Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adventure 5 - You Can't Go Home Again

Continuing the series of September Short Adventures.

Horror Adventure 5 - You Can't Go Home Again
PLACEMENT
The south - the deep south, the Gothic south.  An aging knight returning home after the crusades.

SETTING THE SCENE
After a long career abroad, fighting religious wars on behalf of the holy Church, an aging knight is returning home to reclaim his birthright.  He lost contact with his family a half decade ago when his father passed, but was unable to come home and manage the estate; his wicked brother claimed the knight's birthright, and any letter the knight has sent since then has gone unanswered.  Expecting trouble from his brother, the knights pays well for tough adventurers as bodyguards to accompany him home.

The journey south is a journey back in time.  As the weather gets hotter and moister, the villages and settlements seem become more timeworn and in disrepair.  Occasionally they'll pass a distant castle or fort, some of the walls tumbling or overgrown.  If the knight were to impose on their hospitality, the group would meet lords and ladies hanging on to faded glory.

The area near the knight's village is overgrown and decayed; marsh and swamp have reclaimed the farms and cottages furthest from the village center.  One of the best kept buildings is the old parish church; the venerable priest still fondly remembers when the knight went off to squire for one of the northern lords, and the two share a friendly reminiscence.

The priest will warn the knight about going back.  After the brother claimed the estate, he brought in more foreign people - strange native folks from the colonies.  The family was always arguing about the brother's pagan wife.  Then there was the night of the storm, when the main house was struck by the lightning, and burned to the ground, killing everyone.  Folks say the ruins are haunted, and there have been many disappearances near the village since then; folks with means have been moving out, and the village is quickly dying.

WHAT'S GOING ON
The knight's younger brother traveled overseas in his career as a slaver and arms merchant, and discovered esoteric lore in the jungle colonies.  He married a primitive sorceress, and returned home to dominate the family with her powers.  The strain was too much for the father, and the entire family was thrown into turmoil as the brother brought more of his wife's people to the estate.  Tragedy struck when the brother and his native followers forced the entire family to perform a ritual honoring his wife's snake god; the ritual ended with the destruction of the mansion, and a worse fate for the family.

RESOLUTIONS
The aging knight knew his younger brother abandoned the merchant career after marrying a foreign woman, and brought strife to the family back with him.  Despite his grief, he'll insist on seeing the grounds for himself.
The estate grounds are crawling with snakes, and the group will be attacked by a threatening group of poisonous snakes on their way to the ruins of the house (I'd use LL Pit Vipers).

There were extensive wine cellars beneath the mansion and a family vault; the knight insists on seeing what treasures remain of his family.  In the cellars, the group is attacked by more vipers, and a pair of aberrant savage snake-men hybrids, a man and a woman (something like AD&D's Yuan-Ti).

The scavenged remains of the family treasure is in the vault, along with fragments of the brother's spell books, notes and diary.  They'll learn sordid details of half-glimpsed rites and primeval snake gods from overseas.  The characters and knight will be able to piece together the curse of the snake-god that transformed the household into monstrous vipers - and learn the final truth - the snakes the group has been slaying are the remains of the family!  (Betcha saw that one coming...)

ASSEMBLY REQUIRED*
Locations:  an overland journey south, the knight's village, the ruined estate
NPCS: the venerable priest, the knight
Monsters: lots of snakes, a pair of degenerate snake-people
Artifacts: fragments of spell books, remains of snake idols

*I'm going to go back and add this section to adventures 1-3, it'll help me keep track of things I need to stat out later for use at the table.

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