This series looks at the corruption that extended use of violent and uncontrolled magic might cause on the landscape, from pollution to neglect to the destructive aftermath of conflicts. We continue by contemplating magical wastelands caused by planar intrusions.
The touch of the other dimensions of the endless multiverse on the mortal world can be subtle as a whisper or as violent as a striking fist. Most planes tend to be inherently magical, encompassing an aspect as classical elements, ultimate good or evil, or other esoteric facets.
For some settings, planes are distant destinations, reachable only by great magic. For others, planes commonly intrude upon the mortal world, phasing in and out of synchronicity like the phases of the moon.
Unlike the other regions discussed in this series, planar intrusions on a fantasy setting can cause temporary effects, or can spawn vast magical wastelands depending on how long the plane influences the mortal world. Thematic elements of the wasteland are also linked to the type of plane causing the effect. The scorched badland resulting from the touch of the plane of fire, for example, would be different from the necrotic wastes brought about by the plane of the dead.
Some sample aspects of an intrusion by another plane are detailed below.
A dark, amorphous tear in the fabric of reality floats through the air. In its depth is a dark void from which nothing escapes.
This living spell is a corrupted version of the 3rd-level spell portal jaunt (see Deep Magic). It is an animated manifestation of the Void.
Large Construct, Unaligned
Armor Class 14 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 57 (6d10 + 24)
Speed 0 ft., fly 25 ft. (hover)
|1 (−5)||20 (+5)||18 (+4)||3 (−4)||11 (+0)||6 (−2)|
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities cold,necrotic, poison, thunder
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned, prone
Senses blindsense 120 ft., tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 10
Challenge 3 (700 xp) Proficiency Bonus +2
Amorphous. The living portal can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.
Anchored. The living portal is immune to all teleportation spells or any magical effect that would transport it against its will.
Magic Resistance. The living portal has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Unusual Nature. The living portal doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.
Multiattack. The living portal makes two Shadow Claw attacks.
Shadow Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) cold damage.
Void Bolt. Ranged Spell Attack: +7 to hit, reach 90 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d8) cold damage and 9 (2d8) force damage.
Baleful Scattering (Recharge 5–6). The living portal teleports up to five creatures it can see within 30 feet. Unwilling creatures must succeed on DC 12 Wisdom saving throws or be teleported to an unoccupied space of the living portal’s choice within 60 feet of the creature’s original position. The living portal must be able to see the unoccupied space.
Transposition. When the living portal is hit by an attack, it briefly opens a transposition at a location it can see within 60 feet. The weapon or spell attack enters the body of the living portal, dealing no damage to it, and emerges from the transposition to target a creature of the living portal’s choice within the attack’s range. The attack deals damage to the new target as normal with a successful hit.
Powered by the Cataclysm: Void Charge
Wondrous Item, Rare
This small, fist-sized orb is made of a glossy black substance and features three red runes arrayed in a circle. The void speech runes represent one, two, or three rounds.
As an action, you can touch one rune (choosing 1, 2, or 3 rounds) and then throw the void charge up to 60 feet. The orb vanishes on impact, transitioning momentarily to somewhere in the void, before reappearing in the same spot a number of rounds later equal to the rune you selected. The void charge reappears at the beginning of the round, detonates, and is destroyed. Each creature within a 10-foot radius of the explosion must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (4d4) cold damage and 10 (4d4) force damage. Creatures that succeed on the save take half as much damage.
Midgard: The Foreboding Plateau of Leng
Leng festers at the center of the Eastern lands, a cancer on the skin of the world. Scholars alternatively describe the region as a high windswept plateau, an aspect of the Void, a land of conjoined planes, or even as the last fragment of a previous world. Leng could be any of those, or something else altogether. The foreboding plateau bleeds strange alien influences into Midgard, spreading corruption, twisted minds, and tainted forms. Those who dare explore this unusual area find different laws of reality. The sky runs the color gamut from purple to red, the clouds are greenish yellow, and the sun is larger and far more orange than the one circling Midgard. The ground is a metallic gray color and the high altitude, arid steppe is plagued by alien weather, wandering void portals and the corruptive nature of the land itself. Those who call this twisted region home are the capricious folk of Leng, the ravenous spiders of Leng, as well as foul aberrations and other horrors. Only the meditative yakfolk act to contain the horrors of Leng, but their struggle may be a losing battle.
Story Seed: Escape from the Plateau
A teleportation or shadow road error lands the PCs on the western edge of the Plateau of Leng. While contending with the strange weather of the area, they come across two spiders of Leng hunting a wounded yakfolk monk. Rescuing the yakfolk proves beneficial as she knows the closest route out of Leng, a treacherous mountain pass into Beldestan.
On the way, however, the PCs must navigate a dry lake bed swarming with living portals. If they are successful, they reach the mouth of the pass only to learn their companion had other reasons to guide them to that location. A folk of Leng raiding party is in the midst of loading a voidship full of yakfolk captives.