The Town of Pebble’s Bluff

The Town of Pebble’s Bluff

The Town of Pebble’s Bluff

(An abbreviated setting, taken from my LotFP endeavor)


The most noticeable feature of the town is the Hanging Man, dangling from a noose in the alley between the General Store and the Burgomeister’s office.  The town is not large, three dozen homes, and when he is awake the moaning can be heard pretty much everywhere within the town’s borders.

Most of the town is abandoned – between the undying criminal and his perpetual moaning, the disappearing children, the dessicated bodies that keep showing up… folks have had enough. 

Figures of note include Hans the Burgomeister, Landholder Stevenson, The Karlson clan, Sven (the hanging man) and the halfling Thiboe. 

Hans – Sharp, soft spoken, looks you in the eye, loyal to his duty.  He knows the town is all but gone, but hopes that if he can resolve the dangers facing it people could be persuaded to return home.  He knows Sven was often in the company of the local Duke, but caught him in town at night, the only stranger anyone had seen since the children started disappearing.  Hans fears the wrath of the Duke.

Stevenson – Animal cunning, land rich, classless, conniving, evil.  Stevenson ignores anyone he doesn’t think can help him.  He is selfish to the core, not only needing more than he has, but needing more than anyone else has.  He does not discuss his dreams, goals, or motivations, and will not hesitate to hurt others to further his gains, no matter how minor.  He does not court disaster like an idiot, but is not risk-adverse when the gains are right.  He bought most of the town and the surrounding fields for pennies on the dollar when the villagers fled.  He wants sharecroppers.  He lives with his mother (88), who he takes care of.  She mutely stares into through anyone entering her small room, her eyes impossibly large in her asymmetric, weathered face.

Karlsons – Papa, Mama, Little Brother, Big Brother, and Sister Karlson might have names, but if they do they’ve never shared them with outsiders.  All of them have a slight stutter, speak with the same measured cadence, and have surprisingly wide vocabularies.  The Karlsons refuse to entertain Stevenson’s offers for their land.  They own the only stream convenient for irrigation – without access to it, Stevenson’ll need to trust the weather for his crops.  The Karlsons looks remarkably alike, even Papa and Mama.  They never speak with anyone outside their family, although they will discuss other people while they are present, which can act as communication of a sort.

Thiboe (short stature, curly dirty blond hair, starving) was originally detained while passing through town, suspected of being involved in the kindernapping.  When another child disappeared while he was locked in Han’s basement he was released.  He has stayed, running his own investigation into what is happening.   He noticed that the better fed residents were the first to disappear and has adjusted his diet accordingly.  He was quite fat when he first arrived in town months ago, however, and still has the excess skin that comes with sudden weight loss.  Thiboe smiles a lot, but only with his mouth.  His eyes are never still, which makes him look somewhat shady.  He does not drink, but his hands shake when alcohol is nearby.

Sven is one of the two Pishtacos living in the immediate area.  The Duke is the other.  Hans was right to detain and attempt to execute him – for all the lack of immediate evidence, he is responsible for kidnapping the kinder and many of the dessicated bodies.  He appears human, except under the direct lighting of a full moon.  Magic and holy items treat him like the sentient undead he is.  Like all Pishtacos he hungers to consume human fat, preferably from a live (or still warm) body.  This is a desire bordering on compulsion, but not strictly  necessity to his survival.   He regenerates from damage, even past ‘death’.  Draining his blood and grinding his bones eventually takes him to -100 hit points, but even in that condition he’ll heal one point every ten minutes.  This does nothing to help him get out of the noose.  He’ll barter desperately, lie about his innocence, taunt the party, threaten the Duke’s wrath, even go so far if nothing else works as to confess and demand they light him on fire. (Which will be agony for him, but will eventually burn through his restraints.)  He ‘sleeps’ about half an hour at a time, waking suddenly with a long, sharp, rasping gasp, followed by choked pleading (if someone is present) or a haunting moan that lasts for hours.  If he gets away he will try to return to the Duke, and sooner or later kill Hans.

The Duke (accented speech, practical, monstrous but satiated enough to entertain guests, does not typically throw his authority around) lives in his large estate / smallish castle with his human assistant Ralph and, until recently, Sven.  They’re fifteen miles from Pebble’s Bluff.  Ralph wanders the home and grounds at night, generally having the run of the place.  He knows ‘something is up’ but doesn’t question much.  The Duke dresses down like a cleaner-than-average commoner and is usually found during the day tending to his gardens, which are massive and impressive.  He has a large hedge maze, thorn bushes cultivated atop his brick fence around his stone residence, a massive garden much larger than he’d need, tobacco and opiate plants for Ralph’s pleasure, etc.  He refrains from being outside, or even in rooms with windows, at night.  Given enough time to discover Sven’s whereabouts, or if told, he will attempt to rescue him, using his authority first and quickly resorting to violence if that fails.

The missing children are detained in the caverns below the estate, a place Ralph is forbidden to go.  The Duke (and until recently Sven) force feed them food from the gardens and harvest them as they desire.  Most are still alive, as Sven had been lucky in his prowling and had been bringing in many bandits, bachelor travelers, and townsfolk who wandered alone in the time preceding his incarceration.