Ref Tips for Running Tales of the Scarecrow

Tales of the Scarecrow is a short horror-themed adventure that is compatible with OSR games. It’s location based, and makes for a very solid “bottle episode” type of one-shot. Characters will find themselves in a small farmhouse, trapped inside a cornfield which holds a terrifying scarecrow and countless eldritch tentacles in a Hateful 8 meets Tremors kind of adventure. Now how can you use this thing and make it shine? Read on…

1. Take notes: While this adventure is brief and clear in its writing, it is not laid out in the typical A-B-C style making it somewhat difficult to find information by its physical location. Having the info sorted in this manner will help at the table. The At-A-Glance Referee aids give a quick visual overview of the external features of the farm and a table with a brief summary of the appearance and contents of the interior locations. This information is not intended to replace the text of the adventure, but page references are included to help find more in-depth information as necessary.

2. Craft your hook: How did your PCs get there? With a little work, these hooks or something like them could help to set up a one-shot or tie the adventure into your campaign.

  • They are in need of shelter from weather or a hiding place from enemies
  • They have been sent looking for Fox by a business associate
  • They’ve heard of Fox’s items from a contact and are paid to steal them
  • They are Fox’s prisoners, held captive in a wagon. They witness events from there, but do not know what is going on inside the farmhouse.

3. Personal Touches: A few things you may want to change depending on your preferences.

  • The attack rate of the tentacles- as written, only one will attack at a time. If a character is downed, it will ignore others for an unspecified amount of time while it sucks their blood. You may want to increase the number of tentacles attacking at once, or have another attack if one is eating a downed character.
  • XP rewards for the Tales of the Scarecrow activity- it’s possible that a PC incurs a terrible disadvantage for a relatively minor reward.
  • Number of spells in the Malleus Deus- depending on the magic system you use, the numbers here might be wildly unbalanced. For instance, I use the LotFP Weird Magic system, in which spells are far more powerful than standard, and do not use Cleric magic at all. I ruled that there were 4 spells in the book, and one was the Cleric spell Remove/Cause Fear. This seemed pretty fair and appropriate, but I also stipulated that the book must be kept and read in order to cast the spells within it, and they cannot be transcribed.

If you found this post helpful, I have a few others: 

The Pale Lady (LotFP)

Tower of the Stargazer (LotFP)

The Tomb of Black Sand (5E)


  1. Very cool series of posts, thanks for sharing!
    Happy new year!

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