A magnificent house from the early 1900s overlooking Shell Beach, Cliff House was never a good place. Built by the robber baron, occultist and purported psychic Damian Montesco according to his strange and exacting designs, Cliff House was made to “magnify the energies and sensitivities of the unseen world.” Montesco was infamous for a series of sensational trials in which he had been accused and acquitted of acts of rape, manslaughter and outright fraud, and while no charges ever stuck, his bad reputation preceded him wherever he went. Montesco had many “friends” (mainly parasites and would-be occultists) that he entertained at lavish celebrations filled with intrigue, vice and gorgeous costuming.
After his wife died under mysterious circumstances, Montesco threw her a going away party that scandalized even his social circle—then shocked the community by having her exhumed from her newly dug grave and preserved so that she could sit at his dinner table every night. Montesco became increasingly obsessed with what he called “the Great River of Magick that flows underneath San Cipriano, just as the Grand River flows through its territory.” He was certain that supernatural forces converged at San Cipriano in ways that were found nowhere else in the world, and swore he would test his theory with the ultimate experiment.
On Saint Cyprian’s Feast Day (September 16) 1911, Montesco hosted a grand party with dinner, dancing, his dead wife (and a few other dead “friends”) propped up at a table of honor… and a magickal ceremony that he said would restore him to life after his death. Everyone cheered as he made this announcement at the end of the ritual, then screamed as he attempted to demonstrate its success by hanging himself from the balcony overlooking his main parlor.
It did not work.
In accordance with his wishes, the late Damian Montesco was preserved and installed in his house, which was to be maintained by a small staff of caretakers for as long as his considerable fortune lasted. The Montesco Trust is a little thin in the 21st century, but Cliff House is still kept by its three caretakers, who insist that no one should ever be on the grounds at night… god forbid inside the house.
There are rumors. It is said that the Ghosts of many who were hurt by Montesco in his evil, extravagant life have come to stay in his mansion and to reenact the hell he put them through. It is also said that the caretakers set out dinner every night in the dining hall, and leave before well-preserved footsteps approach the opulent table. Sometimes sounds are heard from Cliff House: Laughter, music and screams.
A group of four Lesser Haruspex, trained in investigating hauntings, visited the place in the 1990s. Two died… one went mad… the fourth refuses to speak of that night under any circumstances, having left San Cipriano long ago.
There are supposed to be valuable things at Cliff House—some for reasons of money, others because they have paranormal significance. (Montesco was a collector.) There are always the curious and the greedy, and when the caretakers leave at sunset, there is nothing to stop them except whatever waits inside Cliff House.