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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > October 2019 (#35) > Running from Ghosts: The Mechanics of a Haunting

Running from Ghosts: The Mechanics of a Haunting

Betrayal at House on the Hill creator Bruce Glassco and co-designer Rob Daviau takes us inside the terrifying treachery of the horror board game’s haunts

The haunted house trope has been a staple of pop culture since time immemorial. Tales of mad, inherently malevolent mansions spring back as far as stories from the Arabian Nights and the writings of Roman author Pliny.

As a symbol, vast lonesome dwellings have come to represent our subconscious desires and fears. Sometimes, they also stand for a type of warped affiuence – noble manors turned dwelling of the dead. Often the house itself seems sentient, sporting vacant window eyes and a crooked doorway mouth.

The first book to really delve into the trope was the Castle of Otranto, British writer Horace Walpole’s seminal Gothic novel. Published in 1764, it features ghosties, forbidden love and a giant, feathered helmet that crushes people to death. In 1839, Edgar Allen Poe transposed the cursed castle idea out to the States in ‘the Fall of the House of Usher’. There are, after all, no crumbling castles out to the west. A century later, the haunted house became a symbol for existential terror, as seen in Shirley Jackson’s magnifccent 1959 novel the Haunting of Hill House.

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About Tabletop Gaming

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