The next scenarios or situations are suitable whenever the PC’s are visiting or spending the night in a castle or keep. It could be an abandoned or empty building, or they may have been invited to spend the night. If the PC’s decide to sneak around the place and find the cellar then the encounter is triggered.
1.- Morbid hobby
After the flight of stairs, the cellar door stands before you. This part of the castle seems mostly unvisited. As you open the door it creaks loudly, but other than that, there is silence and darkness inside.
Suddenly a whisper calls you from the darkness. “Please, let me go” it keeps saying, the voice broken and miserable.
When the PC’s explore the room with a source of light (or dark vision if applicable), they find a torture room, all kinds of different instruments and tools to break a person. There is someone here, his name is Goffric, he is the son of a shoemaker from a nearby town. He is tied to the wall, marks all over his body from almost a month of torture. He is broken and miserable, his left foot is maimed and he’s missing some fingers and toes. The castle’s lord periodically has people brought here to torture them, it’s his hobby. If confronted, the lord will try to cover his tracks and threaten to have them arrested for false reasons.
All over town people talk of the haunting spirit that inhabits the keep’s cellar. Stories change depending on who you ask, but some say there is a lady with a white dress. Others mention the weird sounds coming from the cellar.
After surrendering to your curiosity, you open the door to the haunted section of the keep. It’s been used as a storage place, although no one’s entered here in a long time. Your rummaging is interrupted by a breathy sound. Turning around, you see a young woman wearing a white dress and floating over the floor. She is translucid and approaches slowly. Her attitude uncertain, but she seems calm and timid.
She is the ghost of Catalina Trimm, a lady-in-waiting who died in this room almost 100 years ago. She is not aggressive and will only attack in self defense, favoring hiding if possible. Her soul can’t find rest because the person who killed her, dragged her body to a dungeon under the keep. Her remains have to be buried in the town’s graveyard to find peace. She can explain this much. She can also point them to a secret entrance in the basement that leads to the long forgotten dungeon.
No one remembers her, but if the PC’s consult the local priest, Father Lavorind, he finds a record of her in an old heraldry book. He can confirm her identity. Catalina Trimm was the lady-in-waiting of Lady Varin Oclusk, almost 100 years before, it is recorded that Catalina disappeared, but believed to have left the town.
3.- Magic beacon
The castle is a thing of legends, they say that in forgotten times the local house fought legions of giants and succeeded. Its rooms house paintings and frescoes of ancient members of the family, legendary heroes and giant-slayers. Bards sing songs and rhymes about these achievements. This is part of the city’s renown. Very few know that it is in fact true.
As you sneak through the castle, an indescriptible feeling overcomes you and leads you to the cellar’s door. Behind it, in a room used to store old furniture, everything is under a deep layer of old dust. There is a wooden chest in a corner, and inside it, you unveil a battle-horn. It’s ragged and old, but the precious stones embedded in it, shine like the first day they saw the light.
The horn is and intelligent artifact, Morak’s Horn. It was lost to the ages, slowly regaining its lost power. It was used by the founders of the old city to attract and weaken giants. Thus giving the town its reputation. The horn selects a random PC to go get it, it functions like a suggestion spell (DC 19) that compels him/her to find it and blow it. Once the horn is blown, nearby hill and fire giants will feel compelled to attack the town. If the horn is blown in the presence of a giant, he is paralyzed for one minute (Con save DC 19).
Local authorities will blame the PC’s for the sudden increase in giant activity, if they discover that they blew the horn. Either way, they will welcome their support in defending the city. The horn can be used again to compel giants to converge on the horn after one month.
4.- The map
This part of the castle is not guarded. It almost seems like they don’t even care. The dirt, dust and empty sconces a big contrast with the rest of the well-kept castle. The cellar is empty except for some barrels and a chest. The barrels contain oil and tar, reserved for a siege defense but long forgotten. The wooden chest is reinforced and locked.
The chest’s lock can be opened with a thieves’ tool check (DC 15), attempting to open it reveals that it is also vary frail with age and rust. It can be broken with a Strength check (DC 14, advantage if using a crowbar). The map shows the way to a place 4 days away from the town. In the side of a hill the PC’s can find the hidden entrance to some catacombs. A short dungeon (DM designed) can be inserted here, along with more treasure is a beautiful silver tiara with rubies. It’s not magical but it is an ancient relic that belonged to Queen Admenara d’Lys. This information is impossible for the PC’s to obtain. If one of them keeps and wears the tiara, a scholar in town might recognize it and try to repossess it for the local museum, he won’t offer any money but even if he is refused, the exchange will be noted by other power groups. A local thieves guild, once in the know, will target the PC’s to get the tiara, they won’t be playing and will send trained assassins to do it.
If the PC’s sell the tiara, they later find out what it was, as it is in possession of the thieves guild. The town guard or a noble from the castle could hire them to take it away from the guild. Why is everyone after it? It’s the last remnant of the d’Lys royal family, and according to an old document, kept in the museum, whoever has it can claim possession of Fort St. Luque. A military Fort some miles to the south. Whether the soldiers at the fort will comply with the document or not is unknown, but for the moment, possession of the tiara is everyone’s priority.