Hershal is an odd gnome. He lives in the quiet town of Applewood, with it's denizens, a collection of hard working Humans. He has a second home on the hill, and it contains his secrets...
Note: This is a crawl with skill and creativity in mind. If you want it to be more dangerous, add traps or monsters as appropriate.
Hershal's father Gregorian, left Hershal the manor in his will. Hershal was married, and had already settled down with his wife by the time his father died, so he did not move in straight away. His wife was ill, and eventually died before they could move in to their new home. Distraught, he has never been able to bring himself to leave their quiet home on the edge of town.
For the DM:
About a month ago, Saro, a halfelf boy from town, saw men moving around inside the house. He went to Hershal to offer his assistance with the move. Hershal told him that no one was supposed to be in there. Hershal has grown quite old now, and the manor was in poor repair. He did not want to move into it. Saro offered to check, and make sure no one was in there. He would tell the authorities if anyone in there refused to leave.
He never came back.
The next day, the town guard hired three adventurers to go and find Saro, and they never came back. In total, fourteen people have gone into the Manor. Only one returned. A young adventurer names Liz. Liz was found screaming in the courtyard of the manor about a week ago. She hasn't woken up since, but otherwise seems in good health.
For the Party:
"You have been in Luckerman Terrace for a few days, resting on your trip when a letter arrives.
"To the Defenders of the Land:
The High Clergy of Kelemvor is asking for your aid. We have a young woman named Liz, an adventurer, who has fallen into a deep coma. We are seeking assistance. A reward of 500 Gold is offered to any that might lift the curse, either through magic, or action. The Town of Applewood adds an additional reward for the location or return of other persons missing.
Act with haste, and may His hand guide you,
Most Solemn Order of the Silent Shroud
Hopefully, one or more party members has had dealings with the Most Solemn Order, or can make a knowledge check to know that their specialization is dealing with the dead. The party arrives at the Church, overlooking a Graveyard, and inside find a room with rows of pews. In the Front of the room is a large dais with holy symbols covering it. Moments after entering, Brother Kael emerges from a small adjacent room.
He will give details of the house, and the young lady's efforts to find Saro and the others. He will also tell them that her nightmares come often, and she screams of spirits and monsters in the dark. He is afraid that some Ghostly entity has moved into the House, and is stealing the lives of those that venture forth.
Should the party accept the quest to go in, He offers a Scroll of Protection from Good and Evil. He also sends them with 3 mason jars filled with Holy Water. He tells them that if the spirit is there, finding it's body or bones, and dousing it with the Holy Water should free the spirit, allowing it to move on.
The Manor is Two stories tall, and has an East and West wing. The center of the house is a large open living area. On the left, a large stove, Fireplace and dining area is found. On the right, Seating, and dance areas. A large Semi-circular couch is torn and greying now, but was likely once a fine silk couch. Doors on the left and right lead to bedrooms, and a matching set further back lead to a Linen closet on the left, and the servant quarters on the right. A grand staircase dominates the center of the room, rising to a beautiful stained glass window on the second floor, overlooking the odd foyer. This stained glass window depicts a loving woman's face looking down from the clouds, watching happily as small childlike shapes play in gardens beneath her watchful eye.
The second floor is dominated by two rooms. A library on the left, and the master bedroom on the right.
The first floor, has nothing odd in it. and the upper floor is only odd in its proportions. The bed in the Master Bedroom is oversized. It seems like it would fit an Ogre or small Giant. It is mundane, but Gregorian loved the idea, and had it built.
The missing people are not here, but here is how the dungeon should be run. Each time the party enters a room, odd things happen. They hear a sound, creaking boards, chains, crying, whimpering, a baby's laughter, party music and people laughing; A nameless wind pushes open doors, knocks over cups or papers; Light behaves unnaturally, the candles being lit, yet shedding no light, Rooms with no light source are as bright as daylight.
Every third door, something should push them. Footsteps, men talking, or the sound of a sword being drawn is heard from a nearby room. Roll a d6 each time they enter the third room. Ask the person closest to the door to make a check (Listen or Perception or Survival depending on the system). On most rolls, give them this odd piece of information.
As the party attempts to locate the source of these sounds, they should be put on edge. Take it a step further. The next places they adventure, they see odd arcane markings, String Bell traps, Poisons on doors, and odd chalk marks (Made by adventurers that have been here before, not by the house's denizens).
IF THE PARTY SPLITS UP. Keep them that way. Make the sounds scare players from rejoining, or intrigue them to go away from their allies. If there is a door between them, it will never open. Keep them separated until it is time to go to the Cellar.
The library has information about the occult, and many of the marks from these books are found around the house, drawn in chalk.
Eventually, the party should realize that the house is creepy, but has no prisoners. It also has an odd layout where there is no Larder or Cellar. Exploring the outside of the house only shows a garden, in good repair. Lots of flowers grow here, the lawn here is mowed, and a Large, three tiered water fountain pours from near the house.
The Cellar/Larder is actually in a basement under the stairs. A hidden door near the fireplace leads them to a hallway that descends under the stairs to an underground room. This room has old bottles of wine and ale all around. Empty barrels show that meat and other foodstuffs were kept here as well. A single door leads to another staircase going lower.
Once the final player is down, the door behind them closes. This happens no matter what precautions the players take. Once they are past, they cannot come back up.
Here are the sleeping bodies of the townsfolk. The next room is filled with a poison that makes you fall asleep. If you are playing a fantasy setting, then this room contains either a ghost, or a Fungal monster. The Fungus emits spores that puts intruders to sleep. The ghost has them cursed. (Do both if you want to be crazy!)
To get out, the party has to tell the Ghost (Gregorian) That his son is fine, and they have to promise to bring him here to live. Or, they have to promise the Fungus that it is in no danger from these outsiders. If they make a pact with it, it will help them make a sleeping pill for those with problems sleeping.
No Undead Ending:
Turns out the floors shifted during an earthquake, causing the doors to get shut, and the Fungus is the cause of the sleep. A sip of brandy breaks the spore's hold over the body.
Gregorian is happy to let them go if the party talks. If not, he hides from them. Getting past the poisonous room, leads to his grave (This room is filled with dead family members) and the party can use the holy water to douse the body, releasing his spirit. The curse is lifted from everyone!
Hershal is happy to move in, but invites the party to live with him. He mostly doesn't want to be there alone. He is friendly to the Fungus. If he moves in, Gregorian moves on to the afterlife.
Treasure: Give the party 500 Gold, and an appropriate item as a gift from the towns folk and adventurers. Use your best judgement. This might be a magical item, Stores or wares for their new home (If they choose to live in the Manor), or an amount of gold from each of them.