Content of the article: "Horrifying and strange – Haunts are deadly supernatural traps created by lingering spirits"
- 0.1 You can find a prettified version of this on GM Binder or find a PDF version along with my thoughts of this on Dump Stat.
- 1 Haunts
- 1.1 Haunts in Play
- 1.2 Sample Haunts
- 2 Similar Guides
You can find a prettified version of this on GM Binder or find a PDF version along with my thoughts of this on Dump Stat.
Before we begin, just want to give a brief warning that Haunts are supernatural traps that are focused on death, suffering, and pain. These traps feed on the horror and suffering they inflict, some players (and DMs) may find such topics or traps uncomfortable. The horror that a Haunt brings to the table is ultimately left up to the DM, and I provide several examples that touch on the topics of murder, starvation, drowning, and loss.
Haunts are found in the places of ancient evil and lost souls. Ancient tombs are often the sites of many haunts, though decrepit temples, abandoned hospitals, and more have all witnessed the great sorrow and suffering. Haunts are formed from suffering and death, and when a person of great power dies, they often spawn many haunts as their soul refuses to leave the world, though that isn't to say that haunts are made from souls – they are the side effects of suffering and pain.
Undead can often be found in locations with haunts and haunts often spurn hundreds of rumors about it, causing many to believe a poltergeist haunts an old house. Many locations might feature a haunt, special places can feature dozens of them inside of their sorrow-soaked walls.
A haunt is a magical event that is triggered by living creatures and often inhabits a single room.
Haunts in Play
When adventurers come across a haunt, it's important to know how the haunt is triggered and how it functions, as well as how the adventurers can first notice a haunt and pacify it.
Triggering a Haunt
Haunts are triggered by the presence of living creatures who enter the room that houses a haunt, though that isn't always true. Common triggers for a haunt can be walking into the middle of a haunted room, carrying bright light, speaking, touching a child's favorite toy, and wearing the holy symbol of a hated god. Undead and constructs never trigger a haunt, but undead immediately know if they are near a haunt.
If a construct is caught in the effects of a haunt, like if it was traveling with living creatures and a haunt began, then they can be affected by the haunt. Undead are immune to the effects of a haunt unless it is stated otherwise.
Detecting and Disabling a Haunt
Haunts can be difficult to notice as they are often invisible or require a creature proficient in religion to notice them. Adventurers might notice small flecks of blood splattered on the wall, broken bones lying under a piece of furniture, strange toys in horrifying conditions, or otherwise feel uneasy about a room.
A haunt's description specifies the checks and DCs needed to detect it. A character actively looking for a haunt can attempt an Intelligence (Religion) check against the haunt's DC. You can also compare the DC to detect the haunt with each character's passive Intelligence (Religion) score to determine whether anyone in the party notices the haunt in passing. If the adventurers detect a haunt before triggering it, they might be able to ascertain how to pacify it or find another way around it. You might call for a Wisdom (Insight) check for a character to deduce what needs to be done.
Most haunts can be temporarily pacified by the unleashing of power from a cleric or paladin's Channel Divinity, though this only lasts for a number of hours based on the haunt's description. Many haunts can't simply be destroyed by die rolling, but through clever play, good planning, and working out how to appease a haunt.
Most haunts are frightening and horrifying, creating inconvenient to deadly situations that mix elements of horror, pain, and suffering. A haunt's description specifies what happens it is triggered, but it often uses a spell, like fear or phantasmal killer to harm whatever living creature triggers it.
The attack bonus of a haunt, the save DC to resist its effects, and the damage it deals can vary depending on the haunt's severity. Use the Haunt Save DCs, Attack Bonuses and Spell Level table, and the Damage Severity by Level table for suggestions based on three levels of haunt severity.
A haunt intended to be a setback is unlikely to kill or seriously harm characters of the indicated levels, whereas a dangerous haunt is likely to seriously injure (and potentially kill) characters of the indicated levels. A deadly haunt is likely to kill characters of the indicated levels.
Haunt Save DCs, Attack Bonuses and Spell Level
|Haunt Danger||Save DC||Attack Bonus||Spell Level|
|Setback||10–11||+3 to +5||1st-2nd|
|Dangerous||12–15||+6 to +8||3rd-5th|
|Deadly||16–20||+9 to +12||6th-9th|
Damage Severity by Level
Magic and Haunts
Haunts are powered by magic and use spells to impart pain and suffering on its victims. Haunts can be temporarily dispelled with a successful dispel magic spell using the haunt's DC for the spell's ability check.
When a haunt is triggered, all creatures taking part in the haunt should roll initiative. A creature who has not noticed the haunt by succeeding on an Intelligence (Religion) check is surprised. A haunt acts on initiative 20, losing any ties.
The haunts presented here vary in deadliness and are presented in alphabetical order.
|Haunt||DC / Attack||Level||Severity|
|Cold Touch||13 / +7||5th-10th||Dangerous|
|Water of the Damned||15||Any||Deadly|
Haunt / Description A cold chill runs down your spine, and your flesh begins to rot away as a howl of pain echoes in your ears. This haunt is formed from the anguished screams of a murderer who wanted nothing in life but to kill others.
Blood soaked floors and instruments of death are coated in thick layers of dust. The DC to realize this is a haunt is 13. With a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Insight) check, a character can deduce the haunt is focused on inflicting pain and killing.
The haunt can be temporarily bypassed by an expenditure of a Channel Divinity or by casting cure wounds on the blood-soaked room and healing 15 hit points of damage. This disables the haunt for 2d4 hours.
The haunt is triggered by anyone who walks into the room and is living. When the haunt is triggered, on its initiative count, the haunt appears as the spectral form of a hanged murderer and targets all creatures inside the room, and casts the inflict wounds spell at 2nd-level. The haunt has a +7 to hit and deals 4d10 necrotic damage on a successful hit.
The haunt can be permanently pacified by restoring a creature from death to life while in the room, like casting a revivify spell or similar magic.
Haunt / Description Crippling hunger fills your stomach blocking any other thought in your mind.
This haunt is formed by those who starved to death, craving any type of sustenance.
Gnawed leather straps, teeth marks on wooden furniture, and bones with bite marks on it litter the floor. The DC to realize this is a haunt is 11. With a successful DC 11 Wisdom (Insight) check, a character can deduce the haunt is focused on feeding its hunger.
The haunt can be temporarily bypassed by an expenditure of a Channel Divinity or by casting create food and water in the room. This disables the haunt for 2d4 hours.
The haunt is triggered by anyone who walks into the room and isn't eating food. When the haunt is triggered, on its initiative count, the haunt appears as the illusionary form of a great feast and all creatures inside the room must succeed on a DC 11 Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, a creature is subjected to the phantasmal force spell and is compelled to devour the illusionary food in front of them. Every round, a creature who is subjected to this effect takes 1d6 damage from the spell, but they rationalize it as a rat or another creature, like their companion, who is fighting them for the food. The spell lasts for 1 minute and the haunt immediately casts the spell again.
The haunt can be permanently pacified by offering it a feast worth 100 gp of various types of food to the room.
Haunt / Description It's pointless, all life is ultimately meaningless and there is no reason why anyone should continue.
This haunt is formed by those who found a hard life and found failure only waiting for them.
Thick dust chokes this room with bones arranged on the floor as if someone simply laid down and died. The DC to realize this is a haunt is 17. With a successful DC 17 Wisdom (Insight) check, a character can deduce the haunt is focused on a self-consuming apathy.
The haunt can be temporarily bypassed by an expenditure of a Channel Divinity or by casting wall of light in the room. This disables the haunt for 2d4 hours.
The haunt is triggered by anyone who walks into the room and has a purpose. When the haunt is triggered, on its initiative count, the haunt appears as the gray face of a crying humanoid and all creatures inside the room must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or be affected by the sympathy effect of an antipathy/sympathy spell and lays down on the floor, giving up on anything that matters to it.
The haunt can be permanently pacified by completing a great task for the spirit that formed this haunt.
Water of the Damned
Haunt / Description Cold hands press on your neck, pulling the air out of your lungs and cold fear grips your heart. This haunt is formed by someone who drowned, either by a friend or a loved one.
Water soaks the wood in this room causing it to expand or buckle if you are walking into a room. If looking into a body of water, a skeleton can be seen with its hands grasping at its throat at the bottom of the body of water. The DC to realize this is a haunt is 15. With a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check, a character can deduce the haunt is focused on drowning victims.
The haunt can be temporarily bypassed by an expenditure of a Channel Divinity or by casting water breathing on the room or body of water. This disables the haunt for 2d4 hours.
The haunt is triggered by anyone who enters the room or begins holding their breath while underwater. When the haunt is triggered, on its initiative count, the haunt appears as the spectral form of a woman floating in water, lifeless. All creatures inside the haunt must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or immediately begin suffocating or lose 1 minute of air if they are holding their breathe. Every round a creature is in the haunt, they must repeat the saving throw. If a creature attempts to leave a body of water they are in, they must succeed on a DC 15 Strength check to breach the surface.
The haunt can be permanently pacified by finding whoever killed the soul who formed the haunt and bringing them to the haunt to be killed.
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