Like #Dungeon23, but neither mega nor dungeon.
Dungeon23 is an appealing project, but I am not at all into megadungeons. Instead, I am doing twelve haunted spaces. Two weeks down. Time for a progress report.
The first location is a haunted house. The choice is about as classic as it gets, but it is also the one that I am least interested in. I don’t know why that is or why I decided to go with it first, but it is what it is. Here’s me rambling about it:
I Can’t Map For Shit
I know everyone is mapping out their dungeons and doing a really great job at it, but I tried in my December test run and discovered that this skill is beyond me. As such, I’ve gone a more open-ended route. I describe the house, I describe the rooms, and it can go in any order needed. Floorplan and house are very loosely based on a vintage design:
A Haunted House is Not a Puzzle
I spent a good little while concerned that there was no reason for the characters to be in this house or to continue exploring, but why? Have we learned nothing from paranormal investigation shows, urban explorers, or our collective youths? If you dangle an abandoned and/or spooky place in front of folks, they will absolutely take that bait. A haunted house is neither a puzzle nor a mystery. It doesn’t need to be figured out or solved; it just needs to exist and be experienced.
If the place is haunted, there is nothing you can do about it. You are welcome to try though.
Designed To Break
There is a speakeasy in a walled off section of the house’s basement. There is a secret entrance down to it, if you happen to know where to look, but there is a quicker way down. This is a long-abandoned, decrepit house and shit breaks. The water damage in the music room is obvious and avoidable, but it is entirely possible to ignore the obvious danger and test your luck. You might be fine, but ill fortune means you are taking the express route into the speakeasy. When your environment is prone to breaking under the stress of time and weather, lean into it.
I decided that there wouldn’t be anything in this place that could be fought or defeated. Ghosts may have stats in many systems, but are there even ghosts? I am eighteen areas into this house as I type this and I have yet to write about any.
Instead, the characters suffer hallucinations or visions—however you want to describe it. They see things and these things certainly feel real until reality intrudes again. These sights and sounds might be your usual horror things or venture into weirder territory in those lazier rooms where I utilize the Liminal Horror spark tables to save myself some work. I also like the idea of hauntings being memories imprinted on the spaces they were created and have those sprinkled in alongside the others.
Is this house haunted or is this stress, fear, and imagination playing games with the characters? Does it really matter? After all, the only thing they can do about the haunting, if there is one, is leave.
How’s it Going?
I’m eighteen days in. I have missed one day due to mind mush, but made it up. I’d say that I am doing quite well. I did have to switch from that nifty journal everyone is using. There was not enough room for my verbosity and the paper was way too thin for my pens. Thankfully, I have a stack of journals that I don’t use because I am afraid to ruin them, so I was able to switch without much fuss.
Not that I’m hoping for time to fly or anything, but I’m ready to be done with this haunted house and can’t wait to move on to the next thing. Just thirteen days left.