The Adventure is written for characters between level 4-5. It’s built intending the Milestone system of character advancement. This means that the characters need to accomplish specific goals in order to level up. The standard rules for experience gain are applicable, if the DM is more comfortable with that. A small party of 4th level characters is going to struggle with some of these encounters, and they could up victims of the house. A larger party, or more experienced characters aren’t going to struggle as hard.
There are a variety of reasonable adventure hooks to draw a party to the mansion itself, and once they’ve entered the building, the spooky starts to ratchet up quickly. This adventures plays on traditional horror story ideas and methods to provide both atmosphere and challenge. There are some rough encounters banging around in this house, and it’s staged so that characters will have to make tough decisions to move forward.
This adventure does a wonderful job of establishing the spooky atmosphere with vivid descriptions and some very cleverly thought out setting elements. As we expect with creepy old mansions, there are hidden passages, multiple floors, and a host of other comfortably expectable elements. There are spooky traps, hauntings, undead guardians, and a host of other fantastically appropriate challenges for a party to encounter on their way to trying to solve the mystery of what happened here, and to keep it from happening again.
THe adventurers will either find the source of the haunting itself and overcome the challenge or succumb to its horror. There are a couple of lingering plot elements that will have an outcome on the adventure depending on how the characters handle their business. There’s a high likelihood that the adventurers will have to run for their lives at least once at the conclusion of this adventure.
What I like about this adventure
This adventure takes everything that’s fun about a horror movie and extrapolates it into functional game mechanics. The adventure is atmospheric (and the author has a wonderful bit of advice on setting the scene appropriately for the players with music, lighting, and some props), and it feels scary. The author has also done an excellent job of laying out the creepy setting elements and the combat encounters. DMs are going to need to read through the adventure a couple of times to get all of the moving parts straight, but they are wonderfully constructed. Treasure is clearly identified (with one exception), and the adventure does include a copy of the map you can lay out for the players. The monsters have clear tactical plans laid out and suggestions for how they are going to behave during combat.
Issues with the adventure
I only have a couple of issues with this adventure, and they are relatively minor. First, the maps that are included don’t have a scale listed, so i’m not sure if they are a 1 square equals five feet, or if it’s another measurement. The other issue that i have is that some of the loot featured on the final boss has no explanation of how it works or what value it has. Personally, i would have liked to see the Author give a rough time frame for how long he expected the adventure to take, but my rationale for that is that it’s a trend that others in the community are including with their adventures. I suspect that if you’re a fast playing group, you could finish this adventure in a single four hour setting, but i think it probably plays better if you stretch it out to two four hour sessions. Some of the recurring elements seem like they’d do better with two sessions.
The Haunt is an atmospheric horror adventure that is full of extremely engaging setting elements and appropriate encounter choices. Nothing feels out of place or jarring to the senses. From start to finish, this feel like an interactive horror movie. It’s well paced and with the little bit of preparation you’d need (mostly grabbing monster stats out of the Monster Manual) you can very easily run this adventure. The two minor issues i saw in this do not distract from the very fun adventure presented.
I give this adventure 5 stars, and i enjoy Mr. Beckwith’s work. I am interested in perusing more of his work and i will likely be spending more time on DM’s Guild checking out P.B. Publishing.