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.
The first article in this series about living locations, Make it Legendary, introduced the concept and the stat block used for creating them. This article examines the minor abilities that living locations can use to hinder or unnerve those wishing to destroy, steal from, or simply explore them.
Every living location has several minor abilities it can bring to bear on unwanted visitors. These abilities range from cosmetic to states that can confound or demoralize but usually don’t directly damage or cause loss of property.
The abilities detailed on the Living Location Minor Abilities table are not exhaustive but give GMs plenty to work with. Pick an ability from the table or roll percentile dice to gain one at random. Note that DCs for effects are presented in part 1 of this series, Make it Legendary.
Living Location Minor Abilities
|% Roll||Minor Ability|
|01–10||All creatures with an Intelligence score of 3 or greater lose track of time spent within the living location and forget aspects of the location’s interior such as the layout of rooms and whether they have been in certain areas. A creature that leaves the living location has trouble recalling events that took place inside of it as if the time there was a hazy dream. These effects start as soon as the creature takes a short rest within the location.|
|11–20||The living location can make its surfaces leak a liquid of some kind once every hour. The liquid can cover a depth or thickness of up to 1 foot and potentially conceals objects or creatures within it. The liquid can be foul-smelling, sticky, or viscous in nature but should not cause direct damage (though certain substances can mimic the effects of a grease spell). Possible liquids include blood, tar, oil, mucus, or seawater. These effects last up to 1 minute for a Huge location, up to 10 minutes for a Gargantuan location, and up to 30 minutes for a Gargantuan+ location.|
|21–30||The living location can cause eyes, mouths, and other body parts to appear on its surfaces once every hour. These body parts can look humanoid, monstrous, or any combination, though specific locations may prefer a particular creature. The body parts move (eyes blink, mouths open and close, etc.) but cannot attack or take other actions. The body parts can be easily cut out or severed, but this deals no damage to the location, and the body part withers away within 1d4 rounds once removed. These effects last up to 1 minute for a Huge location, up to 10 minutes for a Gargantuan location, and up to 30 minutes for a Gargantuan+ location.|
|31–40||The living location can create an illusion as the silent image spell once every hour. The illusion must be of something within the living location’s sphere of influence or knowledge. Thus, a living location that has never encountered an elf or the ocean could not create an image of an elven maid or a wave breaking on a beach. A living location of Gargantuan+ size can create an illusion with auditory and olfactory components as the major image spell. A living location must abide by all restrictions imposed by the spells their effects mimic.|
|41–50||The living location can alter the temperature, smell, and other environmental conditions within its rooms and passageways once every hour. A living location could thus make a chamber freezing cold or uncomfortably warm or fill a corridor with a noisome stench. These effects last up to 1 minute for a Huge location, up to 10 minutes for a Gargantuan location, and up to 30 minutes for a Gargantuan+ location.|
|51–60||The living location can manipulate its internal dimensions, layout, and external appearance by shifting the position of walls and floors, causing doors and other openings to appear or disappear, or making itself look brand new when it previously seemed to be old and decrepit. It can use this ability to trap or separate creatures but cannot use it to harm them. It takes the living location 1 round to change its appearance or layout, and it can do so once every hour. Living locations prefer to use this ability when not being directly observed.|
|61–70||The living location can sense the general emotions and well-being of creatures within its boundaries (no save). In addition, a living location of Gargantuan size or larger can replicate the effects of the detect thoughts spell, reading the minds of creatures that enter it. A creature gains a saving throw to ignore these effects, and once the location uses this ability, it cannot use it again until at least an hour has passed.|
|71–80||The living location can ignite or quench all non-magical sources of illumination within its interior. It can also cast the light spell on any surface or object not being held or worn by a living creature. In addition, a Gargantuan living location or larger can cast the darkness spell on any surface or object not being held or worn by a living creature. A living location can use these abilities at will, save for the darkness spell, which it can cast once every hour.|
|81–90||The living location can cause all non-magical, non-living objects brought within its borders to deteriorate and decay until destroyed. This causes food or water to spoil within a single hour and destroys any non-magical object not made out of stone or metal within 24 hours. This process destroys any corpses not protected by the gentle repose spell and stops when the object leaves the living location.|
|91–100||The living location can cast the following spells based on its size once every hour. Larger locations also gain all of the spells of the smaller locations.|
Huge: fog cloud, illusory script, sleep.
Gargantuan: arcane lock, gentle repose, magic mouth.
Gargantuan+: animate dead, dispel magic, hypnotic pattern, water breathing.