Friday, March 31, 2017

The House Locked in Enmity

Campaign: Krevborna (open table, 5e D&D)


  • Marek, human fighter, on the run for arming the folk against a tyrant
  • Elaria, wood elf ranger, affiliated with an alchemist's guild
  • The Captain, human barbarian, believes armor to be a crutch of weak cityfolk
  • Verdegan, kenku rogue, has flattered a powerful and feared pirate captain
  • Erasmus, tiefling barbarian, possessing of a monstrous rage

Objective: Travel to the haunted Easterly House and find Lucia, a missing librarian


  • The adventurers were asked to travel to the abandoned Easterly House at the behest of Father Eskil, a clergymen of the Church of the Saintly Blood. Eskil's friend, the librarian Lucia, had told him that she was venturing to the house to look for something in the Easterly's library, but since she hadn't returned he was concerned for her safety.
  • The party arrived at the Easterly House at nightfall, racing against the tide beginning to wash over the causeway that connects the house sits upon to the mainland. The house itself is dark; no light shines from its windows.
  • What the characters know about the Easterly House and its former occupants was handled with a series of flashbacks. Each player was given a list of NPCs and asked to pick one as the person who would tell them something of importance. From their contacts, they learned that the marriage of Thaddeus and Susan Easterly was an unhappy one that was arranged by their families for economic reasons; Susan had wanted to go to university, but was denied the opportunity by her marriage; Thaddeus was in love with a woman named Juliette prior to his marriage, and Juliette disappeared soon after the marriage took place; Thaddeus and Susan had a son who drowned in the marshlands at the age of ten; Susan hung herself from a balcony after her son's death; Thaddeus ended his days as a madman confined to an asylum.
  • Back to the present: Elaria scouted the perimeter of the building and discovered that there were entrances at the front, back, and both sides of the house. The party chose to enter by way of the front door--which was unlocked and creaked open ominously--and began to explore by the light of a lantern. 
  • Inside a closet used to store mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies, the group heard a rhythmic beating sound. Further exploration indicated that the sound was coming from beneath the floorboards. Shining a light between the gaps of the floorboards revealed to the Captain that there was a pulsating organ about the size of a fist creating the noise; in a fit of madness or panic, the Captain hefted his greatsword and brought it down on the floorboards again and again, obliterating the fiendish organ beneath and quieting its hellish tattoo.
  • In the study, Elaria found a book lying on the desk. The book was a tome describing otherworldly entities worshiped before the conversion of Krevborna's populace to the faith of the Saintly Blood. The book had been left open to a chapter on the Watcher in Darkness. Inside the central desk drawer, Elaria also found an ornately-carved teak box that contained a full set of human teeth. Verdegan picked the lock on the other drawer and found three stoppered vials. Elaria's alchemical background helped her determine that one of the vials contained a potion of necrotic resistance. 
  • Back in the hallway, members of the party smelled smoke and noticed black ethereal wisps coalescing into eight skeletons that began crawling toward them. The specters all had malformed back legs and couldn't stand; they dragged themselves down the hall, slashing at the adventurers with their claws. Marek, the Captain, and Erasmus cleaved into the specters with their two-handed weapons, which combined with support fire from Elaria and Verdegan's bows to make tidy work of the broken, smoking skeletons.
  • After locating the stairs to the second level of the house, the party discovered a small room dominated by an antique clawfoot tub. Inside the tub was a thick greenish-gray murk. Poking at the murk with his weapon caused the muck to form a face that engulfed the blade of Erasmus's polearm. His attempt to pull the face out of the water caused the spirit to make more of a physical form from the mess; it took on the form of a woman. The thing responded to the name Susan, and the apology offered for disturbing of her home was accepted, but perhaps a little too well. She offered to let the party stay within her home "forever." She told them that Lucia was still alive inside the house, but did not tell them where. Unwilling to converse further, Susan sank back down into the mire in the tub.
  • Further exploration of the house resulted in the party finding the library, as well as the missing Lucia sleeping on a couch in the room. When awakened, she explained that she wished that the adventurers hadn't been sent to find her, as they were likely now as trapped in the house as she was. 
  • When pressed about being trapped, Lucia told them that all of her attempts to leave the house had been halted by either Susan's ghost or the ghost of her son, Nathaniel. The ghosts would attack her until she lost consciousness, after which she would awaken in one of the rooms of the house. Lucia was clearly unhinged by her experiences in the house, but to prove her point she led the party to the window in a maid's former bedroom, where she pointed out a spectral boy with luminous eyes staring intently at the house from the surrounding marshland.
  • The party decided to test Lucia's claims. Erasmus, Marek, and Elaria attempted the front door, only to be confronted by the Susan's specter, clad in mourning garb and trailing a noose from around her neck. Attempts to pass her to get to the door were met with stiff resistance; the dangling end of her noose encircled Erasmus's neck, causing his flesh to wither, burn, and rot.
  • Meanwhile, Verdegan attempted to leave via a side entrance and was confronted by the specter of Nathaniel. Nathaniel offered to let Verdegan play with him forever, and smiled. Nathaniel's smith began to become unnaturally wide, until his lips started to draw over his entire head, leaving behind a sphere that seemed to be comprised of nothing but teeth. Despite this horrific display, Verdegan parlayed with the specter; Nathaniel revealed that his mother had drowned him in the marshes because he reminded her too much of the husband she never wanted and she resented him for "robbing" her of the life she desired. Nathaniel offered a deal: find his mother's corpse in the crypts, destroy it, and he'd let the party leave the house.
  • Back at the front of the house, Erasmus was aided by Elaria and Marek in withdrawing himself from Susan's noose. As they retreated, Susan made an offer: find Nathaniel's body, destroy it, and she'd let the party leave the house.
  • The party debated which of the ghosts posed the biggest threat, and ultimately decided to search the house for Susan's resting place. They crossed a long gallery of oil paintings, and noticed that portraits of Susan and Nathaniel were positioned opposite each other--their eyes locked in a mutual, unflinching stare. Verdegan located a secret door that led down into the basement of the house.
  • The first chamber they searched was empty save for a brick wall that had a hole in it where the bricks seemed to be pushed out of place to fall onto the stone floor. Peering inside with the lantern revealed that the skeleton of a woman was chained in the alcove behind the wall. Further examination revealed that the corpse's skull was completely toothless. Erasmus tentatively began to fit the teeth that Elaria had discovered previously into the skull. Surprisingly, the teeth held their place--the skull even seemed to move itself into position so that Erasmus could better put the teeth into their sockets.
  • The second chamber the party ventured into was the family crypts. A number of stone sarcophagi lay empty, their stone lids leaned against the wall at the ready. Two sarcophagi were sealed: one for Thaddeus Easterly and one for Susan. The sound of something being dragged was heard coming from the adjoining corridor; the sound was Susan's noose dragging on the floor as she came to stop the adventurer's from interfering with her remains.
  • Marek, Elaria, and Verdegan held off Susan while Erasmus and the Captain set to wrenching the heavy stone slab from her sarcophagus. Inside were the remains of a woman wearing Susan's now-familiar black mourning garb and veil, the body's neck bent at an awful angle since she had died by hanging. Erasmus lifted the corpse, tore its head off, and crushed its skull beneath his boot. Susan's specter dissipated.
  • Returning to the previous alcove to give the body behind the brick wall a proper burial, the party discovered that the corpse was now mysteriously missing. Dawn was now breaking and the tide had retreated, so the party gathered up Lucia and found that they could now safely make their way out of the house and back to their carriage. 
  • However, once inside the carriage, a few members of the group noticed the ghost of Nathaniel reaching for the handle to its door. Before he could open the door and attack them, the corpse of a blonde-haired woman emerged from the marshy soil, bit into Nathaniel's leg with her perfectly white teeth, and dragged him down into the marsh before he could trouble our band of heroes. Returning Juliette's teeth had put her in their debt, a debt that she repayed by helping the party escape from the horrors of Easterly House.

The Take:

  • XP: 190 each.
  • Loot: The promised fee from Eskil combined with selling off the jewelry and perfume you acquired in the house means you each get a share of the profits worth 158 gp.
  • Magic items: A potion of healing and a potion of heroism.
  • Inspiration: If you'd like to note some aspect of the adventure that was important to your character as a way to get Inspiration in an adventure to come, feel free. I've written up my Inspiration replacement rules here. Let me know if you have any questions about that.