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Harrowing Haunts: Dunes of Despair

Harrowing Haunts: Dunes of Despair

dunes of despairNo desert dweller travels near the dunes of despair. Death itself stalks those dunes and you would be wise to follow in the caravan’s tracks.

The dunes of despair is a desert region riddled with quicksand. Over time, the quicksand has claimed the lives of many travelers, animals, and monsters. Their desperation fuels the haunt at the center of the quicksand.

The quicksand of the dunes is far better hidden than normal quicksand: it requires a DC 18 Survival check to notice the danger. (See Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook for details on quicksand.)

The patches of quicksand are also larger than normal, with a diameter up to 40 ft.

Dunes of Despair        CR 8

XP 4,800
CE haunt (40-ft.-diameter area)
Caster Level
Perception DC 24 (to hear the sound of paws clawing at sand)
16; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
When this haunt is triggered, ethereal creatures spring from the sand. The phantoms claw at the sandy slopes of the dunes, desperate to reach the top. All creatures in the area of effect are targeted by a waves of exhaustion spell.
Consecrating the affected area puts the desperate spirits at rest.

In Your Game

  • The PCs pursue the kidnappers of the sultan’s daughter. Will they risk the dunes of despair to cut off the kidnappers’ escape route?
  • Guided by visions, Suwanna, the blind oracle of the Burning Sands tribe, has wandered into the desert. Can the PCs save her from the dunes of despair?

Haunt Rules

Although haunts function like traps, they are difficult to detect because they cannot be seen until the round they appear. Detect undead or detect alignment spells allow an observer to notice a haunt even before it manifest itself (allowing that character the appropriate check to notice the haunt but at a −4 penalty).

When a haunt is triggered, its effects manifest themselves at initiative rank 10 in a surprise round. Characters in the haunt’s proximity may notice the haunt at the start of this surprise round by making a notice check. All haunts detect life sources and trigger when living creatures approach, but some haunts can be tricked by hide from undead or invisibility effects.

During the surprise round when a haunt appears, positive energy applied to the haunt (via channelled energy, cure spells, and the like) can damage the haunt’s hit points (a haunt never gains a Will save to lessen the damage done by such effects, and attacks that require

a successful attack roll to work must strike AC 10 in order to affect the haunt and not merely the physical structure it inhabits). Unless the haunt has an unusual weakness, no other form of attack can reduce its hit points. If the haunt is reduced to 0 hp by positive energy, it is neutralized—if this occurs before the haunt takes its action at initiative rank 10, its effect does not occur. A neutralized haunt is not destroyed, and can manifest again after a period of time—to destroy a haunt, a specific action must be taken in the region to end the effect forever (such as burning a haunted house to the ground or burying the bones of the slaves who died on the site to create the haunt). Some haunts are persistent, and their immediate effects continue beyond the surprise round into actual full rounds. Persistent haunts continue to trigger their haunt effects once per round on their initiative rank until destroyed or they no longer have a target.

All primary effects created by a haunt are mind-affecting fear effects, even those that actually produce physical effects. Immunity to fear grants immunity to a haunt’s direct effects, but not to secondary effects that arise as a result of the haunt’s attack.

(See Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide for details on haunts.)

(This post is Product Identity.)

2 thoughts on “Harrowing Haunts: Dunes of Despair”

  1. Delicious Haunt Maurice! I’ve been designing haunts recently for my own weekly game. This idea is not just a hazard, not just a trap and not just your usual trek to the bad guys place. Well designed! Oh, and the haunt got a ‘3’ on the Pett scale!

  2. Thanks James.

    And yes, I do like how haunts, compared to traps, provide a stronger story component to a trap encounter.

    Now that you mention the great Pett, haunts are his invention I believe and since they first appeared in Pathfinder #2 I’ve liked them a lot as a concept

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