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Request regarding Haunts


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Unto Mark M., and the folks writing scenarios:

I've played through, and also run, several scenarios with haunts, from First Steps to a couple of very high-level, lethal encounters. This is my opinion about them.

Generally speaking, the typical haunt encounter goes like this:

  • Surprise round: one or more people have a chance to notice something. They rarely do, and so far they have never identified a singular haunt as what it is.
  • Surprise round, initiative 10: one or more PCs roll saving throws.
  • Something bad happens, sometimes with special effects.
  • Some players ask, "What the hell was that?" Other players say "It's one of those haunt things."

There are two problems endemic to a haunt encounter: they are very hard to counter, and they are almost impossible to solve.

The exception to the first problem is the scenario with a lot of haunts. The heads-up that the PCs get is tempered, however, by the Venture Captain's orders. The PCs might be able to short-circuit the encounters, but their mission is to trigger the haunts in order to gather information. Nonetheless, this is the single scenario where PCs don't feel screwed over, running into a haunt.

As nosig suggested on another thread, these encounters aren't fun, as they're currently designed.

Hard to Counter
Haunts, as they originaly appeared in Rise of the Runelord, were atmospheric and spooky. They were in a place where the party might reasonably expect something scary. In current scenarios, that's not the case. Any dungeon room, any swamp, any bedroom or kitchen, a large cathedral -- any of these places could have a haunt. PCs can't predict them, so they can't detect them, so they can't react before they go off.

Impossible to Solve
I don't think I've ever seen a haunt encounter with a good solution. Take a look at all the different things the party can do to put a haunt to rest: dunk a thing in holy water, get something blessed, consecrate a cursed item, etc. So far as I know, there's no way for the PCs to know what to do in any instance. (Maybe a DC 25 Knowledge (religion) check?) There's a recent haunt that virtually requires the party to put it to rest in order to save the lives of the affected PCs.

Thanks for your time.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Wow. I'm not familiar with haunts and haven't really encountered any in gameplay*, but what you describe sounds incredibly not-fun.

Especially the bit where you don't even see it coming. That's like having a tough trap in the middle of an unadorned hallway between a couple of fairly insignificant rooms. It's good practice to thoroughly search doors and altars and stuff - places with a good reason to be trapped - but a trap in some random spot means players have to either bog the game down with excessive searching (i.e., search EVERYWHERE) or else face a nasty "WTF?" moment when they encounter it.

Sounds like haunts are doing exactly that.

Shadow Lodge ***

I've had similar issues with Haunts both as a player and as a DM. Outside of PFS, love the concpts of Haunts, sort of a RP heavy trap, but one that more than one class can solve right off the bat. 200% better than Traps already.

But in PFS, every single time we have encountered a Haunt, there is simply no way to know what the heck is going on. I would suggest first and foremost, all Haunts have a DC __ Religion check for clues, with other posible skills, Bardic abilities, or a Wis Check (History, Local, or Nobility being the more common) with a DC 5 points higher to give clues about how to put a Haunt to rest/avoid it/or temp put it down.

Silver Crusade **

I will have to disagree with my fellow players, Haunts do the things that traps should do, devastate a party. While I agree that there should be a knowledge religion check to know what it is, I think an "Oh crap moment" is needed versus most traps that expand charges from a wand of CLW. Most traps are a joke so I gladly welcome the Haunts.

Qadira ****

(I've started 3 long winded posts to this thread - and each time fallen far short of the OP. and each time I deleted before I posted.)

Thank you Chris.

You said it very well, anything I try to add just reduces it.

Grand Lodge ***

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I really like haunts. Unfortunately there's a lot of variation in how they're run. A haunts how-to would probably be a very good blog post some day.

Qadira *

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Tarantino wrote:
As a viewer, the minute I start getting confused, I check out of the movie. Emotionally, I'm severed.

It's good to throw the unknown at the players, but not the confusing. The joy comes from figuring out the unknown, not from escaping from the session barely alive and still wondering what the hell that was.

There's a reason that murder-mystery scenarios are rarely done well - it's hard to balance between mysterious and just confusing. Haunts require the same kind of design to put the necessary clues there for the players to find, without making them obvious or impossible.

Qadira ****

Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
I will have to disagree with my fellow players, Haunts do the things that traps should do, devastate a party. While I agree that there should be a knowledge religion check to know what it is, I think an "Oh crap moment" is needed versus most traps that expand charges from a wand of CLW. Most traps are a joke so I gladly welcome the Haunts.

Traps can devatate a party.

The best traps I have encountered lately give the BBE warning that the PCs are there, and rounds/minutes to prepare. In two recent mods I know of traps that can make the difference between a tough fight and a TPK. (Jiggy I think would agree on one)

Some traps kill PCs (not so much in PFS, but traps in OP have always been watered down - "what if the party doesn't have a trap handler? You have to provide for that"). Put in a few traps that Kill PCs if they are missed.

"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt. Except the save is Will not reflex. OH! and with a trap you get a Detect DC and a Disarm DC, which you don't on a haunt.

want an "Oh crap moment"? That's what traps are for. Or when the Troll opens the secret door next to the middle of the party - 5 foot from the 4th level Sorcerer and the DM says "everyone missed the perception on that door... roll inititive - I've got a 22".

Andoran ***

nosig wrote:
"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt. Except the save is Will not reflex. OH! and with a trap you get a Detect DC and a Disarm DC, which you don't on a haunt.

Probably one of the most misunderstood haunts in PFS.

In part because it is not clear that the entirety of the haunt effects, at that tier, should be treated as a Heal/Harm spell effect in all particulars, so it won't, quite, kill anyone, it can't lower anyone's hit points, even if failed on the save, lower than 1.

Which is quite bad enough, given some of the conditions attendant to the whole scenario.

Spoiler:
I know my group actually had two wands of Inflict Light Wounds going into that module, but two of us bought one apiece specifically in regards to the information we got during the ramp-up. Most parties aren't going to have much healing for this scenario, or are unlikely to "waste" resources acquiring any healing for one scenario's use.

That makes the scenario quite a bit more challenging than a normal scenario, and that version of the haunt is going to burn a significant number of resources, if the party doesn't approach it correctly.

Grand Lodge ****

In the last haunt thread we were discussing buying disposable items that can assist PCs be prepared for haunted areas. Is there anything like that in Ultimate Equipment?

Perhaps there could be a build-up of supernatural energy in the round before the haunt goes off. DCXX Knowledge Religion to identify.
In that round, the Cleric or Oracle or holy water-equipped adventurer needs to deal XX amounts of holy damage in order to ensure the manifestation doesn't occur? Holy water helps here for other classes.

I have had a fun time with haunts but I do agree that some method of being able to proactively have a chance to 'beat' or 'avoid' them would be great.

*

That's how haunts already work, you just need to beat a 10 on initiative and succeed on the (passive) perception check to notice them.

Shadow Lodge ***

Two Haunts e have faced recently, I and I am going to spoiler tag them are bth against 1st level characters. I do not recall the names of the adventures off hand so I do not want to mislead people by guessing.

In the first

Haunt:
it was a very small room with nothing inside except a well, that was about the size of a 5ft square, activated by being within 10ft of it. There are no light sources in the room itself, and being in the middle of the room, the arty must go withing 10ft of it to just cross the room. Being within 10 ft of the well activates the Hant, which is a Will save vs compulsion to jump down the well, I think 20 ft. Solving the Haunt is dragging the skeleton up from the bottom of the well, and giving it a proper burrial. We had three weak characters and one strong one. Guess who took the plunge. . . There is no indication that the body shoud be recovered (not to mention taken back outside, climbed down the mountain and then burried, but rather some sort of magic is trying to divide and conquer, and has already gotten at least one victim, ooc, showing how lethal the fall can be.

For the second, the DM literally had to kick us out of the room or we would have lost characters, and he honestly couldn't think of a way t justify it otherwise. One to the room itself and everyone else likely to the rest of the adventure. This

Haunt:
was something like a 20x20ft room with one door. Being inside the room activated the haunt which caused a Fort save each round as the room instantly became very dry and hot. With a failed save, (again 1st level characters here) you begin taking some sort of Non-lethal damage each round which can not be healed except with 8+ hours of rest (which doesn't happen in PFS in the middle of an adventure). We discussed this afterwards in our AAR, and the DM basically told us what the deal was.
In the game though, he basically said as we opened the door and walked in, "all of the sudden the room gets very hot, and almost dusty, as if something is drawing away all the humidity and moister from everything. Seeing nothing at all in the room, you decide to turn around and shut the door."
Haunt:
I want to say this was solved by making a Perception check (which we all failed with I think around 18 highest, finding a skull and then putting water on it).
But there are no clues at all about this, and no indication from the scenario that players would know it is even a Haunt rather than the room, or a set up for a fight you can't see yet, (incidently probably causing the players to stay in the room and prepair for a fight leading to their death or severe weakness thereafter. This was also like the 3 room in the dungeon. . .

Grand Lodge ****

I mean there would be a full round of 'build up time' which means the entire party has a better chance to react, rather than the current surprise all the time system.

Shadow Lodge ***

KestlerGunner wrote:
I mean there would be a full round of 'build up time' which means the entire party has a better chance to react, rather than the current surprise all the time system.

The only character with a light soure crossed the room, activated it, and made saves every time, so knew something was up, but no idea otherwise what it was, besides random, (and illsuionary school) moaning in the distance.

Sczarni ***

Beckett wrote:

Two Haunts e have faced recently, I and I am going to spoiler tag them are bth against 1st level characters. I do not recall the names of the adventures off hand so I do not want to mislead people by guessing.

In the first ** spoiler omitted **

For the second, the DM literally had to kick us out of the room or we would have lost characters, and he honestly couldn't think of a way t justify it otherwise. One to the room itself and everyone else likely to the rest of the adventure. This ** spoiler omitted ** In the game though, he basically said as we opened the door and walked in, "all of the sudden the room gets very hot, and almost dusty, as if something is drawing away all the humidity and moister from everything. Seeing nothing at all in the room, you decide to turn around and shut the door." ** spoiler omitted **...

Honestly, I know both of these haunts. I can tell you where they are in what scenarios.

I like the idea of haunts, honestly, but the rules governing how to run them feel very clunky. Either that, or I just don't understand the rules at all.

Edit: HONESTLY!

Shadow Lodge ***

I think you likely understand them well enough, and PFS versions of them just fall short and exclude too much info and too much of the spirit of their use. Carrion Crown had a lot of them, and they where a completely different, (and for me well liked) thing altogether.

***** Venture-Captain, Wisconsin—Madison aka Mat Black

i will chime in with the fact that most of the haunts that i've run into running PFS encounters are not persistent haunts, which makes them incredibly underwhelming.

Spoiler:

i don't remember the dehydration haunt being persistent, at least not at the subtier i ran at. this made it an incredibly confusing singular occurrence that basically had no effect on the game. the same goes with the well, i don't recall that being persistent. however, if you find yourself being compelled to jump down a well and then find a skeleton at the bottom, if you don't at least consider that you should perhaps give it a proper burial... well, i'm not sure, but seems a bit of a no-brainer to me.

the only non-persistent haunt that i've found effective is the suicide haunt in Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment.

in short, if written well, haunts are wonderful. i'll have to say, though, that i haven't seen them used to their full potential in many scenarios.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Mat,

The haunt in the recent scenario...

Spoiler:
is persistent. It requires that its victims make an increasingly difficult save every hour or take non-lethal damage, and it also makes them fatigued. The damage can't be healed while the haunt is in effect. That kind of damage will drop anybody unconscious in a dozen hours hours, and kill them within a day, unless they can get the curse lifted.

It's most emphatically not underwhelming.

So, three things:

1) Haunts come up in unpredictable locations. (The top of a tree? A jail cell? A bridge?) Unless the party has detect undead running constantly, there's no way to tell that a haunt is in the area.

This, I think, is one of the things a scenario writer can do something about. I request that haunts be restricted to spookier, or more macabre, locations, where the PCs have an inkling to check for them. The haunt in the first steps scenario is, I think, a good example of a haunt that is very hard to foresee.

2) The "detect" roll is a perception check to notice something happening, but I have yet to see a party identify this as a haunt manifesting. A jar opens. A creaking sound comes from somewhere. This is the kind of thing that begins an encounter, or a combat. Take Boat, you suggest that the detect rolls are easy to make. They are, you're right. But if I had a cleric who pours positive energy into every room the instant a door opens, I'd have clerics who are out of positive energy channels before the third encounter.

3) Every haunt has a way to destroy it. There should be a way for the party to figure this out.

*

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I like horror and I think I do it well. Haunts should ideally work in the following way:

1) Not all haunts should appear out of nowhere. Sometimes you can clearly hear them a room over (which is the case in one scenario). Sometimes they follow you around a limited area (Ex. a house). Sometimes they manifest BEHIND you (just because you clear a room doesn’t mean it’s safe).

2) Not all haunts should hurt or be set off like a trap. Some should be informational only. For example, you see the image of the murderer for a second in the mirror or his shadow. Or you find a parchment that says something, only to disappear a few seconds later. Or maybe a ghostly little girl just says something to you, giving a clue for later.

It’s creepier if the tension builds instead of just dropping bricks on your head at every turn. Make the PCs interact with the creepiness (and know it’s not always best trying to destroy it immediately).

3) It should be possible to back away from some haunts with no ill effect. Other haunts, there should be a negative effect if you run away from it (and it’s possible there’s no ill effect if you stay!).

4) If you try to kill a haunt with positive energy, that should activate the haunt’s defenses, even for benign haunts. Which should be a very bad result for the PCs.

From a story telling experience, you ideally want the PCs to learn the story of the haunt, interact with it, and deactivate it.

5) The haunt should tell a story and give the party a certain amount of time to make it better. Some things (red herrings) will NOT make it better and will give the PCs bad effects. Skills like Sense Motive, K-Religion, Int checks, or other skills could be used to provide clues (or eliminate red herrings).

6) Haunts should not be in random or nonsensical locations.

7) Not all haunts should follow the same formula (see above for variations). Be creative.

8) Most of all, haunts should be interesting and tell a story.

I would like it if (the scenario writers) could slightly tweak the mechanics of haunts in PFS scenarios, but I’m not sure that’s possible. We can however ask for less haunts in future scenarios. It takes an author with a mind for horror to do haunts right (in any format) anyway.

***** Venture-Captain, Wisconsin—Madison aka Mat Black

Chris Mortika wrote:

Mat,

The haunt in the recent scenario...** spoiler omitted **

It's most emphatically not underwhelming.

Spoiler:
the effect is persistent, not the haunt. the haunt only goes off the once. anyone unlucky enough to miss the save (which was exactly no one in both the table i played at and the table i ran) is most likely only going to suffer the initial effect as far as actual in-game play goes. a haunt that mostly only makes you spend money at the end of the scenario is underwhelming.

the haunt itself is not persistent, iirc - it does not keep generating the same effect round after round.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Thanks, for the clarification, Mat. You're right. But it's a lot nastier than that.

Spoiler:

First, it makes its victims fatigued, which gives everybody a -2 to most important rolls and shuts barbarians down for the rest of the adventure. (At the 4-5 subtier, you might expect PCs to have a scroll of remove curse. Those are beyond the kinds of things you'd see in a a subtier 1-2 party.)

That particular haunt hits the party when they are a day's travel out from civilization. It applies its hit point damage once during the encounters, you're right, and then kills those affected before they can get help. Their best chance is for the unaffected members to carry their fatigued comrades back to the caravan and convince their criminal clients to turn around and run their horse into the ground, getting the afflicted back to town.

So far, I haven't run a party that realizes their urgency. That haunt has killed three PCs in one party, who were raised through Prestige, and a PC in another session.

That's not just spending money. It's a serious debuff during a deadly melee encounter, and then a race against time.


Jiggy wrote:
Wow. I'm not familiar with haunts and haven't really encountered any in gameplay*, but what you describe sounds incredibly not-fun.
Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
I will have to disagree with my fellow players, Haunts do the things that traps should do, devastate a party.

You're both exactly right. They're unfun in the same way that traps are unfun (except you can't even search for a haunt, as far as I know).

Lantern Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Haunts, are not for everyone.

A few weeks back my GM ran a PFS adventure with Haunts in it. Even though I am the newest D&D/Pathfinder player in the group, I was the only person as a player to figure out what was hitting us. (There were several haunts.)

Looking back on this adventure it flowed almost like a movie horror movie would have. I am not one for horrors but, the feel and lay out of the adventure was great. It didn't matter that the group had no clue what was going on by the end we were having a blast.

I can see why people dislike them for all the reasons above but, I personally find them to be FUN.

Andoran *****

First Steps Part II:
I completely disagree that this haunt is unforseeable. The text of the room itself says that haunting wails constantly come from the well. So when the characters listen at the door, they hear ghost like wooo--ooo--oooo-oooo. That tells them something is there.

** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

After reading this thread, I'm convinced all my characters need to invest in electric pentacles. That's in Ultimate Equipment, right?

Cheliax ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Valmoon wrote:

A few weeks back my GM ran a PFS adventure with Haunts in it. Even though I am the newest D&D/Pathfinder player in the group, I was the only person as a player to figure out what was hitting us. (There were several haunts.)

...
I can see why people dislike them for all the reasons above but, I personally find them to be FUN.

^^^This is why haunts exist! They challenge the way players are viewing the game, giving players who are not fully rules-oriented but rather are RP & scene-focused a better tactical position.

Shadow Lodge ***

Justin Riddler wrote:
Valmoon wrote:

A few weeks back my GM ran a PFS adventure with Haunts in it. Even though I am the newest D&D/Pathfinder player in the group, I was the only person as a player to figure out what was hitting us. (There were several haunts.)

...
I can see why people dislike them for all the reasons above but, I personally find them to be FUN.
^^^This is why haunts exist! They challenge the way players are viewing the game, giving players who are not fully rules-oriented but rather are RP & scene-focused a better tactical position.

How role play or tactical is it when you have no chance to know whats going on before the haunt works, IF you can even do anything?

Qadira ****

Jason S wrote:

I like horror and I think I do it well. Haunts should ideally work in the following way:

1) Not all haunts should appear out of nowhere. Sometimes you can clearly hear them a room over (which is the case in one scenario). Sometimes they follow you around a limited area (Ex. a house). Sometimes they manifest BEHIND you (just because you clear a room doesn’t mean it’s safe).

2) Not all haunts should hurt or be set off like a trap. Some should be informational only. For example, you see the image of the murderer for a second in the mirror or his shadow. Or you find a parchment that says something, only to disappear a few seconds later. Or maybe a ghostly little girl just says something to you, giving a clue for later.

It’s creepier if the tension builds instead of just dropping bricks on your head at every turn. Make the PCs interact with the creepiness (and know it’s not always best trying to destroy it immediately).

3) It should be possible to back away from some haunts with no ill effect. Other haunts, there should be a negative effect if you run away from it (and it’s possible there’s no ill effect if you stay!).

4) If you try to kill a haunt with positive energy, that should activate the haunt’s defenses, even for benign haunts. Which should be a very bad result for the PCs.

From a story telling experience, you ideally want the PCs to learn the story of the haunt, interact with it, and deactivate it.

5) The haunt should tell a story and give the party a certain amount of time to make it better. Some things (red herrings) will NOT make it better and will give the PCs bad effects. Skills like Sense Motive, K-Religion, Int checks, or other skills could be used to provide clues (or eliminate red herrings).

6) Haunts should not be in random or nonsensical locations.

7) Not all haunts should follow the same formula (see above for variations). Be creative.

8) Most of all, haunts should be interesting and tell a story.

I would like it if (the scenario writers) could slightly tweak...

Jason, your post is wonderful. This does not detract from what you posted - in fact I wish what you said was true (and realize you are posting a "it SHOULD be this way" post. But I feel compelled to post a reply as to the way I see haunts now. so ... (IMHO) as currently written, and played, the haunts I have encountered do almost none of the above. I'll try to address each point - as I've seen them in the scenarios I've played with them in them (I have not played the scenario with the word "Haunting" in the title. I've played all other scenarios Tiers 1-5, 1-7, 3-7 and almost all the Tier 5-9 ones).

1) haunts regularly appear out of nowhere, with little or no forshadowing. Often none if you miss the Perception roll, or a single action if you make the perception roll and beat a DC 10 init. (no time to draw anything, just whatever the PCs have in hand).

2) All haunts are set off like a trap, though undetectable traps. In fact that appears to be one of the major appeals of haunts to some Judges - "they are what traps SHOULD be".

3) Standard advice I have read on this board as what to do if you realize you have encountered a haunt is to run. You made the Perception check? and you beat Init 10? RUN AWAY!

4) After running, if you have to deal with it, come back with positive energy damage (channel, holy water, disrupt undead) and get a PC with high perception and Init to trigger it again so you can "kill" it.

5) Haunts are often a mystory - just random traps.

6) (See #5 above)

7) "Not all haunts should follow the same formula (see above for variations). Be creative." wow... one that fits. except replace Haunts with Traps. "Not all TRAPS should follow the same formula (see above for variations). Be creative."

8) "Most of all, haunts should be interesting and tell a story." - wow... almost none do this. Except perhaps to the Judge (reading the scenario).

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

To be fair, nosig, you haven't played "Haunting of Hinojai", the scenario where haunts do indeed fulfill a lot of Jason's recommendations.


Please set me in the "Please god, stop with the haunts" camp.

Most of the time I see them the judge asks for perception, then even if you make it noting gits fixed (we have come to the RUN AWAY point) then somone makes a save and gets screwed, or nothing happens.

the worst I think is the "You failed the save? Kill yourself"

Party: "............ "

Judge, "no really you pick up the knife and try to kill yourself"

Party member that just shived himself "F#$% Haunts."

Silver Crusade ****

I haven't read through Haunting of Hinojai, but the rendition I played in with my Paladin fit Nosig's description. Maybe my run was a failing of the GM's? I'll have to take a look at it to compare.

Grand Lodge ****

nosig wrote:
"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt.

Citation please. I read the spoiler tags before you posted and didn't see any haunts listed with 100HP damage. Did I miss something? Or are you using Hyperbole to prove a point?

Qadira ****

Chris Mortika wrote:
To be fair, nosig, you haven't played "Haunting of Hinojai", the scenario where haunts do indeed fulfill a lot of Jason's recommendations.

correct. I have to say I am not likely to.

If every time you were to play a scenario with something in it, it was a bad experience, you tend to avoid that something. (I am not the only one to avoid that scenario because of the name.) I have passed on 4 or 5 chances to play this one so far. It just means I judge more - so hay, it's good.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

1 person marked this as a favorite.

IMHO I think a lot of us aren't hardwired to think about haunts as valid opponents while adventuring.

For those of us that have experienced other RPGs where haunts were non-existent, we knew the rogue needed to be searching for traps and disabling them. It is also hard for experienced gamers to role play brand new 1st level characters going up against devils and demons for the 'first' time as we all know their immunities and what have you.

This is a completely new adversary, which I think is awesome because it puts everyone in that mindset of needing to be wary of haunts. After playing Haunting of Hinojai, I know darn well that when something moans in the hallway ahead, I back up.

It would be an interesting social experiment to take someone who is brand new to RPGs except for PFS and someone who has played other RPGs as well as PFS and put them at a table together. With as many haunts as there have been in scenarios recently, the 'new' player may well have an advantage over the 'experienced' player as they are becoming hardwired to look for traps AND be wary of haunts.

Andoran *****

sveden wrote:
nosig wrote:
"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt.
Citation please. I read the spoiler tags before you posted and didn't see any haunts listed with 100HP damage. Did I miss something? Or are you using Hyperbole to prove a point?

Spoiler:
I believe he’s referring to a haunt in You only die Twice, where you basically go to Nex/Geb?? (undead country) and disguise as undead (actually kinda becoming undead). The haunt there, at the tier 8-9, hits you with a heal. Which does 100 damage or takes you to 1d4 hit points whichever is worse. The GM’s screwed that up multiple times and actually had everyone take the full 100 damage.
Qadira ****

sveden wrote:
nosig wrote:
"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt.
Citation please. I read the spoiler tags before you posted and didn't see any haunts listed with 100HP damage. Did I miss something? Or are you using Hyperbole to prove a point?

kinevon's reply to my post directly responds to that without mentioning the exact scenario. Pointing out that (in his reading) the damage leaves the PCs with 1 HP. Though if you read the treads on that scenario, you find that many judges run it as a Will save, 100 HP damage, AOE that sometimes catches the entire party.

scenario name:
(from memory) You only Die Twice. I don't remember the number

Qadira ****

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A side note. If appears to me that:
.
Most people who seem to like haunts are judges (mostly). And they say they enjoy running the encounter with the haunt, and at thier table the haunt runs "fun".

Most people who hate haunts are players (mostly). And they say something like TheFurMonger above "Party member that just shived himself "F#$% Haunts.""

edited:
perhaps if we had more judges like the first group to run games for those players in the second group, haunts would be better liked by the second. But it sounds like the two groups are not at the same table.

Osirion **

I've got to agree with Daniel. I knew that there was supposed to be a story to tell, but the way it was run for us, the haunts just seemed like random horrible effects messing with any of the party members who could not run away fast enough. Honestly, I have almost never had a good experience with haunts. Further, more then one GM has seemed almost gleeful in unleashing them on us - and I split my play between a fairly small group and conventions so I do get to see a variety of GMs.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Andrew

There's another scenario with a haunt that does even more damage, albeit against higher-level characters. Also, to be fair...

Spoiler:
The effects are described as follows: "Anyone standing anywhere in the area when the haunt manifests takes 100 points of positive energy damage, but is healed any adverse effects currently active as per the heal spell."

You're parsing that as: [takes 100 points of positive energy damage and also heals any adverse effects currently active] [both of these as per the heal spell].

Other judges are parsing it as: [takes 100 points of positive energy damage], but also [is healed any adverse effects currently active as per the heal spell].

It's not spelled out anywhere in the scenario which is correct.

When I played through the scenario, the GM agreed with you, but that didn't matter much. The haunt dropped its victims to 1 hit point, immediately before a big fight, and undead, such as the PCs in their current state, die at 0 hp.

Incidentally, how many GMs require the players to make a Knowledge (religion) roll to recognize a haunt's manifestation for what it is?

At least some GMs do. I was next to a table this spring where I heard:

GM: You hear a ghostly moaning coming from the [redacted].
Player: It's a haunt. Kyra, can you channel energy to harm undead?
GM: Hold up, there. That's metagaming. Does your barbarian have Knowledge (religion)?
Player: No.
GM: Then you have no idea what it is.

*****

Andrew Christian wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

As a sidenote--people have a hardwired tendency to go through places clockwise. It's why the grocery stores tend to put fresh stuff in a place where you'll definitely pass it first when you go clockwise to make you associate them with freshness. Why does this matter for FSP2?

First Steps Part 2:

I've run or played First Steps Part 2 a whopping 6 times, and perhaps due to clockwise tendencies, combined with relatively peaceful tendencies, every single time the party has been warned of the well by the kobolds, in addition to the loud sounds. Not that it stopped all of them from checking it out, but many groups just never approached it, and all of them were wary. Heck, two groups even defused the haunt permanently by getting the body a burial.

Andoran *****

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

As a sidenote--people have a hardwired tendency to go through places clockwise. It's why the grocery stores tend to put fresh stuff in a place where you'll definitely pass it first when you go clockwise to make you associate them with freshness. Why does this matter for FSP2?

** spoiler omitted **

I’ve run it 6 times as well:

Spoiler:
have had 2 groups go right first (although 1 group didn’t want to deal with the spider so went the other way) 3 groups went through the secret tunnel after successfully diplomacizing Maurat Zergo (one group didn’t go straight up to the kobolds first, but rather went around to the well first), and the final group went in the front door, but went left instead of right first. NOTE: only 2 of the 6 groups didn't Talk to Maurat first.


I printed this out and handed to the player of the Cleric...

Directly copied from Brodyz post in CC forum:
With the knockings of restless spirits erupting around us, I raised my hand and snapped my fingers thrice, loudly. The raps paused, then responded back in unison. As we called out questions to the dead lord of Montalov Manor, the knocks responded, and we began to unravel the mystery of Arno Montalov’s murder. Suddenly the temperature dropped to a deadly chill, and a pair of spectral hands seized my throat in an iron grip, just as they had seized the estate’s lord some eighty years before.
—Joseffy Cagliosamo, retired ghost finder

What follows in our notes is a summary of information based on our groups’ research into this often menacing occurrence commonly referred to as a “haunt.”
While decrepit asylums and rotting ancestral estates are the most obvious places for haunts, folklore is filled with ghostly encounters along lonely country roads and fog-shrouded moors, and even thriving inns and taverns are reliable receptacles for supernatural presences. In short, any location where unjust death, murder, and deceit have taken place is fair game for unquiet spirits. – Rudolph Van Richten, famed Varisian Vampire hunter
Haunts are quite difficult to detect, since they cannot be observed until they actually manifest. Luckily, the perceptive hunter will notice some change in the environment, whether their skin prickles due to a sudden change of temperature, or perhaps an odd smell suddenly wafts into the room, that will warn them and give them a moment to act. Professor Petros Lorrimar, “Famous Hauntings of Vieland”
Luckily an indoor (ruins or otherwise) haunt’s size is usually limited to the room in which it is located. More disturbing are the haunts of outdoor areas, which can be of truly frightful size and preponderance. It must be noted, however, that even an entire building may comprise a single haunt. - Ailson Kindler, “Memories”
Haunts hate the living, and it seems as if they can detect nearby life sources. The thing then triggers as a result of the approach of or contact with living beings. I postulate that some haunts may be tricked by effects such as “hide from undead” or perhaps “invisibility.” - Van Richten
The effects of a haunt are as varied as the effects in a Master Wizards grimoire. A haunt might cause a room to explode into f lames, infuse a chamber with fear, or even frighten a poor victim to death . There are recorded cases of smashing walls, icy chills, fungal growth, and much worse. – Yaoveh Iddusia, “On Borrowed Lives”
Much to our dismay we discovered that a neutralized haunt is not actually destroyed, and can manifest again after a period of time. To destroy a haunt, a specific action must be taken in the region to end the effect forever (such as burning a haunted house to the ground or burying the bones of the slaves who died on the site to create the haunt). This specific act is different for every haunt , although a number of nearby haunts often share the same destruction act. – Orpeum Kindler, “The Phantom of August House”


Tobin’s Spirit Guide described some of the more common haunts-
Rapping Spirit - The most common haunts are rapping spirits: unquiet dead with just enough substance to produce cacophonous knocking and loud bumps in the night.
Slamming Portal - Mysteriously locked or slamming doors usually indicate a supernatural presence protesting intrusion, and serve as stern reminders that explorers are unwelcome in the realm of haunts. These frivolous spirits are fond of not only locking the living out of rooms, but also locking them in, usually with deadly dungeon denizens.
Orbs - Common signs of ghostly infestation, these sentient spirits manifest as a lazily drifting cloud of translucent, glowing orbs. Scholars speculate that they represent minor animal spirits, ghosts who have faded into the ether with time, or even the souls of children.
Cold Spot - Cold spots occur at the sites of the traumatic deaths of creatures that lack the psychic fortitude to persist as true ghosts. These common supernatural indicators are known to roam within large complexes, continuously seeking relief from the chill of death by drawing warmth from the living.
Choking Hands - Whether lingering embodiments of lynched serial stranglers or the traumatic psychic manifestation of a hysterical public, these dangerous spectres lurk in dark alleyways seeking vengeance on the living.
Mad Monk - Often found haunting ruined monasteries, apparitions of monks are among the most commonly reported haunts. Stories of the enigmatic spirits are conflicted, as some report offers of chalices of healing elixir, while others tell of poisonous betrayal from the seemingly benevolent ghost’s gift.
Baleful Apparition - Bile seeps up from floorboards while horrific images of bloody claws or the gasping faces of drowned victims fade into view and back out again. Such are the haunts that infest torture chambers, ruined castles, and secluded, swampy groves.
Restless Spirit - Mysteriously moving furniture, flying objects and invisible attacks are common indications of haunts in noble villas and dank dungeons alike. Restless spirits typically manifest to protest the intrusion of mortals onto forgotten gravesites or the sacred grounds of a lost indigenous people.
Ghastly Whispers - Those driven insane by delving into dark and terrible secrets, as well as the ghosts of mad wizards who journeyed too deeply into the black essence of the Dark Tapestry, often manifest such haunts after departing the mortal realm.

And this thread should help a lot
Everything you wanted to know about Haunts

EDIT: No offence intended but Haunts work well with a little GM help... maybe a rumour or two about the glowing lights seen in that building or the sudden chill to freeze you to the bone in the graveyard. If just played out as a stat block they are annoying and seem arbitrary. As the GM for the Carrion Crown campaign I found it unfair for the Cleric Player to go into the campaign without a little information which would be common knowledge to Clerics. IMO.
EDIT2: Yes, I would expect a DC10 Religion check to recognise a haunt and a DC15 to recognise it for what it is...But my caveat for Cleric players above would still apply

Qadira ****

Spacelard wrote:

I printed this out and handed to the player of the Cleric...

** spoiler omitted **...

very, very nice. This is what haunts should be like.

edited: I didn't follow the link much past the title though - it said GMs only and I prefer to think of myself as a Player.


I'm not a PFS player so a have a question. Do haunts serve a purpose in PFS different from the normal game? I've played through the haunts in rise of the runelords and the first book of carrion crown.

Anyhow I always saw them as events you react to that set the mood of the setting usually solved when you solved the whole section of adventure. I've enjoyed the three encounters with them a lot as a player they really set or support atmosphere.

But a lot of these posts seem to treat them as individual things to be solved like a trap or puzzle. Anyhow are they used differently then in the PFS scenarios?

Qadira ****

Most judges toss around the "...DCXX Religion check to recognise a haunt and a DCXX to recognise it for what it is".
.
Is this FROM something? most Haunts I have run in scenarios do not list one... so I've made one up on the spot.

Qadira ****

Mojorat wrote:

I'm not a PFS player so a have a question. Do haunts serve a purpose in PFS different from the normal game? I've played through the haunts in rise of the runelords and the first book of carrion crown.

Anyhow I always saw them as events you react to that set the mood of the setting usually solved when you solved the whole section of adventure. I've enjoyed the three encounters with them a lot as a player they really set or support atmosphere.

But a lot of these posts seem to treat them as individual things to be solved like a trap or puzzle. Anyhow are they used differently then in the PFS scenarios?

I think it's kind of Judge dependant Mojorat - many PFS judges treat them as just a form of Trap - basicly an undetectable till triggered trap. Some (the "good judges" IMHO) do try to set the mood with them, or tell a story.

edited: In fact I just stepped to a different thread and read this

the haunt is meant to be run like a trap

where Clint is explaining that Haunts should be run as Traps.


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nosig wrote:

Most judges toss around the "...DCXX Religion check to recognise a haunt and a DCXX to recognise it for what it is".

.
Is this FROM something? most Haunts I have run in scenarios do not list one... so I've made one up on the spot.

Unless you intend to play Carrion Crown there isn't a lot there which is spoilers... And most of which is will be about the beginning books of that AP. I wouldn't have an issue with my players reading it and being able to separate player from character knowledge.

As for Know Religion DC...

A DC10 is for easy questions which I take "Is this likely to be a haunt?" to be.

A DC10+ CR for details of a particular haunt as per normal rules.

Andoran ***

sveden wrote:
nosig wrote:
"Roll a reflex save or take 100 h.p. damage" on a trap would raise an outcry... but we get it on a haunt.
Citation please. I read the spoiler tags before you posted and didn't see any haunts listed with 100HP damage. Did I miss something? Or are you using Hyperbole to prove a point?

Spoiler:
It s from the high tier (10-11) of 2-25 You Only Die Twice.

At the start of this module, the PCs are required to drink from a goblet that makes them mimic undead in many ways:

Chalice of Undeath wrote:
If the chalice is filled with liquid, you can drink from the it and gain the effects of an undead anatomy I spell (Ultimate Magic), which lasts for 20 minutes. If you first perform a magical ritual (which takes 1 hour and requires 1,000 gp in reagents), the effect is permanent until dispelled or reversed. A creature can reverse the transformation by drinking from the chalice again

For the scenario, it is done with the ritual, so it lasts until the PCs make it back from Geb and drink again.

And the haunt is DC26 to notice at 10-11, hp 20, reset 1 hour.

Effect: Anyone standing anywhere in the area when the haunt manifests takes 100 points of positive energy damage, but is healed any adverse effects currently active as per the heal spell. A Fortitude save (DC 19) halves this damage.

Not obvious that the whole effect should be treated as a Heal Spell, which means that, for a lot of GMs, including some of the more rules-light types, you get a DC 19 save or die effect.

10th level Barbarian:
12 +7*9 + 3*10 + 10 + 10 = 125 hps, assuming FC and Toughness.
Fort save: +7 +3 +3 = +13

9th level Sorcerer:
6 + 4*8 + 2*9 + 9 + 9 = 74, assuming 14 Con, FC & Toughness.
Fort save: +3 +2 +3 = +8

And that wouldn't even count having one of the 7th level pregens along.

Treated fully as Heal, however, and you don't get immediate deaths:
Used against undead creatures, which the PCs count as, Heal acts as Harm:
Harm charges a subject with negative energy that deals 10 points
of damage per caster level (to a maximum of 150 points at 15th
level). If the creature successfully saves, harm deals half this
amount. Harm cannot reduce the target’s hit points to less than 1.

Which is where I came up with the 1 hp left mention.

Qadira ****

Spacelard wrote:
nosig wrote:

Most judges toss around the "...DCXX Religion check to recognise a haunt and a DCXX to recognise it for what it is".

.
Is this FROM something? most Haunts I have run in scenarios do not list one... so I've made one up on the spot.

Unless you intend to play Carrion Crown there isn't a lot there which is spoilers... And most of which is will be about the beginning books of that AP. I wouldn't have an issue with my players reading it and being able to separate player from character knowledge.

As for Know Religion DC...

A DC10 is for easy questions which I take "Is this likely to be a haunt?" to be.

A DC10+ CR for details of a particular haunt as per normal rules.

Thanks!

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