Monstrous Lair: Ghost-Haunted House (system neutral)
This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.
So, the time-honored haunted house…what hints at its presence? The “Outside the Lair”-table sports the classic thick bushes and sickly trees, a zone bereft of vegetation surrounding it, chill hanging in the air, oddly muted sounds, shadows hovering and the like – I was positively surprised by this table. While it deals with classic entries, it does cover a breadth of interesting components. As for what’s currently happening, we have the classic cawing crow flying away, clouds obscuring the sun, shutters banging in the wind, hints of movement within – in contrast to many of the installments in the series, this table provides further dressing for the house, and not for the ghost itself….which is valid here, as one could construe the creature featured within to be the house itself.
Major lair features include rotten floorboards (shouldn’t that be “rotted”?), weakened supports, minor poltergeist activity, doors swollen shut and the like; while the phenomena per se are not mind.-boggling, they all have meaningful potential impact on the game, which is what I expect from this table. The minor features table sports creaking floorboards, doors nailed shut, and periodic sensations of something breathing down your neck. The ghost appearance table contains swirling dust interrupting leaves, scraps of paper, etc. There is a ghost of a child, dragging its severed head along, ghostly women wearing smoldering clothes…or what about a ghost with hands bound behind. Solid array. The treasure table includes gold lockets nailed to doors, strange leather books, beautiful silken gloves, remains of a sewing kit, including a silver thimble…interesting. The miscellanea-table that sports trash includes bent spoons, drief blood next to a hammer and stake (wouldn’t that be more suitable for vampires?) and remains of silver shavings from hurled holy water.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.
This is one of the best dressing files I’ve read by Robert Manson – the author focuses more on the specific in this installment, and while the dressing file is not necessarily a must-own offering, it does provide a solid amount of atmosphere that you can use to supplement e.g. the haunted houses you can generate with Zzarchov Kowolski’s superb “The Price of Evil.” While the ghost-angle was slightly more subdued than I’d have liked, I do consider this to be a nice little dressing file, if one focusing more on the HOUSE of ghost-haunted house. All in all, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.
You can get this neat little dressing file here on OBS!
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