The PDF version has a lower-resolution map, so for those who want it here’s the overall city map.
What do you know, I finished this early.
An introductory adventure for use with Wightchester, and it’s free.
With that, my obligations to my backers are discharged.
See you in the new year 🙂
Get it HERE.
An introduction to the themes and style of Wightchester, and it’s free.
A second free adventure will be coming in the new year.
Wightchester is a ‘city crawl’ adventure book for 5e D&D, Grimdark 5e, Mork Borg and OSR roleplaying games. Set in an alternative 17th century England where the dead have risen from the grave and one city, completely overrun, has been turned into a hellish prison for the dregs of the Kingdom’s society. Dark, bleak, challenging horror fantasy in a setting of almost unrivalled detail.
500 pages of an Early Modern walled city, packed with intrigue, mystery, horror and death.
Due to recent physical and mental health problems, I need assistance to finish up my Wightchester project.
Everything is plotted and placed out, what I need assistance with is not mechanics, but rather the descriptions of locations. I have the rooms marked out and I have information about who lived there, what happened and what is happening in the ‘now’. I just need assistance to get it all done and have to admit that I can’t do it alone, or with the small amount of (very welcome) help I’ve had so far.
I will compensate you for your work as I am able, and this really is just filling in the ‘gaps’ with descriptions. It shouldn’t be too arduous.
It’s hard for me to back off from the ‘auteur’ nature of most of my work and to share the load, but I want to ensure this all gets done in time.
Plenty of people have offered to help in the last couple of days, but my brain is scattered and disorganised. If you could mail me – even if we’ve already discussed it – at email@example.com – with the title Wightchester Assistance, I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Here’s an example description, so you know what you’re getting into:
The stone chapel may be one of the oldest parts of the school. It’s almost a proper little church, large enough to hold a good proportion of the pupils all at once. It has tall, plain windows of coloured glass and a spire that towers over the rest of the school, terminating in four conical stone spikes. The chapel is a solid building, and seems undamaged. Perhaps some members of the school held out here.
- [ ] – 1d4-1 random zombies in the area around the chapel.
The main hall of the chapel runs from the entrance all the way back to the chancel. It is a simple, humble chapel – despite the wealth of the school – or so it would appear. The nave is chock full of
- [ ] – 1d4-1 Child zombies that have wandered in.
The tall windows grant a little more light here, to penetrate the grey interior of the chapel. The two walls to this sides are covered with great wooden boards, graven with the names of the great and the good who passed through the halls of the school. You recognise the names of lords, clergy and guildsmen, with some modest amount of space for more.
The south transept has more light, coming in through clearer windows, but there is nothing here but a few kneeling cushions and a small bookcase, full of battered hymnals and books of prayer.
- [ ] – Approximately 50 copies of the school’s hymnals.
- [ ] – Approximately 50 copies of the school’s prayerbooks.
- [ ][ ][ ] – Kneeling cushions.
The altar may be a simple one, but the goods upon it are far from humble. More pews are arranged either side of the altar in a step pattern – the space for the choir. The cross is of gold, not brass as you had first assumed, and the candle-holders either side are also plated with the same metal. Behind the altar sits a small wooden chest of fine, sweet-smelling wood, there is no lock that you can see, but it has a finely stitched, cushioned top.
- [ ] – Golden cross.
- [ ][ ] – Golden candlesticks with beeswax candles.
In the chest:
- [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ] – Beeswax candles.
- [ ][ ][ ][ ] – Bottles of red wine.
- [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ] – Dry crackers/meals.
- [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ] – Expensive incense/uses.
Bees emerge as blind worms from the flesh of rotting cows. The cockatrice is hatched from the eggs of black hens that have been corrupted by sorcerers. Kittens born in the month of May should be killed immediately since they will surely bring misfortune to the household. The caladarius bird dwells in the palaces of the great and by its gaze reveals whether an invalid will live or die. The Bestiary of Sundry Creatures sets out pre-modern people’s beliefs about many of the creatures that populated their world and their imagination. In addition to providing OSR (and Mork Borg) compatible statistics for these animals, it includes scholarly opinions and rustic folklore about the temperament, behaviour and medicinal and magical qualities of these creatures. GMs can use this material to make their medieval and early modern fantasy worlds richer, weirder and more immersive.
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Whitchester Cathedral dominates the skyline of the city, like a great grey spike, reaching drunkenly into the sky. Up close it seems cyclopean, dizzying in its height. The area around the cathedral is open ground, grass and mud, punctuated by grave markers and sarcophogi of the great and good. This, in turn is bounded by skeletal trees and the attendant buildings that service the grand church, alleys and gates granting access to the profane, from this domain of the sacred.
The Cathedral was where many sought safety and assistance when the city began to fall, overwhelming the otherwise defensible building and causing its downfall. Religious faith was no protection from the dead. What was once the holiest of places is now amongst the unholiest.
Without upkeep and repair it is slowly crumbling, crumbling and flooding as it sinks into the wet ground beneath it under its own weight, but it is also one of the few more open areas in the city, where you can see the enemy from a safe distance.
Encounters: There should always be some wandering dead, scattered throughout the open area of Cathedral Park. Perhaps 2d6 walking dead.
The Cathedral is an enormous slab of a building, built of grey-blue stone, adorned with statuary, crenelations and stained glass. Half of the leaning spire is clad in crumbling scaffold, wood and rope creaking and swaying with each gust of wind. Crows and pigeons perch on the high walls and statues, cooing and croaking as they stare down at you.
The ground here is damp, the floor of the cathedral – and its surrounding paving – a good foot lower than the surrounding soil and covered in puddles of filthy water. Defiant ivy has begun its relentless creep up the walls, with the greenest, brightest shoots beginning to spread across the lower windows and choking the drainage.
The enormous, iron-bound doors of the entrance are partially open, the bar splintered. Saints and bishops stand impasive and powerful, graven in stone while the sound of unearthly moaning echoes out from the nave.
The building is, perhaps, 500 feet long by one-hundred feet wide, with the transepts extending another fifty feet out from the main body of the cathedral. The tower is 150 feet high, with the pointed spire extending another 100 feet into the air above that.
The building is largely constructed of blue-grey limestone, brought from the Southern coast. Much of the exterior wall is filled in with great patchwork constructions of mortar and flint, creating a riot of blues, grey, white and black – when the walls are wet. This provides a great many hand and footholds, though they are shallow, slippery and frequently sharp.
The building is surrounded by paving slabs of the same grey material, creating a walkway around the outside of the entire cathedrals, and between it and the chapter house. Many of these slabs are sinking into the earth and are at wonky angles, the gutters and troughs for draining water are similarly disjointed, creating puddles and soggy earth all year round.
The statuary that adorns the cathedral depicts, primarily, gargoyles and angels. It can be hard to tell which is which, as many of the angels are more accurate depictions of how they are described, than merely winged humans. Many have multiple pairs of wings, multiple faces, many eyes or other manifestations that can look monstrous to those without a proper biblical understanding.
The main door is flanked by the statues of two previous bishops, Bishop Beckyngham and Bishop Tyndall, depicted in their robes and with dour, pious expressions. Above them, wings spread over the top of the door, is a more conventional depiction of an angel, with a halo of radiating spikes – like spear-tips.
The gate is some twelve feet high, split in half. It is made of thick, English oak and bound and studded with iron. The wooden panels have been painted a dark blue, but are encrusted with bloodstains and dented by some great, external pressure. The wooden bar that secures the gate – from the inside – is splintered, again as though sundered by some great external force. If replaced, the door could be secured against the dead.
Sickly, coloured light penetrates the irriguous interior of the cathedral through its stained glass windows that run down either side of the nave. From here you can see almost all the way to the presbytery, past the high altar. A gallery runs around the building, up above the nave and the vertiginous, vaulted roof yawns above you, echoing every sound you make over and over again. Here and there water drips through broken roofing, to echo around the cathedrail. Crows and pigeons flap and sport amongst the arches, blaspheming the house of god with their droppings and raucous cries. Scattered and fallen pews fill the centre of the hall, covered in dried blood and torn shreds of cloth.
The nave is the broad, main hall of the church that runs from the entrance to the transepts and the high altar. Two rows of columns run along either side of the nave, helping to support the upper gallery and its wooden panels. The central area is open to the high arched and vaulted roof above, dizzying in its spiraling patterns and arcs.
There are twenty-two stained glass windows, eleven in the northern wall, eleven in the southern wall, each depicting a scene of martyrdom. Each also has a second, round window above it, admitting more light onto the gallery.
Northern Wall (West to East)
1. The Massacre of the Innocents – Babies and children impaled on spears.
2. John the Baptist – His severed, bloody head, surrounded by a halo.
3. Saint Stephen – Bloodied, with a stone balanced on each shoulder and atop his head.
4. Saint James the Greater – Bloodied, driven through with a sword.
5. Saint James the Just – Bloodied, carrying a club in his hands.
6. Saint Peter – Crucified upside-down.
7. Saint Paul – Decaptitated, holding his own head.
8. Saint Andrew – Crucified on an ‘X’-shaped cross.
9. Saint Matthew – Impaled by spears.
10. Saint Philip – Crucified on a tall cross.
11. Saint Thomas – Bloodied, driven through with a spear.
Southern Wall (West to East)
1. Saint Potninus – Surrounded and torn at by wild beasts.
2. Perpetua and Felicity – A woman and her servant, pierced by swords while a cherub looks on.
3. The Scillitan Martyers – Twelve faces looking up at a bloodied sword.
4. Saint Justin Martyr – Decaptiated, with an axe close by.
5. Saint Polycarp – Burned at the stake.
6. Saint Timothy – Blooded and battered on a pile of stones.
7. Saint Mark – Depicted hanging from a rope.
8. Saint Simon the Zealot – Depicted severed in half at the waist.
9. Saint Barnabas – Being burnt at the stake.
10. Saint Bartholomew – Stripped to the waist and covered in bleeding whip marks.
11. Saint Jude – Bloodied, decapitated, bearing an axe.
Encounters: It is easy for the dead to enter the Cathedral and to mill around inside, but less easy for them to get out – the other entrances and exits being locked and blocked. The dead seem drawn to this place, as though still considering it to be a place of refuge. There should be 2d6 random undead within the area. Note that zombies from other areas of the cathedral will be attracted by noise, and may join in any attack.
- [ ] Beeswax Candles (Long): 1,500 in stores, chests and cupboards, (several hundred in candlesticks and candalabra).
[ ]Beeswax Candles (Votive): 500 (stored near and set in racks to the north and south sides of the nave).
- [ ]Tallow Candles (Beef/Mutton): 500 (cheaper candles, set in candlesticks and sconces in the nave, many nibbled on by mice and rats).
- [ ]Multi-Wick Oil Lamps: 12, hanging from the ceiling, six on each side of the nave.
- [ ]Kegs of Lamp Oil: 24, in stores and chests.
- [ ]Brass Candlesticks: 100.
- [ ]Brass Candalabra: 12, hanging from the ceiling, six on each side of the nave.
- [ ]The Poor Box: 485 copper pieces, 15 silver pieces, 4 gold pieces.
Choir & Presbytery
The benches for the choir stand two deep on the north and south of the junction between the nave and and transepts. Before them are the pews for the great and good, the gentry from before the city fell, closer to the altar, and to God. It is dark here, shielded from the windows, the candles burnt all the way down into rippling overflows that spill onto the floor. Gilt and brass glitters in the patchy light, reflecting off the geometrically carved choir screens. Before the high altar, and to its side, up a short set of stairs is the pulpit, graven in the shape of a boar and picked out in gold, behind both a stone screen, silver and gold on light grey stone, carved with stars, sun and arches.
The choir stands at the junction of the nave and transcept, in the westernmost part of the crossing. This is the area in which the choir sings, and the wealthy elite of the city would attend services. A once-rich rug of mouldering red, lays across the centre of the area, soggy with damp.
Encounters: 2d10 child zombie choirboys, others may have wandered away. 1 zombie priest and 1d4 other random zombies.…
Want some real horror for D&D? Check out Grimdark.
The God Brain
The God Brain squats malevolently in its roiling, vaporous broth. It is covered in sores and lesions, pus dissolving away into its tank while diligent mind flayers tend and sooth and operate – constantly. You feel its attention, like you’re being turned around in your own skin, pass over you and for a moment you hear its echoing madness in the patterns of your own thoughts and mind. The brain is in torment, madness, driven by palpable revenge and an endless thirst for forbidden lore.
Gargantuan Aberration, lawful evil
Armor Class: 11 (The God Brain is surrounded by an AC 22, 72 HP tank of transparent adamantine which is transparent to the God Brain’s powers, but must be broken before the God Brain can be attacked).
Hit Points: (20d12 + 180 – Roll when you encounter the God Brain to determine its current state of health)
Speed: 5 ft., swim 10 ft.
STR 30 (+10) DEX 10 (+0) CON 28 (+9) INT 23 (+6) WIS 18 (+4) CHA 24 (+7)
Saving Throws: Int +10, Wis +9, Cha +12
Skills: Arcana +11, Deception +12, Insight +14, Intimidation +12, Persuasion +12
Senses: Blindsight 480 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: Understands Common, Deep Speech, and Undercommon but can’t speak, telepathy 5 miles
Overmind: The God Brain, while it sits in its lair, is aware of all its dedicated servants and can sense everything that they can sense and communicate with them in a network. So long as one servant can see or hear something, all can.
Mist Vibrations: To those it controls, its servants and some magical devices, the God Brain appears as a beacon in the mists. A fixed point to which its servants can always guide themselves, despite the confusion of the mists.
Closing the Border: The God Brain can electrify the mists and flood them with psychically active gases, effectively cutting them off and wiping the memories (Wisdom Save DC 18) of any who leave.
Life Support: The God Brain has reserves of spinal fluid it can use to heal itself from damage, and it is tended by mind flayers who can also engage in healing actions. The God Brain has 2d10 doses of spinal fluid, each of which can heal it for 1d12 Hit Points, once per turn as a bonus action. It’s tenders can expend an action to heal its sores and wounds with arcane devices and consoles, healing 1d6 Hit Points for each action (Move, Action, Bonus Action) they expend in tending it.
Creature Sense: The God Brain is aware of the presence of creatures within 20 miles of it that have an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. It knows the distance and direction to each creature, as well as each one’s intelligence score, but can’t sense anything else about it. A creature protected by a mind blank spell, a nondetection spell, or similar magic can’t be perceived in this manner.
Innate Spellcasting (Psionics): The God Brain’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 19, spell attack +11). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:
At will: detect thoughts, levitate, augury, blindness/deafness, enthrall, suggestion, zone of truth, comand.
4/day each: dominate monster, antipathy/sympathy, feeblemind, mind blank, forcecage, mirage arcane, project image, mass suggestion
Legendary Resistance (3/Day): If the God Brain fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
Damage Vulnerability: The God Brain is vulnerable to poison damage.
Infirmity: The God Brain has disadvantage on Constitution Saves.
Magic Resistance: The God Brain has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Telepathic Hub: The God Brain can use its telepathy to initiate and maintain telepathic conversations with up to forty creatures at a time. The God Brain can let those creatures telepathically hear each other while connected in this way.
Tentacle: Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: (16d8 + 10) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Huge or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 23) and takes (4d8 + 5) psychic damage at the start of each of its turns until the grapple ends. The God Brain can have up to four targets grappled at a time.
Mind Blast (Recharge 5–6): The God Brain magically emits psychic energy. Creatures of the God Brain’s choice within 240 feet of it must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take 32 (20d10 + 5) psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Psychic Link: The God Brain targets one incapacitated creature it can perceive with its Creature Sense trait and establishes a psychic link with that creature. Until the psychic link ends, the God Brain can perceive everything the target senses. The target becomes aware that something is linked to its mind once it is no longer incapacitated, and the God Brain can terminate the link at any time (no action required). The target can use an action on its turn to attempt to break the psychic link, doing so with a successful DC 18 Charisma saving throw. On a successful save, the target takes (12d6) psychic damage. The psychic link also ends if the target and the God Brain are more than 5 miles apart, with no consequences to the target. The God Brain can form psychic links with up to ten creatures at a time.
Sense Thoughts: The God Brain targets a creature with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain gains insight into the target’s reasoning, its emotional state, and thoughts that loom large in its mind (including things the target worries about, loves, or hates). The God Brain can also make a Charisma (Deception) check with advantage to deceive the target’s mind into thinking it believes one idea or feels a particular emotion. The target contests this attempt with a Wisdom (Insight) check. If the God Brain succeeds, the mind believes the deception for 1 hour or until evidence of the lie is presented to the target.
The God Brain can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The God Brain regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Tentacle: The God Brain makes a tentacle attack.
Break Concentration: The God Brain targets a creature within 120 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain breaks the creature’s concentration on a spell it has cast. The creature also takes 4d4 psychic damage per level of the spell.
Psychic Pulse: The God Brain targets a creature within 480 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. Enemies of the God Brain within 10 feet of that creature take (12d6) psychic damage.
Sever Psychic Link: The God Brain targets a creature within 480 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain ends the link, causing the creature to have disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws until the end of the creature’s next turn.
When fighting inside its lair, the God Brain can use lair actions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the God Brain can take one lair action to cause one of the following effects; the God Brain can’t use the same lair action two rounds in a row:
The God Brain casts wall of force.
The God Brain targets up to four friendly creature it can sense within 480 feet of it. The target has a flash of inspiration and gains advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw it makes before the end of its next turn. If the target doesn’t or can’t use this benefit in that time, the inspiration is lost.
The God Brain targets one creature it can sense within 480 feet of it and anchors it by sheer force of will. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Charisma saving throw or be unable to leave its current space. It can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
The territory within 20 miles of the God Brain is altered by the creature’s psionic presence, which creates one or more of the following effects:
Creatures within 20 miles of an God Brain feel as if they are being followed, even when they are not.
The God Brain can overhear any telepathic conversation happening within 20 miles of it. The creature that initiated the telepathic conversation makes a DC 18 Wisdom (Insight) check when telepathic contact is first established. If the check succeeds, the creature is aware that something is eavesdropping on the conversation. The nature of the eavesdropper isn’t revealed, and the God Brain can’t participate in the telepathic conversation unless it has formed a psychic link with the creature that initiated it.
Any creature with which the God Brain has formed a psychic link hears faint, incomprehensible whispers in the deepest recesses of its mind. This psychic detritus consists of the God Brain stray thoughts commingled with those of other creatures to which it is linked.
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Through the iron bars of the prison cart, across the rolling acres of downland and the rounded hills, Wightchester hoves into view. Is it your imagination, or does the sky look a little darker over that blighted city? It squats behind its walls, dowdy and stained with flocks of crows constantly circling. Even from this distance you think you can hear the hungry dead within, a constant, low cacophony of mindless moaning. From outside only the rooftops and the tallest buildings are visible. Above them all rises the square-block-and-spike spire of the Cathedral, ragged with crow’s nests, a holy signpost to the most unholy of places.
Even beyond the walls its presence can be felt. The cart rattles through abandoned farmhouses and villages, only a few occupied by fearful looking peasants, eking out a living where no other will dare. Around and around the city is circled by hedgerows and ditches, by wooden spikes and tangles of dry, dead brambles.
Guards file out of their barracks to gawp at the passing prisoners, fresh meat for the butcher’s block.
Outside the Walls
Wightchester sits within the South Downs, atop a part of the River Itchen, north of Cheesefoot Head. The Itchen was once a clean river, fed by chalk aquifers, where wild watercress would grow and trout would swim in great number. After flowing through Wightchester the water is now unclean, carrying disease to many and occasionally even raising the dead from their graves downstream, if they are buried too close to the water. Farmland watered from this source does not grow well, often producing twisted fruit, ergot-riddled grain, rot and sourness.
Wightchester itself lays across a very slight valley, carved by the river, but the downland all around is low, gently rolling and you can see a long way on a clear day, at least as far as the nearest hills. Much of the land around Wightchester is abandoned, dilapidated villages with rotting thatch, copses of trees reclaiming the ground, half-wild pigs, ponies, cows and sheep roaming the downs. Only a few bother to still work the land here, fearful of the dead as they are. The villages, already emptied by war and plague, now only host the stubborn, the radical, the insane and outlaws.
The walls of Wightchester are not considered sufficient to contain the threat, and so various earthworks and protections have been erected around the city. A great bank and ditch – in the old style – bone white from the chalky soil and only just beginning to be colonised by weeds and brambles. A barren circle of salted earth, salt thought – by some – to be proof against demons and witchcraft. Great fences of sharpened staves, blunting in the weather, but appearing scary enough. A great spiny hedge of blackthorn has also been planted, both as protection and to hide the rest of the defences from passing travellers. Here and there are also great crucifixes, raised by the religious, thought to help contain and control the devilry that reigns in the city.
A single path winds through each and every part of the defences, studded with several gatehouses of wood and stone, each one guarded by a handful of men, the final gate being that of the city itself.
Two garrisons stand to defend England from the foulness within the city. One has been built up in an old farmhouse, the other in a vacated manorhouse – where the Captain Safe-On-High Travers commands from. A whole company is stationed here, though not of the best men. Wightchester has become a dumping ground for the insubordinate and the untrusted, duty here is a punishment – hence the Puritan captain.
The soldiers here number a hundred, fifty billeted at the farmhouse, fifty at the manor…