The Haunted Manor of the Shadow Minister

The Addams family manorThe Addams family manor

Our weekly adventures in Barkeep on the Borderlands are full of surprises.

In the last session (I know I’m late with the play report, sorry! It’s almost done, I swear. Edit: here it is) the party got accosted by a shady figure asking for a dirty deed: kill the Shadow Minister, and in exchange become fully fledged parliamentarians yourselves. Spoilers: they obviously accepted.

But where does the Shadow Minister live? They asked…

If you are one of my players, STOP READING HERE! You will spoil the fun of the next few sessions otherwise…

Are we good? Good.

A small but important premise

I dun goofed. I conflated the Gerrymancer and the Shadow Minister in my game, so now they are the same person.

Sorry, not sorry.

It inspired me to create this haunted mansion for my players to explore in the next few sessions.
Other quite obvious fonts of inspirations:

Random encounters and dungeon shifts

Hazard die

1d6 Effect
1 Encounter
2 Dungeon shift
3 Sign
4 Burn
5 Free turn
6 Free turn

Dungeon shifts

1d6 Dungeon shift
1 Light intensifies, shadows darken and lengthen toward you like fingers
2 Echo of a gavel thumping. Order! Order in the court…” shouts, cries, horses neighing
3 The walls bleed shadows, forming the shapes of chained voters casting ballots
4 The nearest open door/window closes loudly, locks if it can
5 Shadow rats erupt from a random adventurer’s backpack. Any ration that was there is gone.
6 The haunting cries of Jacob Pickens echo through the house


2d6 Encounter
2 The Shadow Minister: AP 2 (AC 13), LVL 3, HP 12, MOV 40’, MRL 7, ATK 1 cerimonial dagger (1d6), NA 1. Spells: Charm voter, Fire ballot, Fundraise dead
3-4 Jerk, the half-giant zombie majordomo: AP 3 (AC 14), LVL 2, HP 10, MOV 20’, MRL 12, ATK 1 fist slam (1d8), NA 1. Immune to biological and mental effects. Utterly silent. +5 bonus to grab (no damage), will try to physically pick up and throw out unwanted guests. Has the master key that opens all the locked rooms.
5-7 Skeleton servants (performing household chores): AP 0 (AC 11), LVL 1, HP 4, MOV 20’, MRL 12, ATK 1 improvised weapon (1d4), NA 1d4. Immune to biological and mental effects. Ignore the party unless attacked.
8-9 Giggling shadow: AP 2 (AC 13), LVL 1, HP 4, MOV 40’, MRL 6, ATK 1 (cold touch 1d6), NA 1d3. Immune to physical damage. Dispelled by strong light. Likes tricks and pranks.
10-11 Umbra, the shadow cat: AP 2 (AC 13), LVL 1, HP 4, MOV 60’, MRL 4, ATK 2 scratch (1d4), 1 bite (1d4), NA 1. Can teleport between shadows. The key of the alchemy cabinet is dangling from her collar.
12 Jacob Pickens, former Censor Morum: he was killed by the Shadow Minister’s goons when he caught them robbing ballots from the Semi-Parliament. He is a ghost now. He moves through the manor, bound by heavy rattling chains festooned with frayed voting slips and broken spectral ballot boxes, howling curses to the minister and all its minions. Emerges from a wall and disappears into another. Cannot interact with the physical world. Only visible at night.

The Manor

It stands in the Fort Ward, in a corner slightly apart from
the other houses.\
A modestly sized mansion on two floors, with a sad grey garden with dead trees around it.\
A thin and dark haze seems to always surround the building.\
There is a large entrance door in the front, and high windows (with drawn curtains) all around the walls.

Ground floor

1. Entrance Hall

Large stone columns line the dimly illuminated hall. Long shadows extend in all directions.

At the far end of the room there are stairs to the second floor. On the left an archway leads to the Dining Room. On the right an archway opens on the Sitting Room.

On each column hangs a portrait of a Monarch of the Keep.

  • In each portrait the shadow minister is hidden in the background, doing something heinous: poisoning wells, executing captives, burning witches, etc…
  • The current Monarch’s portrait has the shadow minister emerging red handed from a secret passage behind a painting.
    • Behind the painting there is a secret alcove, containing 1d6 jet-black cigars in an humidor. A lit cigar keeps burning for 10 minutes and turns the smoker into sentient smoke for as long as he can hold the smoke in (10 seconds for each point of CON with no check. After this time, check CON every 10 seconds or forcefully exhale coughing loudly). Worth 250c each.

Dungeon shift: all the monarchs in the paintings turn their heads and glare at the intruders.

2. Dining Room

A well appointed chamber, dominated by a large wooden table surrounded by several chairs.

A modest wooden door on the north side leads to the Kitchens.

A couple of armors in royal colors with long halberds stand guard at the sides of the archway.

  • The plate and weapons are clearly just decorative, but the helmets can protect from one blow before shattering.

The chair at the head of the table is larger, higher, and has an elaborate backrest.

  • If anyone sits there a silver bell rings, and a few moments later 1d4 zombie servants come in the room from the kitchens, bearing trays laden with gourmet dishes: freshly baked bread rolls with raisins and walnuts, apple stuffed quails, cheese with honey and fruit compote, etc…

Dungeon shift: The armors lower their halberds across the archway, blocking the passage. They do not move easily.

3. Kitchens

Smell of smoked meats, baked bread, and fried lard, with an undercurrent of rot. A large cauldron is bubbling on a roaring fireplace.

A small locked door leads to the Pantry.

A zombie chef is busy frying bread slices in lard. He uses his fingers to taste. Sometimes a piece of finger detaches and gets fried too.

  • Ignores the party entirely if unprovoked. Stats as Skeleton Servant, but defends himself with a meat cleaver (1d6).
  • Has the key to the pantry in his filthy apron.

On a 1-in-6 Umbra is here, licking fat drips off the floor.

Greasy cupboards line the room walls.

  • Inside there are plates, flagons, pots, and skillets. In a far corner there are 1d4 jugs of tallow.

Dungeon shift: a large knife suddenly flies from the kitchen counter and gets stuck in the wall behind the party. Everything seems all right, until the zombie chef’s head detaches and tumbles to the ground. He continues to cook, unfazed.

4. Pantry

Cramped room with rickety shelves all around, overflowing with gourmet food.

  • Hidden behind piled sacks of potatoes and onions there are a couple of ballot boxes marked with the sigil of the Quasi-Parliament, full of voting slips. If found, the ghost of Jacob Pickens will appear and beg you to return them, so he can finally rest in peace.
    • Returning the ballot boxes influences the voting by 1d10% toward the Incumbent. Jacob will be finally released and disappear, but before doing so he will prophetically tell the party who had the healing elixir the day before.

5. Sitting Room

Red and gold wallpaper with a diamonds pattern, dark red leather sofas and armchairs, a low table with a crystal decanter and glasses.\
A curtained opening leads to the Games Room.

  • 4-in-6 chance that Umbra is napping on one of the sofas.
  • The decanter is half full of Tanar’ri San Giovese, worth 500c

A large harp carved from rough and thorny wood sits in the corner of the room.

  • The sound of the instrument is beautiful, but it’s painful to play: thorns get into your finger, splinters under your nails. If you persist take 1d4 damage and make a CHA check with a +5 bonus to charm a creature that can hear you play. The effect lasts 10 minutes (1 turn).

Dungeon shift: a haunting melody plays by itself on the harp. Pass a CHA check or remain captivated for 1 turn.

6. Games Room

Very low light, with a greenish hue. No windows.

A couple of fencing sabres affixed on the wall.

  • They are real sabres, and very sharp.

A dusty glass display case

  • 3d4 trophies, all second or third place. The silver and copper details make them slightly valuable (10c each).
  • A brand new deck of playing cards, royalty themed.
  • A set of carved bone dice.
    • Cursed: while holding the dice the gambler is always 100% sure the next throw will be a winner.

A large pool table in the center of the room.

  • Balls are scattered on the baize. If touched they will rearrange themselves in the middle of the table, ready for the next match.
    • If a cue is then picked up, a Giggling Shadow will emerge and challenge the character to a game:
      > Five balls worth 1 point, four worth 2 points, three worth 3 points, two worth 4 points, and lastly one ball worth 5 points\
      Choose one ball and check Dex against 11 + its points value: if you succeed you putt the ball, add to your points total, and continue playing; if you fail your turn is over; if you fail by 10 or more your turn is over and you subtract the point value of the ball.  The 5 points ball has to be holed last 

    • If the challenger cheats in any way, the balls loudly explode in puffs of smoke (roll for random encounter), and the shadow attacks.

    • If the challenger wins honestly, the shadow bows and offers a small vial full of a pitch black liquid as a prize. If drunk, the shadow of the imbiber will detach but stay under their control for one hour. The shadow can interact with objects through their own shadows.

Upper Floor

A corridor branches east to the Studys locked door, to the west toward the Master Bedroom

7. Master Bedroom

Completely dark. Very creaky floor.

A four-poster bed in the middle of the room.

  • If not encountered before, the Shadow Minister is asleep here, snoring lightly.
  • On a 2-in-6 Umbra is also napping on the bed.

A studded leather casket stands at the foot of the bed.

  • Full of silken pajamas, worth 300c.
    • Beneath the pajamas, there is a magically trapped false bottom: INT check VS shadow geyser (2d6 damage, loud).
      • Inside there is an assortment of jewelry worth 700c.

A vanity desk opposite the bed, with a large mirror, a collection of powdered wigs, and various bottles and vials.

  • Perfume bottles and cosmetics are worth 100c.
  • A small locked drawer
    • Inside: a dark rimmed monocle that grants the user both darkvision and light sensitivity (blinded by direct sunlight, -5 to all checks in illuminated conditions)

A large wardrobe at the bottom of the room

  • Inside: lots and lots of top hats and anonymous black coats. The key to the study is in one of them.
    • There is a 1-in-6 chance that someone searching the pockets will find the key in the first turn, 2-in-6 in the second turn, and so forth…
1d6 Other things found in the pockets
1 Shadow lint, dissolves in your hand after being exposed to light
2 Half eaten candy bar, cherry flavor
3 1d6 coins
4 A biting spider. Check WIS to not scream in pain
5 A crumpled invitation to a meeting of the Rogue’s Gallery at the Savings and Lonely Heart Club
6 The key to the vanity desk

8. Study

Completely dark. Unpleasant chemical smell. Boarded windows.

Bookshelves cover the walls.

  • Books span the gamut from boring political treaties, to hermetic arcane texts, and incomprehensible diaries of raving madmen.

A large and busy desk, covered in vials and codices.

  • Marginalia scrawled on the scattered pages about a mass charm voters brew. Requires unicorn blood.
  • 1d6 unfinished experimental potions
1d6 Positive effect Negative effect
1 Heal 1d6 HP Projectile Vomiting
2 Levitate 10 inches from the ground Sneeze with near gale force
3 See through walls Fall asleep
4 Become semi-transparent Get blackout drunk
5 Understand any language Shrink to half size
6 Sense gold and gems in a 30m range Grow hairs all over your body

A small but sturdy cabinet

  • Locked with a very tough looking lock.
    • A shadow cat is drawn in relief on the lock.
  • If smashed open or otherwise mishandled, 3-in-6 chance the content will shatter.
  • Inside: 1d6 random alchemical ingredients, plus a vial of unicorn blood.