Adventure of the Empty House: The Adventure

  1. Guide’s Background
  2. Adventure of the Empty House
  3. The Upstairs

The adventure will mostly consist of trying to track down why the doors and shutters keep opening, and why the basement door is stuck, and finally confronting the Oruat either in the basement or perhaps in the upstairs room. This adventure involves only one real variable for you to keep track of: the Oruat. There are few secrets in this house, and no dungeons filled with a multitude of strange creatures. You can add as many variables as you feel comfortable adding. If the player characters are trustworthy, the neighbors may talk to them about the old man, who had been there longer than any of them. Or you might add other events going on in the city, such as a heat wave, a storm, elections, or strikes.

Larger adventures will often have many more variables for you to keep track of. You’ll need to simplify your job by ignoring irrelevant variables until such time as they are needed. As you guide players through more adventures, you’ll learn to draw in those variables that the characters have set in motion which would normally be outside their current situation, and you’ll get better at handling adventures where more things happen.

In between the rest of the adventure, the cleaning, painting, and repair of the house requires about five hours a day to complete, for 32 days divided by the number of working characters.

The Adventure: Crosspoint

As you walk up the steep streets of Seapoint Hill, you look around at the warped and weather-beaten homes. If you turn and look down the hill, you see the docks far in the distance, and the fishermen coming in from the bay. The odor of dead fish wavers in the air even this far up. Most people who see you pay no attention to you. Those that do pay attention deliberately ignore you.

It is early autumn in Crosspoint, the foggy season when fog rolls in from the sea and blankets the town in the evenings. Crosspoint is the largest city on Crosspoint bay, which is the center of a trading route that spreads north to the barbarians and pirates, south to the principalities of Great Bend, and west to the leather road and Black Stag. Ships bound for or from Great Bend to the South regularly enter and leave Crosspoint’s harbor, and caravans regularly leave for the north and west.

Closer to the docks, streets are tight and houses snug. Alleys lead circuitously behind and between homes. In autumn (and sporadically throughout the year), fog rises nightly from the bay, and blankets the town when the weather is calm. The ocean to the east and the mountains to the west ensure tumultuous weather year-round.

Crosspoint is built on hills surrounding the bay. As in most cities, the waterfront area is the worst, and the high hills are for those who can afford to isolate themselves from the city.

The neighbors

The neighbors mostly want nothing to do with the house or the adventurers. They work long hours at the docks or in the market and don’t want any trouble. Most people in this area rent. Anastor Road runs east-west, down Seapoint Hill toward the docks. The docks are about five blocks further down. Spring Street runs north-south, and is hilly.

Some of the people who live here are on the rise; others are on a downward slide into obscurity and poverty. Bartley Marston, the retired sea-captain who lives behind the abandoned house, is a bit on the positive side of senile, a nice enough man but gruff and set in his ways. You may decide to use him as a bit of comic relief, and perhaps to provide some strange stories about vampires or giant bats in the abandoned house. He was the only person to still visit the old owner when he was alive.

The house and ground floor

Your destination, similar to most houses here, is covered in peeling paint. A skeletal oak, untrimmed and hugging the front of the house, has dropped all of its leaves into the porch and front yard, if you can call it a yard. The leaves have begun to rot. The house stands like a haunted house in a haunted neighborhood, with ghosts behind shuttered windows. A damp wind blows dry leaves into the yard to join the wet, rotting leaves already there.

The house is near the waterfront, halfway down Seapoint Hill. It is old and out of its prime, like most of the houses in this neighborhood.

Light sources

Other than windows, the light sources in this house are candle holders, which may be carried from room to room. There are no built-in light sources, unless you count the fireplace.

Strange noises and invisible creatures

Before the characters meet the Oruat, you should give them strange noises that have no monster behind them. The house is old. A strong wind will cause the walls to creak. The oak out front touches the house; a light wind will cause its branches to scrape against the upstairs wall and shutters. Mice crawl in the walls, and rats knock things over in the kitchen as they search for new homes if the characters force them out of their old ones. The kitchen snake can easily fit through holes that are practically invisible to unperceptive characters; if they turn their heads, or if it can find a corner to run around, it may well disappear, only to reappear later in another part of the house.

Wandering monsters

There are no random encounters in this adventure. Outside, the only encounters will be with neighbors. Inside, there are five creatures the characters are likely to run into: the Oruat, rats, bats, spiders, and one poisonous snake that likes the kitchen area. Rats and mice are unlikely to be seen unless the characters walk quietly into a room. Mice will not attack. Rats and bats are unlikely to attack, although the rats may try to steal any food that the characters bring. Spiders are not poisonous, and, while ubiquitous, are of the normal, tiny, though plump, variety. (You may use this to your advantage while the characters sleep.) Whenever things slow down, bring in mice, spiders, rats, the snake, and, finally, the Oruat. The Oruat are unlikely to attack any group of three or more, unless the group appears weak or the Oruat are very hungry. Remember that the Oruat can scream as a special ability.

Rats (Animal: 1 pt; Move: 10; Survival: 1; Defense: 0; Damage: 1, Number: d4)

Snake: see room 4, the kitchen

Oruat (Evil, Fantastic: 2; Move: 8/20; Survival: 13 (Tanino), 11 (Koronaeg); Defense: 4/5; Attack: short swords; Special: scream)


The front yard

An overgrown walkway leads up to stone steps that in turn climb to the front porch. Unkempt bushes grow wild on each side of the walkway. Tangled grass and weeds cover the walkway, and leaves from the oak to the right of the walkway are rotting on the steps.

The front yard has gone wild, and if they remain or poke around a lot, feel free to give them an encounter with some rats or the poisonous snake.

1. Front porch

The boards creak as you step onto the covered porch. Puddles on the porch testify to the awning’s poor condition. A porch swing, its pink paint peeling badly, sways slightly in the breeze, its chain links squeaking against each other in time with the wind. The shutters on the door and on the wall are closed.

If they’ve been relatively stealthy, let them surprise a rat or some mice, which scurry away as the characters walk in.

2. Dining room

You turn the key in the rusted lock, and push the door open. The hinges scream as light pours into the darkened room from behind you. A wide, oval table, slightly warped, dominates the room. There are closed shutters to your left, and an opening to your right leads to another open space. Shelves covered with odd ceramic shapes separate this room from another room to the north.

The “odd ceramic shapes” are tiny statues of animals and monsters. See room 4, the kitchen, for more information.

The window, when opened, looks over to the Simons’ house. The space between the two houses is enough for a single carriage should it be necessary; it clearly hasn’t been necessary for a long time.

The old man hadn’t used the dining room in years.

3. Drawing room

Windows to the east and west allow light into this room; it shines off of the dust of the floors. A few rugs lie in the center and on the sides of the room, and two solid chairs stand at the south wall. The fireplace in the northwest corner still holds a few ashen logs. On a shelf running above a couch along the north wall, a few portraits hang amidst candles in bronze holders.

The eastern wall is where the piano used to be. There is now a rug there, covering the marks it made on the floor and the difference in coloration due to sunlight.

The piano has long since been sold, but a few portraits remain on the walls. There is a portrait each of the old man and his wife when they were young, and a portrait of the old man’s parents (the player character’s father’s brother and wife).

The piano room has a fireplace (f). However, the chimney is mostly blocked with leaves, dirt, soot, and shit. If the characters start a fire, as much smoke will come into the room as will go out the chimney. There is a 20% chance of the chimney starting fire in the first hour of use, and a 10% chance every hour thereafter. (It isn’t really the chimney starting fire, but the stuff in the chimney.) If the chimney starts fire, the upstairs room (3) will be nice and toasty. There will also be a 30% chance of the roof starting fire (which means that the house will start fire) if the chimney fire is not put out within half an hour, and another 10% chance if the chimney fire is not put out within an hour. If the roof does not start fire, the chimney will clean itself out in an hour.

If the roof starts fire and is not put out within the next fifteen minutes there is a 30% chance that it will spread to neighboring houses. This would not be good.

This is where the old man was found with the stray dog (which was blamed for his death). A candle holder on a small end table by one of the chairs is burned down to the nub.

The Adventure: 4. Kitchen

A small table in the northwest corner of the room still has a plate on it with a smidgen of dried food, and a ceramic mug. Ants mill aimlessly about the table and floor, and around the small urns on shelves in the northeast corner. The south wall is made of shelves, on which stand odd ceramic bric-a-brac. A dragon fights a tiger, a ship sails on the back of a whale, and tiny gnomes frolic with satyrs amidst the old man’s plates and glasses. In the southeast corner, a small hole opens onto a fireplace. Cast iron shelves allow the placement of pots and pans.

The old man had let his servant go, and was handling everything, including cooking, himself. The south wall, with the bric-a-brac, is not really a wall, but shelves. Through the shelves the dining area is visible. The old man used the kitchen table for dining, however, and rarely used the dining room.

The whale is worth five shillings, the dragon and tiger is worth eight, and the tiny gnomes are worth three (two of them are chipped). The plates and glasses are worth about 15 shillings total, and they could probably get 15 to 30 shillings for all of the pots and pans here.

A poisonous snake is here 50% of the time, coiled in the southwest corner.

Snake (Animal: 1/2; Move: 12; Survival: 2; Defense: 2; Damage: 1; Special: Poison, strength 1, damage 1, action time 1 minute)

5. Water closet

A white ceramic tub, scummed with layers of grey, is on the right; a large water jug sits next to it on the floor. Brushes, clothes, and soap are on a shelf above the tub, and a razor and mirror are on a table on the other side of the room.

6. Master bedroom

A high, round translucent window allows the morning light into this room. The four squares projecting a light cross upon the floor. Ornate knotwork carvings repeat in square patterns across the nut-brown walls, and a canopied bed stands in the northeast corner beneath the window. An ornate bureau with an oval mirror built into it, on the west wall, has underclothing draped over it and a tattered jacket hanging over the side.

The window in this room is a high window, seven feet off the ground and touching the ceiling. Glass is an indication that the owner of this house, at least at one time, had some decent money. This is the only window in the house with glass. It was for his wife. The glass is not modern clear glass, but allows for the detection of movement beyond the window.

The ornate designs on the south wall hide the door to a “secret” closet. This is a style of woodwork that attempts to keep extraneous features (such as doors to minor rooms) from intruding on the design.

The wall slides open to reveal a small room, filled with old clothing. The styles and the holes attest to the age of this wardrobe. A large white pot, stained with age, sits in the front of the closet.

7. Back shed

Hooks hang from the west wall, holding only a single old jacket and a scarf. Old boots are on the floor below the hooks. Stairs go down to the east, and another door is directly opposite you a few feet away.

The door to the basement stairs has a hook-and-eye lock which, when the characters first enter the house, is unlocked. If they lock it, the Oruat will have to break out, though he will try to do so in a manner that allows him to close the door and spike it shut later. The door opens inward, toward the basement. Unless some weird precautions are taken by the characters, the Oruat will be able to remove the hinges to open the door.

Once the Oruat knows that there are people in the house, he will try to keep the basement inaccessible. The obvious choice is to spike the door shut so that it cannot open without forcing it open. Forcing it open when it is spiked shut will require a strength roll at a penalty of four.

Just about any decent home will have a foundation and a pantry or full basement. Most homes in this area, however, are not decent homes, so the presence of a good foundation marks this as an older home, from before this area was heavily settled by the poorer classes.

8. Empty woodpile

Beneath the upper floor, which overhangs this storage area, bark and bare ground are all that remain of what must have recently held much firewood. It is dank here, and still smells of old wood.

The neighbors have taken his supply of firewood, since he no longer needs it. There is a 10% chance of encountering the poisonous snake from the kitchen (room 4) here.

  1. Guide’s Background
  2. Adventure of the Empty House
  3. The Upstairs