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Maddening May: Patches of Madness

Cloister1Some of the subterranean passages have been so infused with madness that it actually physically manifests itself. While exploring underground, the PC's may encounter patches of madness. While in a patch of madness, the characters encounter visual and auditory events designed to drive them mad, and to also make things generally more difficult. The only way these patches can be nullified is to use something like dimensional anchor, or other plane/dimension type spells.

Patch of Madness (Visual)

As you enter the caverns, the light begins to flicker, slowly at first, then building up to a maddening, irregular rhythm.

Type: magical; Perception DC —; Disable Device —

Trigger location; Reset 1/day

Effect

While in a visual patch of madness all light begins to strobe at irregular intervals. This strobing also affects darkvision. When the strobing starts, each PC needs to make a DC 24 Will Save or suffer a -8 penalty to Perception checks, and a -4 penalty to all other actions. A successful save reduces this penalty to -4 and -2. Additionally, concentration checks must be made to cast spells successfully (DC 15 + spell level x 2). During combat, a DC 15 Perception check must be made to target an enemy, otherwise, the enemy appears to not be there when the attack is made, or if there is a friend within 5 feet of the intended target, that PC is targeted by the attack instead.

Patch of Madness (Auditory)

As you enter the caverns, the wind seems to speak to you.

Type: magical; Perception DC —; Disable Device —

Trigger location; Reset 1/day

Effect

While in an auditory patch of madness sounds are amplified, silenced, and distorted. Sound-based abilities and skills are at a -4 penalty, and spellcasters must make a concentration check to cast spells (DC 15 + spell level x 2). If a DC 25 Will Save is not made, any save against fear suffers a -2 penalty. Speech made with a free action require a DC 20 Perception check to be heard, or it is not understood. This check is reduced to DC 15 if a swift action is used, and no check is needed if a move or standard action is used.

 

Both of these patches should be layered over traps and encounters. They can be layered over each other as well, and the effects stack. For maximum effect, description is key.

While the characters are in a visual patch of madness, describe it to them. Tell them they glimpse the other PC's, almost looking black and white, moving in herky-jerky slow motion. Every now and then they may catch a reflection of what looks like their own face. When they look to their party, their is suddenly an extra party member for one flash of light, who is gone for the second flash. When they trigger a trap, explain how the boulder seems to jump 20 feet with each flash of light, but otherwise appears motionless.

In the auditory patch, the PCs hear voices that sound like either their own or those of the party, sometimes changing from one party member to another mid-sentence, in a language that is all too familiar but not understandable. Just outside of a whisper, voices tell them to turn back, to leave and never return. They hear spells being cast that never materialize, and footsteps are heard, only to disappear when they turn around.

Make it a madhouse—in this environment even a simple pit or arrow trap can be terrifying. If the PC's have any henchmen or NPCs with them, make sure to check their morale, and have them break and run, causing the adventurers behind them to have to make a Perception check or perhaps mistakenly think they are under attack.

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