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Domains of Evil

Source Horror Adventures pg. 159
Some powerful creatures are so corrupted that their malignancy creeps into the land around them, establishing dangerous domains of evil over which they rule. And though some vile lords find themselves trapped within these cursed realms, they also become capable of exerting tremendous influence over the atmosphere and composition of their domains, such that their lands grow to reflect their dark moods and deeds. These dark rulers are described in the dread lord template.

Domains of evil are dark pockets of supernatural activity embedded in a plane (often the Material Plane) like boils on pockmarked flesh. Most domains are hostile and uninviting at best, full of twisted forests, rough and intractable terrain, and putrid rivers that reek of rot and pollution. Wildlife could be similarly tainted, in which case even the occasional hare or ground squirrel is bony, cancerous, and infested with vermin. Packs of mangy coyotes, pustule-plagued wolves, and murders of molting crows might constantly harass travelers, nipping at their heels, ripping the flanks of their mounts, or snatching at the fingers of careless campers.

Supernatural creatures might also plague the unwary, as moaning zombies wander wind-blown mountain passes and spectral dead seek to drain the life from the living at every turn. Packs of ghouls roam the lowlands, devouring entire villages, and the gnawed skeletons they leave in their wake animate and attack travelers. Everywhere lurks the foreboding presence of some foul master, who has an uncanny knack for knowing the whereabouts of trespassers and is capable of bending the lands to his will to make them most unwelcome.

Such domains are not always devoid of humanoid populations—they may harbor villages of fearful and superstitious locals that usually serve as chattel and livestock for the domain’s lord. These populations tend to be incredibly insular and suspicious of outsiders and intrusions on their lifestyles, as trespassers into the realm—particularly adventurers—have ways of disrupting the locals’ tentative impasse with their lord.

Domain Geography

Source Horror Adventures pg. 160
When created, a domain of evil warps reality around it into a foul reflection of its master, with a radius of 5 miles for every Hit Die of its new lord (see the dread lord template). This radius usually centers on an ancient ancestral manse or cursed cairn that housed the dread lord’s family or was the scene of a tragedy that led to the domain’s creation. Though domains of evil are still located on their original plane (usually the Material Plane), with all the terrain, weather, flora, fauna, structures, and features normal to the area where they were created, their special natures cause them to have planar traits that alter their physical and magical properties, as well as some features exclusive to them. Domains of evil have the following features, as befits the horrible creatures that preside over these realms.

Alignment: If its master has 10 Hit Dice or fewer, a domain gains the mildly aligned planar alignment trait reflecting the alignment of its master. Domains with masters with more than 10 Hit Dice instead become strongly aligned.

Borders: Some domains are formed simply by the foul presence of an evil that has long inhabited the land, whether it’s a nosferatu lord lurking in the shadows or a restless ghost bound to the soil of its unquiet grave. The borders of such a domain are open; creatures can freely enter and leave, and its lord can pass to and from its domain without penalty, though the influence he has over his lands doesn’t extend past the domain’s established borders. Other domains of evil serve as torturous prisons for their cursed lords (see Cursed Domains), who find it impossible to leave the realms to which they are bound, oftentimes hindered by a pervasive bank of dread fog that prevents their egress. These mists resist intrusion into the domain, though the strange whims of dark powers might allow passage through the fog for those who might further trouble or torment the land’s lord.

Disturbing to Animals: The overwhelming taint of unnatural presences disturbs animals that are not native to a domain of evil. Animals don’t willingly approach the domain’s border unless their masters succeed at DC 25 Handle Animal, Ride, or wild empathy checks, and the masters must continue to attempt checks each hour within the domain to prevent their animals from trying to leave the area. The DCs of all other Handle Animal, Ride, and wild empathy checks to influence nonnative animals increase by 5 while the animals remain within the domain’s border.

Hazards: The domain morphs into a dark and twisted reflection of its lord, with dangerous landmarks and supernatural hazards (such as the ones on in the Hazards section) mirroring the master’s temperament and personality infesting the landscape. Forests might become darker and more foreboding, full of misleading paths or gnarled oaks that grasp and tear at trespassers. Seemingly sentient fogs drift across the crags and crevices of the land, animating undead in their wakes, while bat colonies infest the domain’s caves and ruins. These hazards can shift and change over time as the land reacts to the moods and whims of the dread lord (a slow process that takes at least 24 hours, during which no hazard functions), but the total CR of all hazards found with a lord’s domain (that is, the CR of a hypothetical encounter with all of the hazards at once) can’t exceed double the dread lord’s Hit Dice, and no individual hazard can have a CR that exceeds the dread lord’s Hit Dice. If the land is the domain of a cursed lord and bordered by dread fog, the fog’s CR value doesn’t count against this limit.

Magic: The domain can have the enhanced magic, impeded magic, or wild magic planar trait, as befits the personality and temperament of its lord. If the domain has enhanced, impeded, or limited magic, one type of magic per 5 Hit Dice of its lord can be enhanced, impeded, or limited. The categories of magic that are affected are relatively narrow. For example, an entire school of magic would be too broad, but “effects with the healing descriptor or that restore hit points” or “death spells and spells granted by the Death and Repose domains” would be appropriate. A type of spell can’t be both enhanced and impeded by the same domain.

Time: A domain’s time passes at the normal rate by default. In some cases, the lord’s powerful whims alter the passage of time, whether replicating the slow churning of years felt by a lich’s long existence, or the quickening felt by a blood-sated vampire. This alteration can be temporary or permanent, and the domain can have the erratic time, flowing time (half or double normal time), or timeless trait.

Cursed Domains

Source Horror Adventures pg. 161
Though many dread lords so embrace their inherent evil that they slowly corrupt the lands around them, others perform deeds so horrendous that gods, the universe, fate, or another powerful force curses them to internal imprisonment in a domain. There is no escape for a cursed lord, who is continuously subject to living and spectral reminders of the tragic misdeeds that trapped him (see the cursed lord template). These realms have all the qualities of domains of evil, with the following additional traits.

Dread Fog: This cloying mist often encapsulates the boundaries of cursed domains, raised by terrible powers to prevent entry into, or escape from, the cursed lands they protect. Like normal fog, these pervasive banks of thick mists obscure all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet, granting concealment to all creatures at least 5 feet away (20% miss chance). Navigation and orientation within the mists is treacherous, and creatures usually find themselves easily separated from their companions unless extraordinary means are taken to prevent separation, which can include shackling or binding adjacent creatures to one another with rope. Those within the fog have little hope of navigating the mists and risk becoming hopelessly lost. A creature must succeed at a DC 20 Intelligence check each hour after entering the mist. Creatures that fail continue to wander in the fog until they succeed. Creatures that succeed exit the fog 1d10 × 100 feet from the location where they first entered the miasma. Spells and abilities that move a creature within a plane, such as teleport and dimension door, don’t help a creature escape this fog, although a plane shift spell allows the creature to exit at the location it originally entered the fog. Penetrating the fog to actually enter or exit the realm it protects is subject to the GM’s discretion. Navigating through might require difficult Knowledge (planes) checks, random happenstance, complicated arcane rituals beseeching favor, or simply the desire of the mysterious entities responsible for the cursed realm’s creation to see the torture of their prisoner ended or increased with the intrusion of the adventurers.

The fog’s hopelessness is pervasive, and creatures take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage per hour they are within the fog. The wraiths and geists of those who have perished in the mists might also materialize to drain the life from travelers. Those who lose their lives within this miasma are forever lost, incapable of being restored to life by any means short of direct divine intervention. They often turn into incorporeal undead themselves, their souls feeding the strange boundary’s continued existence.

Haunted Lands: Cursed lords are plagued with the spectres of the acts that led to the creation of the domain, which materialize as haunts. The realm of a brutal dictator might be tormented with the haunts of those he tortured to death, reflecting the various violent means by which they were killed. The domain of a lich cursed for sacrificing her entire family to fuel her transformation into undeath may contain the spirits of those she betrayed, who wander the halls of a ruined manse at the core of the land. The cursed lord has no control over these spectral trespassers, placed to remind him of his former misdeeds. When a cursed realm is created, the domain manifests a number of haunts with a total CR value (that is, the CR of a hypothetical encounter with all of the hazards at once) of up to double the cursed lord’s Hit Dice, with no single haunt having a CR that exceeds the cursed lord’s Hit Dice. These haunts are chained to the cursed lord and can’t be completely destroyed while the cursed lord still exists. Other haunts not chained to the cursed lord might manifest within the domain of evil, but such haunts don’t count against the CR limit.