Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

A woman came into the Green City looking for help. She came from a small settlement of 82 people, called Brightridge, in the middle of nowhere. Over the past week children had been disappearing. One every other day. First was Raidah, 16, then Felipe, 15, and last night Aidan, 12.

The party agreed to help and headed out on a special train that travels slowly but repairs tracks underneath it as it moves. Due to the slow speed the train would not arrive in Brightridge until the next morning. If the pattern persists this meant that another child would go missing that night.

Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

When the party arrived they found three men setting up a Barbed Wire Fence around Brightridge. They were kept company by an old man named Ambrose. The party asked the men about the fence. Two of them said it would keep who ever was kidnapping the children from getting in. The other said didn't think it would work because he was convinced the kidnapper was El Cucuy.

Ambrose, was the first one to suggest that the fence wasn't to keep anyone out but rather to keep the children in. He didn't think for a second that a monster or a person was taking the kids. He was convinced the children were simply lazy and ran away because they didn't want to do their chores.

When asked if he was concerned that the barbed wire might hurt the children he said it would serve them right for running away. He also told the party that he would personally be staying up all night to make sure he caught what ever child tried to escape tonight.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

When the party entered the gates they found a small but bussing town full of people of all origins. All types of humans and aliens milled about the town square. There were Humans as well as Syrtans from Mars, Evrai from the Drifting Colony, and one lone Voredeaux.

This was comforting to the party as there was not a single human among them and they had had their share of trauma caused by human only groups.

The lack of other Vordeaux wasn't too much of a surprise, even the Green City with a population in the Hundreds of Thousand only had a handful. Still her presence was a welcome sight for Shane, also a Voredeaux, who quickly approached to introduce himself.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The Vordeaux introduced herself as Varmeela, she had only arrive on Earth in the past month completely unintentionally after stumbling upon a warp pad which dropped her off in the woods outside of town.

She's been living in town for three weeks and the town has been completely welcoming of her. When the children started going missing the town started to regard her with a degree of suspicion. They are not outwardly hostile but they aren't outwardly welcoming anymore.

As the party went further into town they began to see a bit of what Varmeela meant. Despite the disappearance of three children most of the people in town seem positively cheerful. Most of the people of Brightridge run around in bright red orange and yellow.

Three people stood out the most, dressed in simple neutral colored work clothes. Two of them stood together looking distraught while the third placed his hand on one's shoulder and walked off. The parents

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

A member of the party Stax tried to talk to the man who walked off. When Stax found him he was chopping fire wood wordlessly, engrossed in his task. Stax tried to get him to open up but he just grunted and continued working.

As the party was about to talk to the other two a large bell started ringing and everyone in town hurried into a central building, called the Hearth.

The Hearth is warmly lit and heated by several hearths. Once inside the party was waited on by other towns people in red. An attendant named Honey explained that they were the Embers of the Hearth and that the Embers were led by Mother who had instructed Honey to provide them with anything they might need.

Sensing something off most of the party refused to eat any of the food provided by the Embers except Den who had double portions. They used the meal time to discuss what they thought of the town until a disturbance caught their attention.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The party asked around about the children and learned from the Embers that the three of them were constantly shirking off their chores and would often run off to the nearby quarry to swim. The town seems to regard them as bad kids and feels most sorry for their parents not for having lost their children but that they know longer have help. When they asked if any other kids acted similarly they were told about two Bill, 11, and Keenan 10. The party theorized that these two would be next given that each target had been younger than the last.

As they were theorizing they heard a crash. A young girl in a red ascot and white dress, had dropped a tray and began crying. She couldn't have been more than 8 years old. The Embers tried to console her and get her to hold the tray again. They were interrupted when the large man Stax had seen earlier barged into to the Hearth picked her up and walked out. The Embers were not pleased.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

As the large man left with Molly the Embers grumbled about him. They said his name was Clive and he hated the Embers, so much that he wouldn't let his daughter near them, even though they could provide good things for her. They said if he doesn't let them help her she'll end up just like his son Felipe.

Hearing this Stax followed Clive. He followed him out into town and called out to him.

"I don't think your son ran away."

He stopped.

"And frankly I think I'm one of only a few people here who gives a damn about him."

He paused. Then continued walking home. Stax gave him space and went to walk and think.

Stax thought about his own brother. Who had run away from the Drifting Colony their home. Maybe if he could reunite this father with his son, he could be reunited with his brother.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

While Stax went on a feelings jog in the rain that occurred for no other reason than to give his jog a particular narrative feel, the rest of the party tried to ask more questions. Realizing that the town was going to paint a none to flattering picture of the kids they began to ask questions about the circumstances of their disappearances.

The children each slept in their own bedrooms. Each of their bedroom windows had been open with no signs of forced entry. When asked why the third child was allowed to sleep with the window open after two children had disappeared. The towns folk reasoned that it had been especially warm that night so they probably kept the windows opened for the breeze.

Hearing this Den ran down to the Quarry where the children swam, cast a freezing spell over a part of the water and levitated back about a pallet of solid Ice and placed a large Ice Brick in each child's room to keep them cool.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The last party member to be introduced Chamda managed to strike up a conversation with the mother of the most recently taken child, Aiden. It took some work to gain her trust but she managed it. Aiden's mother took Chamda and Shane to her house to investigate the scene of the crime.

It was to no ones surprise a bit of a wreck. AIden's room was even more between the fact that it was the bedroom of a 12 year old, the site of possible kidnapping, and the first place that distraught desperate parents looked for their only child.

On the windowsill were a set of light scratch marks. Not deep enough to remove the paint like a cat scratch but spaced wide like large hands.

All around the room were drawing so Aiden playing with Felipe and Raidah. But there was one picture that stood out. An empty bedroom just like his and in the window was a monster with big sharp claws and bright red eyes

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The player concluded from this picture that there might actually be a monster out there.

The party already knew they were going to have a stake out that night but now they had a better idea of what they were looking for now.

At dinner that night no one ate but Den. Mother's assistant Topaz gave a premeal speech and apologized for Mother who was feeling ill. Den being skilled in medicine he approached Topaz asking if he could offer some assistance. While they were finalizing the appointment for tomorrow morning Topaz was called into Mother's Office.

Den took a look at Mother's schedule and found she had a counseling session planned with Aiden's mother. While he checked the schedule Stax keep a look out and listened in on Topaz's conversation with Mother.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Topaz and Mother talked first about Molly and how selfish Clive is being for not letting her join the Embers. Then their conversation turned to the missing children and a note left by Raidah, her daughter.

"I'm leaving this place. Don't look for me."

While Den and Stax dropped eaves on Mother. Shane talked to Varmeela who it turns out is something of an Anthropologist.

In the two weeks prior to the kidnappings she had learned a lot about the town and the mysterious Cold Nights that had plagued the town until a few months ago. For almost a year every night around 2 am the temperature would drop 20 degrees and no amount of insulation or blankets seemed to help it. Even in the summer the Nights in were bitterly cold. People died. With winter on the horizon Mother went out into the wilderness intent on ending the Cold Nights. When she came back and started cooking in the Hearth the Cold Nights ended.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

That night Den Stax and Shane held a stake out. (Chamda's player was unavailable that night)

Den took up a post on Billy's Roof, Shane stayed by Keenan's house, and Stax roamed the perimeter an occasionally check in on Molly.

That night as Varmeela mentioned the Cold came rolling in but Den didn't seem to notice he was even a bit uncomfortably warm. Stax had a jacket to protect him and Shane cast a weather spell to warm the area around Keenan's house.

Around 3 am there was a crash at the Hearth, Den heard it and alerted Stax who went to investigate. They found the door to the Hearth Kitchen opened and unlocked. The fridge was emptied of all raw food. None of the leftovers were touched. All the bottles of Cooking Wine were shattered. In wine Stax found a Note.

"You won't get away with this!"

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Just as they found the note they all heard a scream so blood curlding, and bone chilling that they could barely tell it was even human. (They all failed there perception checks but there was no not hearing that so the result was that they failed to identify it)

When they finally went to investigate the sound they found Old Man Ambrose who had sworn to guard the town all night dead.

His had no apparent wounds or bruises. His face was contorted in fear. It seemed as though he had simply died of fright.

Den and Shane stayed in their positions guarding Billy and Keenan's homes. Stax continued to patrol until dawn but when they looked in Molly's window it became apparent that she had been taken too.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The Embers of the Hearth took Ambrose's body into the Hearth to prepare it for burial.

In the morning Den, Stax, and Shane went to bed and Chamda (who's player was available this session) went to investigate Molly's house there she found Clive turning the house upside down looking for any sign of where Molly went. It wasn't a frantic search almost resigned.

Chamda asked for permission to search the Molly's room for clues. Clive consented. In the room she found Molly's window open at the window once again were the very light scratch marks seen previously at Aiden's house. Chamda then waited for the rest of the party.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The bells rang at ten that morning and continued ringing as steady mourning toll for the next ten minutes calling everyone in town to the funeral for Old Man Ambrose.

The Embers dressed in their traditional Reds, Oranges and Yellows, the rest of the town wore their darkest clothing. They gathered in a grassy area still within the city fence but slightly distanced from most of the building.

There was a great deal of chatter about the circumstances of Ambrose's death but they all fell silent when a woman in her late 40's appeared dressed all in white walked out in front of the group.

Mother gave a touching speech about Ambrose's bravery and commitment to the Hearth and when his casket was lowered into the grave she ceremoniously burned his clothes.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

At the end of the funeral Mother called for a period of mourning and called for the gate of the city to be locked for 24 hours.

After that she pulled Clive aside to talk to him about Molly. The two got into an argument. At the same time Stax went to apologize to Clive for failing Molly. He over heard this conversation.

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

M: “Will you just listen? Flames, it’s like you think I took her!”

C: “Enough of the ‘flames’ bullshit! My daughter is missing, Pam, do you get that or are you too busy playing the prophet?”

M: “Molly was my child, too, you stubborn ass. If you just let her stay with us—.”

C: “So it’s my fault?! You ran your daughter off with your garbage religion and she took Felipe with her because, fine, my bonehead son doesn’t know better and I wasn’t...the best. At the dad thing. But Molly was innocent! And I swear if your fireplace freaks did anything to hurt her—.”

M: “You’ll what? Splash around by the quarry, fishing for clues? Just...come and eat. Rest. You look like you’ve been up for days.We can take care of you.”

C: “It’s so easy for you to just move on. My kids are all I have! I left you for them, remember? Goodbye, Pam. Go play with your toys.”

M, face cold: “Fine.”

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Stax and Shane went to the Hearth to investigate the break in the night before. They found a trail that led to a part of the fence that had been cut apart.

Meanwhile Den and Chamda went to the town gates where they found a scrape of cloth stuck in the barbed wire and a trail of blood.

Den made a magic platform and floated them up over the fence.

Den remembered a shadow he had seen in the water when he went to get the ice at the Quarry and made B line for it. Chamda followed the blood trail. All four of them ended up at the Quarry.

Den dove into the water. Stax followed him. Den being an amphibian had no trouble swimming through the long tunnel they found. Stax's toughness let him hold his breath almost as long.
The emerged in a cave.

Chamda and Shane followed the blood trail up a steep path along the cliffs by the Quarry they ended up in a cave high up the wall.

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Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Both caves let out on opposite sides of the same Cavern. High up in the Cavern was a large hole that let in light and a small waterfall that had churned the rock on the Cavern floor into soil. and out of that soil a Huge Tree and grown. In that Tree was nestled a Treehouse.

At the back of the Cavern was another cave this one covered in shadow. A thick mist rolled into the cave as the Cavern grew Ice Cold.

Out of the cave came a shadowy figure which shifted and grew. It's face elongating it's torso expanding into a shell. It's tail flicked back and forth and soon they were face to face with El CuCuy!!

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Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Shane gave a rallying cry and got everyone ready for the fight. Den used magic to place a wall in front of him and started chanting strange words none of the others had heard before. El Cucuy came along the side of the tree and looked Stax straight in the eye.

Stax was suddenly in a dark room and in front of him was the dead body of his little brother and then just as suddenly he was back in the Cavern with El Cucuy his chest aching with the pain of the loss and fear they had just experienced.

El Cucuy let out a breath of Icy Wind to attack Den and Stax but it was blocked by the wall that Den had cast.

Chamda decided the best way to fight this fear monster was with their own courage. Still afraid of the monster she put on a brave face and shouted at El Cucuy. El Cucuy didn't know what to do with a creature so small that seemed to show no fear at all.

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Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

Stax ran out in front of E Cucuy crossboy drawn and shot at El Cucuy he then tried to climb up the Tree to the Treehouse above. He made it ten feet up to a branch.

Shane summoned their familiar to distract the El Cucuy from Den and his Ritual.

El Cucuy retreated and tried to shake themselves from the fear of Chamda's bravery.

Den continued chanting his words growing louder and more rhythmic.

Stax attempted to climb the Tree and managed to get their hands on the ledge of the Treehouse but he felt a sharp wack on his hands and fell thirty feet to the bottom of the tree.

Stax ran around the tree to hit El Cucuy with their gust spell, Uncool. On the way they lifted Stax up to the ten foot high branch on the tree.

Den opened a book from his bag, he had found it on his previous adventure in an abandoned house.

"From the Book of All Creation!!

I Summon You!!!

DAN!!!"

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Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

The book expanded in his hands into a doorway out of the door came turtle creature bathed in Flames. It's snout long, it's back flat and spikey, and though no one in the party besides Den would recognize it, it was actually the Pokémon Turtonator.

The book in question had been found at a house that had been abandoned for three hundred years and was a Pokémon Art book with pictures and stats for every Pokémon up until Generation 9, but Den didn't know that and thought those animals were real so he used his magic to make one.

Dan was as big as El Cucuy and ready to fight.

Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

El Cucuy seeing this new threat shook off their fear and charged at Dan landing a good swipe with their claws.

Stax realized that climbing the tree was not working so he decided that since he was a builder they would build their way up the Tree. He took out some wood and nails from his pack and started building a make shift ladder up the side of the tree but the nails weren't long enough and the ladder rungs fell off the tree as they went to climb.

Frustrated Stax attached a length of cloth to a Cross Bow Bolt and shot it up into the Treehouse to use as a climbing rope.

Stax called out to the children by name but was met with silence.

Shane got closer to the fight and Sculpt Terrain under El Cucuy to make the ground beneath them slick as Icy.

Den jumped up on Dan's back and commanded Dan to use Fire Punch. Den then prepared to cast a Barrier between them if El Cucuy decided to attack.

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Tabletop Stories: Mild Body Horror, Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

El Cucuy reared up and slashed at Dan. Den's Barrier went up but covered the wrong side. El Cucuy's attacks struck true and sent the Dan from whence he came.

Den was pissed.

Chamda now feeling truly bold and brave once again attempted to Intimidate El Cucuy and was successful.

Stax finished his climb and ended up on the veranda of a three room tree house. "Kids it's alright." They said, "We're going to take care of the monster then get you home." They then took up a vantage point on deck and started shooting at El Cucuy, nailing him right in the face.

Shane made another Ice Slick under El Cucuy.

Den ran up on El Cucuy coated his dagger in the poison his skin naturally releases and stabbed El Cucuy. He then took from his bag a Painkiller Pill he had made. Did something to it to reverse it's effects applied it to his blade and stabbed again.

"Now I'm going to make it hurt."

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Tabletop Stories: Cults, Runaways, Missing Children, Monster 

El Cucuy tried to shake the fear but couldn't he retreated and nearly slipped on the ice beneath him.

Chamda went to intimidate him again. "Don't you realize we're scarier than you."

Stax took aim at El Cucuy again but just before they could pull the trigger they were slammed in the side by Felipe. Stax was caught off guard by the attack and fell once again from the Treehouse.

Felipe and Raidah ran for the hand elevator to the Treehouse and took it down as fast as they safely could just barely breaking.

At the bottom Raidah ran up to up to El Cucuy patted him on the side cooing "It's alright I'm here."

Felipe placed a bucket of rocks on the ground between them and picked up a rock. Raidah turned to face them anger in her eyes, sling in her hand.

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Sunbeam City 🌻

Sunbeam City is a Libertarian Socialist solarpunk instance. It is ran democratically by a cooperative of like-minded individuals.