Greetings once again!
Is there any more ubiquitous forum for adventuring than the haunted house? From Mordent to the Shadowlands, rousting the restless dead proves to be one of the most common activities for adventurers. Some haunts, of course, prove more dangerous than others. These abandoned dwellings are some of the most dangerous hunting grounds a hero can find. Although the profit is certainly worth it, the fact that so much of it comes in the form of wealth from previous heroes should serve as a cautionary notice for those wise enough to heed such signs.
Everyone is familiar with the most famous haunted locations, from Castle Tristenoira to Shadowborn Manor, to the granddaddy of them all: Heather House in Mordentshire. There are numerous other haunted locales that have escaped this fame, however. Please find enclosed my personal files on a few choice examples.
1. Kefnucken Mine
In Falkovnia, about a day's travel before the West Timori Road terminates abruptly at the Shadow Rift, one can find a dusty and beaten sign among the Crumbling Foothills bearing the name 'Kefnucken' in Falkovnian script. This marks the turn off for a path to what was once a large copper mine, although it has fallen into disuse, the path overgrown. Kefnucken mine was a forced labor facility, which fell under a deadly curse after Taraya, a Zarovan vistani, died within its depths, worked to death for the Falkfuhrer's cruel regime. Officially, it is recorded as having been destroyed in one of the many cave ins common to the region, although it is very much intact, the truth having been concealed by Falkovnian officials desperate to keep their lives. Taraya dwells within the bottom of the mine, and her tomb has become as much a weapon as it is a prison. One would think that she would welcome adventurers willing to remove her remains and lay them to rest, but her violent response to any intrusion speaks to the contrary.
Taraya can move any object within Kefnucken Mine as though it were an Animated Object. She can fill rooms with an explosive gas (6d6 fire damage to all within the room the first time a spark is struck) three times per day. Her lair is filled with any number of her victims, reanimated as subordinate undead by proximity to her malevolent influence. In the deepest part of the mine she lurks over her own remains, her hatred and pain having combined with the temporal unpredictability of her vistani heritage to transform her into a vasuthant.
2. Giraud Museum
The Giraud Museum in Port-a-Lucine is one of the most well known haunts in some adventuring circles. For the last two years Rollo Giraud has offered a handsome reward to any adventurers who can put to rest the uneasy spirits which haunt his museum. On the surface, the art museum he curates appears to be rather mundane: adequate pieces of art, mostly paintings and sculptures, with a few exceptional pieces scattered in. Only a student of both politics and crime, with a breadth of experience across the entire Core, could realize the link all these pieces have in common: they all feature, either as subject or creator, a person whose life was cut short by assassination. Beneath the new moon each month, the spirits of these murdered souls wander the halls of the museum, torturing anyone they find until morning, when the museum staff invariably finds no trace of the missing heroes.
The ghosts of Giraud Museum are in fact Rollo Giraud's victims--the man spent three decades as an accomplished assassin before retiring with his art gallery. Although he pays at least one adventuring group a month a lucrative reward, none have thus far managed to keep it. The ghosts tied to the sculptures (animated as various forms of golems) and paintings (which house ghostly spirits capable of generating illusions to torment anyone foolish enough to be trapped with them) lash out at anyone around them, perceiving only the influence of their murderer. If Giraud were given to them to destroy, they would be laid to rest. If he should die without the ghosts receiving retribution, then only the destruction of Giraud's museum and legacy would suffice to end their torment.
The tragic loss of Baron von Aubrecker's son Rudolph was a great blow to the Lamordian ruling family, made even worse by the failure of searchers to turn up a body. I have recently begun to receive rather disturbing reports than in the time leading up to particularly nasty storms off the coast of Lamordia, travelers have received invitations to lavish parties at sea. Those who have gone have never returned, and only their companions who declined the offer survive to carry the word that the ship named in the invite is the same as the one which went down with Rudolph Aubrecker: the Haifisch.
The Haifisch is a ghost ship which appears before severe sea storms during cold Lamordian weather. The revelers aboard the ship appear like living people at first; it's only as the night wears on (and the party aboard the Haifisch becomes increasingly debauched) that their sinister nature becomes slowly revealed. By the time that the storm reaches its peak, the party-goers have descended to activities which are as deplorable as they are futile, the ghosts themselves now revealed as bloated, waterlogged corpses with flesh peeling from their bones. Unless a party member is able to steer the Haifisch back to land (an incredibly difficult task) before this point is reached, the storm will destroy the boat, sending the heroes into the freezing Sea of Sorrows along with the ghosts that lured them to their icy doom. Only by bringing the remains of Rudolph Aubrecker (whose corpse is still wherever Dr. Mordenheim discarded it) can the spirits be granted peace.
4. Verger d'os Estate
Nestled in the Richemuloise trees of the Silent Fields, just about halfway between the Falkovnian Border and the Gasping Lake, stands a farm that has long been abandoned. Once a thriving estate owned by the Ossemeur family, the Verger d'os Estate boasted a beautiful manor home, a small mill, and modest farmland, surrounded by more generous orchards. The grapes the family grew were particularly prized for the wines they produced. Tragedy seemed to follow the family (it's rumored that they were descended from the cursed stock of the Blackburn-Bruce), and after investigators from Mordent followed up on the disappearances of several young women, the family upped and vanished, leaving their expansive property abandoned. These days, however, stories have begun to circulate that whatever dark deeds the Ossemeur got up to have come home to roost: the bandits of the Silent Fields tell tales of strange lights and ominous spectres. According to these stories, the home which was once a derelict hideout for bandits on the run has become the lair of some dark energy that seems hellbent on terrorizing any creature that attempts to approach.
In reality, the Verger d'os Estate has no undead presence whatsoever. The estate has been taken over by a mixed community of escaped demi-human slaves from Falkovnia. With a more open mind to magic, the elves and gnomes of the community have taught many of the others rudimentary illusory magic, while the halflings have shown great skill in rigging mundane traps. The estate is now a maze of traps, nonmagical illusions, and diversions which allow one of the residents time to approach and scare off any intruders. Anyone who is deemed a threat that can't be frightened away will be killed: the slaves are beginning to establish a network to funnel other escaped slaves into Mordent, and are prepared to kill to keep this network a secret.
Hopefully you'll find some of these tantalizing prospects for your adventures. (Or you'll consider staying away out of caution.) If you're bold enough to bring peace to one of these places, or lucky enough to escape one of them with more detailed information, feel free to write me so that I can update my files. Personally, it only took one haunted house for me to coin my first rule of adventuring: Just because no one lives there, doesn't mean no one's home.
As always, wishing you safe travels and happy hunting,
Frankie "Farshot" Drakeson, Lord Mayor of Carinford-Halldon
Jim Stearns is a deranged hermit from the swamps of Southern Illinois. His mad scribblings can frequently be found in Quoth the Raven, as well as anthologies like Fitting In or Selfies from the End of the World, by Mad Scientist Journal.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.