Picture an architect, a great one, full of talent and promise. Feed them exotic liqueurs and opiates. Warp his mind with a terror and madness so pure as to be almost elemental. Now tell them to build the grandest castle they can imagine. Now picture a whole army of architects working at cross purposes. That fever dream is Castle Dracula.
Miles of twisted corridors connect a mad jumble of rooms. The normal logic of a castle layout has no sway here. Kitchens abut bedrooms. Massive ballrooms are found beneath grisly torture chambers. Myriad spires pierce the eternal night, each of them castles unto themselves. Rooms of every mundane function are here, but their adornments are anything but ordinary. The furniture and decorations were splendid once, rich and Gothic. Now cobwebs and mildew rule. Among the guestrooms and armories are stranger things, arcane laboratories and forgotten shrines.
The only thing more varied and phantasmagorical than the castle are the monsters. If fearful tales of it have been told, it exists somewhere in Castle Dracula . Harpies, nuckelavees, penanggalans, nue, all these and more lurk in the darkened rooms. Most are content to stay put and guard their lairs from intruders, but some prowl the castle, looking for mortals to prey upon. And there are mortals, even in a place as dark and inhuman as this. They huddle together in small enclaves, fearful of the ever-present night. Some are nominally employed by the count as servants. There is an entire tribe of cooks in a Brobdingnagian kitchen, cooking endless banquets for ghouls and creeps. Others are outside of any supposed social structure, like the clan of escaped prisoners in one of the subterranean torture chambers. This people are humans, with the same capacity for good and evil as any human, but they all worship evil. They have to; it is omnipresent and inescapable here. The shadow of Dracula looms over the minds of all inhabitants. Though all acknowledge the count as the lord of the castle, no one has ever seen him and lived, or so the stories say.
Steepleburg is the most prominent human settlement with in the castle. It lies on top of the world, nestled between spires. The quaint European style houses would be charming if not for the paranoid residents. Any outsider is subject to hostile stares and cold shoulders. Still, they accept gold and other valuables, so a weary recursor can buy a room and a meal at the town’s lone inn The Lost Halberdier. For a larger fee, they can buy access to the securely locked trapdoor that leads to an attic in the castle proper. This makes Steepleburg an almost ideal staging ground. Almost ideal because the mayor, Gregor Stelvich, is secretly in league with a monster called the Bag Man. He arranges the kidnapping of anyone who questions his authority, or he thinks could possibly challenge him. Any strangers stand a good chance of triggering his paranoia.