Illustration by Jean-Baptiste Reynaud

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

With the Carrion Crown Adventure Path finally unleashed, this seems like a perfect time to give folks bold enough to venture into Pathfinder's most frightening campaign just a hint of what's in store.

To start off, let's take a look at the volume that kick-starts the terror: Pathfinder Adventure Path #43: The Haunting of Harrowstone. Of course, you have Mike Kortes's foray into dread with the adventure itself, wherein the PCs are all that prevent a spectral prison riot from spilling out from the fire-scarred ruins of Harrowstone Prison and overwhelming the sleepy Ustalavic village of Ravengro.

Beyond the adventure, Kortes takes us onto the shadowed streets and into the clustered homes of Ravengro, as peaceful and quiet a community as you're likely to find in the Ustalavic county of Canterwall's rural countryside (which you learn all the secrets of in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rule of Fear). This gazetteer gives GMs everything they'll need to bring the adventure's setting to life, with all the details and insights necessary to bring dread into the homes and hearts of the PCs and their newest allies.

Next up is Brandon Hodge's treatise on the horrifying traps-meet-the-supernatural threats known as haunts. Originally introduced all the way back in Pathfinder Adventure Path #2: The Skinsaw Murders and refined in the GameMastery Guide, this has been our first opportunity to give sadistic GMs a whole library of some of fiction's and film's most horrifying unnatural effects. Fact is, Brandon gave us WAY more menace than a single article could contain... but I'll get back to that in a few.

In a new series in the Pathfinder's Journal I get to explore my favorite corner of Golarion from a different vantage. This time around, Laurel Cylphra, a wastrel on the streets of Ustalav's decomposing former capital, gets dragged into a tale of revenge, wronged spirits, and terrors that could drive even a Pathfinder into retirement.

Finally, Adam Daigle and intern-turned-author Patrick Renie unleash denizens of dread with the first in a horrific series of Pathfinder Bestiaries, with creatures of classic terror like Spring-Heeled Jack, old monsters given terrifying twists, new rules for haunted animated objects, an option for accursed characters with the changeling, and others like the beheaded and ectoplasmic templates that still leave me with a sinister smirk—I can't wait to use some of these guys!

So, that's what's in store if you haven't already checked out Pathfinder Adventure Path #43: The Haunting of Harrowstone. Now, for those of you who were patient enough to stick with me this far, check out what's below. Like I said, Brandon's article on haunts ran over the space we had allotted for it, but rather than trash that awesome content, I've kept it safe and plan to dole out new haunts as each volume of the Carrion Crown releases. So, for those of you looking for more menace to throw into Harrowstone, here are a couple of new low-level haunts.

Fool's Flare (CR 2)
Many spirits resent the intrusion of lights brought by the living into their dark domains, and exert a supernatural influence on torches and lanterns to show their objections to the trespass of torchbearers.

Fool's Flare CR 2
XP 600

CE haunt (10-ft. radius)
Caster Level 2nd
Notice Perception DC 15 (to feel a cold, unearthly draft)
hp 4; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
Effect This haunt triggers a pyrotechnics spell on torches or lanterns brought into its area. In some instances, torches flare brightly with a blinding light before plunging the area into darkness, as per the fireworks effect, but in others the light sputters and dies, the extinguished source giving off a smoke cloud effect (save DC 13 versus secondary effects).
Destruction A daylight spell cast in the area permanently drives out the haunt.

Rolling Fire (CR 4)
Also known as a faeu boulanger, rolling fire is a trapped soul that was lost in a tragic fire fatality. The haunt manifests as a spectral sphere of ectoplasmic fire that seeks to scorch and burn the living in a grisly reenactment of the conflagration that created it.

Rolling Fire CR 4
XP 1,200
CE persistent haunt (30-ft.-radius open area or marshland)
Caster Level 4th
Notice Perception DC 15 (to smell burning flesh)
hp 18; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
Effect The haunt appears as a large ball of spiritual flame emitting agonizing screams. The haunt attacks the first creature that enters its area as a flaming sphere spell (save DC 13).
Destruction Turning one's coat inside out confuses the faeu boulanger and prevents attack. A knife must then be stuck blade-up in the ground of the haunt's area; when the roaming spectre rolls over the blade, it impales itself and is destroyed.

Watch this spot in the coming weeks for more haunts and other Carrion Crown previews. But if you're still craving more info on the new campaign, be sure to check out the free Carrion Crown Player's Guide and the discussions constantly going on in the Carrion Crown Messageboards. There's already a ton of great stuff in those threads for folks who want to make this campaign as horrifying as possible, and for those less interested in turning up the terror in their adventures. But you won't know until you take the first step, so knot up your courage and click any of the links above to learn all about our newest terror... if you dare.

F. Wesley Schneider
Managing Editor

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Carrion Crown Jean-Baptiste Reynaud Monsters Pathfinder Adventure Path Stat Blocks
Dark Archive

Great 'enhanced AP' blog, thanks for sharing Wes!

You can never have enough haunts.

And now I know what Linus' Great Pumpkin looks like when he's angry.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Awesome, I wish I could read the book, but I'm not running this one :(. I have to wait until we've finished Legacy of Fire before I can start peeking at this one.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
baron arem heshvaun wrote:

Great 'enhanced AP' blog, thanks for sharing Wes!

You can never have enough haunts.

And now I know what Linus' Great Pumpkin looks like when he's angry.

We need a rogue archetype "ghostbuster" whose skills include haunt sence, and haunt finding which replaces trap sense, and trap finding, and is a similar function but for haunt.

Maybe replace evasion with the ability to hit ethereal creatures.

Just spit balling, leave the details up to the rpg supernstars.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thank you! I was hoping any extra haunts not in the AP would come to the surface somewhere.

Liberty's Edge

h2ofowler wrote:
Thank you! I was hoping any extra haunts not in the AP would come to the surface somewhere.

I think Haunts are so massively cool, that if Paizo publishes a book on haunts, from anywhere between 16 pages, up to and including 320 pages?

I'll buy it - and the larger the better.

In fact, I'm far more interested in a Haunt book then I am in Bestiary 3. This is especially so, given that I plan to pick up the 1000 page + Tome of Horrors when released. At a certain point, I simply don't need any more monsters. And that "certain point" is about to be reached this summer.

I do, otoh, need more Haunts! Bring em on!!


Steel_Wind wrote:
h2ofowler wrote:
Thank you! I was hoping any extra haunts not in the AP would come to the surface somewhere.

I think Haunts are so massively cool, that if Paizo publishes a book on haunts, from anywhere between 16 pages, up to and including 320 pages?

I'll buy it - and the larger the better.

In fact, I'm far more interested in a Haunt book then I am in Bestiary 3. This is especially so, given that I plan to pick up the 1000 page + Tome of Horrors when released. At a certain point, I simply don't need any more monsters. And that "certain point" is about to be reached this summer.

I do, otoh, need more Haunts! Bring em on!!

While I love the concept of haunts, I'm seriously concerned, after looking over the first Carrion Crown adventure path, with an oversaturation of them. They are thematically cool, and in many places, appropriate. However, there are way too many of them in the first book alone, and if this continues I doubt haunts will have the desired effect on PCs. Instead of them crawling down a dungeon path inspecting every inch for traps, they'll expect every 'strange' building or place they enter to be a haunt.

"Oh, look, another emo ghost rattling their chains. Better burn this place to the ground and never come back"

Part of keeping PCs on edge is reserving the impact of things for situations where they will actually make an impact. There's a delicate balance in horror GMing, that if you tip it, the game simply becomes another dungeon crawl. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, you can still have a lot of fun with it, but at least in Carrion Crown, that's not the theme I intend to run with.

All that being said, I love seeing the haunts and will easily use them in other adventures, even if I pull a majority of them out of the Adventure Path itself.

Contributor

Overcast wrote:
While I love the concept of haunts, I'm seriously concerned, after looking over the first Carrion Crown adventure path, with an oversaturation of them.

Don't worry too much about it. The first adventure is Carrion Crown's "Ghosts" adventure, after all. Turns out, though, that ghosts, specters, wraiths, etc are pretty hardcore challenges for first-level characters, so many of the challenges take the more CR-versatile haunts route. The name of the adventure is "The Haunting of Harrowstone" after all. :P

But, as ghosts and hauntings are not a running theme throughout the AP, you won't have to worry about later adventures being as haunt dense. There will some haunts in later adventures as appropriate, but not as many as in the adventure pretty much all about them. I've talked about this on the Carrion Crown messageboards already, but remember, these adventures - while meant to be more moody and fear themed - are still Pathfinder AP adventures and have certain assumptions about how much experience players need to gain, treasure they need to get, number of encounters an adventure needs to have, etc. While the author in writing or we in developing could have added fewer thematically appropriate encounters in the haunted dungeon - vermin, wild animals, goblins, gnolls, orcs, other low-level undead - I think the versatility of haunts allow them to pose a variety of threats, with numerous solutions, without seeming repetitive, while still being CR appropriate challenges, and while keeping to the theme of the adventure. All that being said, I think most would agree that it's better to have too much than not enough, so when GMs run the adventure they should, as always, feel free to adjust play as best suits their own and their players' needs and tastes.

By the same token, in later adventures that feature werewolves, vampires, zombies, and bogies of all types, don't worry after you see them that later adventures are going to be overwhelmed by those same monsters. Each adventure tends toward a theme, plays it up, but moves on. We've got a ton of horror tropes to cover and only six volumes to do it in, so we can't linger on any one theme for too long.

The Exchange

These have been added to d20pfsrd.com's Haunt's page.


Galnörag wrote:
baron arem heshvaun wrote:

Great 'enhanced AP' blog, thanks for sharing Wes!

You can never have enough haunts.

And now I know what Linus' Great Pumpkin looks like when he's angry.

We need a rogue archetype "ghostbuster" whose skills include haunt sence, and haunt finding which replaces trap sense, and trap finding, and is a similar function but for haunt.

Maybe replace evasion with the ability to hit ethereal creatures.

Just spit balling, leave the details up to the rpg supernstars.

Sounds more like an archetype for inquisitors.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Overcast wrote:
While I love the concept of haunts, I'm seriously concerned, after looking over the first Carrion Crown adventure path, with an oversaturation of them.

Don't worry too much about it. The first adventure is Carrion Crown's "Ghosts" adventure, after all. Turns out, though, that ghosts, specters, wraiths, etc are pretty hardcore challenges for first-level characters, so many of the challenges take the more CR-versatile haunts route. The name of the adventure is "The Haunting of Harrowstone" after all. :P

But, as ghosts and hauntings are not a running theme throughout the AP, you won't have to worry about later adventures being as haunt dense. There will some haunts in later adventures as appropriate, but not as many as in the adventure pretty much all about them. I've talked about this on the Carrion Crown messageboards already, but remember, these adventures - while meant to be more moody and fear themed - are still Pathfinder AP adventures and have certain assumptions about how much experience players need to gain, treasure they need to get, number of encounters an adventure needs to have, etc. While the author in writing or we in developing could have added fewer thematically appropriate encounters in the haunted dungeon - vermin, wild animals, goblins, gnolls, orcs, other low-level undead - I think the versatility of haunts allow them to pose a variety of threats, with numerous solutions, without seeming repetitive, while still being CR appropriate challenges, and while keeping to the theme of the adventure. All that being said, I think most would agree that it's better to have too much than not enough, so when GMs run the adventure they should, as always, feel free to adjust play as best suits their own and their players' needs and tastes.

By the same token, in later adventures that feature werewolves, vampires, zombies, and bogies of all types, don't worry after you see them that later adventures are going to be overwhelmed by those same monsters. Each adventure tends...

That's a huge relief to me, to be honest. I saw the changing monster themes in the synopsis of each volume of the adventure path, but was still concerned by the huge volume of them and the large amount of attention that they were receiving, it made it seem like they'd be a major feature of the entire Carrion Crown path. If they're being used mostly as a feature for this first adventure path, then I have far fewer qualms about including more of them.

As a sidenote, I love the ectoplasmic subtype included at the back of the path. There's a lot of fun that can be had with that.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
KaeYoss wrote:


Sounds more like an archetype for inquisitors.

Try this out:

Hauntbuster:

Hauntbuster

Are you troubled by strange noises in the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family actually seen a spook, specter or ghost? If the answer is yes, then don't wait another minute. Just have your local wizard cast a sending to the professionals -- Hauntbusters.

Haunt Sence (Ex): Starting at 4th level Hauntbusters has a sixth sense when it comes to haunts, anticipating their manifestation, and being better prepared to handle their effects.. The hauntbuster may apply his Trap Sence bonus to his AC's vs haunt attacks, and all saves vs haunt effects. This replaces Uncanny Dodge.

Haunt Analysis (Ex): At 2nd level a Hauntbuster has an expertise and understanding of haunts that far exceeds that of the lay person. They may make a Knowledge (Religion) skill check to understand the nature of a haunt, and what steps may be taken to put the spirits to rest. This replaces the evasion ability. For this ability to function they must have an appropriate augury tool. This action takes an amount of time similar to telling a fortune with the tool at hand, or a minimum of 1d4 rounds

Spirit Strike (Su): At 8th level the Hauntbuster may apply her sneak damage to all undead creatures, even if they would be normal immune due to incorporeal or other traits that would traditionally render them immune to precision damage. This replaces Improved Uncanny Dodge.

Rogue Talents
The following rogue talents complement the Hauntbuster Archtype: Canny Observer, Hard to Fool, Haunt Spotter, Slippery Mind

Other rules:

Augury Tools: These devices vary by culture; they may be a ritual knife and live sacrifice whose spilled entrails reveal the future; a set of dice, a harrow deck, a spirit board, augury bones etc.

Masterwork Augury tools: These are equipment of supernatural augury of the finest quality, well balanced, and crafted to focus the supernatural and eliminate interferences of the natural world. This grants a +2 bonus to Knowledge (Religion) checks made to analyze a haunt.

New Rogue Talent

Haunt Spotter (Ex): Whenever a rogue with this talent comes within 10 feet of a haunt, she receives an immediate Perception skill check to notice the haunt. This check should be made in secret by the GM.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmmm, it's Savage Pumpkin. I wondered when Helloween put out their new album if they were Paizo fans....

Sovereign Court

Galnörag wrote:
KaeYoss wrote:


Sounds more like an archetype for inquisitors.

Try this out:

** spoiler omitted **...

AWESOME

Sovereign Court

I'm with Galnörag though I would take my argument a bit farther.

Ok . . . while I was a fan of Haunts I sort of Lost my enthusiasm for them when a certain Barbarian ate a party member and our party and didn't quite have the resources/skills or general knowledge to deal with the haunt. The GM was crafty and between him and the pc's saying this has something to do with ghosts so I'm poking the raging cannibal barbarian w/ my wand of cure light wounds and hoping I don't roll a 1 on my Use magic device.

Without a full time expert on religion (a rare thing even with a cleric in the party) countering haunts is nearly impossible and deadly for a party. It also thoroughly frustrates my rogue, because Haunts are essentially traps that rogues can't deal with, and they seem increasingly common. Rogues being treasure finders, experts in dealing with dangers of dungeons and forgotten places and skilled in being able to detect sense and deactivate hazards in a dungeon. In fact here's a quote from the core rule book "Most, however, excel in overcoming hindrances of all types, from unlocking doors and disarming traps to outwitting magical hazards and
conning dull-witted opponents."

If they continue to be common in Pathfinder and in Pathfinder Society I think it would be reasonable to include knowledge (religion) as a class skill for rogues or rogue tricks should be created that aid in a rogues ability to overcome hindrances of all types which in my mind includes Haunts.

If this has already been discussed please point me at a thread.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Joshua O'Connor-Rose wrote:


If they continue to be common in Pathfinder and in Pathfinder Society I think it would be reasonable to include knowledge (religion) as a class skill for rogues or rogue tricks should be created that aid in a rogues ability to overcome hindrances of all types which in my mind includes Haunts.

Add to my spoiler above that Knowledge (religion) is added as a class skill for the archetype.

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