I've been finding one element of the haunt rules a bit frustrating as a GM.
As written, haunts tend to have rather low HP totals. The PCs in my haunt-heavy campaign have generally been finding it more expedient to neutralize the haunts with positive energy then investigate how to actually put them to rest. Occasionally they do so out of curiosity or for roleplay reasons, but when they have some other goal ahead of them, they tend to shut them down with channeled energy, cure spells, and disrupt undead so they can move on to the next thing.
It's a legitimate tactic and, frankly, generally more expedient, but I think it loses a little something.
Any tips on how to make haunt encounters more unique and flavorful?
As a PC in Carrion Crown, every haunt we've dealt with has been brutal and sucky, and every single one has come back, even when we had the resources to positive energy them (which has not been often).
My character, for personal reasons, is very interested in freeing the haunts permanently, but some of them have been so specific and awkward--one required a specific level 2 Druid only spell be cast on an item and left in the haunt's presence--or too costly--wasting 25gp vials of holy water--that we pretty much can't afford to do it.
So, I guess the point is--they probably hate dealing with the Haunt's very specific requirements, and they're built correctly to positive energy blast. Let it go and congratulate them on being able to solve it the easy way.
Returning haunts help if the PC's have to make their way back the way they came, certainly. By then they can have returned and the party will have to deal with them again.
I agree, mplindustries, that overly particular requirements are disincentivizing to the PCs, and I have avoided that sort of thing. I suppose I shouldn't get too worked up, though, about them using positive energy to blast their way through them.
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Yeah, I wouldn't get too worked up about it. Honestly, using positive energy as a way to attack undead is a major class feature for clerics, and yet it's one they don't get to use often, and even for most undead it's not really worth doing. It's good for them to be happy they have it once in a while.
Well this is how I understand it...
1. A Haunt is just a Trap. A very nasty Trap.
2. A haunt can have any effect identical to an existing spell effect
3. There are two types of Haunts. Persistent and Non-Persistent
Hit points are equal to twice its CR
When triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 in a surprise round. Unless you get to act in the surprise round you get no chance to affect the haunt. This is because after it triggers it is gone. Done. There is no need to use Positive energy because the Haunt is gone. Think of it as a single use trap.
Hit points are equal to its CR × 4.5 (round fractions down).
When Triggered it still goes off on Initiative rank 10, but it continues to act every round there after until destroyed or it wins. These Haunts are much harder to kill because of the increased HP.
These Haunts have a reset timer. Even after killing them with Positive Energy they will return a set number of minutes/hours/days later. You can only kill them by putting them to rest.
The GM may elect to treat all neutralized haunts (those reduced to 0 hp) as CR 1 rapping spirits while they reset. Using this option, haunts retain enough ectoplasmic fortitude to linger in the area, where they attempt to convey their needs to the living. While these knockings are still potentially frightening, communication with these feeble spirits can be established by working out a series of codes (such as one rap for “yes” and two for “no”) or by calling out words, numbers, and letters for selection by the spirits.
Such messages can be formed at the rate of 1d10 words for each minute a character makes a successful Linguistics check, with a DC equal to 15 + the original haunt’s CR. Such communications are typically unreliable and cryptic, never conveying knowledge beyond what the spirit knew in life.
I hope this helps. Persistent Haunts are much harder to deal with then just blasting them with Positive Energy.
I'm seriously not a fan of haunts, at all, but I'm all about finding ways to make them suck a little less. So, I'm checking back here to see what kinds of things the community comes up with to help fix them and make them useable.
1. A Haunt is just a Trap. A very nasty Trap.
^^This is exactly my problem with haunts. They are mechanically nothing more than "make a roll and move on" material.
A. Non-Persistant:Done. There is no need to use Positive energy because the Haunt is gone. Think of it as a single use trap.
B. Persistant:These Haunts have a reset timer. Even after killing them with Positive Energy they will return a set number of minutes/hours/days later. You can only kill them by putting them to rest.
All haunts have the bolded feature, not just Persistent haunts.
On a second reading I see your point Serum. It is still gone though after the surprise round. I just returns has a reset timer where it becomes a single use trap... again.
I wonder if you can channel bomb it in between? It doesnt really matter. It would still return after its timer was up. Either way though Haunts can be dangerous. Expecially Persistant ones (because of the increased HP). A Persistant CR10 Haunt will have 45 HP. Lets say you have a 7th level party. Your 7th level cleric will average 12 HP per channel(4d6). Thats 4 rounds of channeling to drop it to zero, and they would still need to put it to rest or it will come back.
Unless your whole party can channel I dont see how a Haunt isn't still a challenge.
Yeah, it's the persistent ones I am focused on in particular.
I suspect with their most recent haunt, they may have to return the way they came, so it will come back to bite them that it was only neutralized. That should be fun.
Actually, thank you for the condensed rules, Dragonamedrake. That's a handy reference.