[CONAN] Diabolical

For some time now, I've been intrigued with making evil in the game truly evil. Sure, we're all happy when evil is the bad guy in a cartoon, Emperor Palpatine kind of way. And, that's fun. I've had many good times gaming with that kind of evil as the bad guys.

I want to take a step further, though, and attempt to portray evil as truly evil. The Conan RPG and its default universe seems perfect for this endeavor. When I get done, I don't want my players questioning why they have to make the Terror of the Unknown save.

To get you up to date, quickie style, here's what's happened recently in the game. A little girl from the PC's clan has been kidnapped by a rival clan. The two Cimmerian PCs heard her scream and raced to a spot where her wagon, along with other orphan children and Stenna, their caregiver, have been attacked. Our heroes got there just in time to chase the attackers--warriors from the Grath clan, of which PC's clan is locked in a decades old Blood Feud.

One girl was taken: little 4 year old Mallie. Maybe, it was she who wasn't killed or attacked because she's easy to carry. Why the Grath would want a little girl, the PCs have no clue.

A running battle took the PCs into the Witched Wood, where time itself is not constant. Mallie's trail took them through the lands of the Chakan--Cimmerians who never developed from the pre-human Atlantians after the Great Cataclysm, who know inhabit the Blood Basin, across the Blood River, to the hideout of the Grath at Howling Cave.

There, the PCs fought like madmen, wetting their blades with the gore of all who opposed them.

This is where we will begin next game. The PCs are deep inside the Grath stronghold dug from the side of a cliff. There are dead bodies about--a trail of them leading from the entrance to the cave. During the battle, the PCs discovered that the Grath were not alone. What their part in all of this is anybody's guess, but some that fought with the Grath were not Cimmerian but Hyperboreans.

The cave is dark. Pitch black. A wind runs through its ancient corridors with a howl from small natural tunnels in the side of the cliff. This makes a natural wind tunnel. So, with the dark, the sensation of the wind blowing through the corridors, and the constant wind howling, the setting is ominous.

The PCs have just spent a few minutes checking the bodies--those remains of those that opposed them last. They have a small oil lamp set on the ground for light. It's the only light source. As they've been here for a good 6 or 8 minutes, and no one else has moved to oppose them, the PCs, Caelis and Silaigne, are feeling fairly safe. Their plan is to quickly salvage some gear, grab the lamp, and continue the search through the dark, noisy cave looking for little Mallie.

Here's where I'm planning for the next session. Now, I warn you. This isn't everybody's cup of tea. If you don't like this sort of thing, stop reading now. The situation can get pretty sick in some people's opinion. For me, I'm just trying to build in the atmosphere and hopefully get the players to realize that there's more than meets the eye here. There enemy is not the Grath alone, but a demon.

He has been called many names, but the one you might recognize is Ollam-Onga, the Plunderer (the same from the Conan story Drums of Tombalku).

Next to the PC's battlefield in the corridor is a kitchen for the underground lair. I'm pretty sure the players will explore this area first, for they are right there.

There are two doors off the kitchen, both leading to storage areas. One is just that--stored food for the Grath. The other door, though, leads to a natural pocket in the rock that is more than 15' deep.

When they open the door, they will see a man, in his 20's. He's obviously not Cimmerian. His hair is sandy blonde. He's tall, quite tall. He has a high forehead, thick lips, and big, wide teeth that remind the PCs or a horse's mouth. He wears a long coat of sewn silk that buttons in the front and covers him to his ankles, where the ends of his cotton trousers reveal the tips of his soft leather shoes.

This man is a Hyperborean, and as the PCs first lay eyes on him, he's standing in an ornate design, drawn from blood, around him. He holds an un-corked vial in one hand and a bloody rag in the other. He up-ends the vial on the rag, squeezing it, soaking the rag with blood. Then he squeezed the rag to draw an intricate design on the floor in a roughly circular pattern around him. All the while, he's mumbling, speaking in a language the PCs do not understand. "Cowmeth est zee, My Lord, cowmeth and resurgitate wid elter, oh Ollam-Onga. Cowmeth and destry uth dee hallath rune roh wid blanca-lee-borin..."

In the center of the design the man draws is a small bith of flesh. Upon closer inspection, it will be revealed that it is a tongue. The tongue of a child.

When Jalen-lii, the Hyperborean, sees the PCs, he will drop the rag and vial and pull a stilletto from inside his coat. The vial slams against the ground, breaking, splattering blood in all directions. Jalen-lii is desperate. He's no warrior (by class, I'm making him a Commoner, probably level 3 or 4, that served Hyperborean priests), and he heard the battle that took place outside the kitchen last game session.

Jalen-lii is cornered. He has no where to run. If his lord and master doesn't help him, as he hopes that he will, the Hyperboran is doomed. And, he just messed up the ritual when the dropped the vial of blood.

But, his purpose serves Ollam-Onga's plans.

I'm sure the battle, if there is a battle, will be quick. Jalen-lii is no match for two 3rd level Cimmerian warriors. He'll go down quick.

If the PCs attempt to parlay, Jalen-lii will jump at the chance, but, abruptly, Ollam-Onga will interrupt this conversation.

Assuming the PCs have killed Jalen, this will happen as they move to investigate his body. If the PCs parlay with Jalen, then this happens in mid-sentence.

A strong force, like what you feel when you expose like poles on a magnet, shoves the PC away from the body. Jalen's head is pulled back by his hair. You can see his hair as if it were in the grip of an invisible hand. If the PCs killed Jalen, they can now see that he is dying but not quite dead.

Jalen's coat flys up in the air, hiked over his waste. The man's trousers are destroyed around his buttocks, ripped as if slashed and pulled by powerful claws, explosing Jalen's now scraped and bloody arse. Whatever is holding Jalen is invisible, but the PCs can hear it and see the effect of its actions on Jalen. This invisible thing enters Jalen. Slams into him. A howl escapes from the man that should never escape a human's lips. The PCs notice that the severed tongue, that is the center of the design Jalen drew, starts to curl, back and forth, as if licking something.

Near death anyway, Jalen becomes unconscious. The grip on his hair rips from the man's scalp, all the while Jalen's entire body is being rocked as he is slammed, again and again, in his butt area.

There is a snort the PCs hear--something as if came from a bull or some feral animal. Then the pounding stops, and Jalen is quickly, like a rag doll, held in the air. Blood drips down his legs. The PCs can almost imagine an invisible form holding the Hyperborean over its head. Like an insect that was flicked off a table, Jalen is thrown through the air, across the kitchen, to impact on the far wall with such force that a table splinters and bones poke through Jalen's skin.

The only light is the oil lamp, but at that moment, emanating from the bloody design that Jalen had drawn on the ground, something passes over the PCs. Like a shadow blinking out the sun, and all hope, the oil lamp flickers then finally goes out.

The temperature seems to have dropped 10 degrees in a moment. The PCs can't see, but if the could, they'd see their breath smoke in front of their faces.

It is quiet. Deathly quiet, as the PCs listen. Then they hear a snort. Something is outside the kitchen, in the corridor.

The hair on their arms stand on end.

At this point, I think it appropriate for both PCs to make a Terror of the Unknown check, and we'll play the adventure out from there after seeing that outcome.