DriveThruRPG.com
Browse Categories
$ to $















Back
pixel_trans.gif
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House $3.75 $2.25
Average Rating:3.9 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
1 1
1 1
2 1
0 0
0 0
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Click to view
You must be logged in to rate this
pixel_trans.gif
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 05:14:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' Alternate Dungeon-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As in the first installment of the series, we begin with basic considerations for making the change of scenery to the alternate dungeon interesting - this time emphasizing the importance of mirrors, evil emanations and stuck doors before beginning with advice on running the place - with animated objects, sounds, decrepit structures etc. helping in keeping up the atmosphere. Here, the house fares better than the groves, while in the suggested treasures, things necessarily become a bit more generic.

The suggested function, here more a combination of ambient effects and background story is more versatile than in the first installment. Once again, the pdf comes with advice on "harvesting" dressing, which feels a bit out of place in direct comparison to the groves -how does one harvest e.g. portraits that follow the players with their eyes? How does one harvest echoing footsteps? That being said, the dressing-table this time around does not have the filler roll twice/thrice and generally has quite an array of glorious entries that will especially help novices to the genre of horror make the stay at a haunted house memorable.

Now the haunted house denizens suggested as adversaries are more or less what you'd expect - ye olde' assortment of undead and the same holds true for the 3 haunts - dancing decor, arcane locking doors and the suggested hazards are rather conservative.

The 3 adventure hooks included are solid.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as flawless as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks as well as fully bookmarked. Additionally, you receive two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one optimized for the printer.

Alexander Augunas' alternate dungeon-suggestions for haunted houses are solid especially for novice DMs looking for inspiration regarding haunted houses. Now if you're a veteran Ravenloft/CoC/etc.-DM, then this one probably won't blow you away - the helpful considerations were okay, yes, but e.g. escape prevention (a default trope in haunted houses!) is glossed over, as is the general location of the house. Harvesting suggestions for dressings feel weird in the context of the haunted house and the supplemental reskins/hazards are old tricks for veterans. Whether this pdf is for you very much depends on your experience with horror modules in old mansions - if you're a veteran, don't expect to find much new herein - unlike the installment on mystic groves, the mansions uniqueness is derived more from story and individual dressing and this pdf, by nature of its scope, is hard-pressed in providing enough on that front. If, on the other hand, you are a novice DM or simply have no experience with these types of set-ups, then this will make for a good step-by-step guideline for you, collecting some of the classic tricks and considerations. My final verdict will hence clock in at a final verdict between "good and useful for novices" and "nothing for veterans" of 3 stars - quintessentially, a solid pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
pixel_trans.gif
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2014 20:37:46

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=45236.

Prepare Quicker, Prepare Better. This is the mantra for Raging Swan Press, and for a product like Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House, it rings true. Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is exactly what you think it should be and a bit more. This 12 page product is actually an amalgamation of several other types of Raging Swan products. It is broken down into a description of the haunted house as an alternate dungeon, haunted house dressings, the denizens that inhabit haunted houses, some of the traps and hazards one might encounter in a haunted house and adventure hooks for haunted houses. That is a lot of crunch for $2.45 USD.

The cover is really basic, black with white writing, the font is crisp and easy to read and the Raging Swan emblem right above the Pathfinder emblem lets you know what system it was designed for. Even with the Pathfinder moniker, this product will work for most systems with very few adjustments. There are a few black and white illustrations in the corners of some of the pages with varying levels of effectiveness. This setup allows a GM to prepare quicker and prepare better. Anyone who runs games knows that quicker and better are a win/win for everyone involved in a game. Creighton Broadhurst is savvy. He knows how to frame a product like this and in the first part of this product does not shy away from addressing some of the difficulties that a haunted house setting presents for the Game Master. After the introduction, the haunted house as an alternate dungeon is broken down into Defining the Dungeon, Running the Dungeon and sacking the dungeon. Each of these sections contains at least five paragraphs that elaborate on those concepts. This provides a svelte outline that mentally gets the GM warmed up. After going through this section I had no less than 10 great ideas for the next haunted house I run.

The dressing section is the standard D100 listing that Raging Swan has done so well for so long. This section transcends the boundaries of just being a D100 random loot list by describing how and where some of these dressings might appear in said haunted house. Some of the D100 offerings were meh, some of them were really solid and a few freaked me out. I know the meh needs to be there, but I could always do with more entries that freaked me out. The great thing is that above using the dressing chart as random room filler, there are some seeds for some great adventure hooks.

The Denizens section contained exactly what I expected it to; there was a delightfully creepy picture on page 6 that really helped set the mood. As expected, the Denizens included the old standbys like shadows, ghosts, poltergeists and vampires. Rather than including the stats for these types of creature, a challenge rating and a small write up are included in the text. From a quicker preparation standpoint I would have loved some quick stat blocks, but there are really so many types of these nasties that I can see why they didn’t go there.

The traps and hazards section follows the Denizens section, but has the added bonus of including some new haunts. The new haunts are a short stat entry but they have enough info for a GM to quickly add them into their haunted house, creating more of a one stop shop feel. These new haunts include Anguish, Dancing Décor and Slamming Door. The names alone ooze with insidious ways to challenge players.

The last section covers Adventure Hooks but actually the book is full of them, these just happen to be spelled out in plain sight and have a slightly longer description. Most of these hooks are based on the history of the haunted location, which is normally why a location ends up haunted. The three hooks given here are interesting, but not ground breaking. Any one of them would be a great foundation to build your haunted house upon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
pixel_trans.gif
Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review. I\'m delighted you found Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House so handy!
pixel_trans.gif
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2014 07:27:01

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/09/23/tabletop-review-alternate-dungeons-haunted-house-pathfinderd20/

Unless characters are very low level, it’s pretty hard to pull off a proper haunted house in Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition. After all, Paladins, Clerics and Necromancers all have special abilities versus the undead, and typical denizens of a haunted house (Ghosts, Spectres, and Poltergeists) are a bit too much for someone at Level 1 or 2. Even Ravenloft, the gothic horror campaign setting for AD&D 2e, didn’t really do so much with haunted houses, as it would be a dungeon crawl in a sprawling manor or castle. This is why haunted houses tend to be better left to games like Call of Cthulhu, Chill, Shadows of Esteren or Hunter: The Reckoning. Of course, this doesn’t mean a good haunted house is impossible with a d20 system – just that it’s very hard to make a high quality one that espouses feelings of horror and terror. This is where Raging Swan Press’ new supplement comes in handy. Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is a short, twelve page PDF that breaks down into five distinct categories to better help an enterprising DM come up with a haunted house that is scary, yet fits into a system where a starting level character can make zombies run in fear of their holy power.

Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is a short piece, but you do get two versions of the PDF when you purchase it. The first is optimized for printing, while the other is optimized for screens, such as your desktop, laptop or e-reader. Visually, there isn’t really a difference between the two, but the print one is a larger file, due to higher resolution images. Both are bundled together, but the only time you should open the print version is when you’re planning to well, print a copy of this off.

The first section is “An Alternate Dungeon,” and it gives details on what a haunted house is in high fantasy terms along with how to run one like a dungeon. I do strongly feel that if you run a haunted house in a manner similar to a dungeon crawl, you’re very much missing the point of one, but Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House does things far more to my liking that most attempts at horror in a d20 system. This is because the piece tries to obscure the fact that one of its haunted houses is still a dungeon crawl, while still helping a d20 oriented GM run a spooky manor or long abandoned castle with the terminology and jargon they are used to. This means the overall experience is definitely less of one that you would get from a system or game that is geared for horror/terror, but it’s also leaps and bounds above anything of the sort I’ve seen released for Pathfinder so far. It’s not a knock on Pathfinder as a system – just that horror is harder to pull off than say, Call of Cthulhu, because it’s not expressly designed for it, whereas CoC IS.

Also in “An Alternate Dungeon” are examples of how to spruce up the location with special powers to circumvent typical PC actions. Cursed mirrors, penalties to divination and Detect Magic spells. Even animated objects and weakened floorboards make it in here. There is a really nice list of atmospheric options coupled with mechanics to help a Pathfinder GM make a spooky house. Unfortunately, some obvious options, like penalties to turning undead or other ways of nerfing clerical/necromantic magic are missing here, which is a significant oversight. This section ends with a list of lootable goods that one would normally find in a haunted house. It’s a decent list, but again, incomplete. No mention of any ancient grimoires, spellbooks or cursed objects for example. So this could have been fleshed out more, and longtime horror gamers will spot these flaws outright, but what’s here is still really good, especially for those new or inexperienced at running a haunted house based adventure.

“Dressing” gives you a list of ways haunted houses come to be, such as curses, murder, suicide or other tragic events that may have occurred within the home’s walls. This section also includes a d100 chart of haunts. It’s a well-made and versatile list that should serve newcomers well, although veterans of horror gaming will probably want to pick and choose to create a more cohesive piece.

“Denizens” is a list of eight possible creatures that would be inhabiting a haunted house. The CRs range from 2 to 9, with an interesting mix of options. Some are fairly obvious, like the ghosts and wraiths. Some are less obvious, like vampires, witchfire and shadow demons. Again, this should really be helpful to a newcomer who is plotting their first haunted house adventure out.

“Traps and Hazards” are just what you might expect, but with a haunted house motif. Bleeding walls, collapsing floors and pit traps are just some examples of what await you in this section. I’m kind of surprised things like falling chandeliers, shattering mirrors and secret wall based traps didn’t make it into this section. There are three new haunted house oriented haunts that appear here: anguish, dancing décor and slamming doors. I would be honestly surprised if these hadn’t been done already in some other d20 supplement for horror gaming, but I can’t think of one, so it’s great to see these haunting tropes given d20 mechanics.

Finally, we have “Adventure Hooks,” which give you three short synopsis that a GM can flesh out and turn into full fledged adventures. Obviously, these will take a bit more work than purchasing an already written adventure, but for those of you who are suffering from writer’s block or are taking the first steps into homebrewing adventures, what’s here are some basic elementary ideas that should get your creative juices flowing. I personally like The Seaside Massacre best, but if you find one that leaps out at you, you should definitely use it!

Overall, Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is one of the best horror minded supplements I’ve seen for Pathfinder in many years. It really tries to hide the flaws that come about when you try to do horror with the d20 system while also accentuating the system’s strengths. Veterans of classic horror systems won’t find much here to use except some specific d20 mechanics, while newer, less experienced or more casual horror gamers are the perfect target audience for this piece. Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House can really help make a spooky old mansion become more than just a generic dungeon crawl with a new coat of paint slapped on it. Just in time for the Halloween season, no less!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
pixel_trans.gif
Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the comprehensive review, Alexader. I much appreciate it and I\'m delighted you enjoyed Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House!
pixel_trans.gif
Displaying 1 to 3 (of 3 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
pixel_trans.gif
pixel_trans.gif Back pixel_trans.gif
0 items
 Gift Certificates