Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wyrdwood Village

I've got a new campaign idea in my head, because clearly I don't have enough projects to keep me busy. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it right yet. Once the plague leaves our far lands, I'm probably going to propose it as the next campaign for my home group. Or, if I ever get room for another online game I might run it as like a virtual open-table.

It's a spooky (but not horror) rustic hex-crawl setting centered around a haunted forest and anchored by a little village full of eccentric NPCs. I'm going for a kind of dream-like weirdness more than horror. it's a gothic fairytale vibe without going into full-blown Burton territory, like a Roger Corman meets Guillermo del Toro thing. System-wise I think Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is the best fit.

Here are my vague and poorly organized concept notes...

Wyrdwood Village (Setting)

Keys: Dreamlike, folktales, decay, mystery
Specifically not a horror setting, despite some of the folk horror trappings.
A small village spread around an ancient manor house occupied by the mysterious Lord Wyrd and his household.
Lord Wyrd is mysterious with vaguely-defined supernatural influence on the area. Of an alien mood, but surprisingly benign. His family has been here as long as the village has, with no records showing their origin. Lord Wyrd has been the master of the Manor as long as anyone can remember.
The Wyrdwood is a primeval, spooky fairytale forest full of strange ruins, monsters, and secrets. The village has only one path in--the old covered bridge.
People (PCs and other weirdos) just “show up” in Wyrdwood village, coming across the bridge. Sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by invitation from Lord Wyrd. Designed to facilitate bringing new characters/players into the campaign.
Visitors are welcome, and Lord Wyrd is quite happy to provide rooms for guests within the Manor, as long as they behave themselves.
Every week, a masked man driving a wagon comes into town to resupply the merchants and take their money to deposit “back in the city.” This "city" is never discussed in detail. Anyone who attempts to follow the wagon driver when he leaves the village never returns to Wyrdwood. None of this strikes the villagers as unusual. Wyrdwood Manor
  • Many secret passages and hidden chambers
  • A strange art gallery
  • Lord Wyrd’s bored and lustful daughter
  • The locked bedroom of Lord Wyrd’s dead son.
  • Distressingly cheerful Halfling groundskeeper
  • Competent if uncreative cook.
  • Necromantic butler overseeing ghostly staff.
  • Guest rooms available for use by adventuring types
  • Library full of cryptic answers
  • Family crypts

Wyrdwood Village

  • Tavern, where hirelings and torchbearers can be hired.
  • Church dedicated to a forgotten god
  • General store with a very friendly proprietor (Runcible Hawk and his old dog Blue). He’ll buy pelts and monster skins from adventurers.
  • Smith who can make weapons and simple armor, and can order heavy armor for you (delivered next week!)
  • Several empty houses that can be rented or purchased from Lord Wyrd (so PCs can set up their own homes, temples, guilds, etc.)
  • Apothecary who sells potions and buys weird ingredients from the PCs.
  • Handful of farms with quarreling families.
  • Maypole and old menhirs where seemingly random holidays are celebrated.
  • Crusty old bailiff/sheriff who keeps the peace.

The Wyrdwood
  • Ruins of unknown history and make
  • Dungeons of various sizes
  • Creepy druid cults burning sacrifices inside wicker animals
  • Talking beasts
  • The tower of a reclusive, but good-natured wizard.
  • Coven of sinister witches and their goblin minions
  • The Parliament of Spiders
  • Ancient statues covered in moss
  • Small village of devils
  • Bearlike hermit
  • No standard “humanoid” monsters, aside from some beastly goblin-folk.


  1. "The Parliament of Spiders" is the huge standout concept here; how dare you casually drop that in there without detail!

    This sounds really cool, I am picturing Alice in Wonderland but with fatal consequences recited by an off-putting Twin Peaks fanboy who makes the details unnecessarily creepy while Hotel California plays in the background.

    1. Maybe less David Lynch and more Vincent Price. ;)

      As to the Parliament of Spiders, I don't have a strong idea on them yet, other than an image of a great collection of distressingly large spiders gathered in a circle discussing current events within the Wyrdwood. I think they may be a force of Balance.

  2. A nice core area in the making!

  3. I mean, even if you don't get ANOTHER online group, your current one is probably amenable to something like this! ;-)

    I'm getting some major "Forest Hymn and Picnic" vibes from this proposal, or maybe "Cuphead"? Somehow the Parliament of Spiders conjures up images of the proprietor of the Cobweb Hotel.

    The greater emphasis on what's going on in town has a very homey feel that I think helps lighten the mood. And in general, it seems like if you're aiming for "spooky" rather than "horror" you're threading the needle pretty well here.

    1. Yes, the idea is to make the town as much of a character as any individual NPC, with festivals, feuds, and events of its own.

      Forest Hymn is certainly an influence, as are things like Over the Garden Wall and Sleepy Hollow.

  4. I really dig it!
    And I just showed Sleepy Hollow to my significant other yesterday :)