Recently Hannah and I recorded a short podcast episode where we discussed the phenomenon of the Screaming Skull, a legendary tale where a person or persons requests their skull to be stored in a particular location and–when the skull is inevitably removed–it begins to scream or manifest other poltergeist-like behaviours. In the episode we talked a little about how you could use such an item/entity in your D&D game, you can check out the episode below:
Hannah identified a few recurring themes in these stories:
- A wronged noblewoman loves her home, and asks to be interred there, the priesthood disapproves, and she is buried in the churchyard, she screams until her skull is back in the house.
- A poorly treated slave begs to be freed so he can die in his home country, his master refuses and has him buried in a potters field. the master is haunted until he brings the skull into his home.
- A Parlimentarian soldier hears what was done to cromwells body and begs his family to hide his skull in the family home so that the royalists can’t desecrate him.
- A resurrectionist stole a body for study, and the skull likes to stay there.
This got us thinking about how you could change this up, giving your Screaming Skulls a little bit more flavour and–as an unashamed fan of random charts–I started hashing out a mad-lib style chart to use as a starting point for a Screaming Skull.
The basic mad-lib format goes like this:
The [verb] skull of [name] [place].
You can then roll on the table below to fill in the gaps:
For example: A roll of 6, 3 and 2 on 3D6 would give us The cackling skull of Alderley farm.
Of course you could–an probably should–substitute the place names with ones that are appropriate for your own campaign world.
Hannah has also produced a couple of additional charts to fill in some extra details regarding the skull, these can either be rolled on using 1D6 or an option that fits simply chosen.
Cause of Death
- Tortured by home owner.
- Murdered by “ruffians”.
- Natural causes.
- Killed in action.
- Murdered by a lover.
Reasons to Scream
- Wants revenge on those who wronged them.
- Fears desecration by enemies.
- Loves the house.
- Loves the family.
- Atonement for sins committed in life.
- Disturbed by the presence of an unbeliever.
We hope you have fun using these charts to inject a dose of skeletal cackling in your games, if you do, or you have any ideas concerning this you can always drop us a voicemail message using the Speakpipe app (link below) and you may be featured on a future episode of the podcast: