Saturday, October 15, 2011

Module: Death By Chocolate

This is a just-for-fun one-shot Halloween/Easter module that doesn't take place in any particular universe or time period. This module's major gimmick is that it uses various types of candy instead of miniatures, and players get to eat what they kill.  It is not designed for any particular setting, though it does mention magic, Half-Orcs, Gnomes, and Half-Elves.  Even so, the story could easily be converted to most settings.

For starters, you'll need to buy some candy. What kind is up to you, though you do want pieces that can fit in 1x1 squares, as well as a few 2x2 sized candies. A variety would would be good, to represent the different kinds of monsters in the module. You might want to check with your players first to see if they have any special likes/dislikes or dietary restrictions. For sanitary reasons, I would use wrapped candies.  Good choices would be Hershey's Kisses, Starburst, Reese's Minis, and Rolos.

My suggested grocery list:
Hershey's Kisses (10) [Chocolate Zombies]
Reese's Miniatures (4) [Lesser Choclan]
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (2) [Choclan]
Reese's Big Cup (1) [Greater Choclan]
Rolos (4) [Carm Hounds]
Starburst (5 total; 4 must be different flavors)  [Fruit Imps]
Chocolate Bunny or other 2x2 chocolate character [Boss]
Ring Pops or Chocolate Coins [Treasure]

The Module:
"For whatever reason, your party has been traveling together for a few months now. You're on the road one night, and it's starting to get late. You're thinking about finding a good place to set up camp, when you see a side road. The road leads downhill into a valley, where you see a tiny town surrounded by farmland. The town wasn't on your map, probably because it's so small. But it looks like a good place to spend the night; better than sleeping in the woods, anyway."

"As you walk down the hill, you pass a sign that says 'Welcome to Hushley. Home of the World Famous Hushley Chocolate Factory.' Anybody want to give me a History check?" (Medium DC) Success: "You actually remember Hushley chocolates from when you were a kid. But you haven't seen them in years; you thought they'd stopped making them." Failure: "You've never heard of Hushley chocolates."

"The road leads straight into downtown, which is basically a single street lined with houses on both sides. Some of the houses double as businesses, with small signs that say things like 'Barber' or 'Blacksmith'. A few have candles flickering in the windows, but the only building that actually looks lively is the inn. The inn is about three houses down on the left. As you look farther down the street, you see that eventually the houses end, and the road starts to go back uphill. Farther up the hill, the road ends at a large mansion. There are no lights on in the mansion, and it looks to be in a state of disrepair. Most of the windows are broken, the shutters have fallen off, and a new paint job couldn't hurt."

Hopefully the PCs will stop at the Inn before checking out the mansion. However, if they head straight for the mansion, have someone stop them. Make up an NPC, possibly one of the patrons from the Inn below. "Hey, you! What are you doing? Don't go in there!" When the PCs ask about the mansion, have the NPC offer to tell them all about it, if they'll come to the inn first. Or just have the NPC tell them the whole story right here.

The Inn:
"All eyes are on you as you enter the inn. You see a bartender, a waitress, and eight patrons, all of whom stop their conversations as you walk through the door. They don't look angry or suspicious, just curious. This town probably doesn't get a lot of visitors."

The Bartender is friendly and offers the PCs a cheap room. The other patrons are eager to meet the out-of-towners, and some offer their various services to try to earn a little money. Eventually the PCs will probably ask about the mansion or the Chocolate Factory. It doesn't matter much who the PCs talk to, they all know the history of the town, and they all love to retell the story. As one patron relates the story, other patrons constantly interrupt with the parts they want to tell. If you want to expand this roleplay portion of the adventure, give each of them unique personalities and their own insights into the events.

The Inn Staff and Patrons:
William Leaubrau (Bartender) Human, Male. Very friendly and likes to tell stories.
Veruca Leaubrau (Waitress) Human, Female. Daughter of William. A bit lazy and distracted; tends to get drink orders wrong.
Augustus Durtham (Farmer) Human, Male. Doesn't say much, mostly grunts and nods. His sheep have been getting slaughtered lately.
Josephine Fitchpork (Farmer) Human, Female. Factory widow. Since her husband died, has been seeing her farmhand Gene.
Gene Strong (Farm Hand) Half-Orc, Male. Works for Josephine. Big and strong. Not very bright, but good heart.
Violet Lawton (Sheriff) Human, Female. Factory widow. Promoted from deputy after Sheriff Marlow died investigating the factory.
Michael Lennon (Clothier) Human, Male. Factory widower. Very manly (overcompensating), likes to show off his muscles.
Georgina Honeycutt (Barber) Human, Female. Factory widow. Always commenting on other people's hairstyles.
Charles Cook (Chef) Half-Elf, Male. Used to work at Chocolate Factory, had the day off when accident occurred. Always snacking.
Dodo Hushley (Undertaker) Gnome, Female. Niece of Reese Hushley. A bit nuts, but honest.

The History:
"The mansion once belonged to an old Gnome named Reese Hushley the Third. He was born rich, a bit on the eccentric side, and was something of a dabbler. His favorite hobbies were magic, alchemy, and cooking. He was a master dessert chef, who was always inventing new types of candies and chocolate confections. He found ways of using magic to invent new flavors, which were unlike anything anyone had tasted before. He liked to call himself a 'Choclomancer'.  He built a factory in his basement, and he became hugely successful. He employed more than half the town, and his chocolate creations were exported to cities all over this continent."

The Disaster:
"But one day he made a mistake. We're still not exactly sure what happened. He had been talking all week about some new flavor he'd discovered, and how it was going to be he greatest creation. He called it 'Planar Chocolate' and said that some of the ingredients were from another dimension. It's all he would talk about."

"Then the day finally came to start producing it. Nobody knows what went on inside the factory, but just a few seconds after the morning whistle blew, there was a 'BOOM' that shook the whole town. The windows blew out of the mansion, and brown smoke filled the air. A single worker staggered out of the mansion with burns all over his body, but he only could only say a few words before he fell over dead. His last words were, 'Don't go in there, it's loose.' Half the town's population died that day. The sheriff went to check out the wreckage, but something killed him. When we found his body, it was covered with large bite marks... and chocolate."

"That was ten years ago. A few months later, we hired a Wizard to place a binding spell on the grounds, to keep whatever is in there from escaping. In the years since then, a few people have gone into the mansion. Most never returned. The few that made it back told wild stories about monsters in the dark. These days we try not to think about it. Every few months some foolish treasure hunters will pass through town and have a look for themselves, never to be seen again. But now we think the Wizard's barrier is starting to wear off, as we've seen some strange shapes lurking in the darkness lately. Some of the farmers have reported their livestock getting killed. We're starting to fear for our safety."

Tips For Other Settings:
If you run this in a less magical setting (such as Gamma World), change all references to magic into technology.  The binding spell becomes a force field, the Wizard is a scientist, and the magic rings (mentioned under "Possible Questions", below) could be "Personal Disruption Units" or something similar. 

The Treasure:
"There's rumors of a big treasure down there. A few years before the disaster, Mr. Hushley had been talking a lot about alchemy. He claimed to have invented a method of turning sugar into gemstones. He said he owned the world's largest ruby, but he refused to show it to anyone. He said he didn't want his method to get out, because it would ruin the world's economy. Legend has it that Hushley's Ruby still sits in the safe in his office, deep below the mansion."

Possible Questions:
Where is the Wizard who sealed the grounds? "We hired him from out of town, so who knows where he is now."
What was the Wizard's name? "Oh... I think his name was Cadbury."
What have you seen in the dark? "We haven't gotten a good look, but we get the impression of large, dark people, with claws."
Where did you see them? "Usually near the mansion, but some of the farmers say they saw them in their pastures."
Is there a reward for stopping this evil? "This is a poor town, but we'll see what we can get together. And of course you can have whatever treasures you find there."
Once we get into the mansion, how do we find the factory? "There's a service entrance around the back of the mansion."
How will we get past the Wizard's ward? "It's only designed to keep things in, not out."
How will we get back out? "Well, like I said, the spell seems to be weakening, so it shouldn't be a problem. However, the Wizard did give us some rings that allow the wearer to step through the barrier. I'll go find some." Have the Sheriff return to her office to get a ring for each PC.  If the players don't bother to ask, then don't worry about it.

Setting Out:
Once the players decide to go into the factory, they head towards the mansion. It's late by now, unless they spend the night and try the mansion in the morning. At night there is a full moon, causing a low-light environment. It is still low-light in parts of the mansion, from the moonlight coming in the windows. The underground factory will be pitch black no matter what time of day. The descriptions below assume the PCs have some sort of light source.

"At the end of the street, the road goes uphill a bit until it gets to a metal gate. On the other side of the fence, the grass is much higher, since no one has tended to the grounds in years. The fence itself glows slightly from the Wizard's warding spell." (Open gate) "The gate is unlocked, and creaks loudly when you open it. You think you see what used to be a path leading up to the front door. The remnants of a side path go around the back of the house."

If they go through the front door: "The door is unlocked, in fact the door is hanging from one hinge." (Enter) "The place is a mess. There are pieces of charred furniture everywhere. The walls are grey with soot. There is black dust on every surface. You see the remains of a grand staircase in the main hall, but it has collapsed." If they explore the first floor of the mansion, or climb up to the second story, they don't find much of value. Everything was destroyed by the initial blast ten years ago, and has just been rotting since. If they find the bedroom on the second floor, they might uncover a locked fireproof safe containing a small amount of gold. If they explore the kitchen area on the first floor: "This looks like it used to be the kitchen area. You also find a staircase leading down. On the wall next to the stairs, there is a metal sign that reads 'To Factory'."

If they go around back to the service entrance: "You push your way through the tall grass and make your way around the back of the mansion. Eventually you find a door with a sign that reads 'Service Entrance'." (Open it) "The door is unlocked and opens easily. It looks like you are in what was once the kitchen. There are pieces of charred furniture everywhere. The walls are grey with soot. There is black dust on every surface. You see two doorways leading to other rooms of the mansion, and a staircase leading down. On the wall next to the stairs, there is a metal sign that reads 'To Factory'."

Once they go down the stairs to the Factory: "The stairs go down a very long way into the darkness. As you get close to the bottom of the stairs, you hears some noises coming from the room below." (Listen) "You hear some shuffling, some movement. Occasionally you hear a low moan." (Go down stairs) "This appears to be the factory floor. It is a very large room with a high ceiling. To your right you see the remains of several large machines. To your left you see some giant vats, with words like 'chocolate' or 'molasses' painted on them. You see some broken tables in front of you, and at the far end of the room you see a doorway. Suddenly there's a movement to your right."

"You see a slow-moving creature shamble out from behind a candy press. It looks like a walking corpse, still wearing a factory worker uniform. However, this zombie appears to be covered from head to toe in some brown substance. As the zombie turns toward you, you become aware of more moving shapes all around the room. You quickly realize that this room is infested with the creatures."

Encounter 1: Factory Floor
10 Chocolate Zombies (Hershey's Kisses)
1 Choclan (Reese's Peanut Butter Cup)
Don't place the Choclan on the board yet. Roll initiative for all creatures. During the Choclan's first turn, read the following: "Suddenly you hear a loud pounding sound from one of the vats. As you look in that direction, you see one side of the vat deform as something pounds it from the inside. With one final crash, one side of the vat is ripped open. You see a large brown shape standing in the opening. It is large humanoid, probably 13 feet tall. It looks like a statue carved out of chocolate."

As soon as it can, the Choclan will charge the nearest PC.  The first time a player does damage to the Choclan, make a point of mentioning that its insides look like peanut butter.  "As your weapon penetrates the creature's brown outer shell, a lighter brown substance spews from its wounds.  You think you smell peanuts."

After the battle, if they decide to search the bodies, they find a few gold coins in the pockets of the factory workers.  You might want to hand out chocolate coins to represent the gold.

On the North wall next to the door, the PCs will see a map of the factory. There is a hallway to the North which leads past the break room, and into the packaging/shipping department. From the packaging room there is another hallway which leads to Hushley's office.

If the PCs search the bodies of the zombies, they find a few gold pieces (consider passing out some chocolate coins to the players as rewards).  The Choclan has no treasure.

Encounter 2: Employee Break Room
4 Fruit Imps (Starburst, different colors)
"You're now in a 10 foot wide hallway. To your left you see a door to the break room. You see another door to the break room further down the hallway, also on the left. At the end of the hall, you see a door marked 'Shipping'."

If they decide to peek into the break room door: "You see four small winged creatures sitting around chattering to each other. They look like some type of imp, but each one is a different bright color."

If they decide to burst into the break room:  "As you enter the room, four brightly-colored imps fly into the air and prepare to attack. Roll initiative."

If they decide to walk past the break room, have the party make a medium DC stealth check. If they make the check, they pass by both doors without incident. If any of them fail the stealth check:
"You walk pass the first break room door. Suddenly, the second one bursts open and a brightly-colored imp flies out. Another imp then flies out the first door behind you. You see two other imps hovering in the doorways."

Encounter 3: Packaging Department
1 Choclan (Reese's Cups)
1 Greater Choclan (Reese's Big Cup)
2 Carm Hounds (Rolos)
1 Fruit Imp (Starburst)

This isn't a very important encounter, so if you are running short on time, skip to Encounter 4. However, you still might want to have the PCs pass through this room so they have the opportunity to go through the crates and find some candy. Or hide the candy in the break room instead.

"This room is full of broken crates, and the floor is covered with debris. There is another exit on the right wall. In the center of the room, you see two large brown creatures pacing around and talking to each other in a strange language. They look like the monster that came out of the vat earlier, but one of these is much larger than the other." (If the Choclans see the PCs) "Both of them turn their heads and gesture threateningly. The smaller one makes a loud call, and soon more creatures come running through the other door."

After the encounter, if the PCs examine the crates, they will find some snacks. "The crates are full of chocolate bars and other assorted candies. Most of it has been destroyed, and a lot of the candy has melted. But you do manage to find a few pieces of edible candy."  These things have a shelf life of 30 years, so they are still edible.  Different items will give the PCs different effects.  Possible items:

Hushley's Chocolate Bar - Gives 6 temp hp.
SillyDillyicious Bar - Until the end of the encounter, your speed increases by 2.
GummiGooey Gumdrops - Burst 1 in 10, creates zone of rough terrain that lasts until end of encounter. Creatures that start their turn in the zone are slowed (save ends).
SugarDumbos - You may take one additional Standard action this turn.

Encounter 4: Hushley's Office
1 Caxaodemon (Bunny)
2 Carm Hounds (Rollos)
4 Lesser Choclans (Reese's Minis)

"You enter a small waiting room. There are doors to the right and left marked 'Restrooms', and Hushley's office is straight ahead.  Standing in front of the office door you see three chocolate beings.  They look like the ones you fought earlier, but smaller."  If they stealthily opened the door: "They don't see you yet, but one of them will probably look in your direction soon." If they just opened the door normally: "All eyes turned towards you as you entered, and the room's occupants prepare to attack. Roll initiative."

This fight may or may not make enough noise to attract the creatures in the office.  This could end up being one large encounter or two smaller ones.

Whenever they enter the office: "It appears to be a nice large office. There is a desk in the center of the room, with a bearskin rug in front of it. In the far back corners, there are two large bookshelves.  The one on the left seems to be sticking out from the wall slightly, and you can see a bit of light coming from behind it."

After the battle they might search the room and check out the bookshelves.  The left set of bookshelves has a secret passage behind it.  Since it is partially open, there is no search DC to notice it.  If they go through the secret passage, they find a room containing a large machine with lots of levers, all different colors. Next to the machine is what appears to be a magic portal.  There are two more doors on the back wall.  One of the doors leads to Hushley's private restroom, and the other door leads to a closet.  In the closet they will find the body of Hushley.

The machine has 10 levers, each a different color:  Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Orange, Pink, Black, White, and Brown.  If players start pulling them randomly, the first lever always does nothing, the second lever zaps them with electricity.

Example: "I'm going to pull the black lever." "You pull the black lever to the 'down' position. Nothing happens." "Now I'm going to pull the blue lever." "You pull the blue lever to the 'down' position. A bolt of lightning shoots at you from the portal." (10 vs Reflex, 1d10 Lightning Damage) "Both levers go back up to the 'up' position."

If they try to touch the magic portal without deactivating it, they will get shocked.  1d10 Lightning damage (no attack roll; they touched it), and they are pushed back 1 square.  It's a one-way portal, so there's no way for the PCs to use it to get to the other dimension.

If they don't open the closet door right away, mention that they see some blood seeping out from under the door.  When they open the closet door, they find the body of Hushley.  In his pockets they will find a key, a small amount of gold coins, and a journal full of notes.

"Looking through Hushley's notes, you find out a little more background, and you're able to fill in the gaps yourself. Hushley discovered a way to access a dimension where the most common elements are sugar and chocolate. What he did not realize is that these elements are also the building blocks of life in that dimension. Hushley's machines were designed to open up small portals and pull ingredients directly from the other dimension. When he started up the factory on the day of the disaster, too much matter came through at once, causing the explosion. This left some portals stuck open, and candy monsters have been coming through ever since. Additionally, some of the extraplanar living chocolate has inhabited the bodies of the factory workers, reanimating them into chocolate zombies."

"His final entry states: 'I've figured out how to reverse the portals! All I have to do is pull the red lever, followed by the green. Unfortunately, I can't make it to the machine. I fear that if I try to leave this closet, they will rip me to shreds. Perhaps if I just wait long enough, I can make a break for it, but some of these creatures don't even sleep. If you find this note, please do not judge me too harshly. All I wanted was to make the world a sweeter place.'"

If the players do a thorough search of the office, they might eventually stumble across a trap door under the bearskin rug.  This leads down some stairs to Hushley's most private vault.  "At the bottom of the stairs, you find yourself in a small empty room.  On the far wall of the room is a large metal door."  If the players didn't find the key on Hushley's body, they will need a moderate Thievery check to pick the lock, or a very high Athletics check to break down the door.  Once the door is open, they find a room with metal walls.  There are a few shelves full of various gems, with a total value of about 1200 gp.  There is also one particularly large ruby that is worth another 1500 by itself.  (Hand out Ring Pops and/or chocolate coins to represent the treasure.)

The Choclanic Plane is a very harsh environment, and survival is difficult. The most common form of life is a living chocolate-like substance called caxao. Caxao symbiotically bonds with other creatures by covering their entire bodies for life. This gives the caxao the mobility it needs to find food, and gives the host creature a tough outer shell required for protection. Here's a list of the Choclanic creatures used in the module. In parentheses I put what candies I used in the pictures above, but of course you can use whatever you like.

Stat the monsters however you like, based on the level you want the module to be.  The Caxao Corpses should obviously be based on Zombies.  The Choclans are brutes, so base them on big strong things like Orcs, Dwarves, or Golems.  The Carm Hounds are basically Wolves or other animals.  The Sucrademons are Imps, but give each color a different type of magical attack - for example, cherry could be fire, grape could be darkness, etc.  The final Caxaodemon can be pretty much any "boss" creature.  My attempt to stat the encounters is in this file, based on a level 1 Gamma World party. 

Caxao Corpse, aka "Chocolate Zombie" (Hershey's Kisses): These are the bodies of the Hushley factory workers, reanimated after being covered by caxao from the Choclanic Plane.

Choclan (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups): These are humanoid creatures from the Choclanic plane. They are sapient, but easily confused and quick to anger. They come in a wide range of sizes, but even the smaller ones are incredibly strong. Their natural form is a soft peanut-butter-like matter, but their outer shell of caxao is very tough.

Carm Hounds (Rolos): These dog-like creatures are made of a gooey caramel-like substance, held together by a thick outer shell of caxao. They are often kept as pets by Choclans. Carmhounds are vicious hunters, and are very loyal to their masters.

Sucrademon, aka "Fruit Imp" (Starburst): These are small demons from the Choclanic Plane. They rarely bond with caxao, as the bond would limit some of their arcane abilities. Instead they have developed other defenses which allow them to survive. These Imps don't usually get along with Choclans, unless they have a common enemy.

Caxaodemon (Chocolate Bunny): While most Choclanic demons avoid bonding with caxao, occasionally a very powerful demon will find away to do so without sacrificing their magic potency. These rare unions result in very strong beings with a great mastery of spells.