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Haunts with no cleric


Advice


What's a party with no cleric supplied to do when they encounter a haunt, have no positive energy to destroy it?

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Endure it. It is, at worst, a spell effect.

Shadow Lodge

Technically positive energy only suppresses the effects of a haunt for several hours anyway, doesn't it? Typically I see haunts that have a separate solution for ending the influence completely--for example

Spoiler:
in Season 3: First Steps Part II, there's a haunt in a well that you can lay to rest by retrieving the remains and taking them back to town to be given a proper burial.

Holy water also works if you happen to find some during the adventure or have it on your person, assuming it's not a super-special haunt that's immune to holy water for some reason (though I honestly can't think of any reason someone would do that, haha).

Paizo Employee Developer

You only have the surprise round to deal positive energy damage to a haunt anyway, so cleric or not, if a) no one notices the haunt before it acts on initiative count 10 in the surprise round or b) the cleric/paladin/holy water chucker gets less than a 10 on her initiative, then the haunt manifests as normal. A persistent haunt gives you more time, but in general, they're supposed to be instant effects that you either suppress or not.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's similar to a party encountering a trap without a rogue.

Silver Crusade

Holy water is an amazing thing. You should always carry some. In general, consumables let you cover whatever rare nasty shows up. Alchemist fire for swarms, smokesticks for rogues (and darkness spammers), holy water for haunts, etc.

Osirion

Splash it with Holy Water.

Anyone who can cast a cure spell or use a cure light wounds wand can harm it with a touch attack.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Sapphire Onion wrote:

Splash it with Holy Water.

Anyone who can cast a cure spell or use a cure light wounds wand can harm it with a touch attack.

The problem is that you have to do so during the surprise round, before initiative 10. One only gets a single action during surprise round.

This means that the holy water better be in hand in order to be used. For a cure spell or wand to work, the haunt has to be in arm's reach and the wand in hand (or a spring-loaded wrist sheath).

Wizards and Sorcerers can also cast disrupt undead.

Ultimately, however, it's pretty hard to deactivate a haunt before it manifests without a cleric. Generally speaking, you just have to deal with it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

6 people marked this as a favorite.
DMFTodd wrote:
What's a party with no cleric supplied to do when they encounter a haunt, have no positive energy to destroy it?

Scooby Doo and gang provide some good old 1st edition wisdom here:

RUN. Run for your lives.

Run away, it works!

Seriously though, players get in a mindset that everything is like a monster that must be confronted and defeated. Not so. I realize they want to be heroic. I appreciate that. But a haunt is more like a lit stick of dynamite with a story to tell. Sometimes prudence is the only course.


Jim Groves wrote:
DMFTodd wrote:
What's a party with no cleric supplied to do when they encounter a haunt, have no positive energy to destroy it?

Scooby Doo and gang provide some good old 1st edition wisdom here:

RUN. Run for your lives.

Run away, it works!

Seriously though, players get in a mindset that everything is like a monster that must be confronted and defeated. Not so. I realize they want to be heroic. I appreciate that. But a haunt is more like a lit stick of dynamite with a story to tell. Sometimes prudence is the only course.

To be as vague and non-spoiler like as possible, I remember a particular haunted room that did funny things to players and running probably would have saved our lives.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:

Run away, it works!

Seriously though, players get in a mindset that everything is like a monster that must be confronted and defeated.

This.

Qadira

I've never seen a haunt tell a story, just rolls attacks and damage and the pcs get annoyed and move on.

Enter room, take way to much damage for what happened, disrupt undead and holy water the place. Enter next room and repeate.


GeneticDrift wrote:
I've never seen a haunt tell a story, just rolls attacks and damage and the pcs get annoyed and move on.

I think whether a story is told or not is up to the GM. Not every GM can do creepy (or bring NPCs to life for that matter), but for the GMs who can, haunts allow you to tell creepy mini-stories.

Anyone play "Vampire: Bloodlines" the video game? It had a GREAT haunted house near the beginning, which is exactly how I imagine haunts to be.

Fighting an opponent that can't be beat is indeed scary. Oh noes, the heroes have to run!


Chris Mortika wrote:
Endure it. It is, at worst, a spell effect.

It's basically a trap, so do whatever you do when you don't have a trap disarmer.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
Endure it. It is, at worst, a spell effect.
It's basically a trap, so do whatever you do when you don't have a trap disarmer.

RUN!

Shadow Lodge

Kyle Baird wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
Endure it. It is, at worst, a spell effect.
It's basically a trap, so do whatever you do when you don't have a trap disarmer.
RUN!

Or hurl in the person with the most HP, hope they endure it, and have everyone (hopefully) scramble through to safety on their bootheels.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
GeneticDrift wrote:

I've never seen a haunt tell a story, just rolls attacks and damage and the pcs get annoyed and move on.

Enter room, take way to much damage for what happened, disrupt undead and holy water the place. Enter next room and repeate.

It depends on how well prepped the DM is.... I ran one cold this weekend that I would have flavored up if I knew it was there ahead of time.

Andoran

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
GeneticDrift wrote:

I've never seen a haunt tell a story, just rolls attacks and damage and the pcs get annoyed and move on.

Enter room, take way to much damage for what happened, disrupt undead and holy water the place. Enter next room and repeate.

It depends on how well prepped the DM is.... I ran one cold this weekend that I would have flavored up if I knew it was there ahead of time.

Also each Haunt has flavor written into it, some kind of visual or sound goes with the haunt, usually links to the reason the haunt formed.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I stepped back for a day before replying to this. I think it's a legitimate perspective, but its not the only perspective that is valid. So this is a rebuttal, but I mean to make it a respectful one..and I probably won't reply to it directly again. I don't think I can change your mind, but I think I can offer a different point-of-view for anybody who is on the fence.

GeneticDrift wrote:
I've never seen a haunt tell a story, just rolls attacks and damage and the pcs get annoyed and move on.

That depends on how the haunt is written, and equally how it is portrayed. Some Paizo published haunts don't have a lot of flavor and this indictment is not unreasonable. Some haunts are very specific to a specific adventure and they DO contain a lot of flavor. It's for that very reason. They're not just haunts, they're haunts engendered by the events that are pertinent to that adventure.

In the case of GMs that don't have time to prepare: I don't judge. That's fine. PFS GMs do the absolute best they can at the time, and I'm not going to second guess them. In a perfect world I would encourage preparation, but we could say that about any facet of our lives.

As for including flavor with a haunt; there is a fine line with how much is too much—which relates to game mechanics. When I wrote a recent scenario I had this potential (bad) situation in mind:

GM: These ghostly images appear and this spectral person says this stuff—
Player: Well I channel energy! Or I run out of the room!
GM: Whoa whoa whoa.. you can do that, but we have to roll initiative, and if you roll well enough you might be able to do that.
Player: Huh? But this ghost thing appeared and just started talking and my character just wouldn't stand there with my thumb up my butt.
GM: But you're not! It's just that everything is based around initiative. You can act on your turn.
Play: But Casper the Bitter Ghost gets to work out his issues first and I'm just standing there doing nuthin'. Man this sucks.

So as a writer and a designer- how do I fix that? How do I protect the GM from complaints, stay true to the rules, and still provide backstory?

Well, looking to the Core Rules—there is the free action. Which we can cite to be about 2 sentences, or 25 words. That's the benchmark I use in determining using how much 'flavor' I felt like is fair. And adhering to the rules, those 'free action' holographic images take place after the stated 'tell' which is what you make a Perception check to notice and respond to.

I do feel they have stories to tell, because a trap is just a mechanical doodad or spell that somebody put somewhere to mess with somebody else. A haunt should be some personal trauma that is so awful that its torn a hole in the world, and its making the players be a witness.

Shakespeare Via Jim wrote:
What is he whose grief bears such an emphasis? Whose phrase of sorrow gathers the wandering PCs (stars) and makes them stand like wonder-wounded hearers. This is I, Hamlet the Dane.

Yes, its a challenge to portray it. Its a challenge to write it in a free action. I respect the difficulties of both challenges, just as I respect the GM running the table.

GeneticDrift wrote:
Enter room, take way too much damage for what happened, disrupt undead and holy water the place. Enter next room and repeate.

Well.. I suppose you can have too many haunts, which was a concern of mine. With a PFS scenario we're limited to a set number of encounters. Where it gets tricky is that one trap or one haunt is not equal to an encounter. Two to three traps or haunts (or I imagine a combination of the two) equal to a combat or role-playing encounter. In a recent scenario I used a two to one ratio. Two haunts to one combat, or four total haunts because the environment was decidedly haunted by definition. That may be too many, I'm still thinking about that (and specifically welcome feedback about).

As for doing too much damage, your mileage varies. In my home AP campaign my players don't like paralysis ("we get coup de grace'd- its save or suck"), they don't like fear effects ("we run for 4 rounds, miss the fight and by the time we run back- we're taken out of the action"), or confusion ("we end up attacking another PC who attacks us, and we're stuck in a PVP death spiral"), and dominate person.. and the list goes on and on. I tell them those effects are not going anywhere, but they have my sympathy. They're obstacles to be overcome, and something to plan to compensate for if they hate them so much.

Anyway, I have said too much.

(Said to everyone, not specifically the OP):

No doubt haunts are a PITA. Mamma said there would be days like this. There would days like this my Mamma said. So do yourself a favor and run away. There is no shame.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:
How do I protect the GM from complaints,

Great post Jim! With respect to the part I quoted, it'll never happen. ;-)

Taldor

Whenever I deal with a haunt in a PFS game as a GM I try and take a second to explain how haunts work to my group before the adventure so they're clear.

After a recent debacle in the Haunting of Hinojai I'll also be explaining that haunts often have a story to tell, that if they want to actually understand what's going on, sometimes they need to endure them rather than defeat them like they're traps. Haunt adventures can be frustrating a deadly, especially if the players aren't figuring out what's going on and try and tackle them like they're encounters to be defeated.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Peyote wrote:

Whenever I deal with a haunt in a PFS game as a GM I try and take a second to explain how haunts work to my group before the adventure so they're clear.

After a recent debacle in the Haunting of Hinojai I'll also be explaining that haunts often have a story to tell, that if they want to actually understand what's going on, sometimes they need to endure them rather than defeat them like they're traps. Haunt adventures can be frustrating a deadly, especially if the players aren't figuring out what's going on and try and tackle them like they're encounters to be defeated.

That's not accurate. If you tell them that then you're providing them with misinformation. Haunt flavor "speech" is a free action, but the actual spell-effect is a standard action that takes place on Surprise Round Initiative count 10. When that free action takes place is irrelevant, but the when the spell effect happens is set. They can observe the story and then react or run away without penalty (or I suppose if the GM interprets otherwise, they can react or run away before the flavorful free action takes place- but I don't see the point).

This may sound like I'm just making stuff up or adding rules, but I'm not. This is just the Core Combat Rules as written. Flavor behavior is essentially a free action to speak. That's all my haunts are doing- speaking. You just get some pictures with the sound (or even observe the party who is speaking, if that is a simpler analogy). I grant you I suppose I've expanded very slightly on the haunt mechanic, but not by very much at all.

There is no special need to endure a haunt. You can witness what the haunt has to communicate and still defeat it. And even if you rule the the players don't witness it, because they ran away, what they miss really shouldn't deprive them of the story that much. It speaks more to why and how that specific haunting came about.

You mentioned a debacle in your game? This thread is about Hinojai specifically and is labeled for GMs, and that it contains spoilers

Could you post about it, and we could talk about it and work it out? I regret if this has been confusing. I firmly disagree with your assertion, but I don't want to quarrel about it. I'd like to help if I can.

Taldor

Jim Groves wrote:
Peyote wrote:

Whenever I deal with a haunt in a PFS game as a GM I try and take a second to explain how haunts work to my group before the adventure so they're clear.

After a recent debacle in the Haunting of Hinojai I'll also be explaining that haunts often have a story to tell, that if they want to actually understand what's going on, sometimes they need to endure them rather than defeat them like they're traps. Haunt adventures can be frustrating a deadly, especially if the players aren't figuring out what's going on and try and tackle them like they're encounters to be defeated.

That's not accurate. If you tell them that then you're providing them with misinformation. Haunt flavor "speech" is a free action, but the actual spell-effect is a standard action that takes place on Surprise Round Initiative count 10. When that free action takes place is irrelevant, but the when the spell effect happens is set. They can observe the story and then react or run away without penalty (or I suppose if the GM interprets otherwise, they can react or run away before the flavorful free action takes place- but I don't see the point).

This may sound like I'm just making stuff up or adding rules, but I'm not. This is just the Core Combat Rules as written. Flavor behavior is essentially a free action to speak. That's all my haunts are doing- speaking. You just get some pictures with the sound (or even observe the party who is speaking, if that is a simpler analogy). I grant you I suppose I've expanded very slightly on the haunt mechanic, but not by very much at all.

There is no special need to endure a haunt. You can witness what the haunt has to communicate and still defeat it. And even if you rule the the players don't witness it, because they ran away, what they miss really shouldn't deprive them of the story that much. It speaks more to why and how that specific haunting came about.

You mentioned a debacle in your game?...

I perfectly understand how haunts work and how to run them, and I don't see how explaining to my players that a haunt can be as simple as a spell effect or as complex as a recreation of an entire event be misleading them.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Peyote wrote:
I perfectly understand how haunts work and how to run them, and I don't see how explaining to my players that a haunt can be as simple as a spell effect or as complex as a recreation of an entire event be misleading them.

That's not what I meant. Explaining the mechanic to them is all fine and good. I regret if I wasn't clear on that point.

Stating that they have to suffer or endure a negative effect in order to be a witness to flavor aspect (and thus "get the story") is in my opinion incorrect.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you wrote?

Peyote wrote:
I'll also be explaining that haunts often have a story to tell, that if they want to actually understand what's going on, sometimes they need to endure them rather than defeat them like they're traps.

The emphasis is mine, of course, but with no intention of cherry-picking.

You see, you can defeat the spell-effect (by running away, or channeling positive energy, and so on) and still get the story aspect. You don't have to stand there and just "take it in the face" just to that two sentence movie.

If I have misunderstood your point, I apologize again.

Silver Crusade

Stephen White wrote:
It's similar to a party encountering a trap without a rogue.

..Unless they have another high dex character in the party, or a dwarf with stone cunning, or a barbarian with trap sense.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

n o 417 wrote:
Stephen White wrote:
It's similar to a party encountering a trap without a rogue.
..Unless they have another high dex character in the party, or a dwarf with stone cunning, or a barbarian with trap sense.

Small thread derail before I go to bed,

Spoiler:
That is a great counterpoint, n o 417! It just breaks down a little when you consider the case of magical traps, which require the Trapfinding (Ex) class ability in order to use Disarm Device (something even the barbarian with trap sense lacks).

You gotta watch those magical traps, they really mess with (or equalize) parties that are looking to skip having a rogue or urban ranger around.

Food for thought! :D


n o 417 wrote:
Stephen White wrote:
It's similar to a party encountering a trap without a rogue.
..Unless they have another high dex character in the party, or a dwarf with stone cunning, or a barbarian with trap sense.

That's not quite an accurate analogy -- those characters you mentioned (esp. the dwarf with stonecunning) are trap detectors, not trap disarmers; detecting haunts is not usually the problem, disarming them is.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:

That's not accurate. If you tell them that then you're providing them with misinformation. Haunt flavor "speech" is a free action, but the actual spell-effect is a standard action that takes place on Surprise Round Initiative count 10. When that free action takes place is irrelevant, but the when the spell effect happens is set. They can observe the story and then react or run away without penalty (or I suppose if the GM interprets otherwise, they can react or run away before the flavorful free action takes place- but I don't see the point).

This may sound like I'm just making stuff up or adding rules, but I'm not. This is just the Core Combat Rules as written. Flavor behavior is essentially a free action to speak. That's all my haunts are doing- speaking. You just get some pictures with the sound (or even observe the party who is speaking, if that is a simpler analogy). I grant you I suppose I've expanded very slightly on the haunt mechanic, but not by very much at all.

There is no special need to endure a haunt. You can witness what the haunt has to communicate and still defeat it. And even if you rule the the players don't witness it, because they ran away, what they miss really shouldn't deprive them of the story that much. It speaks more to why and how that specific haunting came about.

Jim, as much as I enjoyed running this scenario I have to disagree with your comments here on when a haunt manifests and how much of the story the players can get if they react quickly.

Players: We approach the gate to the house.

GM: Roll Perception. OK, players A and D hear <spoiler omitted>. Roll Initiative.

Player B: I won initiative but didn't hear anything, so I can't act yet in the surprise round. I guess I delay.

Player D: "Do you guys hear that? Run!" I run away.

Player B: I come out of delay. I run!

GM (at initiative 10): You see <spoiler omitted> and then you need to make a <applicable> save.

Player A: I heard that coming, but with an initiative of 8 I just didn't react fast enough to even take my free action to warn the rest of you. If only I could have taken an immediate action while flat-footed...

Now, if Player B and/or D had instead opted to use some kind of positive energy and had done enough damage to disrupt the haunt, the ONLY thing that would have occurred was to hear the warning sounds. None of the rest of the haunt would have appeared, so the full imagery of the story being told would have been missed. Peyote is right, RAW if you want to observe the haunt to get the full story you have to suck it up and not disrupt it.

Is your position that if a party makes its Perception checks, beats an initiative roll of 10, and manages to neutralize the haunt with positive energy before it manifests, they still get to observe the visual and audio portions of the haunt on initiative 10 without suffering the negative effects? While I would love for the party to get the whole interesting backstory I don't think this interpretation of the haunt rules is accurate RAW. I certainly wouldn't complain if this was clarified or errata'd to work this way, though.

As a general warning to GMs, scenarios with lots of haunts can take a really, really long time to run because some parties will get extremely cautious and take ten minutes just to walk down an empty corridor...

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

NITPICK!!!

Daniel Simons wrote:
Player A: I heard that coming, but with an initiative of 8 I just didn't react fast enough to even take my free action to warn the rest of you. If only I could have taken an immediate action while flat-footed...

He could have warned everyone immediately:

Da rulez wrote:
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isn't your turn.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:

NITPICK!!!

Da rulez wrote:
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isn't your turn.

Very enlightening, thanks! I usually only allow it on your turn, but that's what we get with swift, immediate, and free actions gumming up the works.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Daniel,

Thanks for your comments! Jiggy point is well made, but I will take it one step further. Replying to you directly:

Daniel Simons wrote:
Is your position that if a party makes its Perception checks, beats an initiative roll of 10, and manages to neutralize the haunt with positive energy before it manifests, they still get to observe the visual and audio portions of the haunt on initiative 10 without suffering the negative effects? While I would love for the party to get the whole interesting backstory I don't think this interpretation of the haunt rules is accurate RAW. I certainly wouldn't complain if this was clarified or errata'd to work this way, though.

That is close to my position Daniel. Not 100% but pretty darn close.

What I have been calling the "backstory moment" and the actual spell effect are two distinct and separate things. Understanding that is critical to understanding what I'm trying to get across.

The first is a free action on the part of the haunt which must specifically happen after the 'tell' that the PCs make Perception checks to notice. Otherwise it makes no logical sense. As Jiggy points out for the players, the haunt can also do this when it's not the haunts turn.

The spell effect is a standard action that takes place on initiative count 10.

Because its a free action, the haunt can perform its backstory moment between the time the haunted is first noticed, and before it is defeated. Thus you get your cake and eat it too.

But I sense this is more confusing than I expected, so let me walk through the sequence in an example of my own.

Step One: The haunt is triggered. The phenomenon in the stat-block line (usually a sound, temperature drop, or other minor behavior) takes place. Players have the opportunity to make Perception checks to notice this 'tell'.

Step Two: Initiative is rolled. This first round is a Surprise Round. Those who made their Perception checks can act. Those that did not make their Perception checks cannot.

(Note, yes you can shout out to warn people during a surprise round, but that doesn't give them any mechanical benefit. I just reviewed that on page 178 of the Core Combat Rules.)

Step Two Part A: As a free action the haunt performs it's "background moment". It's not the haunt's turn, but that's okay- it's a free action. Everybody can be aware of this, even the people who are running away, or getting ready to channel positive energy, or cast disrupt undead. Again, I'm stressing that the haunt is performing a free action.

EDITORIAL:

Spoiler:
I concede, this can mess with your sense of continuity a little if your character is going to turn and run away. If that is the case I would suggest that you roleplay that you didn't really pay much attention and call it good. Some will argue with me about that, but my rebuttal is that things happen simultaneously even if the combat system isn't designed to allow for that. If you can't see something out of the corner of your eye as you're turning to flee, I encourage you let your conscience be your guide on what your character knows.

Step Two Part B: Players take their actions in according to their initiative rank (including their own free actions). They can attempt to defeat the haunt, prior to initiative count 10.

Step Three: Initiative Count 10, and the haunt does its spell-effect if it has not been defeated.

Step Four: Any player who made their Perception check can still act this round, on their own initiative count.

Step Five: Round One begins, and all players can now act, including the ones who did not make their Perception check.

Conclusion: I just demonstrated how you can experience a "background moment" without suffering or enduring the spell effect the haunt unleashes. The background moment and the spell effect are separate actions. The former is a free action that takes place prior to being defeated. The latter is a standard action that takes place on count 10 if it has not been defeated. It can be defeated in-between those two actions.

*****************

I hope you'll believe me that I don't mean to sound patronizing when I broke that down.

Actually I'm very concerned that the confusion and the pushback means that I've introduced an element to the haunt mechanic that is just not going to work in future scenarios and I shouldn't ever do it again. I'm confident that I've not really broken (or actually expanded) on any rules.. but if GMs don't enjoy it and players are frustrated, then I can go back to treating them EXACTLY like traps.

But then they'll be exactly like traps. Not storytelling devices that act like traps too.

To me that seems a shame, but I get paid to write what people enjoy- not what makes them pissed off. No sarcasm there, I mean that compassionately.

Think it over and let me know!

Silver Crusade

Jim Groves wrote:

Actually I'm very concerned that the confusion and the pushback means that I've introduced an element to the haunt mechanic that is just not going to work in future scenarios and I shouldn't ever do it again. I'm confident that I've not really broken (or actually expanded) on any rules.. but if GMs don't enjoy it and players are frustrated, then I can go back to treating them EXACTLY like traps.

But then they'll be exactly like traps. Not storytelling devices that act like traps too.

To me that seems a shame, but I get paid to write what people enjoy- not what makes them pissed off. No sarcasm there, I mean that compassionately.

Think it over and let me know!

I actually loved haunts when I ran through "The Haunting of Hinojai". Especially as my character has a negative perception modifier and no real initiative bonus, he *always* had a moment of "Guys! Do you see the walls? THEY'RE BLEEDING! Guys? Where'd ya go...."

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Jim, there's an encounter in "Haunting of Hinojai" that is especially deadly. The "background moment" involves a player character being forced to play a role in the drama. I don't believe your analysis works in that encounter.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Chris Mortika wrote:
Jim, there's an encounter in "Haunting of Hinojai" that is especially deadly. The "background moment" involves a player character being forced to play a role in the drama. I don't believe your analysis works in that encounter.

Chris,

I know which one you mean. In that specific case I can concede the point. It does get fuzzy, and the haunt should probably be shut down before the background moment takes place. I chalk that up to a learning curve with a new idea.

But I appreciate your insight- so what about the overall concept? What about every haunt save that one?

Andoran

Daniel Simons wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:

That's not accurate. If you tell them that then you're providing them with misinformation. Haunt flavor "speech" is a free action, but the actual spell-effect is a standard action that takes place on Surprise Round Initiative count 10. When that free action takes place is irrelevant, but the when the spell effect happens is set. They can observe the story and then react or run away without penalty (or I suppose if the GM interprets otherwise, they can react or run away before the flavorful free action takes place- but I don't see the point).

This may sound like I'm just making stuff up or adding rules, but I'm not. This is just the Core Combat Rules as written. Flavor behavior is essentially a free action to speak. That's all my haunts are doing- speaking. You just get some pictures with the sound (or even observe the party who is speaking, if that is a simpler analogy). I grant you I suppose I've expanded very slightly on the haunt mechanic, but not by very much at all.

There is no special need to endure a haunt. You can witness what the haunt has to communicate and still defeat it. And even if you rule the the players don't witness it, because they ran away, what they miss really shouldn't deprive them of the story that much. It speaks more to why and how that specific haunting came about.

Jim, as much as I enjoyed running this scenario I have to disagree with your comments here on when a haunt manifests and how much of the story the players can get if they react quickly.

Players: We approach the gate to the house.

GM: Roll Perception. OK, players A and D hear <spoiler omitted>. Roll Initiative.

Player B: I won initiative but didn't hear anything, so I can't act yet in the surprise round. I guess I delay.

Player D: "Do you guys hear that? Run!" I run away.

Player B: I come out of delay. I run!

GM (at initiative 10): You see <spoiler omitted> and then you need to make a <applicable> save.

Player A: I heard that coming, but with an initiative of 8 I...

Daniel, I don;t think player B would get to delay, and than run away, because he would't be allowed an action in the surprise round.

Andoran

Jim Groves wrote:

Daniel,

Thanks for your comments! Jiggy point is well made, but I will take it one step further. Replying to you directly:

Daniel Simons wrote:
Is your position that if a party makes its Perception checks, beats an initiative roll of 10, and manages to neutralize the haunt with positive energy before it manifests, they still get to observe the visual and audio portions of the haunt on initiative 10 without suffering the negative effects? While I would love for the party to get the whole interesting backstory I don't think this interpretation of the haunt rules is accurate RAW. I certainly wouldn't complain if this was clarified or errata'd to work this way, though.

That is close to my position Daniel. Not 100% but pretty darn close.

What I have been calling the "backstory moment" and the actual spell effect are two distinct and separate things. Understanding that is critical to understanding what I'm trying to get across.

The first is a free action on the part of the haunt which must specifically happen after the 'tell' that the PCs make Perception checks to notice. Otherwise it makes no logical sense. As Jiggy points out for the players, the haunt can also do this when it's not the haunts turn.

The spell effect is a standard action that takes place on initiative count 10.

Because its a free action, the haunt can perform its backstory moment between the time the haunted is first noticed, and before it is defeated. Thus you get your cake and eat it too.

But I sense this is more confusing than I expected, so let me walk through the sequence in an example of my own.

Step One: The haunt is triggered. The phenomenon in the stat-block line (usually a sound, temperature drop, or other minor behavior) takes place. Players have the opportunity to make Perception checks to notice this 'tell'.

Step Two: Initiative is rolled. This first round is a Surprise Round. Those who made their Perception checks can act. Those that did not make their Perception checks...

Jim, thanks for your laying out the order as you see it. It makes more sense to me now.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

@ Jeff Morse - You're welcome!

@ Community: Folks, I'm think some humility is required on my part. I thought I had it nailed, but I'm a new designer. There's are some bugs and glitches in the system, and feedback is how we learn.

Back to the laboratory! We'll still have haunts, but I'll do it better next time! This is a learning process.

And yeah.. a couple haunts go a long way. They do make the PCs super paranoid. But, Season 4 sees the ratio of traps and haunts to major encounters adjusted.

Thank you all again, and unless its soooper important, I am going to shut up about this for a while. I've said all that could be productive. Thank you for your critiques and feedback.

Silver Crusade

I actually like the way you interpret the way haunts work. It's very similar to the way that I ran them in Haunting of Harrowstone. The breakdown makes it easier to envision just how it works on the back end.

The free action speaking bit, will solve a discussion regarding "monster Monologuing" in my Carrion Crown AP group. :P

Osirion

I like how the haunts in Hinojai work also. While haunts are kind of a modified trap, I like the idea that they're MORE than just a trap. With a trap you walk into a room, hit a pressure plate, effect happens, and that's it. With a haunt you can get a bit of story or a special description to make it feel more worthwhile. A trap that puts a fear effect one you? Eh, I got feared. A haunt that puts a fear effect on you? Holy glob! The walls are bleeding and there's the monster from (insert your favorite horror movie here) chasing me!

I know that not every situation can use a haunt well and that traps do serve a purpose, but I love a bit more of flavor in the scenarios.

Andoran

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Jeff Morse wrote:
Daniel, I don;t think player B would get to delay, and than run away, because he would't be allowed an action in the surprise round.

You are very correct, my error.

Andoran

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Given that I have the privilege of GMing this scenario again at the end of the month, I've spent quite a bit of time analyzing the GMG's wording of haunts and comparing that to Jim's description. While I appreciate exactly what he's trying to do, I don't think that the mechanics "as written in the GMG" support his interpretation. It makes for a more interesting story, but to say that a haunt gets a free action to "speak" just isn't there. The way haunts are presented, if you want to get the story you have to let the haunt manifest, for better or for worse. From another perspective, that can also be an interesting choice that the players may be forced to make, assuming that those characters who have the ability to harm a haunt are also the ones who roll well for both Perception and initiative.

I think I may run my haunts slightly differently the next time. I'll try to get the best of both worlds, hopefully it'll work. The Perception check and initiative roll will proceed as normal, but I won't let the haunt "speak" as a free action until initiative 10. Characters who aren't surprised can try to neutralize the effect part of haunt before then, but then the haunt will manifest. If they did enough positive energy damage they will have effectively "de-clawed" the effect part of the haunt and will only experience the story part, but until that moment they won't know if they've done enough to it to neutralize the effect part. It lets them experience the backstory but keeps the suspense up through the description until they find out if the rest of the haunt fizzles out or not.

Taldor

Jim Groves wrote:
Peyote wrote:
I perfectly understand how haunts work and how to run them, and I don't see how explaining to my players that a haunt can be as simple as a spell effect or as complex as a recreation of an entire event be misleading them.

That's not what I meant. Explaining the mechanic to them is all fine and good. I regret if I wasn't clear on that point.

Stating that they have to suffer or endure a negative effect in order to be a witness to flavor aspect (and thus "get the story") is in my opinion incorrect.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you wrote?

Peyote wrote:
I'll also be explaining that haunts often have a story to tell, that if they want to actually understand what's going on, sometimes they need to endure them rather than defeat them like they're traps.

The emphasis is mine, of course, but with no intention of cherry-picking.

You see, you can defeat the spell-effect (by running away, or channeling positive energy, and so on) and still get the story aspect. You don't have to stand there and just "take it in the face" just to that two sentence movie.

If I have misunderstood your point, I apologize again.

When a haunt is destroyed, it will cease to exist, meaning that any effects it causes also cease to exist as well and the haunt does not manifest. The rules presented in the CR are simply guidelines. Many haunts take several rounds to resolve and are more than just box text to be read plus spell effect. If you are designing all of your haunts to conform to the rules as written and treating their manifestations as magical traps with "a two sentence cutscene" than that is bad game design.

A player who destroys a haunt prevents it from manifesting. A player who runs away from a haunt does not experience it. If the players want to learn about the nature and circumstances of the haunt, they more or less have to endure it or attempt to communicate with the spirit after it manifests, a difficult task that takes a long time which is made even more difficult without knowing the exact specifics of it's haunt. That means running the risk of being affected by it. Players should be aware of this and be left with the choice of how they wish to explore a known to be haunted area, such as a haunted house.

When a haunt occurs, it more or less is a trap to be discovered or accidentally triggered. Unlike most traps they might actually want to trigger it in order to experience it and attempt to understand it. While not all haunts are a dramatic affair that can ruin a game by missing them, they are not tied down to the rules like regular traps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I didn't think you could detect haunts unless you had detect undead or detect evil up and running in advance...at least, that's the way our Carrion Crown GM ran it. I distinctly remember a scorching ray haunt which nearly TPK'd the party with repeated blasts.

Taldor

Ravingdork wrote:
I didn't think you could detect haunts unless you had detect undead or detect evil up and running in advance...at least, that's the way our Carrion Crown GM ran it. I distinctly remember a scorching ray haunt which nearly TPK'd the party with repeated blasts.

Players don't necessarily know when a haunt is going to occur. But they still can blindly harm a haunt by channeling energy. One issue that can potentially happen is a player channels energy in every room as soon as he enters just in case there is a haunt in order to attempt to destroy it.

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