D&D 5E How to run Death House without killing your entire party

MrHotter

First Post
I plan to make the primary antagonist the Death House itself(!) It is no longer just an inanimate structure but a cursed, malicious entity trapped within Strahd's demi-plane. For example,

* The party will hear regular (once/minute) but faint, low-frequency "thumping" sounds when the house is "at rest." When it gets "excited", however, the volume and frequency will increase to suggest a heartbeat.

* Should the party damage the house or objects (not creatures) within it, it will react in "pain" by slamming doors, blood seeping from the walls, shuddering from an impact, etc.

* The Death House fears fire and will actively attempt to extinguish an open flame, including candles and torches, and will react violently to fire-based attacks that affect it -- including attacks that miss their intended target.

* Any blood spilled on the ground or walls will be absorbed quickly.

* Footsteps of characters the house does not like will be amplified when attempting to move stealthily plus doors will creak loudly when opened and slam shut when passed through. Characters that openly respect the house will not be affected.

Sweet.

I also like the idea of footfalls sounding too loud when trying to be quiet. You can add to that by having the sneaky person hear two more steps after they stop moving.

I'm going to have the party hear a baby crying before they open the nursery and have it stop when they look into the crib.

I also want to have whispers from inside the kids room and if they put their ear to the door they can hear the kids saying how hungry they are but how they are afraid to anger their father by making noise.

I'm still deciding how they can find out about the affair with the nursemaid. I may have missed the clues in the adventure, but I think it's something I want to players to know about. Perhaps when they are in the main bedroom one of the male characters will hear a whisper in their ear "come to my room tonight, your wife will never know...". Then before they decide what to do with the swaddled baby she could whisper to the same person, "protect our baby from your wife...".
 

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I was considering changing the end slightly...

[sblock]It feels to me that the end is intended to have a little Lovecraftian flavor. If so, shouldn't the monster rise up and devour the cultists that summoned it? Which doesn't work if they're apparitions.

So I thought I might have the ghouls and shadows fight to half HP and retreat to the back room. The house wants them to lure the PCs to the sacrifice room, not kill them, after all. So the monsters threaten them and fall back so that they can give them to the altar - and then when the heroes refuse, the shambler comes forth and begins by devouring the cult.

This is just my starting idea - it feels like it needs more development before use.[/sblock]
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I was considering changing the end slightly...

[sblock]It feels to me that the end is intended to have a little Lovecraftian flavor. If so, shouldn't the monster rise up and devour the cultists that summoned it? Which doesn't work if they're apparitions.

So I thought I might have the ghouls and shadows fight to half HP and retreat to the back room. The house wants them to lure the PCs to the sacrifice room, not kill them, after all. So the monsters threaten them and fall back so that they can give them to the altar - and then when the heroes refuse, the shambler comes forth and begins by devouring the cult.

This is just my starting idea - it feels like it needs more development before use.[/sblock]
I don't think it's so much that they're apparitions, it's that this is a curse, so the house is using its illusions to replay events. I think of Lorghoth as the only "living" remnant, who takes part in the "play" the House creates without truly understanding anything other than it gets him food. I think it's less Lovecraft and more Hammer Horror.
 
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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
A regular on RPG.net is a poster named "inku," who does graphics on request. I asked after the Durst family coat of arms in Death House, and they delivered.

8SAJnKo.png
 
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Jabborwacky

First Post
Actually, I'm interested in knowing how other GMs would resolve players attacking the floor boards. Particularly in the case of...

[sblock]... the animated armor on the third floor. Do you think the wooden floor on the lower levels would be able to withstand the shock of a falling suit of full-plate or should it keep breaking through the floor until it hits the lower levels? Additionally, should I make the rat swarms attack the PC's if some of them decide to try breaking through the wall to look for secret passages?[/sblock]
 

MrHotter

First Post
Actually, I'm interested in knowing how other GMs would resolve players attacking the floor boards. Particularly in the case of...

[sblock]... the animated armor on the third floor. Do you think the wooden floor on the lower levels would be able to withstand the shock of a falling suit of full-plate or should it keep breaking through the floor until it hits the lower levels? Additionally, should I make the rat swarms attack the PC's if some of them decide to try breaking through the wall to look for secret passages?[/sblock]

Here's what I think (spoilers for those who plan to be a player for the adventure):

[sblock]I thought about that as well. I'm thinking that since the basement is not in the shape of the house that it was dug out after the construction. The only place the floor would be thin enough to break into the basement should be where the trap door leads into area 3 on the first floor. Since the house does not even have that trap door until it wants to, then that should have dirt under it at first as well (in my opinion).

Anyone who is mapping or using a tactical map should notice the spiral staircase, and I would think that someone would suggest trying to chop down the wooden walls that hide it. I like the idea of rats coming out of the wall if the players try to chop a hole in it. The house can alter itself, so the players could just find bricks or rock behind the wooden wall until the house is ready to reveal the secret door. [/sblock]
 

Rils

Explorer
While a suit of armor is heavy, it's not THAT heavy that it's going to break through multiple levels of magically sustained floorboards. I doubt a falling suit of armor would even break through one layer of NOT-magically sustained floorboards. PC's chopping a hole under it is a great idea, but it's only going to fall to the floor below, not any farther.

And I agree with MrHotter - the rats only happen after the house is peeved at the characters. Until then, I'd play it as just brick walls or something. Like the [sblock]trapdoor in the floor downstairs, [/sblock], the house just simply won't let you find it until you meet the right conditions.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
I changed the final monster to a mummy. They realized very quickly that they would die in a fight (mummy rot) and opted to flee. I did the traditional "slow and relentless" monster (It was always about 60 ft behind them unless they did double moves or other fast movement.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I've converted "Death House" into a 3 hour game of Dread for four players, and it works fantastically well. One of my most memorable and enjoyable RPG experiences.
 

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