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Living Locations 3: Major Abilities

Living Locations 3: Major Abilities

This series introduces the concept of living locations: places that possess a primitive sentience, personality, and awareness. These locations are not “alive” in the mtraditional 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.

Catch up on all the Living Locations articles! This article examines major abilities that living locations can use to hinder or unnerve those wishing to destroy, steal from, or simply explore them.

Major Abilities

Every living location possesses one or more major abilities that it can bring to bear against intruders. Unlike the minor abilities outlined in part 2 of this series, these abilities can harm living creatures and their possessions.

In many ways, major abilities are similar to lair actions. While in combat, these abilities occur on an initiative count of 20. Some major abilities can be used every round, while others have limited uses or have a recharge limit. The abilities detailed below are not exhaustive but give GMs plenty to work with. Pick an ability from the list below or roll percentile dice to gain one at random. See part 1 of this series for DCs.

Living Location Major Abilities

% RollMajor Ability
01–10Damage Effect (Recharge 5–6). The living location ejects a 15-foot-long cone or a 30-foot-long by 5-foot-wide line of acid, cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, poison, radiant, or thunder damage from one surface. The amount of damage is 7 (2d6) for a Huge living location, 14 (4d6) for a Gargantuan living location, and 28 (8d6) for a Gargantuan+ living location. A target can make a Dexterity saving throw to halve the damage from this attack.
11–20Animate Objects. The living location animates one or more objects within its space to attack or harass intruders as if casting the animate objects spell. A Gargantuan living location can animate up to four additional objects, and a Gargantuan+ living location can animate up to eight additional objects. The living location can use this ability once per day.
21–30Crush (Recharge 5–6). The living location slams parts of its structure together, crushing anything caught within. The damage for this ability is 5 (1d10) bludgeoning for a Huge living location, 16 (3d10) bludgeoning for a Gargantuan living location, and 33 (6d10) bludgeoning for a Gargantuan+ living location. On a successful Dexterity saving throw, the target takes no damage.
31–40Spawn Swarm. A swarm of bats, spiders or other terrain-appropriate creatures emerges from one of the living location’s openings, such as a chimney or drain. The swarm immediately attacks the closest creatures. The swarm can be up to CR 2 for a Huge location, CR 5 for a Gargantuan living location, and CR 10 for a Gargantuan+ living location. The living location can spawn such a swarm once per day. The swarm lasts for 1 hour or until destroyed.
41–50Possess. The living location attempts to possess a creature within it. This possession can be gradual or sudden. The ability works identically to the possession ability of a ghost, and a successful Charisma saving throw negates the effect. If the possession is gradual, the victim must make this saving throw whenever it takes a long rest within the location. Otherwise, the living location can use the ability once per day. Unlike a ghost, a living location can possess multiple creatures at once.
51–60Inundate. The living location fills one chamber or corridor with blood or liquid of its choosing. Creatures caught in the chamber or corridor while inundated must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be swept off their feet and carried 30 feet in a direction of the location’s choosing. The creature also risks drowning unless it extricates itself.
If the liquid is harmful in some way (such as acid), it deals 3 (1d6) damage of the appropriate damage type per round of contact to all creatures starting their turns within it. The liquid drains away in 1 hour (or sooner, depending on the type of liquid and the space it fills). The living location can use this ability once per day.
61–70Bite. The living location forms one or more mouths to bite enemies within its space. The mouths appear on a surface of the living location’s choosing and have the following statistics: AC 13; hp 30; Str 18. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage. A Huge living location can form a single mouth, a Gargantuan living location can form up to two mouths, and a Gargantuan+ living location can form up to four mouths. The living location has as many Bite attacks as it has mouths.
71–80Trigger Trap. The living location manually activates a trap placed or built within it as an action. This trap can be magical or mechanical and can be up to CR 2 for a Huge living location, up to CR 5 for a Gargantuan living location, and up to CR 10 for a Gargantuan+ living location. The living location can reset any trap it or another creature has triggered as a bonus action.
81–90Pain and Fear (Recharge 5–6). The living location attacks foes’ minds directly, bombarding them with rending pain and frightful images that deal psychic damage and cause the frightened condition for 1 minute. This attack affects all targets within a 20-foot radius. A successful Wisdom saving throw reduces the damage by half and negates the frightened condition. The damage is 4 (1d8) for a Huge living location, 13 (3d8) for a Gargantuan living location, and 27 (6d8) for a Gargantuan+ living location.
91–100Spellcasting. The living location can cast one of the following spells based on its size once every hour. Larger locations also gain all of the spells of the smaller locations.
Huge: heat metal, stinking cloud, wall of fire, web.
Gargantuan: black tentacles, cloudkill, confusion, polymorph, telekinesis, wall of force, wall of ice, wall of stone.
Gargantuan+: antimagic field, arcane sword, dominate monster, forcecage, imprisonment, maze, reverse gravity, weird.

about Phillip Larwood

Phillip has been writing for Kobold Press and other companies for many years. From multiple articles in the early days of Kobold Quarterly magazine to recent books like Tome of Beasts 2 and Vault of Magic, Phillip is never more satisfied than when he sees his name in print. Something that he points out to his family and friends over and over and over again.

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