The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Old Dark House

The Old Dark House trope is a common device where a group of character must spend a night in a possibly haunted mansion or castle. Something or someone kills the characters one by one. The movie, Friday the Thirteenth, follows this trope. One of the plot-holes in the trope is why do the characters stay in the house? I remember reading a review of the movie Alien. The reviewer said Alien was one of the few movies using the Old Dark House trope where it made sense for the characters to stay in the house.

I used the Old Dark House trope a few times in my games. I vividly remember one adventure I patterned after the first Friday the Thirteenth movie. Jason attacks one of the members of the party. In the movie, the teenagers never stay together. They always find some reason to go off on their own, usually to fornicate. Instead of being stupid, the party hunkered down and built a bunker. Jason attacked. Jason died. The party proceeded to dismember and burn the body. The players were upset when Jason’s mother came in the night and stole all the burnt body parts of her beloved boy. That adventure was many years ago.

In my current campaign, several months ago, the party found a large altar made of solid gold. They planned to come back later for the gold. The party first found the gold by going through an underground base, then up some stairs into a buried keep. The party had an idea for the location of the buried keep. They decided to dig into the keep instead of going through the underground base. This brings up the Old Dark House trope. The party is trying to reach the altar of gold. Varieties of creatures inhabit the keep making the task difficult.

The roll playing makes the adventures fun. Two of the characters have intelligence of only eight. In a recent adventure, after killing some creatures the party was hurt. Instead of resting, the party opens up the body bag containing a lich. They promptly ran away.

One question keeps popping into my mind. Should I close the door? That is, should I lock the party into the Old Dark House? Would that result in a total-party-kill? On the other hand, could the party fight their way through?