Darknut Hollow

Referee: Scott

Darknut Hollow is an open-table format campaign written and designed by Scott Werley in April 2022. It pairs a narrative-driven plot with a dynamic, atmospheric setting to deliver a progressively challenging gameplay experience. Narrative-driven means there is a primary objective and definitive ending established from the start of the campaign, with the focus placed on unfolding the story.

Darknut Hollow’s homebrew ruleset is based on Old School Essentials (D&D 1E revised rules) and includes a handful of tweaks, clarifications, and additions to keep things fresh yet familiar. In many ways these changes vastly simplify gameplay and place emphasis on flavorful exploration and relentless encounters. A high degree of RNG is incorporated while giving players additional options to improve upon their chances for survival. This guarantees new and rewarding experiences with every session.

Players may use the Old School Knave character generator for quickly rolling a new character from the classic and advanced classes available in OSE, with a few additional options. (Note: disregard everything in a character's inventory section as it will not be used for this setting.)

Exploring The Hollow

A Dangerous and Unpredictable Place

  • One giant, randomly-generated setting that is ripe for exploring.

  • The shadows inside the manor regularly shift and shudder in mysterious ways, leaving the grounds and floors different from what the adventurers may have once remembered.

  • Players will work together to unravel the story and confront the unknown within.

Short Rest (2 hours)

  • Find a designated "safe room" on the grounds or current floor.

  • Protection from wandering monsters is not guaranteed.

  • One party member may be designated as the lookout, at the cost of forgoing applicable recovery benefits and suffering a -1 to hit and damage rolls until their next rest.

  • Resting players may only recover either one spell slot, 1d6 HP, or one hit die due to the occasional shifting noises of the manor’s many floors disrupting their sleep.

  • The current floor’s layout does not reset upon awakening.

  • Players can short rest mid-session as needed and a maximum of 3 consecutive times on the Hollow's grounds or within its rooms before the manor senses their mortal regrets and possesses their souls. This count resets after taking a long rest at The Sanctuary.

Returning to The Sanctuary

Long Rest (8 hours)

  • The campground and its adventurers provide necessary support and comfort, warming the hearts of the weary.

  • All players restore all HP, spells, hit dice, and their revive die if previously consumed. Any and all status ailments are fully cured.

  • Weapons/items can be offloaded and safely stored within lodging to free up inventory space.

  • Stock up on rations, torches, and tinderboxes as necessary (shared community resources).

  • Floor layouts reset inside the Hollow upon returning.

Trading Gear

  • Players may request to trade their armor, weapons, heroic relics, and items in exchange for those owned by NPC adventurers.

  • The DM will roll for the corresponding gear owned by NPCs and will communicate what these are prior to trades commencing.

  • This may be done once per heroic relic, armor, weapon, or item while at The Sanctuary and can be attempted again upon returning later.

Carousing Prohibited

  • Too dangerous; community voted and settled upon this ruling.

Old School Essentials System Resources

Below are all of the OSE books in PDF format that we use for playing. For the most streamlined experience, reference only what you need.

Day and Night Cycles

Time is your ally; time is your enemy. It's best to keep an eye on a clock if you've got one. Folks at the Sanctuary have been mentioning strange things about what happens around and inside the manor at night...

Daily Weather Changes

Weather plays a considerable role in your daily adventures. Potential outcomes may be sunny, cloudy, foggy, windy, rainy, or stormy, with no pre-determined pattern in mind. May the spirit of Gaia be kind to you.

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Heroic Relics

Players will each carry one heroic relic. These powerful items foster creative avenues for keeping yourself and your teammates alive. They are tradeable between PCs and NPCs. Try out different combinations to see what suits your play style while exploring the Hollow.

[1] Blessed lighter

Conjures holy flame. Throwable up to 30 ft.

[2] Wizard lens

+10% bonus to all search rolls. This benefit also applies to finding traps.

[3] Lucky ring

Once per combat, gain advantage on a single attack.

[4] Lion's key

Opens some mundane locks and doors with ease.

[5] Medical kit

Treat status ailments (poison, paralysis, and blindness).

[6] Smoke bombs

Roll a 1d6. The entire party flees from combat on 3 or higher.

[7] Bloodstone

Lose 1 HP to add +2 to hit for current round of combat.

[8] Hook chain

25 ft range, spring loaded. Shoot to quickly pull or ascend.

[9] Life pendant

Lose 1 hit die to gift 1 hit die to another player in the party.

[10] Elven cloak

Adaptive camouflage while hiding and resting.

Active Player Characters (PCs)

Fallen/Retired Characters

  • 12 nameless adventurers buried in the southern graveyard (crude headstones visible upon arrival at The Sanctuary)

Storyline Non-Player Characters (NPCs)

Campground Wardens

  • Revna - Female Half-Elf, level 10, leader

  • Torbjørn - Male Elf, level 9

Sustenance Clan (Master Rangers)

  • Maro - Female Ranger, level 8 - trail guide for new Seekers from Havensbreak, clan leader

  • Finni - Male Ranger, level 8 - trail guide for new Seekers from Havensbreak, supplier

  • Astrid - Female Ranger, level 8 - hunter/forager, scout, gravekeeper

  • Gunnar - Male Ranger, level 8 - hunter/forager, chef

Retainer NPCs

Available to parties with <6 players

Retainer NPCs Details - stats, items, etc.

  • Sigrid - Female Half-Orc, level 2

  • Tora - Female Halfling, level 2

  • Mia - Female Druid, level 2

  • Svend - Male Fighter, level 2

  • Ulf - Male Dwarf, level 2

  • Skall - Male Drow, level 2

Miscellaneous NPCs

  • 24 other adventurers present upon arriving at The Sanctuary (5/14/22)

    • NPCs are willing to exchange spellbooks (for illusionist and magic user classes) or pray together at dawn to request spells (for cleric and druid classes) based on INT modifiers (1 spell benefit for every +1 INT modifier, at the start of each session).

    • The active party may make a CHA roll to ask for helpful hints (once per session, at the start or end).

Storyline Items Discovered

  • Jade flute - magically enchanted instrument that teleports the party back to The Sanctuary (usable 1x/day). Provided by Revna at the start of every session.

Sanctuary Needs

The campground wardens Revna and Torbjørn have requested the aid of seekers during their downtime from adventuring.

Those who provide assistance to the Sanctuary will be rewarded for their valued labor and contributions.

Call for spellcasters

  • Dieties are asked to occasionally protect the campground with powerful magicks when necessary.

  • PCs helping: none yet (other seekers at the Sanctuary are stepping in)

Construction volunteers requested

  • A community center in development will provide seekers with a safe, sizable gathering space that is protected from the elements.

  • PCs helping: Gilligan, Sir Robin (6/11/22)

  • Estimated time to build: 1 month (4 sessions)

Locations Discovered (Jamboard)

  • 2 day hike up from Havensbreak at the base of the Mooncrest Mountains

  • Bonfire (center), old road to the manor (west), latrines (north), bathing river (east), graveyard (south)

  • Campground Rangers (2)

    • Revna and Torbjørn

  • The Sustenance Clan master rangers (4)

    • Maro, Finni, Astrid and Gunnar

  • Other adventurers (24)

    • Retainer NPCs (6): Sigrid, Tora, Mia, Svend, Ulf and Skall

  • Front gate with surrounding stone wall around the few acre property

  • 4 armored statues erected outside of entrance with inscriptions

  • Giant grotesque eyeball attached to front doors prevents access into the manor; scans PCs' hands; protected by impenetrable eyelid

    • Magical text beneath eyeball upon being shown the Jade flute: "Bring me a giant wasp's skull and I shall grant you passage."

  • Hedge Gardens' gate entrance is located behind the manor to the west

  • Shrouded by dense mist from above and outside of the entrance, making visibility impossible until venturing inside via connecting pathways

  • Sections mysteriously change with each visit by adventuring parties

  • Areas discovered: Bamboo Grove, Greenhouse, Central Fountain, Sunflower Field, Murky Swamp, Rose Garden, Equipment Shed, Pumpkin Patch, Animal Stables, Sculpture Garden, Terranium Collection, Neptune Pool

Notable Monsters Encountered


Incorporeal (not undead) creatures found in safe rooms within the Hedge Gardens. They silently appear from billowing void portals in groups and attempt to quickly carry players back into them. It is unknown what their motive is as they are completely silent. Seekers should not underestimate their strength as they must struggle to escape their dangly limbs.

Weakness: it has been determined shadows are susceptible to intensely bright light. Other strategies for dealing with them are yet to be discovered.

Bosses Encountered

None as of yet.

Published Scenarios Used

This campaign is 100% original in its writing, but its nature is heavily inspired by other games. I do not anticipate publishing it as of the moment, but I may consider this down the road and would likely need to change a few things in the process.

Inspirational Sources

Inspiration is heavily drawn from cult-classic video games and board games including: Sweet Home, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Enter The Gungeon, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hollow Knight, Escape The Dark Castle, The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil 7, and ICO.

“No degree of worldly darkness can extinguish
the glow of a soul's inner light.”

- Wes Fesler