The Eyes of a Child

Anonymous's picture
Recommended Levels: n/a
Author: Jacob DriscollEmail: - Introduction -

The blissful paradise that is Elysium houses a special area within that seems to be made of very specific beliefs...those of children.

This is the Land of Innocence, located on the first layer of Elysium, Amoria. It is populated, rather sadly, by petitioners of children of several races. These are the spirits of young creatures of all types from elves to orcs to little griffon chicks. All get along famously with each other, happily cavorting in idyllic splendor, with none of the bigotries or concerns of adults. They are looked over by a being referred to by the children as "Mommie"

This land (coming soon to the Portals section of – the editor) contains the personification of several children's beliefs...there are places for icons of holidays, for a "Man in the Moon" that wears a nightcap and even for childlike versions of the gods themselves (in their more benign aspects, of course...).

But a problem has arisen in the Land of Innocence. It seems that the Land of Fright the place where "bad kids" go, containing the more terrifying myths of childhood (located in the Gray Waste), has taken more interest in the petitioners of the Land of Innocence, kidnapping them for no apparent reason. For the first time, Fear has entered the Land of Innocence. But perhaps the greatest crime might not be the abduction of the children, but the effect this is having on them...they are losing the Innocence...

1:- A Sad Day -

The adventure starts when the PCs hear of the death of a child. Perhaps it is the result of the Blood War, of happenstance, or of tragic fate. The PC's should be intimately involved in this death, either by having connections to the child or it's parents (perhaps even being a child of the PCs themselves...though adventurers rarely find time for families...), or perhaps by vitnessing the death themselves (and probably morally required to notify the parents...but use this approach only if you think you can guilt the PC's into it).

The parents are especially bereaved, as they should be, and someone (a priest, a counsellor, one of the parents themselves) has the bright idea that to ease the pain, the parents should see their children in the Land of Innocence, to see how happy they are (as, strangely enough, children keep their former appearance in this realm), and to put their mind at ease. The PC's, either having their own reasons to see the child, or being the experienced planewalkers they are, are recruited to accompany the parents to the Land of Innocence, as much could happen along the way.

2: - Toward Innocence -

This section can be as long or short as the DM desires. If they don't want unnecessary complications, the DM could have the PC's find a portal relatively quickly, and perhaps the parents even knows of one, or know someone who knows of one. Depending on the DM, this section could be glossed over, or could be an arduous process (though not too bad...the effect of the death lessens over time, until it becomes a background story, so get 'em there in the same night of gaming, eh?)

3: - Fear -

Upon entering the Land of Innocence, the PCs sense that something is wrong. From what they´ve heard of the place (or possibly: remember from visiting it themselves), it is a land where crowds of children play on rolling hills and sleep in big, soft beds with their friends in the Land. There aren't any houses, because there is no need for shelter in this land of sweet breezes and soft grass, where everyone is comfortable regardless of their usual survival requirements. However, there is a bed for each child, where they go whenever they are tired in the Land Without Bedtimes. The sight of thousands of children in their beds, with the covers pulled over their heads, greets the PCs. Something is not right.

The children themselves are too scared to even come out from under the covers. The PCs are frightening strangers to them (and usually the kids are so friendly!). However, the icons of childhood, such as the Sandman, Santa, or whoever else the DM can think of, can be sought out to figure this mystery out, and also to find the child they are searching for.

The childhood icon (which should be recognizable to the players, and, since childhood legends vary a LOT with culture, will not be defaulted here) will tell them of the fear instilled in these children since some of them started being taken away by Boogeymen. It will say that the icons are on the task, and that the child that they seek was one of those taken by the most recent raid of the Boogeymen.

Now, the PCs can either wait for the icons to handle the issue, or try to solve the problem all likelihood, they'll want to do the latter. No good parent would let their child spend eternity in the grip of any Boogeymen, and no good-aligned adventurer should let this kind of corruption go on in a land supposed to be of idyllic beauty and days off of school.

4: - Lend A Helping Hand -

The icon agrees to help the PCs (and the parents, if they wish to go...the DM should develop their personality, and depending on that, the PCs could convince them to stay behind because it's dangerous, or they could demand to come with to save their child. It depends on the DM's wishes, although the latter seems more likely...), but also specifies conditions. First, they must take on the forms of children themselves. This requires a bit of statistic alteration, but it is only temporary. This also means that the PCs must leave behind anything that could identify them as anything other than inhabitants of the Land of Innocence, like swords, backpacks, and general adventuring gear.

The stat alterations are as follows: All PCs are reduced by one size category (from Man-sized to Small for most). They suffer a -4 penalty to Strength (weaker muscles), and gain a +4 bonus to Charisma (so cuuuuute!). They suffer -2 Constitution (easily tired and susceptible to disease) and gain +2 Dexterity (their tinier and can move quicker). Other than that, the stats remain the same.

To help them in the Land of Fright, the PC's are also given various toys...choo-choos, teddy bears, pop guns, and whatever the DM decides fits the PC best (like a nerf-style sword for a fighter or something...). This in itself does not make them obviously un-childlike, and they are told to hold onto these items dearly. Now, the newly younger PCs are set up as the new victims for the Boogeymen (they can't just portal-hop to the Land of Nightmares, as only children can enter). Late that night, the Boogeymen strike (see the Codex entry for Boogeymen to find out their stats – also coming soon to – the editor). The PCs can be grabbed by fighting back and taken, or by being targeted by the Boogeymen themselves. They should put up a fight...Boogeymen aren't the brightest creatures around, but a child that doesn't scream in fear at them is something just not right in their heads. Also, the toys are still toys here. The PCs are more than welcome to bash the bogeymen with them, but that will likely do little more than annoy them. So the PCs (and perhaps the parents) are taken to the Land of Fright.

5: - The Naughty Place -

The Land of Fright is like the Land of Innocence inverted, consisting of deep shadows and terrifying beasts that don't have to make sense to be terrifying (hordlings, for the most part, in reality). Here is where the Bad Children go, where Boogeymen lurk and eat them, and where Wicked Witches and Big Bad Wolves (or whatever other fairy-tale villains the DM can think of) wait around every corner. Here, the crying never stops.

For any good-aligned PC's this should be a horrible place, where young 'uns are subjected to torture and desolation, starving in streets, waiting to be eaten by some slobbering beast. However, there is one lucky break. The "toys" given to the PC's are actually powerfully enchanted with a special magic called "Parent Magic." While the PC's are holding these items, they effectively act as magical parental figures (despite their size) while in the Land of Fright. They are able to, for instance, "Cure Light Boo-Boos" with a kiss, and drive away Boogeymen and Monsters with the light they can turn on around them (as a Light spell). They can Turn Boogeymen (which includes pretty much anything that isn't a child in the Land of Fear) as a cleric can turn undead, of a level equal to their own. They can also generate a "Circle of Protection" around a character as long as they are hugging them. There may be more options, if an enterprising DM can think of any, but for now, this will do. Of course, this doesn't solve all their problems as they still have to find the newly dead child. Asking around with a description of the kid, or even a name (nicknames or preferred names only, as no child from the Land of Innocence will be known by a name they hate...parents can be a big help here) can give some direction, which always seems to point to the Spooky Castle on the Hill. This also occurs if they’re asking more in general where the Boogeymen take the kids, as it's all the same place.

Most other questions will be ignored in favor of pleading and begging for aid, which occupies every child here. They miss their mommies/daddies/grannies/whatever, and always want, healing, the toys themselves. Remember, these are not nice kids. These are the type that whines when they don't get their way and beat up others on the playground. These are the kids that pull legs of flies, just to see them suffer, and would pull the legs of other children if they could. They may start small ("Food, please!") but they will always demand more, even asking for the "toys" the PC's carry. And, when they reach something the PCs will not or cannot give up, they will cry and whine, which attracts the various wicked inhabitants of the land. They may also try to *take* what they want. Since they are fundamentally no different from the PCs, their special toys have no power against them. The PCs run a real risk of being beaten up by 5-year-olds in this section of the adventure, and tact is probably going to be of more help than violence (DM's who think their PC's are likely to be killed by toddlers may wish to add a punishment or "spank" power to the toys to send the wicked children scurrying in the other direction, though that could be a matter of personal choice). Eventually, the PCs should head for the Spooky Castle, or be found and subdued by the monsters/bogeymen/kids and be dragged there.

6: - The Robbers of Innocence -

The Spooky Castle is a place ruled by fear and terror, all the scary thoughts of children's minds holding dominance over their land. The place is ruled by a mother figure gone awry: the Wicked Queen (see the Land of Fear in the Portal's section for more info). Or at least it was until recently.

As the PC's talk to kids and sneak through the castle (sneak being an operative word ¾ despite their "Parent Powers" the PCs are still fairly incapable of violence), they get the scoop on a recent development. Apparently, a child with fiery red hair by the name of Devon managed to usurp the Queen.

Devon isn’t nice. He was a typical resident of the Land of Fear: selfish, obnoxious and rather unloved. However, he was more motivated than most to get what he wanted, so instead of whining and crying, he schemed. Soon, he ended up scheming with a Nycoloth that decided it wouldn't mind having this little foothold in the Waste. It helped him dethrone the Queen and rule the Land, but he quickly became a puppet for the ambitious yugoloth's plans. His own plan was to make the children of the Land of Innocence suffer the most they could (he was more than a little jealous that they got everything he wanted), and the 'loth, always happy to corrupt anyone it could find, leapt at the opportunity. The children were brought here and held in cages until the hatred and the lack of loved began to alter their beliefs into what the unloved children of the Land of Fear believe, and then they were released to spread it. Devon, however, wants more. He's got some plans, and he has been educated by the 'loth in the ways of getting what he wants. Thus, he has lost even the innocence that the children in the Land of Fear had. He has grown up, and he's now a young teenager, lording it over the little kids (about 5-10 years old on average) below him.

7:- Retribution -

Ideally, the adventure culminates in the disposition of Devon and the 'loths. The Queen, always looking out for her own good above others, offers to let the PCs take the residents of the Land of Innocence home if they can help her regain her throne. She can add the muscle and the magic, while the PCs can help keep the other critters at bay with their parent-powers. The 'loth can be defeated by the Queen, while Devon will take some doing to destroy. The Queen can do it, but the ending will be more satisfactory if the DM allows the PC's Toys to have the Punishment power, or if they use the toys in some other way against him, perhaps embracing him in a hug and stopping the Queen from killing him, as they might feel guilty if they let her kill a kid, even one who has lost innocence.

This is, in fact, probably the most rewarding approach, but could take some doing. Perhaps the parents of the lost child could be of help in this, if they came along. If he is "defeated" in this way, he runs off in a flurry of tears and cannot be found again.

After the conflict, the PCs may not be able to set everything right, but they can return it to the way it was. They cannot save the children of the Land of Fear (nor would they probably want to after being throttled by them a few times), but they can return with the children of the Land of Innocence, including the child that they were searching for. The Queen is back in charge, and the PCs have more-or-less saved the day (convincing the Queen to help even if they didn't really battle at all). Time to go home. But if the PC's try any fancy bargaining, they could loose all they have worked for. After all, the Queen sure made short work of that 'loth...

8: - Return to Innocence -

The PCs and the crowd of children is led back through the gates of the Land of Fear, and instantly ushered off to the Land of Innocence. Here, the children have a happy reunion with their old friends, after the Sandman (or whoever) wipes their minds clean of the memory of that horrible place. The icons invite the PCs and the parents to spend a few days here (the parents are probably ecstatic to see the child again, after all). The Adventure may end here. But if Devon survived the battle...

9: - Childlike Again -

The most rewarding finish of this quest comes if the vengeful Queen did not tear Devon to bloody shreds. A few days later, when the PCs are healed up and the parent is ready to go home after being with his kid and seeing him happy, the portal from the Land of Fear opens again, and this time, an old man stumbles out, and collapses on the floor. He seems to recognize the PC's, and crawls feebly toward them. However, he can no longer walk, and barely crawl. Somehow, he reaches a PC, and grabs a hold. The PC inadvertently looks into his eyes, and they all experience the same vision:

A poor home...a child with bright red hair...beaten over and over again. That child taking it out on others in his life, thrashing them...beating them. Then, one night, the beating turns fatal. The redheaded child dies in a corner, his uncaring parents too busy fighting to bother with his eventually fatal injury. Suddenly, they come back to the world, and all the children in the Land of Innocence are staring at the old man. He lies down, and starts to cry. As the PCs are still reeling, a lovely woman with a child on her hips emerges from the crowd. The child is the one the PCs rescued. Murmurs of "Mommie" are heard among the young ones as she approaches the old man, setting the child she is holding down. She lowers her head, her raven hair brushing the scarred, burnt face of the old man. "You poor dear," she says in a soft voice, and a tear falls onto his worn face. Suddenly, he is bathed in a burst of light. It fades, and the old man seems to regress in years, falling backwards to adulthood with red hair and a beard, flowing back to teenage years, to the Devon the PCs recognize, and then finally he becomes a child with bright red hair. He raises himself up off the ground, and looks around at all the staring children, seeming a bit afraid. And then, the child, the one that "Mommie" held on her hip, approaches the redheaded child, and states its name. The kid also asks, "What's yours?"

"Devon," says the redhead, a bit shyly.

"Come on, Devon, play Bandits with us!"

Devon makes one look at the Mommie, and she nods. They scamper off, bringing with them the crowd of kids.

The PC's are left with the parent, and Mommie, who simply smiles and fades away. They hear a voice singing a lullaby, and then they are outside of the Land of Innocence, facing the road home.

The End

nick012000's picture
Joined: 2004-05-19

This is a very good idea.

For some reason, the idea of hardened planewalkers getting beaten up by 5 year olds amuses me.

Dalriada's picture
Joined: 2005-11-02

Judging by the things me and my friends believed as children, I don't think "Innocence" really comes into it.

Still, an interesting idea.

brian's picture
Joined: 2006-01-09

i just finished a session this weekend using this adventure as the basis, they were in tears by the end. it will be a session they'll remember for years to come. absoLUTEly fabulous idea and probably one of the best hooks/adventures i've found in years! you get a standing ovation on this one. thanks!

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