Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spreading Corruption Act II: Dead Campers

James and Hassan head towards the sound of the gunshots, both using Heightened Senses to see and smell better in the gloom. They soon find the embers of a camp fire surrounded by three tents. A crate of beer cans sit by the embers. Three circular chunks of churned earth, each about three feet wide, are positioned around the campfire like they'd been freshly dug and then replaced, though without the usual large lumps that normally form when you try to fit uncompressed dirt back into its slot.

The tents contain sleeping bags, booze bottles, snacks, and a wallet in a jacket that identifies a man called Carl Thomas. The address listed on his license is just down the slope, a two-storey house along one of the few still lived in streets of this 'suburb'. They can see from the campsite that there's a light on upstairs but nowhere else in the house.

Hassan smells gunpower floating around at a point beside one of the tents and there's a lot of compressed earth and a few footprints there that suggest someone had been kneeling at the time when the guns were fired. Whoever had been here, had been in plain sight of the others. Neither of them could spot where the bullets have gone, though in this lightly scrub-shrouded hill, that wasn't not too surprising.

Hassan can only smell three human men at the campsite. There's no scent around where the shooter had crouched nor any scent of a monster.

Hassan can also smell blood, and they can see a line of blood spray on the soil near one of those churned holes and, guessing that bodies were buried here, they begin to dig the bloody one first. Hassan feels something brush his hands, and moments later he unearths fingertips. They keep digging, sliding the earth back, and James feels the rough texture of dirty hair against his hands. Finally, they unearth two hands and a head, positioned as though they'd been sheared at around the same spot after being pulled into the ground.

Neither of them have any skill in examining bodies, but Hassan's investigative talents do help him figure out that the parts were severed using something sharp yet slightly rough, like teeth. They don't bother to fully dig out any of the holes but they do dig up the first foot or two of each hole and find the other two empty, though blood-stained. They surmise that the decapitated one may have been standing at the time and therefore he was harder to swallow in one bite.

Hassan's occult background makes him instantly think of cryptids, as what else could tunnel through rock so effectively? Yet Cryptids normally are pushed back from civilisation and these hills aren't that far away. It could be some sort of briefly manifested spirit and his Arcane Sight does detect faint traces of unidentifiable magic around the holes. Or perhaps some shard of non-reality accidentally summoned by the working of a powerful spell. It's hard to be sure but what he does know is that since there were no screams, and the blood is very fresh, it's likely that all three were taken at once.

So they decide to follow the tracks to learn more from the mysterious shooter, when they can find him.

You can find all of this adventures' articles over here.


A replayed song from the Fahrenheit soundtrack.


If your players enquire about a line of investigation, or a type of clue, that you hadn't thought of before, don't hesitate to include it. Why not let them trace the source of gunpowder in the air with Heightened Senses - Smell?

I also broke up the unearthing of the body parts into steps to boost the creepy factor by making them wonder what they would find. At that stage, there were equal chances that they would dig up a still living person who had been dragged into the dirt, or perhaps a zombie that would attack them, or perhaps a severed head (as it was), or an entire corpse, or something else entirely. They didn't know. Besides, it was more immersive to describe it as their characters would have experienced it.

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