Notes on Haunts

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“With the knockings of restless spirits erupting around us, I raised my hand and snapped my fingers thrice, loudly. The raps paused, then responded back in unison. As we called out questions to the dead lord of Montalov Manor, the knocks responded, and we began to unravel the mystery of Arno Montalov’s murder. Suddenly the temperature dropped to a deadly chill, and a pair of spectral hands seized my throat in an iron grip, just as they had seized the estate’s lord some eighty years before.”
—Joseffy Cagliosamo, retired ghost finder

“While decrepit asylums and rotting ancestral estates are the most obvious places for haunts, folklore is filled with ghostly encounters along lonely country roads and fog-shrouded moors, and even thriving inns and taverns are reliable receptacles for supernatural presences. In short, any location where unjust death, murder, and deceit have taken place is fair game for unquiet spirits."

And

“Haunts hate the living, and it seems as if they can detect nearby life sources. The thing then triggers as a result of the approach of or contact with living beings. I postulate that some haunts may be tricked by effects such as “hide from undead” or perhaps “invisibility.”
– ‘Memoirs of Rudolph Van Richten’, (famed Varisian Vampire hunter).

“Haunts are quite difficult to detect, since they cannot be observed until they actually manifest. Luckily, the perceptive hunter will notice some change in the environment, whether their skin prickles due to a sudden change of temperature, or perhaps an odd smell suddenly wafts into the room, that will warn them and give them a moment to act”.
– Professor Petros Lorrimar, ‘Famous Hauntings of Vieland’

“Luckily an indoor (ruins or otherwise) haunt’s size is usually limited to the room in which it is located. More disturbing are the haunts of outdoor areas, which can be of truly frightful size and preponderance. It must be noted, however, that even an entire building may comprise a single haunt”.
– Ailson Kindler, ‘Memories’

“The effects of a haunt are as varied as the effects in a Master Wizards grimoire. A haunt might cause a room to explode into f lames, infuse a chamber with fear, or even frighten a poor victim to death . There are recorded cases of smashing walls, icy chills, fungal growth, and much worse”.
– Yaoveh Iddusia, ‘On Borrowed Lives’

“Much to our dismay we discovered that a neutralized haunt is not actually 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.”
– Orpeum Kindler, ‘The Phantom of August House’

Tobin’s Spirit Guide provides some ways that haunts may manifest -
Rapping Spirit – The most common haunts are rapping spirits: unquiet dead with just enough substance to produce cacophonous knocking and loud bumps in the night. Some spirits, when quietened either through being dispersed or through exhausting their strength can be communicated with through the medium of ‘raps’ and ‘taps’ or via simple tools.

Slamming Doors or Portal – Mysteriously locked or slamming doors usually indicate a supernatural presence protesting intrusion, and serve as stern reminders that explorers are unwelcome in the realm of the uneasy spirit that is manifesting itself.

Orbs – A common sign of ghostly infestation, some spirits may manifest as a lazily drifting cloud of translucent, glowing light or as an orb. Scholars speculate that they represent minor animal spirits, ghosts who have faded into the ether with time, or even the souls of children.
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Manifestation of a ‘Cold Spot’ – Cold spots occur at the sites of the traumatic deaths of creatures that lack the psychic fortitude to persist as true ghosts. This is a common manifestation of spirits who may roam within large complexes, continuously seeking relief from the chill of death by drawing warmth from the living.

Mysteriously moving furniture, flying objects and invisible attacks – These are common indications of ‘Restless Spirits’ in noble villas and dank dungeons alike. These spirits have the strength to temporarily manifest to protest the intrusion of mortals into areas of significance of the Dead, whether it be forgotten gravesites or the sacred grounds of a lost indigenous people.

Mechanically, 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.

Notes on Haunts

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