The Bell Item from Betrayal at House on the Hill

The Bell item card states: "Once during your turn after the haunt is revealed, you can attempt a Sanity roll to use the Bell."

5+ = Move any number of unimpeded heroes 1 space closer to you.

My question is: If moving an explorer one space closer to you means moving them in a direction that would explore a new room, is that legal?

If so, how would it be handled? Neither The book nor the Avalon Hill Errata explain this. Would the moved explorer have to agree to move in that direction? Would the moved explorer deal with drawing Omen, Item or Event cards on the Bell owners turn? Or on their next turn? What happens if they draw a tile that moves their character further than one space? You could potentially be dealing with turns within turns.

Besides, it seems too powerful to me to let someone with the Bell have their entire group start exploring new rooms. I think the purpose of the Bell is simply too allow 1 extra movement. Not to hand out entire free turns.

While it is true that the book does not say that you CAN'T use the Bell to move explorers to unexplored rooms - it is also true that the book does not say that I can't stand up and shout "We win" and therefore all explorers immediately win the game. My point is that I do not consider, "Well the book doesn't say you can't" to be an acceptable or well thought out answer here."

Note: I only expect an answer for my initial questions so please no friendly notices about how this site prefers a single question per post.


  • It would be nice if I could use some more specific and defining tags even though I do not have a high enough reputation. BaHotH specific tags like: Bell,Item-Cards,Omen-Cards,Moving-Explorers,card-rulings Jul 20, 2016 at 21:05
  • I would say the move one "space" closer means one space that is discovered, becuase there are more doors than there are tiles so undiscovered rooms are in my opinion not spaces
    – Wouter
    Aug 4, 2016 at 14:36

2 Answers 2


The problem with this situation is that the game doesn't define what "closer" really means, so you or your group will have to decide that for yourself. It could be either of the following (if you agree that only physical proximity is of question here):

  1. move the character so that the linear distance between them and your character decreases (so if the tile inbetween the two of you was a dead end, you would still move them there)
  2. move the character so that it will require less movement to get to them
    (as indicated by Samthere in the comments, the Betrayal on House on the Hill FAQ reads: "[a monster] follows whatever path would lead it to the hero in the fewest moves", suggesting that this might be the intended way things work in this case as well)

Deciding between these options isn't all that trivial, as you could consider special tiles that allow extra movement, as well as special movement the traitor has (such as moving up the Coal Chute) or haunt-specific elements such as monsters or the traitor itself being able to move through walls.

Once you've come to a decision on that matter, you can decide whether you count unknown and therefore possible-but-npt-guaranteed pathways as the shortest direction. There are several factors I would consider in making this decision:

  • if you allow unexplored rooms, you help the side that needs to find a room that's still in the stack (either because the adventure requires it, or because a character is trying to get out of the basement, for example)
  • you could run into the situation where an unexplored room and the explored route both are equal distance to your traitor, and you need a way to handle that (whether the traitor decides, or you default to one of the options)

There is also the metagame statistics factor: In theory, you could end up at the point where there's no straight tile left in the pile, which you could theoretically know by keeping track of all straight tiles on the board and comparing the list to the total number of tiles in the stack. Therefore, it's possible that you reach the point where it's impossible that an unknown path is the shortest route, because if they do explore that room, it will certainly not provide a direct path to the traitor. The opposite is also true, where you could in theory know that there's only straight paths left in the pile, and therefore be certain that it's the shortest path without being certain which tile lies inbetween.
Now, by all means don't actually keep track of the tiles, but be aware of that possibility and it's implications on your question: There are situations where you could theoretically be certain, but in reality, you won't be. Personally, I would count this as a reason to never let unexplored rooms count as the shortest route, because in order to call them that, you would have to know they are.

Ultimately, though, it's a question that isn't directly answered by the rules and therefore needs to be determined by the playgroup. This is the only real answer anyone can give you prior to further errata being released...

  • Thanks for your lengthy answer. I agree. The group must decide together how to proceed on both the questions of what exactly "closer" means and also if unexplored rooms should be able to be explored vicariously though the use of the Bell. Jul 25, 2016 at 3:41
  • When playing BAHOTH I try to keep things simple whenever possible. My solution to this problem would be to use TheThirdMan's first definition of closer: "move the character so that the linear distance between them and your character decreases (so if the tile inbetween the two of you was a dead end, you would still move them there)" [sic] with the following added: so long as that movement does NOT lead an explorer into an unexplored room. Jul 25, 2016 at 3:43
  • @Underdrummer: That sounds like a good solution, all things considered! Also, if this or any answer has resolved your question, please consider accepting it by clicking the checkmark. This indicates to the wider community that you've found a solution and gives some reputation to both the answerer and yourself - though there is no obligation to do this. Jul 25, 2016 at 15:39
  • I disagree entirely with the shortest linear distance. Moving closer to something has to mean taking a step along the shortest route you can see that gets you to the target. That's where the bell sound is coming from.
    – Samthere
    Jul 27, 2016 at 14:40
  • @Samthere: It's a possible interpretation, but considering the traitor can move through certain areas a hero can't - sometimes even through walls - and that old houses probably don't have the most insulated walls (especially between rooms), I could perfectly see the other interpretation. As I said, it's a matter of opinion, and the playgroup's opinion should be the one that counts. Jul 29, 2016 at 10:36

I share your opinion that the Bell was probably not designed for free room discovery. I feel that there are only two portions of the rulebook that address this, which won't be particularly helpful. Page 12 says that in conflicts between a card and the rulebook, side with the card. I wouldn't call this a conflict with the rules so much as a lack of ruling though. Thankfully, the last page also tells us that if there's a ruling question unaddressed by the rulebook, to come to a consensus with the group, and use that. So ultimately, by the rules, it will depend on your group's interpretation.

If this were to occur in a game I was playing in (which I'll be honest, shocks me that it hasn't, given some players' propensities for causing these types of situations), I would argue that since you have the option of drawing a dead end, or a tile that would potentially lead further away from the user, the Bell would bring a player closer to the user by moving them along the shortest path already on the board.

Sorry I can't give you a definitive answer on this one. Happy Haunting!

  • Just to have another opinion available does help so thank you for your post. Even the Avalon Hill errata offers no help to this question. I have asked the group to vote on this as you suggested (we do PBEM). I like your point about the shortest path to the explorer using the Bell that is already present on the board. You're right and it's kind of what I was saying, exploring rooms could potentially lead you FAR, FAR away from the Bell user. Thanks, Reibello Jul 22, 2016 at 1:02

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