We re-join our heroes on the second storey of the house. They heard a thump from the next floor and three of them crept up to investigate. La Ruina had decided to stay in the library reading the books while the others went upstairs. On the next landing they saw a few doors leading off and an ornate suit of armour resting its hands on a sword.
As Maclum led the way onto the landing, he spotted silver smoke flowing into the armour. He paused to watch and the figure sprang to life, swinging the sword.
[DM: In case anyone later reads the adventure and wonders why this is a slightly non-standard encounter, I decided that a better explanation for animated armour and then an animated broom in the next room, would be if there was some sort of poltergeist bound to a body in the bathtub. I made it visible DC15 which two of the PCs have, and had it waste a round animating to give the players chance to either pre-emptively hit it or move away – I gave it only a 15 foot radius from the bathtub so it would be easy to get away from. I decided that it would animate the armour first, if that was destroyed it would animate a flying sword and if that was destroyed it would animate whatever else it could reach. If they did any magical damage to it, such as sacred flame, the damage would carry over to whatever the next form was and, if they destroyed the body in the tub, the poltergeist would dissipate. As the armour had a sword, I had a single longsword attack instead of the usual two slams]
The armour struck at Maclum wounding him, but not quite taking him down. For some reason, he did not have any cure spells prepared!
Revan and Mandingo (the half-orc barbarian brothers) leapt to the attack – raging. Manding hit it pretty hard but found it was resistant to weapons. He hacked off its head, revealing the horror of the suit being empty. This caused a Fear check and Revan and Maclum became frightened. The armour cut down Maclum before the barbarians chopped it up. I told them that soapy water poured out of the armour’s boots and wet footprints began to appear in the dust – the silvery mist flowed into the sword it had dropped.
They managed to stabilise Maclum just before he bled out, but he was unconscious. They watched while the sword floated into the air and then the fighting started again. Revan was badly injured before he and his brother managed to grapple the blade and La Ruina scrambled up to smash it to pieces. Revan picked up Maclum and put him over his shoulder while Mandingo pushed open a door to discover the bathroom, with a stained shower curtain around the tub. He pushed aside the curtain to reveal the bloated corpse of a man. It was so shocking that it provoked another Fear check and he was soon screaming again and getting disadvantage.
The unconscious Maclum was the next thing to be animated by the poltergeist and he struck Revan, knocking him out but then Maclum was dropped and began bleeding again. It was a close thing but Mandingo managed to smash the bloated corpse, banishing the angry spirit while La Ruina just managed to stabilize both his fallen companions.
They moved into the bedroom and put the sleepers onto the bed. They decided to try and rest – Revan and Maclum woke after about 2 hours. The ordeal of being knocked out triggered another Fear check but they all went up a level (to second level) at that point so they all got one Fear score reduction.
They decided to start looking for secret doors as there was no sign of how to get into a basement or into the attic. They found a secret stairwell, but smashing through a wall to get to it released a swarm of rats. At the same time, Maclum (only on 1 hit point) wandered into another room to find a woman in a nurse’s uniform standing in the middle of the room.
She was semi-transparent and as she moved towards him he could see through her flesh to the worms inside – Fear check! Then he tried to sacred flame her and she struck him, easily knocking him out again and this time draining some of his life-force [DM:Reducing his maximum hit points until he gets 8 hours rest]. The elf and the two half-orcs managed to destroy her and the rat swarm but Revan (also only on 1 hit point got hit for a lot of life-draining damage – despite being a 2nd-level barbarian his new maximum hiptoints was about 3!).
They decided to leave Maclum sleeping on the bed while they went to investigate the sound of a child crying in the attic – up the secret stairs. They found a room with a padlock on the door, smashed it open and found the two children from the street – Rose and Thorn – standing crying in the middle of the floor. In their torch light they could tell the children were ghosts and that they were standing next to two pathetic skeletons curled up on the floor.
There was a large dolls house in the room, an exact replica of the building they were in – including showing the remaining secret doors – a trapdoor to the basement on the ground floor and a secret stair leading down to the basement from the attic.
When Mandingo started rummaging through their toybox, the ghostly little boy swatted him with his teddy bear (for no damage). Mandingo decided to snatch it from his hand and the ghosts went berserk. La Ruina fled in terror while the ghosts both vanished (unknown to him they had both possessed the two half orcs).
[DM: To move the game forward I had the two barbarians carry the remains of the children down to the family crypt and lay them to rest]
As they were un-possessed they heard the departing children say – “because you helped us, ven everything goes crazy, ve vill open ze front door for you”.
La Ruina had followed the half-orcs down to the cellar, Maclum woke and found himself alone but tracked them to the attic and then followed them down into cellar too.
All together again they continued to explore the basement, finding sleeping pallets for minor members of some cult of ritual murderers and then slightly posher bedrooms with odd bits of treasure.
La Ruina spotted a horrifying snake with four tentacles for a head, lurking in the shadows.
They managed to kill it but not before it KILLED Revan and he bled out before anyone could stabilise him. [DM:very unlucky timing in the initiative order and very mean of the Grick to keep attacking him after he went down!]
Mandingo was distraught at his brother’s death and laid him to rest in one of the coffins in the crypt. They took a short rest (1 hour) and La Ruina sneaked away to harvest the dead half-orc’s scalp [DM: God knows why!]. He was part way through hacking it off when Revan’s eyes opened, revealing empty black pools of despair and the half-orc tried to throttle him. Revan had really died but the House would not let him escape so easily!
Despite the continuing animosity between the adventurers, they pressed on and ran into a bunch of ghouls who scrabbled up from the muddy floor and pulled themselves out of the walls.
They defeated the ghouls (or might have done if we hadn’t run out of time) but one of them took down Mandingo and dragged him away. The others could not get to him and the ghoul killed him and ate his face before they could get to it and kill it. Revan is now praying his brother will come back to life like he did.
[DM:This was a pretty gruelling session but it could have gone much, much easier if La Ruina had stayed with the others, if Maclum had prepared a cure spell, if Mandingo had not chosen to grab the teddy bear, if badly injured people didn’t wander off alone, if they had focused on helping each other and if they had backed away when things were going badly.
There is only one more session of the Death House left and it should be pretty spectacular
I actually enjoyed the session, despite some of the in-fighting, I hope the terrified, maimed players did!]