3 million dollars can buy you a haunted mansion in Ireland. The mansion, known as Loftus Hall, goes back to the 12th century. You can own this piece of haunted history or you can drop it into your D&D game and save yourself $3 million.
Let’s start with the lore of Loftus Hall, stories you can remix for your home-brew D&D games.
The Legend of Loftus Hall
The legend goes that in the 18th century a storm raged, which drove a weary traveler to seek refuge at Loftus Hall.
The turbulent tempest compelled the shutters to be drawn and the hosts sat down with their guest for a game of cards. But young Anne Totenham, who was smitten with the visitor, dropped one of her cards on the floor. Ducking beneath the table to retrieve it, Anne spotted something that stopped her crush in its tracks: cloven hooves where his feet should have been!
Sensing that he’d been outed as the devil himself, the visitor disappeared through the ceiling in a burst of flame and puff of smoke, leaving his hosts and lovelorn Anne in a state of smoldering confusion.
Before she died young, Anne’s family forcefully confined her to the house’s tapestry room, having determined she was too shocked and vulnerable for the outside world, a scene quite at home in a movie like The Exorcist.
After her death, the new occupants of Loftus Hall claimed to see her ghost wandering the grounds at night–a problem that even the local Catholic priest, Father Broaders, couldn’t solve. He was called in for an exorcism, but found himself unable to extend the rite to Anne’s tapestry room.
The haunted mansion has changed hands several times since, and it can change hands once again when you read this to your players and hand them a time-worn piece of paper that serves as a deed, which reads, “You have been anonymously bequeathed an inn upon a cliff overlooking a forever tumultuous sea that meets a horizon of forever gray clouds.“
Make the Mansion Feel Like Home
The party of course will need to serve as temporary innkeepers, as the previous innkeeper grew spooked and bolted. But you did find his journal, which reads:
“A Ezekias Fendelton checked in the last ten-day. He wore a grey cloak and was brandishing a veritable armory worth of weaponry. When I kindly inquired into his reason for visiting Loftus Hall, he said, gruffly, “exploration.”
I took him as a hiker, then, and told him about the path that winds down the craggy bluffs to the stony beach. I even mentioned the lovely animal trails that run through the dark forest at the property’s edge and into the regions’ hinterlands, but Mr. Fendelton only grimaced and mumbled “planar” something and continued about having no interest in “bland, material destinations.”
Oddly, this apparent “explorer” retreated to his room and did not leave for the entirety of his stay! Furthermore, he placed the ‘do not disturb’ sign upon his door knob, so no housekeeping could be done, but then proceeded to disturb our other guests plenty. Guests heard all manner of things emanate from his room: hooves clomping and what one of them could only describe as “a cross between a tempest and a banshee.”
I will admit that I did not investigate these noises immediately, as I found the gentleman quite off-putting. When, some days later, I finally did knock on his door, I received no response. Letting myself in, I found that Ezekias Fendelton not only fled without properly checking out, but he left the room absolutely pillaged.
There was an awful smell of brimstone hanging over everything. I saw that he had stripped the bed of its blankets and drawn something on the mattress: a crude outline of a goat’s head. There were nonsense words too, and upon reading them in my mind, I felt slightly dizzy.
There was even scorch marks on the ceiling directly above the bed. When I showed it to our groundskeeper, Bushacre Hiddleston, and asked what he thought it might be, he went pale and said it was “the mark of a gateway opened and not fully closed.””
With a witch of imagination, gamemasters can take the above sprinkle of lore from 18th century Ireland and weave it into a wonderful nexus for adventure. You have:
- An inn to serve as a base for adventure.
- A nearby sea filled with aquatic adventure.
- Craggy bluffs that most certainly harbor hidden pirate tunnels and monster lairs.
- Neighboring hinterlands just waiting to be populated from the pages of the Monster Manual.
- Hidden magical items like a cursed deck of cards.
- Environmental interruptions, such as violent storms.
- A devilish mystery.
- A haunt.
- Potential past proprietors, the Totenhams, who may interrupt, looking for trouble.
- And all inns or mansions most certainly have at least a couple levels of dungeons below, just waiting to be discovered.
Populating Loftus Hall With Intriguing NPCs
But adventures are nothing without quirky NPCs. So, let’s close with some examples of the guests who may be staying at Loftus Hall:
- First is the cook, Ser Tanger, a down-on-his-luck knight who seems more concerned with his brass button collection than the plight of the common folk. But Ser Tanger makes a mean omelet. In fact, it’s a nine egg omelet. 5 of the eggs in the famous recipe are known. The others are either too rare or too disgusting to divulge. Perhaps the adventurers might be willing to retrieve them discreetly.
- Marin, the druid tortle, is just coming out of adolescence, desperate to explore the vast seas, to find the blue skies that her people sing songs of. Wise beyond her years, why is she visiting Loftus Hall?
- Wait, you haven’t heard of Cherabelle Worthy? A promising detective whose reputation for solving mundane mysteries is rivaled only by her penchant for freestyle diving techniques? But her daily dips in the sea are just a cover for the real mystery: Ser Tanger’s rival is attempting to deconstruct his famous 9-Egger & Mash. And she is just the gumshoe for the job. [Disclaimer: please don’t add gum or shoes to the Omelettes. Thank you.] But Ser Tanger’s recipe and the identity of her mysterious benefactor may be an egg that even Cherabelle isn’t able to crack!
You don’t have to be scared; it’s just a massive, sprawling mansion that just so happens to have some spooky history. Just don’t ghost the bellhop – tip your service folks.
- Atlas Obscura: For Sale: The Most Haunted Mansion in Ireland