On the Hell House Beckoning You

Many of my longtime readers will notice that I self-disclose very little on my blog. Partially this is because it's just good business sense, my personality and politics aren't relevant to the design of a lich lord or city template and partially because I'm a private person.

Today, I'm going to break that rule, and say something that will certainly separate me from a portion of my audience. Here goes.

I don't like watching horror films.

I know! I know, I respect the genera, and think it's wonderful that they can be made. People should be free to watch all the sewing mouths to anuses, cutting off your own limb, being eaten alive by zombie movies they want. They are not for me.

But that doesn't mean that I'm unwilling to run a game with a little bit of horror and gore!

The Hell House Beckons

Man, just look at that cover. I may not be as familiar with the source material as KielChenier's adventure kit as some people, but running a haunted house doesn't require it. Every time I've run a haunted house adventure module, it's gone over well. From the classic Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh to the more modern and completely brilliant Slaughterhouse Indigo, Haunted Houses are great places for adventurers to go. Every single time I run them, they end up being crazy fun for the group.

The Hell House Beckons is a complete adventure kit to run a haunted house. It comes with a concise but flavorful backstory, illustrations, flavorful system neutral sub-systems and stats, ghosts and a crazy slasher, and a ton of tables to make running the adventure unique for each group that runs through it.

Kiel sent me a copy, and wanted to know what I thought. What do I think?

  •  Although it's not perfect, there's a lot of useable content here for 10$
  •   I'm surprised the book didn't include the absolute best hook involving haunted houses—the players inherit or win the deed to the haunted house. Instead it suggests that they are "Cleansing" it for some local lord.
  •  There's quite a bit of repetition within the text. Most of it is due to being designed to be used at the table as a reference, but some is contained within the setup and background information and doesn't need to be repeated.
  • *   Considering that it's written, illustrated, and laid out by a single person, these are minor quibbles. It's a 70 page adventure that is different every time you run it, and works as a toolkit you can pull from for other adventures.
  •  The imagery of some of the horror is fantastic. There are some terrifying things that can happen within the house. To avoid spoilers, I'm not going to mention anything specific, except inside this spoiler tag.
  •   Spoiler! Horses smashing their heads through the windows, and killing themselves? Shocking! A mutated halfling with shears wearing a burlap sack that just won't die and keeps popping out in random places? So much fun. Ghosts, hallucinations, forgotten burial grounds, in any other setting then a tabletop game, it would seem like too much. End Spolier
  •  Imagery that's not only terrifying, but fair. The adventure doesn't pull any punches, but unlike most adventures from 1984 to the turn of the century, there are no bullshit gotchas. This adventure isn't on rails, the characters can approach it however they want. There's a whole page devoted to talking about the perspective and attitude to take when running this adventure. I think that's awesome.
  •  The adventure isn't without its challenges to run, either. Minor spoilers ahead, so you may want to avoid reading if you plan to play in it. . . A large portion of the adventure revolves around satisfying ghosts, and in order to know how to do that, there's 800 words of backstory that either has to be read to the players or handed out to them. Players, as we all know, are a lazy breed, and that's a lot of investment to ask of them. I think it's best to just print it out and give it to them in letter form. It suggests that and is already formatted that way for ease of use. (Although you'll have to copy and paste from 3 pages and do a little reformatting in a text editor before printing)
  •   Each room is detailed in bullet point fashion, making it easy to use on the fly.


So, if you're looking for a haunted house to tempt your players with, you could do a lot worse then picking this up. It's a reasonable price, and the money goes to a good cause.

Besides, it's so much fun to ask your players, who's afraid of a haunted house? They think they know better than horror movie protagonists? Let them prove it.




Hack & Slash 

1 comment:

  1. I have just started up a Chill 1st edition campaign. My players are my 15 year old son and his friends. I tried to impress them that these were the actual books I bought in '84, sadly trying to impress them with this kind of nonsense was a foolishness on my part. Evryone talks about how great it is, bla, bla, bla. It is, but you have to wrap your head around the system. The rules are written in such a way that trying to ferret out something important during play is futile. But, it is a great game. I have played (and will be playing) many times. Finding adventures has not been easy. This will help. Haunted houses are pure fun.

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