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.

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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.
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