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posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 1

(This could end up having really irregular updates. Fair warning?)

So. Disclaimer first of all: this is a board game, not an RPG - although it's a very RPG-like board game, in that it has characters and maps and adventures and similar. It's also a hugely controversial board game. Not trigger-warning political controversial, but quality controversial. There are people who love it to bits, and then people who think it's a huge pile of rubbish. The latter group are likely to be more accurate.

The premise, however, gives an awful lot to love. 3-6 players enter and explore a haunted mansion. As you explore, you uncover clues about what is going on in the mansion. Eventually, someone will discover the truth, and when they do, it will corrupt one of the PCs and they'll turn traitor. It's then down to a battle between the house's forces and the traitor PC, and the remaining uncorrupted PCs, to contain the threat. Depending upon the clues you find, the nature of the betrayal and the threat will vary, with each option having different rules and possibilities. And even in the basic set, there are 50 possible threat adventures. Wow! That sounds awesome, right? Sign me up! Well, there's a few design problems with it. In fact, looking at how this game actually turns out turns out to be a pretty good exercise in spotting design problems.

So, setup. Each player chooses a character, represented by a tile. The tiles are two-sided, with a different character on each side; but broadly, the two characters on each side of a single tile will be different variations on a theme. Characters have four stats: Might, Speed, Knowledge and Sanity. They're represented by a marked scale on the tile, and there are four little clips provided per player to attach to the edges of the tile to represent current values. The minimum, maximum, and starting values for each stat vary between characters, and some characters have the same number written in multiple positions on the track, meaning that multiple raising or lowering events have to occur for the stat to actually change. If a character's clip goes below their minimum in any stat after the Haunt has started (that's the bit of the game after the traitor has shown up), they're dead. Stats are also hit points; Might and Speed are your physical hit points, and Knowledge and Sanity are your mental hit points. When you take damage, you can mark it off any combination of the two related stats. Each character also has a hobby and a birthday, which don't do much other than being used to determine who goes first.

You can roll on your stats using the custom dice included with the game, which are d6s but with only the numbers 0, 1, and 2 (in even distribution). You roll a number of dice equal to your stat, and try to beat the target number. In an opposed roll, you both roll your stats and whoever rolls highest wins. Nice and easy.

So, who are the characters? We'll go tile by tile:

The red tile is the bruiser: it gives us Ox Bellows (Mi 5, Sp 4, Sa 3, Kn 3) and Darrin "Flash" Williams (Mi 3, Sp 6, Kn 3, Sa 3). In other words, the fast dumb guy and the strong dumb guy.

The purple tile has Jenny LeClerc (Mi 4, Sp 4, Sa 4, Kn 3) and Heather Granville (Mi 3, Sp 4, Sa 3, Kn 5). Pretty average, general purpose ladies.

The green tile is scrappy little boys. Brandon Jaspers (Mi 4, Sp 4, Sa 4, Kn 3) and Peter Akimoto (Mi 3, Sp 4, Sa 4, Kn 4). So, at least initially, a clone of Jenny LeClerc and a stat swap, although the rest of their scales are different. Eh.

The blue tile is people who sound magic-y, but aren't. Madam Zostra (Mi 4, Sp 3, Sa 4, Kn 4) and Vivian Lopez (Mi 2, Sp 4, Sa 4, Kn 5). Zostra's just another generic character while Vivian has impressively boosted mental stats.

But if you want the super smart folks, you'll want the white tile. Father Rhinehardt (Mi 2, Sp 3, Sa 6, Kn 4) and Professor Longfellow (Mi 3, Sp 4, Sa 3, Kn 5). Longfellow's a single point off Lopez, but Rhinehardt gives up hugely on his physical stats for a massive Sanity score.

And finally, the orange tile is.. scappy little girls. Zoe Ingstrom (Mi 3, Sp 4, Sa 5, Kn 3) and Missy Dubourde (Mi 3, Sp 5, Sa 3, Kn 4). So far so meh.

So, we grab our characters and miniatures for them (there's only 6 miniatures because the two characters on each tile use the same mini. Yep), lay out a simple corridor of three room tiles (Entrance Hall, Foyer, Grand Staircase) for the PCs to arrive in, lay out the Basement Landing and the Upper Landing in separate areas to be used when these areas are discovered, and off we go.

On your turn, you get to move up to your speed in room tiles, and enter one new room. When you enter a new room, you grab a tile from the stack, check that it (based on its back) is appropriate to the floor you're on, and place it next to your room if it is. If it isn't, you toss in in the discard pile and keep drawing until you get one that is appropriate to your floor. It has to connect to the room you came from, and ideally to any other adjacent tiles as well, but that's not mandatory (haunted houses would pretty commonly have false doors and windows after all). You can't completely close an area off. The vast majority of rooms don't contain anything other than an instruction to draw one of the three types of card - items, events, and omens. There's a few special rooms, most of which either require a roll to avoid either ending your turn or taking damage, a few of which give you a bonus you can collect once per game, and a few of which - either automatically or on a roll - dump you in the basement.

And here's where anyone who's played this game is groaning. Let's talk about the basement. The starting location for the game has the staircase to the upper floor, but there's no stairs to the basement in the starting setup. What that means is that if you end up in the basement, the only way to get back up to the main floor is to either find the Stairs From Basement tile, or the Mystic Elevator (which randomly teleports between rooms on all three floors). There are 24 potential Basement tiles in the game, of which only 2 can get you out of the basement. Well, um, ok, the chances are still OK, right? Well, no, wait - remember how drawing works? The Stairs from Basement tile can only be in the basement, so any time someone explores on the other floors, they can end up cycling the deck over the Stairs. The upshot is that there are games in which someone falls into the basement early in the game and then spends the entire game isolated and wandering around aimlessly trying to get out. Of course this becomes doubly annoying if that person ends up becoming the traitor as the other players will then have an incentive to try to keep them there. I've known groups playing this to more than once wonder if they could simply consider the traitor defeated and leave because he was stuck in the basement.

We also have to mention that the 1st Edition of this game enabled you to discover an Underground Lake on the top floor of the house. There was no explanation. The errata turned it into yet another room which sends you crashing down to the Basement, but the 2nd edition just printed it correctly, so you can only find it in the Basement anyway.

So, the main reason to go into rooms is to draw from those three types of cards. Each room has an indicator on it which states which type of card you draw.

Items are what they sound like, and are generally helpful. They divide into broad categories pretty well. The Axe, Blood Dagger, Dynamite , Revolver and Sacrificial Dagger all give bonuses to attack, with the scary daggers either always or possibly draining your stats as they do. The Idol, Lucky Stone, and Rabbit's Foot all give rerolls in varying combinations. The Healing Salve, Medical Kit and Smelling Salts all heal stat damage. The remaining items have varying effects. The Music Box can mesmerise monsters and players; the Pickpoket's (sic} Gloves let you steal from another player, once; the Bottle has a random effect on your stats; the Dark Dice have a similar random effect but can be reused; the Puzzle Box lets you try to open it once a turn, with a chance of finding 2 items inside; the Candle and Bell give bonuses to dealing with events and let you move heroes around; the Armor protects you from physical damage; the Angel Feather gives you an automatic victory on one roll; the Amulet of the Ages is a straight up stat buff; and the Adrenaline Shot is a one shot bonus to a dice roll.

Events aren't so good. There are too many of these to list, but let's have a few highlights. Silence and Mists From The Walls give everyone in the basement a chance of mental damage - even if the person who drew it isn't there - as if being in the basement wasn't bad enough (and Mystic Slide, The Lost One and The Walls can kick you into the basement). The Secret Stairs and Secret Passage let you create links between rooms, and will have objects thrown at you by anyone stuck in the basement if you don't use them to let them out. Lights Out drops your effective speed to 1 until you meet another PC. Grave Dirt applies continuous physical damage until an item increases your traits or you arrive in certain beneficial rooms. Bloody Vision has you make a Sanity roll to avoid attacking an explorer in your area, although you'd have to be very unlucky for it to trigger.

And finally, Omens. Omens resemble items, in that they're mostly beneficial and continuous. The unique feature of Omens is that they're the clues which can start the Haunt. Once you find an Omen, you roll 5 dice and if you've rolled less than the number of haunt cards found in the game so far, you've just found the secret of the mansion, and the Haunt starts. Which Haunt you get is determined by which Omen you found and where you found it.

So, um, oh. That's our investigation. You don't find meaningful clues as you go, you just find one. Randomly. And it doesn't even make sense. Did you find a Book in an Abandoned Room? Well, one of your party members has just turned into Poison Ivy. Yep, that's an actual trigger. (The book turns out to be how to make weedkiller.)

Once the haunt starts, a couple of new rules kick in. First of all, PvP becomes a thing. If you feel the need to beat someone up, you make an opposed Might roll, and the person who rolls lowest takes physical damage equal to the difference between the rolls; or, if you want, if you did at least 2 damage you can waive it to steal an item from them. The house itself is on the traitor's side, so they don't need to accept negative events and can use only the positive powers of rooms. And finally, there can be monsters. Monsters are played by the traitor in their turn, and work much like player characters, except their movement speed gets randomized.

Oh.. and if a monster gets stuck in the basement, the traitor can search the deck for the Basement Stairs to get them out! Can't have that mechanic derailing monsters, can we? But, of course, leaving a player stuck down there is apparently fine. Even the traitor. Game design!

The other big deal with the Haunt starting is that the Haunt rules come into play. These are written in two separate books. The traitor gets to read the Traitor's Tome, and everyone else gets to read the rules in Secrets of Survival. This is a design technique called a bloody stupid idea. What it means is that one or other group can be instantly screwed over by a rule they didn't know existed because it was in the other book. I get the idea that they want both sides to be potentially surprised, but when the surprise can be that everything they've done in the game is void, it's not going to be fun.

So, let's talk generally about the pre-haunt gameplay. It sounds sort of fun, but.. honestly.. it isn't all that much, because there's no goal. You kind of move into random rooms and draw random cards, and you have no idea what's good or bad, because you don't know what the Haunt is going to be. There's actually relatively little motivation to explore, given that Events are generally bad. The main motivation to explore is a slightly higher chance of getting to be the traitor. But if a player manages to get supremely powered-up, you can even get into a situation where no-one other than them wants to be the traitor, so exploration halts. We've probably talked enough about dossing around in the basement, but that can be a pretty big problem, too.

By the way, that's all the rules. So, from next post onwards? Haunts. If you think this is ratty design, you've seen nothing yet.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House On The Hill, 2

Ok. Let's talk Haunts. Before we begin, a quick disclaimer: you're not supposed to know these in advance of playing, and you especially aren't supposed to know both sets of rules, but I'm going to be merging them both together. Knowing them doesn't make the game unplayable, but if you're really worried about spoilers, you probably shouldn't read these posts.

Secondly, there's plenty of weird interactions possible between the rules. One of the problems with the ongoing effects on some of the Event cards is that while the rules say the traitor's can choose to ignore Event cards, it doesn't say anything about ongoing effects of existing ones. That means that the Traitor can end up bumbling around in the dark because their torch has gone out, which they will do forever, because they have to go to a friendly PC to get batteries, but they no longer have any friendly PCs. Alternatively they can end up dropping dead from Grave Dust.

Ok, let's start the haunting.

The Mummy Walks
Trigger: Find the Girl in the Abandoned Room, Catacombs, Gymnasium or Junk Room.

Whichever room you found the Girl in, that's where the Mummy's Sarcophagus now is. The Girl, however, gets moved 5 squares away (if possible) to a room on the same floor. (So finding the Girl triggers the Haunt, then it turns out the Girl is not actually there. That's not uncommon.) The traitor now wants to help the Mummy capture the Girl, plus the Ring or Holy Symbol, and bring them both back to the Sarcophagus. The heroes want to banish the Mummy, by learning its true name and using it in a banishing ritual. To find the true name, they need to make a Knowledge roll in one of three rooms - the Research Lab, the Library, or the room where the Haunt began. Then, they need to look it up in the Book with a similar knowledge roll. Once those are done, any hero can attack the Mummy with the Book, triggering Sanity combat. If they win, the Mummy's gone and the heroes win.

In the mean time, they're free to beat on the Mummy if they want to, but they can only stun it (this is the case for most monsters) - although they can use the rule to steal the Girl back, which is probably what they'd want to do. The Mummy's might 8 but has to lower a character's Speed to the minimum before it can start damaging their Might. It can steal too, though. It's Speed 3, but remember that it gets to roll dice for its motion, so it'll actually be moving at Speed 0-6. If it rolls a 0 or a 1, it can go to any room in the house via secret passage.

So, let's look at all the ways this can go wrong. This is an item dependent Haunt. The authors have made sure to mention that if the Ring, Holy Symbol, or Book are not in play, then the next time the heroes (or traitor) find a room with an Omen, they can search the deck for one of those. But it does have the problem that where these items are is going to make a huge difference to how this Haunt runs. If the traitor's already got the Ring or Holy Symbol, all they need to do is hand it off to the Mummy, and it's possible that the Mummy will grab the girl in one turn (since she's five squares away it's quite capable of moving that, or rolling 0-1 and using the secret passage). Can the heroes get to the Mummy in two turns? If they're split up to explore, probably not. But the heroes usually will have split up to explore.. because being separate from the heroes is usually good for the traitor, but anyone could have been the traitor when they were exploring. See how confused it gets? Or maybe the heroes are already in one of the rooms where they can find the Name and one of them's already got the Book. Who knows? At least this one's reasonably stable apart from the item conditions.

The Seance
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Balcony, Furnance Room, Kitchen or Master Bedroom.

A strange voice echoes through the mansion - a ghost wishing to be put to rest. But, for whoever found the Spirit Board, it spells out another message - "kill them all". Oddly, their mission is not to kill all the other players. It's to be the first to summon the ghost.

So. Both the traitor and the heroes are now trying to summon the Ghost. Doing that requires making Knowledge or Sanity rolls; each success gives a token. The heroes need a number of tokens equal to half the number of players, of any combination of types. The traitor needs one of each. Also, the heroes have to go to the Pentagram Chamber to try to summon the ghost, but the traitor can use the Spirit Board to do it anyway. Where's the Pentagram Chamber? Well, the traitor gets to place it as far away as possible from themselves when they start the Haunt. No way that's going to get it placed somewhere horribly out of the way.

If the Traitor summons the ghost, it becomes the monster du jour. If the heroes summon it, they get 5 rounds to prevent it turning hostile by giving its bones a proper burial. Finding the bones requires a Knowledge roll in one of three specific rooms, then burying them requires a similar roll in the Crypt or Graveyard (you have to bury them in the right place or something). If they manage to do this in 5 rounds, they win. The traitor doesn't get to know any of this, so if the heroes summon the ghost first, basically all the traitor can do is to run around aimlessly trying to bash the heroes while they're rolling in certain places in ways that don't seem to have any reasoning behind them.

Once the ghost turns hostile, the traitor gets to play it. It has speed 4 and makes Sanity attacks. The ghost can only be harmed by making a Sanity attack against it while holding the Ring, or being in the Pentagram Chamber. If all the heroes die, the traitor wins. Also, when the ghost is hostile, the mansion starts falling down; one room per turn is destroyed, with it being that player's choice. Collapsed rooms are impassible to anyone except the ghost, and anyone in a room that collapses is killed.

So, yea. This one's kind of a mess. The hero control thing could be really confusing, and if it doesn't work, then - well. The Ghost is forced to move towards a hero on each turn, but because of the collapsing mansion, it's actually a better idea for it to stay away from the heroes if it can, since it wins if nothing happens. This means that your traitor may end up being munchkin enough to move the ghost back and forth between two heroes on their turn. The only really viable hero strategy is to huddle in the Pentagram Chamber so that the ghost will be forced to move there, so it's basically a bunch of determined moves, a lengthy waiting period and then a roll-off. Ok, it's a risky business if the Pentagram Chamber might collapse, but hunting the Ring while defenseless is much more dangerous. Plus, if the traitor has the ring, they might well decide to run into an edge room and collapse it on top of themselves. The ring drops in the room where they are, but since it's collapsed, no-one can ever get it. And the traitor can explicitly win when dead, if monsters are capable of achieving the win goal, which they evidently are.

Frog Leg Stew
Trigger: Find the Book in the Dining Room, Gallery or Kitchen.

There's a fairytale witch. You just stole her spellbook. She's pissed.

The Witch moves around at Speed 4. She's only Might 3, but she's got a personal force field which prevents her attacking or being attacked. All she can do normally is to cast spells. She's got three by default: a fireball which gives her a ranged attack within line of sight that does 2 dice damage, a teleport that moves her anywhere, and a spell that makes a Sanity check against a hero in the same room to turn them into a frog. Frogs drop all their items and can't do anything but move around aimlessly, although they can be carried. If everyone's a frog or dead, the witch wins. Just to really hose anyone who gets hit with that spell, once someone's been frogged, the witch's cat spawns in the same room where the haunt started and starts hunting down the frogs to eat (in a single Might attack).

The Heroes are all about grabbing the book. A hero with the book can turn a frog back into a human with a Knowledge roll. Heroes are also allowed to kick the cat, although it only gets stunned, not killed. To deal with the witch, they first need to drop her force field, for which they need to find a Mandrake Root. These are in three specific rooms which are fixed, but known only to the witch - although they must put a marker on the rooms in question when they are revealed, or if they already are. To get a Mandrake Root you need a Knowledge roll in the room with one of them, then another Knowledge roll against the Witch to drop her force field, and then a Might roll to actually kill her ass.

And. Oh, yea. The traitor. The traitor's the person with the lowest Knowledge. They get to.. uh, well. Help the witch I guess? If the traitor manages to get the book, they can cast the fireball and frog spells, and the witch can cast teleportation on them. Oddly, the witch isn't actually allowed to carry her own book, so this is probably most of what the traitor's going to be doing.

So. Hum. This one's ok, I guess. There's only one critical item and its placement is set by the trigger, but there's still the risk of a short circuit based on the selection of those rooms - especially since the Kitchen is one of the rooms where a Root appears, so if you find the Book there, you'll grab the Root too and be fully equipped to take on the witch on the very next turn. Although there is the problem of that teleportation spell which potentially could allow the game to be stalemated if the traitor just keeps moving the witch out of reach of the remaining players. This is something which comes up a fair bit on other Haunts, too.

Wow. So, I was going to do more than 3 in a post, but it seems these are taking more text to write up than I thought, so I'll go smaller updates. But you can probably see the patterns now. Lots of good ideas, but very easily hamstrung by the random placement rules, and often having stalemate or short-circuit potential. And these are just some of the more "normal" ones.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House on the Hill, 3

In time for Halloween, let's have a couple more Haunts.

The Web of Destiny
Trigger: Find a Bite in the Catacombs, Furnace Room, or Junk Room.

Oh dear. This might be the first really terrible one.

Whoever revealed the Haunt gets caught in spider web and has eggs laid inside them. They're going to hatch in 9 turns; if that happens, the heroes lose. They can't move; all they can do is attack the web, and other heroes can attack the web too. It defends with Might 4 and has to be hit a number of times equal to the number of players. The heroes also need to get the eggs out of the victim's guts, which is a Knowledge 4 roll if you have the Medical Kit, or an instant success if you have the Healing Salve. (Heroes are allowed to search the Item deck for the Medical Kit if they don't have it yet.) Finally, one person must leave the house, which requires a Knowledge or Might 6 roll to get the door open. As soon as one person's out, the heroes win.

Now, how about the traitor? They're.. the person with the highest Might. If there are 3-4 players, they immediately drop dead when the Haunt starts - apparently being "eaten by the spider". The spider that.. isn't in the room with them. It starts in the room as the person who triggered the Haunt. During its turn, the Spider must move towards an explorer that "isn't the haunt revealer" and attack them if possible.. which means it can end up attacking the traitor, because they're not necessarily the haunt revealer. The main nasty about the Spider is that its stats increase every turn it's active, ranging its Speed up to 6 and its Might up to 8. If there are 5-6 players, the traitor.. um, doesn't get any rules at all. I guess they're just beating on the other guys. Yay spider? I guess? Oh, once the eggs are removed from the poor sod who got bitten, the Spider and the traitor can attack them, but until then they can't.

So, yea. In a 3 player game, that's 2/3 players somehow eliminated from the game - the "traitor" (for being eaten, and although they can play the Spider, its moves are algorithmic) and the haunt revealer who's stuck in the web. If you don't have several heroes with decent might, you could be in real trouble if you just keep flubbing rolls to destroy the web. It really feels like they wanted the haunt revealer to be the traitor, not the random person with the highest Might, but couldn't get it to balance, which can lead to all kinds of weird things like the trapped hero just removing the eggs themselves. By the way, the heroes don't get to know about the 9 turn time limit, because having the game end with "um, your time you didn't know you had just ran out! You lose!" is fun and interesting.

I Was A Teenage Lycanthrope
Trigger: Find the Dog on the Balcony, or in the Dining Room, Master Bedroom, or Servant's Quarters.

Well, even if you're actually the old Professor, you're a werewolf right now. All your traits reset to their starting values, then you get extra points equal to the number of players, and your Might or Speed (your choice) go up by 1 every round. You can't be normally killed and all damage you take is halved. Go kill or bite all your buddies. Any time you defeat one of them, they get to make a Sanity roll 4 or join you in werewolfishness. Oh, and the Dog is on your side now too, for some reason; it can turn people into werewolves when it attacks them too.

So, if you're not a werewolf, your goal is to go get a Revolver and make some silver bullets for it. To get the Revolver (unless you already have it or it randomly spawns) you have to go to one of 5 specific rooms and test Knowledge 5. To make the silver bullets, you need to go to one of 2 specific rooms and test Knowledge 5. Once a hero has both, they can kill any werewolf and/or the Dog in one hit. To win, they need to kill all the werewolves, including any that were created from bitten players.

So, we have the usual problem with specific rooms. And the Werewolf turning out to be the guy with the revolver. And an objective to kill an enemy with higher Speed than the PCs, meaning they could just run away. And the risk of the only heroes left being people who can't make Knowledge 5. And, and.. urh.

The Floating Eye
Trigger: Find a Holy Symbol(!) on the Balcony, or in the Dining Room or Master Bedroom.

So, this has nothing whatsoever to do with holy symbols. Whoever has the lowest Sanity? A giant floating eye descends from a spaceship to meet them, even if they're in the Basement. They're out of the game; they get in the spaceship to, I don't know, hang out with the floating eye (and they don't know why). They're now playing the Alien, or if there are 5-6 players, two Aliens.

Aliens are essentially regular monsters with Might 6 and an area mind control ability. They can make a Sanity check against every hero in a room; if they succeed, that Hero can now do nothing on their turn but walk towards the spaceship and then get on it, which wipes them out. To free them, one of the other heroes has to attack them, dealing half damage in the process. Once someone's been mind controlled, they can't be controlled again. The main way the heroes win is by smashing up the spaceship, which requires Might 5 rolls in the room with the ship. Make a number equal to the number of players and it's gone.

Well, that's dumb. I mean, I've literally just spent about 10 seconds after reading this to realize that what the alien needs to do is to just wait in the room with the spaceship until people arrive to smash it up, then go for a mind control attack which will cause any heroes to instantly enter the ship on their next turn. I suppose the saving grace there is supposed to be that the traitor doesn't get to know that the heroes are trying to destroy the spaceship. The heroes do get to know about the mind control and its effect, so they should.. I don't know, try to bait them into using the mind control attack early? Anyway, it's definitely another case of "the traitor might as well just run away". Might 6 aliens are no slouch, so using regular attacks on separated heroes seems like a good idea. Hope there isn't a single hero with really high Speed who will be sprinting for the spaceship if they're controlled..


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House on the Hill, 4

It's yet more Haunts!

Carnivorous Ivy
Trigger: Find the Book in the Abandoned Room, Balcony, or Catacombs.

So, this is the one I was referring to earlier. Because you found a book, any hero with the Gardening hobby or else the one with highest Sanity turns into Poison Ivy and decides to infest the house with carnivorous plants. They get a number of vines equal to twice the number of players, each of which has a Root and a Tip. The Tip moves around like a regular monster, but can only grab people when it beats them in combat. When it grabs them, they drop everything and thereafter are drawn towards the Root at a rate of 2 spaces/turn; if they reach the Root, they're dead.

The cure is for whoever found the Book to take it to the Research Lab or the Kitchen, where they can create plant killer with a Knowledge 5 roll. The plant killer destroys entire creepers in one hit with no roll required. If the traitor gets hold of the plant killer, they can toss it in the Furnace, the Chasm or the Underground Lake to destroy it; it can't be made twice, so the traitor wins if that happens.

So, hmm. Some nice ideas, but it's really location dependent. The layout of the map could pretty much determine if this is a cakewalk or impossible. Also, the rooms in which the Roots appear are fixed, and if they aren't discovered when the Haunt starts, the traitor can place Roots in them as soon as they are discovered. Which is really awkward, because anyone who discovers such a room could happily be there until the traitor's turn, whereupon a Root and Tip appear there and immediately grab them. They aren't immediately killed - that's only checked at the start of the traitor's turn - but still.

Wail of the Banshee
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Charred Room, Gallery, or Servants' Quarters.

A speed 8 Banshee is spawned together with the person who found the Spirit Board, and from there moves according to one of five random strategies each turn: teleport 8 squares, run around in circles to the left, run in straight lines, run around in circles to the right, or move according to the traitor's commands. If it passes any explorer, they must make a Sanity check and take a varying amount of mental damage. The traitor's immune to this damage while they have the Spirit Board, but if it's taken away from them, they're no longer immune (although the person who gets it doesn't become immune, and the traitor is still the traitor)

The Heroes can't attack the banshee; they just have to exorcise it by making rolls in critical locations or carrying particular items. There are three particular rooms and two particular items that let you roll Sanity 5 for an exorcism point; and two different rooms and two different items that allow a Knowledge 5 roll. Each can only be used once. Get exorcism points equal to the number of players, and the Banshee goes buh-bye. Heroes win.

I'm not sure about this one, really. I mean, it makes sense enough, but the main threat having effectively random movement seems to make it a bit of a luck based mission. As with the Witch mission, the actual traitor character doesn't get to do much, which is even worse in this case because of their limited control over the monster.

The Dance of Death
Trigger: Find the Holy Symbol in the Abandoned Room, Junk Room, or Servants' Quarters.

So, this is the first Haunt that seriously changes it up. There's no starting Traitor. The Balloom and Pentagram Chamber, if not already in the house, are placed at maximum distance from the Haunt revealer. At the start of everyone's turn, they must make a Sanity 4 check to resist the spoooky violin music playing throughout the house. Anyone who fails takes a Sanity damage and must move towards the Ballroom that turn, although their other actions are not limited. If anyone fails a Sanity check in the Ballroom or their Sanity hits zero for any other reason, they join the dance and turn traitor..

Which unfortunately isn't very interesting. They can heal one of their traits, and thereafter their goal is to steal the Holy Symbol and destroy it by taking it to the Chasm, Furnance Room, or Lake. The only problem is that they need to make a Might 3 roll every turn or be caught up dancing and lose a Might point. In addition, you now attack with Speed. So you now have significant Multiple Attribute Dependency as well. So.. yea, being a traitor in this one kind of sucks. Plus, of course, all the traitors are likely to be hanging around the Ballroom, so everyone's likely to be running from that area, since there's nothing to be gained by going to that area. And the person with the Holy Symbol doesn't have to make Sanity rolls, so they're even more certain not to go there. And with the traitors missing the movement on a bunch of their turns..

So, what's the aim here? Well, the Hero who got the Holy Symbol has to move to the Pentagram Chamber. They can't give it to anyone else (although it can be stolen). Then, they need to make a Sanity 5 roll to whack the Dark Fiddler with the holy symbol, and repeat this a number of times equal to the number of players. That banishes the fiddler and ends the scenario.

So.. I'm not sure if the intent here is that someone has to steal the Symbol from the person who starts with it. But as it is, that one person runs for the Pentagram Chamber and everyone else hangs around sucking their thumbs because they can't do anything. There's no other monsters to protect the Symbol holder from or anything, and the Symbol holder is immune to the main feature of the adventure, so they just.. uh.. mill about and hope they don't go mad. If the Ballroom and Pentagram Chamber are close to each other, I guess there might be a problem, but otherwise.. well, it just seems tremendously dull and one-track.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House on the Hill, 5

Insert pithy comment about more Haunts here.

Family Gathering
Trigger: Find the Madman in the Catacombs, Furnace Room, Gallery or Master Bedroom.

Whoever found the Madman? They're dead. See, the Madman has his family buried below the floorboards of the house, and thinks the new arrivals might make excellent new children for them. And they're not.. well.. quite buried..

The traitor gets to place Zombies across the map in rooms with Omen indicators, and from that point on, they just get to play the Zombies and the Madman. The Zombies, as usual, are tough but slow (Might 6 and Speed 3), while the Madman is a bit faster and only slightly weaker (Speed 3 Might 5) but doesn't lose trait points when he takes damage. He still has only 5 hit points, but they don't reduce his traits as he's hit. The Heroes aren't just stuck fighting, though: they can trap the zombies by luring them into particular rooms. Zombies are required to always move towards a Hero to attack them if they can see one, but if they enter one of six particular rooms which were "important to them in life", they have to make a Knowledge 4 check (and they're Knowledge 3, so that's a likely fail) or be lost in their memories and inactive for the rest of the game. One zombie per room. The heroes win if they trap all the zombies, regardless of the Madman being alive or dead.

I.. kinda like this one? Maybe? Certainly, the "the traitor PC is dead and they're just playing the monsters" is better than having them hanging around like a wet dog attacking other people for no good reason. It is, though, going to have the usual problem of trying to make a location dependent scenario when the map is randomized. The enemies being so slow is potentially a problem, too, if the PCs are fast or are far away at the start of the Haunt.

Let Them In
Trigger: Find the Madman on the Balcony, or in the Gymnasium or Junk Room.

There's spectral mist gathering outside the house. The Madman thinks it would be an excellent idea to let it in. The person who found him now agrees.

The entrance, and any location with an outside facing windows gets a Specter token. The traitor or Madman can give up a space of movement in any such room to let the Specter in, which then becomes a Speed 4 Sanity 6 monster who tries to kill the heroes. The Madman is really bad news - Speed 7 Might 7 - but until all the Specters are in, all he's allowed to do is to run for windows and open them. Unusually for a monster, he's allowed to explore new rooms in the search for rooms with windows, but doesn't get any cards when he does. Only once all the Specters are in can the Madman attack.

The Heroes have two choices. They can either kill the Spectres one by one with Sanity attacks (which they need the Ring to make, so only one person can do it) or they can.. do an exorcism. In fact, do exactly the same exorcism as in Wail of the Banshee. Either of these wins the scenario; again, they don't have to kill the Madman (and given his stats attempting to do so would be a very bad idea).

The rule about the Madman being required to open the windows is presumably to stop the traitor simply parking them in one of the 2 legal rooms for exorcisms, but doing the same with the Specters seems to be a pretty good idea, especially since - thanks to the fact you need the Ring to make Sanity attacks - only one person can ever fight them at a time. Also, the heroes really need to hope there's some starting windows that are a decent distance apart, because the Madman being able to explore rooms makes a pretty massive difference - namely, that he denies new cards to the heroes when he does. So he could easily run out the Item deck, which is pretty bad if the various anti-monster items haven't come up for them yet, especially if that includes the Ring.

Trigger: Find the Crystal Ball in the Abandoned Room, Gymnasium or Servants' Quarters.

Evil twins! Ah, we all love evil twin scenarios. There's no specific traitor in this one. Instead, an evil version of every hero emerges from the Crystal Ball into the house entrance. They have the same stats as the character did at the start of the game, but can't carry items. They move as monsters (in other words they roll for movement instead of having a static value) and each one must mechanistically hunt down its corresponding hero and kill them. Once their good twin is dead, the player gets to play the evil twin and attack the other heroes with them.

So, this would seem to be kinda easy given that the heroes are just facing themselves without any buffs, but there's some additional shenanigans. Specifically, if you want to fight an evil twin, you have to have the Crystal Ball. If you don't have it, you can't kill any of them (only stun them), and if you even get into combat with your own twin you lose 1 point from every trait. You also can't kill anyone else's twin, even with the Crystal Ball, unless the good twin is dead. There is one piece of good news, in that the Crystal Ball holder is allowed to clobber evil twins after someone else has stunned them. But it's likely to involve an awful lot of passing the Crystal Ball around. As usual, god help any isolated characters.

So, it sounds good, but have you ever heard of the Panic Station problem? It's like someone laid a mantrap for game designers and over and over, even ones who should know much better walk into it. Once your good twin is dead, you can play your evil twin, but you have lost the game, so why bother attacking your friends? If you rule that the dead players can win if the evil twins win, then everyone should just sacrifice themselves to their own twin and then everyone wins. We can count this Haunt as yet another reason why you don't have games with continously variable opposed teams.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House on the Hill, 6

Uh. Bit of a cold, work week, and just got done assembling the Gloomhaven organizer. Had no idea that was so dang big. Let's have some more Haunts.

Perchance to Dream
Trigger: Find a Holy Symbol in the Catacombs, Charred Room, or Furnace Room.

Whoever has the lowest Sanity has just fallen asleep. In a bed. In whatever room they were in at the time. That.. could be pushing it, honestly. I mean, if it happens to be the lowest sanity person who finds the Holy Symbol, there's just a comfortable bed next to the furnace? Come on. Anyway, they've fallen asleep and gained control of their nightmares, and decide it'd be fun to just control them from now on.

This is actually pretty simple but with a bunch of convoluted extra rules. The traitor is incapacitated, but gets a number of Nightmares to play equal to the number of players. They're Speed 5, Might 4, and Sanity 4. They fight normally, except they deal mental damage, and unlike most monsters they don't get stunned; they're killed when defeated, but they respawn at the dreamer's location. Their objective is to get the Nightmares to certain rooms with exterior windows or openings to the outside, where they can escape. When a Nightmare escape, another one spawns, and no more nightmares can escape via that room. The traitor wins if a number of Nightmares equal to the number of escape routes in the house at the time the Haunt began (or the number of players if it's higher) have escaped. The Heroes don't technically get to know that number, because it's going to be an awful lot of fun for them to suddenly be told they have lost.

The Heroes? Well, their job is to take the Holy Symbol to the room with the traitor's dreaming body, and then make Sanity or Might rolls to wake them up. It takes a number of rolls (of both types combined) equal to the number of players.

So. This is going to be hugely depending on the number of escape rooms in the house at the time the Haunt starts, which is probably why the adventure tries to fudge it by hiding it from the Heroes. If there's more than the number of players, the heroes should just rush for the sleeping character since the Nightmares will need to respawn at least once. But honestly, the real problem with this is the tedious climax. Everyone has the single goal to go to one room and make a bunch of rolls.

The Stars Are Right
Trigger: Find a Mask, Medallion or Skill in the Pentagram Chamber.

Do you do Cthulhu? Actually, now you do do Cthulhu. Whoever wandered into the Pentagram Chamber has just remembered they are actually the leader of a cult who's summoning a nameless (hurr) dark god this evening. They get a number of Cultists (all stats 4 except Knowledge) to play equal to the number of players, and their goal is to score 13 "sacrifice points" to summon the dark god by hauling items back to the Pentagram Chamber. Sacrificing a tradeable item or omen is worth 1 point; sacrificing a follower item (Girl, Madman, or Dog) is worth 2 points; and if a Hero gets killed, dragging their corpse back to the chamber is worth 4 points, but dragging a corpse means moving at half speed.

The Heroes are trying to mess this up by.. well, um.. vandalizing the pentagram. A number of Paint tokens are spawned in the house equal to the number of Heroes. The goal is for the heroes to go pick up a Paint token, carry it adjacent to the Pentagram Chamber, and then throw it in by spending a square of movement. If they throw all the Paint in the house on the pentagram, it ruins the ritual, because dark gods are picky about their art.

So. Kudos to the designers for letting paint be thrown with a movement point instead of an action, and not requiring Heroes to enter the Pentagram Chamber to do it. It's still potentially a good idea for the traitor to just wait for the heroes to come to them. The poor old cultists are kind of stuck; the safest way to get those extra sacrifice points is to explore rooms, but Cultists can't explore, and while they can steal from the heroes, that might not be worth the risk of getting killed. Still, I'll give this one a pass for now.

Here There Be Dragons
Trigger: Find a Spear - for some reason - in the Charred Room, Furnace Room, Gallery, or Servants' Quarters.

When people complain about bad Haunts in this game, it's usually this one they end up mentioning. Because bringing a freaking Dragon into a traditional horror/occult game is always going to be silly, and the plot for this Haunt doesn't even try to make it sensible. The person with the lowest speed randomly says "I wish I had a dragon" and suddenly, a dragon kicks in the door! They decide this must therefore be a dream, and the best way to keep the dream going is to.. have the dragon kill their friends in the dream.. because otherwise their friends will point out that it's not real.. or something?

Anyway. Dragon. Speed 3, Might 8, Sanity 6, hit points equal to the number of players that don't lower its traits, 2 points of damage resistance, can't be Speed attacked. Each round, it can breathe fire (anyone in its room or adjacent must make a Speed roll and take 2-4 damage as a result, based on whether they're in the room with the dragon or not) and Bite as its regular might attack.

Fortunately, there's now some items in the house to help to deal with the dragon. The spear which the active player found? It's a dragon slaying spear that gives you +4 on rolls against the dragon. Also, at the start of the haunt, a Shield spawns in the Chasm or Crypt which protects you and anyone with you against fire breath, but slows your movement by 1 square; and a set of Ancient Armor spawns in the Catacombs or Underground Lake which gives you 5 physical damage resistance, but slows your movement by 1 square again. Slay the dragon? Heroes win.

Yep. It's just bad. I've never read any report of anyone playing this Haunt who actually enjoyed it. Basically, everything is going to be determined by whether the rooms with the artifacts have been discovered yet, and where the heroes are in relation to the dragon at the time the Haunt starts. Don't forget that the traitor is still in the game, and could potentially steal the artifacts themselves or.. um.. well, try to murder their friends because they're not real.. or something? Also, having the dragon's HP be equal to the number of players is really, really silly. It means that if the number of players is small, a random hero could one-shot the dragon, which just makes the whole thing seem daft. Let's not forget the munchkin option of just having the dragon run away or hide in hazardous rooms while the traitor attacks, since killing the traitor doesn't end the scenario. Ugh.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House On The Hill, 7

Well, if you thought the dragon was silly..

The Phantom's Embrance
Trigger: Find the Girl in the Balcony, Kitchen, or Master Bedroom.

.. how about one that doesn't even make sense? The player to the left of the haunt revealer is obsessed with the Girl. He has locked her in the basement, and summoned a Phantom to guard her. Also, he's turned the house into a trap for anyone trying to find her; the house is rigged to blow. If the Heroes can't disarm the bomb, then the whole house will go kablooey.

With the Girl and the traitor inside.

I mean, what the hell? Is this supposed to be Phantom of the Opera? It's turned into something that seems like one of the jokes from the Junkrat/Roadhog Overwatch short. They do know that the Phantom wasn't an actual ghost, right? And that they were only going to blow everything up if the girl rejected him? You'd think maybe there'd be some freaky together-in-the-afterlife thing going on, but there isn't. The flavor text for the traitor winning just says "Tick, tick, BOOM."

Anyway, that'd be fine if it was a fun Haunt, but it isn't. At the end of every round, the traitor rolls one more dice than they did last round. If it comes up higher than 11 minus the number of players, the house blows up and they win. Any time the heroes discover a new room in the basement which would normally have an Event or Omen, they instead get a glimpse of the Phantom and Girl and can fight him. He's Might 6 Sanity 5, but he dies instantly if defeated, leaving the Girl behind; if he beats the hero, he teleports away with the Girl to appear next time the condition is met. Then, they can either disarm the bomb in the room where he died (Knowledge 7) or take the Girl to the front door and open it (Might or Knowledge 6), to win. If the entire basement is explored, then the traitor instead gets to put the Phantom in any room he hasn't been in before in his turn.

I could say how awkward it is to have a Haunt with a variable number of turns before death. I could say how silly it is to tie that to player count in this adventure, where higher player count doesn't mean increased movement and where the heroes will only want the most qualified character to fight the Phantom because they only get one roll. I can say how little fun it is to create a Haunt where the players at any given moment have only one choice on how to proceed. I can say how unreasonable it seems to trade having to move the girl to the entrance in a limited number of turns against one pip on the dice. But even the daft plot lost me on this one.

A Breath of Wind
Trigger: Find a Ring, Skull, or Spear in the Junk Room.

I Am tHe pOlTerGeIst. I HaVe AlL ThE PoWeR oF the SpIrIt wOrLd. So WhAt I'm GoInG to Do iS.. knOck thIs MuG oFf thE TV! HaW haW hAw. It'S thEir FavOritE GarFieLd MuG As WeLl.

So, Poltergeist. Speed 3, Sanity 4, and variable Might. Their Might starts at 4, but it can pick up and steal items like anyone else, and for every extra item it picks up it gains one more Might. It can pick up an item for free any time it enters certain rooms, one of which is the Junk Room where it started. It can't be attacked physically, but it can be blown up with the Dynamite, in which case it drops everything it's carrying and can reform, although it starts at Might 3. Heroes can also try to snatch items out of it with Speed (which oddly, RAW, doesn't reduce its Might score) or you can attack it with Sanity if you have an item that lets you do that (which does lower its Might).

The heroes are trying to perform an exorcism. But not like the previous ones. This one is all about candles. In four particular rooms, they can make a Speed 3 roll to find a Candle. They can find more than one in each room, and there's nothing saying they can't carry more than one, so, hmm. Once you have Candles, you need to set them on the same floor of the house where the Junk Room was; any room will do, but it takes a Knowledge 5 roll to get the placement right, or the candle is lost. A properly set candle can't be moved by the traitor or poltergeist, and once a number equal to the hero count are set properly, the poltergeist is exorcised.

Uh, oh yes. There's a traitor. This is another Haunt where the designers may have forgotten that. Whoever was to the left of the Haunt revealer is.. friends with the poltergeist, and they want to help get rid of the people that have disturbed his rest. That's all it says. They can attack or they can go get items to add to the poltergeist, which is actually a reasonably interesting choice. Oh, and if they win, the text says "you can sit down for a quiet chat with your old friend..." So you can talk to the poltergeist? Strange no-one else did that. Plus, I thought the aim was to let him rest.

So, apart from the general problems of having a random map and the second-fiddle role of the traitor, this could be OK, I guess. It's at least got some interesting mechanics and a few choices, although again it depends heavily on the candle-bearing rooms not being on the same floor as the Junk Room.

United We Stand
Trigger: Get bitten in the Abandoned Room, Gallery or Kitchen.

Rather strange name. The person who got bitten has just turned into a flesh-shifting monster. Their Might gets set to 5, and their Speed to the number of players plus one. They roll dice for movement like a monster, are immune to physical attacks, and any time they kill another explorer they absorb them into their shifting flesh, gaining 1 Might and Speed. Their goal is to kill at least two heroes and then leave the house.

So, what could be a dull combat Haunt will be livened up by what the traitor doesn't get to know. The Heroes need to make it to the Furnace Room in the basement and make a Knowledge 5 roll to overload it. Once that happens, next turn the Furnace Room tile gets destroyed (flipped) and from then on on every turn, including the traitor's, a tile adjacent to a destroyed one must be flipped too. The heroes can then escape by opening the front door with a Knowledge or Might 4 roll. But the flesh monster can reach through outside-facing windows and the front door and pull them back in again, with an opposed Might roll! If the Foyer and the starting areas of the house are destroyed by the fire, the whole house collapses and everyone dies, but this counts as a win for the heroes, because they only need to kill the flesh monster; it doesn't matter if any of them escape.

So, as usual. Interesting idea, but terrible fit for a random map, and really awkward to replay because of the amount of hidden information on both sides. If you play it unknowingly, it seems awfully easy for the heroes to just try to lure the flesh monster down to the furnace, which makes a certain amount of sense but can't happen on anything but the first play. Escaping out of the front door might actually turn out to be a bad idea for the heroes, because the monster can pull them back into its own room.. but they don't get to know that either. It's presumably supposed to give the hero players a fright when it happens at the table, but it also potentially screws them over for doing what they thought was correct, when hiding in distant parts of the house would have been a much better idea. Oh, and the text for when you pull a hero back in reads "you can do this multiple times during your turn until you fail an attack". So the monster can pull all the heroes outside in, in one turn? Ouch!


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At H WORK!

Betrayal At Hou NOROVIRUS!

Betrayal At House On The H MORE WORK!

Ugh. Shudder.

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 8!

A Friend For The Ages
Trigger: Find the Crystal Ball, Dog, or Girl in the Gallery.

Hey, we've screwed up Phantom of the Opera. How about we do The Picture of Dorian Grey? Whoever's in the gallery has just found a portrait of the player to their left. That player is the traitor, and has stored all their age and infirmities in the portrait - together with "[their] morality, for [they] are now supremely evil." The traitor has just realized that the other heroes are planning to destroy the portrait, and now wants to stop them. The traitor immediately gets to remove all their damage accumulated so far, and then to gain 1 trait point for each hero in the game. And they then can't be further harmed, as long as the portrait survives. There's not a whole lot special for them to do apart from beat up on the heroes. They do, however, get to place a room of their choice at any legal space in the house at the end of their turn, which seems a neat mechanic that it's surprising isn't in more of the Haunts. Also, if the traitor goes into the Gallery and sees their own portrait, they take 1d of mental damage.

As for the heroes, they're trying to ruin the portrait by throwing cans of paint over it (rather than just attacking it with any number of the bits of junk they're probably carrying by that point). These spawn in 7 fixed rooms; the Traitor doesn't get to know which they are, so they might end up just handing the heroes a can of paint if they place a room conveniently nearby. The heroes can take the paint can to the Gallery and make a Knowledge 4+ roll (?) to ruin the portrait. If they do this #heroes+2 times, they win. The traitor, as well as killing the heroes, can steal the paint cans as if they were regular objects and can destroy them during their turn.

Oh, and the hero with the Amulet of the Ages can deal normal damage to the traitor, which the traitor doesn't get to know, and which is likely to result in an abrupt and frustrating end to the game if it happens.

I'm not sure I have a lot of opinion about this one. It's kind of basic, and going to be determined a lot by the item loadouts people have as it starts. In particular, if the Traitor happens to be hit by Lights Out before becoming Traitor, they're liable to be wandering around aimlessly for most of the game.

Ghost Bride
Trigger: Find the Ring on the Balcony, in the Charred Room, Dining Room or Master Bedroom.

A mysterious female ghost appears and picks someone in the party to be their groom. They pick the person with the Ring unless that's a woman, in which case she chooses the oldest man. If there are no male heroes, then a random unplayed male hero spawns as an NPC in the Entrance Hall, which isn't going to go well. The Bride has a Speed of 4-5 depending on the number of players, can go through walls, can't suffer physical damage, and makes Sanity attacks against everyone except the groom. The groom gets hit with sanity attacks too, but loses Might when damaged.

The traitor? Well, they.. for some reason want to help the Bride. Again, there's no explanation. And the choice of traitor is fairly daft too: it states that the "default traitor is Vivien Lopez because she likes old movies" (!!). If she's not in play, the selection is based on the left of the player who found the Ring. They get to play the Bride on their turn, and their goal is to kill the groom (which makes them into a ghost, that they can also control), then move the Bride and groom into the chapel and have them remain there for 3 turns for the ceremony.

Now, the heroes have an interesting role in this one. See, they know something that the traitor doesn't (and apparently can't be persuaded of); the ghost has got the wrong dude. The guy who was actually going to be her groom is buried in the house. So, they have quite a diary to do: go to one of three specific rooms and/or find the Book then make a Knowledge 5 roll to find out who the groom was; then go to the Crypt, make a Knowledge 4 roll to find him and a Might 4 roll to dig him up, then haul both the corpse and the Ring to the Chapel before the incorrect wedding finishes.

The storytelling here is interesting, but the jobs for the heroes are rather heavily prescriptive. There's no penalty for the traitor getting killed and the Bride can't be killed, so there's not a whole lot of reason why they wouldn't charge in. Also, those special cases could easily be a real pain: if it happens that it's a male NPC who's picked as the groom, then the game is going to come heavily down to the dice when the Bride gets to sit in the entrance hall draining them over and over again. And if it's Vivien Lopez who finds the Ring, then the traitor now has the only item that can hurt the ghost and a critical one for the players, so she's probably just going to.. run away.

House of the Living Dead
Trigger: Find the Medallion in the Dining Room, Gymnasium or Servants' Quarters.

The oldest explorer other than the person who found the medallion hears a strange ticking. They bend down to a hole in the wall to investigate.. and are grabbed and dragged in by a rotted hand and arm. They're dead, but not quite. They're now a Zombie Lord. Speed 3, Might 7, Sanity 2, and can only be hurt by the person with the Medallion. They have 7 hit points that don't reduce their traits when damaged. Also, there's a bunch of other Zombies as well, their number rather oddly determined: the Lord has a number of Zombies equal to the number of players, and splits them out evenly between 8 predetermined rooms that have been discovered, then adds one Zombie to each room that has them. So in a 6 player game, there could be anywhere between 7 and 12 zombies based on which rooms have been discovered.

The heroes? Easy. Kill the zombies. The regular zombies are dropped by Might attacks, and just stunned by any other type of attack. They get a bonus to finding items (whenever an Item icon comes up, the heroes can draw 3 cards and pick one instead of just taking the top one), and the Holy Symbol will reduce attacking zombies' stats, but not the Zombie Lord's. The Lord has to kill the heroes; the heroes have to either kill all the regular zombies or just the Zombie Lord.

If any of the players gets killed by a zombie or Zombie Lord, they become a Zombie themselves. They can continue playing the zombie and they win if the Zombie Lord does, provided they killed one other hero during their time as a zombie. Bleaugh. It's Panic Station all over again. The "provided they killed another Hero" rule is presumably trying to prevent this, but it basically means that the last converted zombie loses, which gives the "let's all run and become zombies" option greater weight. Apart from that, it's.. well, meh again. Heavily dependent on weaponry and stat choices, but could become an interesting, if simple, tactical game for a bit.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 9

The Abyss Gazes Back
Trigger: Find a Holy Symbol in the Gallery, Gymnasium, or Kitchen.

Um, it's the Abyss Gazes Also. Not back. Honestly. Anyway, the player to the left of the haunt revealer has just kicked a hole in the floor (for some reason) and discovered a portal to hell. They think it's be a great idea to go there. No, I have no idea how that ever makes sense to anyone, but there we go. You're probably thinking it would be pretty silly if they found a portal to hell by kicking in the floor of the upper storey of the house, but the rules text actually says the portal always shows up in the basement, no matter where the traitor is.

So. Basically, this is another version of the "house burning down" rules that were used in United We Stand. Each turn, some number of rooms collapses into Hell. There's a few differences, though. First of all, the portal always claims the entire basement before moving up to the next floor. Secondly, if any character (including the traitor) is in a room that collapses, they get a Speed 4 check to dive into an adjacent safe room, provided there is one. Thirdly, the rate of collapse speeds up; on the first round, it's 1 room per turn, but after that it's 2 dice worth of rooms, then 3 dice, then 4 dice, etc. Of course, this does have the possibility that it'll technically slow down, since rolling zero on 2 dice is quite plausible, but hey.

What are the heroes trying to do? Meh, exorcism. Exactly the same exorcism as Let Them In and Wail Of The Banshee. We're less than a quarter of the way through and we're already just recombining old gameplay elements? There's one extra element, which is that tossing the Holy Symbol into a room as it collapses halts the collapsing for a round. But that's all. And again, there's no special rules for the traitor, so they just hang around trying to prevent the exorcism.

So, as you can probably tell, it's really just a rejig of two existing mechanics - granted, they're not bad ones, but still it's a bit sad, especially with the traitor having no particular role and the backstory not making a whole lot of sense.

Tentacled Horror
Trigger: Find a Crystal Ball in the Catacombs, Charred Room, or Kitchen.

Hey, we just mixed two previous scenarios together, how about we just straight up recycle Carnivorous Ivy? Exactly the same setup, there's giant tentacles which stretch through rooms with start and end markers on the board, they try to grab heroes with the ends and pull them back to the starts 2 squares at a time to kill them. There's a few differences, though. The first one is that the traitor - the person on the left of the revealer - dies, and only plays the tentacles. The second is that the tentacles are much worse than the vines. They start on Speed 2, Might 4, Sanity 7, but their stats rise over time, up to Speed 4 Might 8 Sanity 8!

Of course, they have a matching weakness. First, there are half as many of them. Secondly, instead of killing the tentacles one by one as in the previous scenario, they only have to kill the head of the creature. So the first priority for the heroes is to use the Crystal Ball to identify where the head is, by rolling Knowledge 4. And if they fail then.. well.. uh.. I guess they all just stand there and wait until they can try again or something? Anyway, when they successfully use the crystal ball, they can roll dice to establish which of the tentacle root rooms is actually connected to the creature's head. The head is Might 6, and can attack heroes (the other tentacle roots can't). If the players hit the head three times, they win. For some reason, the traitor isn't told this. I'm not sure why they thought it would be fun to have the traitor suddenly told they lose because they have no idea how their weak point takes damage, but there we go.

So, it's a recycle, but it's different enough to make a difference. It does have the problem of all the heroes being likely to end up in the same place and thus of everything being focussed on a single room by the end, but it doesn't seem too bad about this (and a single tentacle can only kill one hero, so the traitor refusing to move the tentacle tips to insta-kill someone grabbed in the Head room will only work once).

Fly Away Home
Trigger: Get bitten on the Balcony, or in the Charred Room or Dining Room.

So, we've just had "Carnivorous Ivy but with tentacles". Now, it's time for "Let Them In but with bats". The traitor opens the windows wide, letting in the vampire bats outside and immediately being killed by them. The default traitor is, seriously, "Brandon Jasper because he likes camping".

Well, ok. I'm being a bit unfair. The setup is a bit like Let Them In, but the rules aren't. For starters, all the windows are automatically opened rather than the traitor having to open them. Secondly, the bats aren't full-fledged monsters - which is a good thing, because a number equal to the #players spawn every round in rooms with windows, to a limit of 24 existing in the house at once - but they never stop respawning. They have Speed 5, Might 2, Sanity 1, but they don't attack normally; instead, on a roll of 2 on 1 dice, they latch onto a hero, reducing their movement by 1 and dealing 1 damage at the start of the hero's turn. A single hero can be latched by several Bats at once, but successfully attacking a Bat kills it immediately.

What are the heroes trying to do? They need to find the Pipe Organ, make a Might 5 roll to start it (what, it's got manual bellows?), then make a Knowledge 6 roll to.. um, play music that confuses the bats or something. When they do that, all unattached bats are removed and no more spawn. Any attached bats have to be killed in the normal way, and once they're all dead, the heroes win.

Also, any heroes with "music" as a hobby needs only a Knowledge 5 roll to play the right music. There are three: Darrin Williams, Zoe Ingstrom (a child), and Professor Longfellow (although his hobby is technically "Gaelic Music"). I guess I missed the bit in my school music lessons where they discussed how to play music on a pipe organ that scares away bats.

So, the idea of swarming monsters of this kind is actually pretty good, but the adventure is going to be hugely determined by the location of the Organ Room, which isn't controlled in any way by the Haunt rules (which is asking for trouble)


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 10

Trigger: Find a Mask on the Balcony, in the Catacombs, or in the Gallery or Junk Room.

You don't do Cthulhu, but you do do voodoo. Sorry.

Ok, so this is the first haunt for which this is really going to end up spoiling it. So if you think you might play this at some point in the future, you should probably skip reading this one. That said, it's not a particular good one. Like many of the iffy Haunts, It has a lot of really good creative ideas, but they don't translate into good gameplay.

The traitor (who is Zoe Ingstrom by default because she likes dolls, thus fulfilling our Scary Little Girl quota) has quite a lot of setup to do when this starts. They can assign each remaining Hero one of five voodoo dolls; if there are less than five heroes, they can choose which dolls to use. In addition, each doll is in one of two dangerous locations which triggers a curse on the Hero it's associated with.

The first is a Wax Doll, tossed into the Furnace Room or an oven in the Kitchen. The hero matched to it gets 1 point of physical damage per turn.

The second is a China Doll, balanced on an open windowsill in the Balcony or Tower. The hero matched to it has to roll 4 dice every turn, and if the result is less than the turn number, the doll falls and shatters and the hero dies instantly.

The third is a Stone Doll which has been dumped into mud in the Graveyard or Underground Lake. The hero matched to it has to make a Might roll every turn and, if the result is less than the turn number, lose a point from every trait. Yea, big ouch. This one's going to be a priority to use given that the traitor knows people's stats.

The fourth is a Glass Doll placed between flickering candles in the Pentagram Chamber or Chapel. Apparently the candles make really spooky patterns on the glass or something. And apparently this drives the target mad, because they take 1 mental damage per turn. Whatever.

The fifth is a Rag Doll tossed into a rose bush in the Gardens or Conservatory. It's like the Stone doll, except it's a Knowledge roll instead of a Might roll, and the penalty is 2 physical damage instead of 1 off each trait.

That's all the rules for the traitor, though. They can't do anything else except run around attacking normally. What the Heroes are supposed to do is to work out which doll is theirs, and where it is. To do this, they're given some rather vague clues by the traitor which are printed in the traitor's guide. But they're kind of weird, honestly. For example, the clue for the Wax Doll is "Fire burns good and evil." Not only does nobody evil ever get burned, but apparently they're implying furnaces are evil? Huh. Once the heroes have figured out where they think a doll is, they get to make a Knowledge 2+ roll to have the traitor tell them if there's a doll in their room or not. Any hero who finds their own doll can destroy it; if they find someone else's, they can give that information to them to come destroy it. Oh, and the heroes are now no longer required to stop after uncovering a new room; they can dash as far as they like into the unknown, stopping only when they want to draw a card or search for a doll (or they run out of movement, of course). The traitor wants to kill at least half the heroes; the heroes want to destroy all the dolls.

My main problem with this one is that it's really dependent on the prior knowledge the hero players have of what rooms there are in the deck and where they are. First timers given the fire clue might well think to look for the kitchen, but will they guess there's a furnace in the house? When they find it they'll perk up, but if an experienced group is playing, they can dash to the basement and explore as fast as they can until they find it. The Stone Doll's probably the worse for this, as there's no way a naive player would think there would be an underground lake in the house. Plus, as mentioned above, once you know the list of possible doll locations this haunt gets a heck of a lot easier.

Oh, by the way, the flavor text of the Haunt when the heroes win actually tells them that destroying a voodoo doll of yourself is probably a really stupid thing to do.

Pay the Piper
Trigger: Find the Girl, Holy Symbol, or Ring in the Pentagram Chamber; or get Bitten there.

Hey, what can we steal from the Pied Pier of Hamelyn? We already did the evil music thing back in The Dance of Death. So, um. Rats!

The person to the left of the haunt revealer has just remembered that they're actually a wererat, and they want to perform an, um, "wicked rat-thing ritual" (that's the actual text in the Haunt). They spawn Rats equal to twice the number of players in any empty rooms with card symbols, spreading them as thinly as space will allow. Rats aren't too much of a problem - Speed 3 Might 2 Sanity 1, killed rather than stunned on attack - but they can team up with each other, adding their Might together for a single attack which can't damage them on failure.

What the traitor wants to do is to go to the Pentagram Chamber and make Sanity 3+ rolls. If they make 4-5 rolls, depending on the number of players, they win. Each successful roll also spawns a rat in a room next to the Chamber. Once the traitor is in the Chamber, no-one else can enter or affect them. The heroes win if they can kill all the Rats in the house.. or presumably if they can kill the traitor before they get to the Pentagram Chamber, but the text doesn't mentioned that. There's no special rules at all for the heroes other than "watch out for groups of rats".

A fairly basic Haunt, but could be OK. A big blob of rats meeting up together and attacking at Might 8 would be a rather bad thing, but the Ring is one of the triggering items and that allows Sanity attacks which could easily wear down the rats. The text and explanation really need to be better, mind you.

Amok Flesh
Trigger: Find the Crystal Ball in the Dining Room, Junk Room, or Master Bedroom.

The Crystal Ball turns out to contain a sample of cloned flesh. And whichever person picked it up? Just dropped it. So now it's free. And it's growing, and growing, and - well, it's The Blob. Oh, and it was made by the person to the left of the haunt revealer, who really wants it to spread, and thought that leaving it in a crystal ball in an abandoned house and then leading some people there on the off-chance someone might break it would be a great way of ensuring this.

The Blob starts in the room where the Crystal Ball was, and each turn expands to every other room that can be accessed from a room it's in. The traitor then rolls a dice, and on a 2, it expands again. Anyone in a room with the Blob, including the traitor, becomes a "Blob person" whose only function is to move around at speed 2 and drop bits of Blob wherever they end their turn, although those offshoots don't expand until the main Blob catches up with them. If everyone is dead or blobbed, then the traitors and blob-people win loud clanging sound followed by head hitting desk as everyone blobs themselves so that everyone wins oh hang on, it doesn't actually specifically say in the traitor's tome that the blob-people win too. But it does say that if a hero is turned into a blob-person, they should help the traitor, but not that they win by doing so. So who knows.

The traitor doesn't get to find out what the heroes are trying to do, but it's quite involved. The Blob can't be attacked in the normal way. First, the heroes have to study the Blob by making Knowledge 3+ rolls in rooms adjacent to it (I should mention that it is legal to make a roll of this kind in the middle of movement, so the heroes aren't guaranteed to get themselves eaten by examining the Blob). After a number of rolls equal to the number of players, the heroes know what chemicals can hurt the Blob. They can go get them from one of 13 rooms with a Knowledge 3+ roll, one ingredient per room, then toss them into the blob from an adjacent room with no roll. Once the Blob has been hit with items equal to the number of players, it's destroyed, and the heroes win.

So, it's ok, but leaves relatively few options for the heroes at any given moment, since regular combat items won't help against the Blob, and there's only one stat that's used for anything related to it - Knowledge. As commonly happens, the traitor themselves doesn't get a whole lot of special stuff to do, and their win text specifically describes all the heroes being absorbed into the blob rather than clubbed by the traitor character, so they probably forgot them again.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal at House of The Hill, Part 11

I haven't forgotten that there are still more haunts to deal with that don't come with maps oh wait..

Ring of King Solomon
Trigger: Find the Ring in the Abandoned Room, Furnace Room, or Servants' Quarters.

Hey, let's make another portal to Hell in the house! There's no way anyone will remember The Abyss Gazes Back, right? The traitor, who is the person with the highest knowledge who didn't find the Ring, has been tormented by nightmares telling them how to prepare for the arrival of Hell upon Earth. And, well, it's just happened. They pick an Omen room 4 squares away from any hero where a Demon Lord and a number of demons equal to the number of heroes spawn.

The four potential demons all have different stats - essentially they all have 8 points divided between Speed and Might in some degree, and Sanity equal to Might. The demon lord has Speed 2 and Might and Sanity 7. All of them are forced to move full speed towards the nearest hero and attack them. They can also steal the Ring by giving up their damage on an attack; a hero can steal the Ring back again by defeating the demon by 2 points. The rules confusingly do not state whether or not the Demon Lord counts as a Demon for these purposes, because if he does, it's going to take a lot of work to beat a 9 in order to steal the ring back from them.

The heroes? Well, they want to kill the demons, of course, and they actually get to find out why the Haunt has that name. King Solomon's Ring lets the wearer control demons. Ah-ha. Only the hero with the Ring can finally defeat Demons or the Demon Lord. If they beat the Demon Lord twice (including the Demon Lord losing on an attack it initiated), the heroes win. If they defeat a Demon, that demon joins the heroes until it's either killed or the traitor (or presumably a demon, although it doesn't state this) gets hold of the Ring, which frees all the demons.

I really like the idea here, but I'm not sure how it'd work in practice. Having the Demon Lord try to steal the ring is pretty powerful but risky, as it could end the Haunt rather quickly. Also, yet again, this is a haunt which gives the actual traitor PC nothing particular to do other than wander around trying to attack the heroes, although it does give them some niche - they're the only one who can attack turned demons. Also, the "heroes win" text says that the hero looks at the ring and thinks, hey, I got rid of those demons but if I can command them, maybe I'm not done with them yet. That's pretty cool. Why wasn't that the start of the Haunt?

Frankenstein's Legacy
Trigger: Find the Book in the Gymnasium, Master Bedroom or Servant's Quarters.

This is probably the simplest Haunt in the game, as it's just another "big monster" one like Here There Be Dragons, except the monster doesn't have any powers. Whoever found the book? It's Frankenstein's Notebook. It's so fascinating you want to carry on his experiments, using the bodies of your friends who came into the house with you (and not, you know, any of the umpteen more sensible ways there might be of getting hold of corpses for medical science). Also, there's a Monster already in the house. It's in one of the two Laboratories, whichever has been placed. It's Speed 3 and Might 8 and must always move to and attack the nearest hero with a +2 on its roll when attacking. This wil lhurt.

Well, that's what the traitor gets told, anyway. The heroes get told that the traitor has commanded the monster to attack them in order to test its strength. Which seems a bit weird given that the traitor is meant to be attacking them too.

The heroes, of course, want to kill the monster. There are only two ways to do this: burn it or push it into a pit. To burn it, they must go to one of the fire-themed rooms (Charred Room, Furnace Room, Pentagram Room or Kitchen) and collect a torch, then throw the torch at the Monster as a speed attack. Once it's been hit by a number of torches equal to the #players, it's dead. Alternatively, if the Monster ends up in the Tower or Chasm, a hero in that room can make a Might 6+ room to push the monster off and kill it.

So, this one has a new dimension: I've actually played this one in the first edition. The only difference I can see between the 2e and the 1e version is that the 2e version tells the traitor that the heroes will use fire against the monster, but the 1e one didn't; it still doesn't tell them the actual rules for torches, though. It also doesn't tell them about the "push it off the tower" thing, and since the traitor has no choices when moving the monster, this is one of those lovely cases people complain about where "actually it says in this specific circumstance I can do this and so I win". If I recall, though, what actually happened is that it mostly broke into arguments about whether the monster would repeatedly fall down into the basement while trying to reach a hero ("The heroes book say the monster isn't bright and must always move towards the nearest hero!" "Yes, but falling into the basement doesn't get them nearer you so it doesn't count as towards!") and whether they could lob torches down the hole leading to the basement. Not surprisingly they killed the monster.

Also at least three people said the "Frankenstein was the creator not the monster" thing until the traitor player got annoyed and loudly declared that they were naming their Frankenstein's Monster "Frankenstein" in order to make the argument moot.

Tomb of Dracula
Trigger: Find the Girl in the Charred Room, Furnace Room, or Servants' Quarters.

Hey, we've just done Frankenstein, how can we have forgotten this? It does get some extra points for really good integration with the Trigger, though. See, the Girl you just found? She's the Bride of Dracula who they unsuccessfully tried to burn, and/or is, um, hanging out in the servants' quarters for some reason. And she's bitten you. You get 1 to all your traits, the Bride of Dracula spawns in your room, and Dracula himself turns up in either the Crypt or the Graveyard. And, well, you're a vampire. Blood. Go.

Dracula has Speed 5 Might 8 Sanity 6, but he's still waking up and can only come online in turn 2. The Bride has all stats 4. But there's a snag: the sun is coming up...

And the traitor/vampire player doesn't get to know anything about the sun coming up other than that it's happening and "the heroes will tell you how sunlight affects the vampires". Here's how it happens: every traitor turn, a hero rolls dice equal to the number of players, and if it comes up lower than the number of turns since the haunt started, the sun starts coming up. After that, every vampire loses 1 point from every trait every turn, and bursts into flames if any trait is driven to 0. The hero rulebook actually tells the heroes to tell the traitor to go get a piece of paper to track Dracula and the Bride's stats in the middle of the game. Thanks.

Also, vampires have a ton of special rules divided between the two books. If any Vampire is defeated with the Spear, it's staked and instantly killed. If someone defeats a Vampire while holding the Holy Symbol, they can also push it a number of squares equal to the damage they did. If a Vampire tries to enter the Chapel or any room with someone holding a Holy Symbol, they must check Sanity 6 or fail to enter the room. And finally, Vampires can make "domination" attacks using Sanity and inflicting Speed damage at a single room's range - but only against heroes of the opposite sex, which is why the author remembered to have both the Bride and Dracula in the game. If a hero's Speed is dropped to 0 by a domination attack, they join the Vampires and recover all their Speed, and win together with the traitor (alarm bells start to ring..) provided they have killed another hero (well, ok, but a bit awkward). And finally, the heroes only have to kill Dracula and his Bride to win the game - the traitor and any turned vampires don't count, and the traitor doesn't get to know that which could easily end up with a rather miserable ending to the game!

So, this seems a reasonable enough scenario but the information division is really ridiculous. Having the traitor not know about sunrise or the Spear or the heroes not know about domination seems really inviting a "oh, I win because of a rule you didn't know" ending to the Haunt, and everyone who's played this agrees on how awful they are. And looking at the text above, does knowing all of that really seem to make this Haunt worse or unplayable? Not as far as I can tell.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 12

Trigger: Find the Madman in the Charred Room, Kitchen or Servants' Quarters.

Just like Fleshwalkers, this is a kind-of-cooperative-but-maybe-not Haunt. The entire house has just been lifted off the ground by a giant bird "the size of a 747". It's successfully ripped the house out of the foundations and removed the basement; it can no longer be accessed and anyone in the basement gets automatically moved to the Mystic Elevator on the ground floor. The aim of the Haunt is to escape from the house with a parachute, but there are only as many as half the player count rounded down.

Anyone can find a Parachute with a Knowledge/Speed 4+ roll in any room with an omen symbol, or you can steal one from another Hero with an opposed Might or Knowledge roll. However, any time you gain a Parachute or try to steal one, your turn ends immediately afterwards. This means you can't move away, which means there can be a nice infinite loop of heroes passing a parachute between each other. And oddly, there's no time limit; the scenario only ends when the parachutes run out. Once you have a parachute, head to one of the "outside" rooms (Entrance Hall, Balcony, Tower, Coal Chute or Collapsed Room) and roll Knowledge/Sanity 4+ to leave. Heroes can also attack each other in the normal way in order to kill each other.

This is a fairly straightforward all-against-all scenario, but I'm not sure it's sufficiently managed for that. The aforementioned "let's just keep stealing the parachute from each other because doing anything else is overall a bad idea" issue could be a real problem, especially when there's only one left. As could the classic problem of all-against-all games, where the winner is determined by who doesn't get gained up on, either leading to a walking race or an unsatisfying ending.

Trigger: Find the Crystal Ball on the Balcony, in the Furnace Room, or in the Pentagram Chamber.

See, there's being original, and there's being.. totally bizarre. The house's pipe organ turns out to actually be a dimensional transporter, and it's just taken the house to another dimension. Whoever has the highest sanity is actually from that dimension, and wants to stay there. Unfortunately, the atmosphere in the other dimension is poisonous and does 2 dice worth of damage (applied to any trait or trait combination) to every non-traitor at the start of their turn.

The main issue with this Haunt is that it resets the entire house. Everything that's been played except the starting area and occupied areas is removed, the occupied areas move up next to the starting area, and everyone can explore everything again. The heroes are trying to find the Organ Room and re-activate the dimensional transporter. To do that, you need a Knowledge roll in the Organ Room.. with a result of between 15-20 based on the number of players. Since that's basically impossible, there's a ton of bonuses to build up; +1 for every omen in the house, +2 if your character's hobby is music (Darrin Williams or Zoe Ingstrom, or possibly Professor Longfellow if Gaelic Music counts) , and +2 if the Book or Madman are in the organ room with you with +4 for both (the Madman's travelled between dimensions before and the book tells you how to use the transporter), and additional bonuses of +2 each to be found by making rolls in the Library, Game Room and Tower.

The Traitor, on the other hand, a swell as killing the heroes can try and make the transporter harder to operate. They can make rolls in the Chapel, Game Room, Laboratories or Pentagram Chamber which each give a -3 to rolls to use the transporter.

Ok, so. The highest Knowledge stat anyone has in the group is 5, which can roll a 10 if every dice comes up 2. If there's 6 players the target number is 20, so either dice bonuses or stat bonuses have to cover the other 10. Professor Longfellow is the only character with Knowledge 5 and Music for a hobby, so if you have him you can just hit 12. Which means you need at least two of the room bonuses (or stat bonuses) to even have a chance. And those traitor rolls are nasty? If they actually get all five penalties (because there are two laboratories), -15 raising the target number to effectively 35 is a death sentence. And, of course, the heroes don't get to know about those dice penalties (although the traitor doesn't get to know the target number of bonuses) so you could end up playing at cross purposes for a long time. I'm not sure why that's fun.

More problematic is the need to rush for the Organ Room at the start. Where it ends up in the deck is likely to be pretty critical to the chance the heroes have is this Haunt, and it's just random. Really surprising that they didn't allow for this.

An Invocation of Darkness
Trigger: Find the Book in the Charred Room, Furnace Room, or Junk Room.

Oh, sweet Elder Gods! After that attempt at being original turned out just bizarre, we're doing Cthulhu again? After The Stars are Right and the heavy implications of Tentacled Horror? And moreover.. it's another Big Monster haunt!

So. The person who found the book needs to take it to either the Chapel or Pentagram Chamber and make Knowledge 5+ rolls. Each successful roll scores a point, and once they have 5, "the Elder God" shows up (who is not named as Cthulhu but they put "Ia, Ia!" in the flavor text).. and immediately kills them. The good news is, they get to play the Elder God. It's Might 12 and Sanity 7, and Speed equal to the number of heroes left at the time it showed up. It goes to kill the players.

As for the heroes, they need to either kill the traitor before the God is summoned, or steal the Book (either from the traitor, or from the room where the God was summoned after the ritual), carry it to the Furnace or Chasm and throw it in with no roll required. That immediately destroys the Elder God if it's been summoned and wins the scenario. The traitor doesn't get to know this, so the most likely ending of this haunt is the traitor feeling really disappointed that they didn't get to play Ogre and have their awesome monster worn down but just lost in one turn. Oh well.

I don't know what to say about this. It's just meh overall and rather simplistic. Actually, hey, the next one's really interesting, so let's just have a bonus Haunt.

Trigger: Find the Skull in the Abandoned Room, Furnace Room, or Servants' Quarters.

The house suddenly floods with knockout gas. Everyone awakens, woozy and ensure.. and with steel bladed collars locked around their necks. Yep, it's Saw.

But it's done in an interesting way. Every player gets handed two random numbered tokens; a red one that's face down and a pentagon one that's face up. The pentagon one shows the timer on their collar. When the number of turns since the Haunt starts has reached that number, they start having to roll 3 dice at the start of every turn, and if the result is less than the turn number, their collar snaps shut and beheads them. Ta ta.

Of course this wouldn't be Saw without a silly challenge. Not-Jigsaw tells everyone at the start of the adventure that they can remove their collars with keys that are found in the house. The keys are placed in 11 fixed rooms, which the players are told, but each one is either a room with a built-in hazard or requires an additional roll. For example, in the Collapsed Room, if you fall you don't get the key; the Furnace Room must apply its damage to give you the key. Characters can freely trade keys to each other, and anyone with two keys can unlock their collar and be safe, after which the keys are lost.

But what about the traitor? Well, that's where those red tokens come in. Apparently the reason this is happening is that one of the characters' mothers was killed in a traffic accident, and all of the other characters drove on past without trying to help. Whoever got the face-down red token with the number 1 is the one whose mother died. They aren't not-Jigsaw (hi, Zero Escape fans!) but they are a special case: their collar doesn't work. They play the same way as everyone else, but as soon as they fail their collar roll, they reveal themselves as traitor and their collar shuts off.

When everyone's collar has been either removed or activated, the Haunt is over, and the heroes win if at least half of them survived; otherwise, the traitor wins (and promptly "feels they've learned something important about life").

The hidden traitor aspect of this Haunt gives it a dynamic that's really original, as does the traitor's role - in that if they succeed at their goal, and get their collar removed when it didn't need to be, they will also never be revealed. However, the timer number the traitor gets can heavily limit their ability to do this - with a really unlucky roll they could be revealed on the first turn, and since they can't sensibly attack anyone until after they're revealed, they're kind of limited. As with an awful lot of traitor based board games, there isn't really any way the players have any chance of identifying someone as the traitor nor meaningfully doing anything about it in advance. But, still, compared to many of the haunts it's a genuinely interesting design, and more of this kind of thing would have helped. Unfortunately, there's only one other hidden traitor haunt in the game.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House on the Hill, 13

Small Change
Trigger: Get bitten in the Gymnasium, Master Bedroom, or Servants' Quarters.

Whoever has the highest Knowledge is a mad scientist who has lured the others into the house to experiment on them. The experiment specifically consists of the question: "What happens if my cats eat a bunch of very small humans?" They've just dropped a beaker which shrinks everyone in the house, themselves including, down to mouse size. I'm sure there was a more scientific way of doing this. Bite? What bite?

Everyone's now shrunk. Moving is now half speed - doorways count as taking up an extra space of movement. You can't pick up cards, so exploring new rooms just ends your turn, and climbing stairs requires Might rolls. On the other hand, rooms with hazards no longer bother you. 1-2 Cats are spawned in the house based on the number of players. They have the same half-speed rule as the characters do, but pretty huge stats in this form: Speed 6 and Might 7! However, being cats, they are sadistic bastards and like to play with their food. If a Cat defeats a hero, it spends a round torturing them, in which period the defeated hero can escape with an opposed roll on a trait of their choice, or another hero can defeat the Cat to free the captured one. If nobody does that, though, the Cat will chow down at the start of the next monster turn. The Traitor themselves can't attack any heroes - since the point of the experiment is that the cats eat them - so all they can do is to chase the heroes around and try to stop them escaping, as below.

The heroes are trying to escape using, no kidding, a Toy Airplane. And it's quite the show. They have to find it by going to one of five rooms and making a Knowledge 3+ roll. Then they have to start it with a Knowledge 4+ roll. Once started, the Airplane carries the heroes inside with it and moves 5 squares a turn, still counting doorways as squares. Cats or the Traitor can bat the airplane out of the air with a Speed 7+ roll for a cat or 5+ for the traitor. The Toy Airplane can pick up heroes as it goes, requiring a Speed roll with the possibility of just plain missing or actually crashing the plane (which doesn't put it out of commission, but does mean it has to be started again and the heroes are considered on the ground).

Amusingly, the text for the heroes does say "flying heroes can only attack or be attacked with the revolver, ring, or dynamite". This is presumably to avoid giving away to the heroes the fact that the traitor cannot actually attack them, only the cats can. It does however create the amusing image of a cat lobbing a stick of dynamite.

Once all the heroes are picked up in the plane, it can fly through any outside-facing window to escape. If that happens before half or more of the heroes have been eaten by cats, the heroes win.

So, I can sort of see where this is coming from, but the double movement thing does seem to be a potential major hazard. If the heroes are all together, they can all potentially just jump in the plane. If the player count is low enough that there's only 1 cat, then it spawns in the Entrance Hall, which could mean that the heroes have a decent chance of getting in the plane before it even gets to them. Also, once someone's piloting the plane, presumably all the other heroes riding it just have to effectively skip their turns? Finally, there's no mention of the possibility of the heroes killing the traitor, and there's no warning in the heroes' rules text that this won't actually do any good.

Better With Friends
Trigger: Find the Medallion in the Furnace Room, Gallery or Kitchen.

The traitor, who is either the person with the highest Speed or Missy Dubourde if she's in the game (scary little girl count: 2) has actually been a ghost all along, who drowned years ago in the underground swamp below the mansion. (The reason Missy gets this honor is that her listed hobby is swimming. I'm not sure why she thought an underground swamp would be a nice place for a casual swim, but hey.) The medallion gave her the power to manifest in the living world, and she's now lured some of her friends back to drown them too, so that she can have them with her in death. Because they won't be hideously, horribly upset with her and hate her for all eternity for killing them or anything like that.

The house is gradually flooding over the course of 6 turns - flooding at the even rate of half a floor per turn. Starting on a partially flooded floor means you move 2 less squares; starting on a fully flooded floor means moving 4 less squares and taking 2 points of damage. The heroes' book specifically says this affects the traitor too.. but the traitor's book specifically says it doesn't. Helpful. If a hero drops the Medallion, the counter stops for a turn, but it can be picked up again.

The goal for the heroes is to go and get a wooden rowboat out of the Attic, then carry it to the Balcony or Tower. The Rowboat is heavy, so any movement while holding it is at half speed, and for another hilarious image, the game specifically tells players that "the Dog cannot carry the Rowboat." The traitor can also try to smash the rowboat by making Might 3 rolls against it, one per round; five successful rolls destroys the rowboat and the traitor immediately wins.

This one just seems to be a complete railroad. The players are going to all get together, go up to the top floor, search the Attic and then move to one of the other two locations. Especially with the flooding restrictions there is little reason to ever do anything else, and dropping the amulet might as well be done instantly. The risk of things such as the boat being destroyed will all be determined in advance by where those rooms are on the map. Not a great one, I don't think.

Trigger: Find a Skull in the Catacombs, Dining Room, or Gallery.

Well, we've nearly hit all the fantasy classics by now, so how about another great one: playing a game of Chess against Death. The only problem is how on earth we actually work this into the plot. Or maybe, we just don't bother? Essentially, as soon as the haunt is triggered, Death shows up in the room with one of the heroes and insists on a game of chess. We don't find out what the stakes are, but the ending text has it turn out that if the hero loses, all the heroes will die (even potentially ones who never encountered Death or even know that he's appeared), and if Death loses, he just leaves and the heroes get no benefit at all. Huh.

Oh, but wait, there's a traitor. Why in the world would anyone want to help Death win in a game of Chess? Well, I'm just going to copy the betrayal motivation verbatim from the game for this one, because it's by far the most ridiculous one, and that's saying something:


After all, you can't stand the thought of anyone being smarter than you, and there's no way you could beat Death at chess!

By the way, the traitor is the person with the lowest Might. There's a nerd joke here, I guess. Anyway, if Death does win the Chess game then.. somehow.. the traitor doesn't die because.. umm, no, I've got nothin'. Maybe Death just likes the kind of person who would get all their friends killed just to avoid being seen as dumb, or at least, maybe not quite the best out of the group at Chess?

So. Death sits in the room where he spawned. He can't be attacked, and the traitor can't go into that room (Death doesn't appreciate being kibitzed). In the monster turn, someone must be in the room with Death to play chess; if there isn't, it's a forfeit and the traitor wins, but Death doesn't care if his opponent changes multiple times over the course of the game. The chess game is an opposed Knowledge roll. Death has Knowledge 8, and also gets a single re-roll of any blank dice he rolls. If he wins the roll, then depending on how much he wins by, the heroes take 1 damage to Sanity, Might, or both. If Death loses the roll, the hero immediately declares Checkmate and the heroes win.

Beating Knowledge 8 is going to be mighty hard, but the heroes have some advantages. First of all, if they can find the Book and give it to the chess player, they get +1 to their rolls. Secondly, there are five Holy Seals in fixed rooms in the house; if the heroes find these, they can destroy them with a Sanity 4+ roll, and each one lowers Death's Knowledge score by one.

As with many of these, there's the germ of a good idea here. There's a whole bunch of ways to raise stats, and adding the ability to lower Death's means that everyone can participate. The traitor can fight in all the regular ways, but killing them doesn't end the scenario, The main problem is that the hero with the best Knowledge stat is going to have a kind of boring game - they'll probably just be shunted off to play against Death and although technically there is nothing stopping them leaving the room and coming back in the same turn, there's also not a whole lot they can achieve by doing that.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hey, wasn't there something I was supposed to be doing before my boss started giving me every random admin job they could think of?

Umm.. Oh, crap

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 13

(By the way, I've managed to find a game with even stupider plots than Betrayal, namely, TIME stories. I'm not sure if I should do that because unlike Betrayal, it will totally spoil the game. I don't know if that's forbidden or not.)

Trigger: Find the Dog in the Abandoned Room, Charred Room, or Furnace Room.

Wait.. all that time and we're just rehashing again? Yes, this is just Fly Away Home again. And since Fly Away Home itself was a rehash of Let Them In, that's 3 haunts with theme of hordes of nasty things flying into the house through the windows. The traitor for this one is the person with the lowest Knowledge other than the haunt revealer, which could result in an immensely awkward start if the heroes are close to each other. Also - and yet again - "Dog? What dog?"

I don't need to say much. It's exactly the same as Fly Away Home but the horde rules are different. Instead of the Bats having full monster stats, the Firebats are just tokens, which move around at Speed 3 and each deals 1 dice of physical damage to everyone in the room with them at the end of each traitor turn. The roll for movement is also the number of new firebats that spawn in the room where the Haunt started, and there's no limit.

What are the heroes trying to do? Perform an exorcism. Oh god, really? Yes, exactly the same exorcism as Let Them In, Wail of the Banshee, and The Abyss Gazes Back.

Also, the traitor's tome states that the traitor wants the firebats to drink the blood of the heroes, whereas the heroes' book says that the firebats burn them. I guess I shouldn't make much more effort writing up this haunt, because they certainly didn't make too much writing it in the first place.

The Heir
Trigger: Find a Spear in the Dining Room, Kitchen, or on the Balcony.

The player with the highest Speed, other than the haunt revealer, is currently holding the giant Romanescu fortune - but illicitly. The true heir to the fortune is one of the heroes, but the traitor doesn't know which one. He does know, however, that if the true heir sits on the throne in this house while holding the Romanescu spear and ring, they will take the fortune from them. However that works. One would have thought that it would make more sense just not to bring those people to the house in the first place, or to smash up the throne, spear or ring, or something sensible like that. Instead, the traitor has filled the house with assassins.

The traitor places the Statuary Corridor in their choice of location in the house - that's where the throne is. The haunt revealer picks another player to be the heir, and writes their name down on a piece of paper which only the heroes can see. The traitor meanwhile picks rooms equal to the #heroes to hide assassins in, and writes them down (and no, they have remembered to rule that they can't put an assassin in the Statuary Corridor). Whenever a hero moves into a room where an assassin is hidden, the traitor can choose to have the assassin strike; they deal 2 dice of physical damage and then are removed from the board. Whenever a hero dies, by assassin or otherwise, they must tell the traitor truthfully if they were the heir or not. If they were, the traitor wins. If the heir gets to the throne with the spear and ring, they win. Also, new assassins show up 3 and 6 turns after the Haunt begins.

This is another one I'm really not sure about. Just like The Resistence, it seems like an interesting problem, but I wonder if it turns out to be ultimately vacuous because of the sheer volume of hidden information. The traitor is almost certainly going to put assassins on the only available routes to the Statuary Corridor, and since if a single hero moves there they're obviously the heir, the players will have to go in groups - but that gives a random chance of the traitor choosing the heir anyway. Also, the number of heroes is oddly important, since it potentially limits how many routes to the throne the traitor can cover. If there are only 2 heroes, then the most damage that can be dealt by one round of assassins is 8, so if the heir turns out to be Ox Bellows, say, he could potentially just sprint for the throne without caring - although it'd be really risky. There is still however a potential random breaker in the Haunt, and that is the Ring. If the traitor gets the ring (or already has it), their best strategy is to run away, running past assassins as best they can.

Buried Alive
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Dining Room, Junk Room, or Pentagram Chamber.

The Spirit Board spells out the message "BURIED ALIVE". See, the player to the left of the haunt revealer secretly kidnapped another (NPC) friend of theirs and buried them alive in the house, then cast a spell to make the others forget that they ever existed. (Then brought all of that person's friends to aimlessly wander around the house, for some reason.) The spirit board message just broke the spell, so now the heroes are looking for the buried person.

The traitor chooses a random basement room for the victim to be in (adding tiles to the basement until there are 5 tiles there, if necessary). Each turn, they roll one more dice than the previous turn, which represents the damage the victim takes. If it reaches 12, the victim dies and the traitor wins. Raw guessy math suggests that there will be around 5 turns before the victim dies. The heroes are trying to find and dig up the victim. In any basement room, a Knowledge 3+ room checks for the victim; the traitor must truthfully say if it's the burial room or not. If it is, any players can make a Might 4+ roll to help dig them up. Once a number of rolls equal to the #players is made, the victim is rescued and the heroes win.

Also, the Spirit Board has a.. rather peculiar effect. The heroes' book says they can use it to help find the burial room, but doing that is actually rather unlikely and probably a bad bet. When the heroes use it, they get to roll Sanity. On 3+, they can move any "explorer" 3 spaces (this presumably includes the traitor, which is a bit strange); on 5+ they can heal the traitor for 2 dice, and a 7+ finds the burial room. Once the burial room has been found, the Spirit Board is discarded.

This is just.. kind of strange. First of all, the rules state the person with the Spirit Board can't give it to anyone else. This is presumably to prevent players handing it between each other in order to use it multiple times in a round. But out of the standard 10 hero characters, 5 have Sanity 3, and thus can never (without stat buffs) hit the 7 threshold to find the burial room using it - and if they're the ones holding it, they mysteriously can't give it to someone who would be much better at using it. Secondly, finding the burial room destroys the Spirit Board which means that the victim can no longer be healed - because of the escalating damage where the healing does not escalate, it's of limited use later in the game, but finding the burial room early could actually result in the heroes losing (bear in mind the victim could die on turn 3 if the traitor is extremely lucky). But all of that's going to depend on how many rooms there are in the basement, which is effectively random, so.. well, it's a good idea, but it might just play out in a very disempowering way.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 15

I haven't forgotten! I haven't forgotten! Excuse the toast!

Invisible Traitor
Trigger: Find the Ring in the Catacombs, Gallery, Gymnasium, or Kitchen.

What would you if you were suddenly turned invisible? Try to recover? Investigate how this was possible? Hang around the opposite sex's changing rooms while groaning? Get a hell of a job as a Hollywood FX assistant? Suddenly decide to murder all your friends?

Yea, the last one doesn't really belong. But that's apparently what they've decided to do. I guess the Ring was the One Ring or something. Well, or not.

Whoever found the Ring writes down the name of a room on a piece of paper. That's where they now are. They move normally, but instead of moving a piece, they just write down the room where they are. They can still discover new rooms, but doing so gives away their location. Stealing items is now a flat roll rather than an opposed roll. Attacking the traitor is still as normal, although the heroes have to guess what room they are in; but when they traitor attacks, they can make a bare-handed "sneak attack" to roll damage on half the #players in dice. What they aren't told is that after the attack, the hero can make a Knowledge roll and on a result higher than 3, they know something about the traitor's location - just their immediate vicinity on a 3+, or their final location on a 5+.

The heroes can also use the Skull to find the floor the traitor is on with a Sanity 4+ roll, which is pretty damn useless, and the Spirit Board with a Knowledge 4+ to find the symbol (if any) that is on the room they are in, which might be useless and might not. Go kill the traitor. That's it.

Assuming that this doesn't come to a horrible stalemate with neither side wanting to attack, it still seems a bit dull. There are no clues gained by attacks and the invisible traitor can pass straight through rooms with heroes in them provided they don't attack them (it still costs them movement, but that's all). It would have been much better if this revealed that the traitor had passed so that the heroes could build a constricting net, but it doesn't, so it's just guesses all around.

Comes The Hero
Trigger: Find the Mask in the Abandoned Room, Dining Room, Furnace Room or Servants' Quarters.

We're definitely into a low-effort section by now. The person with the highest Might has apparently been invincible and invulnerable all along (never mind any damage they took while Snooping around), and was granted this in exchange for opening a gate to Hell, which they've decided to do tonight. They reset their traits to starting values, and get a free Weapon from the deck. Their task is to kill a hero, drag their body (moving at half speed) to the Catacombs, Chasm, or Pentagram Chamber, and roll Sanity/Knowledge 4+ to open the gate to Hell. Nothing can change the traitor's traits or cause them damage; they can't be attacked; and nothing can be stolen from them.

Now, of course, you just know that the traitor's going to have some horrible weakness that isn't in their book and that's going to define the game for them, right? Sure. What the heroes have to do is to go to the room where the haunt was revealed, where there is now a statue. They give the statue one of four items, whereupon it comes to life, with all traits at 8. Even then, it doesn't act independently, though; a heroes has to go into the room with the statue and psychically bludgeon it into moving with a Knowledge/Sanity roll, which moves it the number of spaces rolled. If the traitor starts a turn in the room with it, they lose a point from one of their traits based on which item was used to awaken the statue.

Ugh. This just seems like another horrible one. First of all, there's the issue of the traitor just hanging around in the room with the statue (because the heroes do put a token in that room to indicate it's special, even though the traitor might not know why). I can see they're trying to have there be some tactics regarding heroes setting up chains to move the statue onto the traitor wherever he/she goes, but doing so would make them awfully vulnerable. Also, choosing to have the statue lower Speed seems to be a better choice than anything else, because it'll make it easier for the statue to catch them.

The Star-Sickness
Trigger: Find the Spear in the Abandoned Room, Catacombs, Gymnasium or Master Bedroom.

Aha! We're out of the low-effort zone now, and into the second of the two haunts (the other one being Guillotines) that use the hidden traitor rules - and even change them up in a way. Each player gets two numbered tokens, selected at random. Whoever gets the number 1 is infected with the alien virus. The first time in each turn anyone's in a room with another explorer, they must swap two tokens of their choice. Anyone who gets the 1 in a swap has just been infected too (the person who gave it away is still infected).

Every turn, the ambient atmosphere makes a Might attack against everyone in the house - infected or otherwise - with a strength equal to the turn number. This is important because if someone who was infected dies, they instead become an Alien, a monster with fixed stats. Aliens can't spread or receive the virus, but they can kill other explorers. The haunt is over when everyone is an Alien, dead, or.. well, it also says that infected heroes count towards triggering the loss condition, but exactly how you're supposed to establish that all remaining heroes are infected without giving the game away if they aren't isn't stated.

Oh, and - arrrgh, we have the usual alarm bell ringing about a condition that triggers when "everyone" is an Alien. They've tried to work around this with Standard Fudge Number 2, which is saying that the last person to be infected loses.

Now, what are our heroes supposed to be trying to do? They're trying to make a serum to act as a cure. Ok, that's technically an antiserum.. and that's not how they work.. but hey. To do this, they need to collect a number of tokens in the Research Lab equal to the #players. Tokens are gotten by either making a 5+ Knowledge roll in the lab with a bonus equal to the number of people there and a further bonus if the Book is present; or by gathering herbs to make the serum (just to show that the authors really have no idea what a serum is) in any of the Plant-themed rooms, which only requires a 3+ Knowledge but requires the token to be transported to the Lab afterwards.

Whoever creates or brings the last token gets the Serum. They can inject themselves or anyone else with the serum with a movement point, or a Speed attack if the target is unwilling. Injecting an uninfected hero means they no longer take Might damage and no longer trade tokens. Injecting an infected hero or an Alien instantly kills them. Also, if an infected hero is killed by something else while the person with the Serum is in the room, they can give them a quick shot of serum and instantly kill the Alien. If every living explorer has been injected with the serum, the heroes win - presumably even if there are still Aliens on the board, which is a bit odd, but ok.

So. I really, really like the idea. There are actual board games (Panic Station) which have only this premise, and here you get it plus 49 other scenarios too, even though some of them are dubious. The "last traitor loses" fudge is a bit of an unfortunate one, though - although it's not too easy to do the "rush to get infected" exploit unless the entire group agrees to do it and people start openly declaring that they are infected. That said, the issue with "how do you establish if everyone is infected without giving away who is" could be decidedly problematic, and there could actually be an interesting issue if an Alien has to pick which hero to target where one is infected, the other is not, and the Alien player doesn't know which is which. Finally, there's a potential issue with the distance between the plant rooms and the Lab, but this seems really interesting.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 16

It's more fun than trying to fix the timetable for the thousandth time. Hey, did anyone notice how Cabin In The Woods manages to meta-clone Betrayal At House On The Hill? I mean, ok, they're both just pastiches of every haunted house movie ever, but the mechanics actually tie them together as well. Now that'd be an expansion pack.

Death Doth Find Us All
Trigger: Find the Medallion in the Charred Room, Junk Room, or Master Bedroom.

Indeed it Doth. And before it Doth, we do yet another version of The Picture of Dorian Grey, because A Friend For The Ages wasn't enough. Instead of a creepy portrait, the traitor (who is the youngest explorer) has struck a bargain with the House itself; they bring a group of people to the House every ten years to have their lives sucked out, and the traitor gets a share of the life in form of 10 more years of youth.

As soon as the haunt starts, everyone except the traitor ages 1 decade, and everyone gets to roll a dice at the end of the traitor's turn for how many decades they age. Their new age is then compared to a table in the Traitor's Tome to see what effect it has. Aging to your 20s or 30s actually gains stats; aging to your 40s lowers Speed and increases Sanity, and aging to 50s, 60s, and 70s lowers 2, 3, and 4 traits respectively. Once you're over 70, every decade just drops all 4 traits by one. Whenever a hero dies, the traitor gets to add 3 dice worth of points to their traits in any combination they want.

You're probably expecting that this is going to result in some weird combinations as a result of heroes having been designed with their age as flavor information and not related to their traits, but it's actually not bad. If you have Missy or Zoe in the scenario, they'd age to 18 or 19.. but that can never happen, because they'll certainly be the youngest and thus chosen as the traitor, and they can't both be there at once because they're opposite sides of the same card.

Now, for the remaining heroes, the Medallion is all important. Whoever's got the Medallion ages more slowly than everyone else (one less decade than rolled), and the traitor can't take it. To escape, they have to.. do a bloody exorcism again. Well, ok, this time it's just called a "ritual", but it's the same exact mechanic - make Knowledge or Sanity rolls in particular rooms. Once a number have been made equal to the number of players, the aging stops and the heroes win.

So, uh, that's a thing. It's.. to go to a bunch of rooms, which are all randomly placed so the difficulty is all over the place, and make rolls within a time limit; and we already have quite enough of those scenarios by now, with the added bonus of the traitor not getting anything cool to do and the time limit being partially random. File under meh.

Tick, Tick, Tick
Trigger: Find the Madman in the Abandoned Room, Dining Room or Pentagram Chamber.

The hero with the highest Knowledge has.. somehow.. managed to strap a bomb to each of the other heroes! And none of them noticed until.. the madman laughed a bit! Also, the traitor has suddenly decided to just pull up where they are and stay there for the rest of the Haunt, building a Big Bomb. Who wouldn't want to build a big bomb in the Underground Lake? After 12 turns, the Big Bomb goes off, killing everyone, and winning the game for the traitor. So, yep. The traitor basically doesn't get to play in this scenario, since they can't move anywhere interesting - although they technically could play cards, I suppose, but not draw any. Thanks a bunch, guys.

The heroes have bombs strapped to them. The bombs go off in two circumstances: a) the traitor rolls 8+ in the regular roll, of an increasing number of dice, they make every round; and b) if a hero moves into the room with the traitor or any adjacent room (even if it is not connected). If a bomb goes off it kills the hero instantly and blows up all their items, omens, and any other heroes in the room (but not the traitor). Disarming a bomb can be done once a turn, and a hero can disarm their own bomb or someone else's; they need a Knowledge 7+ roll, with a +2 bonus if the Madman is in the room (um, I guess they had to work out something for him to do). If an attempt to disarm rolls 2 or less, the bomb goes off, with the same consequences as above.

So, yea.. that's, um, that's it. Someone disarms their bomb, goes into the room with the traitor, and then just straight up fights them. If they get unlucky on a Knowledge roll or the traitor rolls lucky, they blow up. They probably ought not to group up in the same room, but.. um, that seems to be about all the choice they have. Ugh.

The Feast
Trigger: Find the Dog in the Catacombs, Gymnasium, Junk Room or Kitchen.

You're invited to be the Guest of Honor at our feast. We're going to eat you. Yea, we used to be all subtle about that but it got really hackneyed, you know?

This Haunt immediately spawns Cannibal Freaks in the Dining Room (adding it to the map if it's not there), and Victims in the Attic. The objective for the traitor is to get all the Victims eaten, or all the Heroes dead. The Victims can escape; if one does, the only route to victory is killing all the heroes. Cannibal Freaks move like monsters but die instead of being stunned, and can beat on the heroes and the Victims with Might 4 attacks. If a hero or Victim dies, the traitor or a Cannibal can spend a turn eating the corpse, which adds 1 to all their traits (which means that the traitor has to keep track of stats for all the cannibals and note which is which, which is a nice pain in the ass).

The Victims can't attack, and they move in a rather odd automated way: they move 2 squares in whichever direction they're facing (which means you have to track which way they're facing) unless they hit a wall or an unexplored area, in which case they turn left. The exception is if there's a hero in their room, in which case they don't move, but the Hero can escort them 2 spaces in any direction or combination of directions. Victims can't attack. If a Hero makes a Might or Knowledge roll in the Entrance Hall, they can break down the front door, and from that point on they can escort Victims out of the house. Heroes who leave the house with Victims can come back with 1 movement point. If all the Victims escape, the Heroes can then win by escaping too; but if any Victim gets killed, the Heroes must kill all the cannibals to win.

I like the idea here, especially the symmetry of the two factions, but there does seem a high chance of the cannibals just setting up in the Entrance Hall - especially since they start in the Dining Room, which is by definition going to be closer to the Entrance Hall than the Attic is. Also, if the traitor player focuses their feeding they could end up with one hell of a cannibal (Might 8, anyone)?


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House on the Hill, 17

Closing in on the end, although the authors ran out of ideas long ago.

Worm Ouroboros
Trigger: Find a Skull in the Gymnasium, Charred Room, or Master Bedroom.

"Hey, you know what we haven't used in a while? Those giant tentacly thing rules from Carnivorous Ivy and Tentacled Horror."

Well, ok, maybe that's a bit unfair, because there is actually an interesting variation in this one. The traitor removes their piece from the board and places two Ouroboros Heads on that location instead. These move like monsters, and - unlike the previous tentacle creatures - they do actually leave their Body sections behind. Ouroboros Heads can discover new rooms and can attack at Might 6; Body sections don't do anything other than slow down heroes' movement in the way regular monsters would. If the worm grows to 16 body segments, the traitor wins. The heroes have to kill the two heads, but just to make this not ridiculously easy, before the heroes can attack a head they have to cast a spell on it, and the spell requires the Skull and a Sanity 5+ roll. After that, each worm head has to be defeated a number of times equal to half the number of players.

Fairly straightforward, but has the standard complaint (which probably sounds like a stuck record by now) that it's really map dependent and the map is random. The ability for the heads to discover new rooms could also easily be problematic, as it encourages the worm to burrow off down a chain of new rooms as quickly as possible thus forcing the heroes to move through areas where its body remains. On the other hand, it's possible that the floor the worm is on will run out of tiles and the worm player will have to sheepishly admit that they are now stuck.

Stacked Like Cordwood
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Abandoned Room, Catacombs or Gymnasium.

This Jason-style haunt is named after a phrase classically used to describe the bodies of the dead in concentration camps. I don't know if I shouldn't just stop there.

Ok. So Jason is called Crimson Jack. He shows up in the entrance hall and wants to kill everyone. He has 3 in all stats except Knowledge, but if he's temporarily defeated he comes back with 1 extra point on all those stats. He also has a fear aura which means anyone in the room with him must make a Sanity 3+ roll or lose 1 point from each of two traits. The traitor.. gets to kill people too. That's it for the bad guys.

The heroes have to find the cursed weapon that can kill Crimson Jack. It can be the Axe, Spear, Blood Dagger or Sacrificial Dagger. If they already have one of those, they can declare that the cursed weapon; if they don't, they can go to one of four specific rooms and make a Knowledge roll to find whichever one of the four they like. Everyone then has to study the weapon by making a Might/Knowledge roll in the room with it (whether it's the room where it's hidden, or the room where the person carrying it is); once a number of these rolls equal to the number of players is made, the players now know how to kill Crimson Jack and the next time they defeat him they win.

Meh. Really really meh. Could be incredibly dull if the heroes already have the weapon and are all together to start with.

You Wear It Well
Trigger: Find the Medallion in the Abandoned Room, Balcony, or Catacombs.

Years ago, the traitor found a spirit about to possess their mother, and made a deal with it; in exchange for it sparing their Mum, they offered to bring it someone else to possess instead. Guess who that is?

This one has an interesting set-up, too. The traitor places the Astral Spirit in the room with them, and all the heroes' souls are ripped out of their bodies; they place Soul tokens in the squares where they are, and they play as their souls from now on. Souls can move through walls, use items (but not take them), explore rooms, and make mental attacks instead of physical ones. Their goal is to hit the Astral Spirit a number of times equal to the #players. The traitor gets to stay in their body, but the heroes' souls can make mental attacks against them, stunning them (but not harming them).

The Astral Spirit gets to attack the heroes' Souls back; the traitor gets to attack their bodies. If the traitor attacks an unconscious body, the corresponding soul takes 2 dice of damage to mental traits. What the Spirit wants to do is to kill a soul, then merge into the body it previously held, which requires it to make a number of Sanity rolls equal to the #players against the dead hero's original Sanity score. If a soul is killed by the traitor attacking their body, the spirit can't possess that body because it's been smashed up.

It's a really nifty and flavorful idea, but isn't really backed up by interesting gameplay - ultimately, it's a single Big Monster haunt of the types we've seen before, with the additional bonus of the traitor being able to make special attacks (although needing to do so carefully to avoid wasting good bodies). Also, the Astral Spirit has a 6 in both mental stats and souls can't pick up items, so the ability of the heroes to adapt to it is very limited.


posted by hyphz Original SA post

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 18 + Bonus!

So, this is it. The last of the 50 Haunts.

Treasure Hunt
Trigger: Find the Book, Dog, or Spear in the Pentagram Chamber.

This is another non-traitor Haunt; instead of trying to kill each other, the players are competing to find the treasure first. The haunt revealer places 20 numbered Clue tokens in any rooms with symbols.

In any room with a Clue token, an explorer can look for the treasure. They roll Knowledge, and add the number of Clue tokens they already have. If the result of the roll is 16 or higher, they find the treasure and win (which isn't going to happen without a bunch of bonuses being accumulated). If it's 13+, a room in the house collapses as in the other collapsing house haunts. Finally, if it's 4+, the explorer can take the Clue, and look up its number on a chart. Most of these (numbers 1-14) give a bonus to the search roll which applies in particular rooms; for example, a bookmark gives a +7 bonus when searching the Library. 15-16 are nasty; they give a bonus to search rolls in dangerous rooms (such as the balcony and the chasm) but they also specify that you die if your search roll is below 13. The bonus gives is +6 for the balcony and "your might/sanity score" for the chasm, so there's less of a chance involved, but it's still nasty. 17-19 are traps, and just damage the person who takes them; and 20 finds a puzzle box. The explorer can try to open the puzzle box with a Knowledge roll; on a success, it contains two other clues (which might be traps, ugh); on a failure, it releases a poisonous spider who does 4 damage.

That's all! You can attack other explorers, mainly to steal clues - although you can deal damage, the Haunt specifies you can't kill anyone else, although you can wound them so badly they get killed by a trap. As with many of these, it's kind of OK, but very random - at least flavourful, though.

And that's it! That's all there is to Betrayal At House On The Hill! There are no more haun...

Wait.. were those footsteps?

Ok, we have to talk about Widow's Walk. Widow's Walk was the expansion set to the second edition of Betrayal, and it contains a full 50 extra haunts. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are completely stupid. In fact, Widow's Walk pretty much marked the point at which they completely gave up on Betrayal being anything but a beer-and-pretzels game full of laughs, because it's almost making fun of itself. This is partly due to the strategy they used for writing the Haunts, which apparently was to invite random people to write Haunts for them. Some of these people were game designers. Many were game designers from a much less successful company. Others were the website guy, the CEO, some dudes in a band, and... people who were known about from gamergate.

So whereas Betrayal had cheesy but recognizable and classic horror tropes, Widow's Walk has obvious rip-offs and silly exaggerations, sometimes dropping the horror theme entirely and sometimes even ignoring the fact it's set in a house. It would be OK if there was some interesting game design, but the majority of Haunts in Widow's Walk are more basic in game design than the originals, usually just powering up the traitor a bit and then leaving them to fight the heroes with not much additional variation. The second most common is to put a bunch of item tokens in rooms and have the heroes roll dice or randomly turn them over to find which is the correct one. Those that are more complex tend to make gimmicky additions to the rules without seeming to have thought through how they fit in. Worse yet, it repeats errors from the previous game - there are a ton of cases of "the traitor role is infectious so everyone can win by voluntarily becoming a traitor" bugs. Several of these were specifically removed from Betrayal 2nd Edition, so it's really bizarre that they'd come right back.

So.. rather than fully writing these up, I'm just going to summarise them. Crummy haunt machine gun, activate!

Director's Cut
The idea: The house is a theatrical production and the director has gone insane.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: Instead of a traitor and multiple heroes, this Haunt has a hero (the director) and multiple traitors, who can kill each other. There's a bunch of one shot items, one of which is the one needed to win. Also, in order to win the game someone has to get to the Theatre and act out the text on an event card.
The stupidity: A bunch of monsters called "production assistants" who defend the director against being killed.. but if the actors do kill the director, they lose. The only reason to attack the director is to take the winning item off them. So there is no reason for the director not to just have all the Production Assistants follow them at all times.

The idea: The movie Cube. The heroes are trying to find which mathematical sequence the traitor rolled, which determines which rooms are safe to enter and which room they can escape from.
The framework: Find the thing.
The guest author: Liz Spain of Lone Shark Games.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to rearrange the rooms the heroes are in anywhere in the house every turn.
The stupidity: The traitor gets to rearrange the rooms the heroes are in anywhere in the house every turn.
The errata: They realized they forget to tell the heroes that there's an exit room and how to find it.

Till Morning Light
The idea: The movie The Purge.
The stupidity: It's Let Them In with different monsters.

Monster Mash
The idea: A bunch of Universal Monster ripoffs are having a party.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: 8 Big Monsters each with a single omen card that instantly defeats them if a hero is even in the same room as them.
The stupidity: Just read that gimmick again.

She is not amused
The idea: Medusa.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: The heroes can unpetrify existing statues in the mansion to help against Medusa.
The stupidity: You need a particular randomly drawn card to kill Medusa.

Make America Disintegrate Again
The idea: The traitor is the campaign manager for a lich running for President.
The guest author: Zoe Quinn. If you don't know who she is, I don't need to tell you. Just like how to ante your soul, some day, not knowing might save you.
The framework: Traitor and monster.
The gimmick: Traitor status is infectious and traitors are expected to speak in bombastic slogans.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status means everyone can join the traitor and all win. Also, the premise.

The Gathering Storm
The idea: The house is falling down in a storm and everyone has to reinforce the basement and hide in it.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, a designer on Dungeons and Dragons.
The framework: Co-op find the things.
The gimmick: Reuses the collapsing house rules from the previous set.

Olly Olly Oxen Free
The idea: A Scary Little Girl is playing a version of tag with heroes with bonus ghostly possession.
The guest author: Elisa Teague of Loan Shark Games, who is credited with designing Geek Out!, a party game of making the longest list of geek references possible. No record of having designed positional strategy games with variable starting positions.
The gimmick: Infectious traitor status and a need to find and burn the girl's old dolls.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status means everyone can join the traitor and all win.

The Fleshchild's Alchemical Mandate
The idea: The traitor wants to steal samples of flesh from each of the heroes.
The guest author: Christopher Badell, the co-designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: Every hero carries a "flesh" item which the traitor wants to steal instead of attacking them.
The stupidity: There's practically nothing else to the haunt other than this confusing merge of the stealing and combat rules.

Cat O'Clock
The idea: That one episode of Futurama where the cats try to take over the Earth.
The guest authors: Angela Webber and Richard Malena - a nerd rock singer and a theory podcaster respectively.
The gimmick: Hellbeasts but with an additional Big Monster which is powered up by the presence of tokens in the house. Ok, that's actually not too bad an idea.
The stupidity: The traitor has to roll two dice for the name of the evil cat. Examples include "Barnaby Cuddles". The name has no effect on the game.

Captain Sting's Revenge
The idea: A pirate, apparently an actual living pirate, just showed up in the Underground Lake and wants to steal treasure.
The guest authors: Mike and Tifa Robles. Lone Shark games again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: The traitor can win by collecting loot.

Rosencrantz and All Of You Are Dead
The idea: Hamlet.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor's win condition is to go to two target locations and then get killed by the heroes.
The stupidity: The heroes' win condition is to go to five fixed locations that may not even be on the map.

The idea: The hero's voices have all been stolen by an "evil fairy".
The framework: Find the thing.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, again.
The gimmick: The players can't speak during the haunt.
The stupidity: There are basic rules missing from the books, and the ones that are there, the traitor is told to be ambiguous about.

Chairman of the Board
The idea: There's a ton of poltergeists in the house who can only attack the victim by throwing stuff at them.
The guest author: Rodney Thompson, a designer from Bungie who worked on Lords of Waterdeep.
The gimmick: There's one hero and multiple traitors. Also, every time a traitor attacks the hero, they do it by playing Wheel of Fortune using the name of one of the objects in the room's artwork.

Sushi Night
The idea: One of the explorers becomes a merman/mermaid and the others want to catch and eat them.
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes are evil and the traitor is good. Also, the house is flooding.
The stupidity: The merperson can win by staying away from the flooded areas for three turns (they turn back into a human, and then the others no longer want to eat them) which can be trivial based on the map configuration.

Cardinal Sins
The idea: The traitor wants to be elected Pope, by demonstrating to ghostly Electors that they can punish people for their sins. Which makes no sense whatsoever.
The gimmick: Traitors and heroes alike have to move to each Elector in turn and either make a pre-determined type of attack (for the traitor) or a sanity roll (for the heroes).
The stupidity: Interaction with the electors in their rooms is the only thing that make any difference to the scenario. Also, it makes clear that after the election the Pope must go to the roof to set up white smoke, an interesting nod to tradition that becomes ridiculous when you consider that it implies that a new Pope has been elected whenever white smoke comes out of any building, not just the Sistine Chapel.

The idea: The ghost of a scary little boy wants to play a game involving throwing stones at people.
The guest author: Keith Richmond, the designer of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, which coincidentally is one of the few board games I have ever just thrown in the bin.
The gimmick: Dead characters respawn, and traitor status moves around between players as they are "tagged" in the game.
The stupidity: If the total number of points scored (by killing other characters) exceeds double the number of players, every explorer who made a kill wins. This is very easy to arrange.

He Who Must Not Be Read
The idea: A ripoff of assorted bits of Harry Potter.
The guest author: Bart Carroll, a website producer for WotC.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: To kill the traitor, the heroes have to defeat a series of procedurally run creatures ("soulcruxes", ha ha). Also, written apparently as an afterthought, traitor status is infectious in the form of becoming a Wraith.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status yadda yadda.

No Noose Is Good News
The idea: The traitor is a ghostly wild west hangman.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes literally play Hangman - the word game - with the traitor, giving up all movement on their turn to guess a letter. To be fair, they have attempted to make the main part of the game vaguely relevant by letting the traitor "put the noose on" a hero, which prevents them guessing latters until it's removed with a Might roll.
The stupidity: The traitor gets no bonuses to attack or defend, so there is nothing stopping the players just beating the traitor to death before guessing any letters.
The errata: They wrote mismatching damage values between the hero and traitor books.

To Reach the Cosmos
The idea: That bit from Red Dwarf where the alien tries to drink people's brains through a straw, but without the cool shapeshifting stuff.
The guest author: Ben Petrisor, co-designer of the Temple of Elemental Evil board game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes and traitor all write down random "thoughts" on bits of paper that are effectively used as their health points.
The stupidity: If the traitor wins, the text describes that they ascended to a utopic alien world with all the other heroes experiencing it through them too.

The Other Side
The idea: The house is.. uh, haunted. I think that was the basic premise to start with, wasn't it?
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The gimmick: The heroes are the ghosts and the traitor is the ghostbuster.
The stupidity: The multiple ghosts are powered up and require special tasks to kill, so the ghostbuster has almost no chance.

Man's Worst Enemy
The idea: A hellhound in the house is trying to possess people.
The guest author: Keith Baker, the creator of Eberron.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: To hurt the hellhound you have to play fetch with it. If it fetches a weapon, you can stab it with the weapon afterwards.
The stupidity: The rules contain text for needing to attack the Dog after you kill the Beast, even though the Haunt ends when the Beast is killed.

Existence Precedes Essence
The idea: The traitor has befriended a disembodied head that wants to eat.
The guest author: Pendleton Ward, the guy who drew Adventure Time.
The framework: Traitor and minion.
The gimmick: To win the heroes have to hug the traitor and the head for a given number of turns.
The stupidity: The traitor can resurrect dead heroes as monsters.. but there's a deterministic way for the heroes to have the reincarnated monsters join their sides which doesn't require any roles. This also has the infectious traitor problem, but since it requires killing the heroes, it's much less emphasized.

The idea: It..
The guest author: Justin Gary, the designer of Ascension.
The framework: Traitor and minion ("Noodles the dog")
The gimmick: The traitor has 5 "gags" and each hero is especially vulnerable to one of them.
The stupidity: All there is for the heroes to do is beat down the door.

Let it glow
The idea: Frozen.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: The traitor can spawn minions. Also, the minions cause damage by just being in particular rooms..
The stupidity: ..rooms with thermostats, because apparently only standing right next to a thermostat is effective at lowering the temperature.

Back to the past
The idea: The heroes have been sent back to the past to prevent their own murders in the house.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, again.
The gimmick: The players play Guess Who with the traitor, but using rooms in the house.
The stupidity: The only actual reference to time travel in the scenario is that the Turn track counts down instead of up.

They're Always After Me
The idea: "They're after me Lucky Charms!" No, it's literally that. The traitor gets turned into a leprechaun by a cereal box.
The guest author: Well, it's not actually a guest author. But it credits this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT08me7ZctQ
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: When the heroes stun the Leprechaun they get to pick a Wish.
The stupidity: To complete the adventure the heroes have to walk along a Rainbow, seven squares in which the leprechaun can insta-kill them in one attack.

The Devil's Name
The idea: The players need to learn the true name of a spirit to banish it.
The guest author: F. Wesley Schneider, co-creator of Pathfinder.
The framework: Find the things.
The gimmick: Infectious traitor status and the heroes are trying to solve a word square using clues found in books.
The stupidity: There's pretty much nothing else for the traitor to do other than try to give obscure clues. Also, unrestricted infectious traitor yadda yadda..
The errata: The hero text falsely says the traitor can destroy the books, but actually he can't.

The Twins
The idea: Scary twins.
The guest author: Tycho from Penny Arcade.
The gimmick: There are two traitors.
The stupidity: It's otherwise just Worm Ouroboros with nastier body segments.

I, Mutant
The idea: The players are all experimental mutants who are trying to escape.
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: Heroes can mutate and rebalance their traits for an extra power once per game; heroes respawn and have to be captured to win.
The stupidity: Capturing depends on defeating the heroes or them entering particular rooms, and one of the powers allows the map to be edited. Staying in a single room and rotating it can easily stalemate the traitor.

The Canopic Curse
The idea: One of the jars in the house holds a Pharoah's spirit who will grant great power if he's released.
The guest author: Paul Peterson, author of Smash Up.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: Every hero gets a secret Curse which they can't tell anyone about. One of the curses makes them into a secret traitor.
The stupidity: The traitor starts with one Jar, and although the selection of which is the correct Jar is supposed to be random, it's very easy to arrange, especially if someone becomes a secret traitor and can tell the actual traitor what they read in the other book.

Get A Clue
The idea: Cluedo.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Find the thing (or rather "take the thing to the place").
The gimmick: It's Cluedo. Well, ok, kind of in reverse, since instead of asking a question you "establish your alibi" by taking the right item to a room.
The stupidity: It's fucking Cluedo.

In The Details
The idea: Everyone in the house signed a deal with the devil, and wants to get out of it.
The guest author: Rob Daviau, the Legacy games guy.
The framework: Co-operative, hidden information.
The gimmick: Hidden tokens are constantly passed around. Whoever has the lowest token gets a chance to get out of the contract. Without seeing the other tokens in play, they do not know if it is the lowest or not.
The stupidity: The rules aren't clear on whether or not you can look at your own token. If you can't, the whole thing is pointless. Also, to win, a Hero must die, so if everyone just runs away the whole scenario stalemates.

Forget To Remember
The idea: A psychic serial killer haunts the house and can possess anyone who remembers him.
The guest author: Will Hindmarch, designer of Storium. No, I've never heard of it either. It's an online resource-based storytelling game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor might actually be on the heroes' side, based on a random roll at the start of the Haunt. To win, heroes have to forget about the killer by lowering their own Knowledge rolls.
The stupidity: The rules are incredibly vaguely written. The heroes appear to be able to win by just killing the traitor, and while there is a Sanity penalty for killing the traitor if they were loyal, they still can probably win that way.

The Murderer In The Machine
The idea: A spirit is haunting a social network and driving people mad by sharing pictures of their butchered friends.
The guest author: JefF Tidball, director of Atlas Games.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: The players are searching for rooms with Bars of reception (randomly generated) to call for help; but rooms with more Bars also make it easier for the traitor to attack them through the network.
The stupidity: Actually that's pretty coo.. oh, wait. Unrestricted infectious traitor status. Head-desk.

The Woods In The Cabin
The idea: The house is actually a giant tree which could grow out of control.
The framework: Do the ritual.
The gimmick: The gimmick involves destroying rooms on the ground floor, and the traitor can't attack unless attacked.
The stupidity: The traitor's win condition is based on adding rooms to the house. The heroes don't get to know this, so they can accidentally give the game to the traitor by exploring rooms. The traitor can only discover rooms in the basement, so if the heroes don't attack and just allow those to run out, they can stalemate.

Sibling Rivalry
The idea: More scary children.
The guest author: Marie Poole and Elisa Teague, both from Lone Shark. This is their second Scary Kids haunt.
The framework: Do the ritual.
The gimmick: The traitor plays both children and flips who they play each turn.
The stupidity: Instantly deadlocks if there is no Basement when the Haunt begins. Completing the ritual involves setting up complex conga lines of heroes to drag the traitors to certain target rooms, which is likely to be almost impossible.

Cry, Babylon!
The idea: The traitor is possessed by the god Marduk.
The guest author: Peter Adkison, the founder of WotC.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes can sacrifice cards to sic a Lammasu on the traitor, which drains their stats.

One Of The Master's Affairs
The idea: Rocky Horror.
The framework: Multiple monsters, do the ritual.
The gimmick: The monsters are each keyed to one of the traitor's traits, so attacking them weakens that monster. Also, each hero can "save and restore" their position once. This is called Time Warping.
The stupidity: One of the tasks in the ritual is to fail rolls in all four stats in one location.

Internal Conflict
The idea: Inexplicably, the House on the Hill is now filled with Employees who you have to take coffee to. Also, one of you is up for promotion.
The guest author: "The Lone Shark interns". Oh dear.
The framework: Power Traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to move the heroes around at the end of each of their turns.

Burn Out the Darkness
The idea: The traitor turns into a patch of darkness; the heroes try to burn down the house to keep it out.
The guest author: Michael Dunlap, the senior sales manager at Wizards; and Chad Brown, the main designer of the Pathfinder card game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The house is gradually destroyed by the fires the heroes set. Also, multiple traitors with a team picking mechanic and infectious traitor status..
The stupidity: Seriously, fuck this unconstrained infectious traitor status business. You'd have think they'd learned better by now.

Ghost at the Finish Line
The idea: A ghostly runner challenges the heroes to a race.
The guest author: Quelle Chris, a hip-hop artist who wrote a song called, um, Ghost at the Finish Line.
The framework: Co-op find the thing.
The gimmick: The ghost has a set of 6 item criteria. At the start of each round, each hero must give him an item and gain a bonus based on how many criteria it matches. If it matches none, you get attacked. You win by discovering all the rooms in the house.
The stupidity: Item draws on discovery are random.

Owl's Moving Castle
The idea: Bizarrely everyone can shapeshift into Owls, and the traitor wants them to stay that way for good. They are trying to encourage them to by moving the house off a cliff.
The guest author: Gaby Weidling. Lone Shark Games again.
The framework: Power traitor, collapsing house.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to flip and move tiles every turn. The heroes can turn into owls and have to do so to "fly" over the flipped tiles.
The stupidity: The traitor is supposed to move the tiles towards the physical edge of the table, with an event happening when they fall off. So the size of the table is a critical part of the game rules. Huh. Also, the heroes can only turn back from being owls 3 times; getting people stuck as owls is how the traitor wins. Tne traitor can force heroes to turn into owls, but not turn back; the only reason to be a human is to attack the traitor. So if the heroes just turn into owls and wait, the haunt stalemates (or just becomes a silly physical brawl between owls).

Last Will And Tournament
The idea: A greedy ghost wants to hang onto its life's belongings forever.
The guest author: Chad Brown, again.
The framework: Transferable power traitor and a big dumb brawl.
The gimmick: The traitor always transfers to the person with most items. The heroes have to leave the traitor with no items in the middle of a round, plus have a hero in an appropriate room with an item.
The stupidity: I have.. no idea how this is supposed to play out other than everyone getting in a big dumb bundle and stealing items from each other over and over. It's also possible for items to get discarded, which ought to help, but can actually stalemate the game if every item is discarded because a hero needs an item to win. It also has nothing to do with a tournament.

Nanny Interrupted
The idea: The traitor is the Nanny out of Muppet Babies. Yes, read that again.
The guest authors: Mikey Neumann and Don Eubanks, both from the Borderlands team at Gearbox Software.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: Heroes turn into Babies when "killed"; the traitor wants to collect them all in the Nursery.
The stupidity: The heroes only have to meet up outside the house to win, and they can jump out the windows, so this could end abruptly. Also, there's no specific rules about attacking, so presumably the "children" can just beat Nanny to death. Yay?
The errata: Clarified that the Nanny carrying a baby into the area outside the house doesn't count for the win condition. That's some good rules lawyering.

House of Leavings
The idea: The traitor is trying to kill the heroes with a minotaur that may not be real.
The framework: Everyone wants to get to the Abandoned Room.
The gimmick: The entire house layout is cleared and reset when the Haunt starts. Also, if the Minotaur is ever out of line of sight of a hero, they start taking damage at the start of their turns.
The stupidity: It's just exploring the house again, and we know that's not a whole lot of fun. People can attack the minotaur but only one hero can attack the traitor, and they haven't got much to do anyway.

Lambs to the Slaughter
The idea: The house is surrounded by zom.. um, wolves and the heroes are keeping it barricaded, but one of the heroes is secretly a wolfman.
The guest author: Jonathan Gilmour, designer of Dead of Winter, who does not seem to have managed to see beyond his own nose.
The framework: Hidden traitor. Kill the traitor; you can test if someone is the traitor if you're in a room with them at the end of your turn.
The gimmick: Every round, wolves attack one of the barricades, wearing down the stack of tiles there. Everyone can build new barricade tiles, but the traitor can place sabotaged barricades which instantly give way and discard the tile below them.
The stupidity: .. Well, actually not a whole lot, other than the massive dependence on hidden information. Time could run out very quickly.

Plastic Fantastic
The idea: Scary mannequins.
The guest author: Anita Sarkeesian. Yes, that Anita Sarkeesian. Like with Zoe Quinn, if you don't know who she is, I'm not going to tell you.
The framework: Procedural monsters with no traitor; the "traitor" runs them as GM and can also shut some of them down each turn to help the heroes, since their win condition is the same.
The gimmick: The mannequins start stunned, and based on their token colour, become "unstunned" whenever a hero does not do a particular thing in their turn. "Stunned" mannequins actually still move, and try to leave the house. "Unstunned" ones attack the players.
The stupidity: The entire Haunt is full of text like: "Given purpose for the first time in their.. well, not lives really, but 'existance' - they start to react to what is around them. They move out from the closet and seek out life." and, on the victory text, "These mannequins have shuffled off into the real world, where undoubtedly they will learn and grow. Perhaps they will become normal members of society."

The Manor of your Demise
The idea: You know that Magic card, Shahrazad?
The guest author: Max Temkin and Eli Halpern, both authors of Cards Against Humanity.
The gimmick: You start a whole new game of Betrayal, but your only goal is to find the Box within 30 minutes real time. If you start the Haunt in the subgame, instead this one resets and you start another game with the timer set to half.
The stupidity: People generally agree that the Snooping part of the game is pretty boring. This haunt is basically just that.

Let's Play A Game
The idea: Saw. I mean, ok, we already did Guillotines, but let's do it again with nowhere near as clever a design.
The guest author: John Borba, host of Cardboard Conquest.
The gimmick: Players collect "challenge tokens" by moving into rooms and doing random Saw-style tasks from a list. Also, players can vote at the start of the game if they will go it alone, or work as a team. Loners can skip challenges by killing other explorers; teammates can't.
The stupidity: Random, random, random.

And finally..
Season Of The Witch
This one gets its own section, because it's supposed to be a climactic one. To try and enforce this, this Haunt has to be unlocked. Specifically, you're supposed to put a mark against your specific hero whenever you complete The Woods in the Cabin, The Gathering Storm, Owl's Moving Castle or Let It Glow - which represent the four seasons. If all the hero characters in the game have participated in playing all four of those haunts, you can play Season of the Witch. Otherwise, you're supposed to just discard the omen card and pick again. What you did in those Haunts doesn't matter at all; you can even have lost them, just played them.

The only reason for this is that it tries to have a meta-story. Magdalena Gunchester was imprisoned in the house's cupola for life after rebelling against her evil husband, so she went mad and became a witch who has been enchanting all of the Gunchester family's properties into haunted houses - the ones you're previously explored. Now, you've been lured to the final one where the witch intends to trap you for a full year.

When the haunt starts, tiles are drawn until the house is fully explored; the Haunt plays for a fixed twelve rounds, each representing one month of the year. In addition, each explorer gets a power-up in the month of their birthday, as on their character sheet.

Here's what happens each month:

Jan: The heroes get a warning that a storm is brewing and can board up the house with Obstacle tokens.
Feb: The storm strikes, and being too close to any unboarded window deals physical damage.
Mar: The three heroes who are closest to the landings get attacked by lions.
Apr: Poisonous snakes spawn in the Underground Lake and attack explorers within a few rooms' range.
May: The snakes move and attack again, then leave.
Jun: Heroes have to defend the Food tokens - which were placed at the start of the Haunt - from rats.
Jul: Heroes can plant new Food tokens. Also, they take damage from the heat for moving too far.
Aug: Several rooms fill with smoke, causing physical damage; the heroes must try to fix the furnace.
Sep: Month 6 again but with locusts instead of rats.
Oct: Random rooms in the basement get destroyed by an earthquake.
Nov: Heroes take Mental damage if there's less food tokens left than there are heroes or if the furnace wasn't fixed.
Dec: The house fills with Vampire Bats who will fly out of open windows, but not if they were barricaded back in January.

And then finally, you get to fight the witch! She has 8 in all stats. You can attack her with any trait, but once she's defeated using a given trait, you can't use that trait again until you have no choice but to do so. You need trait rolls equal to the #heroes to kill her. As is universally the problem with boss battles, the odds aren't good, and if she beats you all of the effort you put into overcoming the previous challenges is for shit.

So. What have we learned from this? It's better to have a single solid mechanic than a ton of variable ones. That a critical input to your mechanic, the map, shouldn't be random. That you should learn your lessons from the changes you made in your previous edition. And that you sure as anything shouldn't wander into creepy houses on hills.