Our last article discussed how a Haunt comes up and how you find out who the traitor is for that Haunt. This article is about what you get to do when you’re the traitor. Some things are pretty obvious, of course -- you can cackle a lot and tell your former friends that they’re all doomed, doomed I tell you! But there’s more to being a traitor than just rubbing your hands together and laughing maniacally.
Why’d You Do It, Zoe?
Not every horror movie has a traitor, but they’re pretty common. Sometimes in movies, it turns out that one of the main characters was hiding a secret all along. Maybe the heroine’s boyfriend was always secretly the slasher, or the kind old man who seemed so helpful was really working all along to guide you into the lair of his master, the vampire. (You may wonder why, if your character was evil all along, you found out about it only now? Consider yourself a good actor; so good that you even fooled yourself for a while.)
Other times in the movies, it’s just a character flaw that is revealed under pressure -- "We can’t kill these aliens, the tabloids would pay us millions!" or "We mustn’t destroy this carnivorous ivy, it’s a brand-new species unknown to science! It must be protected and studied!"
Once you read the character backgrounds, you’ll realize that none of these people were all that well balanced to begin with. Maybe the horror of discovering what was in the house was enough to drive the traitor right over the edge.
Whatever your reason for betraying your friends, most of the time you’ll now be working toward their destruction, and they’ll be returning the favor for you.
Now the traitor gets to read the Traitor’s Tome. Take it out of the room to someplace comfy, and look up the scenario you’re playing. Back in the game room, your former friends are trying to figure out how to stop you by reading about the same scenario in the Secrets of Survival. They're plotting against you, just like you knew they would ...
Now you get to find out what monster is haunting the house. Most of the time, it is related in some way to the last omen that triggered the haunt. Maybe that Crystal Ball you found just cracked open, and now there’s some rubbery, blobby, pink substance bubbling out of it and starting to expand …
The Traitor’s Tome provides you with several useful bits of information. First will be a very short tale explaining how you now see the world. Then, there may be several small tasks that you’ll need to do as soon as you rejoin the rest of the players. You might need to place monsters on the board, or draw cards, or roll dice and add to your traits, or write down where a particular secret item is located.
The Traitor’s Tome also gives you information about any monsters you control -- where they start, what their traits are, and usually a few hints about what you should try to do with them.
You may find out a little bit about how the other explorers are going to try to stop you but the details will be vague. They may need to find and assemble certain items to thwart your plans in some way, or perhaps they’ll be performing a strange ritual.
The Traitor’s Tome also tells you about your own victory conditions. You can keep them secret from the other explorers. Your goals are often as straightforward as kill them! Kill them all! You might, however, have more involved victory conditions. Perhaps there’s only one weapon that can destroy your dark master once he’s summoned from the abyss, and your task is to obtain and destroy that item, thus guaranteeing humanity's downfall. It’s tough to generalize because every scenario is unique.
I Feel Stronger -- Faster -- Better!
Sure, if you’re the traitor, you may have some monsters or ghosts helping you out. Still, it’s not much fun having all your former friends chasing after you to destroy you. Usually you’ll be heavily outnumbered. If things get too tough, there's good news. In most scenarios, the traitor can win even if the traitorous character is killed. You also get a few other advantages to help you stay alive long enough to see your victory.
- Once you become a traitor, you’re immune to all the dangerous effects of the house’s rooms. You can walk across the narrow bridge over the Chasm without fear, go through the Catacombs without getting lost, and otherwise navigate the house in safety.
- You’re immune to any trap event cards that you draw. If you choose to use a card, though, you still have to take any penalties it calls for.
- After you’ve finished your turn, you may then move any monsters that are on the board.
In a handful of Haunts, the house’s evil manifests itself incorporeally. Most of the time, though, some kind of physical monster slithers up out of the Chasm in the basement, flaps in through the windows in the upper floor, or rises from the coffins in the Crypt. It might be a single, powerful monster, a handful, or a horde.
A few things make monsters different from explorers (besides fangs, of course). Just like the traitor, monsters can’t be damaged by rooms they move through. They also can’t explore new rooms or carry items. Monsters’ movement is a bit more random than that of the explorers. Monsters aren’t allowed to move a number of rooms equal to their Speed -- instead, the traitor rolls dice equal to their speed and can move them as many spaces as the number rolled. For example, if Madame Zostra has a hellhound nipping at her heels, she can never be sure if or when it’s going to catch up with her.
Unless a scenario states otherwise, monsters have one big advantage that no one else has: they can’t be killed. If a monster takes any damage, it is stunned. Its counter is flipped over. The next chance you get to move monsters, stunned ones get flipped face up but don’t get a chance to move. It’s possible that the heroes might figure out a way to permanently kill monsters with their devious tricks, however.
All this talk about stunning and killing brings up an obvious question: how do people and supernatural things fight? We’ll cover combat in the next article, along with more info about what else the heroes are going to be up to. Until then, I say once more, you’re all doomed, do you hear? Doomed!
Bruce Glassco is a professor of English who has also been a gamer since the early ‘80s. His werewolf story, “Taking Loup,” was in the 1999 edition of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Other of Bruce's stories and poems have appeared in the magazines Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales. House on the Hill is his first published game.
Catch up on any previews you missed!
- Fifty Doorways to Doom
- History and Mystery
- Cast of Characters
- What's Behind Door Number One?
- House of Danger, House of Treasure
- Omen, Omen, Omen, Haunt!
- Sheer Evil
- Selfless Acts of Heroism