Help with Horror in High Fantasy



Hey ya’ll,

Your humble, golden haired god from the northlands of Sweden here.
I could use some input on how to run a session of Halloween Horror in my Final Fantasy campaign.

The setup is this;

The Valley (where they live) celebrates autumn with something akin to Halloween or Festival of the Dead. Haven’t gotten around to the theme of it but since it’s important for them to remember their ancestors and also to burn their dead since they might rise again as evil spirits or monsters.

I will be using the Duskfall Manor map from @Meadbeard and it will be a part of the village of Jagged Rock because their mayor Cid Bluebell has… a mansion.

The party will be going to the village of Jagged Rock mostly because the PC Grenwulf won’t be leaving his childhood friend Laura Bluebell’s side and the other NPC party of “girlfriends” want everyone there to show support and also to enjoy the celebrations.

Laura Bluebell has been awoken from a long coma after an accident in the now named “Cursed Mines”. She has changed a lot, become depressed, introvert and has been starting to write strange math/scriptures on the walls of her chambers in the Bluebell mansion.
Unbeknownst to the PCs she has been infected by nano-machines from the ancient, time-travelling, dragon-slaying machine OMEGA. She is becoming it’s prophet and will work as it’s agent to repair it.

Thing is I’m not 100% sure where to go with this. I’m thinking this;

  • The villagers and the PCs friends is already infected/mind controlled by Laura when the PCs arrive, act strange and give freudian slips or act in other creepy ways like offering omega-symbol-shaped pretzels. Maybe they want to lure them into the caves leading to the mines.
  • Everything is dandy at the festival until someone infected by Laura shows up and with a touch they infect another and shit goes hot-virus zombie infection.

I think I need to strip the PCs of their gear (or they can go to a certain location to gear up if they can get there).

Any cool ideas or tips on how to run this. I want these big damn heroes to get nervous and fear for their PCs lives. Well… maybe not THEIR lives but the lives of their closest friends.


Using descriptive prepared flavor text to set the scene is the way to set horror into the minds of the players. Write a couple paragraphs to really set the scene for each room.


Shooting from the hip here…

The Omega ship has spread roots through the earth for nourishment. It has even found and devoured the corpses of the generations of dead that have been buried by the village. And, it has infected Bluebell to become its eyes, ears, etc. in fact, all villagers that have been infected have become the eyes and ears of Omega. A hive mind.

Clues begin to surface as one NPC makes comments to the Party that shouldn’t be known to that NPC, but would be known by a different one.

Party could be walking around and spot villagers lying in the dirt making “dirt angels”. They could go to a house to eat and be served a literal mud pie.

Thick strange Roots are seen growing up and around homes.

Along with this, they would also spot villagers taking metal objects and leaving them in a cave (where Omega is buried), later finding all the metal gone.

As the village ritual commences and the ancestral power is tapped, the infected all begin to dig into the dirt. They begin eating the earth, ravenously shoving clumps of dirt and grass into their mouths as they scratch and paw at the ground. There e trying to get to the following tendrils.

The villagers shove root-like tendrils into their mouths. The Omega tendrils begin sucking life force energy out of the villagers to power itself. Pulling villagers off the roots kills them. It ultimately rises as the earth splits in two swallowing the town into it.

The PCs then are face to face with the Omega behemoth. All actions against it are futile. It flies away leaving bring a destroyed town and the lifeless husks of the infected villagers.

It’s a slow burn of weirdness until the end when it all goes down.


Halloween themed infection? CANDY

Maybe local candy merchant who is supplying the upcoming festival comes to visit young Laura hoping to cheer her up with candy she used to love as a young child.

On his visit, he gets infected and returns back to his candy supply and BAM all the candy gets infected.


A slow build to a big reveal is hard to pull off. You need to drop little clues that add up to a big thing.

The Omega symbol is good. Find several ways to gently insert that into different situations. Pretzels, sure. At the big town gathering, the stand in the symbol - arrange minis on the map and let the players see it. Maybe they’ve torn down a few of the buildings and rebuilt them so the town itself is in the shape of the symbol.

Infected townsfolk share each other’s memories. Talk to one NPC in town, and an NPC across town says some small thing to indicate they know the other conversation. The second NPC needs to brush this all aside when confronted - “Oh, I was thinking of the conversation I had with Mabel Trueberry last night! Ha ha!” Just a couple of these will help.

Is this prophet dangerous? How so? Build on that, slowly through the players time in the village.

It should be a slow simmer, not a flash boil, if you want horror.


Music always helps-though I don’t know if anyone makes my first thought, medieval lute and harp music interrupted by industrial glitch noises.

Hey…weren’t there more people in this town? I mean, there was that old guy, the historian…but his house is empty…and clean…I mean, really really clean. Too clean for an abandoned house…



Mechanically, I like option two, hot-zombie-virus. I’ve run a similar encounter, and it works great. Have the party RP some, get to know the townspeople, form a few bonds, then everyone shows up at the festival. There’s a big announcement up on stage by the mayor or some dignitary, with everyone crowded around, but patient zero is there either on the stage being honored or in the front row. She infects the major first, to graphic display, and then the crowd members start turning, lightning fast. Think opening scene of World War Z. Maybe it’s the blood spray. Wherever the droplets hit, people get infected and then they hemorrhage too in a geyser. Be sure you kill off some of the NPCs the players bonded with.

Be prepared for some townsfolk to form a resistance. Your PCs can help them, team up, or go their own way. In any event, every round this thing needs to spread. Maybe after so long, the target goes up too. That kind of increasing difficulty will strike fear in these PCs.

After that, just make sure there is a clue to solve this. The apothecary was acting weird. Or, they find patient zero’s journal. Or they end up in a structure with wizard supplies or a flamethrower or some treat that can help them (oh, the “virus” can’t stand heat or cold or water). There should be a solution in terms of how to stop it and where to go to stop the source.

Then, they can try to track it to its source and try to kill it in an epic final battle. Those are my thoughts. Good luck!


The nano-machine infection and it making people want to repair Omega give me a body snatchers type vibe, so I would be playing up the paranoia and distrust. And the body horror of outside infection and the horror of losing your autonomy.

You suggested the villagers / PC’s are already infected and mind controlled.That immediately puts the PC’s as outsiders, like if they’re some of the ONLY people in the village not mind-controlled from the beginning, then I’d actually play up the villagers being like, falsely-friendly but overtly and slightly rudely suspicious of the party, everyone the party some serious side-eye. And all the villagers are weirdly into uniformity and conformity.

NPC convo like: “Oh, oh, your new in town, well welcome, welcome, we’re all good folk here. We’re not like the deviants you meet outside of this perfect town. We’re all working to a greater purpose, something we call Omega. DON’T TOUCH THAT! I tell ya what, why don’t you all just head down to the festival in the town square, it’s about to begin, we’d love for you to join us…”

Next horror element is realizing that they can’t trust anyone. So when the whole village goes Resident Evil 4 / The Crazies on them in the village square during the festival, some of the villagers who initially collaborate with the party or help them escape the village square actually try to get the party infected, or lead them into a trap, or spy on them for Laura Bluebell… Or better yet, Laura Bluebell joins the party and makes a show of fighting off her own puppets to gain the party’s trust. Ultimately, any help she gives is making things worse as she leads the party into a nano-machine infection trap.

Last element is the party can’t be scared or terrified of a monster with stats that they can just whack with swords. I think the threat of nano-machine infection is how you make them sweat. Like each time a villager hits them, or gets close to them, have them make saves all the time. Failure happens in steps - it’s not save or die. Each failed save makes the character weaker and weaker… Trap them in the cursed mines, so that until they get out they’ll eventually fail the last save and join the village mindlessly repairing Omega.

I think ultimately come up with a mechanic for what the Player has to deal with as they fight off a nano-machine infection. Do they spend rounds stunned? SAVE vs WIS on DM’s turn, or the DM controls them like a monster, and they attack the other party members? Etc…

And then you’ll want to give the players a way to actually fix their poor friend Ms. Bluebell and save whatever part of the town they haven’t hacked to bits to save their own skins. And save themselves since they should also all be infected by nano-machines by the end of the session. >:D

Also: I agree, you’ll probably want some sort of NPC non-infected resistance who can help the players figure out at least part of what’s going on.


@Kotzsu Your description reminded me of Hot Fuzz in a way. This town would be a nice place if it weren’t for the vandals.


Baths!!! Answering the main question. Getting rid of certain loot and how to play the infectious moment.

Make the day of the dead, a bit more ceremonial than most would expect. Adding the names of the recently dead or long past dead they want to get a boon in their death.

As part of the ceremony require bathes after writing the message and names for the dead, and throwing the notes in one of the fires, after ritual bath, and donning costumes.

Offer the PCs the knowledge that in mechanical means if they need knowledge about something in the future that is known by the dead, and they do the ceremony correctly they can make any successful knowledge check, a critical success!!

Once I the expensive baths are done (only ones available at this late date), make a big deal…whatever costumes they want…if they want plain make them choose more refined, or outlandish. During all that have the players make about 3 rolls each. Have 2 be high room rolls… those that fail, have them do something embarrassing, thinking it is for social rolls…if anyone makes the high rolls, after it happens…notice the thriving.

As the PCs chase the thieves or get in their costumes and notice the missing loot…it’s night of the living dead out there, those not infected as running and screaming or just screaming or just running…


You guys are freaking awesome


Thanks everyone!
Turned out to be a blast.
They LOVED the ritual bath and I let them decide how to do it. It involved a body scrub, qigong dance and a sacrifice to the ancestors.

Cid the mayor went on rampage infecting the ritual dancers at the festival and there they were without weapons. Luckily their summoner could shine then!
Alas Grenwulf critfailed trying to save little Pete from his infected mother just before we ended the session!

I decided on using maps and going with a hot-virus spread. Just a drop of blood is enough to get them Con saves going >:)


Also… they are making festival tokens for next session received_723149634829882 received_2683075825090199


Thanks…glad it helped. You won’t be able to use that trick too many times ;-p unless baths become a regular thing in your games.


well… this is the second hot-spring they’ve been at…
I look forward to some beach action with swim-suit sprites xD


Talora-festival2 bridget-biggs-festival wetherly-wedge-festival
Just HAD to whip up some festival clothing for the all girls NPC-party