The Orton Estate

Although this Adventure Hook is probably more suited to a horror RPG like Call of Cthulhu it could work well within other systems like Savage Worlds (especially Realms of Cthulhu of course) or even Dungeons and Dragons with a few tweaks and the home could easily be fleshed out as a dungeon crawl.

Ian Theobald Orton was a famous adventurer and explorer who made his fortune finding and selling rare artifacts, artwork and curiosities.  At least that’s how the story goes in his official biography.  The truth however is much less prosaic.  Mr. Orton did indeed travel far and wide and dabbled in selling some of the more mundane things which he found in his travels, but his main purpose was the accumulation and use of long-lost forbidden knowledge.  A purpose to which he was uniquely suited and at which he greatly excelled.

Towards the end of his life he commissioned and built the Orton Estate on the outskirts of the city.  Rumors insist that Orton himself drew up the plans for the home and used different contractors for each stage of the construction so that no one person other than himself knew or fully understood the layout.  Many people even say that Ian Orton himself did much of the work even though he was upwards of sixty years old at the time.

Once the home was complete Mr. Orton spent the next few years arriving with trucks full of the art and curios he had obtained throughout his career as well as continuing to do some travel and acquiring more items which interested him until the time of his purported death over seventy-five years ago when ownership and upkeep of the estate passed to a Trust Mr. Orton had set up for the perpetual upkeep of the property for use by his family.

The Hook

Two weeks ago Natasha Hagelman, a seventeen year old local girl, disappeared and was last seen near the Orton Estate.  Authorities looking into the citizenkanedisappearance have come to the conclusion that the girl must have run away from home and have officially closed the investigation.  Natasha’s family however don’t believe this is true.  Her father is a long-time resident of the area and remembers several other disappearances around “the old Orton place” over the years and hires the players’ characters to investigate.

The Truth

Although investigations will show that the Orton Estate is currently owned by Ian’s great-grandson Henry Orton the only current resident is Ian himself.  Having prolonged his life and become immortal by turning himself into a Ghoul (a ghost or lich would work as well depending on your gaming system) he has continued his research.  Even now Ian has an insatiable thirst for forbidden knowledge which leads him to contact creatures from many realms.  These entities always require some type of payment for what they know and sometimes that payment comes in the form of humans.  When this occurs Ian abducts a passerby near his Estate and trades them for the information he seeks.  This has happened eight times in the seventy-five years since his “death” although only six were ever reported locally as the other two were from out-of-town, one a hitch-hiker and the other simply had the misfortune of being stranded near the estate on the wrong night.

The Anagen Gate

The King of the Island Nation of Thalass has gone missing and his Queen is willing to pay handsomely for his return.  The King’s last known location was on a small island where according to legend a gate to another realm exists.  The King left with his most trusted advisors and soldiers in hopes of finding his way to this realm in order to gain a weapon or artifact to help him safeguard his people from the other nations of the area.

King Thalass, as all Thalassian kings are called, had been convinced that his small kingdom would soon be overrun by pirates and invading forces if he could not find a way save them.  As a result he fixated upon the ancient legend of The Anagen Gate.  A gate through which a person may pass to find new power and strength, strength King Thalass could use to protect his kingdom.

The Queen knows the location of the island where King Thalass was headed and can give this to the heroes.  The trick to the Anagen gate though comes from the fact that once you go through it, you can not go back out the same way.  Any who enter may only return to their own world by going forward, through six more gates.  Each gate takes the traveler to another realm where they must prove themselves worthy to move forward and only by making it through the seventh gate does one return to the island.

When the heroes arrive the King is stuck just inside of the third gate, where the last of his advisors was struck down.  Each realm has its own challenges and problems to solve to make it through the next gate but once the King is found, and the heroes convince him that they are both real and on his side, he will willingly work along with them to make their way out.

There is plenty more to flesh out here, each realm could be a single encounter or an entire adventure for the players.  The rewards for any hero making his/her way through the final gate could also vary greatly.  The reward could simply be the experience (and new power gained thereby) or could be strange new abilities or magical items.  Once the King is returned there could still be more to do as well.  Where did he learn of the legend?  Was it planted for him to find by an enemy nation or by a rival within his own kingdom, hoping to usurp the throne in his absence?

I think lots of fun could be had working within the framework of this adventure hook, but what do you think?

Terror in Thibodaux

Some weeks when I sit down to write out the new Adventure Hook I wrack my brain forever trying to come up with a good idea (which is the exact problem these articles are designed to help solve for you readers) and end up going part-way through two or three ideas before I find one I really like enough to publish.  This week however the idea seemed to just smack me in the face like the tentacle of a being of eldritch horror as it attempts to consume my thoughts and destroy my dreams.  I was flipping through the Savage Worlds rule book and came upon rules for radiation poisoning and how it causes fatigue and suddenly this idea burst forth.  Read on and enjoy Terror in Thibodaux.

Awakening in an office building the investigators have no short-term memory.  Sirens blare in the distance and all of the PCs are suffering from fatigue and a general malaise.  Getting their bearings by looking out windows and reading papers on desks allows the investigators to realize they are on the fifth floor of a building at the site of a Nuclear Power Plant in Thibodaux, LA.

Entering the lobby and/or the largest office on the floor they find a man in a suit sitting with his head in his hands.  He is unresponsive until touched, and then he attacks whomever touched him.  Almost all of the workers at the plant have turned into zombie servants of Glaaki.  A cult of Glaaki have helped their master take over the compound.  They plan to overheat the plant and cause an explosion which they hope will sink all of southern Louisiana under the Gulf, thereby giving their master a new domain to rule over.

At certain points in the adventure when the investigators need prior knowledge or equipment they go into a flashback.  During the short flashback they have a decision to make and based on the decision they may either remember something important for their survival or have a piece of equipment necessary for stopping the cult.

The investigators must now decide how to stop the cult, a task that could be further complicated by the fact that someone in their group could actually be a member of the cult of Glaaki!

As always please let me know what you think about this hook and how it works out if you use it.  I’m planning to use this one myself the next time we play Cthulhu PIE so I’ll be sure to link to that podcast when it comes out.

The Ruby of Torm Tura

Torm Tura was perhaps the greatest Warchief the Black Hand Orcs ever had. During his reign dozens of other tribes pledged their banners to the Black Hands. Torm Tura allegedly gained much of his warrior power from a fist sized ruby set into the center of his leather breastplate. The legends of the origin of the Ruby of Torm Tura are as many and varied as its supposed powers. Most of the Black Hands held that the ruby was torn from the eye of a great demon, and that it infused their Warchief with its demonic strength and vigor. Others claimed it was the eye of a great dragon or created by a powerful wizard to turn Torm Tura into his champion.

Whatever the truth, Torm Tura was not only a powerful warrior, he was also smart and conniving. While he ruled the orcs of what are now known as the Tormeric Planes no other race dared step foot in the region, including the gnolls who had long been their hated rivals. Upon Torm Tura’s death, after a reign of more than forty years, a length of time unmatched in orc history, the ruby vanished along with the body of the great ruler.


Now, hundreds of years later, rumors say the tomb of Torm Tura  has been found. Fearing the return of a powerful orc ruler the humans, elves, dwarves and others that live in or near the Tormeric Planes are looking about for a group of heroes to delve into the ancient tomb and secure the ruby before the orcs can do so. The gnolls also fear a return of the days of Torm Tura and are seeking the tomb for themselves, and of course the Black Hand orcs are doing all they can to find their way into the tomb in hopes of bringing back the glory days of their tribe.

If the heroes accept the commision to find the Ruby of Torm Tura they will not only be delving into an ancient and deadly tomb, filled with deterrents and death traps, they will also be racing orcs, gnolls and who knows what else to the resting place of Torm Tura himself. And who’s to say that the ancient orc is truly dead after all?

As always let me know what you think about this Adventure Hook and how it works out if you use it!

Adventure Hooks: Haunted Hollow

This Adventure Hook is for a fantasy setting, be it D&D, Savage Worlds or any other system.  As usual let us know what you think about it, especially if you use it in some way.  Enjoy!

Haunted Hollow is a quaint village where most everyone in town is in some way involved in logging.  Some folks fell the trees, others clear away stumps and yet others plant new seedlings each year so that the whole process can begin anew.  For years the small hamlet has gotten along in this way with little or no trouble but lately kobolds that live in the nearby mountain have begun attacking the townsfolk while they are within the woods.

As a result the town council has put out a call for adventurers to help fend off the kobolds and put a stop to their attacks.  When the player’s characters arrive they are thus greeted warmly by the populace and treated to half price rooms at the only inn in town.

The next morning however the chest containing all of the gold the town had raised to pay whomever freed them from their kobold problem goes missing.  What’s worse, it is found in the room of one of the players!  The townsfolk accuse the characters of being thieves and tricksters and oust them from town.

The whole problem in Haunted Hollow comes down to the haunting.  Throughout the history of the small town there have always been rumors that the town and surrounding forest are haunted.  Strange things will sometimes occur with no other explanation than ghosts or spirits.  Once at the start of the harvesting season all of the horses in town were suddenly gone and so there was no way to pull the carts carrying wood from the forest to the mills.  The horses were eventually found the next morning dispersed throughout the upper floors of every building in town and many days work were lost getting them all back down to ground level.

The simple answer to all of these strange things, and to the gold showing up in the room of one of the players is pixies.  The pixies have lived in the forest since long before the coming of humans and don’t care one bit for the chopping down of trees.  They have mostly left the humans alone though because they haven’t ventured too close to the pixies’ home.  This season though the wood cutters are coming ever closer to the home of the pixies and as a result they have used their tricks to lure kobolds down from the mountain to attack the humans by making the kobolds think the humans are stealing from them and preparing to wipe them out.  As a result the kobolds have decided to act first.

Starting with their entry into town on the first day, have the players notice laughing sounds from time to time coming from nearby.  Once they are tossed out of town they might even manage to spot a pixie rolling about in some flowers laughing at how well he did at getting the adventurers kicked out.  Once the player’s begin to realize what is going on in Haunted Hollow they have many choices to make.  They could decide to go kill the kobolds and salvage their reputations only to find out the kobolds think that they are protecting themselves.  They could try to leave and get caught in the middle of a fight between the woodsmen and the kobolds.  They could even try to track down the pixies and find out the truth of what is happening, at which point they would need to try brokering a peace between the humans and pixies while dealing with the kobolds either by fighting them, bargaining with them, or tricking them into returning to their mountain.


The Disk of Oberu

This adventure hook is designed for a Call of Cthulhu or Realms of Cthulhu setting although it could easily be adjusted for any other setting which involves magic of one type or another.

Edmund Ralfone is a respected police detective.  He is also the leader of the Cult of Hollow Earth, a group whose goals include gaining power and immortality for it’s members by way of transformation into Ghouls.  As the cult leader, Edmund is entrusted with many artifacts the cult has collected over the years including the Disk of Oberu, a black disk measuring five inches in diameter and almost an inch thick in the center, tapering down to less than a quarter of an inch along the rounded edge of the disk.  The disk also has carvings and symbols etched into its surface which are almost impossible to see as the Disk of Oberu reflects little if any light.

The disk came to the Cult of Hollow Earth with a story that it was used by an ancient arcanist to control a creature of night so dark as to be nearly invisible as it flew along the night sky.  The arcanist had, so the story goes, used this creature to dispose of his enemies by having it catch them in its grip while they slept, carrying them to incredible heights and dropping them to their death.

Edmund hadn’t thought much of the artifact until his own enemies, both within the Cult and without, became such an issue that he had to find a way to deal with them or risk being eliminated and replaced.  Edmund spent several days studying the disk and found that by setting it on the correct side and spinning it counter-clockwise while saying an incantation it could be activated.

Ecstatic, Edmund cleared his evening schedule and performed the acts to summon the Nightgaunt but to no avail.  The disk began to glow a faint sickly green but no Nightgaunt came forth.  After trying several more times, Edmund eventually went to bed disgusted.

Unfortunately for Edmund he missed two important facts in his research.  First, the Nightgaunt only appears when the summoner falls asleep, creating a conduit to the Dreamlands which brings the creature to our world and sends the summoner to the Dreamlands.  Second and more importantly, the disk must be hidden from the Nightgaunt.  If the Nightgaunt can find the disk then it is no longer bound by the summoner’s will.  Even worse, it can use the disk to force the summoner to do its own bidding while he walks in the Dreamlands.

As a result, the summoned Nightgaunt appeared as Edmund fell asleep and quickly grabbed the disk.  It immediately left Edmund’s home and flew around the city, killing two victims that night while it forced Edmund to work for it within the Dreamlands.

Now, two days later, a desperate Edmund Ralfone is looking for someone to help him “solve” the strange murders plaguing his city.  Four victims in three nights have been killed by apparently being dropped from great heights or by being eviscerated by some strange wild animal.  Edmund managed to get himself assigned to the case but doesn’t have much time.  He needs to retrieve the Disk of Oberu and take control of the Nightgaunt before his enemies within the Cult of Hollow Earth begin to put together the pieces.  He also needs to solve or at least stop the murders before his inability to do so results in having another detective assigned to the case.

Edmund approaches the Investigators (Players) with an offer of a job and a reward if they can help solve his case.  He is able to give them access to crime scenes and autopsy reports.  He is willing to pay a pretty hefty price if nightgauntthe Investigators are able to retrieve the disk.

The ensuing adventure could go in many different directions after the Investigators are brought in to help.  If they are able to quickly retrieve the disk they may be having a drink the next night to celebrate when they hear on the local news that another murder has occurred.  At that point they will probably realize that Edmund was more than he claimed and lead to their uncovering the Cult of Hollow Earth.  If they are slow to find the disk and stop the Nightgaunt things could get even more complicated.  Another detective could be put on the case and may or may not approve of the Investigators’ involvement.  Edmund’s enemies within the cult could realize what is going on and start looking for the disk themselves, even going so far as to tail the Investigators and possibly attack them once the disk is found.

There are many other possibilities that could occur as well.  Even if things go well and they manage to stop Edmund and the Nightgaunt, the Investigators are then left holding the Disk of Oberu.  It could be very tempting to use such a powerful artifact at some point in the future which could have any number of strange side-effects.  The disk could also contain other properties besides the ability to summon the Nightgaunt.  And of course if anyone else knows about the artifact, it is a safe bet that someone will eventually come looking to take it for themselves.



Adventure Hooks: A Wolf in Squire’s Clothing

Welcome to Adventure Hooks, a new series of posts here at the Goblin Beat dedicated to helping GMs come up with fast and fun adventures.  Each Hook will contain a plot device to help create an interesting and exciting adventure.  This first post starts with a quest that appears very straightforward at first glance but ends up with enough twists and turns to cross a hag’s eyes, assuming of course that they weren’t crossed in the first place.


This is ostensibly a fantasy Hook but could easily be tweaked for a modern or even sci-fi setting.


The heroes respond to the call of a Lord whose lands are being terrorized by a werewolf.  After some investigation it turns out that the werewolf is actually the Lord’s young son.  Once the players realize this their heroes have some tough choices to make.  Do they tell the lord about their suspicions?  Will he believe them if they do?  If they kill the werewolf, all that will be left behind is the body of the young squire, so unless there are witnesses the Lord may jump to the conclusion that the adventurers murdered his son.  Even if there are witnesses the Lord isn’t likely to hail them as heroes and pay them handsomely as he had previously promised.  The most they could hope for is to be paid and asked to never return.Werewolf_2_by_el_grimlock

If the Lord can be convinced of the truth perhaps his son can be locked away while he is under the moon’s sway.

Better yet perhaps there is a way to cure the young boy’s affliction.  The adventurers may be able to trace back to the first appearance of the wolf and find out there was a strange group of travelers in the village near that time.  If these travelers can be found, and the original werewolf slain, the boy’s curse may be broken.

Alternatively this could be a family curse which requires the Lord to make some sacrifice or find water from a magical spring to free his son and allow him to return to normal.

That’s it for this week.  Let me know what you think of this Hook, especially if you use it.  If you have ideas for an Adventure Hook you’d like to see on the site or a particular setting you’d like to see a Hook for let me know as well.