Tabletop Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill (and yes, that's the actual title) is a unique Board Game published in 2004 by Avalon Hill. 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.

Sadly, the design is a bit clunky in areas. While plastic minis were included to represent the heroes, monsters are represented by paper punch-out counters (probably because of the sheer amount of creatures that can be involved). Upon the Haunt occurring, Heroes and Traitors must split up to quickly read over their booklets on the scenario, which can cause the game to stall out a bit. Worse yet, the game was originally published with a few errors, leading to even more game-stopping confusion and frustration. Betrayal can prove quite fun with the Errata and the various fan-created content floating around. The second edition- published in 2010 by Wizards of the Coast- fixed most of the problems as well as adding a number of new haunts.

Betrayal at House on the Hill can contain examples of:

  • Alien Geometries: One of the easier ways to explain the Mystic Elevator. Especially if there are secret stairs connecting to it.
    • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Badass Preacher: In the right scenario, Father Rhinehart is distilled badass.
  • 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.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy
  • 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.
  • Cats Are Mean: That darn cat during the shrinking scenario almost makes it Unwinnable.
  • 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
  • Closed Circle
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 nearly always turns one person into a traitor).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kill It with Fire: Certain monsters can only be defeated this way.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • MacGuffin Girl / Mysterious Waif : One of the omens is a girl.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mole: Half of the scenarios.
  • Monster Wants to Marry: Both a male example (the Mummy) and a female (the Ghost Bride).
  • More Than Mind Control
  • Mummy: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Not Himself
  • Obvious Beta
  • Oh, Crap: A frequent utterance when the Haunt is revealed and you realize the random map has completely hosed you.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One of the several possible scenarios.
  • Rapid Aging: One of the scenarios. The two children are often the sole survivors.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Literally. Rolls on the Sanity stat are often crucial to winning, or to staying alive.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: One of the several possible scenarios.

Alternative Title(s):

Betrayal At House On The Hill