When I was world-building my homebrew plane of Eleora, I decided to leave one continent shrouded in mystery. Not because it was uninhabited, nor because it was unexplored, but because I wanted to develop something that prevented access to it. Travel between the main two continents of both of my current campaigns is largely cut off by a tumultuous, ocean-sized whirlpool (more on that at a later date), and the third continent is surrounded on three sides by an ever-present kaleidoscopic mist that lore claims “changes you” or “no one travels the mist and returns.”
So what is the mist? Well, that is still largely unexplored by either campaign and so until the time is right, it will remain a closely guarded secret. I can, however, tell you what it does. The mist has existed lore-wise for about a thousand years in my world, and no one seems to be able to pinpoint its source. The only thing that has been determined, is that living in the mist or traveling through it, for that matter, is a dangerous and ill-advised thing to do. The mist permeates the body and being of a creature that spends any amount of time in it, and the longer you stay, the more you succumb to its nature.
My players found the mist to be unpredictable and at times devastating. On more than one occasion did I get reactions of sorrow, joy, pain, and excitement. Let’s break down how the mists work:
Upon entering the mists, all characters, including NPCs, must make a Wisdom saving throw. The DC for this saving throw is 15. A failure of any type here is an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. The desire to escape the mists is strong, though characters will not willingly harm themselves to escape.
After this initial saving throw, additional saving throws are made at dawn each day for the first 3 days of travel. These saving throws were originally determined at random by the Dungeon Master, but I think rolling a d6 and letting 1-6 equal the stats in order on the character sheet is a better way to do it. Though, performing the same saving throw multiple times in a row can get boring; so you might re-roll the d6 to determine a new stat. The DC for these saving throws is still 15. Effects to all saves will be listed in a moment.
After the third single day saving throw, the DC increases to 16 for the next two to three days, and the frequency at which saves are made should increase to twice a day. After the 3rd day of this pattern, again increase the DC by one and saves should be made three times a day. At this point of travel, it is best advised to avoid combat encounters, unless you’re sadistic and want a TPK… but you wouldn’t want that, now would you?
If you are traveling through the mists for more than nine days, continue at three saves per day, but increase the DC daily for each continued day of travel up to a DC of 20. For the last 2 days of travel in the mists, all saves should be Constitution saving throws. Now that we have the basics of when to make saves laid out, let’s talk about the effects.
- A regular success has no effect on the character. This is good.
- If you want to be generous, you can remove a point of exhaustion on a regular success.
- A regular failure gains the character a point of exhaustion.
- A critical success gains the character the following based on the stat that was rolled against:
- Strength – Gain the Athlete feat, must choose strength for the bonus. An additional critical success gains the Tough feat. Subsequent critical successes earn a plus 1 to strength, to a maximum of 22.
- Dexterity – Gain the Mobile feat. An additional critical success gains the Charger feat. Subsequent critical successes earn a plus 1 to dexterity, to a maximum of 22.
- Constitution – Gain the ability to add 1d6 of a specific type of damage to one attack per turn. Roll a d10 and consult the chart below (Fig. 1.1) to determine the type of damage to which you gain access. Subsequent critical successes increase the damage die to a d8, then d10, then a max of a d12.
- Intelligence – Gain the Keen Mind feat. An additional critical success gains the Linguist feat. Subsequent critical successes earn a plus 1 to intelligence, to a maximum of 22.
- Wisdom – Gain the Observant feat. An additional critical success gains the Alert feat. Subsequent critical successes earn a plus 1 to wisdom, to a maximum of 22.
- Charisma – Gain the Actor feat. An additional critical success gains the Inspiring Leader feat. Subsequent critical successes earn a plus 1 to charisma, to a maximum of 22.
- A critical failure has the following consequences based on the stat that was rolled against, but no point of exhaustion is applied:
- Strength* – Take 1d8 points of strength damage, to a minimum of 1.
- Dexterity* – Take 1d8 points of dexterity damage, to a minimum of 1.
- Constitution – The player rolls a d20 and consults the chart below (Fig 1.2), permanently changing to the new race, re-rolling the d20 if they roll their current race. They lose the racial traits of their old race, and gain the racial traits of their new race. Their size and speed adjust to their new race, either randomly determined or chosen by the player. Their ability score bonuses and languages do not change. If there is a subrace, assign those to an appropriate sized dice to determine the outcome (ex. roll a d2 to determine Hill or Mountain dwarf).
- Intelligence* – Take 1d8 points of intelligence damage, to a minimum of 1. If a character reaches a 1 in this stat, they are treated as if under the effects of the Feeblemind spell and cannot cast spells, or speak/read/write or otherwise understand language.
- Wisdom* – Take 1d8 points of wisdom damage, to a minimum of 1.
- Charisma* – Take 1d8 points of charisma damage, to a minimum of 1.
*If a character rolls a critical success after rolling a critical failure on the same stat, you could allow them to immediately regain their original stat score instead of gaining a bonus feat or stat increase. This does not apply to the Constitution saving throw changes.
With these effects, there are some things that players would wish to use to mitigate the stat changes and racial changes. In my game, nothing short of Divine Intervention or a Wish spell counteracts these effects, but you could allow the Greater Restoration spell to counteract the stat decreases, if you so desire.
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