Level 1, Room 16

01.16:Servant’s Mess

Access: A door in the north wall leader to the hallway off the greater dining room (01.15).

Description: This room was once used by the servants to take their meals and brakes while on their long, arduous shifts in Parenix Manor. It is well stocked with simple furnishings and dishes and cutlery, most of which is deteriorated and valueless. Pests have long since devoured any foodstuffs that were kept here. The small table where the servants ate is covered by a stained white cloth. Beneath the table, hidden by the cloth, is a skeleton dressed in the ragged remains of a maid’s uniform. It is curled up in the fetal position, as if the individual died hiding and covering their head.

Poor Anya: If perchance magic is used to speak with the spirit of the maid whose skeleton lies under the table, the following can be gleaned: Her name was Anya and she was a recent hire of the Alastairn family. On the night she died, there were many strange visitors to the manor, for some event Anya did not understand and the older servants cautioned her to ask no questions about. Near midnight, Anya heard horrible noises — chanting and screams and growls and roars and worse — and saw strange blue lights and shadows that had lives of their own. She ran and hid under the table. She remembers nothing else save an ice cold hand grabbing her by the wrist, then the eternal void.

Level 1, Room 15

01.15: Greater Dining Hall

Access: The greater dining hall is accessible through a locked and warded door in the south leading to the Welcome Chamber (01.12). There is also a door in the north wall leadinger to the grounds, a door in the west wall leading to the sitting room (01.11) and a door in the east wall leading to xxxxx (01.17). A hallway exits from the east wall as well, leading to the servant’s mess (01.16) or to the grounds near the kitchen (01.06).

Description: This room is exquisitely decorated, or at least was a century ago. Holes in the roof and the chimney have let the elements and pests in. Lacquered wood, polished silver, beautiful ceramics and lovely tapestries and paintings are all scoured by the decades. The main dining table is massive, surrounded by high backed chairs. Stools and small chairs surround the fire, apparently meant for minstrels or storytellers. There are cabinets here as well, holding spare dishes and tableware.

Feast of the Damned: If the PCs are present in the room upon the witching hour (3 AM) they will witness a most unsetting pantomime. First, the fireplace bursts into blue, heatless flame. Then the sounds of a low dirge played on untuned instruments can be heard as if off in the distance, soon followed by the clattering of forks and knives against china. After a moment, ghostly figures slowly coalesce: a troupe of musicians by the fire, a servant girl in the corner and figures at the great dining table. The man at the head of the table is the same man whose bust graces the door to this room, and his expression is a sour one. The others around the table are indistinct and shifting, perhaps representing different people through the ages. The patriarch seems to be castigating them — his words cannot be understood but boom through the room nonetheless — while stabbing and cutting at his plate. If anyone approaches to see what is on his plate, they see that same figure’s own head. The display goes on for a half an hour before the  images, sounds and fire fade (in that order).

Treasure: As with the lesser dining room, the silverware here is strange but still worth its weight.

Level 1, Room 14

01.14: Private Study

Access: There is a single access to the room, a locked door in the south wall.

Description: The Private Study is a tightly packed room, making it feel smaller than it actually is. Bookcases and cabinets strain with bound ledgers and other bookkeeping. A large mahogany desk is covered in more paperwork. The Alastairn family wrote everything in its own strange language or code. With enough study ( a few weeks) intelligent characters can learn to decipher it from the volume of material here. Most of the books are mundane accounting, but an interesting fact can be gleaned from those that can read the ledgers: most of the Alastairn family income came from mysterious “artifacts” sold to rare collectors, rather than any typical aristocratic business dealings. Most of the money out went to paying staff, providing salaries for family members, repairing and furnishing the manor, and the like. But savvy characters might realize that the labor costs are outsized for a manor that produced little on its own. Most of the workers were put to use digging into the depths of Mornrax hill (although the ledgers don’t say that specifically).

Hidden Drawer: There is a locked and secret drawer built into the desk. The lock is a five-ring combination lock. Each ringe has 6 possibilities, meaning there are thousands of combinations,a nd thus a random attempt has little chance of success. A skilled safecracker can employ their skills by feeling for catches and listening for clicks, however. Failure to open the lock in either manor results in the freezing of the lock (ie it cannot be opened without breaking it) and causes a pressurized vial of noxious acid to burst. Not only is the one attempting to open the lock exposed to the deadly poison, the contents of the drawer and ruined and unreadable.

If the lock is bypassed safely, the drawer is opened safely and a small leather bound journal is found. It is written in the same code as the rest of the documents in the study. The journal details the following puzzles and traps in the levels below Parenic Manner: [come back and fill this out as development continues]

The drawer also contains a silver letter opener that can be used as a dagger or sold for a neat sum, as well as a simple brass ring bearing the Alastairn family crest, used for sealing letters with wax. Neither is harmed by the acid.

Level 1, Room 13

01.13: Lesser Dining Room

Access: A door in the south wall leads to the Master Stair. A door in the west wall leads to the Welcome Chamber (01.12). This door cannot be opened from the Lesser Dining Room unless it has first been opened from the Welcome Chamber.

Description: A large polished oak table surrounded by tall backed, black lacquered chairs dominates this room. These furnishings appear normal, if certainly expensive, unless the legs are examined: these are carved into the shapes of curling, twisting columns of smoke or gouts slime or ribbed tentacles. The table is set with eight places: fine china a silverware that all seems slightly off, as if warped or partially melted. Cabinets with glass doors hold more dishes, as well as wine glasses and drink tumblers. This room is cleaner and drier than most of the rest of the manor, though some moisture and mold has entered through the chimney in the north wall.

All You Can Eat: If a character sits down at one of the place settings, the dishes suddenly fill with hot, succulent food. Eating the food restores health and vitality. However, as the character eats, the food replaces itself, and the character discovers they cannot stand from the chair unless they finish their meal — which of course they can’t. There are two ways to escape this trap: one is to simply break the dishes, ending the magic at that place setting. The other is to force oneself to purge what has been eaten, which causes damage equal to twice whatever eating the meal healed.

Treasure: The silverware in the room, including that in the cabinets, totals 12 sets, worth a lot in weight alone and more to a collector. Note that the magic is in the place setting at the table and so dishes can be taken from the room but will not fill with food anywhere but the table.

Level 1, Room 12

01.12: Welcome Chamber

Accesses: there are four doors in the room, one in the middle of each wall. The southern door is unlocked and un-warded, but each of the other doors is locked and warded until they are opened for the first time.

Description: The Welcome Room is an austere chamber, far from welcoming. The floor is a white stone tile. The walls were once plastered and whitewashed, but now the plaster is covered in mildew and crumbling, revealing rough stone masonry beneath. The door in the south is sturdy and normal in appearance. The other doors are heavy wood banded with brass and bearing a large relief also of brass. The east door depicts a woman’s face, severe and cold, wearing an intricate veil over her eyes. The north door depicts an old man’s face who frowns and glowers. The west door depicts a closed book, its cover etched with runes that if stared at too long cause the viewer’s head to spin with vertigo.

The Wards: The Welcome Room was a place of tests for guests come to Parenix Manor. Still in place after all this time but with no Alastairn alive to guide guests through them, they have become quite dangerous.

A character that approaches the east door is stopped by the woman’s face coming alive and speaking. “Speak thrice the name of the one who invited you here.” Failure to answer truthfully and accurately a member of the Alastairn family (and the PCs likely cannot) causes the face to scream in rage and fire a lightning bolt at the character. This does have the effect of draining the door of its magic until the next moonrise, however, and the door may be unlocked by normal means. The door leads to the lesser dining hall (01.10).

A character who approaches the north door is admonished by the face of the old man. “What is your business in Parenix Manor?” it demands. The only correct answer is, “To honor the master of the manor.” Failure to answer thus elicits a scornful snarl from the old man and the answerer is struck blind for 24 hours. The magic is drained from the door until the next moonrise and it may be unlocked by normal means. The door leads to the greater dining hall (01.15).

The western door ward does not harm one who attempts to come through but instead simply makes it impossible to pass through the door by any means. The only way to open the door is to whisper a secret to the book — a real secret, the admission of an act or thought never spoken to anyone before, no matter how trivial. When this is done, the door opens for that individual alone. If someone tries to slip through without telling a secret, the door slams closed hard, possibly causing injury. The door leads to the sitting room (01.11).

Level 1, Room 11

01.11: Sitting Room

Accesses: A door in the east wall leads to the Welcome Chamber (01.12), The first tiem this door is encountered, it is warded. See that room for details. There is also a door in the south wall leading to the Guest Stairs (01.09) and a locked door in the north wall leading to the Private Study (01.04).

Description: This chamber was once extravagantly decorated and furnished, intended to impress visitors to Parenix Manor. Over the century since the manor has been abandoned, however, the elements and pests have entered through the chimney. The once grand furniture — including multiple couches and chairs — and lush carpet are all soiled and deteriorated. The only piece of art in the room is painting above the fireplace of a hunt: a woman on a horse fires a blunderbuss at a two headed, fanged stag. The painting itself is surprisingly well preserved (it is in fact enchanted to resist decay) but the gold leaf frame falls apart if touched.

Treasure: In addition to the painting (which will fetch a good sum from any collector) a cabinet of fine liquor remains intact in the north east corner. There are 5 bottles of brandy, all unmarked as the labels have wasted away. One of the bottles has turned, becoming an indiscernible but  deadly poison.

Level 1, Room 10

01.10: Master Stair

Illumination: This chamber is lit by a brazier in the northwest corner that burns with a blue flame that gives off no heat.

Access: Sturdy locked doors access this room in the west wall leading to the foyer (01.08) and the north wall leading to the lesser dining hall (01.13). Stairs lead up to the master suit on the second floor.

Description: This area has faired better than the guest stair (01.09): though damp and musty, there is less mold and water damage and fewer pests have nested here. The stair are made of polished and lacquered hardwood, preserving them from the worst rot. The banisters are wood also, finely carved into an unsettlingly irregular form. A large armoire sits at the base of the stairs. Within are a few fine cloaks damaged by moisture and age as to be worthless.

Unseen Guardian: This room is not uninhabited. A geist thrall haunts here unseen, long ago summoned to both serve the Alastairn family and protect them from intruders. If any character tires to steal from the room or go upstairs, the geist thrall throttles them — which appears to onlookers like a fatal seizure. If the geist thrall is defeated, it is released to its final rest and the flame in the brazier goes out.

Treasure: One of the cloaks in the armoire is pinned with a valuable brooch: silver smoke on a sapphire pool. It will fetch a fine price, but was owned by Mithwell Alastairn whose spirit still resides in room 01.xx.

Level 1, Room 9

01.09: Guest Stair

Access: A door in the north wall leads to the Sitting Room (01.11). Stairs lead up to the guest hall (01.xx).

Description:  This once elegant little hall is filthy with water damage, mold and pst droppings. A large oil painting hangs crookedly on the stair wall. It is a portrait of the second generation of the Alastairn family, but is so warped and blackened that do member can be identified. In the south east corner there are the remains of a comfortable, elegant chair and a small bookshelf, both nearly collapsed. The books are mostly destroyed by time, water and pests, but one readable spine of a book remains: The Voices of the Outer Dark and How to Hear Them. The pages of the book are nothing but black mold and smeared ink.

Watch Your Step: The water damage here is extreme. The stairs are weakened about halfway up and anyone over 100 pounds in weight has a 10% chance per 10 pounds over 100 of falling through the stairs (100% at 200 lbs or more). A character can hug the wall and half the chance of collapse, or jump the gap if they detect the fault before stepping. The space beneath the stairs is infested with stinging, venomous centipedes that attack anyone crashing into their hive.

Level 1, Room 8

In addition to the room description, this one has the start of a “weird trinket and art generation system” for the manor.

Inside Parenix Manor

Parenix Manor was the home of the strange, ambitious, arcane and perhaps even evil Alastairn Family. Steeped in eldritch lore and willing to breach the veil between the many worlds for power, the family decorated their demesne with unusual baubles and weird artifacts. Some came from the far reaches of the world, but most were excavated from the extensive ruins below the manor in Mornrax Hill and deeper.

While some such baubles are detailed in the following room descriptions, they represent only a small portion of the items discoverable within the manor. Unless otherwise noted, any given room contains 1d4 such items. Depending on their size and nature, they might be trinkets forgotten on shelves, or great works of incomprehensible art.

Use the tables below to describe any given artifact. Simply roll a handful of dice: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10 and 1d12.

1d4: Size

Entries

1d6: Type

Entries

1d8: Style

Entries

1d10: Weird Factor

Entries

1d12: Dungeon level of Origin. NOTE: If a 1 or 2 is rolled, the item originated from some distant part of the world rather than beneath parenix manor. It is important to record the level of origin for any items the PCs choose to keep on their person, for reasons described in each dungeon level entry.

01.08: Grand Foyer

Accesses: Large bronze double door depicting the Alastairn family crest — an abstract image that brings to mind some rising from water — on the south wall connect the foyer to the Grounds. These doors are locked with a complex mechanism, but can be easily opened by smearing blood on the door. The blood must be from a fresh wound suffered by a living creature, but the creature need not be willing. Dried blood on the Grounds side of the doors hints at this method. A sturdy door in the east wall leads to 01.10 and another in the north wall leads to 01.12. Neither is locked.

Description: The Grand Foyer of parenix Manor is large and empty with marble floors and stone walls. Every step taken and every word spoken echoes ominously. At first it appears that the walls are unadorned, but if one stares long enough texture and shadows in the stone reveal an unsettling semblance of fog or smoke that seems to drift across the walls — or is it an illusion. Ancient coat racks hand on the east and west walls but cannot hold the weight of even a light cloak. In the northern corners of the room stand statues. In the northwest stands the marble image of a man: rail thin, sever of countenance, dressed in a minister’s gown. The statue in the west is a ruin, made of marble but seemingly melted like wax. What it might have looked like cannot be discerned but hints suggest it had been a female form: the hem of a dress, the curve of a bosom, a set of full lips twisted in a scream.

Level 1, Room 7

01.07: The Back Gate

Access: The back gate separates the Grounds from the lands beyond the manor’s walls.

Description: Once, a proud gate stood here. Its remains can still be seen laying in the overgrown grounds on either side of the path: two individual five foot wide, ten foot tall structures made of steel banded hardwood. Rusting hinges are still embedded in the stone walls. The gate on the eastern side had a man sized door built into it, which was used to allow servants and laborers in. The gates were only fully opened for official visitors.

Vestige of the Guardian: In the days before the fall of Parenix Manor and the Alastairn family, the back gate was enchanted. There was always worry that one day those people who lived in the vicinity of the manor might come with torch and pitchfork in hand, so the gate was reinforced with magical power: a spirit from the Realm of Wrath and Wind was bound to the gate. Careful examination of the remains of the fallen gates reveal intricate but subtle arcane marks.

The guardian remains, still bound to the gates despite their fallen, decrepit state. Where once it could have blown angry villagers away like a gale, it can muster little more than a cold, foul wind. Anyone who passes through the gate from the outside into the Grounds feels this wind and a sense of anger directed at them, but suffers nothing worse. If the gates are burned or otherwise completely destroyed, the guardian is returned to its home plane. Alternatively, the gates may be gathered up, repaired and hung (either at the manor or elsewhere), reinstating the guardian’s power and continuing its service.