Session 5: Grim Manor Part I

Grim Manor 1

(Note: This adventure took place in October 2016.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure occurred the next day after Session 4: The Barrow Tomb of the Karpath Brothers).

After clearing out the Barrow Tomb of the Karpath Brothers, Kulo, Tanin, Velnius, and Jana returned to Edgewood.  To their surprise, they found Belladore at the Axe and Saw Inn.  She hinted at not being very successful in her pursuits as a bard in Valerius and was heading back to Cyr. Velnius, the ranger, successfully persuaded a Valeriun guard at the garrison to sell him a mastiff.  Velnius named his new animal companion, Xerbo (though out of earshot, some in the party simply referred to him as “the dog”).

Xerbo the dog

After getting caught up on what had transpired over the last few days, the party packed up their provisions and started to leave Edgewood bound for Cyr.

Meanwhile, Xrax who had accompanied Enna Moonwhisper back to Cyr with Okkar Ironeyes, decided to travel to Edgewood to find his fellow companions.  He was getting impatient waiting on the party in Cyr.

As the party passed the final buildings that make up Edgewood, a deep fog shrouded them.  Day turned into night.  Visibility dropped to no more than 50 feet around them.

Similarly, as Xrax traversed the gates of Cyr, a thick fog enveloped him.  He edged his horse on at a mere walk, not wanting to be surprised by anything suddenly appearing in the mist.

In less than an hour travel, the party saw a dim, yet imposing figure on a horse at the very edge of the fog bank.  Arrows were knocked and crossbow bolts loaded.  As the figure came into view, however, the party saw that the man on the horse was their old companion, Xrax! Somehow he had traveled a distance that should have taken about four days in mere minutes!  The party, now reconvened, continued on their way to Cyr.  After about a half-hour of travel as the fog grew denser and denser, a break in the murky shroud appeared.  As if congealing out of the swirling mist stood a two-story manor home, a house with a grim reputation–the Karpath Brothers estate!  The party waited right outside the gates of the manor house.  Normally, the house was under guard by the Valeriun garrison, but no soldiers could be seen.  Other than the manor house, all was swirling darkness.

Entering the grounds, the party immediately examined the small cemetery in front and to the left of the manor.  The investigation stirred the undead as five zombies attacked!  Easy to hit and cause damage the zombies sometimes returned to their feet after being felled.  Nonetheless, the party eventually hacked them enough to guarantee they would not arise again.

The party next examined the front door while Belladore sneaked around to the side finding a servant’s entrance.  Xrax, not trusting the malefic nature of this place, gave one of the gargoyle statues flanking the front steps a swift kick.  He was rewarded with a hard shock of pain as his foot connected with solid stone.  He turned to the party with a shrug as if saying, “you can’t be too sure.”  Meanwhile, Belladore, finding the side door unlocked, propped the door open with a torch before heading back to the rest of the party. Taking point, Xrax opened the door to the great manse.  As soon as the door opened, three collections of red candles ignited, illuminating the room dimly in an eerily manner.  Crossing the threshold, the party heard the squeeking and rustling of vermin as beady eyes could be seen emerging in the candlelight.  Six giant rats assaulted the party!  While no match for the party’s strength, the giant rats did inflict some injury, nearly killing Xerbo!

The party avoided the large staircase in front of them and instead entered a door on their immediate left.  The small 20′ × 20′ room was pitch black except for the slight ambient light coming from two broken windows.  In the center of the room sat a table with three chairs.  The north wall held a cold, dark hearth.  Sitting at the table were three humanoid figures who arose at the opening of the door.  Filing in, the party soon found themselves fighting zombies again, apparently battling the undead servants of the house.  Sustaining some injury, the party vanquished the zombies.

Barricading both doors, the party decided that this room would make a good place for a short rest to recover from their wounds.  However, as soon as they settled down a swarm of bats attacked from the hearth.  After slicing the bats into little bits, the party moved the table in front of the hearth to block it.  Feeling that nothing could go wrong now, they started to relax only to be attacked by a giant bat that flew in through on of the large windows.  After defeating that bat, the party abandoned the room crawling out the windows and moving to the small graveyard on the manor grounds.  What could go wrong?  Again, a swarm of bats descended on the party.  After picking bat gore out of their eyes, the party came to the realization that they would find no rest on these grounds.

Grim Manor Bat

The party returned to the manor through the side door.  They opened the door to their immediate left, peering into what appeared to be a storage area filled with barrels and seeing a number of beady eyes staring at them.  They closed the kitchen door and proceeded down the hall to the next door.  Opening the door to another storage area, a pantry, a flood of rats came pouring out.  The swarm enveloped Xrax, but the party quickly chopped, diced, and squished the vermin.

Moving on, the party retraced their steps to the foyer avoiding the stairs to the second floor in order to clear the first floor.  They entered the door closest to the right of the stairs.  Once again, as soon as the door was opened, eerie candles on a desk at the back of the room suddenly ignited.  The room appeared to be a library with bookshelves lining the walls.  No evidence of rats or undead, the party caught their breath but maintained their vigilance.  Xrax, the stalwart fighter, stepped inside, maul at the ready.  The evil that lurks within sometimes comes from underfoot!  The rug on the floor suddenly animated and began attacking Xrax, trying to smother him.  With the help from Tanin who set the rug partially on fire with a torch, Xrax finally beat the animated life out from the rug and it collapsed in a smoldering heap on the floor.  A search of the shelves turned up mostly ledgers of the Karpath Brothers lumber operations, but a more careful search by Tanin revealed, hidden among the various ledgers, a particularly interesting yet grisly find: a tome bound in flesh (perhaps human) on abyssal arcana.  Tanin placed it in his pack. On the desk was a diagram of a barrow tomb.

Karpath Barrow Tomb.jpg

Finding no other doors or items of interest in the small library, the party moved to the adjoining room through the door in the foyer.  Opening the door revealed a larger room, 30′ × 40′.  The hearth on the far wall suddenly became ablaze, giving the room a menacing appearance as the light and shadow alternated on the large, mounted stag heads on the wall and the bear rug on the floor.  Two plush leather chairs sat near the hearth with bench seats around the bear rug in the center of the room.  Three chests sat along the walls and two suits of armor stood sentry in the far corners.  Three large windows, their panes broken in pieces, brought in a little ambient light from outside into this hunter’s den.

The party, wary of the bear rug given their most recent experience in the library, entered the room cautiously.  Once all of the party members were in the room, the mounted stag head above the hearth whispered, “I’ll swallow your soul!”  Kulo examined the stag head and hearth but no more threats seemed present.  Xrax moved to the rug and gave it a kick.  The bear rug remained a bear rug.  Calming down, the party started to examine the chests.  As soon as one of them was opened, the two suits of armor animated and attacked the party.  A hard fight ensued, but the party prevailed leaving two busted and battered suits of armor on the floor.  The chests ended up holding an assortment of goblets, a jug with dark liquid, a light crossbow, and a hand crossbow with 20 bolts.  The dark liquid had a strong smell of anise and tasted like something a hunting master would drink to toast the acquisition of his recent trophies.

After scouring the den for loot, the party exited the room through the remaining unopened door.  This small room appeared to be a privy with a chamber pot in the corner.  The party filed through to the door at the back wall.

Ready for danger, the party proceeded into this large 25′ × 35′ room.  As soon as the door was opened, six red candles ignited on the long dining table in the center of the room and the hearth became ablaze with a roaring fire.  On top of the dining table sat a bowl with perfectly ripe apples.  In the southwest corner stood a suit of armor.  The windows were intact in this room, and a winding staircase connected this room to the upper floor.  Wary of another attack by animated armor, the party entered cautiously.  Tanin inspected the bowl of fruit.  The rest of the party prepared for battle with the suit of armor.  The apples looked and smelled normal and delicious.  Tanin took a bite out of one.  The apple not only tasted delicious, Tanin felt a magical palliative coursing through his blood, healing his wounds and restoring his energy.  As Tanin ate the apple, an apparition materialized in the room near the table.

The ghostly woman addressed the party, “My name is Mina.  Please eat the apples.  They will heal your wounds.” She smiled kindly as the party began to eat the apples and continued, “I’m afraid I have need of your help.”

Tanin replied, “How may we assist, my lady?”

The ghost said, “Years ago, my husband and I were murdered by my brother-in-law, Vladislav.  Gaining eldritch powers from a pact with a demon, Vlad transformed Brom and my body into ghoulish forms and sealed them in a tomb he built for himself and his brother.  The vile treachery sundered my spirit from my body so that I might gain vengeance against Vlad.  Alas, I managed to trap him in a room in the cellar, but I too am trapped in this room.  As long as he continues to exist, I am a captive to this manor, to this room.  I beg of you to please end his evil existence, and free my spirit to be reunited with my husband, Brom.”

The party agreed to help Mina, asking if she knew the dangers they had yet to face in the house.

“I’m afraid, I cannot help you there.  All I can do is offer you this room as a safe haven. You will not be harmed here.”  The ghost offered one clue to help the party complete its task, “In order for you to open his room in the cellar, you must first go to the upper floors of the house.”

The party took a short rest in the room.  Mina animated the armor in the corner and directed it to bar the door to the kitchen.

After resting, the party headed up the stairs to the second floor.  The party tried the door closest to the top of the stairs finding it locked.  Deciding to come back to this room later, the party proceeded down the hallway to the right of the stairs.  Around the corner stood another suit of armor that animated and attacked the party as soon as they came within five feet of it.  A short battle later and the armor was a pile of dented and punctured metal on the floor.

The party turned a corner and found themselves in front of a door.  Unlocked, the party entered the large, master bedroom.  On the floor near the hearth, more eerie red candles ignited, the faint light revealing a pair of ghouls who rose from the large bed in the center of the room.  The ghastly creatures seemed almost like the reanimated versions of the two undead that were found in the barrow tomb.  Returning the ghouls back to their unholy abyss with slashes, stabbings, and bludgeoning, the party examined the chest along the west wall.  Underneath linens, Belladore found a very well-made dagger (+1 magical dagger).  A second door in the bedroom led to an adjoining room.  The party rushed in to face whatever danger lurked within.

A couple of the ever-present candles lit up on a writing desk to the left.  But before the party could examine the study, shambling forms reached out to spill their blood.  Defending their life-sustaining essence, the party slew the zombies.  An examination of the room revealed two spell scrolls among books in the shelves, a potion of healing in an unlocked chest, and a letter on the desk.

Letter to Brom.jpg

At that moment, each member of the party felt a searing pain in their head.  Massaging the pain out of their eyes, a daemonic image appeared in their mind’s eye. Surrounded by darkness as black as pitch a shimmering figure stood–A giant beast-man, distended belly, rotted ram’s skull, cloven hoofs, eyes glowing like fire. He pointed his wand and the image swept to a coffin surrounded by glowing red candles. A rushing sound filled each party member’s ears. Feeling paralyzed in place a skeletal warrior arose from the coffin. The fever-image ended with the sound of a harrowing, malevolent laughter piercing each person’s skull like a dark blade used to commit horrific deeds.

Terrain: Heroic Maps

Bats and Zombies Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper

Rug of Smothering Paper Miniature: Printable Heroes

Inspiration: Curse of Strahd and Ravenloft