Monday, June 05, 2006

The Haunted Inn

"The Haunted Inn" is the Second Place Winner of the 2005 Iron Fudge Competition.

A snippet of adventure, something for the heroes to do while passing through town, perhaps. Murder, a mirror, a ghost and guilt. Will our heroes discover what haunts the Hideaway inn, and why?

Second Place Winner of the 2005 Iron Fudge Competition

Background

The Hideway is a small bed and breakfast that can be placed in almost any mid to large sized town. Designed for a Fantasy setting, the information should also be able to be used in almost any setting or genre unchanged. This is meant to be a quick diversion for the players, it is not meant for extended play. It should take approximately an hour to solve the mystery. The only skills required to solve the mystery are observation and investigation skills. Occult skills would also be helpful but not required.

The Hideway is located some distance away from the center of town. It is a small inn with only twenty rooms for rent. It has a large lobby and a small common room or lounge. The layout of the inn is a bit unorthodox. The main lobby is cut into the side of the hill the inn is built on. To either side of the lobby is a pair of large staircase that leads to two wings of rooms. Each wing contains two levels of rooms on each side of the lobby with five rooms to a level. The lower level of the wings is actually one level above the lobby. The rooms farthest from the lobby on the lower level are the largest and most expensive. They also offer a private entrance to these rooms from a back lane behind the inn. One of these rooms is currently rented to Hosar Akmein.

We you first enter the Hideway you will notice three things. First is the fact that this was once a very upscale building in what appears to be a once thriving neighborhood. The area is now less than desirable. The inn sits on top of a hill with a long winding road leading up from the town below. Along the main road up the hill are houses and businesses that have all seen better days. Some of the buildings are little more than crumbling foundations. Second is the floor to ceiling mirror that fills the back wall of the lobby. It stands out in the room, reinforcing the feeling that this was once a fine establishment. The mirror is cracked and broken in places and has not been cleaned in some time. In front of the mirror is a small counter where the manager waits on a small line of customers. The final thing you notice is the number of people. They sit and stand in small groups throughout the room. They range from street urchins and beggars to what can only be described as nobles. It takes you a few moments to notice what is really shocking. The strangest part is that the groups are made up a mixture of all these people. You might see a beggar shaking hands with a nobleman, or a prostitute talking with a noble matron.

The owner is Hall Kinder. Mister Kinder is very tall, usually towering over anyone he meets. He uses this to his advantage, "looming" over people he does business with. Although he appears to be a bit dull, he is actually a great businessman. He is middle aged, starting to think about selling the inn and moving on. His will to sell has been hampered by the death of his wife Stella (see the section on plots below). Hall Kinder has few interests other than the amount of gold in his pocket, and he has been known to do anything for the right price. However he is haunted (literally) by the memory of his wife and will not sell until he knows the cause of her death.

Hall currently has two people on staff. Kate-Lynn is the waitress and maid. She is new to the job and is not happy with it so far. She is just waiting for a chance to leave but has not yet found a chance. The other is Gregor, the cook. He has been at the inn longer than the owner. He is very unhappy with his job but is quite good at it. There are still people that come to the Hideway just for Gregors' cooking. Gregor is haunted by the memories of happier times at the Hideway and wants to leave but his grief and guilt will not let him.

The only other permanent resident is Hosar Akmein. Hosar is a smuggler, pimp, hustler, and drug dealer. He is also one of the biggest contributors to the local city coffers. So although his means of raising funds is disliked, he is a very popular figure in the town. There are many in the town, including Kate-Lynn, who believe he is responsible for the death of Stella. Hosar is a large, imposing man with a penchant for violence.

Hosar runs a large organization and is almost never alone. At any given time there are from three to seven people with him. Most of the time, these people will be lackeys or customers. But occasionally these people will be high ranking officials from the city, hired guns, or other members of his organization.

Many people in the town will identify Hosar as Stella's killer. Rumors range from a lovers quarrel, to Stella knowing too much about Hosar's business. Kate-Lynn insists that Hosar killed Stella because Hall was going to evict him.

Hosar is the reason for the varied groups in the lobby. They are his clients and employees. Most people in town will be able to tell you that Hosar or his people can get you almost anything, anytime. It is only the price you willing to play that will limit your business with Hosar. They will also tell you that people that cross Hosar tend to have accidents, fatal accidents.

  • Hall Kinder, Owner of the Hideway
    • Fair Body
    • Good Mind
    • Mediocre Spirit
    • Great Inn Keeper
    • Poor Husband
    • Driven By Greed
  • Kate-Lynn, Waitress and Maid
    • Mediocre Body
    • Mediocre Mind
    • Poor Spirit
    • Poor Maid
    • Terrible Waitress
  • Gregor, Cook
    • Good Body
    • Fair Mind
    • Mediocre Spirit
    • Great Cook
    • Driven by Guilt
  • Hosar Akmein
    • Good Body
    • Great Mind
    • Good Spirit
    • Great Con-man
    • Good Politician
    • Terrible Ethics

The Death of Stella Kinder

Stella Kinder was a wonderful woman with a secret. It was Stella that convinced her husband Hall to allow Hosar to set up his business at the Hideway. Stella knew Hosar because she was a client, sneaking out to see Hosar or one of his cohorts to buy drugs every couple of days. Stella was horribly addicted and needed Hosar.

Stella was starting to regret her choices and was going to tell her husband everything. She wanted to get rid of Hosar and clean up her life. She never had the chance, though, as her life was ended before she could go to her husband with her plans. Contrary to popular opinion, it was Gregor and not Hosar that killed Stella.

Gregor knew of Stella's visits to Hosar but not of her addiction. He thought that Hosar and Stella were lovers. Gregor planned to go to Mister Hall in hopes of getting the Kinders to sell the inn to him. He wrote a note that he planned to show to Hall. Stella however found the note and thinking Gregor was going to expose her addiction she flew into a rage and attacked Gregor. The much larger cook easily over-powered the woman and strangled her. Gregor was filled with terror and remorse. Terror that either Hall or Hosar would find out what he had done, remorse that he had killed the poor woman to fulfill his own selfish wants.

Gregor took Stella's body and placed her at the bottom of the stairs, making it look like she fell down the stairs to her death. At the time, no one thought that it was anything other than an accident. People started to think otherwise when they started to see her at the inn after her death.

Stella has become a ghost and is haunting the inn. She thinks that Gregor is still trying to expose her, so she tries to get either Gregor or Hall to leave. Although all the problems, and ultimately her death, were caused by Hosar, she still sees him as a friend that helped her with her needs for so long.

Stella spends her time trying to make life at the Hideway bad enough for either Hall or Gregor so that one or both of them will leave. If pressed, Gregor or Hall will tell the story of how the mirror in the lobby was broken. After Stella's funeral, the two were sitting in the lobby drinking. As they both drank more and more they started to share stories about Stella. When Gregor started to tell Hall about Stella's daily visits to Hosar, Stella had to act. She focused all her energy into a single scream that rocked the inn. The sound was so loud that neighbors worried that the building was going to collapse. The sound knocked both men out and cracked the mirror. In that one moment, as the force was overcoming Hall, he looked up and actually saw Stella floating above him. Gregor and Hall never discussed that night again and have become more and more distant with each other as Stella tries to push them apart.

Late at night Stella will travel the halls and screech at Gregor or Hall whenever she can. Many visitors to the inn come just to hear the nightly screams that fill the halls of the Hideway. Many come to the inn and walk the halls waiting for the inevitable wails that will send them running for home.

  • Stella Kinder, Ghost
    • Terrible Body
    • Great Mind
    • Great Spirit
    • Can use a banshee wail to destroy real world objects Although completely invisible to normal sight the more powerful the wail the more visible that Stella becomes

Solving the Mystery

If the players want to help Stella find final rest, they need to discover that Stella is the ghost haunting the inn, and then do at least one of two things;

  • They need to discover that Gregor was the killer, and/or
  • They need to discover that Stella was not having an affair with Hosar

There are several ways they can discover that Stella is the ghost haunting the inn. Get Hall or Gregor to open up about the night he saw Stella hovering in the lobby after her funeral. Travel the halls, and become the victim of a legendary banshee wail so they are able to see Stella. Talk to Gregor or Hosar, as both have seen Stella in the inn since her death. Several skills or spells should be able to allow the players to see the invisible Stella.

A Good investigation roll should allow the players to get a hint that Stella is the ghost, or point the players to either Gregor or Hall. A Great result should give them a better idea of what they should ask Gregor or Hall about. A Superb result should send the players to Gregor or Hall to talk to them about the mirror.

Finding the killer might be easier or more difficult. Most of the rumors will not point to either Hall or Gregor. If anyone at the inn is suspected to have killed the women it will be Hosar. This might actually help the players as they can work the mystery backwards. Getting to Hosar could lead him to letting the players know that Stella was a regular customer and what she was buying. That could lead the players back to Hall, and might allow them to piece together that Hall was not the killer.

A Mediocre (or worse) roll should point the players to Hosar. A Good investigation roll should give the players a hint that Hosar might know something. A Great result should point the players away from Hosar. A Superb result should give the players reason to suspect Gregor.

Of course if the players can find a way to speak directly with Stella, they might be able to unravel the whole mystery.

Other plot ideas

  • The players expose or accuse Gregor and... he flees, and the players must track him down and return him to justice.
  • Hall sells the inn to the players, who use it as a base of operations.
  • Stella is so grateful she becomes a resource for the party to use in the future.
  • Hosar buys the inn. The players may be hired by Hosar to work in his organization.