The front door creaks open, revealing a darkened interior even more foreboding than the house’s gardens. The trail of blood continues inside. Memories of rumors, stories, and drunken tales race with every step, morphing mundane shadows into the faces of ghosts and looming terrors. Yet nothing leaps out to attack or drag anyone into the darkness. Perhaps the legends are just that, or perhaps those sounds of movement on the floor above are something to worry about.
The party’s second adventure continues as they enter the MacHale manor. Having already explored its gardens, the darkened doors of the house invite the characters inside and tempt them with its history and tales of ghosts. Almost every room has something for them to find, encounter, or, very likely, to steal. And there is only more to come once they reach the second level and find the source of the creaking echoes, when the silence of the house gives way to whispers, wails, and encounters that unravel the manor’s unfortunate story.
Refer back to the previous entry and the adventure’s index to learn more about what brought the characters here…
Table of Contents
The MacHale Manor is a house with two stories and an underground basement. Despite generations of abandonment, the building shows little decay, owing largely to the peculiar timelessness of Gabrien’s ritual. The rooms of the house hold remnants of its inhabitants and those that have come since, many of whom met their end at the hands of the house’s ghosts. Yet the specters themselves remain hidden, waiting for intruders to venture deeper into the house.
Ceilings. The manor’s rooms are all 20 feet tall except for the basement cellar, which is 15 feet tall.
Locked doors. The house’s front door is closed but unlocked. All other entrances are locked (requiring a successful DC 15 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick) but are able to be unlocked from the inside. The doors between the house’s rooms are all unlocked unless specified, and many have been left ajar. All doors to the cellar are locked and sealed with the arcane lock spell (requiring a successful DC 23 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick), cast by the ghost of Ulrich MacHale.
Windows and light. There are no active light sources within the house, though the windows are unobstructed and allow sunlight in. This fills the rooms on the eastern edge of the house with bright light during the morning, and those at the house’s front with bright light during the afternoon. This changes once the party reaches the hiding bandits and are warned of the ghosts, when the darkened windows plunge the house’s interior into darkness.
Hiding bandits. A group of bandits recently entered the house in search of its rumored treasures. Ghosts set upon them, and those that survived the encounter are now barricaded in a room upstairs. A character that succeeds on a DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check while within the house hears the muffled sounds of the bandits’ movement, such as scraping and creaking of the wooden floor. The DC is reduced to 15 if the character is in a room adjacent to the bandits, including in the entryway or library below them.
If the bandits hear the party moving within the house (Passive Perception 10), they first attempt to remain quiet, believing it to be a ghost’s trick to lure them out. If the noises continue, use your best judgment to determine whether the bandits can identify the sounds as being movements and voices of real people. If the party is moving and speaking in an adjacent, second-floor room to the bandits, they can easily recognize it. They may attempt to call for help and lead the characters to their position. The bandits will still not leave their hiding place unless convinced to.
Apparitions in Ambush
The ghosts within the house wait for their prey to venture deep inside before they attack. They only appear after the characters reach the room that the bandits are trapped in. When this happens, many rooms in the house change to include additional creatures and details, and the party will also be accompanied by a deceitful Gabrien Hereca. The house’s added features and changes and the rules that the ghosts follow are covered under the encounter with the bandits. To avoid confusion, changes to specific rooms are listed separately (under the ‘After ghost appearances’ section) within each room’s section. Any of the rooms’ original features remain unless otherwise specified.
A mostly vacant room with small cabinets to the side of the door, below a smudged mirror, and a long painting of a landscape on the opposite wall. The door that leads further into the house is open and dust hangs in the air and coats every surface.
While mostly empty, the manor’s entryway does show evidence of the bandits’ recent entry to the house, as well as the unfortunate fate of one of them. The key that the group used, taken from Mayor Trivellan, is left below the mirror and is free of dust. A character that succeeds on a DC 13 Wisdom (Survival) check can also identify multiple dirty bootprints in the dust on the ground. Most of the mud is smudged on the carpet by the door where the bandits cleaned their boots, causing the tracks to fade across the wooden floors. The tracks all lead inside, which suggests that they have not left through the main doors. If the character rolls an 18 or higher, they can make out four sets of bootprints.
The door that connects the entryway to the central hall is broken open from the escaping bandit having been tossed back inside. Characters that are able to see beyond the door, either with a light source or dark vision, can see the beginning of the blood trail in the central hall (see the ‘Beaten, broken bandit’ section of area 2, the ‘Central hall‘). A character can also make a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check to see that the door is damaged, particularly around its handle. A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check of the door deduces that the damage was from a sudden impact that threw the door open and caused the handle, latch, and the adjoining frame to break.
Developments. If the party has followed the ‘Drunken Dares’ adventure hook and is accompanied by other fighters, those fighters close and secure the manor doors behind the characters as soon as they enter the house (see the ‘Developments’ section of the Estate Exterior).
After ghost appearances…
Developments. If the bandits’ key is left in the entryway, the ghost of Ira MacHale discards it out the main door before the entrances are locked. The key is visible on the pavement outside to anyone who makes a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check with line of sight of the steps nearest the front door.
2. Central Hall
A chandelier hangs from the ceiling in a large, open room that is decorated with only a cold and lifeless fireplace, two decorative suits of armor by the door to the entryway, and occasional paintings along the walls. Multiple other doors lead out, some closed and others slightly ajar. And in the center of the room, staining the long carpet like a gruesome centerpiece, is a darkened smear that deepens as it leads to a crumpled, humanoid shape.
The manor’s central hall acts as a nexus between the many rooms of the house’s first floor. It has little decoration other than two paintings that fill the space between its doors, depicting the mountain ranges and plains that surround Greybanner, as well as portraits of previous members of the MacHale house. The body on the carpet is that of the bandit who attempted to escape.
MacHale portraits. Paintings of prominent figures of the MacHale household are hung on the walls of the central hall, each with a small plaque labeling who the portrait depicts. One is of a fair-skinned woman with raven hair, named Ira MacHale. Another shows Ulrich MacHale; a well-groomed man with combed brown hair and a clean-shaven face, but a severe expression. A larger portrait hangs over the fireplace, showing a young couple and their son. The father has ear-length hair and wears only a slight smile, contrasting with the joyous faces of his wife and child. The painting is labeled as being Christof, Valeria, and Ulrich MacHale. A character that sees both paintings can easily link the boy in the family painting as being the same Ulrich depicted in his portrait.
Storage room. A door to the side of the fireplace opens into a small storage room. Inside is tightly stacked furniture and boxes, with sheets thrown over the top. The items appear to simply be excess that was kept in storage by the family and left behind when they moved from the house.
Beaten, broken bandit. The body near the center of the room was a member of the group of bandits who recently entered the house. He had tried to escape when the manor’s ghosts attacked, by climbing from an upstairs window but lost his footing and injured himself in the fall. An animated statue then attacked, before throwing the bandit back through the front door of the house. He attempted to pull himself back to the stairs but succumbed to his wounds.
Characters that investigated the door connecting to the entryway can make a DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check to deduce that the door’s damage is from the body crashing through it. The same check or a Wisdom (Survival) check of the same DC also reveals that the bandit was not dead when he landed, as the trail of blood is smeared from him crawling. There are no footprints in or from the blood. A successful DC 13 Wisdom (Medicine) check of the body confirms areas of blunt trauma, as well as a twisted ankle. If the character rolls an 18 or higher on the check, they discover wounds that are unlikely to have been from impacting the door. The strikes, which came from the animated statue’s attacks, resemble those of a maul or other weapon with similar shape and force.
After ghost appearances…
Bandit ghost. If the party returns to the central hall after the house’s ghosts appear, they find a fading ghost standing over the body of the bandit. The ghost, though translucent, is easily recognizable as the spirit of the bandit by his clothing and features. He is muttering to himself, questioning what has happened. If the characters attempt to speak to the ghost, he sluggishly acknowledges their presence but cannot understand or communicate with them. Roughly a minute after being encountered, the ghost turns as if he hears a voice and walks hesitantly to the library, where he encounters the ghost of Ira MacHale (see the ‘After ghost appearances’ section of area 4, the ‘Library‘).
3. Living Area
The room would once have been a warm and inviting living area but is now frozen in its desolate abandonment. Comfortable seating and a small table surround the fireplace, a set of cabinets behind them, and a piano across the room, its keys dusty from years of neglect. Tall bay windows cover the eastern wall, giving a view of the forest to a small table with a gaming set. A painting of a coastline hangs above the fireplace.
Like many of the house’s other rooms, the living area’s largest furniture was left behind when the MacHale’s moved away. They took most other items of value with them, leaving little to find aside from a piece of Vincent’s key hidden behind the painting, which itself depicts a sunny bay of turquoise water and white sand, hemmed by cliffs.
Covered trapdoor. The carpet under the piano conceals a trapdoor that drops 20 feet into area 11, the cellar. The trapdoor is visible to anyone who lifts the carpet. If a character sits on the piano stool, anyone within 15 feet that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check hears the faint clunk of the trapdoor shifting. Unlike the doors to the basement, the trapdoor is neither locked nor enchanted.
Hidden key. One of the fireplace’s bricks, hidden behind the painting, can be removed. If a character moves the painting and succeeds on a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check of the bricks, they find the irregularity in the mortar and can easily remove it. A character that knows to look for the loose brick finds it without needing to make a skill check. Inside is a small, lead-lined wooden box containing one of three key pieces (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
Treasure. A gaming set (chess set worth 1 gp) is sitting on the table by the windows and the cabinets behind the seating contain an incomplete set of patterned glassware (worth 3 gp). Hidden behind the brick in the fireplace is a crested wooden box, containing the key piece (stag).
Crested Wooden Box
A box made of smooth, lightly colored wood with an engraving of a family crest on its lid; a lance-wielding knight atop a rearing stag, with a warhound beside them.
The box is 4 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 2 inches tall. Its interior is lined with faded red cloth and there is a thin layer of metal in the middle of each of the box’s panels.
A successful DC 15 Intelligence check identifies the metal within the box’s wood as lead. The box itself is worth 10 gp to any merchant that can also identify the metal as lead.
Key Piece (Stag)
A rod of metal with what resembles part of a key’s teeth at one end. The other side curves in a third of a circle that supports a depiction of a rearing stag.
The metal seems to be part of a key, with twists and notches where other, similar pieces could fit together with this one. It appears to be unusable without being completed.
The pieces of Vincent’s key are kept within lead-lined boxes. This shields them from being located by spells such as locate object, which the party might have access to if they explore the manor’s library. A character that is able to cast the spell or use a scroll containing it will also be aware of this limitation. Be sure to make this known to them if the party has discovered the box’s lead lining, to avoid them wasting the spell. A clever character might think to instead focus the spell on the box itself, which will direct them to the other two boxes while still maintaining the limitations of the spell. Should the party become stuck or confused, you might consider subtly suggesting this or allowing a character with the spell or scroll to make an Intelligence (Arcana) or Intelligence (Investigation) check to realize the possibility.
After ghost appearances…
Two fading ghosts are in the room. One sits and plays the piano, making no sound, while the other dances as if with a partner that cannot be seen. The pianist ghost has been marked by Gabrien. The ghosts stop if they notice the party, appearing confused by what they were doing, before attacking.
A select few of the house’s ghosts have been marked by Gabrien. This allows him to exert a degree of control over them, which we will expand on in a later section about the ghosts’ appearances.
Bookshelves line many of the room’s walls and stand in its center, still holding disparate clusters of dusty volumes. Chairs are arranged in a nook, as well as looking towards a fireplace and out the windows to the house’s gardens. The must of decayed paper hangs in the air, sticking to the cobwebs and discolored wood.
The manor library was the creation and personal pride of Ira MacHale. It contains books that once detailed all manner of history, geography, and even magical studies, gathered and written by Ira over her years. The departing family took many of the books, leaving dusty gaps in the shelves. The tomes that remained have become twisted canvases for the ghosts’ memories. A plaque above the fireplace reads the following:
In memory of Ira MacHale
Creator, curator, and caretaker of this library
May her knowledge guide many generations to follow
A character can easily find several titles of interest by looking over the shelves (see the ‘Treasure’ section). If the character also succeeds on a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check, they notice a space between two other books that is completely free of dust, suggesting that a book was recently taken from the shelf.
Imprinted memories. The library’s books are filled with the disparate memories of those trapped in the house, who have become Ira’s victims, though this is not immediately visible to someone reading them. The words appear ordinary at first. It is only under continuous reading that the passages devolve and blur into the ghosts’ thoughts. A character that reads one of the books for longer than a few minutes finds themselves repeating disjointed thoughts. The texts reminisce on memories and confusedly lament how distant those memories feel. If the character chooses to continue reading, the thoughts become more fragmented and unfocused as the victims forget where and even who they are. They grow angrier and lose meaning as they progress. When the character stops reading, the words return to their normal state. The three most noteworthy books include this affected text (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
Treasure. Many of the library’s remaining books are smudged and ruined to some extent, though they are still legible, and most are labeled as being only introductory teachings to their subjects (geography, mathematics, poetry, etc.). A character that searches the shelves does, however, find three tomes that are well preserved and bear curious titles: ‘ A Study of the Greybanner Region‘, ‘Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale‘, and ‘Developing Divination‘. The books are all written in Common except where otherwise specified. Each of these books also has examples of the imprinted memories, listed below the book itself.
A Study of the Greybanner Region by Ira MacHale
Ira MacHale’s early efforts to plot the geography surrounding Greybanner, with passages measuring different terrains between sketches of the forest’s edges and mountains’ topography.
The sketches and discernible information in this book allow you to more easily navigate the Greybanner region. When reading it as part of travel, you have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks made to traverse certain areas of the land surrounding Greybanner.
In ‘A Study of the Greybanner Region‘…
The forest follows much of the mountains’ feet and grows at its thickest in the south. In my own limited explorations, I have found that the denser regions of the forest also hold a diverse variety of flora that I have been unable to identify. The deeper I travel, the stranger it grows. I heard their screams from the other room. This fits the descriptions I have gathered from others who have ventured in. The woodsmen and hunters are happy to share stories of others trapped here, whispering of who they were. It feels easier not having to remember why I came here. I think there were others with me. But she took them and I don’t see their faces anymore. I’m not sure I even remember my own.
The memories contained in ‘A Study of the Greybanner Region‘, indicated by the italicized text, are written in Elvish.
Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale by Ulrich MacHale
Ulrich MacHale’s personal memoirs that recount key points in his life and ponder his family’s history. Much of the text reads with a tone of resignation and frustration and seems intentionally vague about some of Ulrich’s discoveries.
Ulrich, the son of Christof and grandson of Vincent MacHale, was not taught of Greybanner’s entire history, owing to his father’s early death. Ulrich did come to discover pieces of it on his own but chose to keep it hidden so that the family might move on. As such, his memoirs do not speak in direct terms about the existence of the Eyes of Blood, Harazai’s binding, or any of the sacrifices made in the town’s establishment. He instead focuses on his own decisions regarding the secrets and the events that led him to his choices, particularly those relating to his family.
A character that spends at least an hour reading Ulrich’s memoirs can pick out its key themes and events through the haze of the imprinted memories. They gain the following information:
The text focuses on a number of important points in Ulrich’s life and appears to have been gradually written over the many years it recounts. It is largely reflective and contemplative, though there is a noticeable change in tone shortly after the birth of his daughter, Lucia, and before the return of Vincent MacHale to the Estate. Ulrich becomes regretful and expresses anger towards his predecessors and Greybanner.
The most prominent events in the memoirs are the following:
- Ulrich’s interest in his family’s history and their lack of records. He talks of spending his free time seeking to uncover and document history that his father did not teach him, feeling that he is approaching an unexpected discovery around the time of his daughter’s birth. What he discovered appears intentionally omitted. After this point, Ulrich’s writings become embittered and less frequent. He stops his research into family history and instead begins rigorously learning magic.
- Ulrich’s childhood and the early death of his father, Christof, to sickness. The text mentions that Christof seemed almost unwilling to fight his illness. Ulrich could not fathom why at the time. He loosely mentions gaining an understanding later in life, after his unexplained discovery, and even expresses empathy with his father’s “surrender”.
- His relationship with his grandfather, Vincent MacHale. Though his father treated the man with respect and even reverence, Ulrich only ever knew him as the patriarch who abandoned his family and returned decades later as a different man. Ulrich felt a defensive animosity towards his grandfather that noticeably worsens after his discovery and Vincent’s return to the house. He mentions wanting to permanently leave Vincent behind and that his feelings towards the man extend to Greybanner.
For more information on Ulrich MacHale’s life and current state, see his character bio in the ‘Manor Basement’.
In ‘Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale‘…
I met my grandfather only once after my father’s death. I scarcely remembered him from my childhood; only enough to recognize him when he returned to the house, barging through our door with only vague pleasantries. He insisted on seeing ‘his office’ as if it had not been passed to me with the rest of the manor, lordship, and all the agony I realize now why he came. What he hid. Things could have been different had I known then. And how dare he come back, after so long, to dredge up secrets that they had forced me to discover and bear on my own. I was pulled back here, to this house that feels so familiar. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is he returned to in that room, I refuse to let him bring it back out.
My mother pressured me to entertain him and grant him privacy in his wandering like Vincent once did, questioning us and searching. But he underestimates us. I buried our past and we will fight to keep it that way. Perhaps she still has memories of a man before what he is now, before my memories fade, or rather they are stolen by someone I feel I know. I see her face but cannot recall her name. She leaves me with only this will to protect. Fortunately, he did not stay too long. His rather prolonged time staring at and even touching the statue of himself before leaving seemed to encompass much of what I know of the man.
Developing Divination by Titus Omen-Sight
A beginner-to-intermediate guide to divination magic, written in a confident and condescending tone by a mage using an unrecognizable pseudonym.
The book contains many useful, albeit snobbishly written, lessons on particular divination spells. It includes notes detailing the detect magic, detect thoughts, and clairvoyance spells. A section at the back, labeled ‘Practice Materials’, has removable pages that can be used as 3 scrolls of true strike and a scroll of locate object.
The scrolls in ‘Developing Divination‘ are not useful to everyone but can still be sold to people in town. Elias Gilderoy will purchase spell scrolls for roughly half of their selling price (paying the characters 25gp for a scroll of true strike and 80gp for the scroll of locate object). The characters may also be able to sell them to other townsfolk and particularly Tournament fighters, who may not be as knowledgeable about the items’ worth and therefore more susceptible to persuasion. That is if they do not use the scroll of locate object in an attempt to find the hidden key pieces (see the ‘Treasure’ section of the ‘Living Area’).
In ‘Developing Divination‘…
Divination is a practice of intellectual acuity, not of creativity or expression. Where evokers need little more than to think “fire”, a diviner must clearly visualize the person or item they seek with as much detail and accuracy as they are able. Mother did everything she could but I always knew that working the farms every day would be her undoing. To that end, there are several exercises that may help a student sharpen their mind. That house must have something that could help while holding the image in your mind during everyday tasks. Once this ability is learned, the next step is getting inside was easy. Now I just need something valuable to sell. I think I heard something. But why am I thinking this? I don’t remember… how long have I been here?
A character that continues reading the collected thoughts can make a DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check to deduce that ‘A Study of the Greybanner Region‘ and ‘Developing Divination‘ are stained with memories of others who have broken into the house, while ‘Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale‘ seems to include the thoughts of Ulrich himself.
After ghost appearances…
The spirit of Ira MacHale drifts listlessly through the library; her favorite of the house’s rooms. Her form appears smudged and featureless and is visibly drawn to the books that she passes, where she mindlessly brushes her hand against them or stops and presses her forehead to the shelves. A character who has seen Ira’s portrait in area 2, the central hall, and succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check of her ghost can recognize the two as the same person.
If Gabrien is asked about Ira or is with the party when they encounter her, he bends the truth to claim that she is one of the key instigators of their purgatory. He correctly explains that she is responsible for the other, less aware ghosts having lost any trace of who they were, though he believes that she simply feeds on their sense of identity. Gabrien does not know that Ira has ever taken his memories and is confident that she has not. If he learns what becomes of the stolen memories, Gabrien becomes more curious about what they might contain and admits that it is odd that he did not already know. This tips Gabrien off to the fact that he might be missing memories. He urges the characters to check the library’s books, hoping to discover if any are linked to him. If a character points out the empty space where a book was taken, Gabrien insists that it must be important but lies in insinuating that it must be to keep the book away from the party, despite quietly knowing that he is the more likely target. Gabrien begins privately pondering where the MacHales might hide such a book and what it might contain.
(LN female mindreaper ghost)
A woman with fair features and her hair kept tidy in soft waves. She wears detailed robes that are tailored to her form and a distant, frustrated expression. Her hand reaches out as she moves, faintly tracing the edges of the furniture and items that she passes, though she never stops or gives even a cursory glance.
Ira MacHale was born to Lucia and Erick MacHale, making her the granddaughter of Ulrich MacHale, great-granddaughter of Christof, and great-great-granddaughter of Vincent MacHale. Ira grew up many years after Ulrich’s burying of the family history. It was a largely peaceful time as the family relinquished the last of their responsibilities in Greybanner and remained unaware of what Ulrich had uncovered. This afforded them the opportunity for Ira to receive the best education available but also kept her trapped within the estate’s grounds for most of her childhood. When her schooling ended and her time was her own, Ira promptly left to explore her own curiosities.
Ira spent much of her life simply learning and expanding her own experiences. She was fascinated by the world and its many wonders and constantly sought to obtain obscure and rare tomes to fill her library within the manor. Perhaps as a result of her boredom with her own family and local history, combined with an interest in more foreign topics, Ira never turned her attention inwards as Ulrich once did and her son later would. The knowledge and experience that Ira had gathered eventually made her an effective leader of the household. Her established connections and expensive collection rekindled the family’s prominence in the following generations, as they left Greybanner.
As the mother of the patriarch who would move the family from the town, Ira was one of the last residents to be buried within the grounds. This meant that she was raised as part of Gabrien’s initial ritual and is one of the oldest and most affected of the manor’s ghosts. Beneath her deep, timeworn corruption, Ira holds onto her passion for recording information and memories, though this has since taken the form of draining the house’s dead of their thoughts and identities and imprinting them on the pages of her library. The constant consuming and transferring of others’ memories has washed away her own, leaving her little more than a dangerous shade.
Developments. When the ghost of the dead bandit in the central hall makes its way into the library (see the ‘After ghost appearances’ section of area 2, the ‘Central Hall‘), Ira meets with him. She gently caresses the side of his face and he visibly calms, no longer speaking. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check of their meeting notices threads of the bandit’s form flow from him and into Ira. If the character continues to watch, they see Ira absentmindedly trace the spine of a book and the threads disappear into it (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
After their meeting, the bandit’s fading ghost becomes hostile to all living creatures, as well as Gabrien, and slowly paces upstairs to where the surviving bandits are hiding with the intent to attack them.
Ira is likewise hostile to the living. Having become a mindreaper ghost, she is able to track the location of intelligent creatures within the estate. She is drawn to their memories and begins slowly hunting them several minutes after her encounter with the bandit’s ghost. Ira makes use of her Detect Minds action every few minutes and walks to attack those she can sense. Ira also has constant knowledge of any of the books from her library and is able to locate them in the same way without needing to make a skill check. If a character is carrying one of Ira’s books, she prioritizes them as a target.
Ira’s ability to feed on memories and knowledge means that she can more easily sense more knowledgeable characters who have greater Intelligence scores. Fortunately, those same characters can also survive longer against her draining of their minds. But the party must still act quickly before Ira can locate and drain their resident genius.
Treasure. A character that witnessed Ira steal and deposit the bandit’s memories can easily find the book that she placed them in, titled ‘Timeless Tales, Volume 3‘. The book may also be found by a character that spends time searching the shelves after Ira has met with the bandit.
Fanciful Fables, Volume 3
A collection of different fables and imaginatively exaggerated tales of heroes, many accompanied by vibrant drawings of their events. The book is badly damaged and none of its stories are legible in their entirety.
Several of the book’s passages remain, though smudged and torn gaps leave certain events vague. Some of the discernible narratives are the following:
The story of a knight ordered to slay a dragon, who discovered that the dragon was in fact the cursed older brother of the current king and the rightful heir.
A tale of a town on the edge of a swamp inhabited by hags who would lure children into the waters with promises of being free from having to listen to their parents.
A long, rhythmic poem about the adventures of a bard with the ability to sing in many voices at once, whose gift brought him both fortune and hardships.
The book’s pages are now also marked with the bandit’s memories. One example of the affected text reads the following:
In ‘Fanciful Fables, Volume 3‘…
The Song of Seamus the Silvertongue
Once born a boy in quaint country,
Twas a lad that they said must be
Blessed, his voice so sweet and sundry.
When he spoke the house seems too good to pass up. Yorin agrees with me. We can’t just ignore a treasure that could stop us from having to do what we’re doing now. I’m tired of camping in ditches and killing for scraps.
Along the road he took his voices,
Spreading cheers, jeers, rejoices,
‘Til he came to places like this make my skin crawl. We should be quick.
I wonder what the treasure might even be. What would a family like this leave behind?
There are too many and the whispers are too loud. I can barely think through their cries of hate and agony and rage, and the bargains for freedom. Something else is moving outside, surely trapping us in here, but what other choice do I have?
But when the town turned to Seamus
With their words harsh and faithless
Did he sing to hell with hiding. The others can die in there but I refuse to. Maybe they’ll be enough of a distraction for me to climb down and run.
5. Dining Room
Eight chairs are placed around a long dining table, surrounded by cabinets and a fireplace, with tall bay windows looking out to the courtyard’s hedges. The room appears homely and lived-in despite being empty of life. Many of its remaining decorations appear unmoved as if they were abandoned only yesterday, betrayed only by the layers of dust that cover them.
The family dining room was once a place of comfort for the MacHales but is now a stripped husk of its once inviting atmosphere. Most of the belongings that the room once held were taken by the family, though many of those of lesser value were left behind and still oddly remain in their place. This is due to the room’s ghosts returning the items to their places whenever they are moved.
Escape attempts. The dining room’s large bay windows have been a popular choice for those desperately trying to escape the house in the past. A character that inspects the windows, interacts with their latches, or looks through them with a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check spots frantic scratches around the windows’ locks and hinges, as well as marks from failed lockpicking attempts.
Evidence of combat. A number of fights and other struggles have taken place in the dining room, between intruders and ghosts. The ghost of Julia Adler, Gabrien’s mother, appears each time and returns the furniture and other items to their respective places. A character can make a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check of the room’s surfaces to notice scuff marks and scrapes on the floor, walls, and doorframes. The chairs are similarly damaged, one of them even having a leg that was broken and wielded as a weapon before it was returned and repaired. If a character inspects the broken leg, they find dried blood that dripped down from a sheer line. A character with access to the mending cantrip can deduce that the spell may have been used to repair the chair, and possibly other items in the room.
A character that succeeds on a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check of these marks deduces that they are from various, seemingly unrelated, weapons and items. They also discover that some of them resemble drag marks that lead back to pieces of furniture, suggesting that they were repeatedly returned to their placements after being moved.
After ghost appearances…
The house’s windows darken when its ghosts become active. When this happens, multiple long nail marks become visible all across the dining room’s windows. The marks are immediately apparent to anyone that can see them. A character proficient in Investigation, or that successfully inspected the scuff marks around the room, also identifies that many of the marks on the windows are from similar impacts and weapon strikes. Despite the apparent number of attacks, the windows are structurally undamaged.
A fading ghost stands before the windows, furiously clawing at the glass. The ghost is marked by Gabrien and attacks in a violent frenzy if it notices the party, yelling that they “will not take him,” in broken, faltering Dwarvish.
Julia Adler’s ghost. The trapped fading ghost of Julia Adler continues to fulfill her previous duties as a housekeeper. Though she spends most of her time in other rooms, the ghost drifts downstairs to the dining room if any of its contents are moved or broken. Julia returns the room to the state that the party initially finds it in any time anything about the room is changed, making use of the mending cantrip on objects that need repairs. She also attacks living creatures, like the other ghosts, and pursues anyone that takes items from the dining room in order to return them.
As his birth mother, Julia does not fully remember Gabrien but also does not attack him. She instead stares at her son, if she sees him, as she tries to recall exactly who he is. This distraction briefly overrules her compulsion to attack the party.
Gabrien, meanwhile, refuses to enter a room that he knows his mother’s ghost is currently in or to face her, explaining their connection if questioned about it. He lies and says that she was the reason he originally returned to the house, having received news of her death after he had moved far away from Greybanner. A character that succeeds on a Wisdom (Insight) check against Gabrien’s Charisma (Deception) recognizes a great deal of bitter anger in his voice. If asked about it, Gabrien vaguely remarks that they “are not truly family,” and that he does not wish to discuss it further.
A kitchen and food preparation room, complete with a stone oven and a scattering of rusted utensils left behind on the tables. The rancid smells of mold and rotting produce drift from storage boxes set against the walls.
There is little of interest in the manor’s kitchen, aside from crates of rotting vegetables and the abandoned kitchen implements, none of which are of any worth. A character that opens the boxes can easily note that the contents have not decomposed as much as they should have in the years since they were left there, which matches with the strange timelessness of many of the house’s other features. Characters can also make the same Intelligence (Investigation) and Wisdom (Perception) checks as in the dining room to find the same marks in the kitchen (see the ‘Evidence of combat’ section of area 5, the ‘Dining Room‘). There are similar scuffs and impact marks, and a section where the dust is thinner where a knife used to rest but was taken as a weapon.
7. North Stairwell
Old weathered stairs connect to the second story and descend into a darkened basement. A number of other doors lead out, one of which you assume would be an exit.
The old wooden stairs creak ominously under the characters’ steps; loud enough to be heard from several rooms away unless the character succeeds on a DC 14 Dexterity (Stealth) check. They are still strong enough to support a person’s weight. The stairwell’s doors lead to other rooms and to the back gardens. One opens to a small storage space with a wardrobe containing a number of dust-coated traveling jackets and a set of traveler’s clothes.
Basement door. The stairs leading to the basement are blocked by a door on the landing. The door is locked and sealed with the arcane lock spell (requiring a successful DC 23 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick), cast by the ghost of Ulrich MacHale.
8. Downstairs Bathroom
A small bathroom with a toilet, sink, and a window looking to the back gardens. The amenities are basic but match the quality of the house.
As one might expect, there is nothing of note to find within the bathroom.
9. Downstairs Study
A half-ajar door is left with a crossbow bolt piercing the wood from inside the room. It opens into a private study, cozily decorated with a desk, shelves, a fireplace, and a chest in the far corner. As expected, the majority of the books and other decorations are gone. But those that remain are strewn about the floor, rifled through, and left open in chaotic piles. Looking over them quickly draws your gaze to the legs of a body collapsed behind the desk.
The downstairs study is a secondary office to the main study on the second floor. It holds much of the expected furniture and decoration, most of which was left behind when the family left. This includes many books and documents that now lay scattered on the floor after Gabrien searched through them for information about Vincent’s hidden chamber. Without the ability to directly interact with the house, he had to do so by possessing an intruding thief and using his limited time to scour the texts and attempt, but fail, to open the chest. The crossbow bolt in the door was Gabrien’s futile, indignant effort to slow the ghosts attacking him.
Desiccated victim. The body in the room was another fortune-seeking visitor to the house and a victim of Gabrien’s. Gabrien possessed the thief as a means of reaching the physical world but was quickly found by the MacHales and other ghosts, who forced Gabrien out by killing his host. Before this happened, Gabrien was able to scatter the papers in a way that he could later read and also made attempts on the locks of the room’s chest and basement door.
The body left behind is a dried husk that appears to have once been an elven or half-elven man. It is wearing leather armor and a small selection of weapons and tools (see the ‘Treasure’ section). A character can perform a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) or Intelligence (Arcana) check to identify the effects of necrotic magic. Unfortunately, this makes the body’s age impossible to pinpoint. A successful Wisdom (Medicine) check also uncovers the only other damage to the body: painful bruising and trauma to the knuckles, potentially from punching a solid surface and harsh enough that most people would stop before reaching that point.
Locked chest. In the corner of the room is a wooden chest that is locked with a basic iron lock (requiring a successful DC 15 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick), the keyhole of which is surrounded by scratches from previous attempts. A character that attempts to unlock the chest has disadvantage on their skill check as they find that it is partially jammed with the end of a broken lockpick. The chest’s lid is also cracked and dented. It can be easily broken with little further damage (10 hit points; immunity to poison and psychic damage). Inside the chest are a leatherbound tome and a collection of small, odd items and materials (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
Scattered documents. The books and notes tossed across the floor are arranged to be able to be read without having to move them. Many of them are simply copies of ledgers, construction orders, and similar documents, though some have additional, attached comments scribbled across them. At the top and to the side of the papers is a page with a crudely drawn blueprint of rooms and connecting hallways. On the desk is a single paper with writing titled ‘Concerning the Contents of My Study‘ (see the ‘Treasure’ section). If a character is able to compare the writings with an example of Ulrich MacHale’s writing, such as his spellbook in the nearby chest, they can make a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check to identify the notes added to the documents, as well as the map, as Ulrich’s handwriting. The documents themselves are written in a number of different hands but are all in Common.
A character that looks over the pages on the floor can perform an Intelligence (Investigation) check to connect the various documents and notes and follow the thought process of the original investigator. The character gains the following information up to the result of their check:
|DC 10: The most important, marked notes all date within a period of four decades, many generations ago. The blueprint holds clear significance to the notes around it.|
A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Intelligence (History) check of Greybanner’s history ascertains that the dates are shortly after the founding of Greybanner, falling within the lives of Vincent, Christof, and Ulrich MacHale.
|DC 14: The notes connect different orders and purchases that are intentionally hidden within other projects. They occurred during an early period of development and expansion for Greybanner and appear to connect to various, third-party construction contractors.|
|DC 17: The various clues point to an unnamed person with the authority to oversee the town’s construction who was secretly hiring private contractors to excavate and secure tunnels beneath the town. The writer speculates on who could be in such a position to both authorize and hide the construction. They specifically question if, “they have managed to reach the council, so soon and so easily?” but consider that, “it would take more than one person’s effort to hide this.”|
There is a list of four names accompanying the first quote: Beyator, Prian, Harkness, and Golbrand.
Learning this information also identifies the sketch of rooms and hallways left with the notes as the map of Greybanner tunnels (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
Staircase. A second door in the study opens to a set of stairs that descend into the basement. The door is locked and sealed with the arcane lock spell (requiring a successful DC 23 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick), cast by the ghost of Ulrich MacHale.
Treasure. The thief’s corpse is wearing fitted studded leather that is as dried and broken as the body itself. In its pocket is a pouch containing 18 gp and 34 cp, and attached to its belt are a dagger, a quiver containing 9 crossbow bolts, and a set of thieves’ tools. Most of the contents of the latter are bent or snapped. A character that is proficient in the use of thieves’ tools can identify that the ruined tools appear to be the result of rushed and inexperienced work, which seems to contrast with the otherwise prepared and well-equipped state of the corpse.
The most notable of the documents in the room are the note on the desk, titled ‘Concerning the Contents of My Study‘, and a crude map left amongst the other pages. Additionally, the locked chest contains Ulrich MacHale’s belongings pertaining to his study of magic, the most prominent of which is his personal spellbook and study journal.
‘Concerning the Contents of My Study’
A note found on the desk in the downstairs study of MacHale Manor. It is labeled as a copy of a legal document pertaining to the distribution of Ulrich MacHale’s belongings in the event of his death. Written below that is a more direct letter to the recipient of the document.
The document leaves Ulrich’s belongings to his immediate family. The letter written below the legalities is signed by Ulrich MacHale himself and reads the following:
Though I leave my riches and possessions to you, my family, I must attach a final request to them: that the items and journals within my study remain there. Leave them in the past, with me, and let neither of us burden you as our family moves forward and into whatever new future you decide. I can only ask that you trust in my words on this matter. The items in my chest and the writings that I lost so many distant nights to will not avail you nor the MacHale house. They were my mistakes and I pray that you allow me to keep them that way.
May all who follow me lead our house to ever brighter days.
– Ulrich MacHale
Sketch of Rooms and Hallways
A page found amongst scattered documents in the downstairs study of MacHale Manor. The sketch is clearly incomplete and has roughly estimated measurements for the lengths of the halls and dimensions of rooms. Additional lines resemble a topographical map drawn over the top.
The purpose of the sketch is unknown, though it could be useful if the structure it depicts was identified.
A character that succeeds on a DC 23 Intelligence (History) check of the sketch’s topographical lines identifies them as the terrain of Greybanner itself. If a character discovers this, replace their sketch of rooms and hallways with the map of Greybanner tunnels.
Map of Greybanner Tunnels
A page found amongst scattered documents in the downstairs study of MacHale Manor and identified as a map of tunnels that were excavated beneath Greybanner. The information is incomplete but does mark a pair of entrances and the areas closest to them.
The age and missing pieces of the sketch make exact locations difficult to interpret, though it places the entrances to the tunnels as being in the center and the south-western corner of town.
Like many other pieces of information, Ulrich’s map of the tunnels and his notes’ mention of ‘Harkness’ are hooks to other adventures in Greybanner. They may prompt the party to ask questions and investigate them, or simply help later if the characters take a different hook. Was it the same Harkness family as the current councilor? Why were the tunnels built and where are the entrances? And are they related to what’s happening in Greybanner now?
Ulrich MacHale’s Spellbook
A thick tome bound in leather and signed with the name ‘Ulrich MacHale’. The book is unassuming at first but its pages bulge with added papers and bookmarks. It cracks open to page upon page of magical diagrams and entries recording the learning of spells from the most basic level, covering the writer’s mistakes, advancements, and eventual successes. Though the spells themselves do not reach a master’s level, the effort put into them is immediately visible.
A spellbook containing Ulrich MacHale’s study of magic. The long-winded entries and slow pace suggest that he was gradually self-teaching from the very beginning, making use of other texts rather than a tutor or mentor. Many of the spells are complete but several others are not finalized or were unsuccessful.
A character can make a DC 12 Intelligence (Arcana) check of the other notes to identify Ulrich’s unsuccessful learnings as the protection from evil and good, see invisibility, and unseen servant spells. These spells are incomplete and lack the information required for other spellcasters to copy them.
Ulrich’s spellbook doubles as a journal for his learning of magic, and so also contains notes for his chosen cantrips. Keep in mind that characters with their own spellbook can only transfer spells of 1st-level or higher. They cannot copy the light, mending, or message cantrips, but can copy the rest of Ulrich’s spells, given that they have the time and gold. The latter is helped by Ulrich’s stored components, which can cover their gold value in the cost of transferring their respective spell but are consumed in the process.
The chest also contains many of Ulrich’s spell components, including some for those he was unsuccessful in learning. A character immediately recognizes these if they can cast the respective spell or if they take the time to look through Ulrich’s spellbook. Some of the remaining components, and their corresponding spells, are the following:
Two identical lodestones, carved into diamond shapes (the material component of the mending spell)
Spooled silver wire, the end of which is tied to a tiny bell (alarm)
A small glass jar each of salt and soot (comprehend languages)
Two tiny vials of powdered grey metal (enough for two castings of the protection from evil and good spell)
Two other vials tied together with leather cord, one containing powdered silver and the other talc (see invisibility)
A pouch containing 50 gp worth of gold dust (arcane lock)
In addition to being a valuable find for wizards or those seeking to sell the spellbook, the spells inside of it are also clues to the abilities that Ulrich has retained beyond his death, such as his use of the arcane lock spell on the basement doors. He may also use versions of the light, message, fog cloud, and misty step spells if he is confronted in the house’s basement. The party can discover this through reading the spellbook before ever facing him. The reverse is also true, as a character might be able to identify Ulrich’s ghost based on his use of the spells.
After ghost appearances…
If Gabrien is brought to the study, he comments on the thief’s corpse and lies, saying that he approached the thief in the same way he met with the party and that the two of them cooperated until the other ghosts killed the man. Gabrien laments his inability to act on his own in an attempt to elicit sympathy. He notes that he has had little time to investigate the notes on the ground and offers to aid the characters in looking over them. If a character accepts Gabrien’s help and makes an Intelligence (Investigation) check of the notes (see the ‘Scattered documents’ section), they have advantage on their check.
10. East Stairwell
A flight of dog leg stairs ascends to the second floor. Two of the steps near the landing are broken at one side, leaving a dark hole surrounded by jagged, rotted wood.
The stairs of the main, eastern staircase have rotted and been broken by a previous visitor who fell through. Any Medium or larger creature that moves across the lower section of the stairs also breaks through, unless they are aware of the damage and choose to move carefully, doing so at half of their normal movement speed. A creature that does not tread carefully and breaks the steps must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall through and land in the dark, confined space beneath the stairs.
Beneath the stairs. The space under the stairs is 5 feet wide, 15 feet long, and 10 feet tall at its most open, becoming more cramped under the descending stairs. It is completely dark and filled with dust, though otherwise featureless. In the corner of the room, beneath the landing, is a single skeleton wearing decayed traveling clothes typical of a farmer or other commoner, with a basic hunting dagger in its belt. The skeleton is the body of the thief whose memories can be read in ‘Developing Divination’ (see the ‘Imprinted memories’ section of the ‘Library’). A character that inspects the skeleton can perform a DC 13 Wisdom (Medicine) or Wisdom (Perception) check to spot a debilitating break in the corpse’s leg bone, most likely from their own fall through the stairs. Without healing, the break would be enough to prevent their escape. The skeleton is also clutching a wooden display case (see the ‘Treasure’ section).
Treasure. The skeleton’s arms are wrapped around a display case. The case is roughly 1 foot by 6 inches and 6 inches deep, made of dark wood and a glass lid, and with an interior lined in red, cushioned velvet. It contains a barbed iron crown inlaid with a diamond (worth 100 gp) and four emeralds (each worth 15 gp). The complete crown is worth 200 gp to a merchant that can appraise the gems but is worthless if the gems are removed. A character can also make a DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) or Intelligence (Religion) check to identify that the crown appears ritualistic, though does not fit any specific spell or worship. The crown is also currently non-magical.
Barbed Iron Crown
A circular crown of three interweaved metal bands, with sharp points jutting out like thorned vines. A diamond and four smaller emeralds are set in a line on the crown’s front.
The crown’s gems appear to be removable, though doing so is almost certain to damage the metal holding them.
After ghost appearances…
The skeleton becomes mindlessly animated once the house’s ghosts awaken. It is armed with a dagger and its speed is halved due to its broken leg. The skeleton attacks anyone that falls through the stairs or that it sees or hears moving over them, attempting to grapple and pull targets down before attacking with its dagger.
The MacHale Manor’s basement consists of a storage cellar and a set of caves that were magically dug out by Gabrien Hereca in order to conduct his ritual beneath the center of the estate grounds. Since the house’s abandonment and Gabrien’s enchantment, its basement has become the domain of Ulrich MacHale’s ghost. The undead patriarch guards Gabrien’s ritual circle and belongings to prevent intruders from disrupting the magic and releasing Gabrien into the world.
(NG male mistborn ghost)
A middle-aged human man in untarnished half-plate armor. His appearance is kept as clean as his clothing, with short, finely controlled hair above an unscarred face. But his expression does not show the same regulated restraint. Wrinkles and shadows betray his sleepless exhaustion, yet his brow is furrowed with determination.
Ulrich MacHale was the son of Christof MacHale and grandson of Vincent MacHale, one of Greybanner’s founders. He was born after the town’s founding and his grandfather’s appointing as its Lord, growing up in the family’s Estate. And while his family’s position offered Ulrich a relatively stable life, it was not a perfect upbringing. His earliest years were stained by fraught relationships with his father and grandfather, the latter of which left Greybanner when Ulrich was only a young child. Christof, meanwhile, was burdened by his knowledge of his own father and family’s past, and his eventual choice to not pass it on to Ulrich.
Christof’s decision did not last, as Ulrich began researching the MacHale family after his father’s early passing. His discovery of the history of Greybanner and the Eyes of Blood was a turning point for Ulrich that saw him battle with and eventually settle on the same decision his father had made: to bury the past and move on. This was thrown into further turmoil when Vincent returned to the house offering new answers. Ulrich turned aside Vincent’s pleas, still harboring resentment for his forebears and only allowing his grandfather a brief walk through the estate before Vincent disappeared for a second time, this time journeying to Verdantguard. Ulrich then spent his later years teaching himself magic and continuing to edge his family away from their attachment to Greybanner. From his perspective, his predecessors had forced him into his position as the sole carrier of Greybanner’s truth, and he would be sure that he was the last to feel that weight.
Ulrich eventually died peacefully and uneventfully and was buried in the small cemetery of the estate’s gardens. This lead to him being one of the ghosts originally summoned and bound by Gabrien Hereca, several generations later. Having been pulled from death by a member of the Eyes of Blood seeking to dredge up the family’s past yet again, Ulrich, now a mistborn ghost, was filled with anger. He was the first to refuse and strike at Gabrien, killing him in the house’s basement and trapping him in the estate’s walls.
Once Ira had stolen portions of Gabrien’s memories, their only task was to ensure that he, nor anyone else, could ever recover them. Ulrich remained in the basement as a guardian over Gabrien’s body, recovered key piece, and, most importantly, his spellbook and the ritual circle that binds them to the estate. Even as Ira has taken most of his memories, Ulrich maintains his vigil. He will not allow the ritual to be broken and for Gabrien to escape, as he is the last to truly know what it could mean for Greybanner.
Restoring Ulrich’s Memories
As one of Ira’s victims, Ulrich has only a faint recollection of who he was in life. The party can help him regain his memories, and receive information and guidance, by presenting him with objects that either contain or spark his memories: the book ‘Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale‘, or Vincent’s MacHale Amulet.
If a character presents Ulrich with his own ‘Memoirs of Ulrich MacHale‘ and the memories imprinted within, found in the manor’s library (see the ‘Treasure’ section of area 4, the ‘Library‘), Ulrich is immediately pacified as he recognizes what the book holds. He recovers the book’s specific, contained memories if it is handed to him, though they remain hazy as they return. Ulrich is overcome with the exhaustion of his age as he remembers how long he has been trapped in the house. The party can then speak with Ulrich to explain their situation and ask questions. He apologizes for his violence and thanks them for his memories but enforces that he cannot allow them any further, nor leave his post, for fear of the ritual being dispelled and releasing the one that trapped them.
Ulrich’s recovered memories contain the following key information and limitations:
- His encounter with Gabrien when he was summoned, though he never learned Gabrien’s name and only refers to him as ‘the cultist’. Ulrich recalls the cultist summoning them into the house and them killing him, as well as their methods of keeping him trapped by having Ira steal key memories. He adds that the cultist is more powerful than the other ghosts and was a, “capable but overconfident little beast,” that questioned them about the hidden keys and what they opened.
- The identity of Ira as his granddaughter, as well as her stealing of the ghosts’ memories. He mentions that she has done it to everyone in the house, to varying extents, including taking the cultist’s memories pertaining to their discovery of the hidden keys. Ulrich assumes that the memories would be contained in a book but does not know where that book is, only that it would be kept away from the cultist.
- Though he chose to never uncover them, Ulrich does know of the existence of Vincent’s hidden study, the key pieces, and where in the estate Vincent went when he hid them. He shares that he knows of them but laments that he cannot elaborate with their locations, as his first priority remains keeping the cultist sealed in the house and away from both the secret study and ritual caves.
Ulrich can be convinced of the party’s willingness and capability to help the MacHales and Greybanner, and persuaded to give up his information. If so, he tells them that the house’s vaunted ‘treasure’ is most likely the secret study itself. He adds that the other key pieces must be in the locations Vincent visited: the main study, living area, garden statues, as well as the basement, the last of which is where the cultist found the piece that Ulrich now protects. Ulrich also bring’s Gabrien’s satchel from the ritual caves (see the ‘Treasure’ section of area 12, the ‘Ritual Caves‘) and gives it to the party. He then warns the characters before they leave to not trust anyone seeking the ghosts’ release and to be careful who they share the study’s information with, saying that they will understand his words and choices when they see for themselves.
Regardless of having his memories returned, Ulrich maintains his duty in guarding the ritual caves. This means that he will attack the party again if they seek to disrupt the ritual without having destroyed Gabrien. This could happen if the characters meet and choose to trust Gabrien before encountering Ulrich.
If Ulrich is only shown the MacHale Amulet, found on Vincent’s body in Verdantguard Tower (see the ‘Treasure’ section of ‘Verdantguard Crypt’), or if he can see it on a character, he believes the characters to be MacHales and ceases any attacks against them. Ulrich continues to watch the party and imposes himself between the characters and the ritual circle in the ritual caves. If they attempt to pass him, he grows suspicious of them. The character holding the amulet can attempt to deceive Ulrich by making a Charisma (Deception) check contested by Ulrich’s Wisdom (Insight). If the character fails, or if they try to pass him without deceiving him, Ulrich sees through their deception, realizes they are impostors and not MacHales, and attacks.
When it comes to these kinds of opportunities for the party to persuade or deceive another character, they may choose to include evidence in the form of convincing truths or objects. In the case of persuading Ulrich to help, this could include showing him the note that Vincent MacHale left behind in Verdantgaurd or telling him of the party’s previous efforts to aid Greybanner and combat the Eyes of Blood. These kinds of additions might give them advantage on their skill check or the ability to convince the character of something they otherwise could not. The specific bonus depends on what is presented and the character themself. Try to get in the mind of the character and consider how they would react to what they are being shown, given their current context, personality, and history.
Rickety wooden stairs creak down into a cellar of cobbled stone, barely visible in the lightless room below a layer of fog that has collected on the ground. Large barrels are grouped throughout the interior, giving off a musty, alcohol-tinged aroma of whatever has spoiled inside of them. One such barrel near the southern end is turned slightly out of place, highlighted by the glow of light behind it.
During the manor’s occupation, the cellar was used for its intended storage of food and supplies, all of which have since spoiled. It is now largely empty, instead occupied by Ulrich MacHale, who acts as a guardian of the ritual caves. Ulrich’s presence and casting of the arcane lock spell on the basement’s doors have prevented almost any intrusion into the basement, including that of Gabrien.
The entire basement is dark, though there is a lamp by each entrance and one on the table in the cellar, while the light of the ritual in the connecting caves is visible but is not bright enough to illuminate the cellar. Each lamp has enough oil to burn for one to two hours. The basement’s ceiling is 15 feet high and supported by wooden beams. Towards the southern side is a trapdoor that leads up and into the living area but is weighed down by a thick carpet and piano stool (see the ‘Covered trapdoor’ of area 3, the ‘Living Area‘). The trapdoor is unlocked, unlike the basement’s other doors, which are all locked and enchanted with the arcane lock spell (requiring a successful DC 23 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools to pick).
Hidden caves. Two of the cellar’s walls have openings into ritual caves, hidden behind pairs of barrels. A character that succeeds on a DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check of those barrels or the walls behind them discovers the cave entrances. The shape and proximity of the barrels require creatures that are Medium or larger to crawl under them.
Ghost of Ulrich MacHale. Ulrich MacHale haunts the manor’s cellar with the goal of preventing anyone from reaching the adjoining ritual caves. He does this by conjuring the basement’s fog and potentially attacking those that search further (see the ‘Developments’ section). A character that gets a clear view of Ulrich’s ghost and has seen his portrait in area 2, the central hall, can identify him.
Developments. The manor’s basement and its secrets are protected by the mistborn ghost of Ulrich MacHale. Ulrich is driven by his will to protect his family and the house’s secrets, though he has lost most of his memories and no longer truly understands the reasons behind his resolve. He drives away anyone that enters the basement.
One minute after a character descends into the basement, the room’s fog begins to thicken and expand. It takes one minute for the ground to become heavily obscured beneath a foot of fog. The thick fog then rises at a rate of one foot per minute while thinner, lightly obscuring fog rises above it at the same rate (halfway through the eighth minute in the basement, the entire cellar will be lightly obscured and the thicker, heavily obscuring fog will be 7 feet high).
Meanwhile, Ulrich issues threats and warnings from within the heavy fog. His whispers are vague and only contain what little direction he remembers. Some examples of what he might say are the following:
“Leave this place.”
“You are not welcome here.”
“It will not leave this house.”
“We must not be set free!”
Ulrich only attacks characters that threaten to enter the hidden entrances to the ritual caves. If a character moves towards the tunnels or is discernably investigating the light, Ulrich makes a single attack while threatening them, in an effort to force them away. Should they continue, or find and enter the caves, he attacks with the intent to kill. Ulrich ceases his attacks once the character retreats and will not pursue them out of the basement. The basement’s fog recedes at the same rate it appeared once all characters have left.
It is possible for the party to restore many of Ulrich’s memories and end his hostility if they are able to present items that relate to him (see the ‘Restoring Ulrich’s Memories’ section of ‘Ulrich MacHale‘).
After ghost appearances…
If Gabrien is accompanying the party, he refuses to enter the cellar due to Ulrich’s dangerous presence. Gabrien claims that the “guilt-maddened lord of the house attacks anyone who goes down there, especially those that dare to want to be free from this place.” He remains near the door if the party does descend and listens to anything that happens or is said in the basement, reacting accordingly.
A cramped tunnel squeezes forward before opening into a domed cavern, a similar cave exiting to the side. Every surface is smooth stone, punctuated only by ridges and small stalactites, while the ground is flat and level. The smell of old, confined air that fills much of the house grows more potent in the cave’s moisture, and its silence is broken only by an occasional drop of water dripping from the ceiling.
The caves beneath the MacHale Estate are a creation of Gabrien Hereca. He carved them out with the use of magic as a means of reaching the center of the grounds; the ideal place to perform his summoning and binding ritual. A character that makes a successful DC 13 Intelligence (Nature) check of the tunnels’ surfaces identifies curious ridges and striations where the stone was moved and stretched, suggesting that the caves are not naturally formed. A character that is aware of this can then make a DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check to discern the use of magic in the caves’ formation. If the character has access to the stone shape spell, they note that it appears similar, though it is impossible to pinpoint the exact spell used.
Gabrien Hereca’s satchel. Tucked into the corner of the tunnel that connects the two caverns is Gabrien’s leather satchel. Any character that is able to see in the tunnel can easily find the bag. The satchel itself is nothing of note but it does contain the Hereca spellbook and the key piece (hound) (see the ‘Treasure’ section), which Gabrien managed to find before resorting to casting the ritual. The satchel’s strap is also dried and broken, despite the dampness of the cave. A character that has investigated the clothing of the corpse in the downstairs study (see the ‘Desiccated corpse’ section of area 9, the ‘Downstairs Study‘) can identify the damage as being the same.
Treasure. In the connecting tunnel is Gabrien’s satchel. The bag contains the Hereca spellbook, a small pouch holding 8 gp, 19 sp, and 4 cp, as well as a lead-lined crested wooden box. The box is the same as those used to hold the other key pieces. Inside of it is the key piece (hound).
A thick stack of parchment bound by a cover of old, dark leather. Its pages are of several different ages, newer sheets having been added at various points. The book’s contents better explain its composition. At least three different hands have written in it, expanding and commenting on each other’s developments and adding their own, though none are named or signed. The first page is marked with the name ‘Hereca’.
A spellbook containing the workings of the eponymous ‘Hereca’. Despite not naming its different authors, each one seems to build on the previous with a sense of familiarity and understanding, and each recorded spell begins with a foundation of existing knowledge, suggesting that they may have been transcribed from another source or previous volume. A loose cluster of added pages at the back appears to be the most recent.
The pages at the back of the book are written in a single hand that matches some of the most recent other additions. They seem to cover the development of a spell or ritual, though it would take studying to identify its purpose and components.
The Hereca spellbook is an heirloom that belonged to Brandon Hereca, Gabrien’s adoptive father and mentor who trained Gabrien alongside his own son, Deacon Hereca. It is an inheritance that had been passed down through several generations of the Hereca family as a part of their initiation into the Eyes of Blood. Rather than it being given to either Deacon or Gabrien, the latter stole the spellbook when he chose to travel to the Estate. Gabrien used the spells, alongside his forebears’ notes, to develop the rituals he performed in the caves. The spells written in the book may give the characters clues to Gabrien’s abilities before they confront him.
A character that spends time looking through the book notices the symbol of the Eyes of Blood repeated throughout its spells, though they may not be aware of its significance. If the character succeeds on a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check, they are able to understand the symbols that is it comprised of. It is a combination of the archaic alchemical symbols for life and death crossing over each, with the symbol of the ‘squared circle’, representing the philosopher’s stone, inside. The combined symbols form a rough eye shape in the center. A character may also learn this through their Intelligence (Arcana) check of Gabrien’s ritual (see area 12, the ‘Ritual Cave‘).
At the back of the book are Gabrien’s notes in constructing the summoning ritual, written in Infernal. A character can use these notes to make the same Intelligence (Arcana) check as in the ritual caves to understand the magic (see area 12, the ‘Ritual Cave‘). If the character cannot read Infernal, they can still make the check but must do so at disadvantage. The character has advantage on the check if they have access to both the ritual circle and spellbook when they make it, and can read Infernal.
For a simpler breakdown of whether the character has advantage, disadvantage, or neither on their check, refer to area 12, the ‘Ritual Cave‘.
Crested Wooden Box
A box made of smooth, lightly colored wood with an engraving of a family crest on its lid; a lance-wielding knight atop a rearing stag, with a warhound beside them.
The box is 4 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 2 inches tall. Its interior is lined with faded red cloth and there is a thin layer of metal in the middle of each of the box’s panels.
A successful DC 15 Intelligence check identifies the metal within the box’s wood as lead. The box itself is worth 10 gp to any merchant that can also identify the metal as lead.
Key Piece (Hound)
A rod of metal with what resembles part of a key’s teeth at one end. The other side curves in a third of a circle that supports a depiction of a warhound.
The metal seems to be part of a key, with twists and notches where other, similar pieces could fit together. It appears to be unusable without being completed.
After ghost appearances…
If the party manages to get Gabrien past Ulrich and into the caves, he expresses immediate interest in the spellbook. Gabrien does not mention that it is his or that he knows who ‘Hereca’ refers to. If he is still under the guise of aiding the party, Gabrien reveals that he can read Infernal, “to a degree,” and offers to investigate the pages at the back of the book. He does not reveal all of its information. Rather, Gabrien explains the ritual’s purpose in loose terms and confirms that it can be ended with the dispelling or physical destruction of the ritual circle. He is hesitant to relinquish the book but will not argue to the point of arousing suspicion.
12. Ritual Cave
The cave opens in the warm light of candle flames that line its perimeter. They surround a central ritual that marks most of the cavern’s floor; a circular painting of connecting script and other symbols. The image is stained onto the stone in a dark, dried liquid that now burns with creeping embers, endlessly igniting like smoldering wood. Though the fires give off no smoke, the room’s air is stifled with the smell of ash.
The southern cavern contains Gabrien’s ritual that summoned and trapped the ghosts within the estate grounds. The spell has remained active, its glyphs humming with magic and candles burning, dimly lighting the interior. A character that inspects the ritual can make a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to recognize that the glyph is painted in a mixture of blood and a gritty powder. The surrounding candles have the same black powder around their wick and in the wax that has dripped off of them. If the character rolls a 16 or higher, or is aware of the ash in area 13, the ashen cave, they identify the powder as ash. Despite the constant burning of the ritual, neither the blood nor ash is consumed by the flames.
The ritual itself is an amalgamation of esoteric magic passed down through the Eyes of Blood and Hereca line. This makes it very difficult to translate for anyone without the prior knowledge that Gabrien had been taught. A character can make an Intelligence (Arcana) check to study the ritual in an attempt to understand its different parts. The character may have advantage or disadvantage on their check depending on whether they are able to cross-reference with the notes in the Hereca spellbook and read Infernal. The possibilities are the following:
The character only has the Hereca spellbook but cannot read Infernal: the character has disadvantage on their check.
The character only has the Hereca spellbook and can read Infernal: the character has neither advantage nor disadvantage on their check.
The character only has access to the ritual circle: the character has disadvantage on their check.
The character has access to both the ritual circle and Hereca spellbook but cannot read Infernal: the character has neither advantage nor disadvantage on their check.
The character has access to both the ritual circle and Hereca spellbook and can read Infernal: the character has advantage on their check.
The character gains the following understanding, up to the result of their skill check:
|DC 15: The ritual is primarily rooted in abjuration, conjuration, and necromancy magic and combines pieces of various other spells that have been linked and combined. Its central glyph draws particular attention.|
The character can also make out the pieces of the central glyph (see the ‘Central glyph’ section).
|DC 18: Aspects of the larger ritual betray a number of the spells used in its construction. The magic circle, raise dead, speak with dead, and zone of truth spells have been incorporated.|
If the character has previously inspected the runes inscribed on the estate’s border (see the ‘Perimeter runes’ section of the ‘Estate Exterior‘), they also notice shared symbols that could function to connect the two.
|DC 20: The ritual’s purpose appears to be to summon the spirits of anyone buried within a certain proximity. It would then bind them within that border and attempt to compel them into cooperation with the mage. The spell’s construction circumvents the strain that such a magical undertaking would place on the caster by directly drawing on a recently dead third party’s life force. Its runes are designed to include this ‘fuel’ in their material composition. |
If the character is aware of the ash and blood used to trace the runes, they confirm that these are the components needed. A character that is also referencing the Hereca spellbook (found in the ‘Basement Caves‘) finds notes referring to the caster also making use of an enhancement to their own abilities, though the method is not expanded upon.
Central glyph. At the center of the ritual and repeated throughout the Hereca spellbook is the symbol of the Eyes of Blood. A character that is not already familiar with the symbol can perform a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check to identify its components; a combination of the archaic alchemical symbols for life and death crossing over each, with the symbol of the ‘squared circle’, representing the philosopher’s stone, inside. The combined symbols form a rough eye shape in the center. A character may also learn this through their Intelligence (Arcana) check of the ritual or Hereca spellbook.
Developments. Finding the physical location of the ritual trapping the estate’s ghosts provides the opportunity to put an end to the spell. A character can destroy the ritual either by attacking or otherwise physically damaging the glyph (dealing 10 damage to the stone; immunity to poison and psychic damage) or by dispelling it with the dispel magic spell (DC 18) or a similar effect. If Ulrich MacHale and Gabrien Hereca have not been defeated, the former does everything he can to stop the ritual from being destroyed and freeing Gabrien.
If the ritual is broken, read the following:
A momentary spark ripples across the glyphs, building in brightness until it releases in a plume of vented flames. The pillar of fire fills the cavern with light. A wave of dry heat blasts outwards, throwing embers in every direction and extinguishing the candles. It lasts only a few seconds before dissipating. In the explosion’s wake, the cave is left dark and filled with thick smoke that attacks the lungs and stinks of sickening rot. Where the glyph was, there is only a scorched silhouette of the central symbol.
Ending Gabrien’s ritual breaks the binding spell that keeps the ghosts within the house. This gives the spirits the ability to leave and makes them aware that they can but does not force them to. Gabrien seizes the opportunity to escape, while any remaining MacHales converge to stop him. This leads to several of the adventure’s possible conclusions, depending on a number of other factors.
The many different conclusions to this adventure will be covered in a future section. How it plays out will depend on if the party has exposed Gabrien, if they have found the hidden study, and the fates of some of the house’s spectral residents.
After ghost appearances…
If Gabrien is brought to the active ritual, he shows elation over reaching it and the possibility of being free. Gabrien urges the party to destroy it and release the ghosts. He grows frustrated and impatient if the characters delay, claiming that they do not have long before the MacHales realize what is happening.
Developments. Gabrien only acts if the party grows visibly suspicious of him. As a last resort, he possesses the party member that he believes would be the easiest target, or whoever he knows would be able to end his possession of a different member. Gabrien demands the Hereca spellbook and bargains that he will only release the victim once he is free. If the ritual is destroyed, he attempts to leave through the door to the estate exterior, summoning his marked fading ghosts to harry the party. This leads to one of the adventure’s possible conclusions.
13. Ashen Cave
The darkness of the cave intensifies against the back wall, where unnerving streaks of blackened stone rise from a scattering of ash and other small debris on the ground. Looking up, the roof is likewise darkened above the same area. The coloration has set into the stone and stalactites through the collected moisture, leaving it permanently scarred.
Gabrien carved out the northern cave as a place to burn the bodies of the two Greybanner townsfolk he killed to power his ritual. Though he used most of the ash in the spell itself, the stains left behind still color the cave’s surfaces. Inspecting the walls and floor easily identifies the ash. A character that makes a successful DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check of the debris on the ground also notices fragments of bone and threads from a burnt rope, left behind from whatever caused the fire. On a 17 or higher, or a DC 17 Wisdom (Medicine) check, the character estimates that the quantity of ash and smoke would indicate two adult victims. The same Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check, or a DC 14 Wisdom (Survival) check, also reveals that the ash is smeared towards the southern cave, suggesting that the bulk of the ash was moved there.
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The party must next ascend the stairs to the house’s second floor, where further clues, mysteries, and a group of terrified bandits await. Our next section will cover the rest of the Manor’s rooms and what the characters can find in them. Will they find all of the key pieces, expose Gabrien’s deception, and finally put the house to rest? Or will they end up releasing Gabrien to continue his work? Check back to find out! Until then, you can also rewind to ‘Tournament Under the Grey Banner’s‘ Introduction or its first adventure, ‘Into the Bramblejade‘, and leave comments to tell us what you think or what we could improve!
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