Sunday, 20 June 2021

d100 Terrible Village Customs

So reading the new Ravenloft book and has some inspiring stuff for dnd5.

I appreciate it openly invites readers to make their own realms of dread which I think Modern DnD needs more encouragement to create - for me ita half the fun of the game.

I'm gonna ignore the babies who cry it isn't nasty enough - it's an easy fix if you wanna go there. The folk horror bit I liked and reminded me of films Midsomer and The Wickerman. 

Most villagers know these customs are odd and conceal them possibly to get unaware victims. Some places try and argue their customs are traditional cultural treasures. Priests of the modern church scold such customs and preach against them. 

Stopping a bad custom is an adventure too
A village might have multiple customs or combine several to stretch your creativity

d12 How To Stop The Custom
1 Arrest or kill the ringleaders
2 Help missionaries settle and establish a good influence
3 Call the Inquisition
4 Get a stricter priest
5 Insist proper laws on outdated customs enforced
6 Convert locals to more modern cults
7 Bribe or appease 
or make a pact with local monsters
8 Bribe or appease or make a pact with faerie
9 Restore an old shrine or monument
10 Defeat a mysterious beast
11 Defeat a spirit in a strange magical location
 Remove an ancient curse d4 1=witch =demon 3=evil cult 4=quest

d10 Quick types of secrets
01 Festival - jolly celebrations with dancing and singing
02 Burials - strange funeral rites  
03 Seductive Rites - flirty fishing for flesh
04 Ritual Parades - costumed parades 
05 Feasting Days - unusual celebrations of food
06 Farming Rites - celebrations of harvest
07 Ritual Executions - public executions of wrongdoers
08 Spirit Days - where spirits are appeased and dealt with
09 Monument Rituals - perform rituals or work on a local monument
10 Faerie Rites - appeasing beings of faerieland

d100 Terrible Village Customs
01 An outsider is lured out of sight at the festival, murdered and blood used in the feast 
02 A stranger is required at the festival to be burned alive in a thicker figure or ceremonial bonfire
03 Each festival someone is given a special potion, turned into a pig then spit roast and eaten
04 Singers in the festival create a strange trance and the feast is laced with alien spores. All have strange dreams and some are taken to the nightmare lands where alien demons torment them. By dawn at least one person has hair turn white and is mad
05 A singing and dancing festival is joined by satyrs who often try to kidnap someone they fancy
06 A popular festival for tasting sweets made from beet sugar and apples and honey and pastry has been known to attract strange witches and candy creatures from the dreamlands nightmare lands
07 Animal fights of all kinds including cocks, cats, dogs boars, bulls and bears being tormented while visitors come to gamble. Nasty organised crime guilds try to work over the event and make contacts with rustic country folk
08 Competing visiting village team versus locals wrestling over pigs bladder full of dried peas. Game is very violent and some drown wresting over the ball in water features on the field like rivers. Locals may be asked to relieve local team members. Game lasts until a goal is scored wich can take a d3 days 
09 Donkey cart races bring local village contestants and shunned by the rich, increasingly corruption, gambling and dirty tricks mean each team hires guards and saboteurs
10 Games gay with various events including goat carts, tug of war, poleclimbing, barrel riding. wife carrying, bull chasing, archery and foot races where the local lord gives prizes of beer. Some losers have bad attitudes and may try and beat up a not local competitor
11 Any dead buried in the area have hearts removed and heads removed as per custom 
12 Dead are sealed in a stone crypt at dusk and a bell rung, then all go home. Any watch will see ghouls coming to dine
13 Dead are hurled into a dark pit with a locked iron hatch door
14 Dead are flayed and stripped of flesh and incorporated into an undead flesh colossus under construction to help the town in emergencies
15 A strange monk hacks the corpses apart for buzzards to eat while singing in a giant iron cage
16 Bodies are weighed with stones and dropped into a marsh to sink
17 Bodies taken to a dark-robed man in a cave who makes them into a zombie workforce in a secret mine
18 Corpses of locals cut open and a strange worm is released and taken in an urn to a secret cave
19 Bodies are mummified according to ancient rites and buried in an ancient barrow. Inside sleeping undead lay awaiting a prophecy. As the body placed in one of the last niches undead awake eyes glowing and chant to welcome the new gravemate
20 Bodies at a funeral are enchanted to arise if intruded and interred in a great hill tomb complex from prehuman times. Villagers keep strangers away from the funeral hall while a dark priest or necromancer prepares the body
21 Local dance where local girls invite visiting men to dance, the girls will seduce most worthy men and lead them to a dryad grove for their goddess to charm
22 Local youths invite strangers to drunken frolics in an old ruin, will try to drug or get visitors too drunk to escape then robed cultists will take to underground temple to sacrifice 
23 Local wedding feast and visitors invited, a strange wild knight arrives demanding a sacrifice and villagers point to the visitors
24  Visiting young women invited to join maypole dance. If selected as queen will be drugged and married to the forest lord 
25 Visiting young men will be invited by young women to visit grannies house. Granny is a night hag who lusts after young males and eats ones that don't cooperate
26 Attractive youths invite visitors to see a charming waterfall, once there ogres ambush visitors and release locals 
27 Squealing youths invite visitors for a swim, lead to pond with tentacled horror and stay in certain areas while encouraging guests into the deep end with a dare or a ball
28 Local youths invite you to drink by the forest bridge hoping to lure guests to sate the hunger of the bridge beast so locals may use it problem-free
29 An attractive youth tells you about a party in a barn with lots of beer, will try and trap visitors inside and ignite while villagers sing to the fire gods
30 Local beauty contest with various events will crown the prettiest contestant, after festivities the chosen one is staked out by a dragon cave to keep the monster happy
31 Naked procession carry the largest woman in the village as goddess for the day, in evening drunken orgies break out
32 A hobbyhorse (obbyoss) comically is led about town and given coins by locals, if the horse is denied villagers throw animal faeces. In old times the horse was actually a wyrm and the faeces was blood marking the victims as food for the monster. Oldest locals fear the beast will return
33 Tarrasque festival where a wooden Tarrasque is led through the town to the temple where the priest daubs it with holywater "killing" it and then a feast begins. Some villagers who fear the Tarrasque might return strangle sacrifice victims in the shed the Tarrasque is kept in while others feasting and dancing. Victims corpses are thrown in the river and chosen from outsiders who often come to the festival. Unknown to cult a piece of this monster is inder the village and will regrow the monster when its current form is killed 
34 Villagers gather with robes and candles to march around the village seven times then march to the secluded pool where they drown the oldest villagers who willingly walk into water covered in flowers
35 Villagers lead a procession of disabled and insane through the streets laughing and jeering and throwing rotten food at them
36 Villagers in a long serpent costume dance through streets to face men riding broomsticks with horse heads. After a battle locals feast and dance and sing. Local snake worshipers infiltrate the festivities and find a suitable sacrifice for the ouroboros eternal serpent in a secret cave temple under the village
37 Villagers and musicians lead a wooden "horse" with snapping tooth jaws that scares local children unless they give the horses companions with treats (parents usually provide to good children) 
38  Villagers dresses as huge shaggy monsters come from woods and chase children, some costumes so good kill happy adventurers might make a mistake
39 Krumplethrash parade celebrating a devil who punishes the wicked, villagers in devil costumes chase and beat children and put them in sacks and carry them off. In woods a villager dressed as an angel "saves" them and gives them a warning and last chance to be good. Occasionally some villagers present a slain child to scare the others straight having sacrificed the naughtiest child to Krumplethrash  
40 Witch Night is celebrated by village with costumes, songs and spooky decor but all in bed by midnight but a few villagers invite shapeshifters and other beings of evil into the village and direct them to visiting strangers who won't be missed. This pact keeps the village free from mysterious murder for a years
41 Spirit feast where villagers dine outdoors with hundreds of candles then take food to the graveyard and leave as offerings for the dead. Occasionally a traveller or passing drunk ignorant of locals takes some food left out and is torn apart by undead
42 Wedding feast of local couple attracted whole village and even yokels from the surrounding woods. Some of these outlanders practice strange backwoods ways and will kidnap some victims to carry home and marry  
43 Great Beast Feast where locals celebrate a mysterious beast that was slain many years ago and devour a wild boar with its grisly bloody head paraded through town. A deranged loner hunter has come to the feast to murder someone. This happens every decade for centuries
44 Feast of lambs where itinerant farm labourers feast on lamb tails and testicles, drink beer and tell tall tails till late, while sad lambs limp about crying 
45 Heroes Feast where villagers thank a former local who became a instrumental hero against a evil cult. As the jolly locals praise truth and virtue evil cultists plan revenge with mass poisoning and then a bloody massacre                           
46 Eel Feast - locals hunt eels and make eel dishes like stew and pies and smoked eel and lots of beer under the light of eel skin lanterns. Locals throw a baby goat in sack into the stream (confusable with a human child) otherwise a were eel comes ashore with a swarm of angry eels attack 
47 Feast of the Briny Deep where fishmen sing about the fish folk and the ancestors meeting and making a pact long ago, some of the locals look fishy and maybe someone in your group seems to fit in. By night the fish cult march into a cave and summon their tentacled god and fish abhuman minions of the sea lord
48 Pilgrims Feast where travelling revellers come for prayer and the starting point of a popular pilgrimage. Pickpockets and bandits and local thugs all flock here to take advantage and templars come to keep the peace arresting for church court any who sew chaos or cast spells unlawfully 
49 Tree Feast where locals dance around oaks and pass through a cleft in an ancient tree struck many times over centuries. All dine of acorn cakes with honey and pigs and goats are fed acorns. Occasionally a victim is kidnapped from travellers and is murdered in a horrible bloody fashion and hung in a tree away from the festival
50 Goat Festival where locals dance in goat hide chaps and cloak with goatskin and at night goat horn hats. As the night goes on with noisy drums, flutes and bleating more goat costume elements are added as people get wilder. More goats join in as the moon rises until several were-goats arrive and demand victims to eat in the name of their dark goat demon lord 
51 A king and queen are needed for a charming turnip festival and visitors are preferred. Once chosen they are dressed in violet and white and given turnip crowns. After the feast, the king and queen are taken to the turnip shed where a turnip golem murders them and sprinkles blood in the fields 
52 Cornucopia of whicker full of prise fruit and vegetables is gathered and villagers come to line up at a hut for a blessing by suckling from an earth druid priestess. Villagers encourage people to join the line but will be offended if anyone backs out and a cross mob will form
53 Vegetable Festival in a secret hut a figure made of plant matter is fed human blood for a good harvest
54 Earth Festival a victim is required to be buried alive to please field gods
55 During the festival a small shack decorated with wood carvings is avoided and locals shun. Anyone curious enough for a peek are caught by the mob and thrown in, a horrid elder idol within comes to life to eat intruders. Outside the mob sing
56 Turnip festival parade where turnip face masked performers pretend to be turnip spirits and give people small sweet turnips to eat. If you don't eat the gift performers get angry and try to beat the non-turnip eater into bloody unconsciousness
57 Deer festival where hunters perform secret lodge rites all day and night and villagers gather to watch a reindeer pass through the village to receive apples and bread. If any deer harmed in the village local mob wail and gnash their teeth fiercely and join the deer in hunting them
58 Cider festival where locals drink and play folk music and dancing. Many local lads delight in beating up visitors and especially fancy uppity ones. They will try to get victims drunk first and may rob them also as outsiders don't deserve nice things
60 Bears Day where village gathers and bang pots to scare away bears who once a year gather to invade the village seeking beer, mead, honey, jam, sausages, cake and other good things. With a combination of noise and 
61 Hangingman's Day with a mob, bailiffs, a judge, elders. hooded hangman and a convicted prisoner who swears they never dunnit. Mob and various stalls selling snacks have come out for the day
62 Headmans Day where a mob and Sherrif watch a brutal beheading by a masked man with a blunt-tipped great sword or axe. Many on the crown rush up to touch the bloody remains and the head is put on a spear by the village entry or local crossroad. The crowd det in splatter range and enjoy the mess more than usual. Headless ghosts wander by night
63 Gibbets Day where a criminal is bolted into a gibbet or cage and hung from a chain from a tree or pole or gate or bridge where they starve and die and decay as a warning to them all. Locals cheer the process. Past corpse in cages twitch  as they have been made into zombies by some passing necromancer or dark elf
64 Stone day where a criminal is crushed under a monolith said to have been placed by giants. The monolith is raised by 30 people and a plough ox team into place with scaffolding then allowed to drop on the victim bound to a ground level. The crowd chant as the rock is raised and dropped. Local elders explain this quaint custom to disturbed visitors 
65 Local execution by drowning as victim bound with rocks or simply held under by executioners or with an apparatus like a witch's stool. Some use a special pond or well and some say the water used is cursed and haunted
66 Defenestration Day where criminals, old or useless are hurled off a cliff while villagers sing. the old or sick are encouraged to volunteer. Most visitors are horrified and the elders try to placate guests with this being the local way 
67 All Fires Day where the most wicked local is caught by the mob and burned, often they employ a witchfinder to absolve themselves of guilt and be impartial. The victims are often elderly with no children and own land. The villagers enjoy burning victims greatly and have always done it and will show rock carvings of the firebringer spirit
68 Grimsday where criminals are hung drawn and quartered, flayed alive, boiled in oil, impaled and tortured each method more gruesome than last where the bloodthirsty crowd cheer on. As day goes on audience cut and pierces themselves with blades and skewers. Many flagellants and murder cultists visit
69 The Flayed Man feast locals flay the skin from a criminal with whips then hang them from a tree by one leg with a hook until they die. The bodies of previous years hang like horrible fruit from the tree of woe 
70 Oublette Day where a criminal is hurled into mysterious door in the hill then bolted inside. Villagers say it is a place of torment and some say they can hear the beast in the hill making noises. Possibly a dungeon complex is inside or a undead filled crypt
71 Late after the festival robed villagers call a star demon to take a human to its master in the void
72  During the festival a great green flame shoots from the bonfire, locals won't mention it and will seek a questioner to sacrifice to the eldrich green flame elemental demon
73 Weasel festival where all swear to be good and drink and sing and praise their pet weasels. All then go to bed early leaving out bowls of milk. At night the hairy imp Mr Bitey crawls inside walls and roof and may abuse people or bite them through cracks in the wall.
74 Spirits day where locals leave offerings and say prayers for the dead then drink heavily. Most are wary and melancholic thinking about lost loved ones. Spirits are seen at midnight so most hide indoors and go to bed early except necromancers or evil cults
75 Witching Eve where all have a holy mass to ward away switched and ring bells and place charms on their houses. Imps and cackling hags are often seen or heard and pets vanish if left out
76 All Chaos Eve where the dead damned spirits of chaotic cultists and armies from long ago try to return to the world. All prey by day then makes prayers together by night on guard for danger. Some chosen meet in secret to hold a door in a hill shut to stop the undead from arising
77 Scarecrows day where scarecrows are blessed and rewarded with a treat and a bottle of beer so they don't rise up and attack the village. Visitors scoff and might even touch the offerings. Children especially take this seriously and go to bed early
78 Jack Frosts Day where locals prepare for the first frost and tell children warning store  
79 Idiots Day where the local idiot is crowned king for a day and if they're more than one idiot they hold an idiot-off to find the best one. Mischievous gremlins and former idiots spirits play pranks by night as poltergeists. Anyone mean to idiots tends to get nastier pranks. The whole village dress strangely and act like idiots drinking and gorging on treats  
80 Masked Rites day where locals all wear costumes and masks they all know each other by sight. Local families and guilds have similar designs. Visitors come for the carnival especially bards and clowns to celebrate this strange day. Puppets shows and doll gifts please children. Cultists use this to find victims
81 Pole Day where the village cut a tree, trim it and carve a old gods likeness in a geometric folk style. Then it is decorated and erected and a local youth is married to it and it is offered food. If the new idol god is not satisfied it comes to life seeking blood or the youth it was married to it
82 Oxen Day where villagers with oxen move a giant block of stone singing, moved a d4x100m 5d4 tonne weight then after they feast on boar and deer and acorn cake, by night secret blood druids anoint it with animal blood but are obligated to kill witnesses  
83 Quarry Day where villagers work chiselling a huge stone monolith then anoint the stone and prey to the rock spirits. By night special chosen guard the rock from evil minor demons who come to taint the rock this night every year. Only 1in8 years do they finish a rock 
84 Monolith Day where a monolith is reacted or a finished one is worshipped yearly. Villagers gather to sing and hear druids speak the return home to eat. Secret druid rites held at night are death for outsiders to witness
85 Holy Trail day all wear white and march around various local standing stones, ancient hill forts and cairns and dolmen returning late for beer. Some late stragglers vanish every year
86 Moss Vale Day chosen robed people go to a certain place in the woods to meet wild forest people who are naked tattooed hairy folk to trade gifts like marvellous flints for small iron items. If offended it can lead to lots of shrieking and possible violence. Most villages await the chosen return so they can start drinking beer
87 Robed villagers ask strangers to stay indoors while robed cultists gather and bring out a strange idol on a palanquin. They perform outer ceremonies and late at night a beam of light comes down and a chosen sacrifice floats up into the stars. Witnesses are hunted and killed
88 Locals gather for a picnic at a strange rock they say was some elder giant, demon or god of olden times then return home to hear stories. Any remaining by night see cult gather attempting to awaken the petrified being
89 Sarcen Day where strange stones are visited and cleaned of weeds and grass. By night a cult brings victims and tie them to the stones that drain their blood. If not fed one or more stones will move and glow hungry for blood on own
90 Locals come to pray to a black monolith and all are blessed to protect locals in their dreams from the god of the black stone. Some have wild dreams of joining ancient sorcery cults in service to this squat toad-like elder daemon
91 At the festival a faerie comes to claim the prettiest baby to be a servant in faerieland 
92 People prepare lanterns and treats by night and watch distant dancing faerie lights and processions often from rooftops and trees. Carry sweets to bribe faeries in case you meet one and have to appease it
93 Orcsday when orc warriors and humans meet in nearby woods to discuss grievances. Then they play a dangerous game where they take turns throwing spears at each other until one side hits then give the other side a boar for a feast. They roll dice to to see who goes first
94  Goblins Day when goblins meet on the common to set up a market and trade strange goods, children and pets are kept indoors and given treats so not replaced with changelings, so children love the attention that gets from frightened parents
95 Changeling Day where locals hunt for secret elves and faeries among them, all must hold a horseshoe and touch some dung and eat some blood sausage. Found changelings are chased and hurled in a bonfire if caught. Demihumans and species with pointy ears avoid this event
96 Sports and games in folk costumes decide a festival king and queen who are fed honey and milk and drugged and left on a stone table overnight in case the faerie need new mortal servants
97 All Faerie Night where villages wear masked costumes then drink and dine by lantern light and fireflies swarm area while crickets and frogs croak. Frequently faerie beings sneak among the town in human or invisible or animal form. Some guests bring strange faerie food and music
98 Cavern Day festival where people leave offerings by mines and caves for ghosts of dead miners, dwarves, gnomes, trolls and kobold to keep the peace for the year. Each type requires a specific offering cake recipie
99 Barrows Day where locals dance in robes singing around an ancient grassy mound praising ancestors and faeries they say live in the hill. They then feast and stay indoors an wights walk the streets by night
100 Faerie Queen Festival where all dance and wear flowers and leave offerings of cakes for elves. Almost every year some foolish person tries to catch a faerie for a lover which mostly ends in several generations of tragedy


  1. These lists are awesome. #31 is my favorite.

  2. A brilliant range of ideas, thanks for the going to all the trouble to compile them!

  3. The haunted drowning pool is good - you could keep the players guessing about whether it was really ghosts, or just the community's collective guilt. And the killer idol in a shed is great.

    I can offer a real Terrible Village Custom from Devonshire, which was taken very seriously in the place I live until the nineteenth century. The tradition was that the first person buried in a new burial ground was always taken by the Devil, so the community would consecrate a new graveyard in advance of when they thought they'd need it, and then just keep using the old one (no matter how overcrowded) until a stranger or traveller died nearby who could be put into the new one as Devil-bait: only then would it be safe to bury locals there. In a fantasy setting, of course, they might get impatient and resort to murder, and the devil could be very literal...

    1. ive heard of bridges like this too!
      my golden bough influenced youth is to blame

  4. these are great "what happens at night" follow-ups for

    gently borrowing for my campaign...

  5. How do you keep a party from going fireball happy and nuking the village after their good PCs start flipping out?

    1. because thats not how you help people improve or get better. Id have enough innocents to make it hard. Think of the children!


I love and welcome feedback but not spambots
Good feedback and suggestions inspire me to write more