After your party has done something “wrong” in the eyes of the local government of [City] (this could be something serious or something completely petty), have the town magistrates inform the party that they must complete one afternoon of community service in order to atone for their crimes.
After flipping through various requests submitted by the community, the magistrates will decide to send your party to volunteer at a little retirement community of “blue hairs” (definition: elderly people; Google it) just outside [City]. The facility is appropriately called the “Sundown Estates”, and the magistrates will tell the party that they have a hard time finding volunteers for that place, citing that retirees can be “a lot” for some people.
The Retirement Community
The guard standing at the entrance is a large orc in plate armor, but despite his intimidating appearance, he is cheerful and friendly to your party. He will introduce himself as Clive and eagerly welcome you to Sundown. Before letting your party officially enter through the gate, he will insist that your party hands over any weapons until you depart. At this point, your party can try to smuggle weapons in, but it would need to be a decent DC for the deception check to work.
Stepping into the Sundown Estates, your party will get a general understanding of the area: quaint little single-story white cottages clustered around a singular duck pond in the center of the property. On the outskirts of the residential space, there are many different gardens, vegetable and floral, as well as very short walking paths (nothing too physically strenuous) weaving through lightly wooded areas. Elderly members of every race are milling about, exchanging pleasantries with one another. Some are walking pets; others are throwing bread crumbs into the pond, waiting patiently for ducks that never seem to show up (ominous and a little sad, I know). A pair of old men are seated at a barrel playing a game of Dragon Chess and complaining about how progressive the politics have become in [City].
Suddenly, you will be flagged down by a female human who, through a forced smile, will welcome you to the Sundown Estates and express how grateful she is to have some extra help. Her name is Charlotte, and she’s clearly exhausted with everything her job entails. After a few moments, she will study your party and assign the members to stations:
- The hill at the edge of the duck pond: early morning stretches and aerobic exercise. With examination checks, your party will notice that these old people, despite looking quite old, are surprisingly spry and agile. If you compliment them on this fact, they will say that it’s because they take their vitamins and eat plenty of green roughage. One of them will even be so kind as to offer some freshly picked veggies that she pulled from the community garden (like a carrot) and encourage your party members to take a bite.
- The main community center building: quilting class or a knitting circle. Help oversee the elderly working on a quilt together with various patches. The imagery on the quilt is odd because, alongside patches of bright suns and flower designs, there are also strange stitched depictions of more horrifying cosmic monsters and violent acts. If asked about this, the residents will confess that their lives get pretty boring and that they like to make up spooky, exciting stories to tell one another. They’ll even ask your party to share with them their spookiest story, and the residents will giggle with excitement and awe as they listen to it; some might, despite their best efforts, nod off and fall asleep during this story time. While this is all happening, hot tea is served to everyone including your party members. One of the residents might share a horror story that they recall from the [Insert Name of War in Your History] that happened hundreds of years ago. Calling them out on this strange confession will spark the others to get defensive, saying that “Oh, old Reginald just gets confused is all. Of course he wasn’t alive way back then…”
- One of the houses: help an old woman mount catwalks to the interior walls of her cottage so that her beloved kitty, [Name of Resident Princess/Queen of Your World], can better enjoy climbing around the space and exploring. The success of this work will depend on both an intelligence check to build (advantage if you have carpenter’s tools) and an animal handling check (as the cat will continually try to bother you and vie for your attention as you work). If you explore her house, you can find a side bedroom filled with framed paintings of her previous pet cats. Strangely enough, she has had hundreds of them; an insight check will determine that these are all different cats in the pictures and that she must have been alive for a very, very long time to have had all of them (alternatively, the backs of the paintings could be labeled with names and years to give context). Once you complete the project, she will be grateful and offer you a gold-paper-wrapped caramel candy: one to have now and one “for the road”, she will say. She will insist your eat one of them while she is watching. If you deny her, she will say that you’re too skinny (regardless of whether it’s true for the character or not) and that it’s granny’s job to help “put some meat on those bones.”
After all of that hard work is done, your party will regroup around sundown at the gate. A crowd of the residents will also be gathered there to say their goodbyes and express their gratitude one final time before you exit Sundown Estates.
However, any party members that consumed anything given by the residents (vegetables, tea, candies) will start to feel light-headed and begin to drop, entering a fully conscious, yet paralyzed, state.
If all party members are affected, then the residents will begin to cackle and excitedly announce that they can complete their tradition of a “blood ritual” in which they sacrifice the blood of the young to continue staving off their own deaths. They will ditch their canes and walkers and, with astonishing strength, lift your party members’ bodies and begin walking them to the main community center building to perform the ritual.
If no party members are affected, the residents will be frustrated and begin bickering with one another about “not getting the job done.” Then, Clive will stand in your way and, with no smile this time, announce that they will just need to take your blood “by force.” This will trigger the battle.
Eventually, this battle will happen, and it should be played for laughs. The residents can be hissing and acting totally inhuman at this point (makes attacking the elderly a little less awful-feeling), but they could also try to garner sympathy and act like helpless little old grannies and grandpas, saying things like “I’m not one of them! Trust me. I didn’t know anything about the ritual! I’m just trying to enjoy my retirement by reading books and assembling small model ships, not absorbing the life essence of the young!” Of course, these are all lies, and insight checks, or common sense, can make that clear.
In terms of weapons, the residents should use things like knitting needles for light piercing damage, canes for light bludgeoning damage, and their dentures for a biting attack (they can also leave their dentures clamped on to you to inflict 1d4 damage at the start of each of that character’s turns).
Clive and Charlotte should be a bit tougher to handle as they are both younger and properly armed, but reclaiming your weapons will certainly level the playing field.
Once you have defeated your opponents (or knocked them all unconscious if you can’t bring yourself to outright destroy the elderly ritualists), you can loot them for items. For example many of the residents are wearing “Rings of Warmth” (since old people tend to get cold easily). Returning to [The City] and reporting your findings to the city magistrates will also earn you a well-deserved apology and monetary compensation.