Saturday, June 17, 2006

The House

"The House" is the Third Place Winner of the 2005 Iron Fudge Competition.

Greed is a very powerful thing. This has been a fact for as long as humans have existed, and for four unlucky adventurers, it may cost them their lives.

Third Place Winner of the 2005 Iron Fudge Competition

Greed is a very powerful thing. This has been a fact for as long as humans have existed, and for four unlucky adventurers, it may cost them their lives.

The House is an adventure meant for four characters. Any character can be used for this adventure, but it is geared towards normal people, with no special training, powers or exotic gadgets. That being the way it is, the GM should encourage character concepts from everyday jobs, such as plumbers or teachers. The only real rule is that all the characters should be friends with each other.

Getting Started

One of the characters got a letter in the mail. This letter looked very official, and said that an unknown uncle of the character died and left a large house to the character and that the character was encouraged to stop by and examine the house. The character invited his friends along with him.

Act I: The House

This act is intended to build the story and get the characters to explore the house and get to know the layout.

Gaining Entry

When the characters arrive at the house they find that it looks very impressive and very nice from the outside. If a character peeks in through the windows, they will find that the house is bare except for a few pieces of furniture, with a thick layer of dust covering everything.

The door to the house is locked, but the key is hidden on top of the doorframe.

Exploring

The characters will likely want to explore the house. The house, at this point, looks like a well-maintained place that has just went neglected when the last person moved out of it. Every room has a few odds and ends lying around and there is a thick layer of dust covering everything. The game master should encourage the characters to explore the house from the ground up, leaving them on the second floor when they're done.

  • The Livingroom: The livingroom is the largest room on the ground floor. It has a couch and a chair positioned in front of an old black and white television. There is no electricity in the house, so the television doesn't work. The livingroom connects to the kitchen and a hallway which leads the stairs and the bathroom.
  • The Kitchen: The kitchen is a classic farm-style affair, with a large counter spanning across one side of the room with a gas stove and an old refrigerator adjacent to the counter. There is a table in the center of the room, but there are no chairs. The kitchen has a door that leads downstairs to the basement and a backdoor leading outside.
  • Basement: The basement is a big room spanning most of the size of the house. Three of the walls are packed dirt, but the fourth wall is made from red brick, the mortar starting to chip from age.
  • Bathroom: The bathroom is a small one, with a tub with no shower attachment and a toilet with rust and lime stains all around the inside of the basin.
  • Guest Bedroom: The guest bedroom is small. Barely large enough for the small bed it contains. The bed is a simple metal frame with an old-fashioned straw mattress. There is a dresser built into the wall instead of a closet. The bedroom exits onto the upstairs hallway, which has stairs leading downstairs and a door to the master bedroom.
  • Master Bedroom: The master bedroom is large. There's a huge bed positioned in the center of the wall furthest from the door, taking up much of the room. The mattress is very fancy, though it is quite obvious it is old, and the frame of the bed is made from very solid and nicely carved wood. There is a full-length mirror in one of the corners of the room.

Act II: Weirdness

This act is intended to build tension and let the characters get to know their opposition. This act should be full of tension and mystery. The goal is to drive the characters to want to escape the house.

The Voices

The GM should inform two of the characters that they hear whispering coming from the hallway if they are in the master bedroom, or from the master bedroom if they are in the hallway. The whispering should be described as though two people are arguing while trying to be unheard. If the characters investigate, there will be nothing there.

Trick of the Eye

Several of the characters should see movement out of the corner of their eyes, such as someone moving across the room or walking past a doorway, just out of the character's field of vision.

Changes

The environment should change dramatically. As the characters leave rooms the rooms should become warped. For instance, the characters walk down the hall from the master bedroom to the guest bedroom. While they're walking down the hallway it looks normal, but when they enter the guest bedroom they notice that they've tracked blood into the bedroom. When they look out into the hall the hall has bloodstains and filth everywhere, with holes in the wall showing signs of a fight, but when they look away or try to go back into the hallway the change disappears and everything appears normal again. This can be foreshadowed by allowing one of the characters to see the change of a room through a mirror, but when he tells anyone about it or looks away the room appears normal in the mirror again.

The Trap

By this time, the characters should be trying to get out of the house. At this point, the front and back doors to the house are impossible to open. The doorknobs won't turn and no amount of yanking or slamming will open them. At this time, the characters should be encouraged to try to break one of the windows. If they try, the glass will break but will not fall to the ground and will spring back into the frame and will mend itself. If a character tries to leap through a window, they will break the window but will be pushed back into the house when the window mends itself. The goal is to show the characters that they are trapped in this house.

Act III: Secrets

This act is intended to allow the characters to fight their enemies and to get free of the house.

Charlie

There is a spirit in the house named Charlie. His goal is to make the characters go into the basement now. It will do this by making the characters think that he lives down there and that the only way to escape is to defeat him in there.

The Diary

The diary is hidden in a secret compartment in the dresser in the guest bedroom. After the characters discover they are trapped in the house, they should hear a commotion upstairs, like someone is tearing apart a room. When they go upstairs, they discover that someone or something has overturned the mattress in the guest bedroom and has yanked out the drawers from the dresser and flung them about the room, shattering them. Lying on the floor in the dresser, now clearly visible because the drawers are out of it, is the diary.

The last page of the diary says "He put me in the basement last night and he beat me. I think he may do it again tonight. I'm scared."

The Basement

The characters should be encouraged to go into the basement to investigate. As they pass their way through the livingroom and into the kitchen to go to the basement, the GM should describe that the voices are getting more intense and that there is a strong sense of being watched. The characters should feel that something does not want them to go to the basement, which should encourage them even more to go into the basement.

When they get into the basement, a portion of the brick wall has been demolished, almost like it has exploded outwards. There is a steel door visible now, once hidden by the bricks.

The voices in the basement are stronger. They say things like "I'll kill him. I'll kill everyone." It is really Charlie trying to make the characters believe that it is the tortured woman's spirit who is trapping them.

Samantha

There is a spirit trapped behind the steel door. It is the spirit of a woman named Samantha. Samantha wants to get rid of Charlie, for Charlie is the reason she stays trapped in this house. Charlie wants her gone because Samantha uses all her energy to keep most of his energy in check. If Samantha were gotten rid of, Charlie would be able to leave the house and harm anyone he wanted.

Choices

The characters can easily open the steel door by removing the door's hinge pins using one of the bricks that are lying around the floor of the basement. When they open the door they find that there is a corpse in severe decay, little more than a skeleton with some clothing rotting on it. The voices now change. There is a new voice, a masculine voice, saying "Quickly. Destroy the body and the spirit will be gone." While at the same time the feminine voice from earlier, now really Samantha's voice instead of Charlie's, says "Don't listen to him. He wants you dead."

Should the characters decide to destroy the corpse, the masculine voice laughs very loudly and very hard. The characters lose consciousness shortly after they see the basement and the small cell where the body was change to the gory state that they experienced in the rooms upstairs before they discovered they were trapped. The adventure is now over in this case.

Should the character decide to listen to Samantha and leave the corpse intact, Samantha will inform the characters that there is a body buried under the stairs in the basement. The characters can dig it up using their hands, for the dirt is not hard packed in that spot. When they dig up the spot they find the decayed remains of a man. Samantha tells them to destroy the corpse and they will be free. At this point, Charlie goes nuts, trying to fling bricks at the characters. The bricks have only a +1 ODF. If they destroy the corpse of the man, the bricks stop being flung and they will hear Samantha's voice saying simply, "Thank you." The characters will find that they can easily leave the house now.

The Wrap-Up

If the characters destroyed the corpse of the woman, they set Charlie free and Charlie consumed their souls before moving on. What happens next is up to the GM. They can either continue their lives normally, lacking their soul, or the GM can rule that they died, in which case it may be fun to run an adventure taking place in the afterlife.

If the characters destroyed the corpse of the man, they destroyed the spirit of Charlie, which allowed Samantha to finally rest peacefully.

Enough hints can be found throughout the diary, should the characters read it all after the adventure, to explain the history of how Charlie and Samantha found themselves in the house.

Charlie was the husband of Samantha. It started as a marriage of convenience and there was never any love. As Samantha started to grow tired of the relationship, Charlie became more and more aggressive. He'd hit her and do things to torture her mentally. Finally, he built a cell into the basement and would lock her into it for hours after beating her. Finally, he left her in there to die. Her spirit stayed in the house and drove Charlie insane until the point that he took his own life. When his body was found, it was buried in the basement for Charlie had no money to spend on a grave.

Charlie and Samantha were held in check. Neither could destroy the other and neither could leave or rest in peace until the other was destroyed. So Charlie found a way to bring people to the house, in hopes that he could get them to destroy Samantha and set him free.