Spooktober cannot be stopped. It’s entirely out of our hands now. Let us face this new terror together, dear readers.
These literal little nightmares are perfect for GMs to insert into traditional fantasy games, modern supernatural horror, and anything in between. As long as mortals are present in the setting to dream and farm or garden, the jack-o’-the-grove can make its unpleasant appearance.
“That thing has put me off of pie entirely.”
– Scarlett Natham, Adventurer
Although the cult known as the Chain of Ophciphael was foiled in their grand attempt to merge the physical realm with the plane of nightmares, there was some resulting fallout from the influx of energy that flooded the area near the portal that they briefly opened. The most (relatively) harmless of which was the creation of the first patch of creatures now known as jack-o’-the-groves.
Pumpkin-like plants twisted and empowered by the magic of the nightmare dimension, jack-o’-the-groves are strange and impish creatures that scuttle along the dark forest floors and overgrown spinneys of the world. Drawn to the presence of mortals, jack-o’-the-groves are most commonly encountered hidden among squash and gourd gardens on the outskirts of towns and villages. Although it’s very rare that these disturbing little plants become violent unless threatened, they’re considered a wholly unwelcome presence by nearly anyone who discovers them for two primary reasons. The first is that jack-o’-the-groves are parasites by nature, feeding off of the nutrients of the plants around them to sustain themselves, so their long-term presence in a garden can have a catastrophic impact on harvests. The second is that they have a penchant for jumping out of hiding and startling any man, woman, or child that they can, basking in their temporary fear and scurrying away before they can meet the business end of whatever farming implement their victim may have been carrying.
|Ophciphael, the Plane of Nightmares
The plane of nightmares is known as Ophciphael. Named for the celestial being that destroyed itself to see the sins of mortals punished, Ophciphael is a labyrinthian dimension composed of the multitudes of fears and terrors of the mortals of the planes and is filled with terrifying nightmare creatures defined by their ability to skew perception and steal hope and inspiration.
Motive: Scare mortals, cause mischief, feed on fear
Environment: Anywhere mortals are farming and gardening
Damage inflicted: 1 point
Movement: Short; short when climbing
Modifications: Immune to effects that cause fear or revulsion
Combat: A jack-o’-the-grove will bite or lash out with its vines when threatened.
As an action, it can force an intelligent creature within immediate range to make an Intellect defense roll. On a failure, the target is stunned and cannot act on their turn and the jack-o’-the-grove regains 1 point of health.
Two jack-o’-the-groves within short range of one another will empower their connection to Ophciphael, allowing them to scare two targets at once as a level 2 creature, each regaining 2 points of health afterward. Four within short range of each can scare as one level 3 creature, each regaining 3 points of health afterward.
Interaction: Although jack-o’-the-groves express themselves through gibberish and high-pitched giggles, they understand enough language to be communicated with on a basic level. The process may be frustrating for those involved, but given that jack-o’-the-groves lack the truly malicious intent of their brethren, it’s possible to convince them to leave an area peacefully.
Use: A town known for its yearly pumpkin festival is thrown into minor chaos. A remote village is experiencing a variety of terrifying new events after a strange merchant passed through a few weeks back.
GM Intrusion: A scared character runs into an ally, knocking them both prone and hindering their next actions.
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