The Haunted Mansion
The PCs come across a neatly kept house in a small clearing out in the wilderness. Looking through a window will show an apparently lived in place but no sign of any people. The door is unlocked and perhaps a bit ajar. When the PCs enter the house, it will seem almost as though the family should be coming into the main room for supper, but of course, all is quiet. It will soon be recognized that things are somewhat out of place. A few things are tipped over and things hanging on the wall may have fallen or be askew, almost as if the entire house had received a bump. There is a trap door to a secret cellar/workshop that has fallen closed and will likely not be seen unless a search is conducted. Then the fun really begins.
Out in the middle of nowhere, two Melderyni magi and their daughter were studying some arcane artifacts. The father was trying to divine an amulet but did not realize that it imprisoned a very powerful ethereal spirit. Once released, it immediately possessed him (he being somewhat tired by the divination), fed on his spirit, and went looking for more.
Pretending to be the father, he summoned his daughter down into the cellar and destroyed her spirit as well. The mother, coming down after dishing out the evening meal, was not prepared for the attack but nonetheless defended herself well. They battled for a short while but the mother was unable to defeat the being unaided. Instead, she gave the last of her life energy to hold the spirit (and indeed, the whole house) in a "suspended" state. She stands in an aggressive pose but had just started to slump when the spell kicked in.
The spirit had started to leave the man's body in order to more successfully attack the woman. The appearance would be like that of a snake shedding its skin. Because of this, however, it is also more vulnerable. The amulet, created to imprison such a creature, will pulse faintly from its place on a table. If in contact with the skin of the entity or man when the suspension is lifted, the spirit will again be drawn into it, though it may have time to make a few attacks against the party at the GM's discretion. Some notes scribbled on some paper on the desk indicate options and what did not work:
- contact with entity
- psychic (crossed out)
- touch (crossed out)
- psychic (crossed out)
There is what appears to be a single phrase (the release phrase) written around the outside of the amulet. The PCs will not be able to read it.
The daughter's body will be warm to the touch, just as though it were alive, but one look into the eyes will reveal that no spirit lives there any longer.
The mother's hand is extended and what appears to be a fragile glass ball dropping from it. The image of a house appears suspended within it. Breaking that ball will break the "suspension" spell. If the amulet has not somehow been placed in contact with the man or the entity when the ball is shattered, the spirit will likely consume them all, one by one unless they run and hide or managed to touch the amulet to the entity (not an easy feat).
The food is delicious, hot, and filling. However, it will immediately turn to dust when the spell is broken or if taken from the house. Also, because of the house's peculiar state of being, it won't be possible to find their way back to it again.
Here's a short summary of how my players handled this...
What you did notice, however, was some sort of light barely visible in the forest below. Threading through the woods in the general direction, you eventually came to a small clearing with a neat little family house in the center. Everything appeared in order at first glance but nobody seemed to be home despite obvious evidence that someone had been just recently preparing to sit down for dinner.
Some exploration revealed that something was definitely wrong and camping outside overnight showed no changes in the morning light. The candles burning on the table had not diminished in the slightest and the warm food recently taken from the stove was still warm. Karl and Herim eventually gave in to the good smells and ate a hearty meal. Afterwards, Karl did some searching and found a trap door down to a basement workplace.
Things got decidedly terrifying from there. The appearance of some sort of gruesome entity emerging from the body of a man, shedding the skin almost like a snake, made everybody believe that there couldn't be a worse sight anywhere. There was a girl (daughter?) to one side slumped lightly against the stone wall and a woman (wife?) with a crystal sphere dropping from one hand but suspended in mid-air. Closer examination of the girl showed an apparently healthy exterior but eyes so "dead" that you felt the skin was nothing more than an empty shell. On the desk was a book in an unrecognized script about various (magical?) items, an amulet with a some engraved runes and a single "phrase" of script around the outside, and a note with some "activate" and "release" comments. The sphere appears to have a miniature version of the house and clearing suspended within it.
Various actions were taken, many involving transporting various items away from the house. The body of the woman was dragged out past the clearing where she rapidly decomposed. Other items taken into the woods seemed to lose their state of suspension-in-time. Eventually, the amulet itself was touched against the body of the entity and, though it did make physical contact, nothing changed. Wearing the amulet and touching the entity while speaking various words also had no effect.
After much discussion, it was decided that the remaining possible actions (or sequence of actions) involving the amulet and sphere were too dangerous to risk and so the group left the house and prepared to continue back to Geda.
Brian (Internet Hârnica: http://www.backgroundexposure.com/harn/
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