… beasts spawned by hell! They walk like men but don’t let that fool you. They are monsters! They ate my cousin! Those bastards devoured him before me!
Every city proudly professes its myths and tales as its own. Some may even become non-material landmarks of important places. Verbal chronicles that help local lore and part of history survive the passage of time. And the case is no different for the good folk living in Woodpine Village, located next to Evergreen Woods. Here, as children go to bed, parents tell cautionary tales of witches. There are countless versions and names for the witches. But all of them share one thing in common: the little ones that misbehave are taken to the woods and devoured alive!
A Myth Come True
Two months ago, three young men with a foolhardy attitude entered Evergreen Woods. They should have known better… Woodpine Village tales, which they heard in their childhood, hide a nugget of truth. There are indeed hags that lurk in the deepest part of the forest.
The naive lads looked for a treasure after being tipped by an old woman the day before. Little did they know that this frail lady was one of the witches… The hag underestimated them though; the three of them were tougher than she thought and they scarred her face. It was an unexpected and undesired outcome for the ravenous hag. She stopped playing with her prey and took revenge for their insolence. The hag cursed them with a hideous hex and turned them into merciless monsters.
It was worst than death. Of the three young men who bravely confronted the witch, almost nothing remained. Their minds were void of thought, empty. Their bodies became green carcasses, crude vestiges of human life.
|It is said that witches roam Evergreen woods at night. People claim someone must have angered them. That must be the reason for the recent killing spree.
|Most people in Woodpine Village fear the woods. They say that whoever enters will be most likely eaten by hags.
|Children and old people are the victims of the recent kidnappings and disappearances. Some believe they still live but the majority of folk do not hold that much hope.
|Witches’ stories are antediluvian. But never before did the people of Woodpine Village suffer this many losses.
A life of adventure begins! The first stop is Woodpine Village. When the characters get here, the village folk approach and ask for the characters’ help. The heroes then learn of their current situation (see Rumors).
Hunters. An envoy from the capital has the means to hire the best mercenaries available to deal with this problem. Trenton, the city’s bailiff, believes a witch is behind the recent disappearances. He offers a hefty reward to whoever brings the witch’s head (30 gp, 3 XP).
Hope. Alphonse, the town speaker, is the father of one of the young men that got lost two months ago (see A Myth Come True). He gathers all the gold he can from among the villagers. They all beg the heroes to ignore the bailiff’s assumptions and look for their loved ones. A survivor claims it was not a witch who attacked him and his friends. Alphonse believes that whoever is behind the murders may also be a hapless victim (10 gp, 1 XP).
Level 1 Adventure
- Danger. Risky. Check for a random event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
- Light. Even during the day, the dense trees and foliage cover the sunlight. Traveling through Evergreen Woods at night requires torches or lamps. All denizens or monsters within the forest are dark-adapted.
|RANDOM EVENTS d6
|A swarm of centipedes is on their way to a pile of bones. They detect the characters and attack them instead.
|A group of three apes appears. They are not hostile unless provoked. They just want food and leave if fed.
|The characters find two bear cubs. Their territorial mother (brown bear) is 50 feet behind them. It attacks the characters if they interact with the cubs in any way.
|The characters stumble upon the nest of a jungle reptile (cobra snake). The scaled creature defends its eggs if the intruders approach to interact with its nest.
|A pack of six wolves prey on the characters. The pack attempts to surprise them. The heroes are ambushed unless they notice the stealthy canines (DC 15 WIS).
|The characters stumble upon one of the three beastmen. After a little hesitation, it attacks but flees when injured.
1. Forest Trails
The characters end up at one of these three paths after following the villagers’ instructions and the footprints on the ground. Roll once on the Random Events table.
2. First Clearing
If the characters search this area (DC 13 WIS), they find several random objects: a couple of feathers, lizard scales, a human finger, tufts of hair, and other unorthodox ingredients. A person with basic knowledge of magic identifies these as sorcery components (DC 12 INT).
3. Pile of Bones (East)
The grass has started to grow around the bones, grappling them, and forming an eerie shrine to death.
- Clues. It takes 1 crawling round to investigate the pile of bones. Most of the remains are humanoid (human and elvish). Strangely enough, the bite marks suggest an almost human-sized mandible or set of teeth.
4. Second Clearing
If the characters search this area (DC 13 WIS), they find several footprints of humanoid creatures that lead to area 7. Roll once on the Random Events table.
5. Pile of Bones (West)
A flock of carrion birds eats the remains. The swarm of carrion crows attacks the characters if they come within 10 feet of it. Use the stats of a swarm of bats.
- Clues. The characters cannot investigate the bones until they deal with the birds. It takes 1 crawling round to inspect the remains. Half-buried among the bones, the heroes find a silver ring (1 gp), a piece of a leather apron, a backpack torn in two, some wooden utensils, a dagger, and several torn and blood-stained pieces of clothing. They belonged to people from Woodpine Village. The three witchcraft-created beastmen are responsible for these deaths. The tracks and signs on the ground suggest the victims were dragged and devoured here.
6. Cave and Secret Passage
The monsters created by the witch live in the cavern (area 8). From there, they unconsciously started to dig a tunnel to join area 6 to their cave. When finished, this grants them another entrance to their home.
- Weak Wall. The characters may notice the west side of the cavern looks frail. It takes 1 crawling round to strike enough hits with a spade, hammer, or a similar tool and remove the debris to form a tunnel. The three beastmen in area 8 are alerted by the sound of this.
7. Pile of Bones (Caverns)
The beginning of this small cavern network has a main chamber with two alcoves north and east. Patches of grass and moss grow within. But the main feature is the large pile of bones. It takes 1 crawling round to inspect the bones. The characters identify this as the main feeding chamber. Here lie the bones of the most recent victims; ants and flies flood the sad remnants of life.
8. Cave of the Cursed
The characters find the three young men that antagonized the witch, or at least, what remains of them. Their skin is green and hardened, they lost their hair and developed grim, devilish features. The three beastmen stand their ground and defend their home with their lives. They know no fear and cannot be reasoned with.
- Alternative. If the characters were hired by Alphonse, they might seek a better solution: they can knock the monsters out instead of killing them outright. While unconscious, a cleric may cast a protection from evil spell to break the hex and free the lads from damnation.
This allows the three young men to come back to normal. They need a full week of rest and care to regain their strength and clean their bodies of their horrid diet. However, even with no recollection of what happened or what they did, their lives shall never be the same.
The characters reach the end of this adventure and face the consequences of their valiant deeds.
- Witch Hunters. The characters came for the head of a monster and shall not return without one. Trenton, the bailiff, is happy to know the culprits were stopped, witch or not. He pays the heroes their reward but the people of Woodpine Village kindly ask them to go. They are not welcome after displaying Alphonse’s son’s head.
- Agents of Good. The city’s bailiff wants to process and judge the three young men after hearing what happened from the characters. Alphonse begs the heroes to hunt the witch for good so the bailiff leaves his son and his friends alone. That is an adventure for another day…