DriveThruRPG Review – The Room with No Doors

A haunted house investigation for the Call of Cthulhu TTRPG.

A review copy of “The Room with No Doors” was provided by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: M.T. Black

The Room with No Doors is a mini-adventure designed for the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which focuses much more on investigation and horror than the usual D&D adventures I review. The horror adventure draws inspiration from classic horror films such as Poltergeist and The Shining, and could serve as a solid introductory adventure or one-shot.

The adventure is set in 1928. The player investigators are hired to investigate a house that the quest-giver, Hannah Flynn, recently bought to rent out. A series of tragedies befell the renters, including the death of their child and the woman chasing the husband around with an axe, leading Hannah to believe the house may be haunted.

Chapter two details the investigative leg of the adventure, including 10 different locations the players can travel to around Arkham, interviewing neighbors, police, and victims, and digging up clues about the house and its past.

Although Hannah gives the players the key to the house right away, this is a critically important chapter that has the players learning most of the backstory of the haunt, including how to properly exorcise the spirit within. The information is very well organized, with each location taking up only about half a page, and features black and white photos, bullet points, and bolded text when skill checks are required.

Once the investigators have exhausted all leads (or tire of the search) they can head to the house, detailed in chapter three. The house is mostly a straightforward haunted house dungeon crawl, as the investigators move room to room looking for additional clues and information while spooky stuff happens all around them.

room with no doors police

The spooky stuff is scripted to occur in certain rooms, like a front door opening or closing, the sound of footsteps upstairs, or plates crashing in the kitchen. The most effective scares are with the ants. The ghost is a murder victim who was sealed inside a closet to slowly die, and his body was eventually devoured by insects. His vengeful ghost can control ants and other insects, and uses them throughout the house to spell creepy messages, such as “No doors, no light.”

Yet the haunts never really escalate from there. The house has nine rooms, and the two biggest scares are both combat encounters. One has the ghost inducing a state of berserker rage on a player with a failed Power roll, creating an interesting (and possibly quite frustrating) player vs player combat encounter. While the other is a final boss fight against the uncovered remains, which has the ghost manifesting as a swarm of insects, an oddly mundane choice for an otherwise supernatural threat.

My favorite elements of haunted houses are when horror scenes are used as effective environmental storytelling. The background information in chapter one sets up some intriguing scenes that could’ve played out as terrifying moments, like the evil woman Victoria who was murdered in her own bathtub by the ghost (whom she had tortured and killed), or the child of the renters who was crushed by a bookshelf that the ghost knocked over.

We don’t get any of that in the house, however; it’s mostly just crashing plates and door slams. The adventure lacks a proper escalation to the terror, and feels like a missed opportunity to present the backstory organically after entering the house.

The art and handouts are mostly hits, with one notable miss. The layout and design is lovely, with many black and white photos of people and houses that look very 1920s. The nine handouts are especially excellent, featuring important clues and information within police reports, newspaper clippings, book pages, and death certificates, all painstakingly recreated as player handouts.

As primarily a VTT player, the sketch map is a disappointment. This isn’t a D&D adventure that features room-to-room combat and traps, but it does call for exploring a decent-size house, and the map lacks color and detail.

Despite some complaints, The Room with No Doors hits much more than it misses. By adding a few bigger and more interesting scares to the house itself, it becomes a rewarding, spooky adventure, and could serve as an excellent introduction to the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

 Pros:

  • Well-organized, succinct details for all 10 investigation locations.
  • Smart use of public domain books and art pieces.
  • Over a dozen richly detailed, heavily thematic handouts.

Cons:

  • Pulls punches when it comes to bigger scares.
  • Bare sketch for the house map.

The Verdict: Though lacking in cults and elder gods, the straightforward haunted house investigation in The Room with No Doors would make an easy to run, if overly tame, one-shot introductory adventure for Call of Cthulhu.

A review copy of “The Room with No Doors” was provided by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s