“And iron my armoured underthings. I am heading out into the wilds tonight!”
Curious locales are quirky locations for GMs to drop into their campaigns. Free of class and level, they can be used in any fantasy RPG system.
The Babcock Place
The kin don’t get along, of course, and there are always stories of some sort of special festival day where one is chosen to be hunted by the others and literally torn apart. Those who live not far enough away tell of strange lights and screams—but if they are of pleasure or pain, it’s impossible to tell. No one stays long in these near hovels anyway. No one dare.
The Babcock place makes for a great locale that sits on the edges of a community and is—of course—responsible for all its ills. The only reason it hasn’t burnt down is because of the strength in numbers of the family. Or is that all? Perhaps the pig breeders are more infested into the local communities than people like to say, and the—favors—they dish out have brought them many friends, if friends is the correct word for fear.
Of course, your PCs are going to spend a night there, but the question is why, and what might they find? Entering the dragon’s den requires a pretty good reason, beyond simply being ordered (which surely would be beyond anyone without incredible faith or a ruler without conscience). The love of someone close or the love of someone’s life is always a great way to bring out the foolhardiness in players. The would-be-bride who loses her father or mother or brother, a wandering child last seen playing with a Babcock child, all make good hooks to bring the PCs to the very spot they don’t want to go.
And what do they find inside? That they’re expected, of course. Cunning Mother Tangle does not have unwanted guests, and soon perhaps a cordial meeting is occurring in some foul damp inner chamber of great age where family portraits are replaced by actual preserved kin. What does she want? Maybe Wholesome has some terrible malady beyond Babcock fixing—she’s unleashed some unspeakable kin that the Babcocks of course cannot touch on account of their (admittedly weird) religious beliefs. And so a search of the wings begins—and the PCs are not welcome by all of course: some kin don’t like the outsiders simply because of who they are, others maybe have secrets to hide.
Having the Babcocks interacting with the PCs on a semi-cordial level (even out of mutual fear of pain) gives you a way to use this setting and bring the PCs right to the fireside. This is when you can develop memorable encounters; simply using them as monsters and wallowing in a slaughter-without-dialogue approach seems a waste of good NPCs. Maybe the Babcocks just want sport and some new flesh to hunt—what are these weird religious beliefs? What do they entail and do the pigs have any role to say in it? Are the pigs more than just pigs? Perhaps they are devotions to some twisted feral god or maybe even awakened and part of the proceedings and the family itself? What in the gods names would the children be like?
Finally, and perhaps worst, maybe young Wholesome or Grike or one or several of their great grandchildren get broody and have taken a shine to one of the PCs and has decided they should join the family—for keeps. How to lure them in so that undying love can be declared however? They know they aren’t pretty but are sure that the stranger will just love being part of the happy family—they’d better…