Myself and my group of players are pretty experienced when it comes to DND but this was my first time behind the DM screen and I wanted to run something . . . different.
I started the players in your typical RPG town, taking quests from the local adventurer's guild.
The group took a job to kill some bandits which they handled with ease. After killing the bandits, the players return to the local tavern to find a deranged madman causing trouble.
He is spouting nonsense about how "The Lady" will give people anything they want, and how his lady can grant any wish, but only if they follow him out into the woods.
The townspeople are understandably upset, and shoo the guy away, not wanting him to cause trouble.
But the party is split on what to do, with the Ranger and Cleric wanting to ignore him, and the Wizard wanting to follow him.
Imagine my surprise when the the party actually splits, with the Wizard heading off to follow the guy into the forest at night, alone.
The Ranger and Cleric are getting restless and they decide to head out and search for the Wizard.
But they find nothing.
They question townsfolk. Everyone has the same story. The madman is a local lunatic that used to live in the woods before going crazy. I end the session there.
We begin the next session with no leads and the party getting desperate. Afterwards, an old woman approaches the ranger and cleric and tells them that she knows where the madman lived. She points a crooked finger to a dark path on the edge of the gloomy forest.
The party travels down the narrow forest path without issue and find an abandoned cabin in a clearing. It's clear the place hasn’t been kept up with. Boards are rotting; the clearing is covered with rotting leaves and dense weeds.
The inside of the cabin isn’t in any better condition than the exterior. Rotting floorboards creak underneath their boots as they explore. They find a small hidden door in a closet. It takes some effort to pry the door open due to the swollen and warped wood. As soon as the door pops open, a skeleton lunges out of the alcove. They crush the skeleton into shards of bone and carry on without much thought.
Now beware that other secret doors might exist. They investigated the cabin until they find a small iron ring beneath a tattered and frayed rug. Ready for a skeleton the cleric braces himself as the Ranger yanked the door open. They are greeted with darkness.
Cautiously they go down the worn steps into the basement. Occult glyphs are drawn over the walls and floor. Black candles have melted into puddles of inky wax around a summoning circle in the center of the floor.
They find a book on a table. The pages are brittle and fragile but still legible.
It’s the diary of a madman. In it he describes how he summoned a succubus demon to save his dying wife.
He sold his soul in exchange for keeping his wife alive. As they say, no matter what the cost.
His wife objected, but the man, stricken with love and desperation, locked her up to stop her from interfering. As soon as the key turned and the door was locked, the succubus collected her debt.
Bending his mind to fall in love with her, he abandoned his wife without food or water.
The party realizes they have just killed the skeletal form of his wife.
They also find a very heavy, very locked chest. They want to bring it back to town but they need a wheelbarrow to move it. With a new mission, they find a wheelbarrow to retrieve their loot they head back to town. They are ambushed on the trail by the Madman, their wizard, and a civilian.
The fight is easy, but the Madman teleports away when downed, laughing about how the lady will get them all.
They heal the wizard and he explains that he was mind-controlled. The civilian nodded.
Neither does he have his memory of who controlled them.
They put the pieces together. The succubus is kidnapping and mind-controlling people. The number of missing people and the ambush is confirmation of their theory.
They bring the chest to a local sage and pop it open. Inside is a contract written in infernal. The sage offers to translate it, since none of the party can read infernal. They hand over the coin and stay with the sage while he translates.
The cleric remembers they never turned in the bounty for bandits they killed earlier, and leaves the rest of the group to collect the money.
While she is separated from the party, she gets approached by a very pretty woman.
She gets seduced and lured into a private room. She wakes up in some weird kind of lair, facing the true form of the succubus.
The succubus explains she is not evil. But the cleric doesn’t buy it.
Succubus explains she doesn’t kidnap anyone. All her "victims" are people that want what the succubus can give them, and are there willingly. She is powerful and can grant many wishes.
She says she is only doing what she has to, to not get hunted down by bigoted humans.
Memory-wiping anyone that leaves her assures that she cannot be tracked down.
As the succubus continues to speak the cleric begins to nod in agreement. Humans are pretty bigoted after all.
The succubus explains that the contract is what keeps her in the material plane. If the contract is destroyed, she will die and be sent back to hell.
She gives the Cleric a fake translation of contract, and asks for her help.
Succubus only needs to stay around for one more week. Then her preparations will be done, and she will no longer be in any danger.
Cut back to the sage.
The cleric returns, acting strangely. Says she actually can understand infernal, and will translate contract.
Everyone is surprised, but goes along with it.
She tells everyone that translating will take time, and to go do other stuff while they wait.
She is left alone with the contract. Plants fake translation of the contract, steals the real contract and disappears into the night.
Morning comes. The party cannot find the cleric.
Everyone starts panicking.
The cleric is off in the forest, and has given the real contract to the succubus, on the promise she will punish the madman for attacking the cleric's allies. Then she returns to the party.
Everyone is immediately suspicious, and casts every spell they know to check if she is being mind-controlled.
To their surprise, the cleric is not being mind-controlled. Satisfied, they check the fake translation of the contract. It reads, “If the succubus dies, all that are mind-controlled also die.”
Now they are faced with a moral dilemma. They have a sit down and think about how they are going to proceed.
It is at this point that Cleric tells Ranger of her meeting with the succubus.
The ranger wants to tell everyone right away but the cleric convinces him to meet the succubus, and talk to her privately to decide for himself.
She leads the ranger into the heart of the woods where she gave the succubus the contract.
The succubus appears, and tells them she will only talk in her lair, and she will only bring them there if they are asleep.
They wake up in the lair, with the succubus sitting in front of them.
She pulls the same story again and explains how the wizard joined her willingly. Every one of her “victims” are perfectly willing and that she only needs 6 more days to prepare; then all of this trouble will be dealt with.
They buy it.
Convinced, they return to the wizard.
Rightfully the wizard is very suspicious, and uses all spells on them to figure out if they are mind-controlled.
Again, there is no mind control afflicting either one.
The ranger needs some air and walking helps him think; so he wanders around town for a bit. He encounters some of the Succubus' servants loading unmarked crates into a cellar.
He keeps his distance and moves on.
We start the next session and the ranger’s player has a mental breakdown.
They have been having nightmares, insomnia, and high anxiety because of the game. The ranger has been constantly worried about betrayal from succubus or Cleric and worrying about whether or not he made the right choice. He is growing extremely paranoid in day-to-day life.
He doesn’t want to continue the campaign and the cleric doesn’t want to continue without the ranger.
And that’s when the campaign ended.
Because of paranoia.
So to clear the air I explained what would have happened.
The succubus was preparing a ritual to mind-control the entire town and had been lying about everything. Obviously. The players had doomed the entire town to eternal mind-control by a demon by actively working against the adventurers trying to stop her. Everytime anyone in the party was brought to the lair, it was an illusion. If they had interacted with anything or left the room, it would have been obvious.
I got criticized for turning the party against itself.
But on the bright side and despite the mental breakdown, all of the players assured me it was the most fun they have had in quite some time in a tabletop!