MOONBRIGHT

A Risus Adventure by Kung Fu Space Barbarian [4]


A witch in Moonbright has been turning the children into scarecrows. The players must put a stop to this madness!


This Risus adventure takes place in a dark medieval fantasy setting- think Solomon Kane or Diablo as opposed to Lord of the Rings. Witches, ghasts, ghouls, demons, undead, cultists, things like that.


Introduction


The adventure begins when the characters receive a message from a man named Coogan. They’ve never heard of him, but he has heard tales of their great heroic deeds and requests their aid. In his letter, he explains that over the past two weeks the children in his village, Moonbright, have been vanishing. Even more ominous, each time a child vanishes, a new scarecrow appears in the cornfields on the edge of town. He begs you to come to Moonbright and investigate, as there have been dark rumors of a witch spreading around lately and the town needs someone to drive her off and save the children. He has two children of his own, and he can’t bear the thought of losing them.


The Road to Moonbright


Feel free to let your players think up a way to get to Moonbright. They may decide to use magic and teleport, or walk, or buy horses, or join a caravan, etc. If they choose to brave the treacherous dark fantasy roads, you can throw in a random encounter- the land is desperately poor, so bandit ambushes along secluded roads aren’t uncommon. Bandits (3) Jerks (2)


If interrogated, the bandits have no information about any witches. They carry worn down weapons and have no armor. They have 2 gold pieces among them.


Entering Moonbright


By the time the players arrive at Moonbright it is dark out, but a full moon bathes the village in spooky light. The first thing the players notice is a crowd of people with pitchforks and torches chanting in the center of town: “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”


They then see two Witch Hunters (3) Thugs (3) dragging a young woman by the ankles as she screams and cries, shouting “I’m not a witch! I’m not a witch, I swear!”


At this point your players may choose to intervene and save the girl or not. If they do nothing, the girl is dragged to a pyre in the center of town and burned alive. Once she is dead, the Witch Hunters yank another woman out of the crowd and claim that she is a witch too, and repeat the process.


At some point, if the players continue to do nothing, a Villager (2) will approach them and beg them to help.


The villager will tell the players that these Witch Hunters are nothing but thugs, and they’ve been getting the townsfolk riled up by burning people at random. The villagers are scared and they were looking for anyone who could help them with their witch problem, but now these thugs are running the town by brute force and intimidation. Every night they burn 2-3 more people, claiming they’ve been practicing witchcraft.


If players refuse to take action, the Witch Hunters will grab one of the party as the final witch to burn for the night. At this point it is more than likely that the party will react, but if not, burn that player. If the players do not drive off the Witch Hunters, add Witch Hunters into the scenes in the rest of the adventure to complicate the players’ lives.


The more likely scenario is that the players will step in and stop a burning and ask the Witch Hunters for some sort of credentials or justification for the burnings. The Witch Hunters are paid by the number of witches they burn, so it’s in their best interest to burn as many witches as possible.


They don’t want anyone telling them how to do their job and will be jerks to the players. A fight will likely break out. If the players are defeated, the Witch Hunters will leave them beaten, robbed, and humiliated in the mud while they continue burning witches. They’ll continue to pose a threat for the rest of the adventure until they’re driven off. The townsfolk will also be hostile to the players, since the players are attempting to drive away the only people who are doing anything about their “witch problem.”


If players defeat the Witch Hunters, they’ll need to convince the Angry Mob (4) that these Witch Hunters were frauds but they’re going to help resolve the witch problem themselves. The Angry Mob is out for blood and they’ve got a crazy mob mentality going since many of them have lost children, so convincing them their new leaders were liars may not be easy.


If the Angry Mob cannot be convinced, the players will still find a few smart villagers who don’t agree with the mob and beg them to help save the children and defeat the witch. If the Angry Mob is calmed, the players will enjoy the support of the townsfolk in their efforts to locate the witch.


Leads


As the players talk to the townsfolk, they may hear rumors about the witch:


  1. A mysterious old woman visited the Apothecary about two weeks ago, just before the children started disappearing. Maybe the owner of the Apothecary can tell you more about her

  2. The children taken have ranged in ages 5-13

  3. There are almost no children left in the village. It is believed that Coogan’s kids are still safe at home, but if so he’s kept them under lock and key, terrified of losing them

  4. The scarecrows are in the fields on the far west of town, behind an abandoned farm once owned by a farmer named Ernie Tiller and his wife Millie


At this point the characters will have plenty of options to investigate. They may choose any route they want:


Apothecary


The players arrive at the Apothecary, a rickety wooden shack on the East edge of town. The owner is a gnarled old man named Zim(Shopkeeper (3) Herbalist (2) Negotiator (1)). He does remember a strange woman coming into his shop recently but doesn’t offer information readily.


If pressed, he can answer what she bought when she was there- a few of the more traditional herbs and poultices, but one thing struck him as odd. She requested a bag of newt eyes, which he didn’t have available, but ordered for her to pick up. If they ask what newt eyes can be used for, he says it’s mainly for poison or transformation magic. If asked what direction she came from, he will say to the west, past the old farm. He doesn’t give up much more information than this, as he is afraid he may have helped cause this tragedy to the town by selling her these items, if she was indeed the witch.


Coogan’s House


Anyone in the town can point the players to Coogan’s house. It’s a small town and everyone knows each other. When the players arrive at Coogan’s house they find it empty and abandoned, the door wide open. If the players ask around, someone will mention they saw Coogan at the tavern earlier. He looked terrible and was stone drunk.


Tavern


The tavern is filled with people, mostly parents drinking away their sorrows. If the players come here before visiting the farm, they’ll find Coogan (Father (4) Drunk (2)) drinking in the corner. He’ll tell them that his two daughters disappeared this morning and he fears they’ve been taken by the witch. He is quite incoherent at this point and looks like he needs to sleep it off.


The Farm


The players approach the farm, a wooden old building that’s been abandoned for a few years. Beyond the farmhouse the players can see the cornfield, where 15 scarecrows made of burlap sacks and straw are set up on posts. Someone drew creepy smiley faces on them.


Investigating the scarecrows yields nothing of interest- they look like ordinary scarecrows. The cornfield is boxed in by dense woods on 3 sides. A mysterious fog covers the floor of the woods. The players can find a beaten deer trail that leads deeper into the woods if they investigate. See “Searching for the Witch” below if the players follow the trail.


If the players investigate the farmhouse, they’ll hear the laughter of little girls as they approach. Coogan’s daughters (both around 5-6 years old) are playing hide and seek inside, and they are in no way a danger to the party, though the party will probably be on edge.


The girls want the party to play hide and seek with them and will try to hide throughout the house. Despite the fact that it’s super creepy, nothing will happen to the party if they play, but they will gain the trust of the girls, who constantly make fun of the way the heroes look and talk.


If they ask the girls questions, the girls can tell them their father hasn’t let them out of the house lately but they snuck away to come play again. They always come to this farmhouse to play because there are no grownups around, but they say there used to be a lot more kids to play with. They don’t know where all the other kids went.


If the players explore the house, they can find a basement filled with old, rotten food, a kitchen filled with cracked plates and rusty silverware, and upstairs is a bedroom. Searching the bedroom will result in them finding a chest under the floorboards of the bed. Inside is a locket with a picture of Millie Tiller, a silver mirror, and 3 gold pieces. Nothing else of much interest is in the abandoned house.


If the players ask the girls about these items, they can identify the woman in the locket as the old lady who comes to this building sometimes, but “she looks prettier in that picture.” They also tell the players that when the old lady comes, she spends a lot of time looking at herself in the mirror and saying funny words. If the players have not found the mirror and don’t seem like they will, have the girls say something innocuous at some point, such as “Are you friends with the old lady?” or something to that nature. The characters will likely ask about the old lady, at which point the girls can tell them about the woman who sometimes comes to the house and looks at herself in the mirror. She keeps it hidden upstairs but they’ve found the secret spot. They claim it’s the prettiest mirror in Moonbright.


The players may ask how often she comes to the house. The girls will say every few days- they think she’s coming tomorrow morning at dawn.


At any point in this, the players may decide to take the girls to Coogan. If not, Coogan will stumble by at some point shouting for his girls and searching the cornfield, at which point the players may also decide to reunite the girls with their father.


Coogan will thank them and take his daughters home. It is likely at this point that the players will want to search for the witch or hunker down in the farmhouse and ambush her.


Searching for the Witch


If the players decide to search for the witch, they will find a beaten deer trail on the edge of the cornfields, which are hedged in by thick, dark woods. The ground in the woods is covered in a mysterious fog.


As the players venture deeper into the woods, they’ll be attacked by strange, deformed creatures- Wolves with six legs (5) or Bloodthirsty Deer (4).


After passing trees with deer and goat heads nailed to them, they will come to a clearing with a tent. A small fire burns in the campsite but there is nobody around. If the players search the campsite they will find sacks of herbs and vials of potions, along with a sack of newt eyes. There is also a scarecrow leaned against the back of the tent.


As soon as they’ve searched everything the fog will coalesce into a humanoid shape and they’ll hear the cackling laugh of a witch. The fog solidifies into an ugly green Witch (6), who swears to destroy the heroes and pluck their prying eyes from their heads.


She will become especially angry if she finds out one of them has her mirror and will specifically attack that player.


The witch can be defeated but unless her mirror is destroyed she will disperse into fog and reform a short while later. If the characters don’t catch on, have her start shouting about them defiling her precious mirror. Someone will probably attempt to destroy it at this point, but make it clear that this witch will do anything to get the mirror.


Ambush in the Farmhouse


If the players choose to set an ambush in the farmhouse, have them describe what they do to fortify the house and what positions they’ll be taking up. Around midnight, whoever is keeping watch may notice strange creatures in the cornfields sniffing around the scarecrows. They are Wolves with six legs (5) or Bloodthirsty Deer (4).


If the players only observe, the creatures will begin dragging the scarecrows away into the forest one by one. The players may attack at this point- then you’ll have a spooky battle in the field. Before the last monster is defeated, the fog billows out of the woods and coalesces into a humanoid form. The fog solidifies into the witch, who will avoid the battle and make a beeline towards the house- she wants the mirror.


If the players choose to follow the creatures into the woods, see the previous section.


Either way, at some point the players will come into combat with the witch. She does not have any desire to negotiate as they are defiling her land, and wants them dead. She will do whatever she can to get to her house and find the mirror, unless she learns one of them has the mirror, then she will kill them. Losing to the witch will result in death.


The witch does have the power to bring the scarecrows to life and force them to attack the players, but be warned! Each scarecrow that is killed results in a kid who is killed! The players may have to deal with the consequences of their actions when the spell is finally lifted...


Once the mirror is destroyed the witch will be dispersed and her spell over the children will be broken. The scarecrows will revert into children and the townsfolk will heap their praise upon the heroes. Why the witch came to Moonbright may be a mystery… or the hook for a future adventure!



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