The core of this mystery was an idea I had that never made it to the table for my Fate Core monster-hunting bikers campaign years ago. I give it to you now. When I ran this session, I managed to get through it without directly showing the eating of children (or anyone, really). You can go super gory with it or leave the tragedies implied, and it should work with any age group you feel it’s okay to devour.
This mystery can be set anywhere there’s a strip mall or shopping center with spots for standalone fast food restaurants. We had a Chosen and a Wronged for this game who were both focused on demons, so I called Baba Yaga a demon witch. I think that’s a fair assessment of her “type”, and I’d allow playbooks with specific monster-targeting features like the Wronged get their benefits for demons or witches.
An absurd number of fresh missing persons flyers catch the hunters’ attention while they’re grocery shopping. All of the missing are young and the dates all fall within the last two weeks. Perhaps coincidentally to anyone but monster hunters, there’s a new Chicken Hut fast food place that opened two weeks ago.
- Day: “Kids eat free” coupon blitz gets droves of children hooked on Chicken Hut’s affordable and delicious chicken, delicately seasoned with the 13th secret spice: psychotropic demon witch saliva.
- Shadows: PJ Wolfpaws spends all day either inside the restaurant or glazed in his car in the parking lot. He goes in after hours and is eaten more or less whole.
- Dusk: Parent-Teacher Organization Spirit Night at Chicken Hut cements Baba Yaga’s hold over a large number of local children. An entire family returns after hours and is eaten.
- Sunset: Enough police enjoy complimentary drugged breakfast at Chicken Hut that the increasing number of missing persons will never be linked to Baba Yaga.
- Nightfall: A school field trip from out of town is consumed by the Chicken Hut itself.
- Midnight: Chicken Hut opens new franchises elsewhere.
I had much less time to prep this session and the countdown kind of suffers for it. When I ran this, the hunters treated the PTO Spirit Night as their deadline and got into a dodgy battle after the Yelp critic disappeared.
Baba Yaga “Barbara Yeager”
Monster: Devourer. Baba Yaga (whether this is the Baba Yaga or a Baba Yaga is not up to me to decide) is in town looking for children to eat. She spikes the chicken with her weird psychotropic saliva, which makes her victims crave it fortnightly. Eventually they are compelled to come to Chicken Hut after closing and Baba Yaga eats them, clothes, phones, bones, and all.
Powers: Flying mortar and pestle, magic, hallucinogenic saliva, swallow whole, iron teeth, inhuman strength
Weaknesses: Anything tagged with holy; naturally occurring bodies of water. A swimming pool or culvert won’t work but you could melt her in a creek.
Attacks: Bite (3-harm ap intimate), magic (2-harm far psychic area), cleaver (3-harm close messy)
Armor: 2 Harm Capacity: 10
Custom Move – Finger Licking Good: When a hunter eats Chicken Hut chicken, roll +weird. On a 10+, they gain +1 ongoing to resist any psychic or magical effects Baba Yaga attempts against them. On a 7-9, the GM chooses either the carrot or the stick. On a miss, both carrot and stick are in effect:
- Carrot: Mark XP if you answer Baba Yaga’s summons, handing the GM a golden opportunity.
- Stick: Act Under Pressure to resist Baba Yaga’s summons.
P.J. Wolfpaws, Yelp critic, author, former rock n’ roller
Bystander: Victim. PJ loves Chicken Hut chicken. He was there on opening day and is firmly under Baba Yaga’s sway. He’s a bit older than she likes but she’ll eat him anyway. He’ll talk your ear off.
Juanita Flores, Chicken Hut employee
Minion: Cultist. Juanita doesn’t know her manager is a demon witch from Russian folklore. She just really needs the money and the job market is shit.
Kevin Daniels, Chicken Hut employee
Minion: Cultist. Kevin was voted “Most Likely to Be Devoured By His Manager in a Crisis Situation” by his classmates. Kevin is a slacker and “Barbara” can sometimes be caught holding herself back from eating him.
By all accounts, this is a spotlessly clean but otherwise low-rent fast food chicken place. Red and yellow vinyl is everywhere, cheap pressboard architecture funnels people to the plain but functional tillers and then the seating area. When Baba Yaga or the building itself is threatened, it comes alive, at first attacking hunters with Final Destination-style coincidental dangers (windows shattering inward, fryers gouting hot oil), then lifting off its foundation on chicken legs made from concrete and rebar and trying to escape into the thickest forest available. Its internal attacks become more brutal and more overt when this happens.