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Beyond here lie dragons

North Texas RPG Con Event: House on Crane Hill

Jerry Stratton, March 21, 2017

Belle Grove through cypress

Welcome to Delarosa Manor. Some houses were born evil…

If you can make it to the North Texas RPG Convention on Saturday, June 3, I’ll be running a game of Gods & Monsters. The event is “House on Crane Hill”. As I write this, there are three earlybird tickets available, and there will be four free tickets available on April 15 at midnight.

Assuming you have an account on the NTRPGC sign-up site and are logged in, here’s the event page.

The adventure will use pre-gens at first level. Bring dice, pencils, and your Barrett’s Electromagnetic Field Generator.

Crane House is an idea I’ve been working on for quite a while now. Tell me if you’ve heard this story: a hand-selected research group is chosen to spend a week investigating an abandoned house known for its supernatural activities. But this is no ordinary haunting.

No living organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Thus Shirley Jackson began The Haunting of Hill House. Many movies and books about malleable haunted houses and malleable realities have inspired this adventure. The first such story I read was in issues 34 to 37 of Werewolf by Night in Marcosa House (available in Essential Werewolf by Night, volume 2). Doug Moench’s Marcosa House was heavily influenced by Richard Matheson’s Hell House (and the movie, The Legend of Hell House). Matheson, along with half the works listed here, was inspired by The Haunting of Hill House (which became the 1963 Robert Wise film, The Haunting).

Later, in college, I saw Phantasm, which was very influential on movies of this type. Stephen King has written several evil buildings, including The Shining (Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation is also inspirational), the short story 1408 (made into a great movie with John Cusack), and the Rose Red TV movie. There’s also A Nightmare on Elm Street. While it isn’t set in an evil building, Elm Street captures the fluid reality inside these evil houses.

Several years ago I toured the Winchester house in California, an odd bit of architecture which to some degree inspired Rose Red. There have been attempts at other-worldly houses in adventure gaming, including the sample adventure in Ron Edwards’s Sorcerer, the Judges Guild adventure Tegel Manor, and the D&D adventure Palace of the Silver Princess. But I think this will be a unique and very old-school take on the genre.

So if you’re looking for a haunted house adventure this June, sign up now!

“He fashioned Hell for the inquisitive.”

  1. <- Imagination
  2. Using Gygax’s name? ->