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The Haunting for Modern Setting

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#1 Chaon306

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 09:06 PM

Hi there everyone, I found out about this site thanks to Seth Skorkowsky, and he said somewhere on this site someone converted the classic The Haunting into modern Cthulhu setting to update and change things. I am relatively new to DMing and starting with the adventures in The Things We Leave Behind scenario book, and I'd love to have access to such a resource since I'm unsure how to do it myself.




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#2 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:06 AM

I think people regularly update the Haunting (and other 20s games) to the present day. I don't think you'll find anything written up, because it's not really necessary. Nothing about the basic premise is linked to the 1920s - either move up the dates for all the incidents that happened around the Chapel of Contemplation, or add a few more incidents over the course of the 20th century, possibly including the house going unoccupied for a while (moving the Macarios purchasing the house up to the present). Make the icebox a fridge, and make it a bit more difficult for the investigators to get into the asylum to see the Macarios.


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#3 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 11:51 AM

Hi Chaon306,

 

You can finds suggestions for converting The Haunting to the Modern era on the Yog-Sothoth wiki : here.

 

As stated above by ElijahWhateley, it's not really complicated to convert the scenario.

 

My 2 cents on the matter :

  • The wiki suggests that instead of the normal hook (Which I find uninteresting) you could make the investigators part of a "Ghost Hunter" TV Crew. They're here to search the house. Me, I took a more personal approach : the investigators are relatives (or friends) of a couple who is missing. The two missing persons have a passion for the supernatural and they have a Youtube Channel about Urban Exploration. The investigators are here to find their friends/relatives and they discover at the very beginning that the couple was going to that house which is rumored to be haunted.
  • Depending on how modern your game will be, you will have to think about Internet and cellphones. In a game set in the 80's, those things are not common enough and the story will still feel "modern". However if you want to set the game in the 90's or nowadays, be prepared for it. Your investigators will ask if they can search the Internet for informations. This could replace any scene in the local newspapers or library but Internet should not be the absolute source of informations. Very old records could be unavailable online (And thus, the investigators will have to search the archives of the local newspaper) and you could also suggest your player that there are a lot of rumours, hoax and things like this on the Internet. Gameplay-wise, the choice of the skill used for that is yours. Personnally I would ask a Library roll for an Internet search if the game takes place nowadays (Because almost anyone is able to use google nowadays) but if the game is set in an earlier period (80's/90's) I would ask a combined Computer Use and Library roll because back then using a computer (and the Internet) was something more obscure. About the cellphones... The easy way out is to say that there are no signal in the area but it's a pretty lame excuse. In another topic, someone suggested that the phone will work but not as intended. Corbitt might "hijack" the signal. When a character is making a call (Calling 911 for instance) he will hear nothing but someone breathing at the other end of the line. Or you could simply let your players make the call and see how they manage to convince the cops to come and investigate "paranormal activies".
  • I don't know if it would be harder to visit the Macarios now. In France, we have a Mental Institute (here) where the patients can go anywhere they want with minor supervision (and even no supervision at all. Of course, I'm talking about harmless patients here). In my version of the Haunting (Which takes place in France in 2017) that's exactly where one of the previous owner of the house is and the investigators just needed to make some successful social rolls to be able to interrogate the patient and her doctor.


#4 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 03:32 PM

I'm not sure how much use a cell phone will be for investigators. At no point are they really trapped in the house or cut off from the outside world - 1920s characters can just walk out and drive to the police station any time they feel like it. Until their final confrontation with Corbitt, they don't encounter anything that they can really call the cops on or that a smartphone video of could be used as believable evidence of the supernatural. Nobody will buy "the bed came alive and attacked me", and even if someone does, are they going to have the police arrest the bed? Once the investigators are in the final confrontation with Corbitt, there's no help that they can call on a phone that will arrive in the less than a minute that it will take before the combat is over one way or the other. Even then, if they record the fight with their smartphones, a poorly-lit confrontation with a humanoid monster that could probably be faked with the right special effects isn't going to convince many people.

 

If you wanted to add a bit of modern bleakness to the scenario, you could update the Macarios. As Italians in the 1920s, they're a minority still subject to intense racism, which the scenario doesn't really ever go into. In a 2017 game, you might make them a family of Syrian refugees (or a dozen other varieties of refugees or other minority immigrants, there's no shortage of options). In the original 1920s scenario, it's actually a bit remarkable that they seem to be able to afford treatment at one of the better asylums in town. Even today, a family like them might find themselves with at least one parent imprisoned, living with the same relatives who took in the children, or living on the streets rather than receiving somewhat competent mental care.

 

My French wasn't good enough to get much out of that wiki page, but DeUniversumMysteriis has a good point about it probably not being harder to visit the patients. Any actual medical records are going to be harder to look at thanks to HIPAA (which most medical providers take extremely seriously, I've seen two otherwise solid employees at a place where I worked fired in less than five minutes when they were caught in a HIPAA violation), but seeing them won't be much of an issue. A lot of modern institutions handle their lack of capacity by making as many people as possible outpatients - patients who live in rented housing near the institution and commute to them for treatment every day.

 

Edit: A small typo made it look like I was being a bit insulting towards DeUniversumMysteriis.


Edited by ElijahWhateley, 10 December 2017 - 11:27 PM.

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#5 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 04:05 PM

Well, when I ran The Haunting, I located the house outside of town. I wanted the players to feel isolated. Sure, the cops won't arrest the bed and it would be useless for the investigators to call for help when they found Corbitt. However, I tend to think that letting to the investigators the possibility of calling for help can ruin the atmosphere. Because, before the bed attacks (If it attacks. I didn't use it during my last run of the scenario), there would be other things that will startle the investigators and that are not obviously supernatural : strange noise, blood and whatever. What if the investigators chicken out, get out of the house and call the cops? They could invent any excuse like "We've heard gunshots from inside" or "There are noise indicating the presence of a burglar". Then the Keeper will have to make a decision : if the cops search the house, do they see something strange? If not, why? Improvisation is a big part of the Keeper's job and to each his own, of course, but I'd prefer my players to search the Corbitt house on their own. Plus, having their cellphone acting funny is a good way to scare them a little more.

 

Also, I think there is a certain charm in the good old research made at the local library (Using books, old records or even computer). An investigators might be tempted to search informations on the Internet using his phone at any given time (Maybe even in the house). I don't know, I think it's would be not fun to just let them use the phones for that.


Edited by DeUniversumMysteriis, 10 December 2017 - 04:20 PM.


#6 Gaffer

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 09:49 PM

Certainly in the USA no doctor will discuss anything about a patient's case due to the restrictions of the 1990s federal HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act) law. At least not without written consent from the patient or her/his guardian (if not considered competent to manage his/her own affairs or a minor). Not even with an unauthorizes next of kin.


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#7 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 09:56 PM

I'll add these thoughts:

  • That Wiki article, which includes some links to some great resources as well as these sorts of suggestions, can be found here: (link)
  • The scenario itself is pretty loose and easy to modify to other settings and eras with only minor changes - even the scenario's monster and the house itself are easy to switch out for anything you prefer (for example, the basic plot of this scenario isn't very different from the first part of the the films Alien or The Thing, or any number of recent war-themed horror movies involving explorers or soldiers delving into abandoned military bunkers or bases, or any number of recent found-footage or ghost-hunting films set in abandoned institutions or famous haunted houses, including The Blair Witch Project and many of the films that have ripped it off).  I think the hand-outs and a little backstory are the only things that require any work to modify for even the most exotic alterations.
  • I like DeUniversrumMysteriis' suggestion of searching for missing friends or relatives - it really adds a nice personal buy-in to the hook that just being paid to stay in the house would lack.
  • The suggestion about urban explorers is also great - the urban exploration thing has a nice, contemporary feel to it, and YouTube (for example) are full of urban exploration videos.  Again, you could replace the house with any urban structure (sewer tunnels, abandoned rail stations, abandoned military bases or cult compounds, a derelict ship, an abandoned mental institution....)  If you go with the Corbitt House as-written, you can easily use all of the existing backstory and hand-outs for "The Haunting" as-written as well, and just have your urban explorers looking into a house that has been abandoned since (say) the 1920s....
  • At least one new keeper expressed dismay in the forums when his investigators all chose to skip the standard research and just go straight to the house unprepared!  One of the beautiful things about the modern era is that keepers in that position could just say "you have time during the trip to find out more about your destination on the internet - here [a couple tantalizing hand-outs] are some of the things your characters would find out about the destination just by running a web search to discover the address and find it on a GPS/navigator... are any of your characters interested in digging a little deeper?"  The old-fasioned library style research is a traditional and atmospheric part of the game, but if your players simply don't care for that aspect of the game and prefer to just fast-forward past that part and dive into exploring the house, then this sort of streamlined mobile/smart-phone research is perhaps a good (and perhaps more cinematic) alternative.
  • Some keepers worry that mobile phones take the characters right out of their isolation, but that need not be the case, and I like DeUniversum's idea about using mobile devices as a way of intruding on the investigators from Outside, by having Corbitt call the investigators on the phone - unsettling phone calls at just the wrong moment can actually add to the atmosphere you want to achieve.....
  • ElijahWhateley's suggestion to update the Marcarios to a more modern group of immigrants or other isolated outsiders who suffer their unnatural experiences in a strange and unfriendly country alone in silence is powerful stuff!  A less powerful but perhaps still useful modern alternative, especially in keeping with the urban exploration theme, might be to replace the immigrant family instead with a group of unwanted, neglected, or abused runaways who occupy the building as a Punk House settlement... rather than visiting them at a mental hospital, the investigators might find that these kids have simply moved out of the Corbitt House, under an overpass or into a sewer nearby, taking the traumas experienced at the house with them; the investigators might be able to interview some of the kids after a jump-scare scene in which they see some of these kids, dressed in goth makeup or gaunt from the ravages of starvation, A.I.D.S., and sniffing paint, peering in a window of the Corbitt House, curious to see who is crazy enough to go into "the Satan house". 
  • Regarding the Police, in the United States (and I'm sure elsewhere) the police (and their unions and management) don't actually think of their job as being required to step into danger to save people - they maintain law and order and investigate crimes after they happen if they have to, but nobody should really expect to call police into a dangerous situation (like creeping around in an abandoned house in the dark looking for ghosts), and see the police show up in a timely manner and do more than shine a flashlight into a window and then give the investigators a hassle.  (One way to look at it is that the investigators are taking the weird and dangerous jobs they are because nobody else - especially the authorities - will!)
  • As an aside from the train of thought about Corbitt spooking the investigators with their own phones, a stock feature of modern horror movies (following in the footsteps of movies like Jacob's Ladder, The Shining, and Poltergeist), which you might enjoy using to give your haunting a modern and contemporary feel, is something I've seen referred to in at least one Call of Cthulhu scenario as "whammies": little hallucinations, visions, flashbacks/premonitions, or other creepy little events that individual investigator experience when touching objects or entering rooms in the house:  they might see weird shadows on the wall, or an inhuman leering face in a grimy mirror, or eerie voices from another room, or a child's doll turning its head to glare at the investigator with a malevolent expression, or have a quick flashback to some horrific and bizarre event that might (or might not) have happened in the house's past, or they might witness a supernatural death, mutilation, or suicide that hasn't happened (yet?), or experience a flashback to a seemingly unrelated supernatural event experienced by the investigator previously, or see something move in a photograph or something unsettling and "fourth-wall breaking" (like ghosts that act like they can see the watcher or emerge from the screen) on video that can't be played back and seen again, etc.  Maybe it's all in the investigators' imagination, maybe it's a sixth sense, maybe it's Corbitt or the bizarre physics of "the Mythos" playing tricks on the investigator's mind - the cause really doesn't matter as long as the effect is weird and creepy, and it's clear to the players after it happens that it was not an objectively "real" event that could be photographed or recorded or measured....

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#8 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 10:44 PM

I agree that the Keeper should replace the house with another building. The Corbitt house is fine, but it's small. In my version, the characters had to explore a 18th century mansion with secret doors, a lot of rooms and plenty of spooky things.

 

Regarding characters going to the house without doing any research, I think there is a simple solution : Nothing happens. The house seems normal. Corbitt has no reason to attack random people. Then the investigators can leave the house and do some research before going back. Then, Corbitt becomes hostile, now that he knows those intruders are here for a reason.

 

About the "whammies", another Keeper (Was it you Gaffer?) once suggested that the house could also be haunted by the ghosts of Corbitt's previous victims. It's a pretty good idea.

 

  • I like DeUniversrumMysteriis' suggestion of searching for missing friends or relatives - it really adds a nice personal buy-in to the hook that just being paid to stay in the house would lack.

 

My point exactly. When I read The Haunting for the first time, I was concerned that the players may just abandon the case as soon as they witness the first signs of supernatural activity.

 

I ran this scenario (My homebrew version, I mean) twice, and both time the players wouldn't leave before they at least discover what happened to their friend/relative. I was even prepared to let them save the guy if they manage to find him soon enough. I used the "bones room" from another scenario in the Mansions of Madness supplement (I think it's The Old Damned House). There was a secret cavity in one of the walls where Corbitt stored the bodies of his victims. Dozen of skeletons, and the urban explorer is there, unconscious and waiting for Corbitt to feed on his lifeforce.

 

Having a friend or relative inside the house can cause a  bit more SAN loss in case of a "bad ending". That's what happened with the first group. They burnt the place down and discover afterward that they probably killed their friend (And two little girls... I've changed the house's backstory a bit. The last family who moved in there has just vanished three years ago. Corbitt had killed the parents but keeps the kids under his grasp in order to feed on their lifeforce slowly... until the house in inhabited again that is...)

 

The second group (Which consist of the missing guy's sister and his best friend) was really eager to save him. They were so adamant about that they returned to the Corbitt house after they barely escaped the first time. (After having done some research about how they could get rid of whatever was causing all of this)



#9 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 11:59 PM

I'd be careful of adding too much to the scenario. IMHO, one of the strengths of The Haunting is that it's a very short, simple introductory scenario that most groups can complete in a single night and a beginner gm can easily run. There are plenty of other haunted house scenarios with more interesting Mythos threats that you can go all-out for.


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#10 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 12:50 AM

Too true - that is, of course, one of the temptations and dangers of something so highly customizable, with so many after-market options...

 

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#11 Gaffer

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 04:17 AM

Gosh, De, I wish that was my idea!

I'm going to tail on to Elijah's thought to not expand it into a much larger structure. That could be a very interesting story, but it wouldn't be The Haunting. For my part, one of the central themes of the scenario is its essential claustrophobia.

The investigators are in a small, ordinary house. In my version, I changed the floor plan somewhat, but it was just three bedrooms and a bath upstairs; front parlor, rear parlor, dining room, kitchen downstairs; the cellar; and an attic (where I put the cupboard with the journal). I located the Chapel of Contemplation in a large cemetery behind the house, visible from the upstairs if not for a band of woods.
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#12 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 09:15 AM

To each his own, as they say. ^^

 

I used the plan of the Hazard mansion from The Old Damned House because I really liked my idea of having at least one little girl messing around with things in the house. The investigators would hear footsteps, child laughters and various noise (There was a music room on the first floor. The kid could touch the piano), go to the source of the noise but the kid would be gone (thanks to secret passages made centuries ago for the servants). So I needed the house to be big enough. I didn't like that the Corbitt house was that small and was wary that the players may complete the scenario too quickly.

 

I also changed the knife. In my take of the scenario it's just an ordinary kitchen knife. To kill Corbitt the investigators had to incapacitate him (Gameplay-wise : deal enough damage to him so his HP reach 0) and then use salt and fire to destroy his corpse before he awakes again. There was a lot of salt in the house (Previous owner was sure the place was haunted by something and she made some research about rituals and exorcism) and since the missing Urban Explorer had a passion for the supernatural, an idea roll (At the opportune time) from one of his friends/relatives was all the players needed to learn that they need to use the salt.

 

But of course, the bigger house could make the scenario last longer. For the first group, it took only one lengthy session. The second group needed two.

 

I guess it's no more The Haunting but something inspired by The Haunting. My villain isn't Corbitt anymore, after all.

 

 

@Gaffer

So it wasn't your idea?

 

 

Edit : Another thing that comes to my mind. If you want to convert The Haunting setting and make the house occupied for severals years (or even decade) you should think about what happened to the house itself. I mean, in my version the house has been unoccupied for three years. There are things inside the house that are here to illustrate the fact that the last family just vanished (unfinished meal on the dinning room table, toys belonging to the little girls etc...). But, if your version of the house has been unoccupied for a very long time, maybe there were other intruders. Hobos, junkies... The investigators may find traces of their passage (syringes, used condoms, empty bottles) and, of course, maybe some intruders were killed by Corbitt.


Edited by DeUniversumMysteriis, 11 December 2017 - 11:36 AM.


#13 Gaffer

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 01:51 PM

Might be interesting if there's a bulldozer rusting away in the yard by a demolished outbuilding from an attempt some years ago to demolish the old place. The entity didn't like that.


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#14 skaye

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 04:06 PM

Might be interesting if there's a bulldozer rusting away in the yard by a demolished outbuilding from an attempt some years ago to demolish the old place. The entity didn't like that.

 

For a minute I thought you were going for Killdozer and I was truly terrified.



#15 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 04:38 PM

For a minute I thought you were going for Killdozer and I was truly terrified.

 

Eh, this could be very fun.



#16 alter

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 08:37 PM

Maybe someone should combine Hunting with Music from a Darkened Room for Delta Green?

Edited by alter, 11 December 2017 - 08:38 PM.

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#17 vincentVV

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 07:21 PM

The Haunting can easily be combined with many of adventures - MftDR, Edge of Darkness, Toth's Dagger (as a sequel with a player, wonded by a knife) as well as with nearly any adventure from Mansions of Madness. It can even be a part of whole campaign.

 

The question is: will it till be The Haunting? =)

 

I've already run my group through several adventures - so The Haunting now looks like a very simple one for them without additions.

 

So, I think that The Haunting should be (whenever possible) played as an introductory adventure, as in this role it is really great.

 

Two other adventures that can be introduced to new Cthulhu players with great results, IMHO, are ToC Keepers of the Woods and CoC Dead Light.

 

But The Haunting should definitely be the first one to go.



#18 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 03:45 PM

I set in on an abandoned version of the Golden Venture, washed up on Cape Cod instead of Queens.


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#19 tjgreenway

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 04:32 PM

The Haunting can easily be combined with many of adventures - MftDR, Edge of Darkness, Toth's Dagger (as a sequel with a player, wonded by a knife) as well as with nearly any adventure from Mansions of Madness. It can even be a part of whole campaign.

 

The question is: will it till be The Haunting? =)

 

I've already run my group through several adventures - so The Haunting now looks like a very simple one for them without additions.

 

So, I think that The Haunting should be (whenever possible) played as an introductory adventure, as in this role it is really great.

 

Two other adventures that can be introduced to new Cthulhu players with great results, IMHO, are ToC Keepers of the Woods and CoC Dead Light.

 

But The Haunting should definitely be the first one to go.

 

Couldn't agree more with all of this - The Haunting is great because it's such a great introduction, both for players and characters, to the mythos and it's simplicity makes it a dream for a new 'keeper to run. Adding too much and extending the actual scenario really turns it into a completely different beast entirely - that's not necessarily a bad thing, but worth considering if you're running it for new players.

 

Personally, I kept the core of the scenario the same but extended it by tying it into a couple of other adventures (the Chapel Of Contemplation article in Unspeakable Oath and A Wee Dram of Danger), building in a cult of Tsathoggua that had been operating in Guildford (my game's set in 1920's England and Scotland predominately), who originated on the Orkney Isles. I built on the exchanges that my PC's had with a disgruntled cop who'd been present at the raid on the chapel and the players now find themselves tied up in a web of mythos destruction and political corruption :-D 



#20 Nightbreed24

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Posted 25 December 2017 - 11:00 AM

I love the paranormal reality TV show idea! A tropical location could help as well. It could easily be relocated to an abandoned, overgrown Danish plantation on one of the US Virgin Islands.





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