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Riyal's Research: Haunts (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 1 rating)

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The great adventurer, abjurer and researcher, Riyal Starlight, has explored much of the world. Throughout his travels he documented many of the dangerous and unusual hazards he has lived to tell the tale. Now within these pages, he shares his findings with you.

Riyal's Research: Haunts brings you two dozen new haunts for you to endanger your player characters' very lives. These haunts range in CR from 1—15 and include haunts inspired by movies and books throughout the fantasy/urban fantasy genre. These haunts detail the power behind deadly chants, talking skulls, cliffs of insanity and flooding rivers. These murderous menaces will enhance your world and your adventures.

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Product Reviews (1)

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****( ) (based on 1 rating)

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Very cool selection of uncommon, almost fey-like haunts

****( )

This pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 5 pages of content, so what exactly do we get?

The pdf starts off with an aptly-written IC-discussion on the nature of haunts, which might make for an interesting in-game hand-outs for your players, as it omits mechanics, but names spells and tricks to evade/counteract haunts. Especially when coming from 3.5 or another haunt-less campaign or system, the information could save a PC's life. After that, we're right into the content, 24 new haunts, spanning the CRs from 1 to 15 and organized by their CRs are presented.

The overall quality of the haunts can be considered quite high, as thankfully no "common haunts" are duplicated - these can already be found in Rite Publishing's excellent "30 haunts..."-pdfs by T.H. Gulliver. Which also brings me to what I consider the trademarks of a good haunt - a creepy atmosphere, a cool effect, a nice tell-tale sign and a logical way of destruction that could be deduced via a vision/divination/the haunt's manifestation or similar means.

The haunts herein provide an interesting angle in that some of them seem to be tied to fey for a wholly different feelings and derivation from the "spirit of the dead"-angle, which I consider nice indeed - why should only the undead have all the fun? Some of the haunts indeed feel distinctively fey to me - a flower with a vortex that sends you into a maze of bone and decay? Now if that's not unseelie, what is?
A sense of Karmic balance pervades some of the haunts, to much effect: Take for example an alley, where a blind leper died. Within, his rags still animate once in a while and curse others with his blindness. In order to get rid of the haunt, a person that has always been blind has to be cured of the affliction in the alley at a specific time. Or take the inferno in a cottage that was incited by a goblin - only if a goblin puts out all the fires inside does the deadly inferno finally stop.

Not all of the haunts are up to this quality, though: Two specific ones represent pet-peeves of mine: They specifically mention that a war between elves and drow and humans and orcs has happened at this place. As a DM, including even an ancient skirmish, let a alone a war in the past, can have repercussions for a certain area, somewhat limiting the appeal of these two haunts for me. Haunts work because they are _little_ stories/tragedies within an adventure. They flesh out the main storyline and provide additional insight. The more cumbersome a haunt in its background, the harder to implement it becomes. That's just my 2 cents, though.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, easy to read 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. The pdf features no artworks, but at this very low price point, I expect none. All in all, I have to admit that I did quite enjoy this installment of Riyal's Research. While the IC-introduction didn't teach me anything new or offer mind-blowing DM-wisdom, it does provide a purpose and the haunts herein feel surprisingly organic. While some means of destruction resort to "dig up bones, bury with rite x", there are enough unconventional haunts and associated means of destruction herein to make this a good read, especially if you're looking for haunts that could also be some nasty tricks fey would pull off. However, none of the haunts are tied together (via e.g. associated haunts) or follow a narrative. While this makes it easier to drop them into an adventure, I would have liked to see e.g. 3 or 4 connected haunts to form a more complex encounter - the potential is definitely there! In the end, while not completely blown away by the pdf, I still consider it a good purchase you won't regret at the low price point and thus will settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.

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