Player level: 6
To DMS: This is a one-shot adventure I created for me and my friends. Below are the needed maps and brief encounters in the rooms. Please feel free to expand and change things to fit your personal style. The items I mentioned in the first section can be printed on slips of paper to randomly draw or can be assigned to certain players if you wish the puzzle to be easier on the players. I left a lot of things up to interpretation for you guys so don’t feel blocked in to staying on script or using the same monsters if you have others in mind. Enjoy!
Non: I have also included an NPC that can be used if missing a player for 6. 6 players are needed to complete the puzzle. The character is a Kenku who is a grim reaper of the Raven Queen. I made the character completely mute, but you may choose to use them to be more help if you wish. In the end scene you can show Non leading the spirits away to the afterlife through a painting for added flavor.
Intro: to get started I would have each character describe what they were doing just before the campaign starts. Each player’s character should be strangers to one another and should have just a tiny bit of backstory. Just enough to describe a scene before they’re whisked away to the scene below.
For added effect use these scenes to describe paintings throughout the house that resemble their last memories, these will be used later if they succeed in killing the lich as portals back to their old lives.
STARTING ROOM -1
Story hook: Your characters wake up in unfamiliar beds, your gear, and armor out of sight. You each wear a nightgown and are posed as though lying in a coffin. When you stand you have a wave of dizziness, but it quickly passes. You steady yourselves and take in your surroundings. You are in a nicely decorated room. In the said room are the bed, a chest at the foot of the bed, and a wardrobe. There is only one door leading out of the room. What will you do?
Wardrobe: You open the wardrobe and see that it holds your armor and almost identical weapons; runes seem to have been carved into them. There is also a nice set of formal clothes neatly hung in a corner that looks like they perfectly fit your measurements. On the floor of the wardrobe, you see a sealed envelope with your name neatly printed on the front. (have them pull one of the drawings from your bag.)
Chest: You open the chest and see all your equipment neatly packed away. Along with a potion with a red bow tie around the neck of the bottle. It has a little note attached that says “Save me for later”
Door: You open the door of the room to a dark quiet hallway. Five other single doors line the walls. On one end of the hallway a large window, at the other end, two large doors lead further into the house.
Window: You look outside the window and can see the sun just starting to rise over the horizon, directly outside is a beautiful courtyard surrounded by a tall smooth stone wall.
As you all make your way out into the hallway you are met with each other, seeing no hostility you all take a moment to introduce yourself and find you are all in the same position. You don’t know where you are or how you got here. Two of your ranks seem familiar to each other, but the rest are strangers. What would you all like to do?
EXPLAINATION ROOM- 2
You open the double doors leading out of the first hallway, the next room is small, dimly lit by candles on the walls. Another set of double doors is the only real thing of note in this room.
Once the last party member enters: The door shuts firmly behind you.
The doors leading back: They cannot be reopened. They seem to be locked but you can find no visible locking mechanism.
The doors forwards: No locks: The door does not seem to be locked. trap with DC 15 but cannot be disarmed: The door has a trap on it, but you do not know how to disarm it from this side. You assume the switch is on the other side of the door.
When they open the door: You try to open the door and a hissing sound comes from below. you look down and see a thick green gas filling the room. You try to open the door again but cannot budge it. The gas becomes too much for the party. You all perish…
And reawake in your respective rooms. The doors are still open from when you left them just moments before.
Explanation: When you meet once again in the hallway this time a voice interrupts you. “Hello, brave adventures and welcome to my home. I have brought you here to have a little fun. In this house, you cannot die, or more appropriately, when you die you will come right back to this exact room. Your task is simple, find me and kill me before sunset or you will be trapped here forever. Your time starts now, but before you go, I’ll give you a little hint for the first trap. Only one of you needs to open the door.”
With that, the voice goes quiet.
To open the door one person will need to enter the room alone and open the door. Then they can disarm the trap.
Door trap: You open the door and it swings open easily. Before you is a long hall empty except some art and statues along the walls. There is a lever next to the door with a large sign next to it that reads “pull down to disarm trap”.
MAIN HALLWAY -3
Your party enters the hallway. It is again a hall filled with pictures and statues lining the walls. There is no sign of immediate danger. Ahead of you are two sets of double doors on opposing walls and one single door at the very end of the hallway.
Pictures: they seem to begin normally. Portraits of people and places. Wisdom saving throw: Dc 15. Fail: The pictures start to morph into nightmarish abominations. People shifting slowly into corpses or monsters; places rotting away before your eyes. Lowest wisdom saves: There’s a portrait of a man you are enthralled by. You stare at his eyes and watch as they become cruel, his face peeling back from his skull revealing a sinister toothy grin. Take 1d6 physic damage.
Statues: the statues stand motionless; the artwork is amazing, the sculptures holding so much life it’s eerie. They all seem to be of adventures of some kind or another, most notably it seems sculpted in the last moments of their lives.
ENTRANCE HALL -4
Once opened: The hall seems unearthly quiet. When you enter you are surprised to see a woman walking towards you, her head down carrying a serving tray. she wears clothes that mark her as a house servant of some kind. She walks with speed and purpose towards your party seemingly heading towards this door. The point at door to room number 5.
If they converse or try to talk to her: Her head snaps up in startlement. You notice in horror she is missing half her face. She looks terrified running towards the door. She passes through the door as if she were mist, leaving no trace she was there at all.
If they don’t talk to her: She hastily makes her way to the door, never looking up from the floor she turns towards the door and vanishes in it, passing through the wood like mist.
SERVANTS QUARTERS -5
Inside the room are several beds lining the walls. It’s dark in here and musky. You almost miss the form of a woman tucked far in the back of the room.
If they talk to her and calm her down: “The master of the house is a terrible man. I warn you that many have tried to kill him, and all have failed. Do not fear the spirits of the house they can only serve him now, but some still fight his control, listen to them and their words may help you in the future.”
“My warning for you, seeing through his eyes comes with a cost most cannot bear.”
STORAGE CLOSET -6
You open the door at the end of the hall and find a cluttered storage closet. Amongst the things stored here are cleaning supplies and boxes of clothing, but there’s no telling what could be hidden in here.
Event: You search the storage closet for anything useful you finally find a dusty adventure pack hidden far in the closet. When you turn around a young Tiefling woman stands between you and the door. She is dressed in armor, a long sword hanging from her waist. She seems to have just been in a fight because fresh blood covers her chest piece. You can see an open cut running down her arm. She seems terrified as she reaches out towards you. She whispers “He will never let you leave; you cannot kill him. At least not in any way that matters” her hand finally brushes yours causing her to immediately turn to dust.
In the pack, the old adventuring gear seems damaged and unusable all except a strangely new and sturdy grappling hook. A name, Azza Pride, is stitched into the inside of the bag
Items gained: Grappling hook
ENTERTAINMENT ROOM -7
You enter the room to see a large entertainment area. There are several instruments and sitting spaces. It takes you no time at all to spot a shining golden whistle perched on top of a grand piano on the other side of the room.
Fight: Mimic that is the piano, rug of smothering, animated table, and a guardian portrait.
Items received: Golden whistle
EAST WING HALL -8
Dimly lit hallway, the floors creak with age and an echo of footsteps can be heard through the single door.
You see strongly out of place a statue of an elven woman praying.
You approach her and look at the statue. Her hand whips up to grab your arm. It holds you in a vise-like grip and she says to you. “once you start to move the stones, do not stop till it is done. Be fast, be quick, be nimble, or be damned. Do not fall into the same despair as I.” she solidifies in front her eyes her face contorted in pain, her hand thankfully releasing its grip before.
Event: A large giant man weeps openly over a silvered plater that is covered. It seems to have been just taken from the oven and the smell is delectable, making your mouth water and your stomach growl. As you look closer the man seems to be bleeding you can see it pooling on the floor.
If they approach him: He spins towards you a crazed look in his eyes his tears have to seem to burn rivets down his face. He snarls at you grabbing you by the shoulders and dragging you closer. Blood soaks your clothes from the wound on his hand. He is missing his left ring finger. He screams in your face: “He is a monster, a terrible man, he will kill you all or worse. He’s sick sick sick. Look at what he made me do” with that he pulls the top off the dish revealing a charred giant finger the glint of a golden ring catching the light. He stands offering you the dish.
Answer: find a way to get the wedding ring.
Items received: Large golden ring
DINING HALL -10
A table is set, a feast laid out before you. some of the chairs have been pulled back from the table almost as if waiting for someone to sit in them.
If they sit down the chairs will pull up to the table and trap them.
You start to hear the tinkling of silverware on plates and dishes being passed. Before you, filling empty seats, balls of spiritual light form. They continue to have murmuring conversations over invisible food and drink. Shifting spheres of energy bouncing energetically in unison.
Their movements stop when they notice you. A ball of light at the head of the table seems to clear its throat and draws your attention. “Mimicry is often confused for flattery, but the birds do not know of such things. Take care when you play for them or you may end up their feast.”
The staircase spirals up into the darkness.
If they try to rush to the top of the stair’s voices will come to them whispering. It’ll never work, he won’t die, you’re not done. Keep looking. Find the keys, save us all.
After they have destroyed the phylactery: You can see the door ahead of you to the top of the tower as you approach something that becomes very clear, you no longer feel the magic of the house on you. you know if you die now, you will stay dead. You all feel a heaviness in your bag a slight pulsating. It is the potion from earlier now the tag reads drink me. If they do restore all stats, fresh characters as if they have just long rested.
SECOND FLOOR HALL -12
An empty hallway stretches out in two directions.
As you make your way to your next destination you are stopped by someone clearing their throat. Behind you is a hooded figure, their cloak hangs low over their face obscuring it.
“When you burn him, his eyes will beg you to look, but you must not. He was never meant to be viewed by mortal men” he pulls off his hood to reveal two burn and empty eye sockets. He walks past you solemnly heading down the staircase slowly.
MASTER BEDROOM -13
Fight: From three large vases there is a strange metallic hissing, like steam forced through pipes, then three large metallic cobras emerge. 3 iron cobras stats.
Items received: Glasses on the nightstand
BATHING ROOM -14
You enter the room to find a luxurious bathing area. On one side of the room is a large tub the rest of the room is nicely decorated with small plants and candles.
If they approach the tub: You walk towards the tub and all the candles flicker in unison as if they were going out. You look back at the tub and see a gray hand emerge and clutch the side of the tub. Next emerges a head of long hair matted and soaked through. Two large eyes peak through and a hoarse voice croaks at you from her semi-perch. “whatever you do, do not fall into the fountain.” She screams as she seems to be violently jerked down into the tub.
Fight: Strahd’s Animated Armor stats 2 of them. Keeping guard in front of the ballroom door. Large stone piece propping open door to balcony
You exit to the balcony. The sun shines on you and the air is warm. Looking out into the world is strange and you realize with some fear that this is not your home. The sky is hazy with a light orange hue even though the sun is not setting, and you can see in the distance large foreign objects making their way across the horizon slipping and weaving through the earth like worms. Just looking out to this strange landscape makes you nauseous. You go to turn back when a shadow catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. You turn to see a short dwarven man looking out over the banisters.
“When you reach for his heart, you best be ready for the pain. He won’t let you take his life so easily.” He takes his hand from his pocket its skeletal and withers complexion shocking at first. He gives you as sorrowed nod as he fades back into the shadow, it seeming to consume him.
Event: in the room is a standard ballroom except dancing are around are dozens of ghosts. They seem tired and not happy to be here, yet they dance none the less to a haunting melody that seems to play from nowhere. There is also a large pentagram carved on the floor in the center of it stands a large demonic presence wearing a very dapper suit. They watch you enter surprised and intrigued by your group.
Answer: Wearing your dapper clothes bring the party back to life, either dance or sing or something along the lines. They must interact with the demonic presence stepping into the pentagram.
If they try to attack anyone or stay too long without the proper attire the demonic presence kills them.
Item received: charcoal black skull
Outside you see several things, there’s a thicket of trees, a fountain, a large statue, a book in a glass case, a golden offerings bowl, and a rock garden. These are all surrounded by a stone lift you would have to step on to reach them.
Have the party make perception or investigation checks DC 10: The statue has one hand outstretched fingers spread like holding an invisible ball. The other is pointing to the book in the corner of the garden.
When players step on the stone lifts a pressure plate is activated that they can feel:
- Book: written in the book is two lines of text once you can read the other you cannot. The line you can read says:
“Sometimes we must take a peek, through different eyes to find what we seek”
When they put on the glasses and try to read Intelligence saving throw dc 15: a golden bed is where I lay, my head is light but not bright as day.
- Offering ring:
Will need to burn the charcoal skull then make a wisdom saving throw DC 15: you notice the smoke does not float up but instead drifts away towards here *points at Rock Bed*
A black burned skull-wisdom
- Rock Bed:
You see several small stone pieces that seem to fit together in some way.
Once they touch a piece make them make a dc 15 dex save: you have fit the pieces together to form a stone bird, it is missing a small piece where its eye goes.
Once you fit the gem into the bird. The bird whistles a melody across the garden. A few seconds later you hear a mimicry of this whistle emitting from the trees.
A missing stone piece- Dexterity
You hear lots of whistles coming from the trees. You realize there must be hundreds of birds in them.
When they play the whistle DC 15 Charisma save: The birds try to mimic your tune but get confused, flapping sounds emanate from the trees and a small silver key falls in front of you. when you pick it up it is wet and cool to the touch.
You look into the fountain and see a small chest sitting at the bottom. Attached to the top is a large metal ring.
If they grapple it. DC 15 strength check: You pull hard and manage to get the chest out of the water. A small delicate silver lock is all that keeps you from opening it.
Inside is a smaller version of the statue in front of you, only on the smaller version he wears a golden ring on his outstretched hand.
A heavy weighted grappling hook- strength
You rush to the statue and he seems to glower at you. at some point, the hand pointing at the book has moved and now rests at his side. The other hand remains outstretched fingers spread.
When they put the ring on: You hear the sound of stone shifting in front of you and realize where the statue’s heart would be a space has opened up. Revealed is a small glass vial. Dark ichor swirls inside it and it pulses with power.
When they try to grab it DC 15 Constitution check: You manage to hold onto it, but the pain is overwhelming. Pure power surges through you.
A large golden ring -constitution
Once the Phylactery is taken all the stone pressure plates release
If a player steps off a plate before the phylactery is taken, they will die. You may use a death associated with their position or come up with your own.
If a player fails, the saving through you may kill them or give them some chances. I personally gave them 3 chances before death with worsening afflictions when they failed. First was deafness, then blindness, then death. The deafness and blindness only go away when they die or the phylactery is destroyed.
Use Tarul Var stats Cr 13 spellcaster. Need to destroy garden phylactery first.
“I see you all have been busy. It matters to me none, here I rule, and I will kill you as I have killed hundreds. Prepare to die.”
Conclusion: To give the session a completed feel, allow them to go back through the house and see the spirits happy and moving on. I also took this time to describe the paintings from earlier as calling to each character now, so if they decide to touch it, they are transported back to where they originated from. No time has passed there.