The Valley of Bones, Where the Skinless Dwell

What is the Valley of Bones?

The Empire's priest class sacrifice the lower ranks of citizenry to harvest soul power in great quantities. The sacrifices' hearts, lungs, liver, intestines, and eyes are removed, and the dead are thrown down the towering temple stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, the bodies gather during the nights' ritual. At the first light of the morning, when the ritual is over, the bodies are stacked high, the streets run red, and the air smells of copper and raw meat. The guards drag the dead away and load them into the carts, which take them to a high cliff overlooking a deep valley. The bodies are dumped over the cliff and the cart leaves.

And over time these bodies have steadily collected and rotted away in this low, dark valley. Centuries of sacrifice have produced high mounds of bone, picked clean by scavengers and eroded by the forces of nature into grotesque towers. Many of the bodies dumped into the valley still had traces of soul power left in them; these collected spirit traces have merged and grown stagnant and corrupted, making this a place of utter defilement.

When you are here, all things feel wrong. The misery is unbearable, and you can feel it the closer you get to the Valley of Bones. People go to kill themselves here. And sometimes people come here and never leave, because it made them want to kill themselves.

Who dwells in the Valley?

The Skinless

Hit Dice--3.
Hit Points--20.
Armor Class--if not wearing armor, 12. if wearing bone armor, 14.
Attacks & such--lots of typical weapon shit, like ...
- 1 dagger attack for d4 damage
- 1 hatchet attack for d6 damage
- 1 greatsword attack for d10 damage
but then there's ...
- 1 crossbow attack for d8 damage and target must Save vs. Poison or develop boil plague, because these assholes dip their crossbow bolts in boil plague fluid.

The Skinless are accursed beyond all others and lack identity in any meaningful sense. They were once mortals considered unworthy of proper sacrifice by the Empire, whether due to their sins or the inherited sins of their fathers, and were therefore flayed alive, pushed down into the Valley of Bones, and left to die. Now they hunger for flesh, for the power of the tormented souls that permeate the Valley of Bones kept them alive.

They typically do not speak, instead preferring to communicate through savage laughter or tormented weeping, as the demented pleasure of taking souls is their sole and fleeting joy, and when the initial rush is over they are left feeling empty.

Skinless are, however, intelligent enough to make and use tools. They steal most of their weapons from travelers and caravans that wander a little too close to the Valley, but they know how to make pit traps and spears, and they know how to craft decent armor from bone.

Some Skinless are migratory and may be found outside of the Valley, but most will be found in the Valley or at least around it. They're known to patrol the perimeter of the Valley in search of mortals to attack, both so they can steal their supplies, and also for sake of killing them and harvesting their souls.

1 in 10 Skinless carry the pathogen for blood fever, and there's a chance of developing it if one comes into direct contact with the infected blood. For the effects of that, scroll below to the diseases section of this post.


Hit Dice--1.
Hit Points--4.
Armor Class--18.
Attacks & such--
- 1 claw attack for d4 damage
- 1 bite attack for d6 damage
- if it howls, all Skinless within 200 feet will converge upon the area.

These small primates have been transformed by the Skinless and dark magics, and are used by Skinless packs as scouts, to venture ahead and alert the pack of mortal presence. When Howlers catch sight of mortals, they let out a violent howl to alert the Skinless. They're quick, have nasty little claws and a vicious bite, but it's their function to the Skinless that makes them most dangerous.

Pustulated Wretches

Long ago, a terrible plague ravished the land, and its infected were sent out and forced to live in the Valley of Bones, lest their plague infect others. Few survived, but the Skinless take strange pity on that which has been thrown away, and these surviving pathetic wretches, riddled with abscesses and huge skin-popping blisters, were cared for and protected by the otherwise monstrous men. And, to this day, the plague keeps them alive, and the Skinless care for them, even as hardened pus and cancerous flesh keeps them pinned in place.

They have no detailed stats as Wretches cannot engage in combat, and if you hit one they'll probably just die. But, if a mortal approaches their vicinity (assume a 30 foot radius), they will spray plague fluid at them. Treat as a ranged attack. For details about what plague fluid does, scroll down.

What kind of sickness exists in the Valley of Bones?

Boil plague (Contagious)

When skin comes into direct contact with plague fluid, the victim must Save vs. Poison or they will immediately begin to develop painful boils. These boils will grow continually, until they either burst (dealing d4 damage to the victim, as well as potentially spray plague fluid on anyone nearby) and turn into abscesses, or grow to the point of over-encumbering and eventually rooting the victim in place. It takes a long time for boils to get to this point.

To simplify, because keeping track of each individual boil would be horrible: Save vs. Poison every day. If successful, some boils pop and deal d4 damage to the victim. If the save is failed, the boils grow.

If the boils grow without popping for a week, they take up an inventory slot, just because they've started to become very heavy. If by some awful chance this goes on week after week, after six weeks the boils weigh the victim down entirely. While the course can still be reversed at this point, if the boil plague is not treated for at least six months, the victim's flesh grows cancerous and will grow into the surrounding environment.

Boil plague can be treated by taking a scalding hot bath with herbs collected from the Red Marsh, which reduces the size of the boils. 1 in 10 of these treatments will cure the boil plague entirely.

Blood fever (Contagious)

After d6 days, internal and external bleeding occurs. In other words, blood. From everywhere.

When bleeding begins, the victim’s maximum Hit Points are reduced by d4 per day for a period consisting of d20 days. If the victim’s maximum Hit Point total drops to zero, the victim dies. Otherwise, if the victim survives until the end of the determined time, the disease passes and they enter recovery. In recovery, a victim gradually regains one Hit Point per day until they reach their original maximum. This disease is incurable by medicine.

If the victim rests a full day during the bleeding period, they may attempt Save vs. Poison. Success means that the victim does not lose any Hit Points for that day. On the other hand, if a victim doesn’t rest, their maximum Hit Points are reduced by d6 instead of d4 for that day.

While infected, the victim coughs blood, potentially making them very contagious. There is a 1 in 20 chance of catching the disease when spending more than an hour with the victim in close contact. If one has sex with the victim, this chance increases to 1 in 10. If the victim’s blood is somehow directly consumed, that chance increases to 1 in 6.

Maggot bloat

Maggot bloat can be caught by consuming vegetation from the Valley. If someone is eating any of the many berries that grow in the Valley, there's a 1 in 20 chance they'll develop maggot bloat.

Within 24 hours of infection, the victim begins to experience stomach discomfort, nausea, and severe bloating. On the first day, the victim must consume twice the amount of food they would normally eat in order to satiate their hunger. On the next day, the victim must successfully Save vs. Poison or consume twice the amount of food required for the previous day. This pattern continues until the victim can no longer satiate their hunger and starves. All the while, the victim will intermittently shit, piss, and vomit maggots.

To cure maggot bloat, the victim must rest upon a fresh corpse for a number of days, intermittently chewing on bitter herbs, until all the maggots leave the victim’s body and burrow into the corpse’s flesh. This process can take up to d6 days.

Why venture into the Valley of Bones?

If you're feeling suicidal.

If you want treasure, because sometimes the caravans they attack and loot have lots of stuff in them. Treasure of this kind is easy enough to generate. It's also likely they stole something that someone is willing to pay adventurers good money for to get back. I'm sure a decent referee can think of a quest or two that'll send players here.

If you want knowledge of unholy soul power. Some artifacts present in the Valley include:

Cracked gem with a lonely soul still trapped inside; if convened with, it will speak of misery great enough to invoke suicidal thoughts in whoever is listening; if blessed, the gem screams and explodes, dealing 3d6 damage to anyone within a 60' radius and possibly setting them on fire; if destroyed entirely, the soul will be damned to the Darkness Beyond the End of the Dream and possibly become a demon. It's gonna be really hard to sell this thing, but if players find someone creepy and fucked-up enough to want it, they'll probably pay 1000 sp for it.

Unholy jeweled black dagger: worth around 300 sp, provided you don't tell whoever you're selling it too that it's cursed. Does normal dagger damage (d4), but restores equal hit points to wielder. Whoever wields it will contract vampirism and turn into a vampire in d6 days; likewise, whoever is cut by it will contract vampirism as well. Blessing the dagger causes it to become impotent, turning it into an ordinary dagger; however, upon a full moon the dagger will become vampiric.

- Pitch Skull: The skull is vantablack--that is, darker than dark--with goat horns protruding from it.
When this item is on someone's person, it increases their chance of a successful Search by 1, as it increases the holder’s hidden sight. Furthermore, it also gives the one who holds it arcane knowledge, granting them a random 4th level spell from the magic-user list that they can cast once per day, even if they’re not a magic-user. If you have Vaginas Are Magic, use a spell from that.
Of course, holding the item means it'll eventually turn whoever owns it into a goatman, and the changes are permanent.
For every night that the skull is held, roll d4. On a 1, roll on the table below (d10).
Every time that the skull corrupts (as in, a permanent change is made), lower Wisdom or Intelligence by 1, whatever's highest; if previous result is gained, roll again. If all results have been rolled, then congratulate whoever is holding it, because they are officially a goatman.
  1. Grows goat horns (allows natural weapon attack for d6 damage)
  2. Grows hooves
  3. Grows black fur
  4. Develops red eyes and darkvision
  5. Develops smell of ash and sulfur, which inspires insatiable lust in mortals
  6. Increased aggressiveness, granting +1 attack bonus; 1 in 6 chance every round that you attack allies instead
  7. Inspire supernatural sense of unease in those surrounding, granting disadvantage on Morale and Reaction checks; applies to all non-chaotic allies
  8. Dreams of murder and torture, and may dream of cannibalizing friends and family
  9. Regenerates d4 hp each round
  10. Develops unrelenting worship of the ancient goat gods and will pester (and eventually kill) those who do not convert
Oh, and there's also that ancient tomb buried beneath all the mounds of bone ... but I still need to write that up.

Why is there no map?

This is just a bunch of cleaned-up game notes for my on-hiatus LotFP campaign----so right now there is no real map, but I'd like to make one eventually and update this post. Just like at some point I'll write up that tomb. And maybe do a bit more about the Skinless. But I'm releasing an album in a week, and I have to meet a deadline for another thing, and I still gotta finish the second Lamentations of the Vampire Princess post, and I still have to work on Mortal, which I haven't even talked about on this blog yet, so .........

.......... eventually?

(Also, while putting this together for public-ish consumption and looking for an accompanying picture, I found this, and omg! It was a complete coincidence. I didn't even put any biblical inspiration into this aside from my usual amount of Catholic misery.)


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