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Source GameMastery Guide pg. 242
The distinction between a trap and an undead creature blurs when you introduce a haunt—a hazardous region created by unquiet spirits that react violently to the presence of the living. The exact conditions that cause a haunt to manifest vary from case to case—but haunts always arise from a source of terrific mental or physical anguish endured by living, tormented creatures. A single, source of suffering can create multiple haunts, or multiple sources could consolidate into a single haunt. The relative power of the source has little bearing on the strength of the resulting haunt—it’s the magnitude of the suffering or despair that created the haunt that decides its power. Often, undead inhabit regions infested with haunts—it’s even possible for a person who dies to rise as a ghost (or other undead) and trigger the creation of numerous haunts. A haunt infuses a specific area, and often multiple haunted areas exist within a single structure. The classic haunted house isn’t a single haunt, but usually a dozen or more haunted areas spread throughout the structure.

Haunt Rules

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 242
Although haunts function like traps, they are difficult to detect since they cannot be easily observed until the round in which they manifest. Detect undead or detect alignment spells of the appropriate type allow an observer a chance to notice a haunt even before it manifests (allowing that character the appropriate check to notice the haunt, but at a –4 penalty).

A haunt can infuse a maximum area with a 5-foot radius per point of CR possessed by the haunt, but the actual area is usually limited by the size of the room in which the haunt is located.

When a haunt is triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 in a surprise round. All characters in the haunt’s proximity can attempt to notice the haunt at the start of this surprise round by making a notice check). All haunts detect life sources and trigger as a result of the approach of or contact with living creatures, but some haunts can be tricked by effects like hide from undead or invisibility.

On the surprise round in which a haunt manifests, positive energy applied to the haunt (via channeled energy, cure spells, and the like) can damage the haunt’s hit points (a haunt never gains a Will save to lessen the damage done by such effects, and attacks that require a successful attack roll to work must strike AC 10 in order to affect the haunt and not merely the physical structure it inhabits). Unless the haunt has an unusual weakness, no other form of attack can reduce its hit points. If the haunt is reduced to 0 hit points by positive energy, it is neutralized— if this occurs before the haunt takes its action at initiative rank 10, its effect does not occur.

A haunt can have virtually any effect identical to an existing spell effect, but often with different—and distinctly more frightening or unnerving—sensory or physical features than that spell effect normally has. (A haunt that has an effect not identical to an existing spell is certainly possible, but this requires designing a new spell effect.) A haunt might cause a room to explode into flames (duplicating fireball or fire storm), infuse a chamber with fear (duplicating cause fear, scare, or fear), or try to frighten a target to death (duplicating phantasmal killer or slay living). How the haunt’s effects manifest are left to you to determine.

A neutralized haunt is not destroyed, and can manifest again after a period of time—to destroy a haunt, a specific action must be taken in the region to end the effect forever (such as burning a haunted house to the ground or burying the bones of the slaves who died on the site to create the haunt). This specific act is different for every haunt (although a number of nearby haunts often share the same destruction act).

Some haunts are persistent, and their immediate effects continue beyond the surprise round into actual full rounds. Persistent haunts continue to trigger their haunt effects once per round on their initiative rank until destroyed or they no longer have a target.

All primary effects created by a haunt are mind-affecting fear effects, even those that actually produce physical effects. Immunity to fear grants immunity to a haunt’s direct effects, but not to secondary effects that arise as a result of the haunt’s attack.

New Haunt Rules

Source Occult Adventures pg. 228
The GameMastery Guide introduced rules for creating haunts. While haunts can be complex antagonists, they are versatile tools that are well suited to portray the drama and atmosphere of occult games. This section presents new haunt rules and clarifications on previous rules.

Table 6-2: Additional Haunt Elements

TypeCR Modifier
Belligerent (hit points equal to CR × 6 )+3
Item-bound (bound to item; see page 228)-1
Chained (bound to ghost; see page 229)-1
Fast (manifests on initiative rank 20)+2
Free-roaming (gains movement speed: fly 10 ft. [good])+1
Increased area (double radius to 10 ft. per CR)+1
Possessing (bound to creature; see page 228)+1
Spiteful (caster level and save DCs increase by 2)+1
Vaporous (AC = 10 + CR and gains incorporeal quality)+1

Clarifying Haunts

Adjudicating the mind-affecting, fear-based effects of a haunt’s primary attack can be problematic for characters outside the haunt’s range or those immune to such effects. This can deprive some PCs of the ability to witness the haunt’s story elements and thus assist allies plagued by a haunting presence. Fortunately, a haunt’s secondary effects are less absolute. A haunt’s secondary effect should reflect its primary effect in some manner, in ways all PCs can witness. For example, a spectral vermin haunt should still manifest a visible, ghostly phantom of a scurrying, skeletal rat swarm to those immune to the effect or beyond its range, even though the haunt’s primary effect does not affect those PCs. This enables PCs to not only witness the haunt’s secondary effect so as to better interpret a haunt’s clues, but also to more easily recognize when fellow PCs are afflicted and need assistance.

Haunts created using spells with non-instantaneous durations can also create problems. If the haunts do not have the persistent quality, it is unclear whether these spells continue with their normal durations after the haunt’s surprise-round attack. To resolve this matter, consider creating haunts with durations as persistent haunts.

Elements of a Haunt

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 243
Haunts are presented in the following format.

Haunt Name: The haunt’s name is followed by its CR.

XP: This is the amount of XP to award the PCs for surviving the haunt, as determined by its CR.

Alignment and Area: This line gives the haunt’s alignment and the dimensions of the area it infuses (up to 5 feet per CR). If a haunt is persistent, this is noted here as well.

Caster Level: This is the haunt’s effective caster level for the purposes of dispelling any ongoing effects with dispel magic, and for determining the results of spell effects it creates.

Notice: This indicates the skill check and DC required to notice the haunt in the surprise round before it manifests. The sensory input for what a successful check notices— such as a faint ghostly wailing, a smell of burning flesh, or fresh blood oozing from the walls—is listed in parentheses after the DC.

hp: This lists the haunt’s effective hit points for the purposes of resolving positive energy damage. A haunt’s hit points are equal to twice its CR, except in the case of a persistent haunt, in which case its hit points are equal to its CR × 4.5 (round fractions down).

Weakness: Any weaknesses the haunt might have, such as for haunts that can be tricked by effects like hide from undead or can be damaged by effects other than positive energy, are listed here.

Trigger: The conditions that can cause the haunt to manifest are given here. Proximity-triggered haunts occur as soon as a creature enters the haunt’s area. A haunt triggered by touch does not activate until a living creature touches a specific object or location in its area, but it can sense (and thus target with its effects) any creature in its area.

Reset: This is the amount of time that must pass before a haunt can attempt to reset. Until it is destroyed, a haunt can reset after this period by succeeding on a DC 10 caster level check—failure indicates the haunt must wait that amount of time again before making another attempt to reset.

Effect: This details the haunt’s exact effects, including a description of how the haunt manifests.

Destruction: This describes the act needed to permanently destroy the haunt.

Creating a Haunt

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 243
To make a haunt like the example below, follow these steps.

Step 1—Determine Base CR: A haunt’s base CR is equal to 1 + the level of the spell it duplicates.

Step 2—Determine Actual CR: Select the elements you want the haunt to have and add up the adjustments to its CR to arrive at the haunt’s final CR (see Table 8–2: CR Modifiers for Haunts).

Step 3—Determine Caster Level: A haunt’s caster level is equal to its actual CR score.

Step 4—Determine Hit Points: A haunt’s hit points are equal to twice its CR (or equal to its CR × 4.5 if the haunt is persistent).

Step 5—Calculate Attacks and Save DCs: A haunt’s attack modifier (if one is needed) is equal to its CR. If a haunt’s spell effect allows a saving throw to resist or negate the effect, the save DC is equal to 10 + the level of the spell + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to cast that level of spell.

Table 8-1: CR Modifiers of Haunts

Feature TypeCR Modifier
Notice DCCR Modifier
15 or lower-1
30 or higher+3
Reset TimeCR Modifier
1 minute+2
1 hour+1
1 day+0
1 week-1
Example WeaknessesCR Modifier
Slow (manifests at Initiative rank 0)-2
Susceptible to an additional type of damage type-1 per additional type
Tricked by hide from undead-2
Tricked by invisibility-1
Tricked by Stealth*-3
Triggered by touch-2
* The haunt makes a caster level check instead of a Perception check to notice someone using Stealth.

Horror Haunt Elements

Source Horror Adventures pg. 172
Haunts are the echoes of tormented spirits that linger in locations keyed to their suffering—and they have proven to be a favorite challenge in many adventures. The Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide introduced rules for haunts and those rules are expanded in Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures. This section introduces new elements to add to haunts, as well as variants that expand the haunt rules to apply to corrupted or twisted regions that are not tied to undeath.

The new haunt elements in this section are templates that can be applied to any haunt.

Echoes of the First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 132
The First World shares its place in existence with the Material Plane, and in some places, the boundary between the planes wears thin. The Material Plane’s influence on the First World manifests as regions of stubborn stability called “breach scars,” which the First World’s denizens regard with disgust. On the Material Plane, the fey realm’s influence erodes the laws of time and space and transforms reality in its wake. Sometimes, this influence manifests as an echo of the First World.

An echo of the First World functions (and is designed) as a haunt, but unlike haunts, they are damaged by negative energy and healed by positive energy. These echoes can be any alignment, but they are almost always chaotic neutral. Three sample echoes are Dimensional Tear, Enchanting Demise, and Following Footsteps, but countless others certainly exist.

Overcharge: Positive energy and healing effects heal echoes of the First World. If such healing would cause an echo of the First World to exceed its normal maximum hit points, it gains half the excess as temporary hit points until those hit points are spent or 1 minute has passed since it last gained temporary hit points in this manner. As long as an echo of the First World has at least 1 temporary hit point gained in this way, it also gains its overcharge ability.

Botanical Haunts

Source Pathfinder #144: Midwives to Death pg. 65
Botanical haunts are masses of vegetation that work as a single entity to fight against invaders in their territory. Their animating force typically originates from vengeful nature spirits, such as a corrupted dryad or angry kami. Botanical haunts differ from standard haunts in several important ways.

Botanical haunts are not fear effects. They take damage from negative energy, rather than positive energy. Spells that normally harm plants or plant creatures, such as blight, diminish plants, and horrid wilting, also affect botanical haunts. If an applicable spell would not normally deal damage to a haunt, it deals 2d6 points of damage per spell level to the botanical haunt. In addition, botanical haunts can be harmed with weapons that are particularly suited to chopping through foliage—they take half damage from nonmagical slashing weapons, or full damage from magical slashing weapons. These massive beings are hardier than standard haunts and thus have twice as many hit points.

The standard destruction condition for a botanical haunt is when the plant is entirely destroyed, which requires an hour of work and a successful Knowledge (nature) check (DC = 15 + twice the haunt’s CR) to thoroughly remove the plant’s roots. This destroys the haunt, but the animating nature spirit is likely to seek another vessel. The only way to permanently destroy a botanical haunt is by placating the spirit animating it; the exact method required depends upon the spirit’s grievance.