Building Horror

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Just three short weeks until Horror Adventures emerges from the shadows! This week, I'm going to focus on the material in the book that helps GMs enrich horror games, from rules to advice.

New rules for a more nuanced fear track with seven levels, as well as for sanity and madness, allow your group to play around with the psychological consequences of the terrible events that are all too common in a horror game. The fear track has a split between lesser fear (which can cause increasing weakness but doesn't make you lose control of your character) and greater fear (where your character is so frightened that they can't help but act on it). Sanity is a sort of mental pool of hit points, and losing too much at once exposes you to a new madness (of increasing severity if your current sanity is below half your maximum). Of course, even if you lose sanity a little at a time, losing all your sanity causes you to completely lose your grip on reality.

The environments section contains 30 different creepy locations and hazards, each with their own rules. Locations include pools where a creature's reflection shows their true self (though sometimes, after you trust them, the pool will show your friend to have been replaced by a horrific creature even if she wasn't) and godless voids where divine power can't reach. Hazards range from weak threats witch lights that lead you into a trap and grasping undergrowth that actively impedes you, to major dangers like an honest-to-Desna bottomless pit and the dread apocalypse fog, which animates all corpses within into zombies. Environments also includes rules for domains of evil, dark pockets of supernatural activity embedded in a plane, plus a few horrific traps and a brief look at nightmare dreamscapes.

We also have sections for you on curses and horrific diseases, providing a variety of new twists on both topics, including curse templates like death curse and generational curse, disease templates like incurable, magic-resistant, plague, and virulent, tips on creating your own curses. There's even new diseases that all follow their own tracks of progression, like Unchained diseases, but much more personalized and gruesome; for instance bloody end causes blood to seep through your skin as you become prone to fits of rage.

The fleshwarping rules are the most PC-friendly of the bunch, at least if the PCs are evil enough to use them. They allow for three sorts of neat fleshwarps: true fleshwarping, where you make a new creature from several old creatures, fleshcrafting, where you graft tentacles, antennae, tails, and more onto a creature, and fleshwarp mutations, which are usually unintentional results of failed experiments, radiation, or other mutagenic experiences.


Illustration by Kent Hamilton

The haunts section is one of the true gems of the entire book. First of all, it contain delightfully twisted haunts from CR 1/4 all the way to the incredibly deadly CR 20 twisted wish haunt (pictured here, as Valeros wishes for more ale). It also has new haunt elements like elusive and latent. But the coolest part is probably the variant haunts, which shows how to use the haunt rules to create experiences other than hauntings from dead souls that are dealt with in ways other than positive energy. The variant haunt types are dimensional instabilities (places where the veil between the Material Plane and another plane is thin), maddening influences (tied to the reality-warping influence of eldritch beings and defeated with dangerous Knowledge), magical scars (places where dozens of powerful spells were hurled together), and psychic haunts (gatherings of emotional energy that can be defeated by calming them down with Diplomacy). Each variant also comes with an example haunt.


Illustration by Dave Allsop

In terms of monsters, we have a template for dread lords who rule evil domains, three hive creatures to go with the hive corruption, the Jason-like implacable stalker template (Vorhees, not Bulmahn) that can appear behind you and resurrect itself in your nightmares, the apostle kyton template for those transfigured by kytons, the trompe l'oeil (a creature that emerges from a painting), unknown (a fey that feeds off mental energies and erodes others' psyches until they too become unknown), and the waxwork creature template for creatures made of wax. There's simple templates associated with the theme of each corruption, in case you need to quickly and efficiently create a chimera whose dragon head is a construct, a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon, a vampiric unicorn, or a vegepygmy possessed by the spirit of the creature it once was. There's also two variant types of werewolves and the familial lich, which uses its own family line as a phylactery.

The "Running Horror Adventures" chapter, by master of horror Wes Schneider, is another of the books gems, particularly for me, as I've always wanted advice on how to make my horror games work out better. The chapter highlights the challenges of running horror games in Pathfinder before leading out with a preface about out-of-character consent to run horror games. It then explores subgenres of horror (body horror, cosmic horror, dark fantasy, ghost story, gothic horror, psychological horror, and slasher horror), explaining in each case how to tell those sorts of stories (and whether they are particularly easy or hard to tell in Pathfinder) and what sorts of threats and plots work best in a Pathfinder game themed around that subgenre. Afterwards, there's plenty of storytelling and atmospheric tips, tricks, and techniques, both in-character and out-of-character, that can keep both players and their characters on their toes. Finally, there's some suggestions on how to improvise rules for unusual horrific situations, with examples including being buried alive or burned at the stake.

With all these new rules at the GM's fingertips, I'm actually a little frightened to play in Developer Linda Zayas-Palmer's next game (she wrote the haunt section, so soon you might be too!). And of course, the book is a perfect companion for those of you looking to check out the Strange Aeons Adventure Path. Next week, we'll be back with a very special composite preview where a bunch of us share our favorite new toys from Horror Adventures!

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Tags: Dave Allsop Kent Hamilton Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Paizo Employee Designer

Let the horror continue!

Silver Crusade

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I was about to question why Valeros getting Tsunamied by booze would be a bad thing for him and then I saw it tagged "twisted wish".

I still question. He can totally tank that.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Rysky wrote:

I was about to question why Valeros getting Tsunamied by booze would be a bad thing for him and then I saw it tagged "twisted wish".

I still question. He can totally tank that.

I'm actually pretty sure Valeros could survive this. But he's good-aligned, so the guilt of how all the innocent villagers died thanks to his wish is going to haunt him.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Rysky wrote:

I was about to question why Valeros getting Tsunamied by booze would be a bad thing for him and then I saw it tagged "twisted wish".

I still question. He can totally tank that.

I'm actually pretty sure Valeros could survive this. But he's good-aligned, so the guilt of how all the innocent villagers died thanks to his wish is going to haunt him.

Well no one's gonna die cause he's not gonna let any of that go to waste.


Godless voids. Turning off divine/some divine casters in the area?
If so, that's pretty crazy.


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KYTON TEMPLATE! I can't wait until this book comes out!


Aw. I thought the chimera was going to have like three golem heads! :P

Still, great stuff Mister Seifter.

Dark Archive

Is Horror Adventures still a 256 page book?

Because all that great stuff sounds like it could fill a 500 page book.

Personally i think this is the best hardcover since the CRB.


Chess Pwn wrote:

Godless voids. Turning off divine/some divine casters in the area?

If so, that's pretty crazy.

*eyes wide and black* I've seen crazier...


Marco Massoudi wrote:

Is Horror Adventures still a 256 page book?

Because all that great stuff sounds like it could fill a 500 page book.

Personally i think this is the best hardcover since the CRB.

Not sure about that Marco, but I do think it's a high point hardcover of 2016 for sure.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've been terrible at incorporating haunts into adventures, even where they seem like they should fit well. I'm hoping this fixes that!

So hyped!

Paizo Employee Designer

Marco Massoudi wrote:

Is Horror Adventures still a 256 page book?

Because all that great stuff sounds like it could fill a 500 page book.

Personally i think this is the best hardcover since the CRB.

We did manage to fit it into 256 pages! If it seems like it has impossibly many goodies, one thing that helps, compared to the last "Adventures" book (Occult) is that it doesn't have 6 super long classes.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Xethik wrote:

I've been terrible at incorporating haunts into adventures, even where they seem like they should fit well. I'm hoping this fixes that!

So hyped!

The haunts chapter gives you ways to incorporate variant haunts that match pretty many other supernatural occurrences other than dead souls, but it doesn't have a guidance section directly on when to add them into adventures; however, the Running Horror Adventures chapter offers advice that could be helpful on that front.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?

Silver Crusade

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Joana wrote:
Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?

An add-on, whereas UI clarified a bunch of spells and skills and how they interact and perform, does Horror Adventures go into discussion or anything similar about bonuses to saves vs fear effects and resisting Intimidate?

Paizo Employee Designer

Joana wrote:
Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?

Yes, due to the fact that the three old levels are among the seven. So if something tells you that it makes someone "shaken", then you can just do that. The main thing is that previous stuff isn't going to set the PCs to the four new levels on its own (though stacking could, as could new stuff, and even horrific atmospheric effects like being in a spooky graveyard could apply the mildest level).

Silver Crusade

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Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?
An add-on, whereas UI clarified a bunch of spells and skills and how they interact and perform, does Horror Adventures go into discussion or anything similar about bonuses to saves vs fear effects and resisting Intimidate?

... I preemptively ninjaed the person who I wanted to answer my question... or something.

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?
An add-on, whereas UI clarified a bunch of spells and skills and how they interact and perform, does Horror Adventures go into discussion or anything similar about bonuses to saves vs fear effects and resisting Intimidate?

Horror doesn't have a "Skills in Conflict"-esque section. As to bonus to saves vs fear and Intimidate, that's a real rule, albeit from 3.5 and not Pathfinder, where it sort of vanished. It's not a bad house rule to use, especially since the DC for Intimidate is so low, and fighters deserve to make it a little harder from bravery; my home group does.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
Do the seven levels of fear interact with the fear effects already in the game (Intimidate, cause fear, etc.)?
An add-on, whereas UI clarified a bunch of spells and skills and how they interact and perform, does Horror Adventures go into discussion or anything similar about bonuses to saves vs fear effects and resisting Intimidate?
Horror doesn't have a "Skills in Conflict"-esque section. As to bonus to saves vs fear and Intimidate, that's a real rule, albeit from 3.5 and not Pathfinder, where it sort of vanished. It's not a bad house rule to use, especially since the DC for Intimidate is so low, and fighters deserve to make it a little harder from bravery; my home group does.

That's what we've been doing in home games but I was hoping for some love for my brothers-and-sisters-in-PFS.


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But what if I NEED a Jason Buhlman template?


Looks very cool, definitely hope the dimensional instabilities are versatile enough that I can use positive energy with them to cause horrific body horror.

Paizo Employee Designer

Milo v3 wrote:
Looks very cool, definitely hope the dimensional instabilities are versatile enough that I can use positive energy with them to cause horrific body horror.

I see no reason why you couldn't do that. And it would require some negative energy to take it down.


the apostle kyton template for those transfigured by kytons...

Are we talking about a variation of the half-fiend template here?


Just gimme already!

Gaaaaaaah!

Paizo Employee Designer

JiCi wrote:

the apostle kyton template for those transfigured by kytons...

Are we talking about a variation of the half-fiend template here?

An apostle kyton has left her former self behind and become kyton, rather than a mere half-kyton.


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Cenobites, neat.


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Original post wrote:
{. . .} a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon {. . .}

Does that mean that PCs get to ask it all their questions then?


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Secret Wizard wrote:
But what if I NEED a Jason Buhlman template?

Trust me, it's not necessary. I've seen it in action. It's not as scary as a Robert J. Schwalb template.

Silver Crusade

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
But what if I NEED a Jason Buhlman template?
Trust me, it's not necessary. I've seen it in action. It's not as scary as a Robert J. Schwalb template.

I was there for that.

F!!~in centipedes....

brrrrrrrrrrrr....


Interesting.


If i preorder this book do I get pdf copy to?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also looking forward to this one ... :o

:)


KainPen wrote:
If i preorder this book do I get pdf copy to?

A free PDF only comes with a subscription.

That said it's super easy to subscribe and just cancel the subscription after you get Horror Adventures. You also get to benefit from getting the PDF (and usually the book) before the street date.

RPG Superstar 2012

Rysky wrote:

I was about to question why Valeros getting Tsunamied by booze would be a bad thing for him and then I saw it tagged "twisted wish".

I still question. He can totally tank that.

It's all skunky.


Intrigued by variant haunts. I always liked Haunts as a story element, but was never a fan of how they just felt like traps you need a cleric instead of a rogue to disarm.

Rysky wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Rysky wrote:

I was about to question why Valeros getting Tsunamied by booze would be a bad thing for him and then I saw it tagged "twisted wish".

I still question. He can totally tank that.

I'm actually pretty sure Valeros could survive this. But he's good-aligned, so the guilt of how all the innocent villagers died thanks to his wish is going to haunt him.
Well no one's gonna die cause he's not gonna let any of that go to waste.

Unless the twisted part of the wish is all of the villagers turning into ale! OOOO!


a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon

Okay, I want to see this one.


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I appreciate the Ravenloft references, I must say.

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Eric Hinkle wrote:

a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon

Okay, I want to see this one.

Ask and you shall receive.

Story:
Vezelth resided for a long time in the Forest of Spirits, but given her penchant for kidnapping travelers and taking things which were already protected by kami, the kami rose up against her and she had to leave to save her life. She escaped across the Crown of the World hoping to find a place to settle once more, away from the cold. She eventually made her way across the Crown of the World and into the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. After some travel and exploration, she found Earthnavel and the deadly dinosaurs that lay underneath. Once she realized that the dinosaurs and spirits were able to be controlled, she got excited. A horde of items is cool, a horde of dinosaurs is cooler. She went deeper and deeper, trying to find the person who she could challenge in order to gain control over the vast horde of beast and spectre. Eventually, she found Murrog One-Ear and challenged her for dominance of Earthnavel. Vezelth lost spectacularly. Murrog pulled out spells the likes of which Vezelth had never seen before. As Vezelth lay dying in Earthnavel, the magic of the location itself granted her biggest wish in the only way it new how - making her part dinosaur herself so that she may command the other dinosaurs throughout the land. Now Vezelth hopes to form an army of tyrannosauruses in order to retake Earthnavel and defeat the orc that caused her so much trouble.

Stat Block:

Vezelth (hybrid form) CR 15
XP 51,200
Female adult forest dragon natural weretyrannosaurus (Bestiary 1, Bestiary 3)
CE Gargantuan Dragon (shapechanger)
Init +5; Senses dragon senses, tremorsense 60ft.; Perception +24
Aura frightful presence (180 ft., DC 20)
----- Defense -----
AC 25, touch 7, flat-footed 25 (+1 Dex, +18 natural, -4 size)
hp 246 (17d12+136)
Fort +17, Ref +11, Will +16
DR 10/silver, 2/adamantine; Immune paralysis, poison, sleep; SR 25
----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft., climb 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor)
Melee bite +25 (4d6+22 plus curse of lycanthropy and grab), 2 claws +24 (3d6+11), gore +24 (3d6+16), tail slap +22 (3d6+16)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 20 ft. (25 ft. with bite and gore)
Special Attacks breath weapon (50-ft cone, 12d6 piercing damage, DC 25), crush (DC 25, 2d8+13), swallow whole (2d8+11, AC 19, hp 24)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 17th; concentration +19)
At will—blight (DC 17), entangle (DC 13), pass without trace
Spells Known (CL 7th, concentration +9)
3rd (4/day)—wind wall, stinking cloud (DC 15)
2nd (7/day)—fog cloud, hideous laughter (DC 14), touch of idiocy
1st (7/day)—hypnotism (DC 13), obscuring mist, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement (DC 13), shield
0 (at-will)—daze (DC 12), detect magic, ghost sound, mage hand, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue
----- Statistics -----
Str 32, Dex 13, Con 24, Int 16, Wis 19, Cha 15
Base Atk +17; CMB +32 (+36 grapple); CMD 43 (47 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Armor, Iron Will, Multiattack, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth), Stealthy, Toughness, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +9 (+12 when jumping), Bluff +22, Climb +39, Escape Artist +3, Fly +11, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (arcana, nature) +14, Perception +24, Spellcraft +23, Stealth +19, Survival +17
Languages Common, Draconic, Sylvan
SQ dragon change shape (humanoid 3/day; polymorph), lycanthrope change shape (dragon, hybrid and tyrannosaurus; polymorph), lycanthropic empathy (tyrannosaurus), powerful bite, sound imitation, woodland stride
----- Special Abilities -----
Curse of Lycanthropy (Su) A natural lycanthrope's bite attack in animal or hybrid form infects a humanoid target with lycanthropy (Fortitude DC 15 negates). If the victim's size is not within one size category of the lycanthrope, this ability has no effect.
Dragon Change Shape (Su) Vezelth can assume any humanoid form three times per day as if using polymorph.
Lycanthrope Change Shape (Su) All lycanthropes have three forms—a humanoid form, an animal form, and a hybrid form. Equipment does not meld with the new form between humanoid and hybrid form, but does between those forms and animal form. A natural lycanthrope can shift to any of its three alternate forms as a move-equivalent action. An afflicted lycanthrope can assume animal or hybrid form as a full-round action by making a DC 15 Constitution check, or humanoid form as a full-round action by making a DC 20 Constitution check. On nights when the full moon is visible, an afflicted lycanthrope gains a +5 morale bonus to Constitution checks made to assume animal or hybrid form, but a –5 penalty to Constitution checks made to assume humanoid form. An afflicted lycanthrope reverts to its humanoid form automatically with the next sunrise, or after 8 hours of rest, whichever comes first. A slain lycanthrope reverts to its humanoid form, although it remains dead.
Lycanthropic Empathy (Ex) In any form, natural lycanthropes can communicate and empathize with animals related to their animal form. They can use Diplomacy to alter such an animal's attitude, and when so doing gain a +4 racial bonus on the check. Afflicted lycanthropes only gain this ability in animal or hybrid form.
Powerful Bite (Ex) Vezelth applies twice her Strength modifier to bite damage.
Sound Imitation (Ex) Vezelth can mimic any voice or sound she has heard by making a successful Bluff check against the listener's Sense Motive check.
Woodland Stride (Ex) Vezelth may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at her normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect her.

Yes, I know…:
that the lycanthrope template can only be applied to a humanoid. I'm ignoring that for the rule of cool. I also know that this is the actual lycanthrope template and not the simple template from Horror Adventures, but I also don't have that, so this is what I have to work with. Hope you enjoy!


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Iammars wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon

Okay, I want to see this one.

Ask and you shall receive.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

I can but hope that what we get in the book is half as cool as what you just wrote.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Eric Hinkle wrote:
Iammars wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon

Okay, I want to see this one.

Ask and you shall receive.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

I can but hope that what we get in the book is half as cool as what you just wrote.

Yeah, it's not going to include a backstory like that; just a set of quick simple templates you can use to create exciting new NPCs and creatures with concepts related to the corruptions (so where it might have taken Iammars half an hour to an hour to write that statblock using the full templates, these you might be able to apply faster, or even on the fly, depending on if you can usually apply simple templates on the fly).


nice! i love the way they managed the rules (as we can read here)
Question; there will be a Character sheet with the rules in it or it will be like unchained and Ultimate Combat rules (no space in sheet for new rules?

At least with mythic there were a specific sheet for all those rules...

I found kind of annoying to trying to use alternate rules and making space in the actual sheet for them. Pls paizo, make different sheets for alternate rules

a sheet using Armor as DR, Vitality and Wounds, now this sanity and madness threasholds and such


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Juda de Kerioth wrote:

nice! i love the way they managed the rules (as we can read here)

Question; there will be a Character sheet with the rules in it or it will be like unchained and Ultimate Combat rules (no space in sheet for new rules?

At least with mythic there were a specific sheet for all those rules...

I found kind of annoying to trying to use alternate rules and making space in the actual sheet for them. Pls paizo, make different sheets for alternate rules

a sheet using Armor as DR, Vitality and Wounds, now this sanity and madness threasholds and such

There are tons of great (and free!) 3rd party sheets out there. I can't live without the ones form Dyslexic Studeos, but I'm sure others can point you to sheets designed for plenty of those specific rules.


I don't know if anyone seen this kick starter yet. It is for vampire hunter D Comic, which is fully funded now, but it has stretch goals to get actual Vampire hunter D pathfinder Add on from Paizo. It will more then likely fit very well with this horror book.

Vampire hunter D Kickstater


"the trompe l'oeil (a creature that emerges from a painting)"

I'm almost tempted to see if you can apply this template for a tattoo instead of a painting, be it a bit different than the Tattoo Guardian (Occult Bestiary).

Think about it: you tattoo a creature's image on the target's skin... and that image springs to life to attack the target.

Even deadlier: you tattoo SEVERAL images of creatures on the target's skin and THESE images ALL spring to life to attack the target.

Paizo Employee Developer

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JiCi wrote:


Even deadlier: you tattoo SEVERAL images of creatures on the target's skin and THESE images ALL spring to life to attack the target.

Even even deadlier: you tattoo SEVERAL images of creatures on the target's skin and THESE images ALL spring to life and attack one another. The poor victim is caught in the crossfire and can't escape the gory conclusion because BOTH sides of the conflict are made of his own flesh!

Silver Crusade

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Mark Moreland wrote:
JiCi wrote:


Even deadlier: you tattoo SEVERAL images of creatures on the target's skin and THESE images ALL spring to life to attack the target.
Even even deadlier: you tattoo SEVERAL images of creatures on the target's skin and THESE images ALL spring to life and attack one another. The poor victim is caught in the crossfire and can't escape the gory conclusion because BOTH sides of the conflict are made of his own flesh!

YOU.

Do this thing.


... If you can get the subject to the point where you can apply multiple tattoos, why not just cut their throat and dump them down a well or something?

(This is why I remain a Scumbag For Hire, I suppose. No style.)


Sorin Kell, Scumbag For Hire wrote:

... If you can get the subject to the point where you can apply multiple tattoos, why not just cut their throat and dump them down a well or something?

(This is why I remain a Scumbag For Hire, I suppose. No style.)

It's called a curse :P


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"See this tattoo of a devil on your chest? It's an actual devil bound to your flesh observing what you do. If you don't follow my instructions, it will manifest... Not to kill you, but anyone nearby... As well as torturing you. Just a little insurance policy to make sure you don't get any ideas."


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I dunno, horror isn't really my thing. I may just sleep through this one and check out the next hardcover... zzzzz...

Paizo Blog wrote:
[...]a dragon that turns into a tyrannosaurus rex every full moon[...]

*Snort* zzzhuh, what? Wait, WHAT?! You know, especially with the breadth of horror covered, this just got back onto my "buy" list.

Plus, one group of my friends has never played Pathfinder, but loves the board game Betrayal at House on the Hill. This may be the book to get their attention...

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