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

PCs and NPCs (referred to as "seekers") 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 objects towards you or ascend to higher areas.


[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. Safely heal with hit dice during combat.

🎲 Player Characters (PCs)

  • Gilligan Lovejoy

  • Sofi Stone

  • Lisette

  • Sir Robin

  • Yerwin

  • Stu Maximus

  • "Granite Hot" Dave Dallas

🪦 Fallen Characters

  • 12 crude headstones were visible prior to the party arriving at The Sanctuary (5/14/22)

  • 17 total adventurers are now currently buried in the southern graveyard (as of 9/23/22)

    • 4 NPC adventurers - majority of the party that first encountered the giant wasps in the Hedge Gardens

    • 1 PC adventurer - Guadium Stumblefoot (perished 9/9/22)

🛡️ Storyline NPCs

Campground Wardens

  • Revna (she/her/hers) - Female Half-Elf, level 10, leader

  • Torbjørn (he/him/his) - Male Elf, level 9, lost left arm

Sustenance Clan (Master Rangers)

  • Maro (she/her/hers) - Female Ranger, level 8 - trail guide for new Seekers from Havensbreak, clan leader

  • Finni (he/him/his) - Male Ranger, level 8 - trail guide for new Seekers from Havensbreak, supplier

  • Astrid (they/them/their) - Non-Binary Ranger, level 8 - hunter/forager, scout, gravekeeper

  • Gunnar (he/him/his) - Male Ranger, level 8 - hunter/forager, chef

🤝 Retainer NPCs

Available to parties with <4 players

Retainer NPCs Details

  • Sigrid (she/her/hers) - Female Half-Orc, level 3

  • Tora (she/her/hers) - Female Halfling, level 3

  • Mia (they/them/their) - Non-Binary Druid, level 3

  • Svend (he/him/his) - Male Fighter, level 3

  • Ulf (he/him/his) - Male Dwarf, level 3

  • Skall (they/them/their) - Non-Binary Drow, level 3

👥 Miscellaneous NPCs

  • 25 other adventurers present at The Sanctuary (as of 9/23/22)

    • 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).

🚨 Prisoners of The Hollow

  • Two NPCs taken away (as of 9/23/22)

    • Melba (female hobbit, friend of Torbjørn)

    • Thallan (male bard, friend of Torbjørn)


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.

Wasp's Skull

Obtained during an encounter with a nest of giant wasps deep inside the Hedge Gardens. Requested by the cursed Giant Grotesque Eyeball to gain entry into Darknut Hollow.

Amulet of the Ever-Watching Eye

The Giant Grotesque Eyeball guarding the front doors of the manor transformed into this amulet necklace. "Keep me close, for I shall serve you again when the time is right."

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)

Community Center Built! 🏠

  • As of 9/9/22: a 100 x 100 ft community center has been constructed in the southern clearing, offering seekers with a safe, sizable gathering space that is protected from the elements and invading monsters.

  • The structure is well fortified and features arrowslits along the top level, providing archers clearance for making a volley of ranged attacks on the Hollow's monsters if they return to ambush The Sanctuary at night.

  • A giant bell is stationed at the top to alarm seekers of incoming attacks.

Combat specialists desired ⚔️

  • Anyone with extensive combat proficiency is requested to help train seekers in the art of martial fighting techniques.

  • PCs helping: Stu Maximus

Foragers and hunters needed 🥩 🍄

  • With new seekers arriving at The Sanctuary, more food will need to be secured on a daily basis. Those interested will join rangers Astrid and Gunnar on their daily routes.

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

Locations Discovered (Jamboard)

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

  • 300 x 300 ft clearing includes continual bonfire (center), old road to the manor (west), latrines (north), bathing river (east), community center and graveyard (south)

  • Campground Rangers (2)

    • Revna and Torbjørn

  • The Sustenance Clan master rangers (4)

    • Maro, Finni, Astrid and Gunnar

  • Other adventurers (27)

    • 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:

  • The Giant grotesque eyeball previously guarding access to the manor's front doors has transformed into the Amulet of the Ever-Watching Eye after receiving its requested offering of a wasp's skull (7/29/22).

  • 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.

  • Areas mysteriously shift around with every visit by adventuring parties.

  • Areas discovered: Bamboo Grove, Greenhouse (safe room), Central Fountain, Sunflower Field, Murky Swamp, Rose Garden, Equipment Shed (safe room), Pumpkin Patch, Animal Stables, Sculpture Garden, Terranium Collection (safe room), Neptune Pool, Dwarf Orchard, Lilypad Pond, Vineyard, Apiary.

Grand Visiting Room (Entrance Hall Room 1)

  • Much larger inside than expected (some kind of magical effect?). Filled with marble busts, antiquated paintings, dusty chandeliers, and luxurious furniture. Large wooden doors lead to the MAIN FOYER.

  • Sizable collection of timepieces in a glass display case in the middle of the room. A section of broken glass provides access for the taking.

  • A secret book lever hidden amongst the floor to ceiling bookshelves - when pulled - slides one of the massive bookshelves open, revealing a secret tunnel to the garage room (GROUND FLOOR).

  • Massive fireplace with "SAVE THYSELF" carved into the decorative stone mantle above fireplace cavity. Beneath text is an irregular looking keyhole that is shrouded in black, billowing, shadowy plumes.

  • Family portrait depicting man and woman in aristocratic clothing with bloodhound. Man has tall glowing longsword with charged energy along blade. Woman is holding tome, wearing silver ring and dangling locket.

Manor entryway lined with carpet (burned by torches); windows boarded shut and sealed in thickly threaded webbing.

Fireplace mantle w/ irregular looking shadowy keyhole; oil painting of a family portrait positioned above (south wall).

Old wooden desks and chairs; vaulted ceiling with large chandelier; four Odysseus paintings on west wall.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves spanning entire northern wall; elegant furniture and sitting chairs positioned by fireplace.

Main Foyer (Entrance Hall Room 2)

  • Room contains a hanging chandelier, patterned art deco wallpaper, and a circular mirror hanging on the north wall.

  • Luxurious wooden floor with decorative web-like pattern begins at the center and branches outwards to three sets of large wooden doors.

  • Southern doors (left) are overlaid with diamond plated grating. There is an emblematic relief of a crescent moon with large circular eyes above a complex mechanical lock preventing further access.

  • Northern doors (right) are overlaid with diamond plated grating. There is an emblematic relief of an intertwined serpent and eagle locked in battle above a complex mechanical lock preventing further access.

  • Western doors (straight ahead) lead to the GRAND STAIRCASE.


Crescent Moon With Large Circular Eyes

Emblem guarding entry to southern doors

Intertwined Serpent and Eagle Locked in Battle

Emblem guarding entry to northern doors

Grand Staircase (Entrance Hall Room 3)

  • Wide, elegant staircase with red carpet splits into two ascending stairways leading to an UPPER LEVEL (not yet accessed).

  • Diamond plated grating is seamlessly secured from floor to ceiling preventing access to the stairs. Positioned in front of the stairway is an emblematic relief of a throbbing heart inside of a pearl shell above a complex mechanical lock preventing further access.

  • On both sides of the staircase are pairs of marble busts depicting nude figures in classical poses. (North facing pair has been destroyed.)

  • Two suits of armor are poised between sets of landscape paintings along the eastern wall. (Southern suit of armor has been destroyed.)

  • S doors (left) and N doors (right) have single skulls attached with two braziers positioned alongside them. When lit, the skull's eyes glow and the door unlocks, opening to explorable rooms on the GROUND FLOOR.

Stairs Restricted by Diamond Plated Grating

Upstairs is visible through the bars

Throbbing Heart Inside of a Pearl Shell

Emblem guarding entry to the staircase

  • Dark and cold inside. Most rooms have multiple doorways for further exploration. Ever-present feeling that you're being watched.

  • Party members must stay together while exploring new rooms.

  • Active light source is required to navigate the complete darkness.

  • Designated safe rooms offer respite for short resting if necessary.

  • Rooms mysteriously shift around with every visit by adventuring parties.

  • Rooms discovered: guest bedroom (safe room), organ room, chapel (safe room), garage, graveyard, study, meditation studio.

Notable Monsters Encountered

Shadows

Incorporeal (not undead) creatures found within the Hedge Gardens and inside the manor. 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. Seekers should not underestimate their strength as they must struggle to escape their dangly shapeshifting limbs.

Weaknesses: shadows are susceptible to intensely bright light and holy flame. Other strategies for dealing with them have yet to be discovered.

Rare Loot

When shadows are destroyed, they drop otherworldly amethyst weapons that have been confirmed to be exceptionally powerful yet riddled with visible cracks inside of the crystal material. The inherent frailness of the amethyst crystal cannot be reversed nor improved upon as it is a material not of this world. Due to their limited durability they only remain intact for 3 strikes, after which they shatter and create a wild magical surge.

Amethyst dagger (1d4+2)
creates a wild surge after 3 strikes.

??????

Amethyst sword (1d8+2)
creates a wild surge after 3 strikes.

??????


Bosses Encountered

Giant Wasps (Hedge Gardens)

5’ long, highly aggressive, carnivorous insects that have moved into an apiary deep inside of the Hedge Gardens. They feed on honey from the bee hives that they've secured and the corpses of adventurers that they've quickly overpowered.

The giant wasps have constructed a massive 25 cubic foot nest made of wood pulp that is grafted on top of a large stack of gear lying on the earth — a graveyard of shiny valuables from previous victims who have faced the nest and not survived. The nest was initially confirmed to be thriving and highly productive.

Weakness: Fire has been confirmed as an effective deterrent. The hive was burned down by Torbjørn + retainers and all remaining giant wasps have been exterminated. The treasure hoard guarded by the hive has been recovered and split 50/50 with the party having first pick (6/29/22).

???

Additional bosses have not yet been encountered.

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, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 7, and ICO.


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

- Wes Fesler