Creepy graveyards are places where the dead rest poorly, if indeed they rest at all. Sometimes minor haunts linger near the place of their burial and may even form the basis of local legends, rumours or stories.
Use the table below, to determine what haunts appear to the PCs.
- An item disappears from a PC’s gear as a faint cackling echoes from far away. When looked for, the item is barely visible among another PC’s gear, as if the second character had hastily stowed it.
- The holy symbol on a gravestone cracks violently and dozens of worms pour forth when it is visible only in the corner of the eye. The grave is marked “Anilda Ravenheart”. Locals recall this young half-orc woman had a crisis of faith as a result of a sudden illness that killed her.
- A veiled woman cries out, begging to know where her family’s graves are as she runs between markers and sinks to the ground at a nearby intersection. When approached, her veil blows away to reveal a faceless silhouette that asks, “Where is my grave?” before she disintegrates into dust and is blown away by a sudden gust of wind.
- An unconsecrated grave in a lonesome spot is overgrown and surrounded by tall weeds. When examined, the plants writhe despite not a breath of wind and the PCs feel tangles of plants grasping at them. A ropey weed swiftly twines up from the ground around a PC’s neck, forming a limp noose. The plants then vanish. The grave is marked “Noxanna Gorholm”—records show the woman therein was hanged for brigandry.
- A mound of uprooted lilies covers a fresh grave. The mound crumples suddenly as if an unseen human child or halfling knelt on it. A high-pitched voice chants sing-song nonsense words while the mound rapidly moulders away to nothing. The gravestone reads “Margrimm Suresteel”. Local stories say he was a generous dwarven trader who was thrown from his horse after desecrating a fairy ring.
- A luminous armoured halfling patrols a distant path. Anyone speaking to him or looking directly at him is momentarily wrapped in supernatural silence. The figure gapes and turns as if to run. It then vanishes while the speaker feels the air briefly grow thin.
- An open grave with a blank marker seems to be bottomless. Upon examination, a howling wind sucks in dust and leaves from nearby plants while shrieks of anguish and pain fill the air for a moment before the vision passes. The grave is only six-foot deep and shows no sign of disturbance.
- A small tarnished bell at the foot of an old grave rings as if yanked strongly from below, but the rope isn’t connected to anything. The grave is marked “Lorantus Vornmark”. Investigations reveal he was an elderly human who died quietly in his sleep. If exhumed, the skeletal remains are curled in the foot of the coffin, surrounded by scratch marks.
If the PCs choose to lay a haunt to rest, the required method should generally relate to the haunt’s backstory and probably not involve mere combat. Success may grant boons from the dead unfortunate’s relatives or friends. At the least, the folk watching over the graveyard will likely be grateful to the PCs for putting an unquiet spirit to rest.
This article appears in 20 Things #10: Creepy Graveyard, available now.
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David N. Ross is a freelance writer and game designer living in California with his equally creative boyfriend. His most visible work is Paizo Inc.’s Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Intrigue, but he has contributed to dozens of other products for Paizo, Encounter Table Publishing, Purple Duck Games, Nord Games, Raging Swan Press (of course) and others since he started working in video games and tabletop RPGs in 2010.