In my previous post I talked about the history and legends of Houska Castle. Today I’d like to offer some adventure seeds for using the castle in your games. With Halloween fast approaching I thought that 13 would be a good number.
Let’s get things started with part one:
1. Vault of the Vampires – The ancient castle is home to an order of vampire hunters. The corpses of vampires slain by the order are returned to the castle and their remains are cast down into the chasm hidden beneath the chapel floor. A hidden switch causes the alter to slide back, revealing the hellish pit whose black stone walls are embedded with countless crucifixes stretching far down into the depths. A constant whispering can be heard from far below.
Over the centuries the order has dwindled to a handful of aged monks spending their days attending to their senile grandmaster. Some of the monks have begun to listen to the whispers from below, whispers that mock their forgotten purpose and promise rejuvenation and escape from the terrible wastes of age and madness.
2. Gateway to the Lost World – Damage to the castle causes the pits beneath the chapel to be rediscovered. Not long afterwards local peasants report seeing the demonic winged beasts of legends. The rumors take on a grim reality when a worker is found dead, torn apart by a wild beast and his corpse left dangling from the castle roof.
The caverns below the castle are a direct route to Pellucidar, the jungle world found within the hollow Earth and populated by prehistoric beasts. The winged demons of Houska Castle are pterodactyls and its legendary beast men are the reptilian Mahars and their ape-like Sagoths.
3. Nazi Invasion through Time – Version A) The 30 Years War burns across Europe bringing death and plague wherever it touches. A renegade Swedish commander ransacks the land before retreating to deserted Houska Castle to establish a base of operations. They are never seen again.
Not long after the peasants begin telling stories of black garbed men moving through the forest. They carry fearsome weapons, wear unknown heraldry, and the murdered anyone who falls into their grasp. One night a nearby castle is annihilated by a massive iron monster armed with a terrible cannon. A single survivor reports that the black clad men have lead prisoners back to Houska Castle where they are being used as slaves, helping the strange men assemble towers of steel.
Version B) The year is 1945 and the German war machine is crumbling. Allied intelligence reports a massive troop movement heading into the mountains north of Prague, with Castle Houska as their destination. The movement makes no sense as the location is poorly suited for a counter-attack on advancing Soviet forces.
The answer comes from a Nazi defector, a member of the mystical Thule Society who reveals that the castle is situated over a temporal anomaly. With enough power a gateway can be opened through time allowing German forces to escape into the past where they will conquer the world centuries before the modern era. A small advance force has already been sent back with orders to open the gate from the other side, using an array of lighting towers to fuel the portal. When both gates are open an entire panzer battalion will be sent through.
Bonus points for running the players through both sides of the adventure.
4. All Nazis go to Hell – The year is 1941. France has been conquered and Britain is reeling under the Blitz. Panzer divisions range across North Africa and Soviet forces are crumbling in the face of over three million German soldiers. The United States continues to remain neutral despite renewed U-boat attacks on merchant shipping. The Nazi juggernaut seems unstoppable and drunk on success Hitler decides to open another front. He orders Operation Lucifer to commence.
Allied Intelligence receives a communique from deep in occupied Czechoslovakia. A division of SS panzergrenadiers under the direct command of Thule Society wizards is advancing on an obscure castle north of Prague, Houska Castle. Thaumaturgical symbols are carved into the tanks and weapons and the commanding general bears the Spear of Destiny. Their objective is to conquer Hell itself.
Whether the Nazis succeed or fail, it spells disaster for the world. The Allies must stop the Nazis from opening the hell gate.
5. Nazis Defend the World – The year is 1945. Mile by mile the Thousand Year Reich is crumbling into ash. The liberation of France is underway and Soviet forces have annihilated the invading German armies. Nazi forces continue to fight on, forcing the Allies to pay in blood for every step they take towards Berlin. One day the OSS receives a coded message, a call for help from an unexpected source.
German forces have occupied Houska Castle since the early days of the war. Their goal had been to investigate the supernatural forces contained beneath its foundations. Against the protests of the aged priest they began excavations in the chapel, discovering the sealed pit and descended into it. What followed was a nightmare of death as demons issued from the hell gate, painting the walls red with German blood.
In the end the army drove the monsters back. The priest resealed the gate at the cost of his own life, but with his death the ritual of binding was lost. A garrison of soldiers has stood guard over the castle ever since to ensure no one else disturbs the hell gate.
Now the garrison commander is faced with the oncoming tide of a vengeful Soviet army. He knows they will not listen to him. They will ransack the castle, risk opening the hell gate, and this time there will be no one to reseal it. There are no German forces left to call for aid. In desperation he sends a call to the Americans, praying that they will believe him.