(Entry into Joey Lindsey's nefarious contest, or not, if the time is up)
|The souls of all naughty children go to the bottom of the well. Yes, all of them.|
It came to pass that in the Village of ____ a villainous man, said to be a sorcerer, confined his soul and evil intent in a finely crafted clockwork skull and buried himself away next to a shrine of his foul God N____. This was in the Age of Heroes. One day a well was sunk in my grandda's time and the water there was found to be sour and unhealthy. Many children in the village went missing but it were said they could be heard cavorting at the bottom of the well, dancing and giggling, and the rattling of a baby's rattle also (although it was said only older children disappeared)...
The augurs said it were ill and the fishing dried up anyhow, so the village has fallen into hard hard times and only the most thirsty and unwise go there in the light of the moon.
1) the trail from the village leads to a miserable clearing with sick looking crickets by day, and twisted willows and scrawny elms at night. By the light of the moon, a fog rises and the characters are in danger of having Gen-bo the Gashodokoro himself arise to bite their heads off playfully and without warning (any random encounter roll in this area will be Gen-bo automatically).
2) the well is slimy and foul smelling and rarely used even in emergency - the rotten rope may break in a bad moment
3) the Clockwork Head and the Children - the Clockwork head glitters in the moonlight and cannot be found during the day. If it is picked up, the children will rise and begin to dance in the light from above, headless...
...If given the head, one child-spirit will wind it and tell a plaintive tale and ask to be taken and laid to rest:
Piggy is hungry and will beg for food and - only in the full light of the moon, and above ground - attempt to nibble on the PC that carried him up the rope unless given sweets (rations will only awaken his appetite and not put it down)
Polly/Molly loves to dance - she will dance a little jig and whisper sweet nothings in the PC's ear as they climb. Any tickled characters must dance unless they save vs reflex/will
Rocko loves to fight and will grapple and choke a character that saves him before collapsing in a pile of bones and sawdust. He gives noogies if grappling for 2 damage per round, and a Fortitude save will break the hold
There is only one head, and only one child can be saved at a time. After the first is saved, the head will stay behind while the spirit of the child goes to the 7th nirvana for reincarnation. The body will vanish with chilling laughter and crickets or shuddering of elms and fireflies. The other remaining children will wander down into the lower rooms at random.
...Of course Gen-bo will come to claim his head if/when all three are rescued, with the chance equal to twice the number of kids already saved on a d6.
The statue of Nebrovolent presides over the resting place of Gen-bo, moudlering and headless. A winding key is found clutched in his nasty desiccated hands. If the body is disturbed in any way, The Hungry Giant Skeleton Ghost of Gen-bo comes to bite off someone's head and reprimand them sternly. After the first child is saved, the head must be rewound for the children to talk or cooperate further. Else, they will gesture and tickle or dance or grapple as described.
Molly/Polly always has a winder on her person, for she was Gen-bo's assistant in life and a spiteful little orphan at that. She may have been the bastard daughter of the village priestess and the handsome water nymph in the stream north of the village.
The Rattling Guardian is a pile of bones and assorted trash. An elf or dwarf can find or spot its carnelian eyes (worth 100 Lunar) before it rises up, or after a battle is over. It rattles so disconcertingly that turning attempts and spells with verbal components may not be cast unless the caster makes a DC 15 Will save or the equivalent. Snakelike and quick, its bite causes melancholy and an increase in melancholic humors. Rocko and the Rattler are mates and will cavort and laugh together. The rattle is an actual baby's rattle but searching through the pile reveals only adult bones.
If Gen-bo is put down with finality i.e. all three children are taken rescued/saved and further the body of Genbo is blessed, buried in consecrated ground or burned, the head will thereafter sing a Lotus Sutra when wound that will cure maladies 3 times. It can be smashed to get the jewels out of the eye sockets, but if this happens they willbe revealed to be glass. If his spirit is not laid to rest, he will visit the characters nightly and say a lewd joke and try to bite off their heads, the target decided at random. If a character has the head in his or her possession, that character is the target of the joke and the playful bite.