The following sample haunts represent just some of the possibilities to challenge the player characters.
The distinction between a trap and an undead creature blurs when you introduce a haunt—a hazardous region created by unquiet spirits that react violently to the presence of the living. The exact conditions that cause a haunt to manifest vary from case to case—but haunts always arise from a source of terrific mental or physical anguish endured by living, tormented creatures. A single, source of suffering can create multiple haunts, or multiple sources could consolidate into a single haunt. The relative power of the source has little bearing on the strength of the resulting haunt—it’s the magnitude of the suffering or despair that created the haunt that decides its power. Often, undead inhabit regions infested with haunts—it’s even possible for a person who dies to rise as a ghost (or other undead) and trigger the creation of numerous haunts. A haunt infuses a specific area, and often multiple haunted areas exist within a single structure. The classic haunted house isn’t a single haunt, but usually a dozen or more haunted areas spread throughout the structure.
Although haunts function like traps, they are difficult to detect since they cannot be easily observed until the round in which they manifest. Detect undead or detect alignment spells of the appropriate type allow an observer a chance to notice a haunt even before it manifests (allowing that character the appropriate check to notice the haunt, but at a –4 penalty).
A haunt can infuse a maximum area with a 5-foot radius per point of CR possessed by the haunt, but the actual area is usually limited by the size of the room in which the haunt is located.
When a haunt is triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 in a surprise round. All characters in the haunt’s proximity can attempt to notice the haunt at the start of this surprise round by making a notice check). All haunts detect life sources and trigger as a result of the approach of or contact with living creatures, but some haunts can be tricked by effects like hide from undead or invisibility. On the surprise round in which a haunt manifests, positive energy applied to the haunt (via channeled energy, cure spells, and the like) can damage the haunt’s hit points (a haunt never gains a Will save to lessen the damage done by such effects, and attacks that require a successful attack roll to work must strike AC 10 in order to affect the haunt and not merely the physical structure it inhabits). Unless the haunt has an unusual weakness, no other form of attack can reduce its hit points. If the haunt is reduced to 0 hit points by positive energy, it is neutralized— if this occurs before the haunt takes its action at initiative rank 10, its effect does not occur.
A haunt can have virtually any effect identical to an existing spell effect, but often with different—and distinctly more frightening or unnerving—sensory or physical features than that spell effect normally has. (A haunt that has an effect not identical to an existing spell is certainly possible, but this requires designing a new spell effect.) A haunt might cause a room to explode into flames (duplicating fireball or fire storm), infuse a chamber with fear (duplicating cause fear, scare, or fear), or try to frighten a target to death (duplicating phantasmal killer or slay living). How the haunt’s effects manifest are left to you to determine.
A neutralized haunt is not destroyed, and can manifest again after a period of time—to destroy a haunt, a specific action must be taken in the region to end the effect forever (such as burning a haunted house to the ground or burying the bones of the slaves who died on the site to create the haunt). This specific act is different for every haunt (although a number of nearby haunts often share the same destruction act).
Some haunts are persistent, and their immediate effects continue beyond the surprise round into actual full rounds. Persistent haunts continue to trigger their haunt effects once per round on their initiative rank until destroyed or they no longer have a target. All primary effects created by a haunt are mind-affecting fear effects, even those that actually produce physical effects. Immunity to fear grants immunity to a haunt’s direct effects, but not to secondary effects that arise as a result of the haunt’s attack.
Haunts are presented in the following format.
Haunt Name: The haunt’s name is followed by its CR.
XP: This is the amount of XP to award the PCs for surviving the haunt, as determined by its CR.
Alignment and Area: This line gives the haunt’s alignment and the dimensions of the area it infuses (up to 5 feet per CR). If a haunt is persistent, this is noted here as well.
Notice: This indicates the skill check and DC required to notice the haunt in the surprise round before it manifests. The sensory input for what a successful check notices— such as a faint ghostly wailing, a smell of burning flesh, or fresh blood oozing from the walls—is listed in parentheses after the DC.
hp: This lists the haunt’s effective hit points for the purposes of resolving positive energy damage. A haunt’s hit points are equal to twice its CR, except in the case of a persistent haunt, in which case its hit points are equal to its CR × 4.5 (round fractions down).
Weakness: Any weaknesses the haunt might have, such as for haunts that can be tricked by effects like hide from undead or can be damaged by effects other than positive energy, are listed here.
Trigger: The conditions that can cause the haunt to manifest are given here. Proximity-triggered haunts occur as soon as a creature enters the haunt’s area. A haunt triggered by touch does not activate until a living creature touches a specific object or location in its area, but it can sense (and thus target with its effects) any creature in its area.
Reset: This is the amount of time that must pass before a haunt can attempt to reset. Until it is destroyed, a haunt can reset after this period by succeeding on a DC 10 caster level check—failure indicates the haunt must wait that amount of time again before making another attempt to reset.
Effect: This details the haunt’s exact effects, including a description of how the haunt manifests.
Destruction: This describes the act needed to permanently destroy the haunt.
To make a haunt like the example below, follow these steps.
Step 1—Determine Base CR: A haunt’s base CR is equal to 1 + the level of the spell it duplicates.
Step 2—Determine Actual CR: Select the elements you want the haunt to have and add up the adjustments to its CR to arrive at the haunt’s final CR (see Table: CR Modifiers for Haunts).
Step 3—Determine Caster Level: A haunt’s caster level is equal to its actual CR score.
Step 4—Determine Hit Points: A haunt’s hit points are equal to twice its CR (or equal to its CR × 4.5 if the haunt is persistent).
Step 5—Calculate Attacks and Save DCs: A haunt’s attack modifier (if one is needed) is equal to its CR. If a haunt’s spell effect allows a saving throw to resist or negate the effect, the save DC is equal to 10 + the level of the spell + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to cast that level of spell.
Whether in the employ of the frightened owners of a haunted estate or simply seeking to exorcise unquiet spirits, PCs may attempt communication with haunts to discover the actions necessary to bring final rest.
The GM may elect to treat all neutralized haunts (those reduced to 0 hp) as CR 1 rapping spirits while they reset. Using this option, haunts retain enough ectoplasmic fortitude to linger in the area, where they attempt to convey their needs to the living. While these knockings are still potentially frightening, communication with these feeble spirits can be established by working out a series of codes (such as one rap for “yes” and two for “no”) or by calling out words, numbers, and letters for selection by the spirits.
Such messages can be formed at the rate of 1d10 words for each minute a character makes a successful Linguistics check, with a DC equal to 15 + the original haunt’s CR. Such communications are typically unreliable and cryptic, never conveying knowledge beyond what the spirit knew in life.
While the spectre always behaves according to the original haunt’s alignment, only the most malevolent spirits would deny themselves a chance at final rest. Some mediums carry flat, lettered boards known as “talking boards,” or planchettes—small, wheeled boards with chalk or charcoal extending below—to better facilitate communication with spirits.
Such tools increase the efficiency of messages received to 3d6 words per minute of communication, and grant the user a +4 bonus on Linguistics checks to decipher the cryptic messages of haunts.
Adjudicating the mind-affecting, fear-based effects of a haunt’s primary attack can be problematic for characters outside the haunt’s range or those immune to such effects. This can deprive some PCs of the ability to witness the haunt’s story elements and thus assist allies plagued by a haunting presence. Fortunately, a haunt’s secondary effects are less absolute. A haunt’s secondary effect should reflect its primary effect in some manner, in ways all PCs can witness. For example, a spectral vermin haunt should still manifest a visible, ghostly phantom of a scurrying, skeletal rat swarm to those immune to the effect or beyond its range, even though the haunt’s primary effect does not affect those PCs. This enables PCs to not only witness the haunt’s secondary effect so as to better interpret a haunt’s clues, but also to more easily recognize when fellow PCs are afflicted and need assistance.
Haunts created using spells with non-instantaneous durations can also create problems. If the haunts do not have the persistent quality, it is unclear whether these spells continue with their normal durations after the haunt’s surprise-round attack. To resolve this matter, consider creating haunts with durations as persistent haunts.
While haunts are typically damaged only by applied positive energy, holy water is another potential weapon against them. A flask (1 pint) of holy water that successfully hits a haunt as a splash weapon deals 2d4 points of damage to the haunt on a direct hit, and deals 1 point of damage to haunts within 5 feet of the splash radius.
Some haunts are tied to special objects or creatures. Such haunts take normal damage from positive energy, and follow the normal reset rules for haunts of their type.
Dispel evil can eject a haunting presence if the spell is cast quickly; the caster must succeed at a caster level check with a DC equal to 10 + the haunt’s CR + 1 for each month that the creature or object has been possessed.
While haunts can be complex antagonists, they are versatile tools that are well suited to portray the drama and atmosphere of occult games. This section presents new haunt rules and clarifications on previous rules.
Bound haunts possess items when created, and gain mobility at the cost of having their tragic fates tied to physical objects that are more easily destroyed. These haunts spontaneously manifest at scenes of great terror, as the psychic residue of tragic events seeps into items tied to the events. Once bound to an item, an item-bound haunt uses all of the normal rules for haunts, with the radius of its effects centered on the haunted object. Some effects may have special triggers based on the item’s nature, such as haunted instruments being played or weapons being used. The haunting presence adds 5 to the break DC for its possessed item, and doubles the item’s hardness and hit points.
Malevolent spirits may similarly haunt creatures rather than items, following the subjects wherever they go and causing strange occurrences and poltergeist-like activity around the subject in revenge for a perceived trespass or involvement in the tragic events that created the haunt.
While they sometimes seem beneficial to their hosts at first, such haunts inevitably seek their hosts’ destruction.
Individuals possessed by such haunts must always take a standard action to retrieve stored items, unless it would normally take longer. In addition, any item the host drops lands 10 feet away in a random direction. A possessing haunt uses all normal rules for haunts, with the radius of its effects centered on the haunted subject, who takes a —2 penalty on all saving throws against the haunt’s effects. Subject to the GM’s discretion, haunted creatures may suffer tormenting dreams that cause 1 point of drain each day to an ability score appropriate for the haunt.
Chained haunts can be destroyed only by bringing final rest to their connected entities. Chained haunts can be used to illustrate and emphasize a ghost’s tragic story. For example, a series of chained haunts could be spread across the site of a ruined mansion: while the linked creature—a ghost— dwells in the attic where it was murdered, a downstairs bedroom might manifest a bleeding walls haunt to emphasize the scene of a tragic loss pertinent to the ghost’s history; a demanding dead haunt might cause a trespasser to dig up a shallow grave in the garden where the ghost’s corpse is buried; and the murder weapon might roam the halls of the mansion, manifesting as a malignant weapon haunt.
Some PCs may wish to establish communication with haunts that have been neutralized (reduced to 0 hit points) but not yet destroyed. Regardless of the haunts’ original powers or CRs, GMs may elect to have neutralized haunts revert to rapping spirits or possessing dead haunts during their reset periods. Likewise, GMs may elect for rejuvenating undead such as ghosts and poltergeists to assume one of these states during rejuvenation periods.
While still potentially frightening or even malevolent, these haunts can potentially communicate by using a code (such as one rap for —yes— and two for —no—) in response to called out words, numbers, and letters. Those in contact with a demanding dead haunt, on the other hand, typically whisper messages in darkened seance chambers, or scribble writing at the haunt’s suggestion. In either case, such spirits are often unreliable, always cryptic, and never able to convey knowledge beyond what they knew in life.
Diplomacy, spells such as calm spirit*, and comforting environments such as darkened seance cabinets can all improve a spirit’s attitude. Some characters attempting to communicate with haunts carry flat, lettered boards known as talking boards, cone-shaped spirit trumpets, or writing planchettes—small, wheeled boards that write with chalk or charcoal pencils. While these are mundane items with no inherent magic of their own, in the hands of those with properly established rapports, these tools increase the efficiency of messages received from haunts, doubling the rate of communication from two signals (raps, letters, etc.) per round to four signals per round.
Haunt templates can be applied to any existing haunt.
A typical haunt can be harmed within the area of its manifestation, but an elusive haunt’s source is in a separate location. An elusive haunt can be damaged only at its source, and can manifest far away from that source, up to 100 feet per point of CR. The elusive element typically increases a haunt’s CR by 1. If the haunt is also persistent, the elusive property increases the haunt’s CR by 2.
A latent haunt’s effects are subtle and come into effect only if a creature who fails a save against the haunt fulfills a particular condition, such as visiting a certain location or performing a specific action. For example, a latent haunt may rest among the graves of victims of a serial killer, and only demonstrate its effects if the affected creature enters the killer’s manor. Latent haunts affecting a creature treat that creature as their source, and can be detected and damaged by any means that would detect or damage the haunt. A latent haunt works best if the DC of the skill check to notice it is unusually high for its CR.
A tenacious haunt clings desperately to its existence. When the haunt is required to attempt a saving throw, instead of automatically failing, it can attempt a saving throw with a bonus equal to 2 + its CR.
An unyielding haunt has all of the properties of a tenacious haunt, except when it succeeds at a saving throw against a spell or effect that would normally deal it damage, it instead takes no damage.
They have their own sets of vulnerabilities and defenses.
Dimensional instabilities are areas where the boundary between the Material Plane and another plane is thin and rifts between the planes frequently open. They take damage from effects that oppose the connected plane’s fundamental nature. For example, a dimensional instability associated with the chaotic evil Abyss takes damage from good or lawful spells or effects, and an instability tied to the Elemental Planes of Fire takes damage from water and cold effects.
Instabilities can even provide benefits to those who know how to cultivate them.
The sample haunt appeared when an ancient wizard bound 666 demons. Over time, the boundary between the Abyss and his summoning chamber grew thin, and the plane’s influence fractured the binding circle he carved into the floor, creating tiny rifts that flicker into existence at irregular intervals.
In addition to good and lawful effects, the haunt is vulnerable to other damage associated with good or law at the GM’s discretion, such as the extra damage from a holy weapon.
Example: Spawn of The Abyss CR 11
When a mortal creature enters the area, it’s presence provokes curiosity from the other side. The instability begins spewing a demon each round, and continues doing so for 1 minute. Use the following chart to determine what demon appears. These demons are not summoned.
Benefit A character can channel the instability’s power by spending 1 minute in the area while performing a ritual to focus its energy, requiring a DC 30 Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (planes) check. If she succeeds, she gains the fiendish template for 24 hours, and her alignment shifts one step closer to chaotic evil. If she fails, she is pulled into the Abyss.
These haunts are tied to the reality-warping influence of beings beyond comprehension. The only way to hold these haunts at bay is to draw upon dark knowledge, but such knowledge comes at a cost. As a full-round action, any character within the haunt’s area can attempt an appropriate Knowledge check to perform a short rite, utter an arcane word, or otherwise quell the maddening influence (DC = 15 + the haunt’s CR). If successful, the haunt takes 5 points of damage plus additional damage equal to the amount the character exceeded the DC.
Example: The Whispers From Beyond CR 10
The haunt detailed below is an example of a maddening influence formed at the site of a mass ritual suicide. The murmurs worm their way into the minds of all who hear them and leave lasting wounds.
The whispers drift toward sentient beings, particularly those whose minds they have touched before. Each creature in the area must succeed at a DC 16 Will save or take 1d8 points of Wisdom damage, or 1 Wisdom damage on a successful save (or if you are using the sanity system, 1d6 points of sanity damage on a successful save or 2d8 points on a failed save). The DC increases by 1 for each round a creature spends within the haunt’s area (these rounds need not be consecutive, though a given creature’s DC resets to 16 after 24 hours and whenever the haunt is dispersed). Each time a creature damages this haunt, it must succeed at a Will save with a DC equal to its Knowledge check result or take 1d4 Wisdom drain (or, if you are using the sanity system, 1d8 points of sanity damage on a successful save or 2d10 points on a failed save).
The haunt is destroyed if the corpses of all the cultists who created it are cremated and buried on consecrated ground.
Each spell, no matter how weak, leaves its signature on the world for a short time, which spellcasters can perceive as a lingering magical aura. When dozens of powerful spells are hurled against each other over a small area, reality itself can form scars that affect all who come near them.
Magical scars have auras and count as ongoing spell effects for the purposes of detect magic and similar spells. A successful Spellcraft check to identify a scar reveals its effect and its weakness, and, if it succeeds by 10 or more, the scar’s benefit. A creature can’t attempt to activate a benefit it hasn’t identified.
Spells that automatically reveal the nature of magical effects, such as greater arcane sight, automatically reveal all of these properties. The destruction conditions for magical scars are more obscure, and require research or exploration to uncover.
Example: Arcane Storm CR 6
The arcane storm haunt arose when a pair of evokers dueled to the death centuries ago. An echo of the duel still rages at the site of their battle, and the charred ground tells the bitter tale.
Each round, the arcane storm fires a bolt of energy to hit as many creatures as possible in its area (Reflex DC 15 halves).
This functions as per lightning bolt, except the energy type cycles between acid, cold, electricity, and fire. The storm is immune to the most recent type of energy damage it has dealt.
Benefit A character who fails the save against one of the arcane storm’s bolts and does not reduce the damage in any way (such as energy resistance) can attempt a DC 16 Will save to harness a fraction of the storm’s power. A character who harnesses the storm’s power gains 5 charges. He can spend 1 charge as a free action to add 1d6 points of damage of the same energy type as that of the channeled bolt to either an evocation spell that deals damage matching any of the storm’s four energy types or to a natural attack or unarmed strike. A creature can gain charges from the arcane storm only once.
The arcane storm is destroyed if a character successfully counterspells four of its bolts in a row.
Sometimes, the collective emotional energy of significant or traumatic events creates a lasting psychic impression, even in places not associated with death. These psychic haunts are mind-affecting emotion effects. A character who uses analyze aura or the read aura skill unlock on a psychic haunt’s area automatically detects the haunt and receives cryptic clues about how to put it to rest.
Every psychic haunt focuses on a specific emotion, and when targeted by or within the area of effect of an emotion spell or effect that is not connected to the associated emotion, they take damage equal to three times the effect’s spell level (each spell deals damage to the haunt once, regardless of its duration). Calm emotions damages psychic haunts regardless of their associated emotion, and an emotion effect without a spell level deals an amount of damage equal to the HD of the creature who created the effect. A character can calm a psychic haunt with a Diplomacy check (DC = 15 + the haunt’s CR). If successful, the haunt takes 5 points of damage plus additional damage equal to the amount the character exceeded the DC.
Example: Psychic Haunt (Anger) CR 10
The psychic echo below lies in the heart of an abandoned village. A group of raiders drove the villagers from their home by the sword, but an echo of the villagers’ fury persists, stoking hatred against all members of the raiders’ ethnic group.
To destroy the haunt, two people, one each of the villagers’ and raiders’ ethnicity must reveal their true love for one another (typically by marrying) within the haunt’s area.
The following haunts use many of the new haunt rules and psychic magic effects from this book.
A murder or other violent death lingers as bloody marks that harm any creature touching the surface on which they appear.
Bloody handprints slowly appear on the surface. Anyone touching the surface takes 1d6 points of damage.
The bloody handprints vanish if the surface is thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed with holy water.
A lord with a terrible secret caught a servant snooping through his papers. He knocked the servant over the head and threw her into a disused dumbwaiter, which he jammed between floors. The servant awoke the following day, and her desperate attempts to escape infuse the walls that contained her.
A character who finds the servant’s body and removes her from behind the wall destroys the haunt forever.
The most common haunts are rapping spirits: unquiet dead with just enough substance to produce disembodied knocking and bumps in the night. Characters can attempt communication with these intelligent spirits by working out codes the spirits can use to convey cryptic messages, or by using tools like spirit planchettes to increase the efficiency of communication with the spirit.
A chorus of agitated raps and blows rings out from nearby hard surfaces (limited to those capable of being physically manipulated by mage hand) as unquiet spirits convey their unrest to the living. All who hear the supernatural knocks are affected by a cause fear effect (Will DC 11 negates).
Depending on its alignment, a rapping spirit typically asks for its mortal remains to be laid to rest or for the PCs to seek revenge for its death. Fulfilling the request dismisses the haunt.
Cold spots are echoes of spirits too weak to manifest as ghosts. They can occur alone or cluster around significant areas.
The temperature suddenly plummets below freezing.
All creatures within the radius are affected as if they had been outside in cold weather for 1 hour, taking 1d6 points of nonlethal damage unless they succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save. The cold temperature lingers for 10 minutes, but has no additional mechanical effect.
If the cold spot is destroyed with holy fire (such as with flame strike), it never returns.
Some spirits take joy in terrifying the living. Spectral screams are collections of lesser spirits who have banded together to increase the amount of terror they can spread.
Spectral forms of disembodied heads emerge from the floor and scream at everyone in the area, their jaws distending to an impossible width. Creatures are affected by scare. The spectral heads take pride in terrorizing their victims; if a creature succeeds at a DC 16 Intimidate check to demonstrate its own frightening nature, the spirits decide the PC is the true winner of the current contest, after which they lose interest in the PCs for 1 hour as if reduced to 0 hit points.
The spectral screams haunt is destroyed if a creature spends 8 consecutive hours sleeping in its area.
Some haunts influence the thoughts and actions of those in the mortal realms to communicate their anger, desires, or goals, which can lead to instances of direct-voice channeling and automatic writing. While the demanding dead are sometimes malevolent, more often there is a method to their requests, which could potentially reveal shocking secrets or the key to putting them to rest forever.
This haunt seeks to influence the actions of the living, targeting a victim with a suggestion effect or a heightened command (save DC 14 for either). Depending on the haunt’s alignment and goals, the suggested actions may be malicious (such as subtly putting its victims in harm’s way or sowing antagonistic interactions) or benign (such as prompting mysterious automatic writings or unconscious utterances in hopes of communicating its ambitions to the world of the living).
A demanding dead typically asks for rest for its mortal remains or the resolution of desires unfulfilled in life. Fulfilling the request dismisses the haunt.
Foreboding mists lurk in ill-kept graveyards, drawing their substance from the unrest of all who are buried below. They manifest regardless of the weather, and target the minds of those who fail to recognize they are not entirely real.
A chilly fog descends, twisting and condensing into claws that grab and prod those within it. This fog functions as per haunting mists (DC 13).
Casting consecrate on the ground underneath the mist prevents it from returning.
The spirits of those unfortunate souls who are buried alive sometimes clamber to force others to share their fate.
On the first round, spectral gravediggers create a single 15-foot-deep pit covering the haunt’s entire radius. Creatures in the area must succeed at a DC 15 Reflex saving throw or fall to the bottom of the pit, taking 2d6 points of damage.
Creatures who succeed leap to a square at the edge of the pit. The walls of the pit are uneven (Climb DC 20). On the second round, the spectral gravediggers fill the pit with loose, spectral dirt, burying everyone still inside. Buried creatures are pinned, but they can reduce their condition to grappled with a successful DC 15 Strength check. They take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage each minute, and begin to suffocate after 10 minutes. Creatures outside of the pit can dig out the buried creatures. Each 5-foot cube of spectral dirt weighs 1,000 pounds; a creature can move 5 times her maximum load worth of dirt per minute, or 10 times her maximum load if she has a shovel. If the haunt is dispersed, buried creatures automatically rise to the surface.
The haunt can be permanently destroyed if a character finds the bones of the person who was buried alive, exhumes them, coats them in holy water, and reburies them in a temple of their patron deity.
Overwhelming, unresolved guilt—or horrific death by thousands of tiny teeth—can lead to the manifestation of ghostly vermin swarms. The haunted area often displays signs of ancient rodent infestation.
This free-roaming haunt wanders the vacant halls of old manors and dank dungeons. When the haunt is triggered, the skeletal remains of spectral rats burst forth from every crack and crevice of the room, scurrying over the area and voraciously consuming trespassers, as the summon swarm spell.
The regret of those who arrived too late to spare others a terrible fate can manifest as a haunt. A belated arrival haunt often arises near another haunt or undead, representing the fate that these regretful spirits were not fast enough to stop. A belated arrival haunt is often chained to a ghost but a necrocraftis a truly horrifying alternative.
The spectral forms of several people take faltering steps before falling to their knees and wailing with grief. All creatures in the area are exhausted (no save, as per waves of exhaustion) and are slowed for 13 minutes as per slow unless they succeed at a DC 16 Will saving throw.
These spirits find rest only if those they could not save lead them to the afterlife.
After a merchant was murdered at a party being held to celebrate his latest venture, his spirit was obsessed with finding his killer and exacting vengeance. It has clung to his body for years, hoping for a hapless grave robber to inadvertently become the pawn of his unfinished business.
The merchant’s spirit subtly possesses the creature who touched his corpse (even if the creature touched it with a tool), as per riding possession (Will DC 17 negates), except he and the host can communicate telepathically. He nudges his host toward investigating his murder. On any day his host makes progress, he is pleased and grants his host a +2 morale bonus on skill checks. If his host does not make progress for 1 week, he curses his host in a fit of rage. This functions as per bestow curse (Will DC 16 negates), except the spirit can remove it whenever he chooses. He can apply one new curse per week.
The merchant’s spirit can rest only if the murderer dies in an act of revenge. If the murderer dies of other causes before this can happen, the merchant’s spirit demands another form of harsh vengeance against the murderer’s memory or family.
Although haunted weapons often still bear holy marks from the original owners or relics like bones from a revered saint, these are never sufficient to contain the malevolence that dwells within the weapon.
Whenever the wielder of the haunted weapon threatens a critical hit with the weapon, the area immediately resonates with a cacophonous cackling. All creatures within a 35-foot radius centered on the weapon suffer the effects of a song of discord spell (Will DC 17 negates) for the next 8 rounds. If the weapon’s wielder is affected, she gains a +2 bonus on the critical confirmation roll.
The weapon must be boiled in the cauldron of a willing hag’s coven, which destroys both the weapon and the cauldron at the same time.
When the sting of betrayal lingers beyond the grave, it can manifest as a disjointed mass of confused and paranoid spiritual energy that can turn even the closest of allies against one another.
As dozens of cloaked figures swarm the area, the line between friend and foe blurs, and paranoia descends upon everyone within the haunt’s area, as per confusion (Will DC 15 negates). Furthermore, creatures within the haunt’s area must attempt a DC 15 Will saving throw against the haunt’s curse. Until it is removed, the curse forces its victims to attempt saving throws against spells, including those designated harmless. Additionally, the victims cannot benefit from any effect that requires them to treat another creature as an ally, such as flanking or aid another. Remove curse can remove this effect.
The betrayal haunt is destroyed if a victim falls unconscious or dies because of damage it took on behalf of another creature in the area. Any spell or ability that allows for the transfer of damage, such as shield other or a life oracle’s lifelink ability, satisfies this haunt’s requirement. This doesn’t work if the characters in question colluded to manufacture the damage transfer to destroy the haunt; it works only if it was a truly selfless act of protecting another.
Watery grave haunts typically travel aboard ghost ships, protecting the ghost vessel’s passengers. When the ghost ship’s captain boards an enemy vessel, the watery grave haunt drifts aboard as well.
A ghostly tendril of water erupts from the sea and forces itself into the lungs of a living creature aboard the ship, which then begins to drown. This functions as per suffocation (Fortitude DC 17 negates). The haunt affects one additional victim each round until it is dispersed.
The watery grave haunt is destroyed if the ghost ship’s captain is permanently destroyed.
This haunt hides within a host’s body, at first offering tempting boons to make the host comfortable with their presence before ultimately seeking the host’s destruction.
This haunt subtly possesses a living host as possession* (Will DC 20 negates) in order to sow fear and injury in the wider world. When it first possesses a host creature, the insidious presence may offer enticing boons for several months using its shadow conjuration effect (such as summoning allies to assist the host). But soon, the haunt’s inner malignancy takes over as it uses its shadow conjuration (DC 18 where applicable) to produce harmful or even deadly effects against its host.
An insidious presence that has slain a number of different hosts equal to its CR undergoes a startling transformation.
This powerful entity has CR of 12, learns to utilize greater shadow conjuration (DC 22 where applicable), has a caster level of 14, has a radius of 60 feet when not possessing a creature, and has 54 hit points.
An insidious presence can be destroyed only if an innocent creature willingly accepts it into its body and then intentionally sacrifices its life to destroy the haunt forever.
A pack of ravenous ghouls descended upon a once-peaceful town, killing or transforming all of its denizens who were not fast enough to flee. The ghouls’ unending hunger blended with the townsfolk’s horrifying memories of death to produce the devouring maws haunt.
A swarm of disembodied mouths fills the area. Each humanoid creature in the area must succeed at a DC 21 Fortitude save or be paralyzed, as per mass hold person. The maws swarm around paralyzed creatures, dealing them 4d6 points of damage per round. Elves are immune to the effects of this haunt.
Living (though not necessarily sentient) creatures with a combined weight of at least 10,000 pounds must be left in the area to be devoured over the course of a single day.
Among the most frightening diseases are those that cause their victims’ bodies to rot away. A living decay haunt arises when an epidemic of such a disease devastates a population.
The area fills with a potent miasma that reeks of decaying flesh. Everyone within the radius must succeed at a DC 20 Fortitude save or contract the disease living rot, as detailed below, except they bypass the latent/carrier state. Within the haunt’s area, the disease’s frequency increases to 1 round and its save DC increases to 20. Characters who succeed at this saving throw are not immune; they must attempt a new saving throw each round they remain in the haunt’s area. Reducing the haunt to 0 hit points does not remove the disease. A character who casts remove disease on the living decay haunt deals it an amount of damage equal to her caster level.
In the weakened state, the target also takes a –2 penalty on Strength– and Dexterity-based skill checks and ability checks. In the impaired state, the target takes a 50% miss chance on attack rolls and the target’s speed is reduced by half (minimum 5 feet). All objects touched at the impaired state and beyond can transfer the disease; Cure 2 consecutive saves, penalties from the weakened state and worse are permanent until the victim is the target of heal or regenerate
An eternal pyre is formed from the spirits of people who were burned alive during an overzealous witch trial. It hates all living beings, but it has a strong bond of kinship with the witchfire who arose from the most powerful of those spirits. The witchfire often lurks within the haunt’s area, as her witchflame intensifies the power of the pyre’s strikes, which in turn heal her.
A pillar of black and red flames manifests within the haunt’s area each round. This pillar functions as per flame strike (Reflex DC 19 negates), except its damage is half fire and half negative energy.
Destroying the witchfire also destroys the eternal pyre haunt.
A sadistic alchemist conducted experiments on test subjects within his remote laboratory. When he was finished with his subjects, he threw them into a vat of harsh chemicals to dissolve. His victims’ spirits have permeated the vat, and they reach out with their oozing spectral forms toward any who come near.
The chemical vat boils and froths, and spits its contents at everyone within its range each round as a ranged touch attack (+15 to hit, 4d6+6 points of damage). This damage ignores damage reduction and energy resistance. A creature hit by the chemicals must succeed at a DC 18 Fortitude save or become liquefied, as its bones and muscles melt into a pile of oozing flesh. The DC of this saving throw increases by 1 for each chemical ball that has hit the creature in the past 24 hours. A liquefied creature cannot carry, use, or wear any items, and its Dexterity score is reduced to 1. It loses all physical attacks, and it cannot cast spells with verbal or somatic components.
It gains a slam attack appropriate for a creature of one size category larger than its size (for example, 1d6 points of damage if Medium). Additionally, it gains immunity to critical hits, flanking, paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep, and stun. A liquefied creature reverts to its normal state if the haunt is reduced to 0 hit points; otherwise, only a limited wish, miracle, regenerate, or wish spell can restore it.
All of the alchemist’s research notes must be collected and thrown into the vat.
The spirits responsible for this haunt were scared to death, and in their attempt to force mortals to understand their fear, they cause their victims’ hearts to race faster and faster until they explode.
The spectral form of a giant beating heart appears, and the hearts of everyone within the haunt’s area begin to accelerate out of control. All creatures within the area are sickened, and must succeed at a DC 21 Fortitude save each round or be dazed and take 1d6+2 Constitution drain. If a creature who fails this saving throw has fewer than 10 hit points or reaches a Constitution score of 0, its heart forcefully explodes out of its chest, killing it instantly. The pressure of the explosion throws fragments of rib cage in all directions, dealing 2d6 points of slashing damage to all creatures within 10 feet (Reflex DC 21 negates). Creatures without hearts are immune to this haunt.
The heart explosion haunt is destroyed if a good-aligned creature spends 3 days motionlessly meditating in the center of its area.
Tales of a legendary linnorm have drawn many daring adventurers who wish to prove themselves by slaying the dragon. The linnorm, for its part, appreciates the sport of hunting those who seek it, and is particularly fond of crushing its victims to death with its powerful tail. The spirits of these unfortunates linger on in the form of a crushing terror haunt.
Several copies of the same colossal dragon’s tail snake through the haunt’s area. Each round, the tails attempt to grab and constrict each creature in the area (+18 to hit, 2d6+6 points of damage plus grab, CMB +35, constrict 2d6+18 points of damage). Each round a creature takes damage from the tail’s constrict ability, one of its limbs (randomly determined) snaps into pieces, and it must succeed at a DC 22 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1d4 rounds. Cure spells are not sufficient to repair the severely broken bones this haunt produces—only heal or stronger magic can mend them. Snapped limbs cannot be used for any purpose; having a snapped leg reduces a creature’s movement speed by half when using its legs, and having more than half a creature’s legs snapped prevents it from using any form of movement that uses its legs.
The crushing terror haunt is destroyed if the bodies of the linnorm’s victims are retrieved from the cave where it stores them, reassembled, and buried.
The ancient antipaladin general responsible for this haunt ruled through fear, and forbade his soldiers from accepting surrender or showing mercy. His favorite way to end a battle was to order his soldiers to kill everyone but the opposing army’s commander, then offer a rich reward to whichever of his soldiers could produce the opposing commander’s head.
A horde of armor-clad spectral soldiers rises from all sides.
On the haunt’s initiative count, five soldiers beset each creature in the area, and each soldier makes a single incorporeal touch attack with a spectral sword (+12 to hit, 2d6+9 points of damage/19–20). Creatures in the haunt’s area can attack the soldiers, but even if they destroy an individual soldier, five soldiers continue to attack each of the creatures each round until they disperse the haunt.
A thriving metropolis on the top of a cliff customarily executed criminals by throwing them off the precipice, until the spirits of the condemned hurled the city’s head magistrate over the edge as well.
The haunt causes all creatures within the haunt’s area along the cliff’s edge to plummet 200 feet to the ground, dealing 20d6 points of damage. The haunt temporarily negates spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities within its area as per antimagic field, except it does not block effects that deal positive energy damage. The haunt’s entire area is always difficult terrain. Extraordinary abilities, such as a monk’s slow fall ability, reduce falling damage as normal. The haunt lifts creatures back to the top of the cliff on each subsequent round, but it must then succeed at a combat maneuver check to bull rush each creature off the cliff (CMB +25). Creatures with natural flight can attempt a Fly check opposed by the haunt’s CMB to control their descent and take no damage.
The current head magistrate of the city must go to the cliff’s edge and issue individual pardons by name to everyone who was ever thrown off the cliff, even those whose names were never recorded.
When enough haunts gather in a single dungeon, they can combine into a gestalt haunt that infuses the entire structure with a single, malevolent will. The haunt’s source typically rests in the most difficult to find or obscure location within the structure, but it moves if it senses creatures approaching it.
This dungeon directs its malevolence toward everyone inside of it. Its interior is under the effects of guards and wards at all times. If this ability is dispelled, the haunt recreates it when it resets the following day. Once per minute, the dungeon can gather a collection of furniture and other items to form an animated object. It can create one Colossal animated object; alternatively, it can create two Gargantuan animated objects, four Huge animated objects, and so on. It can control up to four times as many animated objects as it can create in a minute (for a total CR of 15). For the purposes of detecting creatures, the haunted dungeon and its animated objects have blindsight out to a range of the entire area of the haunt, even through walls.
If the entire dungeon is simultaneously placed under the effects of hallow, the haunt is destroyed.
A flayed suicide haunt arises from the spirits of people tortured beyond insanity, until no remnants of their former essence remain. Only kytons are capable of the depths of depravity required to produce this powerful, disturbing vestige of suffering.
Hundreds of razor-sharp knives appear and carve into the skin of those in the haunt’s area. An affected creature can attempt a DC 25 Fortitude save to maintain the connection between its skin and its body. On a successful save, the creature takes 10d6 points of slashing damage.
Creatures that fail this saving throw take 20d6 points of slashing damage as they are flayed alive. The skin of each flayed creature animates into a necromantic puppet that single-mindedly tries to kill its source. The skin carries all of the creature’s equipment (and thus the creature loses access to this equipment), has access to all of its abilities, and shares its statistics, except its hit point total is equal to half the original creature’s maximum hit points. If the skin uses one of the creature’s limited-use abilities, it counts against the creature’s total uses for the day. A flayed creature is permanently sickened, and is staggered from the pain unless it succeeds at a DC 25 Fortitude save at the beginning of its turn. Even if she defeats her necrotic skin, a flayed creature’s skin never regrows naturally, and can only be restored with regenerate.
A flayed herald of a deity must be reunited with its skin and cured of its madness to give the haunt its final rest.
If a character manages this feat, all flayed suicide haunts in existence on any plane are instantly destroyed.
The soul vortex is a gaping wound in the fabric of reality connected to the Negative Energy Plane. One may form at the site of a massive tragedy that claims hundreds of thousands of lives. The soul vortex annihilates the souls of anyone unfortunate enough to encounter it, and rips through the protections that even the most experienced adventurers consider unassailable.
A black vortex appears in the center of the haunt’s radius, and tugs inexorably on the souls of all creatures within its reach. Each round, before it targets their souls, the vortex first targets the magic protecting them, affecting each creature with a greater dispel magic effect that targets death ward or any other spells that would prevent level drain first. After the dispelling effect, the creature must succeed at a DC 23 Will save to partially resist the vortex’s pull. On a success, the creature takes 1d4 negative levels. On a failure, that creature’s soul is wrenched out of its body and destroyed. Only miracle or wish can reconstitute a soul that the vortex devours. The vortex gains 5 temporary hit points for each level it drains— treat devouring a soul as draining as many negative levels as it would normally take to kill the creature. These temporary hit points stack and last for 1 hour. The soul vortex haunt is immune to the spells heal and mass heal. Creatures normally immune to fear lose that immunity within this haunt’s radius.
The soul vortex haunt can only be destroyed if the phylactery of a lich of CR 20 or higher that is currently destroyed and awaiting rejuvenation is cast into it. This act destroys both the vortex and the phylactery.
A twisted wish haunt can only arise in the most extraordinary circumstances, when a genie noble of considerable power dies with vengeance in its heart. It rests in places like wells or fountains where people go to make wishes, so it can use its powers frequently.
The twisted wish haunt collects the wishes of those who come near it, and stores them until it decides to grant them at its leisure and in its own warped fashion. The haunt understands all languages, as per tongues, and does not need to manifest to hear every spoken wish and read every written wish within its radius. The haunt can manifest once per day to cast wish to grant any wish from its collection.
It does not need to wait for a creature to enter its radius to manifest. The twisted wish is immune to the spells heal and mass heal. Unlike the effects of a typical haunt, the wishes this haunt grants do not count as fear effects. The haunt can fly at a speed of 10 feet even when it is not manifested, but it rarely chooses to do so unless its current region isn’t providing enough victims, or it perceives someone as a potential threat.
The sheer number of wish spells this haunt can bring to bear makes it nearly invincible. Only the direct intervention of a deity can destroy the twisted wish haunt.