This encounter can be triggered whenever your party takes a long rest. Rather than waking up where they rested, players open their eyes to find themselves lying on the floor, each individually wrapped in a sausage casing. Once they break or slice through the skin (a fairly simple task), they fall onto the stone floor and discover that they’re in a completely new environment: a disorganized and horribly cluttered cabin.
There are no easy escapes from the room. Although it is illuminated by lanterns, the room is windowless with only a single door on the far end. The door is made of steel and locked tight from the other side by some complex mechanism; a large keyhole sits dead-center in the door.
Suddenly, they hear a crackling sound, like some sort of transmission. Then, a deep, raspy voice begins to speak from that same corner of the room:
“It’s time to wake up and smell the bacon, my friends.”
If the party searches for the origin of the voice, they find a very creepy marionette doll sitting upright on a nearby table (it sort of blends in to the backdrop of junk and clutter). It’s enchanted, allowing someone to communicate through the puppet; the puppet itself is immobile on its own and lacks sentience, but its eyes do move, indicating that it’s observing the actions of the players.
“My name…is Pigsaw,” the voice rasps, “And I want to play a game. What is the value of a life and are all lives equal? No need to answer now, my friends. From where you sit, on the top of the food chain, you are shrouded in security and blinded by your own self-importance. Meanwhile, what of us animals? Fed and kept happy only long enough to be slaughtered and served up at your table. You take for granted how good you have it and, before this day is done, I will see to it that you truly value your so-very-special lives.”
Suddenly, a delicious, but choking, hickory smoke begins to pump into the room.
“In five minutes time, you all will suffocate,” Pigsaw says. “Your only chance at escaping this room alive is to find the key.”
There’s the Rub
Players must roll investigation checks to search through the assorted mess and clutter. As time progresses, the hickory smoke continues to fill the room, forcing players to begin crouching or crawling to avoid inhaling the fumes.
There can be small, seemingly bizarre traps that they might trigger. For example, if they open a chest, they must roll a Dex save to avoid being sprayed by a jet of sweet BBQ sauce.
In one corner of the messy room, there is a basin filled with what looks like sand/dirt. Closer inspection reveals that this is actually a savory meat rub, made from a mix of brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic. A player digging deep into this mix will cover their arms in the rub, but they will also retrieve the “key” sitting at the bottom.
The key is strangely shaped, looking more like a lever/crank rather than a traditional door key.
Inserting the object into the door allows it to click into place. If a player begins to turn the crank, they notice a small 5′ by 5′ trap door begin to slowly open in the center of the room. Looking down into this opening reveals a 10 foot drop into what appears to be some bladed/grinding mechanism. When the lever is rotated, the gears below begin to turn at a similar speed.
“Well done, friends,” Pigsaw says, “But you’re not done yet. Who amongst your crew is the lowest on the food chain? Whose life carries less value? You must decide that now and throw them into the grinder!”
Ideally, the players will not simply throw one of their own into a meat grinder to escape this trap. Here are some options that the party can (and will likely) consider:
- Reason with Pigsaw. The captor will not be easily swayed by the “no one has to die” argument. He will claim that he has had your party tailed, and it’s been noted that you’ve consumed bacon/pork/ham and appeared to be enjoying it (“Revolting…”). If the party tries to deceive him (“you’ve got the wrong people…we’re vegan!”), Pigsaw will complain about how he has invested a lot of time into building this room and that being an artificer with hooves instead of hands does not make things any easier. To not waste all his efforts and brilliance, he decides to continue with his plans anyway.
- Destroy/Cover the Doll. If Pigsaw loses his ability to observe you through the doll’s eyes, he will wait until the room has been completely filled with smoke. Then, when he thinks the party is likely incapacitated, he will trigger air vents to clear out the room of smoke and enter to investigate the bodies (it is at this point that the players can launch a surprise attack if they had found some way to keep themselves able to breathe/conscious during the smoking process).
- Block the Pipes. If the players can seal up the room, then the pipes will eventually begin to pop and break behind the walls, perhaps even bursting open a weak area where the players can then crawl through and escape into the adjoining hallways.
- Fake the Sacrifice. A player can hang on the edge of the pit, or transform into something, and just pretend they’re being ground up alive (so long as the Pigsaw doll is not angled to look down into the 10′ deep pit). This would complete the test and trigger the door opening, allowing the party’s escape.
Go Hog Wild
Depending on the manner they have exited the room, players will either be allowed to leave (although the party can still search the dungeon for Pigsaw’s control room and confront the monster), or they will be pursed by their furious captor.
The various corridors and tunnels are confusing to navigate. Players hear a shrill squealing sound echoing down the dungeons halls: an angry Pigsaw in pursuit. Depending on how well-smoked the party is (or how covered any of them got with spice rub or BBQ sauce), Pigsaw will have an easier time sniffing them out and locating his escaped prisoners.
When the encounter does happen, consider using the above stat block. Pigsaw has some available spells but largely prefers to fight with various mechanisms and traps. He won’t give up the fight, thinking that he is somehow divinely chosen to enact revenge on those who harm pig kind.
After he’s defeated, exploring the dungeons reveals various pieces of machinery, old traps, etc. In one chest (you can give it some fun puzzle lock to make it challenging to open, in typical Pigsaw fashion), the player’s can find a special hand axe called the Kill-Basa. This blade deals an additional 1d4 fire damage and, on command, can create an alluring smell of well-spiced roasted meat, affecting anyone within 20 feet of the weapon.
After walking through the subterranean tunnels of Pigsaw’s dungeon, the players will finally reach a ladder and a hatch. Opening the hatch, the party is greeted by a bright afternoon sun. They find themselves in the middle of an animal pen on some peaceful looking farm, with peaceful meadows stretching as far as the eye can see. Pigs are gathered around them, looking curiously at their visitors, but then promptly going back to doing piggy things like rolling in the mud and eating from their troughs.