The Castle That Vanished
Ive been stumbling over this idea for ages, let it sit basically all of quarantine and now I'm just yeeting it into the internet-verse.
It's not finished, very rough around the edges, but my brain has stopped functioning on it so do with it as you will. If you want.
The Castle That Vanished
What Came Before: These lands were rich with some valuable substance, and the Duke became rich off its exports. With his wealth, he built a castle which sprawled across the valley, surrounded by a high stone wall which only spires and rooftops could peek over.
What Remains: A mere shack in the woods. Its roof sagging, vines weaving through the rotting woodwork, bricks crumbling around the doorframe. The forest flourishes, new life sprouting in every corner.
Why Should Players Care?: Depending on your group one of the followings should suffice:
The dude was loaded, enough wealth to make a castle that spanned an entire valley
Due to some old tradition the Royal Seal must be recovered so the heir to this duchy can be properly appointed.
No-one in the local area knows what has happened, just that a giant castle is gone and only a shack remains which no one has come back out from.
It's a random encounter :)
What Actually Happened Here?:
This valley has been home to an ancient Fae being (known locally as “The Fae Queen” or “Lady of Mists”) long before the humans settled it. Many warned the Duke that building on her lands would only spell his own doom. It seems he should have heeded their warnings.
With an ancient and powerful magic she has banished the Duke, his Castle and all within to another plane of existence, and bewitched the placement of the rooms to no longer make sense. Then she cursed the Duke, turning parts of his body into idols and scattering them across the twisted halls.
His Eyes: for he saw the damage he was causing but did nothing to change.
His Tongue: for it was by his words these crimes came to pass
His Heart: for his lack of empathy and love.
His Right Hand: for his lust of power and misuse of it.
His Mind is scattered amongst the castle trapped in the things he once held dear.
Running the Castle:
Each door that is opened leads to a random location in the castle or its grounds, leaving doors open allows the rooms to maintain their position however if a door is closed the positions reset.
There is a magical wind that occasionally blows through the castle which causes any doors not propped or held open to be slammed shut.
This can be done after ~ 6 MAJOR actions (searching rooms, travelling, combat, rituals) or at GMs discretion.
The Duke's Souls
Heart: The White Hart in the Hunting Grounds, always chased by the retainers; a pack of hungry dogs led by mad huntsmen
Eyes: Held by the Beast in the Bath House, itself covered in all the muck and waste of the castle. It must be shown the truth
Tongue: Held by the Siren in the Opera house. She will give it to anyone who can answer her riddle. But. Her riddle is an opera. Her opera is in multiple languages (some of which may not even be spoken anymore). And, she has to have an audience of sufficient size to perform.
Right Hand: Kept on a chain by the Captain of the Guard, who has himself been transformed into a monstrous golem.
Memories/Mind: Unless properly investigated players may not notice the Mind is missing, well rolled medicine/arcana checks may notice this, but no way to find out the “idol” as its not mentioned in the riddle. There is no object to find, because (though the Fae Queen hates to admit) the human mind is a complex matter. Its scattered amongst the castle. Players might find important objects along the way that will help return the Dukes mind.
The Duke (barely). Lost an eternal slumber, with his souls strewn around the castle.
The Fae Queen: Tore his whole castle to shreds, punishment for his crimes against her.
Mad Huntsfolk: Heads of animals, lost in the thrill of the hunt, they chase the White Hart.
The Wizard, Petra. She turned herself to a statue to escape the wrath of the Fae.
The Siren, they only want someone to listen and understand. Their anger knows no limits if you are rude.
Scout Parties (the Elves in the Dining Hall and a Rival Party in the Zoo
Servants, huddled and confused they can tell you tidbits of information on the castle
The Guard, they spend their days breaking down weapons and putting the metal back into the rock
1. Throne Room
A figure sits slouched on the throne, the right hand is missing. Thorns grow in and around him, accumulating behind and twisting into words:
He saw the damage he caused, but turned a blind eye to the truth
He hunted a desire, in his heart he knew was wrong
He should have listened, but when he spoke his words were deafening
He used his right to rule only to take and destroy
There is a hole where his heart should be, old blood stains his silk shirt. His eyes have been torn from his skull. There is no sign of decomposition.
His tongue is missing. But somehow… a breath passes his lips, his skin is still warm to the touch.
He stinks of magic, ancient and forgotten. Fae Magic, he is alive but in a deep slumber. Two other groups have passed through here, but anyone who tries to tell how long ago cannot as magic is affecting time/space.
2. The Solar
An oak door, with a golden handle shaped like a lion stands at one end. Opening the door leads to another solar, very similar to the last. Yet slightly smaller, slightly nicer. At the end of the room is an oak door, with a golden handle shaped like a lion…
Players can continue opening the doors until the room becomes too small to enter. The deeper players go; the more expensive (and smaller) the items within become.
Count on Clock each new room entered/searched.
There is a fake Royal Seal inside a locked box in the desk drawer.
The Royal Seal is kept in a locked box inside his bedside cabinet
The Duchess had a child, but the Duke believed they were a changeling from the fae. So the child's room was never used.
Collect memories here.
An ornate orrery stands in the centre, but it moves erratically the dials twirling one way then the next.
It can be fiddled with, perhaps even repaired enough to answer yes/no (weal/woe) questions.
5. Wizards Tower
In a complete mess, papers everywhere; torn apart or ripped completely to shreds. Players may find evidence that this is how the Duke managed to build so fast, magic created much of the castle and the Fae Queen has done all she can to destroy the evidence. (The wizard (Petra) has turned herself into a stone statue, only released when human hand touches the stone)
Stone Wand: Stone Shape (1p/day), Earth Tremor (1p/ short rest); Mould Earth (cantrip)
6. Dance Hall
The lights are dim, as the players enter there is no sound. Then a slow melody begins to play, dancers glide elegantly onto the stage. For a moment you are entranced by their movements, they twist and turn effortlessly. Till you notice their feet, razor sharp and glinting in the stage lights.
Any noise causes the dancers to stop and stare at the party. Unblinking.
Continued noise sends them into a frenzy and they attack.
Fae Dancers: will dance unless disturbed, after hitting an attack can move away without reaction
Entrance: save or enchanted to sit and watch
Dance Partner: save or grabbed and danced with
Pirouette: 5ft spin, deal mild damage to any hit
Arabesque: slice one target dealing high damage on hit.
If players 'dance together' combine actions/work together give advantage
7. Opera House
Siren: They will give it to anyone who can answer their riddle. But. Their riddle is an opera. The opera is in multiple languages (some of which may not even be spoken anymore. And, they simply must have an audience of sufficient size to perform.
They wear the Duke's tongue as a pendant.
High Note: save or be deafened
Shatter: As 5e spell(?)
Hear Me: Teleport to any deafened player
8. Smoking Parlor
Filled with smoke, as you open the door it comes billowing out, each cigar relit. The furniture is ruined but you might find a pack of cigars within the mess.
Can squeeze through any gap smoke could fit through
Remains of peop
9. Hunting Grounds
Enclosed within the walls of the castle, a perfectly maintained garden masking as a natural forest. A lodge sits in the centre, the paths are quite overgrown now but once led a clear path from gate to lodge.
[1mile (20min) diameter]
The White Hart in the Hunting Grounds, always chased by the retainers; a pack of hungry dogs led by mad huntsman.They do not know how long they have been trapped, they only care for the hunt.
Once well kept, now mostly ransacked by the Huntsfolk. The door crooked off its hinges and pained moaning can be heard from inside.
The Huntsmen's Heads are mounted where the hunted animals once were.
Gilded Crossbow +1 to any roll using it.
Hunting the White Hart can be a skill challenge broken into three sections: track, trap, capture.
Can the heart be removed without killing the White Hart? It would impress the Fae Queen at the very least. Killing the creature will invoke her wrath.
10. Walk-in Closet:
Find ANY outfit you want. I'm pretty sure the party will spend 90% of the time here even though it does nothing other than allow you to get different clothes.
1 Clock Count per outfit.
11. Art Gallery:
Approach: A beautiful collection of artworks from across the years
Inspection: There are magical sensors to detect if anyone gets too close to the artwork.
Investigation: The Magic Seals are obvious but there is another undertone of Fae Magic. Some of these pieces of art are fake.
If someone gets too close/touches the art the fakes come to life and attack. Pick some famous pieces of art and make them monsters.
12. Dining Hall:
The food has all come back to life. Hogs roam around the hall, chickens peck at the floor. Some survivors have set up camp here. They can provide stories about the Duke, rumours about the Fae or information about the Castle.
Room 1: Smooth stepping stones, overgrown with ferns, shrubs and grasses. Move at ½ speed to cross stones, or Wits save to cross at full speed. Step on the grass and it twists and attacks (twig blights/shambling mounts).
Room 2: Creatures are already awakened (if failed in room 1?) and blocking the path. Must cross while fighting.
Room 3: At the far end is what looks like an altar but made of twisted vines and wood. Light streams through a hole in the ceiling illuminating a large bud, there are more stepping stones but spread further apart. Stepping off awakens plant-monsters and sends life to the bud. If multiple people fall off a Shambling Mound blooms.
14. Bath House:
It’s all gunked up, spirited away style. The Beast in the Mud holds the Eyes. Each lie that is told causes it to get bigger and more powerful. Each truth hurts, but makes it smaller. It has clogged up the main water way, so players could start the water again to wash the beast away. Run as Black Pudding: remove Split effect and engulf instead? Truth causes 1d8+x damage (x=1-4 damage based on how relevant the truth is to the Duke)
A two tiered room made of stone, sporting whichever religion the region openly supports. On the lower level there is an altar made of carved marble, a plinth for the priest to stand and rows of wooden pews. The gallery above holds boxes like that in a theatre, The Dukes box can be picked out as it is speckled with gold and has a screen like that of a concession booth.
His box leads to a small but elegant room filled with expensive wines and cigars.
Once an extravagant exotic zoo with several specialised animal houses and enclosures. Now all the locks are broken and the animals roam free.
Another adventuring party has held up in one of the cages.
The guards toil to dismantle the metal work, they break it down and mould it back into rocks. They do not raise their heads to your presence.
The Captain does.
Armour welded onto a body, skin bulging, blistering and peeling. A shrivelled hand hangs at their waist. Think Gregor Clegane from GoT after he got zombie jacked
The Captain of the Guard
High AC, Shield Bash, Call to Arms
The Right Hand: creates a giant magical hand that can attack, grapple or do whatever a giant hand can do really.
There is a forge to repair any broken equipment from the Bath House encounter.
You can research the Sirens song here, at least (2) lines must be researched - unless the party are super well equipped for this sort of thing. You can also research other things about the Duke/ The Castle, local stuff. The Duke wasn’t concerned with much else other than himself.
19. Servants Quarters:
Travel to a specific room, ring the bell relating to that room and the secret passage will take you to that place.
20. Personal Shrine:
Obvious, Hidden, Secret
Treasure kiss the statue to enter the vault
much *much* bigger than the temple, and much more fancy.
A room depicting the Dukes many achievements and grand wealth.