Adventures in Shadow 009: Into the Ruins of Madness

As the obscenely detailed stone thing fluttered, flopped and juddered toward them, the party prepared for battle. None of the heroes—not even learned Tolirayth—could identify the hideous, squat amorphous demon creature, and the party feared the worst. What manner of fell guardian creature was this?


As it flew closer, Johann shot at it with his bow, but missed and Veronwe enchanted Orm’s sword with magical power. When the thing came close enough the powerful barbarian pounced while Tolirayth lashed the creature with magical force bolts. Before it could damage the heroes the thing was badly wounded and although it did buffet Orm with its stony wings the creature was quickly slain—shattered into many pieces by the barbarian’s (temporarily) magical sword.

With the guardian destroyed the party, led by Jeremiah, snuck up to the manor’s courtyard. Several windows overlooked the space and no less than three doors seemed to provide access to the house. The house’s main door was wide open but two other smaller doors bore investigation first. One led to what might have once been a stables while the other opened into a small chamber featuring a narrow spiral staircase leading down into the rock below the manor house.

After a brief discussion, the heroes decided it would be prudent to explore the upper floors of the house before venturing underground and thus used one of the manor’s fallen gates to block the doorway leading to the spiral staircase. They didn’t want to be attacked from behind!

Entering the house, they discovered the wrack and ruin of eight decades. Everywhere lay broken furniture, rubbish and the leavings of previous expeditions. Carefully, the party explored the ground floor. They discovered many rooms and chambers—all ruined and clearly repeatedly picked over.

In one wing, they discovered a ruined chapel of Conn. Here, the wainscotting had been torn from the walls, the statues of the Father smashed and the altar dedicated to some foul power. Dried blood and scorch marks covered the altar which stood at the centre of a rough circle of bones. The party wondered if this was the altar spoken of in the faded manuscript they discovered an hour ago or so. Cautious investigation of the altar revealed no hidden compartments or lurking creature and so the heroes turned their attention to a small door at the rear of the chapel. It was stuck, but Veronwe eventually forced it open. Beyond lay a narrow, steep set of steps leading downwards. Shutting the door the party continued their exploration of the ground floor.

In the manor’s other wing the party discovered the Alanen’s great hall and slew a monstrous centipede that lurked therein under a huge table. They also retrieved a cold iron short sword—their first real treasure from the manor—from atop a rickety minstrel’s gallery overlooking the chamber.

By this time, the party had found little else of monetary value. However, as they continued their explorations they uncovered a narrow spiral staircase seemingly linking all three of the manor’s floors. It also delved into the rock upon which the manor stood and Johann’s keen eyes detected faint, slightly wet footsteps of two bare-footed individuals climbing the stair to the upper levels. This discovery excited the party—perhaps they would soon learn what manner of creatures lurked in the ruined village—and they quickly finished their exploration of the ground floor.

With seemingly nowhere else to go, they carefully climbed the manor’s grand staircase to the first floor. A grim and grimy portrait decorated the wall on the first landing. It depicted a stooped elderly man leaning on a walking stick and the party took the painting theorising it depicted one of the long-dead Alanens. (Tolirayth had recalled that although the Alanens while technically a dead line every now and then some distant relative popped up claiming to be the rightful lord of Greystone and that perhaps the portrait might have value to such a person.)

Thus, their exploration of the ground floor complete, the party reached the first floor. A balcony ran around the entrance hall below and a profusion of doors and corridors gave the party pause. Where to start?

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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