Stealer of Children ("the best"list)


A FreshHell to Contend With
I ran this recently for a first time rpg player.
The clues are laid on pretty thick, so it would work well for kids too. But makes it uber-easy for adults so I changed a few bits.
I figured most players are going to Lansing Manor or the Cemetery pretty quick, given events at the start- which would give them the potion & make any wandering around in the woods moot (wasting some best parts).

My fix was to make the Dryads potion in Lansing Manor smashed & broken. Remove the hokey "explanation diary entry" & simply have a few passionately sketched line drawings of an elfin creature in the woods in his study & corpse. Kind of manic/frustrated ones as if he couldn't quite capture what he wanted- Close Encounters style. That leads the party to look for Merrit & her grove (I made it a Nereid & pond for the "water is a gateway to the otherworld vibe) & THERE they can get the potion.

There other option is to reverse engineer it from the smashed remnants & nuns help or their own damn plan.

It was fun- Got suspected of witchcraft by the townsfolk for poking around the kidnap house. So the stressed out Warder (who kinda knows they aren't witches but needed the help) ends up giving them the old "well, solve it or the town will be all for hanging you". Which is naff at the start of an adventure as a hook, but I'm ok with as they got themselves into the mess by poking around the house too much & then the subsequent confrontation didn't go their way.

They lost a handsome hireling to Dryad (Nereid) lusty, lonely ways. Promised him to her for just a day (he was more than willing!) but with the way fey time works...

They thought the re-created bedroom underground was creepy & were slightly disappointed when the closet didn't open up into the childs bedroom. Which is actually a cool idea & shows they were very much on board with the classic fairytale vibe by that stage (magic closet and Narnia & all that). Next time I run it I might use that, or have the closet be an Ultan's Door type portal or some such.

Fairy tale elements in this one can be tweaked to vary between borderline hokey/silly (as written) but if you tweak a few, drop a couple, add one or two of your own & filter it through the usual player paranoia it can veer into lotfp witch horror meets dark fairytale Bowie in Labyrinth territory easily enough. Because fuck their monster, if someone is stealing children in my dark fairytale, it's the Goblin King!


High Executarch
Staff member
Interesting. How did the final confrontation with the Stealer go? I suspected his Wail attack might have been a bit too much for a 1st level party, how did this go?


A FreshHell to Contend With
His wail - again, so Bowie - wasn't an issue.

I was running a solo player I'd say equivalent to being 2nd level PC with two x 0/1HD companions if converting to LL or LOTFP etc.

They got a bit lucky on the wail- saved, 1 HP dmg & then a whole lot of missing either way & the familiar turned the tide with their attack special at players prompting.

It wasn't a game changer. i DID forget to apply penalties for being converted to a kiddie age- but since they played a sorcerer who relied on wits, spells & their big meat lump companion (lost to the nereid) + amulet dragon (hey, no party so dragon conjured 1/day does d3 melee or d6 breath within 3 squares) it barely mattered.

They mostly liked the RP aspects, investigating, enough tidbits in the town that whoever welcomes or annoys you or disturbs you can be riffed off later- like when you get caught or realise the teenagers secretly have more to say they just don't want to get caught etc.

I'd say "sticky" is the Bryce term. I'm sure I forgot half of the individual town knowledge/motivations but I knew the gist + enough to riff off myself because there were solid, understandable motives & knowledge for enough people. I'm honestly not clever or prepared enough to keep a whole lot more in the air at any one time but this adventure or Melford Murder etc I can keep straight enough to work. Social adventures are not my strong suit but I knew my player would love & need that kind of thing so this was a good adventure to start on.

I should probably say I hadn't DM'd for about 2 years before this, and was now in a new country- Singapore- with player from a different culture with no rpg experience. So the "easy intro" style of the adventure was a +, wit it being easily scaleable to my ideas of "back in the day with my brother & the crew I would have..."

I'm not strong on complex, investigative, subtle NPC investigation plots but even when player went off script here I felt I had enough handle on enough PC's to get it done & they felt rewarded for investigating (in relevance or trivia) rather than me being lost, spending minutes checking notes or getting stonewalled multiple times (they were once, because they took the wrong tone with nuns/had a bad rep by that stage & didn't explore the nuns enough as individuals - but thats on them).

So yeah they defeated the Stealer. But imc the stealer was just a symptom of one of the nuns gone bad (tree poisoned & not lightninged)...
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8, 8, I forget what is for
I just purchased this one based on your comments/post and Bryce's review (I had to see "an 'enchanted forest' that actually FEELS a little like a enhanced forest"). It has a nice little village in it, and some good detailed bits.

A little gem from 2013 that's a great value for $1.49! Thanks for the play report and I like your changes. I love the Bowie/Labyrinth reference! This is the kind of iterative improvements I would like to see more of in the hobby. Feedback is golden. Collaborative improvements.

This reminded me of a section in my own campaign where I'd worked out a little Nereid's Lair that's a bit of a bottomless rabbit hole---it tries to detail where the Water Nymph takes those men that she charms. It eventually leads to a cemetery on a dangerous Water World island where she has buried all of her previous "husbands". It's fanciful, and ridiculous because---unless she has charmed an important PC---there is pretty much zero motivation for the party to ever go there. Still, sometimes it's fun just to make details in the campaign-setting that remain unexplored.


A FreshHell to Contend With
Well if they ever find things like that even once a year, it makes it worthwhile.

If they came back for the hireling was planning to run an adventure I came across (1 pager or minimal like that?) which had watery sections, some aquatic ogres who could be spoken to, and a waterfall entrance... but I am completely unable to find it again... Mind blank.


8, 8, I forget what is for
Melan just wrote what I thought a brilliant post in his Beyond Formalhaut blog that summarized some of his experiences running a long-term campaign in a DIY world. It touches on some of the unexpected fallout of unexplored content on the ambiance of the world.
I just ran this over two short sessions for a solo player, and much enjoyment was had, even from a long-time veteran gamer.

I think Reason's change with the Dryad potion, noted in the first thread, was excellent, and was glad I saw that before I ran.

One more change seemed necessary: The adventure suggests that all of the monster's lair can be accessed at the start, but I wanted the lair to remain more mysterious, so I altered the map. I ran it so that the tunnels beyond rooms 2and 3 were a tight squeeze even for someone child-sized. My player wasn't interested in crawling in to investigate that tunnel until she had to, once she was child sized.