Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Wild Hunt

Every winter solstice, the Wild Hunt rides from Castle Woden. A group of riders with black faces, a large pack of huge black hounds, and numerous spirits or fairy beings, in pursuit of a single mortal being. The Hunt rides over ancient paths and roads, now long gone. If they encounter a farm, a village, or another building in their way , it’s burned to the ground.

Master of the Hunt is the Dark Huntsman, demon-like figure with antlers and a leather mask covering the entirety of his face. He rides either a black horse, or a white one, depending if the Hunt hunts a guilty soul, or an innocent.

Some years (40% chance) Frau Hulda, the snow maker, rides in front of the Hunt in her chariot. If she’s with the Hunt, a terrible storm rages over the land, felling trees, destroying blowing down wooden structures like fences and barns, and sometimes making casualties.

People encountering the Hunt should avert their eyes or risk being swept up by it. Characters who see it must save vs. spells or become part of the Hunt. The fate of such a person varies wildly. Some join the Hunt as hunters, following the Master’s orders, even if they go against their alignment. They will be released after the quarry has been caught and the Hunt is over.

Others are not so lucky. Characters with WIS 7 or lower will join the Hunt as one of its black hounds. The unlucky character will start running on all four and turn into a huge dog. A smaller white puppy will stay behind in his place. After the Hunt is over, the black hounds evaporate and the persons are lost in the spirit world for a year. If his family takes good care of the white pup, the character will be released next winter solstice.

Beautiful young girls and boys (CHA 15 or above) will be kidnapped by the riders and taken back to Castle Woden, never to be seen again.

The Wild Hunt often rides through its quarry’s home town, destroying the village in the process. To prevent the village from being burned down, villages often cast out girls into the forest, hoping the Hunt’s designated prey is among them. These girls are often taken into the homes of gnomes or witches in the forest. Some of them are lost for good or are found the next day frozen to death. Most of them return to the village safely, with no memory of what happened to them that night.

The Hunt’s quarry is usually a girl, often guilty but sometimes innocent. She can always hear the hounds coming closer, and is under the influence of a fear spell during the hunt. The Hunt is over when it captures its prey and shreds it to pieces.

However, deep in the woods is an unnamed stone circle, overgrown and hardly recognizable as such. The bones of the Master of the Hunt are buried there. If the prey manages to reach the circle she’s save. The Dark Huntsman cannot enter the circle, and will release the prey. She will never be hunted again by the Wild Hunt in her life.

The Hunt can be fought, but it can never be destroyed. When the Dark Huntsman and his hounds are killed in combat, their bodies will disappear, only to reappear the next night. If their prey is still alive, the Hunt continues.

The Dark Huntsman: AL N; MV 180’ (60’); AC 2; HD 15; hp 80; #AT 2; Dmg 1d6+6 (spear +3 ); Save F15; M 10; XP 1900. The Huntsman usually attacks with his spear +3. He may also steer his horse to trample an opponent, for 4d6 damage.

Frau Hulda: AL C; MV 120’ (40’); AC 3; HD 12; hp 72; #AT 3 (2 claws, 1 bite) ; Dmg 2d6 (claw) or 1d8 (bite); Save M12; Special: Spells; M 10; XP 2000. Frau Hulda specializes in spells concerning the weather. She can ride her chariot over victims, for 3d10 of damage.

Hounds (3d4): AL C; MV 120’ (40’); AC 4; HD 6; hp 25 each; #AT 1 (bite); Dmg 1d6; Save F6; M 9; XP 570. The Hounds of the Hunt can cause fear in any mortal being.

Call Forth the Wild Hunt

 Level: Druid 4
Duration: up to 10 days (see below)
Range:  0

This specialized ritual should be cast in the ten days between the winter solstice and the new year in the stone circle where the Dark Hunter was buried. The spell costs thirty minutes to cast, and requires an item belonging to the intended victim. Once the ritual is complete, the ghost of the Hunter will appear and listen to the caster’s reasons to call the Hunt on someone. No matter if the reasons for doing so are just or not, the spell compels the Hunt to obey and pursue the quarry designated by the spellcaster.

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