This was a random encounter I came up with literally off the top of my head while “winging it” in one of my Savage Rifts Sessions. It is a combination of my own nightmare, elements of the film Odd Thomas, and source from my player’s character backgrounds. I have removed quite a bit of character specific information to generalize it and allow it to better fit anyone’s campaign.
Super quick background on this: The group I had started out in ETU and found themselves magically transported to the far future of Rifts earth. They all then transitioned into iconic frameworks of the SW Rifts setting. This encounter was originally custom made for the players with the town feeling like the home they were torn from. In my game, one of the PC’s tried to call home to their mom only to have the “mom” on the other end being attacked by “something”. This quickly turned into a little horror movie for the players. By the end, they were not 100% sure if it was all manipulation from the thing in the rift (which it was) or if they were really back in their own time and the PC’s mom being really attacked (which didn’t actually happen). The next couple sessions had the PC in question trying to get to the truth.
GMs Info: This is a random event from a rift that opened up to a pocket dimension with a creature almost beyond comprehension. The creature can change the appearance of the pocket dimension to look like whatever it wants. It creates places that it thinks local life would find interesting and intriguing. In my home game, my players started out as ETU students and were transported to Rifts Earth during the first adventure in Degrees of Horror, with the ritual transporting the entire gymnasium to the future. So the creature made the area of its pocket dimension look like a small rural town. This encounter should be custom tailored to fit your group. Whatever might entice them. It could be an old, pre-rift town that they are fascinated with, or an unusually well outfitted modern town with a quaint, small town feel.
Everything is to build slowly. Try to sound sincere and welcoming when describing the town, make it welcoming. Then slowly start to drop in a few odd events in; a strange comment, something seen at the edge of their vision. That sort of thing. This should ramp up to the climax with the PCs running for their lives.
The players make camp for the evening like normal. About an hour after they have settled in, whoever is on watch or near the edge of camp is struck with a sense of familiarity or deja-vu. They are drawn to see what is just over the nearby rise. When they reach the top of the rise, they find that there is a town just on the other side. The town is small, quiet and in surprisingly good condition!
The edge of town is easily noticeable, not by the wall or gate, but by how the wilderness is abruptly replaced with manicured lawn. The streets and sidewalks are also in very good shape and clean. Each home has its own white picket fence and near the middle of the town is a square lawn with a gazebo at its center.
As the PCs enter town, they see that an elderly man is sitting on his front porch in one of the first few houses they pass. He calls out to them in a friendly, unconcerned tone asking where they are from and if they were going to the town cook-off.
He explains that the town’s annual cook-off is going on this whole weekend. There is plenty of food to be had. Try to use a southern gentleman’s accent if you can pull it off.
Leyline Walkers and anyone else able to sense nexus points will be able to tell that the town sits on one, though there are no leylines about. As PCs cross the boundary into the town, have them make a spirit roll. Don’t tell them, but it is at a -4. Don’t let on that anyone who rolled a four (but not an 8) has failed the roll. This is to pick up on the fact that everything is an illusion. Those who do make it don’t immediately pick up on it, but should be given little clues that things are just off. A bad feeling, noticing that the nice old man moves a bit stiff.
Let the man talk with the PCs as long as they want. The town’s been right here for longer than he’s been alive. The folk in town are all very friendly and helpful. After a few minutes, he invites them in for some lemonade. If they accept and enter the house, they are hit with the smell of fresh baked cookies. As they enter, the PCs need to make a second spirit check at -2, take note of who succeeds. The old man introduces the PCs to his wife. She is a plump elderly woman with a kind face, in addition to the lemonade, which is in a glass pitcher with loads of ice, she offers some cookies fresh out of the oven. Anyone who succeeded at either spirit check begin to notice shadow-like figures lurking in the corners of the kitchen’s ceiling. They seem to follow the old man’s wife. These figures look like slender, four armed humanoids with oval heads and dimly glowing red eyes. There is a sense that if they discover you can see them they may become hostile. Any players that failed the second roll feel that going to the center of town, where all the cooking and celebrating is taking place, is a very good idea.
Here’s where it gets weird. Those that fail have shows drawn to them. Two or three per person. They start to hold their hands around the PC’s head, as if they are controlling them or trying to somehow siphon something from them. Give the players who can see them the idea that attacking them may harm the players they are surrounding.
Any players who remained outside the town find that all radio, magic and psionic communication with those inside the town is impossible. They can see what’s going on from their vantage point, but they cannot see any shadows.
Any player aware of the shadows can try to warn the players with the shadows if they like, but should try to be discrete, again, with the impression that the shadows could turn violent if they realize they can be seen. Role play this out. If you feel the players did a good job at discreetly tipping off the players who are surrounded, those players get a +2 to their spirit rolls.
Let this draw out as long as you are comfortable and so long as the players remain invested. If at any time action is taken against the shadows, or if anyone does something that makes it obvious that they see the shadows jump into the next section!
Once the shadows are engaged or once they become aware that they have been seen, the players radios all start broadcasting the sound of children saying “Ashes, ashes, they all fall down!”. This repeats a few times before children start to come around from the sides of houses into the streets calling out, “ollie ollie oxen free!”.
Any attacks on the shadows causes them all to back off and flee.
The kids start to surround the players, preventing them from being able to move freely without forcefully moving or injuring them. As they surround the players, the ground starts to shake like an earthquake. Once any child is injured or forcefully moved, all kids, as well as the old couple and any other people you decide to introduce vanish in acrid smoke. The quakes get much more violent. Any players not currently flying/airborne need to make an agility check or fall prone. All movement is done as if on uneven terrain.
The round after the kids vanish, large tentacles start to emerge from the ground. Dozens of them rise up, three of them close enough to be within 5’ of the players. On the first round, the tentacles are 10’ tall and 1’ thick. They have a toughness of only 5. If they are cut or destroyed, the ground shakes more violently for a moment, forcing another agility check to remain on their feet. Every round, another fifteen feet of tentacle rises out of the ground and the base of it doubles in size (round two it is 2’, round three it is 4’, etc.). The toughness also doubles each round from 5 to 10, then 20, etc…
Beginning on round three, the tentacles start to attack the players and the earthquake gets much worse. All grounded players now must make an agility check every round at -2 to remain standing.
Keep making it worse, more tentacles, more shaking, more attacking.
Just beyond the town, where the players came from, everything is completely normal.
Start making it clear that it would be best to get back to the other side.
Once all the players cross over, the town vanishes as if it had never been there. Just the same wilderness that is all around them.
The random rift has closed.
The entire town is some phenomenally huge creature that was trying to feed on the players, attempting to lure them deeper into the town center. The town center is the creature’s mouth. Everything should start to go way south before they get to the town center.
Round 1: Toughness 5.
Round 2: Toughness 10, Str d10, fighting d10, damage D6+Str
Round 3: Toughness 20, Str d 12, fighting d12, damage D6+Str
Round 4: Toughness 40, Str d12+1, fighting d12, damage D8+Str
Round 5: Toughness 80, Str d12+3, fighting d12, damage D8+Str
Round 6 and later: Toughness 120, Str d12+5, fighting d12, damage D10+Str
The Shadows: They are not really dangerous. They are like the small fish that follow sharks, with the tentacled horror being the shark. The people are mental projections of the creature. Visually, they look like the shadows in the film Odd Thomas though more humanoid looking with four arms.