In ages past, an ancient town was lost and destroyed to a siege of orcs. Only one building survived and to this day, the manor is the only still standing building to be seen for miles around. Some say it is haunted, a few whisper of great treasures within, whilst others whisper that it is the manor itself that lives!
The Haunt, by P.B. Publishing, is a 20-page, one shot, 6-8 hour, horror-themed 5e adventure, designed for characters of 4th or 5th level. In fact, P.B. Publishing explains that this “will be a challenging adventure for 4th level player groups of 3 to 5 players with some deadly encounters. However, ideally, The Haunt is tailored as a medium difficulty adventure with plenty of excitement, horror, suspense and danger for a 5th level party of 4 to 5 players.”
The Haunt is available in multiple formats, including a softcover print version ($9.99), .PDF ($4.95), and MOD/Virtual Tabletop ($7.50). Although, the creators intended for this to be a “one shot,” and it certainly succeeds in that regard, this adventure module can also easily be dragged and dropped into any existing campaign world. In fact, this is my personal plan. My adventure group is staged to begin a new campaign from scratch in the coming weeks. We will be using the Farland Campaign Setting. The Haunt seems to fit neatly into this universe and (once they reach 4th level or so) my players will undoubtedly journey into this adventure module.
The Positives. The Haunt is a well-written adventure, complete with color maps, in-text stat blocks, and colorful description language to read to your players. The story is interesting enough to entice your players to enter into the manor and the adventure runs as if they were playing a dungeon crawl. The book contains background information to help build the story’s lore and setting and a brief introductory section on how to run this adventure. Additionally, the book offers gamemasters five different adventure hook ideas in order to plug your players into the adventure.
This short adventure plays through logically and is organized well. It contains several unique creatures (complete with stats) and a final magical item drop – The Leacher’s Emerald. This green emerald is an ancient relic imbued with necrotic energies by an evil necromancer long ago. . . The emerald radiates evil, and should its ‘master’ ever use it for its intended purpose, their alignment permanently shifts a step closer to evil.
Criticisms. Aside from a few minor typographical errors, the book is generally well written and well edited. This adventure is short, and designed to be so. Several sections of the 20 pages are occupied by large art images, which adds some visual flair, but also takes away opportunities for page content. Additionally, although there are several unique creatures, there is a void when it comes to NPC encounters. However, again, this adventure is designed to be short and to-the-point. Gamemasters can always utilize other sourcebooks (like Nord Games’ Ulitmate NPCs: Skulduggery) in order to include an NPC guide, etc.
The three 5e core books (The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manual) are required for this adventure and are repeatedly referred to and referenced throughout. That means that this adventure requires frequent reference to the core books during gameplay, or some extra preparation by the gamemaster. While most game sessions require reference to these guides anyway, this is really a minor obstacle.
Print or .PDF? If you have read any of my supplement reviews, I am generally a fan of print. Something about having limited electronics on the game table appeals to me. In this instance, however, the .PDF would be just fine. This adventure is short enough that it could be printed at home or if displayed on a tablet, phone, or laptop, the tabletop interference would be minimal. Also, with the .PDF version costing $4.95, this seems like the logical choice. Money is tight and affordability is always a factor.
All-in-all, this is a low-cost, well-written adventure. It is easily adaptable into any 5e fantasy campaign setting and alternatively, it can be ran as a one-shot adventure for any gaming group not looking for a long-term commitment. Because The Haunt is quite short, it is easily converted to other formats, like Pathfinder. As stated, I will be incorporating this dungeon crawl into my upcoming campaign. If you are looking for a quick, entertaining adventure for your players, give this affordable thriller a chance.