Enjoy this playtest copy of Drawn from the Margins, WatcherDM’s newest Troika!-compatible adventure module! Written for the Illuminated Manuscript Jam, this ended up being a huge, art-intensive project. Please give it a play and leave us a comment, either here or on our Itch.io page. We’d love to hear what you think.
This is only the playtest version! We’re releasing the rest of the enchilada at the end of the month. In the meantime, I apologize for the MSPaint maps and mismatched map-keys – I promise it’ll be fixed by the time it launches. 🙂
Without Further ado:
DRAWN FROM THE MARGINS
by Austin Holm
Inkwell Abbey boasts the greatest scriptorium of this Sphere; their illuminated manuscripts are second to none. Every monk there takes great pride in this and spends their life dedicated to their art.
Every monk except Albert Fong.
Brother Fong was an incorrigible doodler who filled the margins of his manuscripts with strange monsters, happy animals, and a whole bunch of rabbits and snails. These minor vandalisms would have been forgivable, but Albert Fong was (unknown even to himself) a sorcerer. A wild magic surge brought life to every image in the book Albert was working on.
The exact number of casualties is still being determined.
Those monks that survived now shelter in the nearby Inkwell Village. Their story has alarmed the peasants, and the local lords approach with their armies to erase the marginalia creatures. They arrive in tomorrow at dawn.
The villagers won’t wait that long; they seek brave heroes to clear out the monastery. The surviving monks want their hostage brothers rescued from the strange rabbit-folk that have taken over the hills west of the abbey. Albert Fong begs you to resolve the situation without violence.
What will your heroes do?
Drawn from the Margins is a Troika! Adventure Module. It’s compatible with all Troika! classes, but the following six are specifically for this adventure.
Naughty Monk – You were out for a little gambling, drinking, and ‘pardon-me-vicar-is-that-a-sausage?’ when you accidentally fell asleep in a friendly bed. You are slouching home to the monastery, practicing your explanation for the abbot, when you hear the cries of your fellows.
Fist Fighting 1
Relationship Counselling 1
Special: You may be naughty, but you’re still a monk! You know the abbey’s floorplan.
Local Kinkster – You’ve taken a brief break from being flogged by your cousin to see if the local monks will sell you a little mutton. You are walking to the monastery when you hear shrill lamentations!
Flog (Damage as Club)
Leather Hood (for Anonymity)
Relationship Counselling 3
Flog Fighting 2
Special: Recreational self-abuse has given you 1 Armor, even (especially) when not wearing armor.
Cat Fan – You like books, cats, and books about cats. You were in a bum mood after losing your cat, so you traveled a few towns over to meet fellow Cat Fancier Albert Fong, who reportedly has a very fine collection of funny cat pictures.
Book of Funny Cat Pictures
Bit of Yarn
Petting Cats 4
Second Sight 1
Spell – Jolt 1
Spell – Random 1
Special: You cannot attack a cat, even if it poses a mortal danger to you. They’re just too cute!
Lost Nudist – You were out in the woods with your friends, holding a perfectly innocent fertility dance, eating sacred mushrooms, and cavorting with unicorns when you lost consciousness. You’re not entirely sure how you ended up here, but you are determined to make the best of it.
Knife Fighting 1
Second Sight 1
Spell – Befuddle 1
Spell – Peace 1
Spell – Purple Lens 1
Spell – Read Entrails 1
Special: Although you do own things, they are not currently on your person or, indeed, in this county. You start with absolutely no possessions at all. You wear your dignity and confidence but nothing else.
Piper Dude – As a traveling minstrel, you never pass up a chance to spread your legend. You’re on your way to Inkwell Abbey to exchange musical notes with their Choirmaster. You refuse to explain the bird on your head.
Bird on Head (Soulmate)
Bird Fighting 2
Spell – Befuddle 2
Spell – Coal Resolve 2
Spell – Babble 1
Spell – Natter 1
Special: The bird that lives on your head defends you, provides backing vocals, and shares your life in a way no one else ever could. You may attack with it and deal damage as a Small Beast, but you must also feed it 1 Provision daily. Should it die (from starvation or misadventure), you lose not only your weapon but also one of your skill points in Music.
Useful Creature – You are this thing. No one knows what exactly it is. Albert Fong claims he never drew such a creature – but then again, if he had, would he admit it? You’ve simply shown up, armed with an Axe and a can-do attitude.
Magnificent Feathered Skin (as Light Armor)
Axe Fighting 4
Language – Hand Talk 6
Special: Having no mouth, you cannot speak. You do, however, have a hand, with which you may make any gesture you like.
The creatures spawned from Albert Fong’s marginal doodling are intelligent (at least relative to the locals), and most speak in the same stilted, overly formal language as the books they were born from. They have almost no real-world experience but have absorbed Fong’s common knowledge and cultural perspective via arcane osmosis.
Time and Space
The heroes arrive at noon, starting in Bat Country. Movement between zones takes 10 minutes.
At 9 pm, it becomes dark. Travel time is tripled to 30 minutes a move. All Awareness Rolls and Ranged Attacks have a -2 penalty, and all Sneak Rolls have a +2 bonus.
At 1 am, the heroes are very sleepy and Roll everything with a -1 penalty.
The local lords approach with their armies. They arrive at dawn (6 am) tomorrow. At that point, there will be no more opportunity to explore the area for any purpose, and the adventure ends.
Bat Country: Suddenly, there is a terrible roar all around the heroes, and the sky is full of what looks like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around them. A voice screams, ‘By the Hanged Man, what are these god-cursed animals!’
This area is haunted by escaped manuscript creatures, specifically ersatz bats. Albert had only ever seen a bat from a distance, so he guessed the number of legs and such that the creature had. Ten of the resulting abominations are now harassing some monks.
If the party intervenes, the monks flee to Inkwell Village and can be found there afterward. Otherwise, they are eaten by these strange creatures.
“Bats” Skill: 4 Stamina: 2 Initiative: 1
Bite & Claw as Small Beast
The “Bats” can fly but not very well. They whip around like cloaks in a hurricane, never getting more than five feet off the ground.
Inkwell Village: The villagers cannot decide if they wish to riot in the streets or cower in their houses. As a compromise, they are yelling at each other from their porches. The beleaguered monks (should any have successfully fled Bat Country) form a tight knot in the middle of the street; they know they are unwelcome here, but won’t risk fleeing into more monsters. Albert Fong is in the stockade, occasionally being pelted with rotten vegetables by all present.
Present the three Quest Hooks in this area.
The refugee monks can sketch the monastic estate, but they don’t know where specific creatures or hostages are. They don’t know how many hostages remain alive.
Everyone present knows that the Army is on its way and is due to cross the Blackwater at dawn tomorrow. The peasants aren’t willing to wait that long, and the monks consider the armed classes to be bunglers and bullies. Everyone wants the situation resolved before they show up.
The villagers will sell Knives for 5 Silver Pence and other Weapons for 12. Gourds, Ink, and Bales of Unspun Wool are the town’s only other products; each is sold in portions worth 2 Silver Pence. There’s no place for the party to sleep – the town simply isn’t big enough to rate a hotel, and the locals don’t trust you enough to allow you into their homes.
Bring Back My Boys!: The Chapter Head is frantic to recover the surviving members of the order. The last anyone saw, several brothers were being dragged off by armed rabbits, as angry as they were ill-drawn! The Head will pay 60 Silver Pence for each hostage’s safe recovery.
Let God Sort It Out: The Peasantry will pay 5 Silver Pence for each slain creature. They are poor but bloodthirsty.
Get In The Book!: The (hereditary) authorities are about to wipe this new life out. The army arrives at dawn tomorrow. Preserve as many of these creatures as possible. Fong will pay you 12 Silver Pence for each creature you save once he’s free from the stocks.
Mob: These cartoonish-looking ‘people’ are clearly images brought to life. Currently, they are involved in the group murder of one of their own – a self-portrait of Albert Fong. Everyone has a faint smile and makes casual conversation, including the thoroughly stabbed victim. They explain that Albert is a lazy daydreamer and deserves to be stabbed. The Faux Albert, sleepily, will agree.
If untroubled, they will be occupied with this murder until the army shows up. All five, including the faux Albert, will fight to defend their right to mob justice. They will not go gently into the Blank Book, but if two are slain, the survivors will surrender.
Mob Member Skill: 7 Stamina: 6 Initiative: 2
The Mob Members’ mood never changes from bemused supportiveness, even when they attack.
Property Dispute: A nude man armed with an axe chases a pig wearing pants. The man claims the pants are his; the pig insists he harvested these pants himself from a pants tree. Getting the pants for the man wins his respect (and saves your eyes a bit of an education). Protecting the pig’s property will win its respect.
The Axe-Owning Man can be convinced to join the monks. The pig might join the Papal Pig’s congregation, but neither will enter the Blank Book of their own volition.
Axe-Owning Man Skill: 7 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Pants-Owning Pig Skill: 7 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Tusk as Modest Beast
Animal Collective: These happy woodland creatures (who’ve yet to see a real woodland) are having a party here. They are suspicious of people, but they also have no wine, so they’re willing to admit humans bearing gifts, particularly Wine Barrels.
The animals in attendance here are a Bear, an Owl, a Rabbit, a Cat, a Squirrel, two Monkeys, and a Wolf (that may be a Pig). A furry humanoid sulks on the outskirts.
In event of catastrophic party foul, each of the nine guests uses the following stat block:
Party Animal Skill: 6 Stamina: 6 Initiative: 2
Damage as Small Beast (except the bear, who deals Damage as a Modest Beast)
The Guests are divided into six groups.
1 – Gluttonous Squirrel – This mohawk-wearing squirrel has positioned himself between the shrimp platter and the wine barrels. He’ll fight to keep his strategic position but befriends those who bring him Cake.
2 – Cacophonous Cat – This cat sounds awful, but she holds a vital vote in the upcoming cat election. She’s susceptible to flattery and Catnip.
3 – Egg Dance – These two monkeys, one gold and one red, have decided that the illuminated creatures deserve to have festive traditions. To that end, they are currently dancing while balancing a nest full of eggs on their head. Befriending them may require either joining their dance or getting them excited about a new, made-up party tradition.
4 – Main Stage – This bear and owl are playing music for the party. They respect other musicians who play with them or anyone who can fetch them the Choral Sheet Music from the Cathedral.
5 – Dance Pit – A rabbit and a creature that is either a wolf or a pig, depending on how close you are standing, listen to the main stage band. The rabbit, like all rabbits, is full of hate and can only be temporarily calmed by music. The wolf-pig is having an identity crisis and is looking for affirmation. He can be convinced to join the Papal Pig’s flock with little effort. If the wolf-pig leaves, the rabbit – ashamed to dance alone – leaves as well.
6 – Ugly Minstrel – This ‘ugly’ minstrel is worried that he is too human looking to succeed at this Animal Party. A little pep talk will cheer him up and get him into the party.
If the party goes well (at least three of the six groups are befriended), the animals can be convinced to preserve the good times in the Blank Book. They won’t get in until 1 am at the earliest. If the Blank Book is brought up before their needs are met, they act like you’re asking them to get in your unmarked van.
Bathing Cat: A cat takes a bath in this small pond. She won’t get out – not for the Blank Book, the Army, Catnip, or even a Cat Election.
Spending an hour bathing in this cat’s pond restored 2d6 Stamina. A character may benefit from this only once.
Abbot’s House: Outside: One of the pigs partying to the east desired more from life than amusement. Waddling west, he came upon the Abbot’s House. Having now snarfed the abbot’s larder, stolen the abbot’s clothes, and (briefly) perused the abbot’s library, he feels ready to embrace his destiny as a religious leader. He calls himself the Papal Pig and has already converted a camel, who now carries him everywhere, as well as most of the local birds.
He greets the heroes with good news: their souls are saved if only they will bow to his porcine grace. Refusal to do so will be met with a lecture about the respect due to the clergy. Still, he will not press the issue unless he thinks the heroes are weak enough that he might get away with it.
He is protected by a Porcine Paladin, who is sworn to protect his holiness, his holiness’s property, and his holiness’s right to accumulate more property.
The Papal Pig has big dreams, and he needs someone to make them happen. He asks that the heroes:
1 – Kill the Fox Cardinal by the Fishing Pond
2 – Convince the Wolf-Pig it is a pig and belongs with its fellows
3 – Convert the Pants-Owning Pig
If all three of these things are done, he can be convinced to lead his flock back into the Blank Book.
Converted Camel Skill: 6 Stamina: 8 Initiative: 2
Bite as Modest Beast
The Camel may Spit as a ranged attack. If the attack succeeds, the victim is Blinded until the end of the round. Blinded creatures have a -3 penalty on all Attacks.
Pig Pope Skill: 4 Stamina: 6 Initiative: 1
Hooves as Small Beast
Porcine Paladin Skill: 8 Stamina: 8 Initiative: 2
Inside: Although his Holy Hoggishness has rooted and torn through this once nice apartment, there still remain six Provisions, 23 Silver Pence, a Sword, a spare Key to the Wine Cellar, and the tattered remains of a few letters. The letters are mostly complaints to other Abbots about the Chapter Head; Abbot Schwein suspects him of corruption and wants some inquisitors to pay him a visit.
Fishing Pond: The Geese that inhabit this pond were among the first converts of the Papal Pig – at least until this Fox showed up. Having secured himself a cardinal’s hat (and with it some religious authority), he’s now lecturing these birds on the moral virtue of being a prey animal. Inexplicably, he’s having a great deal of success and has already eaten at least one willing martyr to his hunger.
Cardinal Fox Skill: 7 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3 Bite as Modest Beast Rod as Club Run 3 Stealth 3
Hospice: Most of the sick beds have been drawn up into an impromptu barricade which divides this hospice in half. The northern part of the hall is now the domain of the Devil Doctor; the south belongs to Doctor Dog and a Sick Cat, his only patient. All human patients have (naturally) fled, and both doctors are very eager to practice their craft.
Devil Doctor demands to be paid in YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL, but if that price is too dear he will work for cheap, offering healing for 6 Silver Pence. He demands you get naked, calls you nasty names, and rubs your eyeball in a way that can only be described as ‘lecherous’. Despite this, he is an adequate healer; his ministrations restore 2d6 Stamina. He will not treat a patient twice during the course of the adventure, instead accusing them of having Munchausen Syndrome.
Doctor Dog, on the other hand, is very earnest and treats his patients with the utmost respect. He’s confident the cat will recover any day now. Unfortunately, his grasp of human anatomy and pharmacology is terrible; roll on the following table to determine what medicine he prescribes.
The ‘Sick’ Cat is faking her illness to be near the dog, whom she loves. Resolving this tension earns her vote in the Cat Election.
Neither Doctor wants to go back in the Blank Book, but they are willing to offer their services to the monks. They’ll accept the Devil Doctor only if the heroes vouch for them.
Doctor Dog poisons the monks with his bad medicine if they take him on board. He can be talked back into the Blank Book only if someone proves to him that he’s a bad doctor.
As for the cat, she’ll follow the dreamy Doctor Dog wherever he may go.
Demon Doctor Skill: 8 Stamina: 10 Initiative: 3 Bite & Claw as Large Beast
Doctor Dog Skill: 7 Stamina: 6 Initiative: 2 Bite & Claw as Modest Beast
‘Sick’ Cat Skill: 8 Stamina: 4 Initiative: 2 Bite & Claw as Small Beast
Throat Frogs Skill: 6 Stamina: 5 Initiative: 2 Projectile Body Slam as Small Beast
The Fox won’t enter the book or make any concessions to the human world; he is confident that, when the army comes, his wits will keep him alive.
Doctor Dog prescribes a…
1 – Sweet Brown Potion – Made of melted dog chocolate, this drink is toxic to humans. Test your Luck or take 1d6 damage.
2 – Sugar Water – No effect. If you try to complain about this, he dogsplains the placebo effect to you and says there’s nothing wrong with you a little exercise wouldn’t cure.
3 – Neon Green Potion – Cures 1 Stamina but also removes your capacity for human speech for two hours. To communicate during this time, bark, growl, or otherwise communicate as a dog would.
4 – Throat Medicine – You feel good! Restore 1d3 Stamina. Thirty minutes after you take this potion, you begin to cough. Suddenly, you cough up 1d6 Throat Frogs. They are as happy as they are hostile.
5 – Medicinal Collar – Your injuries/illness is caused by tiny insects. To dissuade them, you must wear an itchy collar around your neck. Its stink is medical-grade.
6 – Salve – This salve is not just useless; it also causes a rash. Wearing armor over this rash deals 1 Stamina damage an hour. The rash lasts the rest of the day.
The Abbey is a spacious, solid building made of modest but hardy materials. The monks are long gone, and the abbey is now the domain of the strangest of the escaped marginalia.
Narthex: The poor, headless monster crying on the chapel porch calls himself Tor-Sor. He’s terribly distraught; one of the monks he ate earlier called him a ‘hideous beastie’, and it’s really gotten under his skin. He swears he’s out of the monk-eating life – just as soon as he can find himself a head. He’ll happily accept a facsimile, but if one is not forthcoming, he’ll just pop off the head of the nearest human and wear it like a hat.
Tor-Sor won’t return to the Blank Book. If he’s provided with a false head, he’s willing to join the abbey as a lay brother. If he has an organic head, the monks will refuse this offer.
Tor-Sor Skill: 9 Stamina: 14 Initiative: 3
Ogre Smash as Large Beast
Tor-Sor does not take double damage from Mighty Blows.
Any creature reduced below 0 Stamina by Tor-Sor is immediately decapitated and worn.
Chapel: This massive hall sits quiet and empty. Many of the escapees from the book came through this area, including Tor-Sor, the ‘Bats’, and the Rabbits. Debris, ashes, and corpses are all that remains of the altar, pews, and choir.
Searching this Chapel reveals the Choral Sheet Music.
Cloister Garden: Keeping to the shaded arcade that lines this garden allows the heroes to access the doors here, but attempting to cross the sunlight atrium garden awakens a deadly piece of escaped marginalia: the Mandrake!
Those who Roll Under Sneak may cross the garden without waking the beast, but those who enter noisily soon hear its unearthly screeching. Each creature takes damage as if it’d been hit by a Small Beast every time they take an action in the Cloister Garden. This includes leaving the room.
The Mandrake can be pacified by Rolling Under Botany. A pacified Mandrake can be transported by the botanist who subdued it. It is not only an alarm, and a deadly weapon – Tor-Sor will happily accept it as a substitute head. A pacified Mandrake may also be placed in the Blank Book.
Alternatively, the Mandrake may be smashed by Rolling Under Any Fighting Skill.
Once a Mandrake awakes, it won’t return to sleep (unaided) for one hour.
Those who search this area may Roll Under Botany to discover the garden patch where Albert Fong grew Catnip.
Monastery Dorms: The monks sleep here. As such, the beds are a good deal nicer than the lay-dorms, but there are no personal belongings aside from a few dirty robes. Still, the doors lock from inside; this seems the safest place in the monastery to rest.
Despite this appearance of safety, a foot-licking demon hides beneath one of the beds here. If the heroes attempt to rest, the creep slithers out to lick their feet. This is harmless but demeaning. If the heroes (justifiably) seek vengeance, he fights like a maniac, bouncing off the walls while critiquing, remembering, or loudly theorizing about the heroes’ feet.
Foot-Licking Demon Skill: 7 Stamina: 9 Initiative: 4 Sneak 3 Snake-Mouthed Tail as Modest Beast This demon is easily mesmerized by showing your toes.
East Hall: This hall contains nothing but a large mural of the local god, the Hanged Man, Martyr of Compassion.
Library: One of the Escaped Marginalia torched this room. Nothing remains. Anyone searching this area must Test their Luck or take 1d6 damage as one of the bookshelves collapses.
Lay Dorms: The lay brothers of the monastery slept here. They were untrusted by the monastic brothers, so their dorm locks from the outside. Characters feel too unsafe to sleep here.
Trunks of personal belongings can be found at the foot of the beds here. They can be raided for 2 Clubs, 2 Knives, a Book of Provocative Woodblock Prints, a Bronze Mirror, and 42 Silver Pence.
Sacristy: The Sacristy is meant to contain the abbey’s valuables, but that’s not all that’s in there now. Even from outside this closet-sized room, you can hear something inside bashing around with fevered intensity. This half-yellow-wolf, half-smoke creature is excited about all the shiny things in this closet, but he does not want to share. He’s a gregarious sort of chap, as long as no interest is expressed in his treasures; even the smallest hint of interest can create a paranoid spiral that will end in violence.
In addition to the host of candlesticks, chalices, scepters, and jewels (worth 400 Silver Pence if sold to a fence), there’s also a Magic Ring. Inset into this ring is the Fingerbone of Saint Alacritous, **which gives anyone wearing it +1 Initiative.
The Ringwolf won’t go willingly into the Blank Book. There’s nothing shiny in there.
Ring Wolf Skill: 8 Stamina: 11 Initiative: 4
Bite & Claw as Modest Beast
Silver Candlestick as Club
Magic Ring (Bonus included in statblock)
Chapter House: Five strange-looking wizened creatures wearing cassocks bicker with each other as they reenact an ersatz chapter meeting. They are currently arguing about what to have for dinner and which one of them gets to be named Cheswick.
The false monks are deeply entrenched in their convictions. The dinner debate is first: Fish or Fowl? The only way to decide this issue is to bring the false monks food; they are very hungry and will forget their differences once fed. Provisions are too crude – these monks want something from the kitchen.
The second issue is who gets to be named Cheswick. The two lead applicants’ pictures have been supplied. Armed with credibility from supplying dinner, the heroes may decide the issue as they please.
The false monks have no wish to return to the Blank Book, but if their situation is explained to them, they will happily take their vows and become real monks.
False Monks Skill: 4 Stamina: 5 Initiative: 2 Unarmed
Wine Cellar: The Wine Cellar is currently haunted by a skeleton, drawn by a monk who’s lived a rather pampered life and never seen a human skeleton. The creature is currently helping itself to the monk’s vintage wines. He’d love to share, but don’t take any wine from the cellar; he considers it the height of bad manners and will respond with violence. He won’t willingly enter the Blank Book.
Those who drink with the skeleton should roll on the following table.
1 – wants to compare bones with you.
2 – talks about wine. He knows nothing about it and feels it’s important that you never suspect this.
3 – wants to know if you have any attractive dead friends.
4 – has a crisis of self-image and needs to be told it’s not too fat.
5 – plays the xylophone on its ribcage and begins to dance.
6 – just wants to get dead drunk in silence.
After each carousing roll, each participating creature (including the skeleton) should Test its Luck, falling asleep for four hours on a failure. Characters with the Drinking Skill may try Rolling Under Drinking instead.
If the skeleton is sleeping, it can be safely secured in the Blank Book, and the Wine Cellar made be looted for Bottles of Wine and Wine Barrels.
Skeleton Skill: 7 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Broken Wine Bottle as a Knife
Toilet: The room is filled with the sound of the artificial streams that run below the coarse wooden seats. A swarm of manicules builds a nest in the ceiling of this simple toilet. These disembodied hands once pointed to lines and paragraphs of particular importance; now freed, these idle hands breed, nest, and plot the devil’s work. They will attack any non-manicule hands they see, jealous of their arms and bodies.
Brother Geisel dropped the Key to the Wine Cellar on the floor here when he tried to flee. He barely managed to close the door behind him. The manicules have been rapidly breeding since.
Those who ‘speak’ Hand Talk may negotiate (verbally) with the manicules. They will trade the Key to the Wine Cellar for a ring or glove. If provided such, they can be convinced to get in the Blank Book.
Manicule Swarm Skill: ? Stamina: 9 Initiative: ?
Special: The Swarm’s Skill and Initiative are equal to its current Stamina.
The Swarm has a bonus on Damage Rolls equal to half its Stamina rounded down.
The Swarm takes half damage from weapons without an area effect.
Kitchen: The kitchen is a modest one. Most of it has been trashed by the escaped marginalia, but it still contains 30 Provisions, some Fish, some Fowl, some Knives, and an Industrious Cat, who is churning butter.
The Industrious Cat will trade its vote in the Cat Election in exchange for 30 minutes of butter churning from the party. The Cat craves the taste of butter and has spent most of its existence so far trying to make some. When it succeeds (around 5 pm), it will be underwhelmed and assume that it has made a mistake. Undeterred, it will begin again.
The Cat will not enter the Blank Book. If it is violently confronted, it escapes effortlessly.
If the heroes can get some eggs (and some butter from the Industrious Cat), all the other ingredients to make Cake can be found here. Doing so takes one hour and requires someone to Roll Under Cooking successfully.
Refrectory: The Dining Hall is a large but sparsely furnished room. The doorways that lead to the outside are particularly narrow, meant to keep out rotund, gluttonous monks; characters in Armor cannot fit through.
The creature in this space has seen its reflection and is coping poorly. It seeks revenge on all who can see and the sweet release of death.
‘Lamia’ Skill: 8 Stamina: 11 Initiative: 3 Claw as Modest Beast. Special: If the Lamia can see its reflection, it suffers a -1 Penalty to its Skill.
Warming Room: This is the only room in the abbey that still has a fire burning. Once tended by aging monks, a small nation of Cats now manages the fire. They are busy electing a new leader from a set of two candidates: the King of Cats (who is a chonky little derp) and the Darklion (who is evil in cat form).
King of Cats Skill: 8 Stamina: 10 Initiative: 3 Bite & Claw as Small Beast.
Darklion Skill: 9 Stamina: 10 Initiative: 3 Bite & Claw as Large Beast.
Naturally, adult cats are little inclined to listen to monarchs, politicians, or even gods, so this election affects only those kittens too young to vote in it. A mass of such snuggly little cuties is romping about the floor of this area, waiting to learn their fate.
Although both the Darklion and the King of Cats is too proud to ask for help, both openly advocate for their plans for the Cats (see below). The heroes may sway the election by convincing two of the following cats to vote: Cacophonous Cat, Sick Cat, and Industrious Cat. Cats have no sense of civic duty and will not participate in cat-politics unless offered personal favors in a quid pro quo. The Twin Lions and Bathing Cat want for nothing and won’t vote.
Neither potential cat leader will reenter the Blank Book. They are too nimble to fear anything so simple as a human army. Still, the King of Cats is willing to lead his nation (such as it is) in a Great Rat Hunt in exchange for regular saucers of milk and ear scritches.
Should the Darklion win, he leads his people into catastrophe. They leave dead birds in the beds of bipeds, especially the adventurers. Anytime the heroes put down a glass, a cat will appear to push it off a ledge while making eye contact. Strange alley cats assault your ankles at every opportunity and yowl outside your window as you try to sleep. Every cat acts like a blood-thirsty psychopath. People still love them and keep them indoors.
Either cat can protect themselves and the kittens from the invading army.
If not enough cats vote, the election is declared void, and the kittens are leaderless. The adult cats escape as the army enters, but the kittens are caught and killed with the other living images.
Scriptorium: The Scriptorium was once home to row upon row of stooped writing desks. These have all been smashed to tinder in the chaos that ensued after Albert Fong’s book sprang to life. Only Albert’s writing desk remains intact, at the center of a circle of splinters and dead scribes. Large illuminated letters are plastered all over the walls. Atop the desk is the open book, now completely blank.
Standing amidst this chaos is a familiar-looking yet outlandish creature. This is Alpha Ong, an idealized self-portrait Albert Fong drew in the margins of his book. It looks like Albert, but with a jawline, cheekbones, and a smoldering pair of eyes. His perfect face is topped off in hair made of gun steel and gold leaf.
Sadly, Albert was caught before drawing the body. Alpha Ong is, as pictured, a giant head.
Alpha Ong is acutely aware of his new mortality. He considers the book his best chance at immortality but is worried that it may be destroyed if it remains in the monastery.
Alpha Ong Skill: 10 Stamina: 20 Initiative: 2
Giant Teeth and Prehensile Tongue as Large Beast.
The Blank Book – Once this artifact is recovered, some of the Living Marginalia may be convinced to shelter within it once again.
The Inkwell Hills
The Abbey takes its name from the Inkwells, strange springs that erupt from the hills to the west. Each is vibrantly colored and well-suited to the production of art and religious texts. These blue and yellow purple hills are thoroughly ink-stained. The sum of these vibrant waters flows into the Blackwater, where they mix together into the famously dark river.
The most violent creatures spawned of Albert’s doodling headed to these hills. The Rabbits have organized and now control most of the area.
Border of the Rabbit Lands: A lone rabbit cavalier patrols from atop a strange beast. It has the head of an ape, the neck of a snake, the legs of a hawk, and a four-fingered tail. Like all of the rabbits Albert drew, this one considers his very existence a sort of personal insult. As such, he has a hare-trigger and will attack anyone he sees without provocation.
Rogue Rabbit Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3 Club.
Cockatrice Skill: 7 Stamina: 8 Initiative: 2
Bite as Small Beast
Special: Its bite also reduces its victim’s Initiative by 1 for one hour while raising its victim’s Armor by 1 for the same duration. A creature that has its Initiative reduced to 0 this way is turned to stone until its Initiative rises to 1.
Strange Joust: A strange joust is playing out on these ink-stained hills. A rabbit knight is chasing down some dogs from the back of his mount, a snail with the face of a man. This duo is as fast as a man on horseback and does its best to run down any humans they see.
If the rabbit is dispatched, the snail will offer to serve the heroes as a mount. It is as fast as a horse, though prone to slow-paced monologues on the monotony of monopod monogamy.
If Sir Chivas can be lured here, he’ll immediately challenge and charge this mounted foe. The resulting crash kills both jousters and their mounts.
Rabbit Knight Skill: 8 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
Lance as Spear.
Snail Mount Skill: 5 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Trample as Modest Beast.
Worm Knight: This range of the hills belongs not to the rabbits but to the Worm Knight. This crawling (and frequently weeping) warrior despises his weird hybrid body. He lashes out in violence, degrading himself verbally as he battles the heroes. If he is complemented and appreciated, he will become peaceful and swear fealty to the person who fixed his self-respect.
Worm-Knight Skill: 7 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Modest Armor 2.
Rogue Snail: An (arguably) innocent knight is being charged by a massive snail. If he can be rescued before he is consumed, the victim knight introduces himself as Sir Gallantry. He came as soon as he heard there was trouble, eager to prove his mettle. He feels he has done so now and will bequeath his Club and Shield to any youngsters he’s inspired to follow in his footsteps and finish rescuing these poor monks.
The snail is simply aggrieved his territory is being invaded. He will not back down.
Sir Gallantry Skill: 6 Stamina: 5 Initiative: 1
Large Snail Skill: 8 Stamina: 10 Initiative: 3
Trample as Large Beast.
Knight Jousting at Snails: Another knight-gallant lost in the snail hills, Sir Chivas, is here charging down the small snails at lance-point. If he is not stopped before 5 pm, he will injure many innocent snails, as well as himself and his horse. He hates snails for reasons he claims are too painful to discuss. If he’s pressed on this, he challenges his interrogator to single combat.
If Sir Chivas can be pacified or redirected, the dozen surviving marginalia snails living here will happily return to the Blank Book.
Sir Chivas Skill: 8 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 2
Lance as Spear.
Twin Lions: Two lions, one red and one white, play with their cubs here while chatting amongst themselves. They sound like New England Yacht Club Members and cannot stop telling each other “what an absolute gas” they are.
These cats are big enough to eat the heroes, so they will not consider either getting into the Blank Book or voting in the cat elections. Their cubs flee when things get rough.
Alleged Lions Skill: 8 Stamina: 12 Initiative: 2
Bite & Claw as Large Beast
Special: Instead of attacking, the Alleged Lions may Roar, causing all non-lions to Test their Luck or take a -1 Penalty on all rolls until combat ends.
Execution Hill: As the heroes enter this space, their gaze is drawn to the summit of a nearby hill, where a rabbit brandishes a sword over a hostage human. “Sic Semper Homo Sapiens!” cries the creature as it severs the poor monk’s head. The rabbit flees with superhuman speed as his victim’s head rolls down the hill towards you.
Rogue Rabbit Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
If the heroes pursue, have them Roll Run Vs the Rogue Rabbit or Tracking Vs Stealth to follow this rabbit to Interrogation without needing to roll on the Pasturelands table.
The abbey scriptorium needed an endless supply of vellum. They acquired these pastures to feed the sheep their business required. Since the Marginal Creatures were freed, the Rabbits have organized. Having overpowered both the monks and some local vigilantes, they are now well-armed and in possession of several hostages. The Rabbits here have no interest in being preserved in the Blank Book or making any peaceful accommodations. They are filled with rage (mostly about how they were drawn) and want only violence and death.
You are here to rescue the monks. The rabbits have already chosen death.
The Pasturelands are dense hills full of caves and burrows – a perfect place to hide. If the heroes spend ten minutes searching the Pasturelands, they roll on the following table to see which encounter they find. Once an encounter is resolved, replace it with A Fruitless Search.
1 – Blackjack
2 – A Fruitless Search (No Encounter)
3 – Interrogation
4 – Rabbit Accosting a Monk
5 – Club Rabbits
6 – Rich Hostage
Blackjack: The most violent of the rabbit mob, this axe-wielding lunatic has an endless line of prey-animal ancestors to avenge. He prefers to stalk his victims for a while before he attacks. After he’s encountered, your heroes should Roll Awareness Vs Blackjack’s Skill. He’ll wait to attack until he’s either spotted or the heroes have taken battle damage.
Blackjack Skill: 9 Stamina: 9 Initiative: 4
Interrogation: Two rabbits beat a bound human with clubs as they ruthlessly question him about the locations of the nearest undefended human settlements. They gloat about the cruelties they will visit on the population there: they intend to boil and eat the men; skin, tan, and wear the women’s hides; and use the children to test their alchemical and cosmetic inventions.
If it escaped from the Execution Hill encounter, a sword-wielding rabbit might be found here as well.
If he can be rescued, this hostage’s name is Barfomew. He knows the rabbits took five total hostages and will weep for brother Yon if the heroes report his execution. He will flee if he’s provided a robe. Otherwise, his ‘modesty’ forces him to cower behind a bush.
Rogue Rabbit Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
Two with Clubs.
One with a Sword.
Rabbit Accosting a Monk: This monk almost got free, but now the rabbits have him again, and he has naught to protect him but his prayers.
The monk is Brother Geisel, the cellarer. He needs healing. Provisions and rest won’t suffice – heroes must either Roll Under Healing or bring him to the Devil Doctor in the Hospice. Doctor Dog will do more harm than good, killing Geisel.
If Geisel can be healed, he tells the heroes where he last saw the Abbot, allowing them to simply choose to go to encounter six rather than having to roll on the Pasturelands table to get there. He also knows where the Key to the Wine Cellar is; he dropped it fleeing the abbey Toilet.
Rogue Rabbit Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
Special: If this rabbit survives the first round of combat, he calls for reinforcements – three more Rogue Rabbits armed with Swords.
Club Rabbits: Brother Echo is being bound and beaten by two Bunnymen here. His captors taunt him with their plan to sacrifice him beneath what they call ‘the killing moon’. If they’re not stopped, they do this at 11 pm.
Rogue Rabbits Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
Rich Hostage: Abbot Schwein is here, his head on the executioner’s block. If rescued, he demands the heroes abandon their rescue efforts and turn back towards the abbey. He’s terrified of what might happen to his house and treasures; when he finds them destroyed by the Papal Pig, he will demand blood (and bacon).
The rabbit here is alone, but he will kill the abbot if he sees you coming.
Rogue Rabbit Skill: 6 Stamina: 7 Initiative: 3
If all the marginalia creatures are either safe in the Blank Book, employed/welcomed by the monks, or dead, then the army will turn back in a huff as soon as it arrives. Albert Fong and the surviving monks return to work, promising to write and illustrate the tale of your adventure. Consider this a victory!
If not, the army storms the area, killing everything. Any hostages who are still in the paws of the rabbits are as good as dead. Likewise, even the most harmless of the Marginal Creatures will be slaughtered. The town (and those monks who survive) are grateful, and a type of peace returns to Inkwell. Albert Fong, mourning his lost creation, leaves Inkwell Abbey. He swears revenge and seeks dark muses to hone his talents, both artistic and sorcerous.
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