Wednesday 30 September 2020

Some Encounters In Sarkash Forest

Old, wizened, moss and algae growing on her skin.
Give her a bit of your humanity (say what, and reduce your max HP by 1) and she’ll answer any question. The gift lets her know the absolute truth, which she’ll probably share; she only lies if she really hates you. Donated humanity makes her basically immortal so long as she keeps answering questions every few years.
HP 6. Morale 9. Witch-knife for d4.
Can cast, as if by an Unclean Scroll, d2 times per encounter with her.
She can’t DIE. If reduced to 0HP, dissolves into moss and lichen to regenerate, recuperating at the next new moon.

A strange sort of vampire. Long, sharp, hollow fingernails allow feeding. Wants to stick his horrible fingers in you and drain you of blood, doesn’t care if you object.
HP 10, Morale 6, Crimson Armour -d4.
Hollow Fingers d4, attacks twice, heals by the amount of damage done.
A stake to the heart (DC 14 to hit) renders him helpless.

A long-armed, grasping-handed giant with sharp wooden stakes instead of claws and teeth. His voice sounds familiar. Players who hear it describe the last man to hurt their PC before she died; that’s who he sounds like.
HP 12, Morale 6, No armour
Grabbing Hands for d4. Or Impale for d12.
Grabbing Hands victims roll DC12 Agility to avoid being held.
Can only Impale after a successful grab.

Single-mindedly devoted to her garden, but talkative. If guests are polite, she will protect them while they remain with her.
HP7, Morale 8, No Armour
Gardening tools for d6.
Can spend a round putting herself back together, healing fully.
Can animate roses at will (d4 if used to attack).

CORPSE THINGS in large numbers:
Old, withered, senile, feral. The flesh of the Dead Girls still contains some lingering vitality, and they’re hungry for it. Won’t pursue you deeper into the forest; they’re loath to stray far from Graven-Tosk.
1 HP. Morale 10. No armour.
Teeth and Claws for d2.

SABLE KNIGHT of Graven-Tosk: 
Agent of the Shadow-King. Clad all in black armour, his shield blank. On a quest, although the details are vague. Thinks he’s better than you.
Thinks you’re escaped subjects of the Shadow-King. Will attempt to subdue you and return you to the graveyard.
HP 13, Morale 9, Blackened Plate Armour -d6.
Impaling Pike: d10 Damage.
On a roll of 1-3 for Defence, you’re impaled on the pike. Getting off it does another d10 damage and uses your action.
Alternatively, can bite and drain blood: d4, and heals by that much.
Cannot cross running water, cannot approach a crucifix, cannot enter a dwelling uninvited.

In the distance, getting closer, their howls circling around you before you see them.
Ragged fur draped over skeletal frames. Hollow eye-sockets. Lips receded, teeth prominent. Act very much like they did in life. Don’t realise they’re dead.
It may be possible to distract or even tame them with food they can’t eat.
HP 8, Morale 7, Thick fur -d2.
Bite d6.
Can track by scent.
DC 10 Toughness on hearing their howls for the first time, or be fear-struck and panicked, unable to act usefully until you see them or the howls end.

Looms beneath the boughs. Slinking and crawling towards you. Hungry.
A coward with a need to assert dominance through violence. Uses its sheer size to physically crush those it considers lesser. 
HP 25, Morale 3, No armour.
Fists for 2d4.
If it retreats, then rolling a second encounter with a troll will be the same troll, returned fully healed. It does d4 extra Damage and the amount healed is added to its HP.
Its words are venomous. If it speaks and you respond, DC 12 Toughness or the venom seeps into you, dealing 1 damage and causing you to bleed from the ears.

Originally from Kergüs, sent to find and claim individuals who might amuse his queen, Anthelia.
The Dead Girls are awfully amusing.
Taciturn, unhelpful, will resort to brutal violence at the drop of a (blood-soaked) hat. 
HP 13, Morale 9, Plate & Shield -d6+1.
Longsword d8.
Attacks once for each enemy up close to him.
Can regain all lost HP by defiling the body of one of the fallen instead of attacking.

A warlock drawing power from primal serpents. Wildly heretical, condemned by the basilisks. She claims a better world is possible, that doom can be averted if the basilisk Verhu prophecizing it is overthrown.
Filled with desperate, unreasonable hope.
HP 2. Morale 12. No armour.
Accompanied by 3 snakes (1hp).
Snake Bites d4, attacks once per snake.
If she’s hit, a surviving snake will sacrifice itself to negate the damage.
Once per snake, can cast a random power, as for Unclean Scrolls.

WANDERING PRINCE of the Shadow Palace:
An entitled little shit who thinks you can’t see through his disguise. Finds it diverting to torment his inferiors, whatever gets a rise out of you.
Has never faced any sort of consequences for his actions.
HP 1. Morale 8. No armour.
Rapier d8.
Slay him and the Shadow King’s gaze falls upon you. Every time you roll events, roll another d10; on a 1, a SABLE KNIGHT shows up, tasked with slaying you.

Ghostly, forlorn, traumatised by their untimely demise. Endlessly wander through the woods in which they died. Pale. Pretty, in a morbid sort of way.
Follow them, and they’ll lead you to a previously explored location. Probably somewhere safe or comforting.
HP 5, Morale 5, Unarmoured.
Wail, d4, resist with Presence not Agility.
Mostly intangible, DC 15 to hit.
Once you’ve met them, you have the option to join them when you become TORPID. You are no longer playable. Roll a new PC, who your former companions will meet, treating all ones rolled when creating the character as sixes.

Venturing into the forest in search of those who blaspheme against Varthu. (Being dead but still walking and talking probably counts). Take a cold cruel certainty in their work. Have many invasive and painful tests to ‘prove’ impurity.
Organised, efficient, and utterly unmoved by reason or emotion. Convinced of their own righteousness, prosecute on a whim. Bastards.
HP 8, Morale 9, Heavy Leathers -d2
Cutlasses or crossbows for d8.
Alternatively, can attempt to Restrain. Roll to avoid the attack as normal, taking -d2 Agility for the rest of the fight if you fail. If reduced to -4 or less, you’re rendered helpless: this probably bodes poorly for you.

Undead with broken necks and minds. Pitiful looking. Hate you for being beautiful or shameless or whatever positive qualities you might embody. Hate and lust and envy all mixed together. Wants to abuse your broken body, to degrade you.
HP 5, Morale 6, Tough Skin (d2 armour).
Strangling hands. D2 damage the first round they hit you. Then d4, d6, etc.


  1. These are superb - some of your strongest work ever - but I'd be very hesitant about using most of them in games. The Fingerman, Impaler, Troll, Inquisitors, and Stranglemen are all basically walking trigger warnings. I mean, I know that's the *point* of them - but aside from up-front content warnings, do you have any thoughts on using this sort of material without unintentionally traumatising your players?

    1. check in regularly, debrief after the session.
      A hard veto safeword isn't enough, give players an ooc signal for when things are getting rough but haven't yet crossed the line.

      And I guess the most important thing is to be selective with this stuff, and only play with people keen to get really bleak and nasty.

  2. Some interesting stuff here. Appreciate the advice about being selective and warning the players. I can see using perhaps two or three of these, in a weaker form, and still getting an uneasy and bleak mood.

    Is this specifically relating to something in Mork Borg? Or that game and it’s setting tone & feel just inspired you?

    1. it's set in one of the areas detailed in the main book (sarkash and graven-tosk), and takes influence from how the dead tend to rise there.
      The specific tone I'm shooting for (feminine horror I guess) is somewhat orthogonal to standard mork borg, which tends towards black humour and metal aesthetics rather than more personal bleakness.