Tabletop Game / Betrayal at House on the Hill

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Betrayal at House on the Hill (and yes, that's the actual title) is a unique Adventure Board Game published in 2004 by Avalon Hill, with a second edition released in 2010. Three to six players take the roles of various character archetypes, such as a Jock, a Final Girl, a Professor, a Fortune Teller, a seemingly sweet little girl or a curious young boy... Each miniature has two different 'characters' attached to it, such as the Scientist doubling as a Preacher Man. Whatever their role, the cast find themselves trapped inside a haunted mansion and set out to explore, with players drawing and setting out floor tiles with each new room they enter.

However, sooner or later, somebody's going to trigger the Haunt, revealing the Mansion's terrible secret — and one of the heroes turns on the rest. A wide variety of scenarios are included with the game — players can end up facing Giant Spiders, Vampires, Werewolves and other monsters, or find themselves playing Chess with Death, suddenly shrinking, or dealing with the house flooding or collapsing into a Black Hole. And since the house is built anew during the exploration phase, every game is a different adventure.

An expansion titled Widow's Walk was released in October 2016.


Betrayal at House on the Hill can contain examples of:

  • A Boy and His Dog: Anyone with the dog card can be this. However, if you set off the fan haunt "Reeking of Death",it's more like "a mentally broken human and their toxic "dog".
  • Adult Fear: Depending on the haunt and the traitor, you either have children trapped in a mansion with murderers or people trapped in a mansion with murderous children.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Widow's Walk adds dumbwaiters to a few of the room tiles, letting you get to the floor landings right above or below you for an extra movement space.
  • Alien Geometries: One of the easier ways to explain the Mystic Elevator. Especially if there are secret stairs connecting to it. You can even fall through the floor of the Collapsed Room into the Mystic Elevator, even if the Mystic Elevator later moves to an upper floor.
    • In the first edition, the sunken lake could only be found on the upper levels, never the basement. Sadly, this was fixed in the second edition.
    • Not to mention the rooms you can move between. The Gallery and Ballroom could be on opposite sides of the house, but nevertheless you can fall from the Gallery to the Ballroom.
  • Alien Invasion: Shows up in at least one haunt.
  • All Just a Dream: The traitor in the "Here There Be Dragons" scenario thinks they're dreaming, and so isn't worried about killing their friends. They'll just wake up afterward, right? ... right?
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The vast majority of monsters, and possibly one of your allies, though it depends on the haunt.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: That teddy-bear toting girl might turn out to be in league with the minions of hell.
    • The "Missy Dubourde" version of the little girl character already vivisects frogs for fun, according to the manual.
  • Artifact of Doom: Any of the non-sentient Omen cards has the potential to be one.
  • Badass Preacher: In the right scenario, Father Rhinehart is distilled badass.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Several haunts, with special mention going to the fan haunt "With An Inhuman Cry" for 'three' possibilities.
  • Big Bad: The player who ends up as the traitor becomes the de facto Big Bad.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: One haunt involves giant bugs.
  • Blob Monster: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Body Horror: A possibility at the end- and sometimes even the start- of some haunts.
    • Special mention goes to "The Worm Ouroboros", where part of the traitor's transformation involves their skull splitting in half.
  • Bookcase Passage: Several are possible depending on Event cards drawn. How useful they are depends on the ingenuity of the players and occasionally results of dice rolls.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Several Haunts reveal that the traitor is brainwashed. Some even allow him to brainwash others.
  • Canine Companion: One of the omens that can be encountered is a stray dog that will follow and obey the hero who finds it.
    • Subverted if it triggers the Werewolf scenario, as it will instantly ally itself with the Werewolf. The Widow's Walk expansion adds a cat who can influence your luck with a dice roll.
  • Cats Are Mean: That darn cat during the shrinking scenario almost makes it Unwinnable.
    • Any scenario involving a Wicked Witch will also have an equally wicked cat.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Every character has hobbies listed on their character card. Each character is also scripted to be the traitor in certain scenarios, because of their relevant hobbies.
  • Chess with Death: A possible scenario involves the characters being challenged to a chess game with Death, gradually killing them each time they lose.
  • Closed Circle: The game states in a few haunts that the front door is locked.
  • Creepy Child: What happens when one of the child characters becomes the traitor
    • Can also be found in some events.
  • Creepy Basement: The basement is the only floor where certain rooms such as the Catacombs, Crypt and Pentagram Room can be placed. You're also likely to be stuck there, unless you find the stairs or find some other way out by sheer chance.
  • Creepy Doll: Of the voodoo variety in one event.
  • Damsel in Distress: Some Haunts involve NPC victims that require protection.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Certain items pair very well with certain heroes if they're lucky enough to encounter them early. Give the Revolver (which allows attacks to be made with Speed instead of Might) to Darren "Flash" Williams or the Ring (which does the same with Sanity— Sanity PUNCH!) to Father Rhinehart and watch the fun.
  • The Dragon: In haunts where the traitor is not the Big Bad, they're usually the next best thing.
  • Dwindling Party: Nearly every variety of the trope can happen unless the Heroes completely stomp the Traitor/achieve their goal quickly. Almost bound to happen in a game where the Traitor wins.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The God of Evil scenario mentioned below, and another scenario featuring some massive tentacled thing whose limbs extend throughout the house.
  • Eldritch Location: The titular house always has a random layout. And, of course, it almost always has the Mystic Elevator.
    • The ulterior dimension with the poisonous atmosphere, trees resembling 'tubular horrors', discoloured sky, organ-come-teleporter, and toothy humanoid residents that the House moves to in the "Lost" scenario.
  • Evil Twin: One scenario creates doppelgangers of the Heroes, who will kill and replace their counterparts unless killed first. The "good" ending leaves it ambiguous whether the good counterpart or the evil one killed the other and survived.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Everyone starts as a good guy until the Haunt, which turns one person into a traitor. There's a few that don't have anybody become a traitor, but they're very rare. Which Haunt is triggered is dependent on several factors, such as which room the Haunt was triggered in.
  • Failed a Spot Check: A meta example. In Widow's Walk, the Drawing Room is utterly unique in that, by entering it, you draw any card from Event, Item, or Omen. Unfortunately, the rulebook contains no listing for what occurs upon drawing an Omen card and triggering the Haunt while inside the Drawing Room.
    • The devs probably assumed that nobody would be stupid enough to choose to draw an Omen.
    • Also there are enough omens in Widow's Walk that you can choose to draw an Omen without making a haunt roll to prevent this from happening. Or the rulebook has stipulations for picking and choosing haunts that say you can move the haunt revealer to the nearest omen room on the same floor if you don't like the haunt, so that likely applies too.
  • For the Evulz: Occasionally, this is the motive given to the Traitor.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • From Bad to Worse: The house is full of creepy omens, hauntings, and ominous rooms. It's even possible to become crippled and teeter on the edge of sanity just by initial exploration, depending on your luck. Then the Betrayal starts...
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Traitor tends to become this once the Haunt hits.
  • Game Mod: Lots of fan-created content can be found floating around; one notable example are Splats and cards for the Scooby-Doo gang.
  • Genius Loci: In at least two scenarios, the House itself is the monster, and the traitor intends to feed the other players to it.
  • Giant Spider: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Giant Flyer: Another possible scenario with a giant bird. Though in this case the bird has picked up the entire mansion and you're fighting over the limited number of parachutes.
  • God of Evil: In one of the several possible scenarios, the Traitor will try to summon one of these.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: More than one Scenario starts with this happening to the Traitor.
  • Go Through Me: Since movement is slowed by hostile characters, and creatures can only attack once per turn, it is possible for a well coordinated team to buy a character a round or two to make a vital roll.
  • Here We Go Again: The good end of the Frankenstein inspired haunt is one of the heroes burning the journal's pages one by one, only to be struck by how brilliant the experiment is. They then put out the fire before it consumes the pages, and presumably try to "gather supplies" like the previous traitor before them.
    • The Widow's Walk event "Manor of Your Demise" technically is this, as the scenario is that you've been sucked into a different manor. It specifically states that when you win, you escape the manor... only to be back in the first one, but that's a tale for a different day.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Always a possibility.
    • One of these starts "Reeking of Death"
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "The Feast."
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: You can be attacked by spiritual damage (Knowledge and Sanity, as opposed to Might and Speed). Also, the background stories of some haunts (such as Dance of Death) refer to your characters having these.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Instrument of Murder: The"Dance of Death"scenario, although victims are compelled to dance to death by the musiv, as opposed to directly attacked with the instrument..
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Jenny LeClerc's base stats have a near-perfect distribution of might, speed, sanity, and knowledge, with stat starting in the median of their respective ranges.
  • Karma Houdini: Even if the Traitor loses, there are a few haunts that make no mention about the Traitor receiving any form of punishment.
  • Kill It with Fire: Certain monsters can only be defeated this way.
    • Also applies to some objects the Heros or Traitor need to destroy.
  • Kill It with Water: Items thrown into the Underground Lake are destroyed.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: A common strategy when the game starts is to have all the players spread out to explore the house as quickly as possible.
  • Luck-Based Mission: During the exploration phase, you're exploring the house blind and trying to discover as much as possible while collecting items, omens, and dealing with event cards that can help or hinder you. If you're unlucky with dice rolls, or what house tiles you draw, you could potentially find yourself stuck in the basement with low stats when the haunt starts, which brings a whole new level of being luck into play.
  • Loot Drama: Invoked in one particular Haunt, "Treasure Hunt". It's also one of the few Traitor-less Haunts. Rather, everyone is pitted against each other within a now booby-trapped mansion as they try to be the first to find said treasure.
  • Love Makes You Evil:"Wail of the Banshee" has the traitor in love with the titular monster, while "The Mummy Walks" and "Ghost Bride" both have the monster looking for their love.
  • MacGuffin: Quite a few Haunts involve these, often as the primary means of defeating the Traitor and whatever thing(s) he or she is allied with.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Tiles such as the Tower and the Collapsed Room can damage the player if they lack the right dice rolls.
  • Man-Eating Plant: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Mars Needs Women: Both a male example (the Mummy) and a female one(more specifically, the Ghost Bride).
  • Mask of Power: Increases Knowledge at the cost of Sanity. Since it requires a Sanity roll to put on or take off, it can be hard to remove.
    • It has the potential to cause the fan haunt "Time Waits For No Man".
  • The Mole: Half of the scenarios.
  • More Than Mind Control: In some haunts, the heroes may think that the traitor is being mind controlled by the monster of the haunt, but they are more often than not doing things of their own will. For example, in the haunt "Wail of the Banshee", the traitor has fallen in love with the titular Banshee, and wants to kill the heroes to be with her forever.
  • Mummy: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: In the rare event that a Haunt turns out to have no Traitor, the players will have to all compete against each other. One such scenario is the house flying up into the air, with only two parachutes in the house to escape with, the goal being to get a parachute and jump from the upper floor.
  • Non-Player Companion: Along with the stray dog and cat mentioned above, two omens have you encountering a lost girl (boosts your Knowledge and Sanity) and a crazed madman (boosts your Might at the expense of your Sanity) who join the character encountering them. What role they continue to play depends on the Haunt activated.
  • Not Himself: In contrast to More Than Mind Control above, some haunts actually have the traitor either mind controlled, possessed, or outright replaced.
  • Obvious Beta: The original version. Thankfully, the second edition is much better in this regard.
  • Oh, Crap!: A frequent utterance when the Haunt is revealed and you realize the random map has completely hosed you.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There's all different kinds, most of which require a sacrifice. Some want to destroy the world, and some just want to ease their boredom.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Another scenario has were-rats.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Rapid Aging: One of the scenarios. The two children are often the sole survivors.
    • Nanny Interrupted is effectively the inverse.
  • Recursive Reality: One of the new Haunts in Widow's Walk, "The Manor of Your Demise", involves you being sucked into the game you're currently playing, including being able to trigger an entirely new Haunt within the one you're living. It's a Timed Mission, to boot, and winning explicitly says that you are still trapped in the original house but that's a story for another day.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Literally. Rolls on the Sanity stat are often crucial to winning, or to staying alive.
  • The Six Stats: Simplified. Strength and constitution are combined into "Might", and intelligence and wisdom are combined into "Knowledge", while dexterity remains as it is with "Speed". You also have a Sanity Meter instead of charisma.
  • Sinister Minister: Any time Father Reinhardt becomes the traitor.
  • Stat Death: If any of a character's stats fall below the skull at the bottom of your sliding counter, they'll find themselves dead if the haunt has been revealed.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: At the start of a given session, the players pick a scenario and are given random predefined characters to role-play. Half-way through the game, a variety of scenario-specific roles (usually including at least one traitor) are semi-randomly assigned to some characters, putting an additional role-play layer on top of that.
  • Story Arc: Haunts 57, 75, 86, and 93 of Widow's Walk all lead up to a special starred Haunt, "Seasons of the Witch", concerning Magdalena Gunchester who wants to cause The End of the World as We Know It. It plays out as if you are trapped inside of her house for a full year, complete with special rules in effect for each calendar month.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Considering that Knowledge is one of the stats that will cause your character's death if it hits 0, it's possible that your character becomes this.
  • Unfinished Business: This is often a characteristic of the Haunt.
  • Unwinnable: If the traitor turns out to be the guy who's got all the weapons? Or they have to collect MacGuffins and already happen to have them? Yeah, um...
    • Add in that before the Errata, some Scenarios had conflicting rules or goals that made winning impossible.
    • Also, because the map is mostly random, save for what floor a given tile can be on, and that some scenarios require the heroes to be in a certain room/rooms, it is possible that the traitor and his/her army of demons/plants/etc. could be revealed and/or spawn in such a way that they perfectly block the path the heroes need to take to win. This can be especially bad when combined with the first example.
    • Although the Haunts have an inherent balancing factor before appearing (Scale of 0 to 12) it is entirely possible for the Haunt to be revealed on the very first omen, on the very first turn; which can be very bad for the heroes who suddenly find themselves bunched together without enough space to run away from any of the newly spawned monster.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Like many random games, there's bound to be a few poor runs.
    • Any game where the traitor has already collected the items they need or collected their only weakness by chance before the haunt begins can easily become this.
    • Extra props for this occurring both in and out of the universe in "A Family Gathering" for having a zombie family under the floorboards and having the heroes continue to think they hear "Mama" long after the incident.
  • Vampires: A possibility in some scenarios.
  • Viral Transformation: The Vampire and Werewolf haunts have the potential to infect and transform the heroes into more of their own kind.
  • Werewolves: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Wicked Witch: One of the several possible scenarios.

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