
Bone club thrust 12 1D+3 cr (parry 10)
Languages: Ghouls speak a language of their own and any other the GM feels is appropriate.
Ghoul Meeplings: 4′, 110#, dog-like humanoid Dodge: 8 Parry: 10 Block: 7
Basic Speed: 5,75 Move: 5
HP: 12 0/-12/-24/-36/-48/-60
Advantages: DR 6 v imp and pi, DR 2, Darkvision, Jumper world tunnels, Nictitating membrane 2, Immune to most toxins, Temperature tolerance 1, Terror Will -0, Tunneling Move +4
Skills: Climbing 12, Stealth 16
Disadvantages: Appearance (Monstrous), Bad smell, Disturbing voice, Frightens animals, Hunchback, Odious personal habit (eats humans), Restricted diet (human corpses)
Punch 14 1D-2 cut
Bite 14 1D-2 cut
Kick 12 1D-1 cut
Bone Club swing 12 1D+3 cr
Bone Club thrust 12 1D+3 cr
Languages: Ghoul and any other at GM’s discretion
Assume the ghoul cult contains people from various walks of life–accountants, taxi drivers etc, but that any who are sent against the PCs are society’s “cast offs,” the homeless, poor etc.
Basic Speed: 5 Move: 5
HP: 10 0/-10/-20/-30/-40/-50
Punch 10 1d-3
Kick 8 1d-2
Bat/club sw 9 1d+2 cr
Bat/club thr 9 1d cr
Knife sw 10 1d-2 cut (parry 7)
Knife thr 10 1d-2
Knife throw 6 1d-2 imp
At 0 or fewer HP, roll each turn to remain conscious.
Make a death check at -10, -20, -#30, -40 and die at -50
Languages: English, ghoul, etc