Though the world of horror fantasy certainly has ghosts and other ephemeral horrors, they are not the same as the supernatural activity that can encompass a “haunt”.
A haunt is a ghostly resonance that can affect a creature that triggers it. Such haunts are very likely to occur in places of death and psychic distress, such as torture chambers, mass graveyards, and battlefields. The nature of each haunt is unique and can cause a milieu of terrible effects, from a scare all the way to death.
Building a Haunt
The following tables can assist in the guidelines for creating a given haunt. Each contributing factor can affect the haunt’s final CR, and determine the difficulty and/or deadliness of encountering one.
Most haunts have three basic elements that might affect its difficulty: The passive perception needed to detect and avoid it, its effect, and how hard it is to overcome the effect.
There are also elements of a haunt that do not affect its CR, such as its trigger, and location. The base CR of a haunt is 0 before modifications. If a haunt is still 0 or less after all modifications, it’s effective CR is 1/2.
Although each haunt has a CR, the GM can determine whether a group has successfully overcome a haunt, whether that means surviving the haunt or destroying it.
|Haunt Factor||CR Adjustment|
|DC of Effect||CR Adjustment|
|Average Damage Dealt||CR Adjustment|
|Add +1 to the CR adjustment for every additional 15 points of damage.|
|Exhaustion, poisoned, deafened||+1|
|Blinded, frightened, restrained||+2|
|Charmed, paralyzed, stunned, suffocation||+3|
|Maximum number of creatures affected||CR Adjustment|
Spectral Knife CR ½
Location: Roadside where the highwaymen murdered the newlywed couple.
Passive Perception to notice: 9 Trigger: Any one creature that approaches within 100 feet of the site at night.
Effect: A young couple once attempted to travel to a neighboring town to consult a sage regarding the bride’s sudden illness.
The highwaymen sought to take the money that the couple had for the sage’s fee. The highwaymen killed the couple and took the money, and were never brought to justice. The husband’s survival knife drew the blood of one of the thugs, and still haunts the site. As it is a prominent legend in the town, there is a sign on the highway that warns people not to approach the road at night. Anyone that ignores the warning and approaches the site is attacked by a spectral knife. An afflicted creature must make a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw or take 5 (1d10) psychic damage. The haunt stops after the first attack but is reset once each hour, on the hour until sunrise.
Destroying the animated knife: The haunt can be ended if the brigands are brought to justice.
Barring that, sprinkling the blood of a murderer on the site will also end the haunt.
Chilling Darkness CR 4
Location: Wine Cellar Passive Perception to notice: 14 Trigger: Three or more creatures present Effect: When triggered, the corks from all the wine bottles appear to come out, and the contents of the bottles spill out into a chilly darkness that envelops the immediate area.
All creatures currently in the wine cellar must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 14 (3d10) cold damage on a failure, or half as much on a success. This darkness foils the darkvision of living things. Those who wish to exit must make a DC 13 Dexterity check to avoid falling prone for each round of movement they make, but if no danger is present, there is nothing inherently dangerous about the darkness, as the cold damage only occurs once. The darkness persists for 10 minutes, after which it dissipates, the wine bottles appear unopened, and the haunt can begin anew if the trigger conditions are met.
Destroying the Chilling Darkness: A house servant was once brought to this room and brutally murdered for attempting to steal wine. Speaking a prayer of rest for the soul of the house servant can quell the haunt, even if it is in progress. A DC 14 Intelligence (Religion) check might be appropriate to know of an appropriate prayer.
The Painting CR 9
Location: Hallway leading to the east wing of the mansion.
Passive Perception to notice: 18 Trigger: Being adjacent to the painting.
Effect: An ominous painting hangs in the hallway, depicting the former master of the mansion. When seen from the corner of the eye, the master appears craven and ghoulish.
Anyone that nears the painting must make a DC 16 Charisma saving throw or become charmed and compelled to attack the nearest living creature for up to 5 rounds. If there are no living creatures to attack, the afflicted victim must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or become wracked with nightmarish visions and is dealt 27 (5d10) psychic damage.
Those that succeed at the saving throw only take half damage. Only one such creature can be afflicted in this way. The haunt can be triggered only once per night.
Destroying the painting: The painting itself can be destroyed, but it merely reappears at the next stroke of midnight. To unravel the haunt, one must draw a circle of salt on the floor near the painting, and perform an esoteric rite of exorcism. This rite can be performed with a DC 16 Intelligence (Arcana) check.
5th Edition Horror. © 2018, Fat Goblin Games; Author: Ismael Alvarez