There is a hill north of town where the pine trees grow and nothing else. It's dark there, and too quiet, and too cold, even in the thick of summer.
If you are playing close attention, you might notice that all traces of the most recent wildfire stops short at the base of the hill, where the pine forest begins. If you have spent a lot of time in the woods, you might expect there to be palmetto scrub under these pine trees, not just the dead needles heaped there now.
At the top of the hill, where it is darkest and coldest, where the trees grow so dense your shoulders always brush their trunks no matter how you turn yourself, stands a temple built from roughly hewn basalt, furred with moss and crusted with lichen. There is no light inside, and the faint draft blowing from its low entrance smells foul and mineral, as if the earth started to rot like flesh. Water dews continuously on the interior walls, making the steps down to the inner chamber slick.
At the bottom you'll find a circular room, maybe twenty feet in diameter, spiderweb cracks radiating from the jagged-edged pool of water punched into the slab floor at the center. Arranged in a circle around it are twelve deformed animal skulls: too many eye sockets, two or three mandibles fanning out from a twisted jaw, melted-wax contours and clusters of horns. These skulls are cursed, they are a curse, they are best left untouched, they are called The Bode.
IN THE TOWN OF VER
Pretty much everybody in town is talking about a bunch of messed up stuff happening in the wilderness to the north of Ver, known locally as the Old Church Wood. It's always had an unsavory reputation, but there's has been a spate of disappearances and bad omens associated with it.
Shrinekeeper Trinidad, the town's cleric.
- Despite his warnings and the Woods' ominous reputation, a pair of hunters--Trinidad's friends--pursued a deer into the pines to the north. They haven't returned, and that was a week ago. That was the start of the trouble.
- Every sunset, Trinidad lights the ritual lanterns along the perimeter of Ver. The northernmost ones have been blowing themselves out by midnight, when they should last until sunrise.
- Rudriq stopped hunting around the Old Church Hills when he found animal skulls wedged between tree branches there.
- Distrusted by people of Ver, considered possibly to blame.
- She claims she saw an oddly proportioned creature--something on all fours, like a deer or a coyote, it had a pale face and an awkward gait--the night after the hunters should have come back.
- She had mediated a fight between the two hunters over the game they caught a month ago, and believes they got into some sort of fight out in the woods, or else it's bandits. She's dealt with a lot of bandits over the years.
- Odessa thinks everyone is seized by superstition and is ready to led her band into the Old Church Wood to solve this once and for all--but has been so far dissuaded by Trinidad's pleadings.
- Her caravan hasn't come back since this whole mess started. See if her idiot employees got eaten by a ghost or not.
- missing from his farm since yesterday. He had been complaining that something had been going after his livestock, but not like most predators--they were killing for sport.
- His farm is to the north, a few minute's walk past Trinidad's torches. If the players investigate, they will find his house unlocked, but his barn locked from the inside. His goats are cut apart--like they unraveled off of their own bones--and all of their skulls are missing.
THE OLD CHURCH WOOD
Dense pine trees on a steep hill. It's dark and chill.
1-2: Mutilated... 1-deer 2-coyote 3-bobcat 4-black bear
3. Abandoned caravan, horses beheaded and cut to pieces, goods untouched. This is the only treasure in the whole adventure, now that I think about it.
4. Tree laden with animal skulls wedges between branches
5. Body of Luis or caravaners
6. Brood of Bode
Brood of Bode
- HD: d8
- 10 EP
- Defense 14
- Naked, wiry man, running on all fours far faster than a person should be able, wears a filthy deer skull over his face
- Spells: Can cast one spell per encounter from its list:
- Fog Cloud
- Phantasmal Force (a dark presence like a passing cloud, moving through the trees like the first cold blast of wind from an approaching thunderstorm)
- Snuff (extinguish all torches, lamps, etc within earshot of its scream)
- Inflict Light Wounds (what it's been using to cut its victims apart),
Brood of Bode will not enter, at least at first. One of the hunters is in this chamber, his head and torso submerged in the central pool. If approached, he will slide all the way in.
- The Bode can speak in this chamber. Their voice is subaudible, like something half-imagined. They will offer their power to the strongest fighter in the party in return for a sacrificed comrade, and they are not lying: the sacrificer will become another Brood of Bode.
- The skulls of The Bode are cursed. Anyone who breaks their skulls will never be able to recover from their wounds. The skulls come back when nobody is looking, anyway.
- The Bode can see anything in the pines of Old Church Wood.
- The Brood is the other hunter, who sacrificed his friend. His mind is lost to The Bode. The Bode will tell a PC what the hunter did if the PC keeps them talking.
- The pool is cursed. Anyone who tries to swim in it will sink to the bottom and drown, and all attempts to haul them out have disadvantage. The body can be retrieved by any other method.
- Anyone left alone in the Old Church must make a save or vanish. This increases the Brood of Bode's HD by one step
- The Bode want more Brood, they want more skulls in the pines to see out of, they want the wards on Ver destroyed so they can claim its inhabitants.