7/28/21

Bardiche - A Dark Fantasy Adventure Seed

I haven't been able to sleep lately. I figured I might as well do something productive. So I tried something a little different - I've always wanted to write a one-page adventure. I usually jot down a minimal key that only makes sense for me and difficult-to-parse hand-written maps. Here I tried to just write out the whole thing as (hopefully) evocative gothic horror. It's literally just a page of prose, but I tried to get a useful-at-the-table word-to-idea ratio. It'll most likely need work on the Referee's part, which is why I call it an adventure seed in the description. It's enough for me to run a 3-4 hours game if I take my time setting up atmosphere, but it's hard to gauge what'd be deemed enough material or not.
If you want to support me, you can get the PDF on itch.io for a dollar.

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It’s an unpleasantly cold night in Gloomburg. The rain batters their hooded cloaks as they prowl the gardens, narrowly avoiding the royal hounds growling in the dark. They crawled out of the sewers - the only unguarded way to get anywhere fancy without stumbling upon the watch. These stank with rot, feces, death. There was something hungry in the water. They’ll either need to get through there again, unlock the passage to the cursed catacombs or fight their way out (the worst idea really) to get out once they secure the eyes of greed. On the first floor of the castle is a grotesque masquerade of decadent nobles, overworked servants and an unwelcome guest. The crust of society is celebrating harvest season while the masses starve. Perhaps tonight, the riffraff will finally snap and march in wielding torches and pitchforks, indiscriminately butchering those that gloat inside the gilded prison of their misery. Perhaps not.

The second floor is quieter, with treasonous machinations whispered in dimly lit rooms of velvet tapestries and ominous potraits whose gaze seem to follow the unwary. The torture room lies next to the archives. Its keeper is a coward, and bitter about it. The king’s jester wanders the halls, with bloodied gloves and a gleeful smile on their face. One of the bedrooms is a testament to their life’s work.

The third floor is well-guarded by the King’s most trusted men. He has yet to give up on bringing back his one true love, and may be find in his study, buried beneath profane tomes and torn letters from distant enemies. Sometimes her ghost comes to him in nightmares. The guards pretend to not hear his screams. He longs for death, but his life on the battlefield has cursed him with instincts of self-preservation, and while grizzled, he has never suffered from starvation or disease, like the thieves have.

He wears wears one of the eyes on a silver necklace. While worn, it grants him visions of the future. The other is sealed in a small chest behind the Queen’s portrait above his bed. When held, it tears at the veil between worlds. If one were to gouge their eyes out and place the eyes of greed in the sockets, they would know immortality and forget how to feel.

At dawn, the guests will return to their own gilded cages in drunken stupor. Well rested guards will take the next shift. Some servants will collapse from exhaustion in dark corners.

The unwelcome guest will turn into a wolf and run through the streets back to its lair.

If the people attacked, there will be corpses littering the ballroom and gardens, the revolution not one step closer, but the city’s power dangerously aware of dissent amongst their lesser.

The thieves’ patron is a masked elfin aesthete, perhaps glimpsed by watchful thieves at the masquerade, unwilling to leave loose threads hanging. They carry enough crowns to keep hunger away for a week, or to live like royalty for a night.

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PREGENERATED CHARACTERS
These assume the 24XX SRD although you should be able to use your rules of choice easily.


1 - Rat-Catcher (whose life did you accidentally save?)
Skilled in traps (d8) and shooting (d8)
Take a sling and a small but vicious dog.

2 - Agitator (who did you stood up for to impress your love interest?)
Skilled in blather (d8) and flee! (d8)
Take political leaflets and a feathered cap.

3 - University Student (who did you screw over, but they haven’t realized yet?)
Skilled in carouse (d8) and forgery (d8)
Take bad poetry and 1C (for Crowns)

4 - Boatman (who do you think might be your child?)
Skilled in piloting (d8) and drinking (d8)
Take a fishing pole and a bottle of rhum.

5 - Mime (who are you secretly in love with?)
Skilled in acrobatics (d8) and stealth (d8)
Take an invisible rope and a grappling hook, also invisible.

6 - Dwarf (who are you trying to keep from getting themselves killed?)
Skilled in intimidation (d8) and slaying (d8)
Take a brightly dyed mohawk, prison tattoos and a two-handed axe.

7 - Penitent (who do you want to be punished?)
Skilled in labor (d8) and matters of faith (d8)
Take a penitent’s crown and robes.

8 - Burglar (you are only in it for yourself)
Skilled in stealth (d8) and sleight-of-hand (d8)
Take a shiv and lockpicks.


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