Paul & Dan look back at their favorite “Haunted House” adventures for D&D games. From Tegel Manor to Saltmarsh to Castle Amber and Ravenloft, we’ll assess what works best and what doesn’t for a truly terrifying D&D game!
Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. The earliest surviving report of a haunted house comes from a letter written by Pliny the Younger (61 – c. 112 CE) to his patron Lucias Sura, in which he describes a haunted villa in Athens. Nobody would live in the house until the philosopher Athenodorus (c. 74 BCE – 7 CE) arrived in the city. He was tempted by the low rent and undeterred by the house’s reputation so he moved in. The ghost, an old man bound with chains, appeared to Athenodorus during the first night and beckoned to him. The apparition vanished once it reached the courtyard, and Athenodorus carefully marked the spot. The following morning he requested the magistrate to have the spot dug up, where the skeleton of an old man bound with chains was discovered. The ghost never appeared again after the skeleton was given a proper burial.
According to Owen Davies, a paranormal historian, hauntings in the British Isles were usually attributed to fairies, but today hauntings are usually associated with ghostly or supernatural encounters. In other cultures around the world, various spirits are said to haunt vacant homes and locations. In Middle Eastern countries, for example, jinn are said to haunt such areas. Historically, since most people died in their homes, whether they were mansions or hovels, these homes became natural places for ghosts to haunt, with bedrooms being the most common rooms to be haunted. Many houses gained a reputation for being haunted after they were empty or derelict. Davies explains that “if people were to fail to occupy a human space, then external forces would move in.”
Wandering DMs Paul Siegel and Dan “Delta” Collins host thoughtful discussions on D&D and other TTRPGs every week. Comparing the pros and cons of every edition from the 1974 Original D&D little brown books to cutting-edge releases for 5E D&D today, we broadcast live on YouTube and Twitch so we can take viewer questions and comments on the topic of the day. Live every Sunday at 1 PM Eastern time.