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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.

Holy Water

Source Occult Adventures pg. 228
While haunts are typically damaged only by applied positive energy, holy water is another potential weapon against them. A flask (1 pint) of holy water that successfully hits a haunt as a splash weapon deals 2d4 points of damage to the haunt on a direct hit, and deals 1 point of damage to haunts within 5 feet of the splash radius.

Item-Bound and Possessing Haunts

Source Occult Adventures pg. 228
Some haunts are tied to special objects or creatures. Such haunts take normal damage from positive energy, and follow the normal reset rules for haunts of their type. Dispel evil can eject a haunting presence if the spell is cast quickly; the caster must succeed at a caster level check with a DC equal to 10 + the haunt’s CR + 1 for each month that the creature or object has been possessed.

Bound haunts possess items when created, and gain mobility at the cost of having their tragic fates tied to physical objects that are more easily destroyed. These haunts spontaneously manifest at scenes of great terror, as the psychic residue of tragic events seeps into items tied to the events. Once bound to an item, an item-bound haunt uses all of the normal rules for haunts, with the radius of its effects centered on the haunted object. Some effects may have special triggers based on the item’s nature, such as haunted instruments being played or weapons being used. The haunting presence adds 5 to the break DC for its possessed item, and doubles the item’s hardness and hit points.

Malevolent spirits may similarly haunt creatures rather than items, following the subjects wherever they go and causing strange occurrences and poltergeist-like activity around the subject in revenge for a perceived trespass or involvement in the tragic events that created the haunt. While they sometimes seem beneficial to their hosts at first, such haunts inevitably seek their hosts’ destruction. Individuals possessed by such haunts must always take a standard action to retrieve stored items, unless it would normally take longer. In addition, any item the host drops lands 10 feet away in a random direction. A possessing haunt uses all normal rules for haunts, with the radius of its effects centered on the haunted subject, who takes a –2 penalty on all saving throws against the haunt’s effects. Subject to the GM’s discretion, haunted creatures may suffer tormenting dreams that cause 1 point of drain each day to an ability score appropriate for the haunt.

Chained Haunts

Source Occult Adventures pg. 229
Some haunts are intrinsically connected with incorporeal undead entities (most commonly ghosts) and manifest as displays of the associated creatures’ fractured psyches. Chained haunts can be destroyed only by bringing final rest to their connected entities. Chained haunts can be used to illustrate and emphasize a ghost’s tragic story. For example, a series of chained haunts could be spread across the site of a ruined mansion: while the linked creature—a ghost— dwells in the attic where it was murdered, a downstairs bedroom might manifest a bleeding walls haunt to emphasize the scene of a tragic loss pertinent to the ghost’s history; a demanding dead haunt might cause a trespasser to dig up a shallow grave in the garden where the ghost’s corpse is buried; and the murder weapon might roam the halls of the mansion, manifesting as a malignant weapon haunt.

Seances and Spirit Communication

Source Occult Adventures pg. 230
Some PCs may wish to establish communication with haunts that have been neutralized (reduced to 0 hit points) but not yet destroyed. Regardless of the haunts’ original powers or CRs, GMs may elect to have neutralized haunts revert to rapping spirits or possessing dead haunts during their reset periods. Likewise, GMs may elect for rejuvenating undead such as ghosts and poltergeists to assume one of these states during rejuvenation periods. While still potentially frightening or even malevolent, these haunts can potentially communicate by using a code (such as one rap for “yes” and two for “no”) in response to called out words, numbers, and letters. Those in contact with a demanding dead haunt, on the other hand, typically whisper messages in darkened seance chambers, or scribble writing at the haunt’s suggestion. In either case, such spirits are often unreliable, always cryptic, and never able to convey knowledge beyond what they knew in life.

Diplomacy, spells such as calm spirit, and comforting environments such as darkened seance cabinets can all improve a spirit’s attitude. Some characters attempting to communicate with haunts carry flat, lettered boards known as talking boards, cone-shaped spirit trumpets, or writing planchettes—small, wheeled boards that write with chalk or charcoal pencils. While these are mundane items with no inherent magic of their own, in the hands of those with properly established rapports, these tools increase the efficiency of messages received from haunts, doubling the rate of communication from two signals (raps, letters, etc.) per round to four signals per round.