Lahsk Hall is a tottering pile, a mansion built on a treeless hilltop over a hundred and fifty years ago. It’s been abandoned for the last third of that, and it has a reputation that makes the locals keep well away from it. Even the lord who has been given the territory the mansion once governed won’t go near the place, preferring to leave it to fall in on itself.
The locals insist that the mansion is haunted and that there is an evil presence there that has driven every scion of House de Lahsk mad. Even before the mansion was built, the hill was avoided as an unhealthy place. However the de Lahsk family was new to the region, and no qualms about building their seat there.
The lord who built the mansion, Wilhelm de Lahsk, was killed by his wife, almost a year to the day that the mansion had been built. The servants said that she set him ablaze one night as he slept in a drunken stupor, and sat there laughing as the servants tried to save their master. She never stopped laughing, and died a few months later.
Erian de Lahsk, Wilhelm’s son, tried to forget what his mother had done and buried hmself in the administrative tasks of the province. He was found, ripped to pieces, in his own study, by his favorite hunting dog. The dog was summarily destroyed.
Erian’s young daughter Sarianne inherited, but was kept away from the mansion by a distant cousin, who adopted her. She moved back in upon the announcement of her marriage to a neighboring lord. On their wedding night, she apparently stabbed her husband to death, then calmly cut his body apart and scattered the pieces. When she was found the next morning, she acted as she normally did. Then she cheerfully walked off of an upper story balcony, killing herself. She was the last of the family line.
After her death, a local town elder took possession of the mansion and turned it into an orphanage. He was hailed as a paragon of virtue, and the children under his care had better care and food than any other orphanage anywhere provided. True, the children complained about bad dreams, but all children have nightmares, particularly ones who have lost their parents. Ten years after the orphanage was created, four of the children killed the elder who ran it, garroting him. When asked, three said they didn’t remember doing so (and of them, two were utterly horrified), and the fourth said he didn’t know why he had done it.
Another came and took charge of the orphanage. He lasted barely a month, before fleeing in a mad rush, screaming that “they” were going to get him, and that “they” wanted him to do something horrible. He could not be persuaded to return to Lahsk Hall at any price. Around the same time, many of the children were found nearby, wandering in a dazed state. Most didn’t know how they’d ended up where they were found, and seemed terrified of going back. Almost all of the ones who had been found in this manner ran away soon after.
Only a handful of children were left when a young woman volunteered to take charge of them. She was well known for being very fond of children, and had even taken care of other children on behalf of their parents. For a while, things seemed better. Then, five months after she came, visitors found her in a dreamy, confused state. She invited them to stay the night, as a storm was coming. In the middle of the night, she got out of bed, and carefully slit the throat of every child in her care. The visitors killed her in self-defense when she attacked them as well. They left quickly.
After that, no one wanted to have anything to do with the place, and it stood empty. Despite the way the locals shunned it, there were periodically strangers who went to the mansion, drawn by the legends, or hints at valuables, or simply taking shelter from the elements. Some left unharmed. Most went mad, and were discovered sometimes miles away, or they killed each other in an unexplained frenzy, or they simply did not come out at all.
The people say Lahsk Hall is haunted by the malicious and insane ghosts of the many, many people who died there. Some of them say that there are ghosts that were there even before the mansion was built. While the ghosts are dangerous in and of themselves, the general sentiment is that they are merely a symptom of a greater and deadlier evil. They seem remarkably reluctant to say more, calling it a cursed place. It’s been so long, no one really knows what is up there anymore, and they don’t want to find out.
The PCs might be passing through the region, and get caught by a storm. The closest shelter is the ruins of Lahsk Hall. Who knows what they might find?
There are vague rumors of treasure in the Hall, left over from the days of Lords Wilhelm and Erian and Lady Sarianne. No one has claimed it yet, and what do adventurers have to fear from ghosts?
Maybe a friend or ally of the PCs has gone mad, or missing, and the last place they were known to be was the general area.
Perhaps word of the PCs exploits has reached the local villagers (or the lord who now owns Lahsk Hall), and they want someone to excorcise the menace once and for all.