Haunted houses are classic venues for adventures. Such places are ripe with possibilities (and dangers).
When designing a haunted house, though, it’s easy to focus on the physical challenges of the place. Atmosphere in such a locale is easily as important as the things the PCs will actually fight. Use the table below, to generate minor events of interest:
- From the area the PCs just left comes the distinct creak of floorboards—as if someone heavy is walking across the floor.
- The temperature suddenly plummets to freezing point in the area surrounding the party. Their breath mists the air and frost forms on the ground. Within a few minutes, the chill passes.
- Somewhere up ahead a door rattles in its jamb. The rattling is loud and sustained. If the PCs come upon the door, the sound suddenly ceases.
- The indistinct sound of whispering or muttering comes from a random direction. No matter how hard they listen, the party can make out only one word…death.
- A faint glow of light—as given off by a candle—comes from behind a door or around a corner. When the party moves to investigate, the light is suddenly extinguished.
- As #5 above, but the light dances wildly as if caught in a strong wind. As the party moves to investigate, the light is extinguished and a strong wind momentarily batters the party.
- With a crash, a small object such as a tankard on a nearby table smashes to the floor.
- The sound of scrabbling comes from within the nearby wall. It sounds like dozens—if not scores—of some small animal such as a rat—are trapped within. The sound reaches a crescendo—loud enough to drown out normal conversation—before abruptly ceasing.
- A deeper shadow seems to move in the dark just beyond the party’s lights.
- One of the party suddenly feels dizzy—as if he had been spun round and round—and sick. If the PC engages in strenuous activity within the next five minutes, he is violently sick.
- One of the PCs suddenly feels a stinging pain on the back of his neck. Investigations reveal three deep slash marks—perhaps made by ghostly fingernails. The PC loses 1 hp, which requires magic to heal.
- With a low creaking sound, a door in sight of the party slowly opens. When they approach, it slams shut in their faces!
- One of the party discovers a minor weapon—perhaps a dagger—is missing. If they retrace their steps to look for the weapon, they find it stabbed into the floor. The weapon’s hilt is strangely cold to the touch.
- The cloying scent of rotting food hangs in the air. If the party spends any time in the room searching, the smell gets stronger and stronger.
- The PC at the back of the party hears the sound of quiet sobbing from the room they just exited.
- One of the party suddenly experiences an overwhelmingly powerful hot flush. Sweat breaks out on his face and he must rest for a moment.
- Wet footprints suddenly appear on the floor in front of the party.
- Strange stains running down the walls from the ceiling make it seem like the house itself were bleeding. The stains are a dried rusty brown colour and give off a faint, indistinct odour.
- The atmosphere in this part of the house seems stale and stagnant no matter what steps are taken to let in fresh air.
- A loud voice—with no obvious source—suddenly shouts the name of one of the party.
- 20 Treasure to Find in a Haunted House
- 20 Unfortunate Discoveries to Find in a Haunted House
- 50 Things to Find in a Haunted House
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House Packed full of details to make adventures set in hunted houses memorable and easy to prepare, Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is a vital tool in the busy GM’s armoury.