2015-06-02

Ogden's Hangman & Supernatural Executioners

Have you read Maurice Ogden's The Hangman? If you haven't, go read it on its wikipedia page. I'll wait.

(From here)

I don't remember how I came across this poem. It's got a message about witch-hunts and conformism and passivity towards evil and bla bla bla. But when I read it I immediately thought that the hangman as described would make an interesting opponent in a game session. My initial thought was just a psychopathic psion of an NPC who uses his power of suggestion to make people submit to his will and then kills them off one by one.

But now I have a set of tables & "rules" for spooky executioners.

Method of Execution

d6
  1. Hanging.
  2. Burning at stake.
  3. Decapitation.
  4. Being hanged, drawn & quartered.
  5. Drowning.
  6. Animal pit.

Nature & Motivation of Executioner

d6
  1. Psychopathic psionic human, doing it for the kicks.
  2. Non-psychopathic psionic human, seeks revenge against town for death of wrongfully executed parent.
  3. A ghost, trying to free itself by putting the living to the same death it experienced. It doesn't work.
  4. Limited manifestation of unknowable eldritch horror, using deaths to fuel entry into this plane of existence.
  5. Incarnation of unjust capital punishment. Just following its nature.
  6. Disembodied entity that keeps possessing a new executioner if the old one is dispatched. Feeds on the fear and suffering it creates.
 Also roll d100 for percentage of original population still remaining (at least 2 people, though) when  players enter town.

My idea is that people need to roll saves at a big penalty or submit and helplessly watch the executioner dispatch its victims... Or be the victim as the case may be. Repeat roll at every execution. Strong compulsion to attend executions - similar save as before to avoid. When attempting to leave town with the executioner undefeated, succeed similar save without penalty or lose conscienceness for 1d6 hours - or until next execution, whichever is sooner.