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Maddening May: The Sunken Fla’nag Asylum

Last one to the tomb gets locked out when the sun comes upThe Fla’nag Asylum was built not out of the desire for such a structure, but by the necessity for one. The madness that seeps through the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh had left too many madmen wandering the land, dangers to themselves and to others, so the dweorg Fla’nag Irontooth carved this sprawling asylum from the living rock of one of the nicer the caverns nearby, just outside the Tangleroot Forest.

However, Fla’nag was unaware that as he carved the tunnels that would become his asylum, the work was being guided by another hand: that of the swamp’s madness slug. As work progressed, the asylum came not to be an ordered structure as the dweorg had originally intended but one with sprawling hallways and rooms of every size and shape—all of which form a titanic symbol designed to focus madness inwards, concentrated by on a narrow planar breach at the asylum’s heart.

It took only six years after the asylum opened before reality cracked, spilling it into the Plane of Madness (and drawing some of the otherworldy realm into the Material Plane). Today, the asylum exists in at least two places at once, and the architecture constantly warps and folds upon itself, trapping any fool brave enough to explore its halls. Even locating the asylum can prove a challenge: oftentimes its entrance can be found in the Tangleroot Forest, but other times the doorway crawls through the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh, or even disappears entirely.

Those that do escape with their lives and minds intact tell terrifying tales of what the place has become. The committed are dead to a man, though their spirits still stalk the halls and their final screams hang in the air. The hallways stretch to infinity in nearly all directions (though sane enough minds can hold them in place long enough to traverse safely, doing so only makes it easier for the creatures within to track their prey). The once-dweorg guards and doctors are now eldritch horrors and dark scions, endlessly patrolling routes and guarding empty chambers for reasons only they understand.

Worst of all—so the stories go—is the warden: to survive the encroaching madness, Fla’nag reached out to any power that would answer, signing a blood pact with the devils of HEL in desperation to transform him into a powerful gitwerc that could survive, and perhaps even rule over such a place. Now he toils to siphon off fragments of the mad souls to his new masters, eagerly seizing any new life that stumbles into his domain.

ghost__keith_curtisThough impossible to map the majority of the asylum, there is a semblance of order that persists throughout. The atrium that connects to the outside world remains virtually untouched by time, and there are very distinctly upper and lower ‘floors’: the upper floors are often filled with a haze of smoke and mist while the lower floors are instead flooded to a greater or lesser extent. The wellspring of the water that floods the Fla’nag Asylum isn’t known, but the water is tainted with madness, mutating those who drink from it or driving them insane.

No maps of the Fla’nag Asylum survived its collapse, so it is impossible to tell how many of the rooms within exist purely on the Plane of Madness. Rooms seem to appear and disappear at random, or perhaps their appearance is guided by Fla’nag or some greater power distilled from the plane itself.

There remain cells with padded walls and few corners, and offices now often featuring torture implements as often as simple desks and chairs, but other more obscure rooms still exist, whose purpose has been lost to madness or whose original purpose may never have quite been met. The only fragment of Fla’nag Asylum that remain unchanged from the original days is its heart, where the planar rift hangs invisibly in the air. A coven of drow witches makes their lair here, servants of the madness slug herself.


Though the architecture is constantly in flux, the spirits and energies within the asylum are fairly consistent. During any encounter, or once each hour spent stationary in the asylum, a GM should roll to see which madness effects manifest in that location.

d100      Madness Effect
0-15       —
16-30     auditory patch of madness
31-45     visual patch of madness
46-65     echoes of the asylum

66-75     both auditory and visual patches of madness
76-85     auditory patch of madness, and echoes of the asylum
86-95     visual patch of madness, and echoes of the asylum
96-99     visual and auditory patches of madness, and echoes of the asylum
100        The asylum writhes as a wave of raw madness energy rolls through the hallways. All characters must make a DC 25 Will save or immediately gain a random insanity (see the “Sanity and Madnesssection in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide).

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Maddening May: Story Locale – Tangleroot Forest

aaw-website - fantasy-art-wallpaper-36Large swathes of the western Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh are covered in unnaturally dark trees that fully extend over the bog. Many creatures don’t notice the abnormality; only those that make a
DC 19 Perception check see that what they walk upon is heavily matted moss covered in dirt, all suspended on the roots of numerous trees! Underneath the “ground” is a 10 to 15 foot drop into murky, disgusting bog water, filled with rotting matter and worse (DC 17 Swim check).

Strange smells that pique your curiosity but defy identification seem to emanate from everywhere and nowhere all at once as you head deeper into these subterranean groves. Skeletal trees are everywhere, their roots disappearing beneath furred moss of greens, browns, and sooty blacks. Despite their lack of foliage, the ebony and dark grey bark are so dense that they block out any sight of the roof of the cavern.

All of the ground in the Tangleroot Forest is considered difficult terrain. Every minute outside of combat or every movement greater than a 5-foot step during combat requires a
DC 10 Acrobatics check; on a failure, a creature gets their feet caught in troublesome roots. Any creature weighing in total more than 100 pounds increases the DC of this check by +2, and a creature weighing more than 200 pounds increases the DC of this check by another +2 and a creature weighing 300 pounds or more increases the check by another +2 (to DC 16). Creatures with a climb speed and creatures of a size of Tiny or less are immune to this effect.

Once affected by the ground of the Tangleroot Forest, a creature cannot take any movement until freed.

aaw-website - Final-Arboreal Menace-CCreatures that snag their feet on the floor of the Tangleroot Forest must succeed on a CMB, Reflex, or Escape Artist check as a swift action to free themselves (whichever is best) against the same DC as the Acrobatics check + 5. Attempting this as a move action reduces the DC of the check to free themselves by -5. Failure on a check to free itself knocks a creature prone.

During combat the danger of stepping into or through the floor of the Tangleroot Forest increases dramatically. Movement of any kind in between squares requires an Acrobatics check as described above (DC 10, 12, 14 or 16 depending on a creature’s weight). Additionally, when a creature reaches the end of any movement during a combat round in the Tangleroot Forest, there is a chance the ground they stop on breaks beneath them! Creatures of Tiny size are immune to this effect, but there is a 5% chance for each size category larger than Tiny that a creature falls through the roots and into the dirty bog water below (5% Small, 10% Medium, 15% Large, and so on).

Monsters of many kinds wander the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh (indeed—
grick swim all over the bog underneath the Underworld groves), but the Taaaw-website - Mark Hyzer Purple Wormlngleroot Forest is almost exclusively ruled over by crazed fey. For the most part, they are not much of a danger. They do constitute a threat, however—PCs that camp on the “floor” of the Tangleroot Forest may fall into the bog underneath, the squares they occupy undermined by the mischievous fey (25% chance). Other dangers like the souls of those that have died here and angry, intelligent, territorial plants stalk the Tangleroot Forest, and many who cross the region waste no time in doing so lest they draw their unwelcome attentions. Whatever the creature

d100      Creatures Encounters
1-22       6 sprites, 2d4 nixie, 1d4 grig
23-46     2d6 quickling
47-64     1d4+2 redcaps
65-82     1d4 will-o’-wisps
82-96     1d4 quickwood
91-100    carrion crawler [see this week’s Statblock Sunday!]