Questfinder: Banshee’s Wail

“You best start believing in Ghost Stories, Ms. Turner. You’re in one!”
– Captain Barbosa, “Pirates of the Caribbean”

Introduction

Having just completed their last quest, your party finds themselves lost in the woods, in-route to a new adventure. These woods are unfamiliar. It dark and eerie, as if something is starring at you from behind the brush. Night takes the sky and it feels as though the daylight will never come again.

Ahead of you, laying prone on the road is a human man. His white shirt is stained with blood; he seems to have taken a serious injury. He’s a man on the brink of death. Introduce yourselves to him and he’ll offer you a quest,

Quartermaster Whitley

A plague of undeath has rotted in the core of this land. Too long of exposure to the air would prove lethal. Wounds fester here and lead to swift death. Death isn’t the end, however, as the fallen rise as part of the undead plague.

” The Kelhorn family was the most prosperous family in all of Calsodor. Formally, I was a worker on their farms… before the wretched plague. The Kelhorns were kind to my family and I… gave us a place to live and raise my children. When the undeath began, the Kelhorns fortified their home and convinced those they employed to remain; with intent the employees would serve as a line of defense. In their generosity, they doomed us all to undeath. Now, we are all minions of the plague. Every man, woman, and child who lived on the Kelhorn’s land is now a walking corpse. I am the last one to make it out and my wounds will soon take me.

Here is a key to my personal wealth. Bring me the remains of Dudley, Horst, &  Estrid Kelhorn and I will tell you the location of my wealth. Put down every corpse that walks. Grant them peace in the next life. No one should be forsaken to walk as we have. Should I pass before you return, I will leave a note in my shirt pocket, here, with the location details. Please honor this dying man’s wish of seeing his family put to rest.”

Kelhorn Mills – Outskirts

Whitley tells you to travel North and you’ll find the Kelhorn property. You’ll have to travel a wooded path to get there. Along the way, be prepared to fight small groups of undead corpses. Once humans, these walkers are slow and weak to move. Dispatching them should be done with ease. 

Along the trail, and with a high enough perception check, your players should hear the soft crying of a young girl coming from somewhere in the woods. It sounds like the cry of a child. No matter how hard you try, you can’t tell what direction the crying is coming from.

Once you arrive at Kelhorn Mills, you’ll find three primary buildings in-sight. One to the immediate right, just off the main trail you’ve been walking. A second to the far left, a good distance away. And one far beyond, perhaps, half a mile away and resting on a hill. Connecting these buildings is a large, open, field. No crops will be seen in this field, as the ground is utterly rotted.

The Barn

The building to your immediate right is a barn. Inside you’ll find a pack of ravenous dead feasting upon an unlucky muskrat. There is a rancid odor of decaying dead along the rotted hay upon the ground. There are five dead in this barn. They have no weapons and use only their mouths or claws to attack.

Should a party member be bitten by a zombie, they will need to roll a Constitution check. On fail, they are infected with the undeath plague. More on this later.

Dispatch these undead and loot 15 gold pieces among the group and a small key.

Ambush

Exit the building to find another five undead just outside the door. They heard the commotion inside and decided to investigate. Dispatch these undead to discover another 6 gold pieces, as well, as an unlabeled potion.

This unlabeled potion is a tonic for undeath. Consume it to cleanse your body of the undeath plague. The party will have to decide if they feel risky enough to drink an unlabeled potion.

The Estate

Travel across the field to the next closest building, the Kelhorn Estate. You may or may not run into 2 more undead as you travel the field; this is up to your Game Master. The building has suffered crippling burns. Much of the third floor has caved in. As the party approaches the house, take a perception check. Those with a 17+ perception will hear the crying of a child, again. This time, it’s slightly more aggressive. And just like last time, you will not be able to determine the direction it’s coming from. Eventually, the crying will fade.

The front door of this house, while scorched from the fire, is still intact. And closed. Inspect it and discover the door is locked. You can break the door down, or simply use the small key you discovered on one of the bodies in the Barn. Enter into the foyer, bodies lay burnt upon the floor. Their belongings, also destroyed. Make your way through the destroyed dining room and turn left to go up the spiraling stairs. The stairs end at the second floor, as the third has been destroyed. Only 1 room can be entered on this floor. Enter and find the room of a young girl. Investigate with a 15 or higher and discover that this room belonged to a Estrid Kelhorn. Of all the rooms, this is the least damaged. Her bed remains, with dust on it. This investigation does not included under the bed or behind the closet door. Her closet door is sealed. The room has certainly been overturned, but not totally destroyed.

Open the door to her closet and find that this room has, in fact, been burned. Her clothing is in ashes. Inspect this closet and find a diary from Estrid. As you open it, you realize the book is written in Elvish. The Kelhorns were Elves. As the group makes this discovery, you’ll hear a rustling coming from under the bed.

All of a sudden, the bed flies to the other side of the room. Roll an acrobatics check to escape it’s path, should you be in the way. Underneath the bed, now revealing itself, is a twisted former-elf. It’s ears now hunched, curled forward. Nails turned to menacing claws. And teeth protruding from its mouth. It’s clear this beast was formerly a male, it can’t be Estrid. While skin is missing across parts of this beings body, you will notice a very bright ring on its finger. This silver ring is an indicator that this elf was once a Kelhorn and must be one of the three Kelhorn you were sent to dispatch.

Dudley Kelhorn

This former elf is not like the undead you have been fighting. He is fast and agile. He hits harder and can tear through armor. Try to keep a distance, as this beast works best in close combat and has a multi-attack. Dudley fears fire, as he has a weakness to fire. Defeat Dudley and loot his ring. This ring is one of three items you’ll need to complete the quest.

Should you use fire, the house will ignite again and completely burn to the ground once the battle concludes. There will be nothing left to explore here once the battle ends, and the house is collapsed.

The Diary

Look further into the diary, and should you speak Elvish, discover that Estrid describes her fears of the coming plague. She says her brother Dudley isn’t afraid of what is to come; that it will pass quickly. Her father, Horst Kelhorn, explains that this plague is coming in the air from another land in the West. The neighboring land of Peltragow was infected first, the lands rotted away and the people are all dead. Allegedly, there’s an alchemist,… or wizard,… or maybe it’s a necromancer, that poisoned the people with a blighted curse! Horst claimed that the humans would all die and that they would be fine, since they were Elves. He told Estrid and Dudley to prepare what they’d need, as they’re going to go hide in the family crypt to the far North of the estate until this plague passes. They’ll be entering through a secret passage at the rear to keep the front gates sealed shut.

Once everyone is dead, they could come out, cleanse the land, and begin anew. Estrid ends her final entry by saying she’s terrified to die and that she misses her mother. Perhaps, if the plague took all of us, we could be reunited with mother, she concludes.

The Hill

Make your way to the final building noted on the hill, which you now know is the family crypt. On the way you’ll now see to the northwest of there are mills and to the right of that, there’s a beachfront connecting to the Alcontryne River. If you approach the front gate, you’ll find that it’s magically sealed shut. There’s door on this gate that has a massive chain and padlock, but even behind the chain there’s magically barrier preventing entry.

Make your way around the west side of the Hill, towards the beach and discover that more undead plague the beaches. The moonlight makes you quite visible to the undead pacing this area. Dispatch these undead and find several pieces of gold. Investigate the area with a 15 or higher and discover a broken bracelet lying just slightly buried in the sand. Whoever picks this up will be overcome with crippling fear, as you see the visage of a young girl in front of you. Her back is to you. Her body is hunched towards the ground, her hands covering her eyes. She is sobbing softly. She turns to you, and just as you make eye contact with her, she fades away. The sobbing continues, even while she isn’t there.

The Crypt

Turn around and head towards the rear of the crypt. To the normal eye, it looks like a typical stone wall. Nothing to see here! Cast detect magic or roll and arcana check to discover there are magical stones on this wall. Tap them each once and a door will shift from the stones. Enter the floor and find a very dusty crypt. Torches are lit and leading down into the basement. Once the door opens, look behind you and see that ghostly girl return for a moment. She only appears to a single player and no other players can see her. Should your player engage with her, she will respond. She does not remember her name. She doesn’t remember what she

Look down the basement stairs to see a barrier of magical protection at the end of the stairs. Go down and discover Horst laying on the floor with his back against the far wall. The floor is covered in blood, a battle took place here. Trails of blood lead from the center of the room to three of the sarcophagi. A dagger rests on the table, blood dried on it. Horst is weak, and blood is soaked into his clothes, but he isn’t the one who’s been bleeding. You’ll see noticeable burns along his arms and up his neck. These burns are magical, in nature.

Approach the barrier and Horst will ask you to leave? He says he will not lower the barrier and that he is waiting to die from using his staff. Horst has been channeling this magical barrier to keep everything out. Overusing his abilities is slowly killing him and as time passes, the barrier shrinks more and more.

He starts to become manic in his speech, describing that he didn’t know it could effect Elves. He just wanted to make the humans comfortable before they died; help his friends. There wasn’t enough time to escape to another land, because it’s already in the air now. He claims the plague must have been altered. Probe him with questions and he’ll reveal that Dudley was bitten by and walking corpse as the Kelhorns attempted to flee to the crypt. Another corpse grabbed Dudley and bit him in the neck, blood poured from his neck and Dudley quickly died. Horst picked up Estrid and began running towards the Crypt, others followed. He looked back only for a second to see his sons form mutate into the monster you found under Estrid’s bed. Horst lost all hope. He realized that the plague can effect anyone, it effects people in different ways, and there was no escape from the undeath.

The party has been infecting themselves with this undeath the whole time. The air has been toxic since they arrived. Should they die and fail all of their Death Saving Throws, they will reawake and as an undead.

The more he speaks, the weaker he becomes. When you ask about Estrid, he begins sobbing. He starts apologizing profusely to his daughter who isn’t there. 

Turn around and see that young, ghostly girl at the top of the stairs. Her back to you, just like on the beach. Horst begs her forgiveness and says that he was trying to save her. He didn’t know that she would become a spirit begins to flicker and horror sweeps over Horst. He begs the party for help claiming that if that spirit enters the chamber, she’ll steal his soul and he won’t be able to cross over.

MISDIRECTION

The intention here is that your party believes Estrid is dead. There is a clear indication that Horst has murdered someone in crypt and split their body into three sarcophagi. He would have done this in attempts to save her from a more gruesome death. By murdering this person, allegedly his daughter, he has damned them to a fate worse than death; she’s now been reanimated as a Banshee. Should she break through the barrier, she will consume his soul and he won’t be able to crossover. If he kills himself with the dagger he wouldn’t be able to crossover either. So he’s decided to cast a barrier until the magic drains him of life.

Moments later the spirit lifts of the ground, lets out a blood curdling screech and flies into the barrier, breaking it open, at last! Her form twists and changes until the cute little girl is no more. She’s now taken the form of a screaming banshee. She picks up Horst and wails at him, draining him of life swiftly. She drops Horst’s body and he disintegrates into ash. Her attention now turns towards the party. She let’s out a bellowing scream and the room begins to shake. Sarcophagi in this room and the floor above begin breaking open and undead start climbing out. Ten undead now fill the room. The Banshee flies out, leaving you in combat with numerous undead.

The Banshee’s Wail

Fight off the undead inside the crypt and you’ll still need to to face the banshee out in the moonlight. The person is no more and cannot be reasoned with. The only way to defeat the Banshee is to burn her corpse and reduce it to zero hit points. You must collect the pieces her father has put in the sarcophagi and burn them underneath the moonlight.

Gather your forces and take the battle outside. It will be waiting for you, hovering over the spot you found the child’s bracelet. Her long hair covers her face. Upon the start of the battle she attacks the party with a wail, revealing her malformed face. Use the Banshee mechanics provided by Wizards of the Coast. When a player gets hit by a wail they must succeed a Con saving throw. On a fail, they drop to 0 hit points. From the rest of the battle on, she will attempt to kill all of the party members.

Remember, the party has been infected with undeath. Should any of them fall to 0 HP and fail 3 Saving Throws, they will awaken as an undead corpse. Consider consulting your players ahead of this battle before using this mechanic, some players don’t want their player character to die. The Banshee should be the strongest fight in the game and take the most rounds. Our Banshee does not pull her punches.

Towards the end of the fight, allow the Banshee to start making casting hallucinations on party members. Let the players think they are fighting a little girl, for a moment. Then snap back to the Banshee. Force the players to make WIS checks to overcome these visions.

Defeat the Banshee and burn the body. Upon completing this battle, the Banshee turns to dust in the air. You’ve freed the spirits of countless victims here in Kelhorn Mills. Those who suffer from Undeath have not been able to pass into the next life. All the corpses you’ve slain have helped people start to rest in peace.

If you defeat the Banshee, but don’t burn the body, it will return 1 hour later and attack the party. She has 25% of her maximum hit points each time she reappears. She will continue to haunt the party until they leave Calsodor.

Conclusion

THERE’S AN ALTERNATE ENDING HERE

Collect the three items from each of the Kelhorn family: Horst’s Dagger, Dudley’s Ring, & Estrid’s Bracelet and deliver them to back to Quartermaster Whitley. Return to where you first found Whitley and Discover that he’s tied himself to a tree. In the event he died, he didn’t want to roam around. He wanted to be easy to find.

Sadly, he has died and is now on of the undead. One of the weaker undead, he doesn’t move quickly enough to attack the group, also his hands are bound to the tree. Check his shirt pocket to find a note that says

“Thank you, travelers. I trust that your return means the Kelhorns and my family have been put to rest. The location of my wealth is buried behind the farthest mill back on the Kelhorn property. Before you go, please, put me out of my misery. Let me pass on and return to my family.”

Dispatch Whitley and a vision will appear in front of you. Whitley and his wife appear before you, floating above the air. They are clean and light glows behind them. You see the spirits of Quartermaster Whitley and his wife. Behind him you see the soft glowing visions of the others you’ve freed on the estate lands. Dudley and Estrid stand with another elven woman; who must be their mother. Whitley says “thank you” before all the visions gracefully fade away. 

 

Journey back to the Kelhorn mills to receive your reward. There are no more walking dead here, so the journey is not very difficult. Venture to the mills and discover uneven ground behind the farthest mill. Begin digging and find a buried chest at four feet deep. Inside is 800 gold pieces and 5 health potion.

Congratulations, you’ve completed Banshee’s Wail!

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