This one will be short, because I did very poorly. It almost seems pointless to write a post about such a short adventure, but I suppose that I must chronicle my failures along with my triumphs. My many, many failures. Let's get it over with.
It started reasonably well: I rolled a Skill of 11 (adjusted down to 8 because I have no weapons), a Stamina of 19, a Luck of 7 and a maximum Fear of 9. They weren't great stats (the Luck in particular), but they were certainly workable. I felt reasonably confident of at least making some genuine progress in unraveling the mysteries of the house.
At the front door, I ignored the bell-pull; it does open up a new area and provide a meeting with the hunchback, but it also results in an increase in Fear, so I rapped the knocker instead. While waiting for the butler to fetch the master of the house I investigated the paintings, but instead of looking at the beautiful young woman, I investigated a painting of a portly, middle-aged gentleman. His portrait was labelled 'The Duke of Brewster 1763-1828', and I was sure that his eyes were moving. Sure enough, his eyes directed my attention to the front door of the house. I tried the handle, and (as in a previous attempt) I received an electric shock (reducing my Stamina to 17).
The Earl of Drumer arrived and he offered me a meal. I'd tried most of the options before, so this time I decided to refuse to eat altogether. The Earl was outraged, and when I continued to refuse he ordered his butler to deal with me, which he did by activating some restraints on my chair and knocking me out with some chloroform.
I woke up in an empty room with my hands bound, but I was able to break a window and cut myself free. (You can use Luck to avoid being damaged, but this time I opted not to bother, and sucked up the loss of 2 Stamina, which reduced my score to 15.)
On the landing outside, the book forced me to head right (apparently because I heard a squeaking noise coming from the left). I encountered the ghost bride (raising my Fear to 1), but this time I decided to ignore her and turn back.
I could hear footsteps coming, and rather than return to the ghost bride I stood my ground. The footsteps got louder, until I was sure that whoever it was should be right in front of me, but I couldn't see anything. (This raised my Fear to 2.) Suddenly there was a pain in my chest: my invisible foe was squeezing my heart! I had to fight this "Invisible Enemy" in order to break free and escape. His Stamina was only 4, but with a Skill of 10 he managed to drain my Stamina all the way down to 5 before I was able to escape.
I ignored the 'Albemarle Room' and the 'Rousseau Room', and also opted not to go downstairs. At the next junction I turned left, and was faced with two doors: one with no name-plate and another called the 'Gordelia Room'. I entered the 'Gordelia Room', and found that it was a bedroom strewn with women's clothes. On a mantelpiece I found some small boxes, and I also noticed a photo in the coals of the fireplace. In the boxes I found a gold ring studded with rubies, with an inscription: "To dearest Margaret from George: 1834".
Suddenly the curtains started to rustle, and the window opened and shut of its own accord (increasing my Fear to 3). As I was puzzling over it, I went to lean on the bed, but it moved and sent me sprawling to the floor (increasing my Fear to 4 and reducing my Stamina to 4.) A chair suddenly rocketed towards me, and after a failed Luck test it banged into my shin (further increasing my Fear to 5, and leaving me with but 2 points of Stamina). I fled from the room to escape the Poltergeist.
Aside from the unmarked room, I now had the option of continuing further along the passage; why couldn't I do this before? Anyway, I took it, and came to two more doors: 'The Astor Room' and 'The Master Suite'. I couldn't resist the 'Master Suite', which was an elegantly decorated bedroom with a smouldering fireplace. As I entered, I heard a voice: "So! Our visitor is inquisitive, eh? Or are you trying to leave the house? Perhaps our hospitality is not to your liking. Maybe you would like to see some more - shall we say - amusements?" Those italics must have been real scary, because this raised my Fear to 6. I decided to stay and confront the owner of the voice, who it turned out was concealed in a high-backed chair facing the fireplace.
|Dude has an evil haircut.|
The man was pale, wore a cape and had a widow's peak, which are three of the four major signs of Vampirism (the other being unnaturally white teeth). He asked me to step forward, but instead I decided to fight him. (I wasn't given the option to run, which is what I should have done given my Stamina score.) I looked through my items to see if any would be useful, and was pleased to see that my gold ring was an option. I wasn't pleased for long, though; the ring granted him complete control over my mind, and he forced me to walk forward so that he could open my jugular with those unnaturally white teeth of his.
Well, another failure. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my Fear score, which is the most common way to die in this adventure. Having the ring was bad luck, but almost fortunate in a way: I would have lost a fight regardless, and now I know that I should ignore it.
I feel like I'm making zero progress. Sure, I'm gradually exploring the rooms, and learning which ones to avoid, but I haven't gathered any important clues. I've got no idea where the Kris Knife is (assuming it's not in the same spot it is in the book version). I'm not exactly stumped, but I don't really know if I'm on the right track or not.
So, in the interests of refreshing myself on the book and avoiding retreading familiar ground, I'm going to go through the various areas of the house in point form and assess whether I need to explore them or not.
- The knocker or the bell pull? Using the knocker takes you straight to a meeting with the Earl of Drumer, whereas using the bell-pull gets you there in a roundabout fashion that involves a meeting with a hunchback and an encounter with some growling stuffed animal heads. As far as I can tell these encounters serve no purpose except to drain your Stamina and drive up your Fear score, so I'm going to ignore them for now. (Actually, the hunchback does let slip that the cheese is drugged, so I guess that's useful information.)
- The paintings. There are three paintings that can be investigated while waiting for the earl. The woman's painting warns you to avoid drinking the red wine, but it also increases your Fear score, which is something best avoided. The painting of the old man has eyes that move, but as long as you don't try the electrified door handle he's harmless. The third painting is of an old woman, and I'll take a squizz at that one on my next attempt, just to make sure she's not hiding any vital info.
- Dining with the Earl of Drumer. As far as I can tell, you end up in the same location regardless of whether you are drugged during the meal or not. Still, it's probably better to get to that location without being tied up, and risking cutting your hands on broken glass to escape I just need to remember to avoid the red wine and the cheese, because they're both drugged. (I do love wine, though. And cheese. And drugs. So much temptation.)
- The ghost bride or the invisible man? You have to encounter one or the other after stepping out of the first room, and the ghost bride is definitely the better bet. Yes, she increases your Fear score by 1, but she also gives you some vital hints about the Kris Knife. The invisible man also increases your Fear as well as attacking you with a very high Skill score, and provides no benefits at all.
- The Albemarle Room. I'm pretty sure this is the room you wake up in/are escorted to after dining with the earl. You can rest here and regain Stamina, but if you do you'll see a headless ghost that increases your Fear score by 2 points; if you stay and listen to what it has to say, it will increase your Fear by 4 points. Best to avoid this one.
- The Rousseau Room. This room is full of boxes, and a white sheet on a string that you may mistake for a ghost. I never found anything of use in here, but I'm not sure if I explored it fully. I'll have to try this one again.
- The study (downstairs). It's full of books, and you will also see a message written by an invisible hand: "beware the astorbed". Seeing the message results in an increase of Fear, and is unavoidable if you enter the room. There's more to find here, though: a pentacle on a chain hidden inside a book, that apparently has power over devil-worshippers. I've yet to find a use for it, but it sounds like the sort of thing that's worth picking up.
- The secret passage. If you keep searching the study you'll find a secret passage that leads to two rooms. One contains a bunch of different kinds of food, none of which I tried. The other is a cell where you can rescue a former follower of the earl, and get into a fight with some cultists. The prisoner has some worthwhile information, but I'm not sure that he's worth the risk. I should probably come back here and try some of the food though.
- Gordelia Room. There's a ring on the mantelpiece in this room, the possession of which led to me being killed by the vampire as detailed above. There's also a photo in the ashes of the fireplace that I didn't get to investigate, because there's also a poltergeist that tries to strangle you with lady's undergarments. Whether the risk is worth it is up to your own personal tastes, I suppose.
- Unnamed room opposite 'Gordelia Room'. This room has a box on a mantelpiece, and a Zombie hiding behind a curtain. The last time I came hear the Zombie frightened me to death, and I never found out what the box contained. I need to come back here.
- Lucretia Room. There's a dead old lady in a bed here, and investigating her body increases your Fear. Possibly there's more for me to discover, as I was frightened to death the last time I came here.
- Master Suite: The vampire's in here, which seems to make this a good place to avoid. You never know, though, defeating him could be the key to victory. And I never could pass up a spot of vengeance...
- Paths not taken. It's possible that, by avoiding the hunchback, I could have done more exploration downstairs after using the bell-pull. I'm quite sure that I've yet to explore the door opposite the Lucretia Room; it's also possible that the passage continues further in this direction, with the option only becoming available after exploring one of the two rooms. There's also the Astor Room, opposite where the vampire lives.
So that's the extent of my exploration, which doesn't feel like much at all. I feel like I needed to lay things out like this after so long away though, because otherwise I'd spend my next couple of games going over the same choices I had already made. Now I have a plan of attack, and with any luck my next crack at House of Hell will be my last. Stranger things have happened.