Outside of a bookshop, the party overhears a conversation between the shop keeper and a well-dressed gentleman.
“You need to do something about it,” the shop keeper says as she straightens up a stack of mystery novels, “I keep changing the book’s launch date on the sign whenever it gets delayed, but his fans are getting feisty and impatient.”
“I understand,” the gentleman says, forcing a tone of confidence, “he’s just having a bit of writer’s block, I’m sure. We shouldn’t rush his creative process.”
The shopkeeper huffs. “Maybe, but if I don’t get those volumes soon, I’m using the shelf space for something else. You need to get up to that mountain, or wherever, and see what’s going on.”
As the merchant steps back inside her shop, the man’s confident posture droops, and he releases an exasperated sigh.
If the party approaches him and asks for details, the man explains how he is the literary agent for acclaimed novelist Jackson Torrent.
“My client is writing a book about ghosts, and he decided to go to the abandoned, and famously haunted, Oversight Inn over on [Name of Nearby Mountain] to interview the spirits there. Well, it’s been more than a few months now, and I haven’t heard anything from him. Could you do me a favor and check on him for me? I’d do it myself, but I have other clients to attend to, and those heights give me dreadful headaches. I promise to pay you for your trouble.”
If the party agrees, they are given a map and shown the location of the Oversight Inn.
Time to Check In
The trek up the mountain is not easy and, the higher the party climbs, the snowier and more challenging the environment becomes. Eventually though, players see a building, dusted with snow, and nestled snugly in a forest of pine trees.
The building is beautiful and, despite being abandoned, has held up remarkably well to the elements.
As the party approaches the front door, it opens, revealing a tired-looking man wearing a bathrobe.
“I wasn’t expecting any guests,” the man grumbles, “I’m guessing my agent sent you?”
He grunts before stepping back inside, leaving the front door wide open. “Well, come on in then,” he hollers from the shadows, “No use catching a chill out there.”
Inside, the lobby is much warmer. A fireplace is roaring on one side, and natural light filters in through the hotel’s tall windows.
The man, who introduces himself as the author Jackson Torrent, plops down at his messy, disorganized writing desk.
“Coffee?” he asks.
If the party agrees, Jackson will grab a couple of the unwashed, recently-used coffee mugs that lie strewn across his desk, wipe them clean with the sleeve of his robe, and fill them with lukewarm coffee. He won’t care, one way or another, if the players accept his offering of hospitality or refuse.
“I’ve tried everything,” he grumbles, gesturing to a pile of objects on the ground. “Seances, spirit boards, chalk circles. This place should be crawling with spirits, but I’m not making contact at all. Sure, I hear them at times, shambling on floors above or slamming doors down hallways, but as soon as I try to reach them to conduct my interviews, they’re gone.”
At this point, the party can simply return to the agent with the update (and receive a small reward) or offer to help Jackson lure out the ghosts and complete his book.
As the party explores the hotel, they detect traces of paranormal activity, like residual energies left behind by ghosts/undead, footsteps, giggling, etc. that can lead them to where the ghosts are residing. In order to bring a ghost out from hiding, players need to act warm and welcoming. As the party soon learns, all the ghosts are terribly shy, and have been avoiding the famous author because they’re scared of saying something stupid and ruining their interviews (and embarrassing themselves in front of all the readers of the realm).
To help the spirits, players must retrieve for each spirit something that personally gives them courage.
Ghost #1: The Twins
The players will find a ball sitting in one of the hallways. If they kick/roll/throw it, they will find it comes bouncing back to them. Doing this a couple of times encourages the twins to appear in front of the party. These two young girls are very sweet, although shy, and speak together in unison at all times.
They tell the party that, in order for them to find the courage to conduct their interview, they need their plushy Mr. Squidface (a stuffed animal Flumph that they’ve had since they were very small).
If they could only squeeze and cuddle with Mr. Squidface, then they are positive that they’d have the courage to give Jackson Torrent a full interview.
Unfortunately, the toy was taken away by a “cranky old lady” in room #237 who didn’t like all the ruckus that the children were causing.
The party finds room #237 to be unlocked (unlike the other rooms in the inn). After stepping into the bedroom/suite, they hear water running in the adjacent bathroom. Inside, they see a clawfoot tub in the distance and a terrifying Night Hag in the middle of a bath with one leg draped over the edge of the tub (DM Note: if you want to stay true to the movie, you can have her disguise herself as an attractive young woman in an attempt to charm the players).
Her minion, a Banderhob, is busy applying a shade of black nail polish to her exposed foot and looks up only as the players enter through the door; he won’t take any sort of action until commanded or something happens to him/his mistress.
The Night Hag cannot be reasoned with and will attempt to destroy the players. Once she and her minion are defeated, however, the players can rummage through the cabinets in the bathroom and find, beneath the sink, the Twins’ plushie Mr. Squidface.
The girls will gleefully squeal when the players hand them their stuffed animal and, with newfound courage, descend down through the floor to the lobby for Jackson’s interview.
Ghost #2: Lyle the Barkeep
In the ballroom, there is a bar where glassware mysteriously rattles. If the players sit at the bar and ask for a drink, Lyle will nervously manifest and offer to fix them something from the dusty, aged bottles behind him on the shelf.
Lyle is equally nervous about being interviewed, having not had the opportunity to socialize with living beings for many decades (he can even nervously shake as he pours the party’s drinks). However, he tells the party that, if they can go down to the cellar and fetch him his favorite liquor (a strawberry-infused alcoholic beverage called “Red Rum”), then that should give him the “liquid courage” he needs to be interviewed. He says he would go himself, but that he can’t leave the bar unattended (“just in case someone decides to show up”).
As they approach the cellar door, the players hear shuffling and grunting coming from the basement. If they descend stealthily, they find that the exterior door to the cellar has been broken open; sunlight filters through the opening, and snowflakes drift down to the cobblestone floor. More alarming, however, is the Abominable Yeti that is sniffing around through the sacks and crates of stale, rotten food.
The players can choose to fight the beast or figure out some way to lure it outside and away from the bottles of “Red Rum” that sit, unbroken (currently), in one of the nearby crates. Additionally, they can find a large barrel of high-proof booze and roll it to the yeti; if he drinks enough of the contents (he’s a big boy, after all), he will become “drunk”, giving him disadvantage whenever he tries to swing and make an attack on anyone.
Once the “Red Rum” bottle is attained, the players can return it to Lyle who pops the cork before downing the liquor. Since he is a spirit, the liquid has no places to sit and just splashes down onto the floor beneath him. Regardless, it has the intended effect. Lyle says, “Ah, that really hits the spot” before floating to the lobby to be interviewed.
Ghost #3: Brady, the Groundskeeper
Outside, there is a hedge maze, now wildly untamed and even more difficult to traverse. For this part of the encounter, players need to navigate the maze using survival checks. As DM, feel free to add various pitfalls and traps, although an entire organized labyrinth is not necessary. Depending on how well they roll, players can encounter various monsters along the way (provided they aren’t too beat-up from the earlier battles) like ice mephits and/or yetis (not an “abominable” one this time).
At the center of the maze, they find a gardener ghost who is busy using a watering can on frozen, brambly plants to no effect. He jumps, startled when the players approach, and drops his can.
“I know about the interview,” he says, “but I just can’t do it. I mean, look at me! When I died, I was busy working in the hedge maze, so now I’m all covered with grime and dirt for all eternity. This is no way to appear in front of a renown author like Jackson Torrent! Who knows what comments he might say about me in his book!?”
The party needs to think of a solution to Brady’s dilemma. They can simply try persuasion checks, but keep the DC high. Other options include:
- Drawing him a bath in the now-vacant tub of the Night Hag’s unlocked room (and convince him that the water has an effect on his spectral form and that he really does look cleaner)
- Finding him a change of nice clothes that he can awkwardly slip into for the interview
- Figuring out a way for him to conduct the interview without being seen, e.g. through sending stones or creating some sort of barrier
- Convincing him that grime/dirt is “all the rage” now, either by players making themselves appear incredibly messy or convincing Jackson himself to roll around in dirt/grime (deception roll with a low DC depending on the steps taken).
Once Jackson has successfully interviewed the 3 spirits (well, 4 if you count the twins as individuals), he will act much warmer to the party, as if a great burden has been lifted from his shoulders.
To reward them for their efforts, he offers them an item.
“I found this while I was ghost-hunting for all those fruitless months,” he says, “I’d take it out back and chop firewood whenever I needed a distraction, but it feels strangely magical. Clearly, it’s not getting any use here in this abandoned place, so why don’t you take it and put it to good use? I was getting pretty lonely here by myself and took to calling the axe ‘Johnny’; probably not healthy to talk to an inanimate object, let alone one with a sharp edge, but, hey…loneliness makes us do weird things.”
This axe is definitely not a “dull boy.” Here are its properties:
- +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls
- Deals 1d8 slashing damage (like a battle axe)
- Deals an additional 1d8 cold damage
- Can easily break down wooden doors with one swing, no strength checks required
- While attuned this weapon, the player occasionally hears indecipherable whispering in their head and struggles with some slight hallucinations. Until the weapon is removed/unattuned to the player, they must roll any wisdom saving throws with disadvantage.