Variations on a Theme

Hook: The characters are invited to join with another small group of researchers to determine if an old building is haunted. The structure served as the private hospital and limited sanitarium of Dr. Lindschlott around the turn of the century. Lindschlott was considered quite eccentric and had very unusual theories in medicine. He vanished under mysterious circumstances and the building has been empty since but considered a hotbed of paranormal activity. Lindschlott also lived on the grounds, which is quite a distance from any populated cities in a wild, wooded area surrounded by swift river or sheer cliff.

Line: Unfortunately, the night the characters show up is one of a tremendous storm. The terrific rain, sleet and winds have knocked down the power line (luckily there is an oil powered generator in the maze-like basement) and washed out the only road leading to the facility. The storm also prevents radio contact or use of cell phones. The building is dark and strange things are starting to happen. To make things worse, it looks like one or two of the other researchers have disappeared!


  1. It's a hoax. Two college students got wind of the pending investigation of the house and decided to play a few tricks on the researchers.
  2. It's a hoax. A group of film students posing as researchers have decided to make a mock-documentary using the house as a set and the characters as unsuspecting actors.
  3. It's a hoax. A bored billionaire has set up the house for his own amusement, there are hidden video cameras and recording equipment everywhere. The theatrics are state of the art, price was no object. He's primarily concerned with scaring the wits out of the real research group who have annoyed him in some way and has no idea how the characters got invited. Oh well, the more the merrier.
  4. It's a hoax. A psychoanalyst is doing a doctoral thesis on how surroundings factor into mass hysteria and terror.
  5. It's a hoax. Same as #2 above only with a twist. There are actually a few restless spirits haunting the building. They usually are very quiet, but the callous nature of the film crew has gotten them quite angry and they've decided a lesson is in order.
  6. It's a hoax. Same as #2 above only with a twist. The building sits on a place of power. The film students are part of a secret society which is trying to hide the real magic of the place by making it look fake.
  7. A group of very clever raccoons have taken over the building as their own. Their playful antics and explorations are the cause of the strange noises and movements.
  8. The house itself is alive and aware. It will try to kill all the people and feed off their PPE. It can control anything physically attached to itself; open/close doors, windows, drawers, turn on/off lights, water, etc. but not move furniture. If not completely destroyed, it will go through periods of hibernation until fresh victims show up.
  9. The house itself is alive and aware. It enjoyed the negative energy released from the horrible events in the past and wants to recreate the events; particularly the riot by inmates so many years ago and the brutal murder of Dr. Lindschlott and his staff. Treat the house as a possessing entity as it forces characters to take on the roles of previous victims.
  10. The house itself is alive and aware but perceives reality in a much different way than the characters. The strange events are manifestations of the house's thought processes, it means them no harm (in fact, it barely notices they exist at all). It would be almost impossible for the characters to communicate with the completely alien mentality of the structure.
  11. The house itself is alive and aware but limited in it's ability to interact with the characters. It has been trying desperately to communicate the danger the characters are in. It seems that there is a madman hiding with the research group who intends to kill everyone.
  12. The house itself is alive and aware but limited in it's ability to interact with the characters. It has been trying desperately to communicate the danger the characters are in. Dr. Lindschlott prowls the corridors, searching for new victims to carry on the brutal experiments he conducted on helpless inmates while he was alive. The undead fiend is being actively contained by the structure and he would love to have the characters destroy the house and give him freedom.
  13. A strange tear in the fabric of time has allowed "echoes" of past events to push through to the present. These sounds and images are very disconcerting, but harmless and will stop by morning.
  14. A strange tear in the fabric of time has overlapped the different time periods. There are time-gates that allow characters to see events as they actually happened in the past. Unfortunately, the time-gates are two way and there is a chance the characters may become trapped in the past.
  15. The tremendous amount of negative emotion from the terrible events that have happened in the building has stayed throughout the years. The strange sounds and images are very disconcerting, but harmless; simply recreations of the horrible events of the past.
  16. A gate to another dimension has opened and the house is slowly slipping through, small random gates floating through the structure become more numerous throughout the night. By morning, the entire house will fall through, anything left inside will vanish forever.
  17. A gate to another dimension has opened and mystic energy is leaking through. No actual entities are loose, but the energy is causing strange things to happen. By morning the gate will close.
  18. Same as #8 above only the gate is being created by a strange machine the doctor built as an experiment in the basement. Shutting off the machine will close the gate.
  19. The strange happenings are the result of an experiment of Dr. Lindschlott. He was experimenting with "projected consciousness" and the experiment went awry. He is trapped between dimensions and is trying to get back. A machine in the basement is keeping him here, stopping the machine will allow him to escape.
  20. Dr. Lindschlott was killed in his sleep all those years ago and now his spirit haunts the structure. He is unaware of what is happening around him, and is trapped in a semi-sleeping awareness. His restless spirit must be contacted and told what it needs to do to pass on.
  21. Dr. Lindschlott was a madman who killed hundreds during the years the hospital was open. Their spirits are restless and will not leave until the heinous nature of the doctor's crimes are brought out in the open (giving a few of the secret unburied bodies a proper funeral would help too).
  22. The spirit of Dr. Lindschlott has been trying to warn the characters of the danger they are in. It seems that there is some evil entity trapped inside the building, the creature has been preying on innocent victims for years (the doctor was an early victim) and will hunt down the characters. The doctor has only limited power and ability to help the characters.
  23. Dr. Lindschlott is still alive (more or less) and stalks the surroundings. He has been using unsuspecting victims in horrible occult experiments to extend his lifespan. It's lucky that the characters came, his supply of materials is running out.
  24. The doctor is an undead fiend who can't leave the area where he once lived. He's looking forward to the evening, he hasn't had a bite to eat since that last group of lost hikers four years ago.
  25. The doctor is no longer among the living, but his son certainly is. Hideously deformed and quite mad, he is quite anxious to continue his fathers unholy experiments.
  26. A creature from another dimension has become trapped in the building and is trying to find a way back. It has only a limited understanding of our world and has been possessing people to gather information and work as it's hands. A machine is partially complete in the basement which will allow the entity to escape. Unfortunately, possessed characters have a tendency to "burn out" from the massive energy.
  27. A creature from another dimension has become trapped in the building and is trying to find a way back. A machine in the basement that Dr. Lindschlott was working on brought it here and keeps it from escaping. Unfortunately, the creature has only limited affect on our world and is becoming increasingly excessive in it's attempts to shut the machine off.
  28. A gate to another dimension has opened and a number of small entities have slipped through into our world. The entities are fairly weak and are trying to scare the characters out of their turf. If that doesn't work, they may get more violent.
  29. A gate to another dimension has opened and drawn the attention of a very powerful creature. It is too large to come through the small gateways completely, but has been looking around and sending pieces of itself through to explore (picture a tentacle coming out of the wall, grabbing a victim and disappearing back into the wall). By morning the gate will close and the creature will never return.
  30. A gate to another dimension exists in the basement. A group of evil cultists is actively trying to open the gate and let the horror on the other side in. The characters were lured here as sacrifices.
  31. A gate to another dimension exists in the basement. A powerful entity lured the characters here. It is the characters destiny to prevent the evil force on the other side from opening the gate or become it's first victims.
  32. Same as #23 above, only the characters aren't the ones destined to stop the evil; that honor belongs to one of the other researchers. The characters just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  33. A group of counterfeiters or similar criminals have set up shop in the abandoned building. They will do anything to prevent their hidden base from being discovered.
  34. A powerful mage is testing the characters to see if they are a potential threat. He has set several traps and let loose a few nasty creatures. If the characters manage to survive, he will become more active in his scrutiny of them.
  35. The building is home to a local group of cultists who don't want the characters poking around. Some of the cultists are pretty influential members of the local political arena and police won't be coming to look for answers if the characters vanish.
  36. The building is next to a similar location in an alternate dimension. There is a fair amount of "echoing" from activity in that dimension. It's harmless and will stop when the dimensions pull away from each other in the morning.
  37. A powerful paranormal creature has made the building it's home while hunting the local area. It will enjoy having a new snack.
  38. One of the objects in the building is cursed, all who have owned it have died horribly. It is waiting for a new owner to appear.
  39. The land the building rests on is an ancient transitional ley nexus. The strange occurrences can be traced to lesser entities gathered around the nexus. An old and secret magic sect is trying to drive the characters away so they can reclaim the site.
  40. The building is the site of a new, secret governmental experiment in viral warfare. A modified bio-organism that causes hallucinations and insanity was released and the characters are unknowing test subjects.
  41. Some kids who've run away from home are using the building as a shelter. They think the characters are the police and are trying to hide.
  42. Some kids have run away from home and are using the building as a shelter. They're terrified of being caught and sent back for good reason, it seems their guardian is an insane cultist who intends to sacrifice them. Unfortunately, the madman has tracked them to the house and doesn't mind adding a few victims to his list.
  43. A homicidal maniac has escaped from a local psychiatric hospital and is using the building as a temporary hideout. Lucky for him there are a few new "playmates" there.