Discussing with the townsfolk, this appears to happen every night for the last few nights and it’s the same cycle.
DMs Note: Depending on the setting for your campaign, you can leverage Liar’s Night, The Feast of the Moon, or Trolltide for the time of year. Essentially what is the Halloween or spooky season within your game.
As the festival approaches, families put pumpkins on their porches to celebrate the season, but someone creeps through in the late hours and decimates the pumpkins, carved or not, stretching the innards out across the road and smearing bits on the doors, all of it devoid of liquid. This trend is new this year, and no one has caught the culprit.
If the party investigates the pumpkins, they will note that the damage was done with a knife or knives, and heavy stomping. There also appear to be two sets of footprints, one set suggests that the boots worn are those of a woman, while the other appears to be a creature in some sort. Oddly enough, the boots never seem to go through the pumpkin guts strewn about.
As they investigate, a small Tabaxi child runs up to the party and tugs at their pantleg. “I saw it, it was the boogeyman!” Tears fill her eyes as she expands on how hard she worked on her pumpkin. From the shadows a bald halfling in a trenchcoat emerges and agrees and tells her, “As a matter of fact it was the boogeyman.”
He introduces himself as Dr. Lamuel Soomis, local psychiatrist of sheep and people. Shoving the tabaxi child to the side, Dr. Soomis walks the party away from the carnage and tells them he has a suspicion.
“Last year, I treated a patient that had recently gone through a tragic life event. During the annual pumpkin carving contest, a competitors hands slipped and accidentally sliced the elbow skin off both arms of the woman. That woman’s name was Michaela Meijers.”
Dr. Soomis shudders as he mentions the name and throws up a little. He continues.
“Her weenus’ on the ground, she pleaded with the judge for a redo in a few days when her skin had healed, but the judge would not allow it, disqualifying the woman on the spot. She ran from the stage and spent a session with me a few weeks later but then disappeared from the town. That was nearly one year ago to the day.”
The party can ask Dr. Soomis additional questions, but he doesn’t have much additional information to give other than:
- The judge’s name was Maury Stomp, the owner of the local pumpkin patch on the edge of town
- The pumpkins seem to stay safe until they leave the patch, once at a home, they are destroyed within a few evenings
- Michaela’s relatives are no longer in town, some moving away after the incident and others perishing in a terrible cinnamon-eating accident
- Michaela had dreams of opening her own pumpkin patch and was in line to do so until she lost the competition
After discussing further with the townsfolk they ask the party to either track Michaela down, or catch the pumpkin-destroyer in the act. They are all headed back to the pumpkin patch to get more pumpkins, to attract the evil-doer later in the evening if the party has not solved the mystery.
The party waits for nightfall
If the party decides to wait to catch Michaela in the act, she will appear later in the evening. The human woman is wearing boots (that match the footprints above), leather pants, and what seems to be a large cardigan with baggy sleeves. On her belt are several daggers, and she wears a bandolier across her chest that seems to be full of empty vials. She also wears a strange white mask with dark eyes.
Using a knife in each hand to slice holes in the tops and bottoms of the pumpkin. Once the holes are there she holds a vial beneath the pumpkin and squeezes the pumpkins innards, her hands emitting a bright glow that lights up the pumpkins face (if carved) momentarily. A strange dust emerges, dropping into the vial below. Once finished, she gently sets the pumpkin back in its place and does this to the rest of the pumpkins in town, her bandolier of vials of pumpkin dust completely full.
Check the motivation section below if the party decides to confront her.
Moments after Michaela finishes up and leaves the area (or as the party deals with her), something large shambles into the town and begins feasting on the pumpkins, ripping them apart and spreading the insides all over, similar to the scene they investigated earlier in the day.
Emerging from the darkness is a large construct covered in tattered rags, and seemingly held together by sticks, tree sap, and pumpkin stems. Its head is a large, soft, wilting pumpkin with eyes shoddily carved out, and a wrinkled, gnarled smile slashed into its face. There is a faint glow that increase in brightness the more pumpkin it eats.
The party will have to determine what to do with Michaela and what to do with the Pumpkin Golem.
The Party Tracks Michaela
Following the boot prints, the party tracks them to a small cabin tucked away in the woods. There is about an acre of land cleared around the cabin and growing in that clearing are hundreds of pumpkins. Smoke flows out of the chimney of the cabin, but no one is inside. If the party heads to the back of the property, they’ll see a masked woman sitting amongst the pumpkins, lifting the mask from time to time to sip from a mug.
The party can launch into an attack, but if they opt to talk to Michaela, she will giggle at the stories of Dr. Soomis and the townsfolk. She will also be surprised to learn about the pumpkins being ripped apart and thrown about the town.
Motivation: If the party continues pressing her, she notes that she does interact with the pumpkins, but only the fresh ones and always puts them back in their place. When she was being treated for the “Weenus Incident” as she calls it, the Cleric accidentally imbued some magic into the skin that was being reattached.
That magic allows her to place her hands inside any fruit or vegetable and turn its essence into a powder, or in other words a spice. While she tried this newfound skill out with many different foods, pumpkins and the “pumpkin spice” turned out to be the most interesting for adding to beverages and also the least messy. She is hoping to bring the “pumpkin spice” to the town as a way to make peace with Maury Stomp and the other townsfolk.
If the party decides to leave Michaela alone, she will offer to have them stay the night since it is getting dark, to try out the spiced drinks she’s been making. If they stay, the Pumpkin Golem (above) will rampage through the town, smashing and eating all of the pumpkins again.
If the party solves everything in a positive light, Michaela will return to town and start a stall selling her spiced drinks. The townsfolk are scared initially, but they soon come to appreciate her and love her drinks. As a thank you, Michaela gives the party a Vial of Pumpkin Spice, which gives the consumer resistance to cold weather effects, but suffering from unoriginality, with their CHA getting a -2 hit.
If the party is unable to resolve the issues of the town, they get nothing.
Other possible variations:
- Michaela created the Pumpkin Golem to get back at the townsfolk
- Michaela turns into the Pumpkin Golem from having ingested too much Pumpkin Spice
- Extend the timeline so it was many years ago, making it even spookier that it’s recurring and no one has found the pumpkin murderer
- The Pumpkin Golem could attack the party when they are tracking Michaela
- Maury Stomp winds up dead in their pumpkin patch
How would you run this encounter? Let us know below!