A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House

Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House by Alexander Augunas is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License with some parts considered to be Open Game Content as a result. This is a collection of material for fleshing out a haunted house, as part of a series on alternate dungeons.

This is a twelve page PDF which is available from RPGNow at the regular price of $2.45 but which was purchased as part of a special bundle at the greatly reduced price of $0.21. The PDF comes in two versions, one optimised for screen and mobile and the other for print and desktop.

Alternate Dungeons: Haunted HouseTwo pages are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers with a third similar page, one page is the Contents and front matter and one page is the Open Game License.

Haunted House: An Alternate Dungeon starts with considering what a haunted house and how to define the dungeon, with some examples of fairly standard tropes and their game effects. It also has details on running the dungeon, including some dangers, and sacking it, with what valuable things could be found.

Haunted House: Dressing has examples of how a house can become haunted and details on the dressings, including harvesting them. Finally is a d100 table of 42 dressings that could be found in and around a haunted house to give atmosphere. This section can be found in the free GM’s Monthly Miscellany: September 2014.

Haunted House: Denizens lists the various entities that could be expected to dwell in a haunted house. These are pretty logical and undead.

Haunted Houses: Traps & Hazards starts with some mundane traps & hazards, although there are really more hazards that simply have a similar effects to traps. Magical traps and a standard haunt (really, most haunts by their very nature are suitable for such a location) follow. Finally is the new material, three new haunts, two of which are definitely logical types.

Haunted Houses: Adventure Hooks has three new adventure hooks, all pretty decent (although one mentions a grotto built on top of a noble’s summer home; surely that must be the other way around?).

Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with the major and minor sections linked. The Contents is less thorough, covering only the major sections, but is also hyperlinked. Navigation is therefore very good for a short supplement.

The text maintains a two column format and a number of errors were noted, including some which seemed like errors rather than typos, such as the location of a grotto above a house and perhaps the reference to a baker’s family living in a manor. There are a number of minor pieces of black and white stock art. Presentation is therefore okay.

D&D, and derived games such as Pathfinder, don’t always handle horror that well, given their fundamental nature. Ravenloft was the first attempt to do so, and the Horror Adventures book for Pathfinder is another, more recent example (although the latter had not been published at the time this supplement was written). Similarly, this struggles to a degree to get the sort of atmosphere that would be seen in a horror game in Pathfinder. In fantasy games it’s much easier leaving a location than in, say, Call of Cthulhu, and this doesn’t really seem to be considered. If players don’t want to be in the haunted house, they could perhaps simply walk out the door.

The entire concept of harvesting dressings seems totally contrary to the haunted house trope, and that’s even before the types of dressing are considered. Many of the dressings are effects and non-physical in nature, such as freshly dug graves, strange sounds and rotting food. Frankly, not one of the dressings looks suitable for “harvesting” and the entire concept looks like it was dragged in from another supplement in the range; it simply does not fit.

There isn’t really much in the way of truly new material here for the more experienced. Much of it is quite logical and follows standard horror tropes, and some parts, as mentioned, do not seem logical at all. Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House is not a bad supplement but it isn’t a great one either and it can be found by clicking here.

 

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