Today we’re pleased to announce another new feature here at theIlluminerdy.com: explorations of the weird world from Ruth “Cthulhuchick,” a true Arkham Archivist. We hope you enjoy it. We’re glad to have her on board. (Ed.)
On a dusty red cushion in the rafters of Egeskov Slot (castle) lies a wooden doll the size of a toddler. Legend holds that this doll has lain here since the castle’s construction in 1554 and that if it is moved, then at midnight on Christmas Eve the castle will sink into the lake on which it sits. Egeskov holds many attractions—mazes, treetop walks, a carving of Dracula, suits of armor, and Superman’s flying costume from the first film—but when I visted 10 years ago, it was this doll who captured my fancy.
Despite reading the brochure, asking the tour guide, and searching the internet (both then and now), I was not able to find more about this doll than the basic legend. It left my imagination to run wild with ever-wilder possibilities.
Who carved this mysterious “doll”? Could it actually be the mummified body of a child, perhaps one who died while the castle was being built? Is it the totem from a mysterious bargain to appease something living within the lake? Might it be a sorcerer’s phylactery and the rest of the story a complicated ruse to ensure that it remains perpetually untouched? And why Christmas Eve? If the doll were taken before then and replaced, would the castle survive?
These questions beg for answers and exploration in historical research or an imaginative short-story…or in an RPG.
Perhaps the party has been hired by the castle’s owner to recover the doll before Christmas Eve and the clock is ticking! Or do the party encounter such a doll in a castle-crawl and only a good roll will alert them that they shouldn’t mess with it? Maybe the castle is inhabited by the antagonist and only the removal or destruction of this doll will allow the party to face her in anything approaching even combat.
The beauty of the doll is that it could be anything from a minor detail that gives the quest some color to the focus of several sessions worth of gaming. The party sent to recover it could be a classic band of wizards, fighters, and rogues or a modern team of Fiasco players. A Delta Green squad might be sent to defend it from cultists who are attempting to sink the castle and raise the eldritch lake monster who is only kept at bay by its secret Pnakotic formulae. It might be the shriveled body of a Master vampire which a gang of Scoobies need to slay. It could work into a homebrew setting or be popped into an existing campaign.
As much as I want the answers about this doll, perhaps it’s better that it remains a mystery to fascinate visitors for decades to come instead of turning out to be disappointingly mundane. We can carve our own tales instead.
(image used with permission of NicopiatheHedgehog)