While your party walks through a specific neighborhood in a city, the townspeople seem very uneasy. When prompted, they will complain about various examples of (relatively minor) bad luck happening to them as of late. Some worry that the neighborhood has been cursed.
A guard is standing at a corner. When asked about the situation, he explains that, for months now, the neighborhood has been under some sort of curse; cleansing rituals haven’t worked, and many of the families can’t leave because property values are dropping. To make matters even worse (or maybe just stranger), over the past couple of days, people have complained about break-ins. However, nothing is ever really stolen; their furniture is just moved around some. Regardless, it has reaffirmed suspicions for many that something demonic is at work in this neighborhood.
Walking further, you will notice someone in a hooded cloak climbing out of a window. Pursuing this figure will lead you to a house that’s incredibly clean and very aesthetically appealing. Likewise, you can also confront the figure if you grapple them to the ground.
The cloaked figure is an older women. She apologizes for the break-ins, but explains they’re absolutely necessary. According to her, the reason this neighborhood is cursed with negative energy at all is because people have tacky tastes in their homes and have forgotten the lost art of feng shui: arranging furniture in homes following specific guidelines to restore harmony.
Since no one believes her, she’s been having to do this rearrangement herself, and it’s proving to be difficult for her old bones.
She asks if you will help her by breaking in and rearranging just a couple more homes. If you agree, she will give you a neighborhood map; some houses are already crossed off, but three more are circled. She will also teach you the lost art and hand you a few small bamboo plants to leave behind in each house.
The circled houses on the map, she thinks, are the most poorly decorated of all and, if they can be “corrected” in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui, then enough balance would be restored to lift the supposed “curse” on the community.
The First Two Houses
The party can divide and conquer or tackle each house together. When approaching the house, a D8 is rolled to determine what the party encounters. If the same number is rolled twice, trigger a different event:
- As the party breaks in, they find another actual thief who has broken in. There’s an awkward stand-off or a battle depending on what your party says to the thief. If you explain your purpose, you could diplomatically convince the thief to only steal the tackiest items that are disrupting the flow of energy: hideous paintings, tacky figurines on tables, etc.
- As the party breaks in, they find a family sitting down for dinner in the dining room (which is the most cluttered and tackiest room of all). The party will need to distract the family and get them out of the room (or out of the house) without inciting them to find guards.
- As the party breaks in, they find a meeting in process for an organization called “The Blind Farmers Union.” Everyone in attendance is blind. Also, one of the farmers clearly lives here, as pictures are hanging upside down and much of the décor is hideous.
- As the party breaks in, they find that the house is lavishly decorated with taxidermy. Not only that, but the owner has clearly tinkered with the taxidermy so that, when the animals are touched in any way, they activate, moving wings, arms, etc. and singing little Bardic songs through arcane magic. If enough of them are activated, a guard will come in to investigate; your party can try hiding by posing as “animatronic-esque” taxidermy themselves, polymorphing, or other means.
- As the party breaks in, they find that the house is completely empty of all furniture (except for a little side table with a flier that says that the property’s “open house” for prospective buyers is in a week). Now, in order to restore order, the party will literally have to acquire some furniture and put it into the house.
- As the party breaks in, they find a bard, living in a messy home littered with crumpled up pages of old songs. The bard is drunk and thinks that the party is a band of muses come from some divine realm to inspire him on what his next song should be. The bard will not let the party leave until they have inspired him.
- As the party breaks in, they find a normal house (although poorly decorated), but also a small dog that barks loudly, alerting passersby outside. The dog must be distracted/played with/fed during the whole process in order to not raise alarm.
- As the party breaks in, they find a normal messy house and can tidy it up using magical or manual means.
The Third House
When the party breaks in, they actually find not furniture, or messes, or gaudy décor like the last two houses, but a singular shabby rug.
Moving or removing the rug reveals a trapdoor. In the basement, the party will find a cultish circle drawn on the floor in chalk and a book; the book clearly indicates that THIS is the source of the curse and, for the curse to be lifted, the chalk must be swept up and the candles put away.
During this cleaning process, the owner of the house is heard unlocking the door upstairs. If they find the party, they will engage in combat. The party can grapple the cultist and turn him in or defeat him.
Balance feels restored, and everyone in town appears happier. Returning to the old woman will reveal that she already knows you were successful because she too can feel it in the air. She will also acknowledge that you have all perfected the art of Feng Shui and will award you with a needlepoint that says “Home Sweet Home”, decorated with symmetrical floral designs, and nicely framed.
If you hang this item up before your party takes a long rest, everyone will wake up with a single Bardic Inspiration. The item is reusable but fragile and can be broken or destroyed by the elements/creatures while it’s hanging up on a wall, tree, etc.
Let us know how to make this idea better (or worse) below in the comments!Trent & John