The D&D game picked up with the characters in Heilbrunna — a new Alemanni settlement along the old Limes Germanicus, only a day or so away from Lenta, the seat of the Celts that have been stirring trouble in southern Germania Magna and Raetia; and Castrum Stativa, the last Roman garrison on this side of the Danube. Run by Marco the Hammer, a seven-foot tall barbarian, the people of Heilbrunna were open and gregarious. Marco knows their Celtic traveling companions, led by Cairc, and has heard of Carrus the Goblin Killer (whom Calvinus is trying to rebrand as Carrus the Troll Killer, even though they didn’t kill said troll…)

They spend two days in the town, telling stories of their exploits, but mostly trying to impress upon Marco the danger the Quadi tribe (hobgoblins) present to the people in the area. They are besieging Locoritum, one of the larger cities in the region, and have been ranging south tracking the party. (They left that last bit out…) With some help by Calvinus the Bard’s charisma, Legate Quintus Marcellus was able to negotiate a treaty with these Marcomanni, making them foederati of the Roman Empire. He’s started to realize exactly what his rank entails: as a legatus imperium — charged by the emperor with diplomatic powers — he is second only to a proconsul!

Their Celtic companions push south during the negotiations with Marco, to warn their king, and Marcellus dispatches their spy, Benarix, to tail them to Lenta and get the lay of the land. The party then turned southeast to Castum Stativa to see if they could find some assistance in their mission. Arriving at the fortress, they find it is light on personnel. Instead of a legion’s strength, there are 350 men — a century of archers, two of foot soldiers, half of whom are local volunteers — a troop of 30 or so cavalry, and a smattering of engineers and artillerymen for the ballistas and catapults. Led by 30-something Pannonian centurion with the rank of prefect castratus named Sextus Hadrianus, they are doing their best to keep the peace with the Marcomanni in Heilbrunna and the Lentienses — despite the latter’s hostility to Rome. With Marcellus turning up to pull rank and request troops for him mission, Hadrianus is a bit worried. This grows worse at the stories of the Quadi. They dispatch a rider to Augustus Vindelicorum, on the other side of the Danube, to request help from the army there.

That evening while out for his constitutional on the wall, Icio the monk catches sight of movement in the trees…lots of movement! On the road coming from the north, he can make out dark figures moving against the snow on the ground. Rousing the garrison, they use a light spell on a ballista bolt and shoot it at the road, where they can now see hundreds of Quadi and Vandals on dire wolves, moving siege equipment! There are more in the woods around them, encircling the fortress and the small Alemmani town to the south. There’s at least a legion’s worth of these creatures. While they are preparing for an assault, the Quadi send a pair of Vandals to call for parlay at dawn.

Marcellus and the party go out to meet the leader of Quadi here — a giant bugbear named Brutharius. He is advised by a tiefling named Raphael Tinirian who is taking a great interest in Icio… Instead of being actively intimidating, Brutharius is calm, haughty, and diplomatic. He is hear to collect the people that killed his soldiers near Wolfangel — them. He pretends he doesn’t realize he’s talking to them, but give the garrison the day to “find and turn over” the criminals he seeks. Marcellus takes a risk and challenges the Quadi leader to one-on-one combat, which is accepted. They will meet at twilight.

The bard continues to try and press Marcellus to launch a preemptive strike on the Quadi, but he realizes they are outnumbered three-to-one, the Quadi training is probably better, and they are better shutting up the castrum and waiting for reinforcements from the nearby Legion III Raetia.

That’s where we left it for the night.

The characters have reached 4th level already, and the characters seem much more powerful than their similarly ranked analogues would have been when I last played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-80s. Each episode has required me to bump up the stakes and the challenges. They plowed through a platoon-strength of bad guys in the last big encounter…if they ‘re going to have a light legion’s strength, they needed to be met with proper opposition.

We’ll see how I balanced it next week.

“Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann?” German childhood song

Sing that ditty with the usual singsong of the creepy kid in the movies to get the full flavor. “Who’s afraid of the Dark Man?”

The critter for one of our recent adventures, the Black Man is based on Germanic myth and which has many analogues in European myth — the “Gray Man” or Fear Dubh of Scotland is very similar, as is the “Faceless One” of Welsh lore. This bogeyman roams the childhood imagination from Romania to Ireland, and was used by parents to scare kids into behaving. He’s under your bed, in your closet, peering through the heating grate, moving through the darkened forest, following you across a lonely moor, looking for those disobedient, mean, willful children.

Here’s the Welsh version, which is close to the description of the thing we used:

Hush, my child, do not stray from the path,

Or The Faceless One shall steal you away to Fairieland.

He preys on sinful and defiant souls,

And lurks within the woods.

He has hands of ebony branches,

And a touch as soft as silk.

Fear The Faceless One, my child,

For he shall take you to a dark place.

And then  what shall become of you?

No one knows, so be good, my little one…

Oh No! He is here to take you away!’

I added the to this already awful creature, which inhabits shadows and can move through the a water aspect — combining the Dark Man with the usual shape-changing water-bound horror like the Nix or Nie in Germany, the Voyanoy of Russia, or the Neck of the English. this was partly from having watched the creepy-as-shit trailer for It while running the game. so I mixed a bunch of the usual horror themes and threw in the murdering child rapist who was executed by the townspeople and buried in the refuse outside of town trope.

This presented an interesting challenge mechanically. I wanted the unstoppable terror vibe for the monster, which means you don’t want the characters toddling in and wiping the floor with the baddie in a few rounds. The wight didn’t quite hit the mark, nor the shadow, and neither incorporated the water features, so here’s our monster for your use:

DIE SCHWARZE MANN

This wanderer came to [enter town] and soon after children started turning up dead. Captured in the act, the townspeople executed this awful person and buried him without rites in their refuge mounds outside of town. Over the course of months, the spirt of the dead man regained strength and began to look for the same prey as in life, those disrespectful, curious, naughty children, and lure them to their deaths. He does this by surprise, or using the bodies of their dead friends or family to draw in the victim. He can do this by reanimating the recently dead, which he keeps well-preserved in his lair — a body of standing water like a pond — or imitates their voices.

It is a creature of darkness, not shadow, and often appears as a dark, slender form with long, branch-like arms that can grow in length. The creature will often rise silently out of bodies of water, or simply stretch out of the shadows for its prey. It is a glistening black, with vaguely human features, and when it speaks (which is rare) it is a whisper of a familiar voice.

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It collects bodies and souls, and the dead it keeps in its lair can be reanimated as zombies (standard stat block, save they have illusion with allows them to appear unmolested and alive).

Medium undead, neutral evil (CR 3 — 700xp)

Armor Class: 12     Hit Points: 45     Speed: 30′ land, 50′ water

STR: 15   DEX: 14   CON: 16   INT: 10   WIS: 13   CHA: 15

Skills: Intimidation +6, Persuasion +5, Stealth +6

Condition Immunities: Exhausted, Frightened, Poisoned;, Damage Immunities: Necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing ,and slashing from nonmagical or silvered weapons

Damage Vulnerability: Radiant

Senses: Darkvision 120′, passive 13

Languages: those it knew in life

Traits: Amorphous — can move through small spaces; Illusion — can mimic the form and sound of a person it has seen or killed. Wisdom save DC12 to see the true form; Shadow  and Water Movement: The creature can move from one shadow or standing body of water to the any other it can see; Shadow and Water Stealth: In dim light, or when using a body of water, it can Hide as a bonus action with an extra +6. However, bodies of water it inhabits exhibit a strange lack of reaction to wind and are non-reflective; Sunlight Sensitivity: Disadvantage on all tests when exposed to sunlight.

Actions: Multiattack: It can make two attacks per turn, and can add its life drain to both; Life Drain: +4 to hit, reach 5′, one creature. Hit 1d6+2 necrotic. Target must succeed on Constitution DC13 save or lose the damage. Lasts until after a long rest. Target dies if the effect reduces hit points to 0. Target can be reanimated at the will of the Dark Man and is under its control. It can control up to 12 zombies at a time.

Tonight’s Dungeons & Dragons session saw the characters leaving Wolfsangel for Lenta, the home of the Lentienses, the tribe of Celts (elves) that the 12 the party rescued from the Quadi (hobgoblins) after the festivals of Saturnalia. The group travelled south along the Neckar toward the Danube, following the old Limes Germanicus from over 100 years ago. The feeling of decay was exemplified by the sections of still standing wall, the empty or half standing guard towers, and the snow-covered, but solid Roman road still taking them south. Marcellus is particularly touched by the fact this barbarian land was once part of the empire.

A few times, they thought they glimpsed people tacking with them, but never got a good look. After stops in little towns graced with thermal springs (hot baths!), they moved into the hills and the Black Forest. Only a half hour or so out of Bad Neckar, as the sun was setting, they went to cross an old Roman bridge over the river, only to be jumped by a massive humanoid creature! Twelve feet tall, mottled, greenish skin, wearing clothes of bear pelts sewed together and a necklace of human ears, and wielding a small tree trunk club, the troll bashed Carrus the Dwarf right off of his pony, killing the animal, and nearly nearly killing their other tracker with one swing.

This encounter was designed by my six year old daughter after leafing through the Monster Manual with me. The previous week, she had gotten to roll for the bad guys, and had knocked the party around pretty handily.  She chose the creature, but only after a long argument about the nature of trolls, which a certain movie convinced her were herbivorous, friendly, and musically inclined. I had to explain the real legend to her.  Trolls it was.

The fight involved 12 elven archers, the characters, and a single troll. I played the rules to the hilt, and several characters got knocked about pretty handily, but finally they started to make a dent in the monster. Finally, Carrus used his menacing attack badly injuring the creature and frightening it enough that it slipped and fell off of the bridge while retreating. They saw it last floating downstream vowing revenge.

After a stop in Bad Neckar to heal and avail themselves of the hot springs, they pressed south toward Heilbrunna, a new Alemanni town of 5000 or so, led by a Marco the Hammer. They were jumped an hour outside by more Quadi, but this time led by a pair of giant versions of the creatures (bugbears) — this is a Quadi bloohound squad and they had been hunting the party for days.

The fight was short, only 5 rounds, but saw Legate Marcellus and Calvinus the Bard hit first, then the creatures concentrated their efforts on the monk and cleric. It didn’t help them. Calvinus’ shatter spell destroyed two of the Quadi soldiers, Carrus took out another, and the NPCs dealt a death volley to one of the bugbears. Augustinius took an arrow through his leg, but afterward was able to use bless to boost the other characters. Carona the satyress took out one with a surprise attack ram maneuver killing him instantly. Eventually, the bard drove the other bugbear off, giving Marcellus time to collect himself, give chase and kill it with a single blow.

With one hostage, they were able to learn that the Quadi use the larger, meaner versions of themselves as hunters, and that they have been tracking them. They learned about the characters, and which were magic users, from the people of Wolfsangel — which the Quadi destroyed after they raided the place and heard about the fight with their platoon of men a week ago. The town was raided, people taken as slaves, and the place raised, then bloodhound were sent looking for them.

We ended the night with the reaching Heilbrunna, where they were received with enthusiasm after Marco the Hammer recognized Carrus the Goblin Killer from stories about him. He’s even heard of his father, the master blacksmith! They were treated to baths, new clothes and a fine meal when we knocked off for the night.

The D&D gang started a fight with a bunch of Quadi (hobgoblins) — a tribe of folks moving into Germania Magna, and who had followed a band of Celts (elves) they had jumped and killed half their numbers to the shore of the Moenus River at Wolfsangel, where the characters had been staying for a few weeks after their run-in with the Dark Man creature.

After finding the warband of 30 or so, Marcellus had noted their discipline and skill at setting camp, but had underestimated their skill and professionalism. Their leader was highly confident, politick, but firm that they had the right to be in the forests near Wolfangel. After setting off a conflict with the Quadi, the characters and their 30 or so supporters (towns guard and a dozen of the Celts), the fight quickly went badly for the players. The Quadi was professional (I’m using the 5th ed version of the creatures, who are a martial race) and using their martial advantage and their heavy armor allowed them to quickly cut through the NPC support, and injure the monk, Icio — probably the group’s heaviest hitter.

We ended last night with the fight going downhill fast, but tonight the gang turned it around with judicious use of spells from the bard and cleric — the combination of bless and fairie fire really tipped the balance in their favor — and a rally by the monk and Carrus the dwarf allowed them to cut through their foes. The fight was only two miuntes, but took the whole session tonight to complete.

Afterward, the characters pressed the Celts on what happened. They claim to have been a hunting party (about a Roman century strong?) and found the Quadi camped near Locoritum, where they had either set up or were in the process, a siege of the Roman-friendly Vangiones there. The Celts were returning to Lenta and their king to tell him about the situation…the characters were leaning toward joining them and pressing south to Lenta instead of risking crossing a siege at Locoritum. They are hoping to win the troublesome King Priarius of the Lentienses over and craft a treaty with Rome.

I still am not a fan of d20, even the 5th ed. version, and the nostalgia factor is starting to wear off for the mechanics. The world and story are holding us all; I just find D&D a bit too wargamey and fiddly. I also need to start punching up the big bads and the main plotline.

The Dungeons & Dragons campaign picked back up with the characters being stuckin Wolfangel for three weeks due to inclement winter weather — bitter cold and heavy snow. The characters have been given the decamped blacksmith’s home to reside in as thanks for their efforts in destroying the Dark Man. During the stay, Carrus the Dwarf made money doing smithing, like his father…he’s both pleased and worried to find he’s good at it. Carona the satyr became a celebrity on the celebration of Faunus, playing guest of honor to the feast. The rest of the time, she and Calvinus the Bard have been playing music in the taverns. The monk, Icio, has been conducting Christian ritual for those interested, while Augustinian is aiding the local priest in getting ready for Saturnalia, and trying to pick through the writing and mind of Valdo, the former wizard who is now old and half-senile. Marcellus and the soldiers have nothing to do but wait, so they have been training the town guard.

Then one evening, the guard spot a man out on the frozen Moenus River, and there looks to be more people camped in the burned out buildings of the former town of Morhenburg that once occupied the opposite bank. When they’ve found is an injured party of Celts (elves) who have been attacked by some new foe they’ve never seen. They were man-sized, ugly, and tactically proficient. After questioning them, they learn that these creatures were camped near their next destination, the city of Locoritum — population 20,000 or so, with a guard of maybe 2,000-3,000. The camp the Celts saw was about a legion’s strength (1000-3000 men!) They also think they were being pursued by the creatures.

The next day, the party goes out with the elves — now healed by Augustinian — and 20 of the town guard under the mayor, Stellan Hanau. They find the creatures camped in the woods east of the river. Marcellus takes the elves and flanks the camp, setting up to use their bows on the grotesque, gray-skinned, red-eyed creatures. Their camp shows discipline and organization, with good walls of snow, and men paired for guard duty. they are wearing heavy metal plate armor, and when the town guard is stopped, they set up guard along the edges of their camp, using cover well. The Roman legionnaire was impressed with their professionalism.

The leader met Stellan, flanked by Carrus (who thought them goblin-like), Augustinian and Icio, and Calvinus. After a tense bit of talk, in which the leader was calm, polite, but also imposing and unafraid, they were told to — essentially — piss off back to their town. Marcellus then gave a fateful order to strike and the elves let fly…five of the 30 or so creatures were dropped, but their organized counterstrike dropped many of the elven archers (some lucky crits happened…)

This led to a full-scale attack by the creatures, who were slowed by Calvinus’ use of shatter, but which saw half the town guard mowed down in the first few rounds, and the elves all but destroyed. Even with their leader down, the creatures fought with precision and fervor, even managing to injure the previously nigh-untouchable monk, Icio, badly.

The blood bath was reaching a crescendo — Icio surrounded by assailants, Carrus trying to reach him, the mayor of Wolfangel down, half their forces destroyed and the rest ready to flee, and Marcellus isolated from the group and facing more of these creatures —  when we knocked off for the night, to pick it back up again next week.

We opened the evening with the town guard of Wolfsangel looking south toward a forest fire that was smudging the low gray overcast with black. Trees on fire spreading quickly to ward the river under a leaden sky. And trudging toward the town, beaten and tired, the party. When asked about the creature — if they’d seen it, if they’d killed it, if they seen the missing children — we had short flashbacks to remind the players what happened.

Then we jumped back to the fight with “the Dark Man”, a creature used by the locals to control their bratty kids…except this one was real and kidnapping/murdering them. The creature is black-skinned, black-eyed, and apparently can stretch itself out like a shadow. It hides in the dark and seems to use the water to move about. It also uses the dead children as a weapon, having the wee zombies lure the Dark Man’s victims.

They were setting fire to the trees to light the area, especially after it looked like the creature was sensitive to light. While doing this, the creature rose up and pushed the bard, Calvinus, and the cleric, Augustinian, into the water of the pond it seems to be inhabiting — a pool of black, still water that doesn’t even reflect the lights around it. Once in the water, the two were grabbed by the dead children that were taken here, and they tried to drag them deep to drown them.

Meanwhile, Carrus the Dwarf — a relatively local person, got an excellent roll on his Arcana — the legends of the Drak Man say it’s a person either evil and executed, or wrongly-accused and executed; ether way the spirit remains to seek vengeance. They are supposedly susceptible to silver. He warned the monk, Icio, who filled his fists with coins and fired up his radiant soul feat, flaring with holy light, wings and all…and actually seemed to do real damage. The creature slunk back into another puddle and disappeared.

Meanwhile, the light from radiant soul caused the dread children to release the others, who swan to shore and the party retreated to regroup and rethink their actions.

Back in the town, Carrus got to work in the blacksmith’s shop (the family having decamped) adding silver filigree to their weapons with the help of Steven, the Down’s Syndrome animal handler, and Carona, their satyress.

Marcellus, their nominal leader, met with the town elder and questioned him about the notion the creature might have been one of them, or someone they executed. A drifter came through a few months back — a rapist and murderer. They hung him, then dumped him in the refuse out near the barrows.

Icio, Calvinus, and Augustinian went to see Valdo, the old man who was once allegedly a wizard, and were surprised when he and his female caretaker were waiting for them. Screwed up, didn’t they — going in unprepared and not knowing what they were up against. The creature is stuck between life and death, the body dead, but the soul unable to go to its rest…and those souls are his, Valdo told them. The adversary of Icio’s god — and his — somehow trapped the spirit here, and it has been collecting them, denying him his rightful prize. With some prising, they realize they are talking to Pluto, who is not happy about the Dark Man situation.

The creature is, indeed, susceptible to silver, but that will only stop it for a while. To end it’s reign of terror, they must release the spirit. In the mountains of papers hoarded by Valdo is the answer, a spell to release the soul. Pluto gives them the ability to read the Nordic runes, so they can translate the spells into Greek. Instead of the spell disolving off of the page as D&D rules say, these simple become unintelligable again, once the INT check has been made (successfully or no) and the words transcribed. He also tells them that the demon, Aiton, that Icio is seeking may be the Adversary himself!

Pluto simply disappears, but the old caretaker gives Icio some suggestions for how to work together with his party to be more effective and reduce the chance anyone is hit by the creature. He realizes the kindly imposter — for Valdo and his caretaker are fast asleep in their beds — may have been Minerva!

After four hours of searching, they find the banishment spell, as well as one to detect good and evil, speak to the dead, and detect magic — all were successfully transcribed. Returning to the smithy, they started to work out their plan of attack. But everything was thrown into turmoil when in the midst of their dinner, the creature rises out of their water barrel to take one of their men! Suddenly, they are in a fight with the creature in the smithy.

This time, they kick ass — the silvered weapons do damage, use of radiant and fire-based spells wore it down and apparently destroyed it. Quickly, they formed up and raced out to put an end to the creature. They found the rope he was hung with, a necessary part of the spell, and Augustinian started the exorcism. The creature, once again, cmae for them, but they were easily able to fend it off. The spell completed, the creature disappeared.

Having ended the wave of murders, they were feted by the town and allowed to stay in the blacksmith’s shop while they recuperated and prepared to press on to Locoritum.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this one: the characters all got to do some of their schticks — Marcellus got to do stealthy stuff, Carrus used his family-learned blacksmith skills, Icio had a crisis of faith after meeting the gods which was reflected in shitty rolls for a while, Augustinian got to read a bunch of Norse stories of their gods. The atmosphere and story were appropriately horror-tinged and seemed to go over well with the players. Lastly, the idea that the fallen angels are not in Hell (Hades), but on Earth, and that they are playing around in the old gods’ affairs has started to flesh out the world.

Our Dungeons & Dragons campaign picked up with the party leading Stragen and heading for Locoritum, the seat of the Vangiones tribe. Their path took them through several villages and hamlets in the Moenus (Main) River valley. There was some character development — the monk doing some light healing on sick children; competition between the bard, Calvinus, and Carrus the Dwarf over Carona, the satyress before Marcellus explained the situation: She’s not like people, but more animal in nature…she doesn’t mean to cuckold him; she’s just…free spirited.

Eventually, they arrived at Wolfsangel — a town on the Moenus where it loops south around the mountains between them and Locoritum. They arrived in the late afternoon to the sound of revelry or riot — they’re not certain which. Marcellus reconnoitered the town and found the locals were in the middle of lynching. The victims, a family of dark-skinned, white-haired Celtoi (drow elves) who were apparently Christians, to boot.

Returning to the party, his report on the situation sent the monk, Icio, into flight, racing towrd the city (used his chi to boost his speed, then fired up the whole glowing wings thing the aasimar can do!) He scared the hell out of the city guard, slid past a few of their attacks and right through the gates, with Carona right behind, then the rest of the party on horses.

Once inside, they interrupted the riot and after a few tenses turns of trying to get the people under control and find out what was going on, they figured out the Christians were being accused of bringing “die Schwarze mann” to their town. This “dark man” is some kind of creature that is kidnapping and murdering their children, and it only started its reign of terror after the Celtoi blacksmith and his family arrived. The description of the creature was that of the bedtime stories parents tell their kids to get them to behave — the bogeyman. But this one was seen by one of the children that escaped it in the woods to the south. It tried to lure him in by imitating one of the missing children. Augstinius used a suggestion spell to convince the town mayor that they would hunt down the creature and kill it, if they would allow the family to leave in peace.

After that they visited the home of the “Old Man” — an alleged “once powerful magician” who is now sick and going senile. Inside the man’s home, a hoarder’s paradise of weird knick-knacks from all over, piles on piles of pages of cribbed handwritting that made a warren of tight corridors between all the junk, the ancient  housekeeper/ wife/ daughter/ whatever of the Old Man took them to his bed, where the sick, crotchety, talkative wizard talked about his time “away from the world” in Asgard, his memoirs (all the clutter), and listened to their story about the Dark Man.

The Old Man opined it was a “wight” — a creature killed under bad circumstances, and which was haunting the world because its soul could not go to the afterlife. It is a creature of darkness and will avoid the sun — but dark places near burial mounds, like the barrows to the south in the woods, would be its haunting grounds.

After a night’s rest, they set out early in the morning to find the creature. Through thick fog, and shockingly quiet surroundings, they looked for the creature, with Carona playing the part of a lost child (fairly convincingly, as she’s maybe 14…) Then they lost sight of her. After a few tense minutes, they find her, having discovered one of the olst children! However, Augustinius isn not fooled and lights the child up with a radiant attack, blasting away the mirage and exposing the half-rotted corpse of the kid. Carona morphs into a dark, shadowy figure whose long arms and fingers lash out to try and grab the bard and Carrus — the two closest. they are able to avoid the attacks, barely Augustinius lets fly with another spell, and the sheet of flame destroys the zombie child, but the Dark Man simply collapses into a puddle and disappears!

Meanwhile, Marcellus had found Carona, standing transfixed by the side of a large, black body of water, unfrozen like the snow and ice around it, and utterly dark, reflecting no light. He was able to wake her, then hears the fight with the monsters start. Trying to get a good position to shoot with his bow, he accidentally steps in the water. His arrow does nothing to the creature, then he is grabbed by the hands of the other two missing children, who are trying to pull him into the water. Carona’s scream of terror brings the rest of the party to help.

The cleric is able to turn the undead long enough for Marcellus to scramble out of the pond, which sees no ripples, no reflection still. Their other ranger, Titus, starts using his lantern to set the nearby branches alight, to give them a better chance against the light-hating creature. With the forest around the pond burning, and the pool still pitch black and still, they prepared for their next encounter…

While they were all focused on the water, a shadowy figure rises up behind the band and cleric — the two magicians that have caused it trouble, thus far… And on that we cliffhangered for the night.

So…horror is hard. It always has been for me, and I wanted their first encounter with a monster to be more than the run-of-the-mill D&D “Oh, it’s a [monster]; I’ve read the Monster Manual so [tactic] will work…” A thing like this should be creepy, it should be frightening, and I tried in this episode to catch that horror movie vibe by taking a standard creature (a wight) and modifying it to incorporate other “behave or the [monster] will get you” stories. In the Germanies of the time, water critters were popular for scaring the shit out of your brats, but the most popular was the “dark man” or “black man” trope. Fusing a wight with a shadow, and throwing in the ability to travel through water without worrying about sunlight gave me my critter.

This encounter also took us further away from the alt-history world we’ve been playing in. It’s still mostly historically accurate, but bringing in the fantasy elements, but with a gritty, horror angle, will hopefully keep the player’s (and my) interests. It’s a weird melange on styles for me — horror is something I just don’t do well, the alt-history is more my speed, and the classic “kill the monster” isn’t interesting to me. But fusing them is making for a more unique and fun setting (at least for me.)