The Mad Manor of Astabar [Levels 1-3; Haunted House]

The Mad Manor of Astabar [Levels 1-3; Haunted House]


Rating: +4
Favourites: 11

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The Mad Manor of Astabar [Levels 1-3; Haunted House]

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You have few complaints this night as you rest in the common room of the Crooked Crow Inn. While winter has passed, the night air carries enough of a chill to make any hearth a welcome sight.

The village of Havehollow is typical for this part of the realm. Livelihoods made from farming and livestock with a few merchants and the Inn catering to travelers along the kingsroad. Good folk who know that hard work is what's needed to make it through harsh times.

As you finish your meal you notice a fellow traveler, a rave haired woman, walk to the front of the common room with lyre in hand. She plucks a few practice cords then breaks into song.

Seasons come and go
Moons wax and wane
Time seems so slow
To the spirits of Havehollow...

This is an introductory adventure for 3-5 characters levels 1-3 but can easily be adjusted upward.
  1. seankreynolds
    Mad Manor of Astabar

    The criteria I'm looking for are:
    (A) encounters that play up various party roles (martial, skill, magic, etc.)
    (B) whether the adventure sites have a reasonable ecology (what, no bathrooms?)
    (C) the narrative flow of the overall adventure.

    There is a LOT of read-aloud text in this adventure, including a 38-line song. Some players aren't going to want to sit through that much GM reading—the game is about interaction, not listening to monologues.

    I like the challenge of the bard being a ghost and not knowing it, but some GMs will have difficulty in not letting that slip.

    I think many characters will become frustrated by the poltergeist activity, especially with them "resetting" the skull puzzle items every day.

    You know it's an old school dungeon when there's chess involved.

    I think this is a fun adventure that does a good job of using the various results of a wand of wonder to create themed encounter rooms, but is restrictive in terms of allowing the PCs to be creative in overcoming the puzzles and traps.

    (A) There's a reasonable number of encounters pointed at each party role.

    (B) There isn't really a functioning ecology in this place (the living creatures would need a supply of food, for example), but given the influence of the wand of wonder, that's okay.

    (C) This is a simple exploration-oriented adventure. The narrative flow is mainly the PCs agreeing to come here with the bard, exploring, discovering the bard's body, solving the skull puzzle, and dealing with the final "trap" on the wand. It's a little weird that there are two ways the PCs can just get stuck here until someone else comes along (the flesh to stone trap and the ethereal trap).
  2. Roland4269
    My gaming group of three 1st level characters (Paladin, Rogue, Sorcerer) enjoyed this adventure immensely. We used D&D Next rules. As DM I kind of favored them in some of the fights (Poltergeists mostly threw objects at the high AC paladin and tended to try to scare to two halflings (Advantage vs being Frightened). They took a little damage but short rested once and none of them ended up at 0 hit points, though the paladin was close once. I also had the NPC Bard buff them with her songs, even though she was a [SPOILER ALERT!!], but mostly she stood in the back and didn't do anything, and I gave the players a great many fairly subtle sixth-sense type of clues throughout the game, and they enjoyed the shock twist at the end. They figured she had a low intelligence and was fairly shy. I'm considering {Spoiler} that the wand has 1 more charge left and its use ends up bringing her back as a permanent NPC. The layout is good, the rooms are well thought out and the puzzles are great for new players. I like the theme and the reason behind all the weird stuff in the haunted manor, and the last floor has tons of goodness in it. I recommend this adventure.
  3. Lord Scythican
    So far I like this adventure! I haven't read everything and I will make some comments as I go through the adventure. I wanted to quickly point out an error on page 6. This chess match cannot be won in one move by moving the Black Knight from e-2 to c-3. The white king can move from d-5 to c-5 and avoid the check. In order to make this scenario work with one move by black, you need a pawn sitting in b-4.
  4. Phzoul
    An updated version of the adventure has been posted with the corrected chess board. Thanks for the feedback.
  5. Lord Scythican
    I plan on running this adventure Friday or Saturday as well. I will let you know how it goes. I also made a new monster to replace your black rhinoceros. I plan on having a NPC killed by the new creature. My players are used to being able to fight and kill most monsters, so I plan on really showing them that they better not fight this creature. If you want to check out my WIP of the monster, you can find it here:
  6. TheKeroloth

    I am probably late to the party, but I wanted to comment on this Masterpiece anyway. Short, spoiler-free Version: It was amazing and I absolutely recommend it.

    Slightly longer one (Beware possible spoilers):
    I have run this module for a group of friends I got together to play D&D. Two of them were fairly experienced Roleplayers, although not in 5e, and two were very new. I myself have never headed a Roleplay-Session before and so was quite nervous about this my first time in the DM chair.
    We had an incredibly good time with this module. The creative ideas with which the rooms in the mansion are filled, each with its own connection to the wand so central to the story, was very fun. My players were especially fond of the Apples of Colour and did not stop experimenting with them.
    The unpredictability of much of the house also really added to the enjoyment of the adventure.
    There were some specific points I would like to mention. They are not criticisms per se, just things I noticed while running it:

    -The thing with Rivanna did not really fly. As soon as I had mentioned (to the characters with high insight) that the other patrons in the inn did not take much notice of her, the characters were suspicious as hell. The fact that she did not touch her drink very much added to that, as did the fact, that she took care not to be touched by anyone (which they tried to determine if she was an illusion). They were surprised about the exact nature of her predicament when they had found her body, but since they had suspected something in that direction from the get-go, the twist lost a lot of its impact.
    In fact I would recommend not to have her appear in the evening but in the morning, whend there are less people and her not being seen by anyone else is not as abvious, as well as forego her song and just have her talk to the group directly. I will probably do that if I ever master the module again.
    I would be interested in the experience other people had with this problem.

    -I think the amount of magic gear needs to be dialed back considerably. +1 Weapons and a +2 bracer in a low-level Adventure strikes me as too much for the kind of low-magic-item-feeling D&D5 seems to be shooting for. Of course, your mileage may very much vary and it is easy to adjust the loot based on the kind of game you want to run. In the same vein, if the characters recover the charge-less wand of wonder, by RAW it regains charges every morning, which is another very potent artifact in the handy of your players, so beware.

    -My players got themselves all trapped on the ethereal plane, because when the fighter disappeared the rest followed him without hesitation and I had to improvise something about Astabars Pendant being able to disrupt the planar boundaries and destroy the wand. I think it turned out alright, but DMs should have a Plan B for this case (or be ok with letting everyone starve to death).

    -There are no stats for the monsters and the Monster Manual does not provide them in a few cases (Giant Butterflies for example).

    But aside from those minor points it was a very enjoyable module. I would definitely recommend it to any DM, especially ones willing to do a little preparation work, as the details and the writing are extremely good, the encounters based on the wand of wonder are very well thought out and it provides interesting challenges for many a type of Player Character, both in a combat and a non-combat way.
  7. SheWantstheD&D
    I started my first campaign on this and it was very well received - especially with Roll20's dynamic lighting mod.

    Things I changed:
    • Instead of a doppleganger in the pantry I used a Shadow. I couldn't make sense of a sentient creature just hanging out in the pantry. Plus, when the player token went into the pantry (all black tiles) they left with a barely perceptible aura which left them puzzled until the monster attacked.
    • I replaced the Rhino with a Giant Boar. Once the Wand of Wonders was dismantled it let the Boar go free which stalked them into the next adventure.
    • To keep the players inside the mansion they would sometimes hear the boar squealing or howling outside. I might have been a little influenced by AHS here.
    • I changed Rivenna to Raven (trivial) but instead of meeting her at an Inn they just happened to meet her on the road. A storm drives them off the road and they get attacked by the Giant Boar. Raven takes off running for the manor and they follow. I worried that it'd be a bit too obvious if they met her at an Inn.
    Things to watch out for:
    • The shrinking chest trap in Guest Room A and subsequent Giant Centipede attack was trivialized by a clever PC staying just outside of the range and stepping on or dropping things onto the centipedes. I added a difficulty to hit the centipedes without hitting their comrades but that didn't dissuade them... which probably says a lot about the players XD
    • The isometric map is pretty good but the top down wasn't as clear as I'd have liked; the rooms on the first floor seem to add up to an area smaller than the second floor. Perhaps I misread it but there was I think 5 or 10 feet extra on the second floor? I explained this as the house appearing Tudor-style or the first floor having thick stone walls.
    • The Gust of Wind obstacle on the second floor is great on the first go-round but as the players travel back and forth this tends to get tedious.
    • It'd be great if there were markers on the map for which skull was where for quick reference instead of reading through it.
    Favorite Moments:
    • We had a sort of "Ring" closet moment for that space under the stairs. That was a lot of fun and really set the tone for the rest of the adventure.
    • Aforementioned Shadow in the pantry
    • My tempest cleric ditched his armor for the suit in the library!
    • Both clerics looted the library for useful tomes which gave me the chance to plant the seed for the next adventure and over-arching campaign.
    • Our Rogue, in true rogue fashion, looted everything. Including the enchanted apples. He now has a discotech in his backpack.
    • The party split up. Two went into the servant's dining area and failed their saves. Instead of telling them the results I "cut away" to the other players. When they went back to check on their friends they found stone statues in their likeness.
    • The rogue used his climbing gear to put pitons and rope down on the floor of the main hallway on the second story, eliminating the Gust of Wind obstacle.
    • One of the clerics took the flaming sphere with him simply so he'd always have a warm bedroll or could use it as a portable iron.
    • The Imp closed the trap door on the last person retreating from the poltergeists in the attic. It was the first they'd literally seen it and it gave me the opportunity for Raven (renamed the bard NPC) to hold off the ghosts while the player dealt with it. The upshot, aside from being dramatic, was that the players cared a little more about finishing what she started.

    Bonus: I saved all of my Roll20 resources for this if anyone wants it. I made maps for each floor with complete furniture, created a separate page for the chess board, and separate map for the "enlarged" Guest Room A. Also created more realistic images for the skulls that have the symbols finger-painted on in blood.
  8. a015170s
    Looks fun! Will try for my first campaign.
  9. GelatinousDude
    This is a fantastic little adventure and you should be proud. The only thing I have done to modify is make the initial song a bit smaller, but that's it. It's great. Thanks for writing it!
  10. I_Am_Carll
    Im fairly new to this website and extremely new to DMing. I came across this website googling for simple pre-made campaigns to cut my teeth on so to speak and this was the first one to catch my eye. HOWEVER, I could use some help with a question or two that I had in regards to the statistics of everything except the "Monsters" on page 13.

    Things such as what are the Bard's (and other creatures) attributes, attacks, etc. (Or am i supposed to use the monster manual?)

    That all said, Really cool campaign and I look forward to giving it a try with my group (likely 2) people heh...
  11. Oticus
    I used this as a one-player one-shot for my wife while on a cabin trip. Coupled with some creepy music, this was a great quest as a one-off. Noticed some minor grammar and spelling mistakes in the text, but it didn't keep the point from coming across. We both really enjoyed the adventure and the reveal in the first room of the top floor eased frustrations from 'Rivana the Useless' and allowed some vague assistance in figuring out the missing pieces of the skull puzzle.

    With one player I had to balance the instant-KO mechanics of the flesh-to-stone room and the glyphs of the wand, but that added some tension and suspense instead of immediate frustration.

    All in all, great work. We both greatly enjoyed ourselves in your adventure.
  12. Plongsten
    this looks great. i have never tried my hand at DMing and am actually still in my first try of D&D. wanted to have a one shot DM go and will do this one i reckon

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