This series introduces the concept of living locations: places that possess a primitive sentience, personality, and awareness. These locations are not “alive” in the traditional sense but manipulate their environment and the creatures and objects within them.
Locations that fit this archetype in games, film, and literature include the house in the movie Monster House (2006), the apartment in 1408 (1999), and the town of Silent Hill in the game Silent Hill (1999). More examples might come to you if you think a bit.
A living location need not be a haunted house or a supernatural manifestation. It can include locations such as a workshop granted a semblance of life by clockwork magic or a mysterious tower of plants animated by the will of an elemental or fey lord.
Living Location Stats
This article look at the base statistics shared by all living locations. Future articles in this series will explore how to use living locations in a campaign and provide some working examples.
Only locations of Huge size or greater possess enough spiritual or magical energy to become living locations, and most living locations are Gargantuan. Location sizes and examples for each size category are shown in the Locations Sizes table.
|Huge||15 ft. by 15 ft.||small kitchen, forest henge|
|Gargantuan||20 ft. by 20 ft. or larger||dining hall, mountain cabin, cave|
|Gargantuan+||60 ft. by 60 ft. or larger 1||ruined castle, dungeon complex|
1 There is no upper limit to the size of a Gargantuan+ living location.
Living locations can sense their surroundings in a rudimentary fashion. While they do not possess eyes or ears, they can precisely determine the whereabouts of any objects and creatures within their area as if using a combination of blindsense and tremorsense. The range of these senses is determined by the location’s size, as shown in the Location Senses Range table.
Location Senses Range
|Huge||blindsight 30 ft., tremorsense 15 ft.|
|Gargantuan||blindsight 60 ft., tremorsense 30 ft.|
|Gargantuan+||blindsight 120 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.|
Every living location contains a heart or core that represents its animating force or vital spirit. You can damage a living location, only by destroying its core can you destroy the whole location. A living location regains all lost hit points to its structure on initiative count 20, as long as at least one of its cores remains intact.
A living location possesses a number of cores equal to its size, as shown in the Location Cores table.
|Location Size||Number of Cores|
1 There is no limit to the number of cores a gargantuan+ living location can control.
A core is at least two size categories smaller than the location that spawned it. A core has the base statistics of an animated object of that size but with modifiers based on the size of the location as shown in the Core Stat Modifiers table.
Core Stat Modifiers
|Location Size||Charisma Score 1||Additional Attacks 2||Speed Bonus 3|
1 The core receives a bonus to its AC and saving throws equal to its CHA modifier.
2 Additional attacks can be of any type that the core could make with its animated object stat block.
3 This speed increase affects all of the core’s movement speeds according to its animated object stat block.
Monsters as Cores
Some living locations form a spiritual connection with one or more creatures instead of an object. These creatures act as the living location’s cores and are bound to the location until they are killed.
A creature bound to a living location cannot willingly leave it. If forced to leave by physical or magical means, the creature gains one level of exhaustion every hour, even if it would normally be immune to the condition. A creature that would die from exhaustion in this way becomes incapacitated instead. A creature immediately removes all levels of exhaustion once it re-enters its living location.
A living location possesses a number of minor abilities it can use to affect itself and its surroundings. These abilities can distract, influence, or frighten away potential threats, but they can’t cause direct harm to creatures or the destruction of valuable items. Abilities can be persistent or activated by the location. In combat, they occur on initiative count 20.
A living location has a number of minor abilities determined by its size, as shown in the Location Minor Abilities table. A minor ability can generally replicate any spell of the listed level or lower. The save for a minor ability is based on the living location’s size.
Location Minor Abilities
|Location Size||Number of Minor Abilities||Max Spell Level||Save DC|
The next article in this series will list and describe potential minor abilities.
A living location also possesses one or more major abilities that it can use to attack intruders. These abilities are similar to the lair actions of legendary creatures. In combat, they take place on initiative count 20. Unlike lair actions, however, they might have limited uses.
A living location has a number of major abilities determined by its size, as shown in the Location Major Abilities table. A major ability can generally replicate any spell of the listed level or lower. The save for a major ability is based on the living location’s size.
Location Major Abilities
|Location Size||Number of Major Abilities||Max Spell Level||Save DC|
A future article in this series will list potential major abilities.