“Jarbin was the groundskeeper and executioner of the courthouse, and his lovely young wife and six-year-old boy were hewn to pieces in his attic apartment above the courtroom where he stood trial.”
This is the intro to an adventure I’d like to run, called Hangman’s Noose. It is a HORROR ADVENTURE where you need to solve a mystery while trying to survive! Only players who love mood and setting and will get immersed need apply:
Beldrin’s Bluff was once the shining center of Absalom’s wealthy elite. Resting atop the Precipice District, the district offered patrons of high-end restaurants, gentlemen’s clubs, and ladies’ teahouses with a breathtaking view of a glittering sunset on the water and, if the clouds cooperated, a magnificent green flash as the horizon swallowed the sun.
Now the bluff is a smattering of ramshackle manors, open lots of twisted weeds, and broken cobblestones. The district courthouse is a decrepit four-story gothic relic of the bluff’s bygone days. Several years ago, erosion sent two blocks of Beldrin’s Bluff crumbling from their cliff-top perch, sloughing like dead skin from the city’s peak into the crashing tide of Absalom’s harbor below. Residents fled the once-charming district of shops, teahouses, and theaters for fear the entire Precipice Quarter might follow suit. During the chaotic, fearful days following the collapse, many strange events transpired in Beldrin’s Bluff. Fortunes disappeared, murderers slaughtered innocents, and families splintered, all in the grips of anarchy and terror. Of all these wild transpirations, perhaps none is more steeped in impiety than the swift trial of Jarbin Mord and his subsequent execution by hanging.
The Mord Murders, a double homicide of mother and son, shocked the city. The gruesome axe-slayings are still discussed in hushed tones around hearth fires ten years later. Mord’s trial was the first and only murder case held in the very building where the victims were killed. Jarbin was the groundskeeper and executioner of the courthouse, and his lovely young wife and six-year-old boy were hewn to pieces in his attic apartment above the courtroom where he stood trial. Every week, on “Noose Wealday,” Mord put on his black wool hood and carried out executions for the court. After his trial, he was hung from the very gallows he once tended.
The case of Jarbin Mord was the last to see the bar in the district courthouse. The doors were locked tight the next day, its windows nailed shut with boards. Ever since, on windless nights, the old courthouse creaks and passersby catch a glimpse of a pale form skulking beyond the boarded windows. Those few neighbors who scoffed bravely at the cliffside collapse and planned to continue residing near the abandoned courthouse moved on in short order after the first few disappearances. The details of the strange events that precipitated their flight remain untold except for two words: “The Croaker.” Ever since his hanging was carried out, those who wander too close to the courthouse can still hear Jarbin Mord rasping through his crushed throat—the sound of breath pushed over bone and rot, a miserable inhuman echo of life.
Five years after the trial, a famed cleric of Sarenrae led a band of adventurers into the moldering courthouse. Seeking glory and hoping to prove they were Absalom’s greatest heroes, they decided to banish the restless soul of Jarbin Mord to the Abyss. The expedition was much talked about among all echelons of Absalom. Scullery maids giggled and swooned over Father Kelgaard’s blond locks and crystal blue eyes; guardsmen cheered on their captain, the imposing Grisdom Twin-Axe; and nobles lauded one of their favored scions, the highborn wizard Sashrala Vortrum. The best and brightest of Absalom marched into Beldrin’s Bluff Courthouse at sundown on the anniversary of Mord’s hanging.
At dawn the next day, only Grisdom emerged. Blind, his eyes hulled from his face, the guard captain cradled a lantern with Sashrala’s decapitated head stuffed inside, a still-lit candle in her silently screaming mouth. Demands for an account of the night’s events only solicited senseless fragments from the tatters of Grisdom’s mind: “The Hangman… a neck for a neck… hate never forgets… show me the way out, Sashrala! Show me the way!”
Few have dared cross the courthouse threshold since. Fear spread from the place like a sickness, until even the most stubborn holdouts to keep their quarters in Beldrin’s Bluff departed or died off. Once Absalom’s most vibrant district, the bluff is now a ghost town. The silence of its streets is broken only by the rasping wind.
Now the tenth anniversary of the Mord hanging approaches, and few have forgotten the case or the horrific events of five years past. Citizens mark their calendars and children at play sing eerie songs.
“Wealday, Wealday, Hangman comes for you, Ole Broke-Neck Mord, gonna hang you too.”