I continue the review today, starting with the segment on Domains of Evil in the chapter on Horror Rules. Honestly, “domains of evil” brings Ravenloft to mind, and this may or may not be a good thing. We’ll see, I suppose.
Domains of evil are essentially regions of land inhabited by an evil creature of such evil and corruption that they contaminate the world around them. These are the kind of places that fall in the category of a boss’s stronghold, as far as games go. That blighted moor in the middle of an otherwise verdant land? The bare and foreboding mountain with a tower perched at the top and feral undead animals haunting the slopes? Those are domains of evil.
Domain geography – let’s see here. The domain is aligned; this is a given, and the strength of the being determines the strength of the domain alignment. I imagine that you could make a case for domains of good, law, and chaos on this; the more powerful the inhabitant, the more powerful the alignment. A mythic inhabitant might well warp the fabric of the cosmos and induce truly unsettling effects in the area.
Domain borders defines the borders as being open, where the inhabitant is free to leave, or closed, where they’re not. The latter option is straight out of Ravenloft, right down to dread fog as an analogue to the mists. Such domains are as much prisons as places of power, intended to torment and frustrate the creature that dwells there. Animals, understandably, find these places disturbing; expect your animal companion to be unwilling to follow you into hell on earth.
The land itself warps over time to reflect the inhabitant, with hazards that match the demeanor and mood. If you were to study it for a while, you might gain some useful insight into the creature – or the land might simply give you false ideas to mislead you. The place is corrupt and evil, after all. Magic can go awry in a domain, as well, and in the case of particularly powerful creatures even time can get warped and distorted.
Cursed domains also come with exciting effects of their own, to contain and torment the creature trapped within their borders; dread fog inflicts non-lethal damage to those in it and is effectively an impenetrable murk, and the lands within the domain are haunted with reminders and torments for the inhabitant of their misdeeds.
Leaving behind the domains of evil, we get a segment on traps; it describes how you can effectively make any trap into a horror trap with a change of description and a slight alteration of function, and provides a list of three: the crushing cage, which slowly pulps those inside; the faceless statue, which petrifies victims and then deforms them with stone shape; and the sinking coffin, which locks victims inside a metal box that drops into the water.
Nightmares follow this up with information on creating nightmare dreamscapes within the Plane of Dreams; it includes a segment on naturally occurring nightmares and supernatural ones. The key components of each nightmare are a goal – something that the victim or victims of the dream can accomplish to overcome the nightmare – and features – things that exist to complicate the dream and make it harder. The former might be something like reaching a specific person or place, while the latter might involve being chased by something that can’t be beaten, but can be escaped for a time.
After this, we hit fleshwarping; it apparently splits into true fleshwarping and fleshcrafting. The former is the process of modifying and transforming an entire living creature, resulting in nightmarishly deformed and twisted beasts, while the latter involves modifying only a portion of the creature. Of the two, players are more like to be interested in the second one, which provides permanent grafts and temporary elixirs.
They follow this up with a list of sample fleshcrafts, which includes fun things like grafted natural armor, poisonous fangs, gills, and wings; being the result of a vile process of physical transmutation, however, each fleshcraft brings penalties with it as well as benefits. The wings, for example, impose a penalty on every non-Fly Dexterity-based check the character makes.
It also covers unintential fleshwarping – mutation caused by alchemical pollution, arcane fallout, and so on. These come with a couple of handy random charts to determine the mutation, divided into lesser and greater versions; lesser mutations might be thing like growing fur or scales, developing a forked tongue, or having extra digits grow on the hands and feet. Greater mutations can be things like becoming bioluminescent, growing eye clusters, or developing light sensitivity. It’s a good threat to endanger players with, really.
That’s it for today; the horror rules section is remarkably dense. Next time we’ll pick up with the expanded rules on haunts.