“Heads up! Here comes another one!”
Down the street, the party sees a few townsfolk leap to the side, taking cover, just as a kitchen table flies into frame and shatters against the cobblestone road, showering those nearby with splinters of broken wood.
If the party attempts to approach the scene, the townsfolk will yell for them to “watch out!” Have whoever is leading the party roll a Dexterity saving throw (DC 10) or else take 1d4 bludgeoning damage as a metal washbasin comes flying out of a nearby window and crashes into the player.
If the party takes cover alongside the townsfolk, they can safely learn what’s going on.
“That’s poor Arthur’s place,” one of them says, pointing to a sizeable house on the other side of the plaza, “It’s completely possessed and keeps coughing up furniture at people. Arthur’s trying to make peace with the neighborhood’s Home Owner’s Association as we speak, but they’re furious. If he can’t figure out what’s affecting his house, the HOA will make him move out and sell the place for coppers on the gold!”
At this point, the party can offer to help investigate and determine what’s ailing the house.
“I’m sure Arthur won’t mind if you just let yourself in,” the concerned neighbor says, “He’s desperate for any solution. Just be careful in there; we think some unsavory creatures took advantage of the home’s weakened state and have taken up residence.”
Advancing towards the front door, the party (this time everyone) must roll Dexterity saving throws (DC 10) or be battered by a barrage of assorted furniture and décor from the sick home, dealing 1d4 bludgeoning damage to those with failed rolls.
Floor 1: No Warm Reception Here
Entering the first floor, the players step into a frigid winter scene. The “bones” of the house, buried in walls of plaster, seem to rattle and shake with the chills. Spots on the floor are slick with ice, creating difficult terrain for the players to traverse.
If the players attempt to use any fire/heat-based spells, they will grant the house some temporary relief, but the cold chills will invariably return after only a few seconds.
Two Ice Mephits dart from around a corner, playfully throwing snowballs at one another. One flutters over to a frosted window and begins drawing silly pictures with his clawed finger.
If the mephits see the players before they can hide, the creatures will attack; roll initiative. Otherwise, the party can try to sneak around them if they prefer a stealthier approach.
After the mephits are destroyed/distracted, the players discover two possible directions to go: a stairway leading down to the basement and a stairway leading up to the second floor. If players try the basement first, they will find that the door at the bottom of the stairs is locked and requires a key to open. Of course, a rogue in the party might try to pick the lock using thieves’ tools, but set the DC somewhat high at 17 to encourage more exploration. Attempts to break down the door will prove fruitless, and the house will seemingly groan and cry out in pain with each attempt to break through.
Ideally, the players will proceed to the second floor.
Floor 2: It’s Got Cabin Fever
As the players ascend, they find the steps to be very slick, as though the house is sweating profusely, sending water rolling down to the first floor (which explains all the slick patches of ice from earlier). They also feel a dramatic temperature change.
Although the house continues to shake and rattle with chills, the air becomes oppressively hot and stuffy on his level. Touching the walls, players can feel a tremendous warmth radiating from the home.
As DM, you can decide what second floor rooms are up here, but the hallway should end with Arthur’s bedroom. The door is shut but not locked. Reaching for the brass doorknob, a player grips heated metal, burning their hand (1d4 fire damage) and forcing them to let out a cry. Have them roll a DC 15 Constitution save to see if they can power through the burning sensation and muffle their cry (thereby continuing to remain undetected by whatever is lurking on the other side of the door).
In Arthur’s bedroom, the players find a Magma Mephit bouncing up and down on the bed, laughing to itself, attempting to touch the ceiling and leave scorch marks with its claws. The players can try to investigate the room covertly or fight the mephit first. Note that defeating the magma mephit, just like defeating the ice mephits from the first floor, will not cure the house of its ailment; these creatures are just symptoms of the illness…not the cause.
In one of Arthur’s nightstand drawers, the players find various objects as well as a key to unlock the basement.
Depending on how much time the party stays up on the 2nd floor, you can narrate how they are starting to feel sympathy pains with the house and how the intense heat is beginning to make them feel sluggish and light-headed.
Basement: As Above, So Below
The basement is not any better.
Once the door is unlocked and opened, a wave of foul, noxious stench comes rolling out. Have all players roll a Constitution saving throw (DC 10) or take 1d4 poison damage and be inflicted with the status ailment “poison.”
Once their eyes have finished watering and have adjusted to their surroundings, the players see a fairly typical basement: stone walls, a fireplace/furnace, and crates/barrels stacked to the side. Some objects are covered in sheets to protect them from getting dusty; a high enough passing perception check can allow the party to notice that one of these sheets is moving a bit…something is crawling around underneath.
Unless the party makes the attack first and catches the creatures off-guard, two Giant Centipedes will come racing out and attempt to make bite attacks against the players.
Once the bugs have been satisfyingly squished, the players can investigate the basement more carefully. The walls are tender when touched, causing the house the shudder. On the farthest wall, the house seems particularly agitated when touched; there, lodged in-between two stone bricks , the players find a magical item called the Cat Scratch Fever Claw.
Once this claw is removed, the house will give a sigh of relief: the basement’s noxious fumes dissipate, and the temperatures on the floors above begin to regulate and return to normal.
Exiting the house, the players find that the townsfolk have come out from their hiding places.
“We figured it was safe once the furniture stopped flying,” one says.
The homeowner, Arthur, is also there now, looking at the players, beaming with gratitude. Next to him, looking completely unamused, is a tabaxi and the head of the local HOA. The party can, of course, reveal the mysterious item and try to “call out”/accuse the tabaxi. If the party can intimidate the tabaxi enough, the cat will break down and confess that, yes, he wedged the cursed claw into the basement wall in the hopes of driving Arthur away.
“I just couldn’t stand the tacky patterns on his curtains any longer,” the tabaxi grumbles, “I figured this would be an easy way to get him out and bring someone new into the community who has actual taste.”
DM Note: If your players already completed our encounter “Three Little Pigs”, this tabaxi could be either Huff or Puff of the B.B. Wolfe HOA.
If the players left any mephits or giant centipedes inside, the house will sneeze these remaining creatures up and out through its chimney before settling back and becoming just another typical, non-enchanted house.
As a reward, the players can keep the Cat Scratch Fever Claw. Although it has lost some of its magical potency, players can still lodge the item into a wall, once a day, and either increase the temperature in that room by 20 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour or decrease the temperature in that room by 20 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.