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Maddening May: Paranoid Delusions

Azurewrath [Rick Hershey]
The same madness that turned brother against brother also works to sow paranoid delusions into the PCs—even their own items can betray them!

Paranoid Delusions (CR 8)

The air is thick with moisture.

Type: magical; Perception DC 33; Disable Device 33

Trigger location; Reset None


When the trap is triggered, the PC feels vaguely unsettled. The next time they use an item together with a roll, like a skill check or attack roll, they must make a DC 25 Will Save. On a failure, they become unable to use that item for the next 1d6+2 rounds, believing that the item is cursed and will betray them. On a success, the PC takes a -2 circumstance penalty on the next single action with the item.

This trap works well at the beginning of an encounter area that requires combat or skill checks. To play this up, have the item in question trigger vivid hallucinations, or even have it mildly injure the PC. A sword could seemingly cut the wielder or an item could suddenly appear cursed or evil. With good enough descriptions, even non-affected PCs may think twice about their own inventory when sizing up an encounter. After all, there are plenty of other reasons they could feel uneasy.

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Maddening May: Chained-Swords of Ill-Fate

Chained-Swords of Ill-Fate
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 10th
Slot none; Price 33,000 gp; Weight 13 lbs.

Each blade of this double-bladed sword is nicked and battered from striking thousands of blows, but glows with a persistent dull, silver light that outlines it when unsheathed. Chains are wrapped around both sides of the hilt, and a worn, ornate clasp is latched at its center.

This +1 keen/+1 keen two-bladed sword normally operates as a regular two-bladed sword does, but can be changed with the flip of a latch (a swift action) into a bizarre, truly lethal weapon. When unlatched the swords come apart and are connected only by the chains, allowing the wielder of the chained-swords of ill-fate to lash out in a dangerous flurry of strikes—both at himself and his enemies! The wielder of an unlatched chained-swords of ill-fate can make two additional attacks in a full-attack action; both of these attacks are at their highest bonus -5, but one of them must target the wielder. These additional attacks stack with haste and other abilities and effects that grant additional attacks.

sword chucksThe wielder may make two additional extra attacks in a full-attack action for every +8 points of base attack bonus they possess (each at a -10 penalty) so long as one of these attacks is made against themselves.
Creatures attacking themselves with the chained-swords of ill-fate are considered flat-footed. Any critical hit a creature threatens on itself with the chained-swords of ill-fate is automatically confirmed.

Success on a Knowledge (history) or Profession (soldier) check to learn more about the chained-swords of ill-fate reveals some facts about the unique weapon’s lore:

DC 15     The warrior Phytar earned a great deal of renown as master of the double-bladed sword and is said to have created the chained-swords of ill-fate, though he was quite incoherent afterward.
DC 20     A callous ally—a dark sorcerer and fellow of generally foul disposition named Blak-Maij—sarcastically suggested he seek a more powerful weapon in the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh. Being surprisingly dull and witless, Phytar took him at his word and headed for the Underworld bogs.
DC 25     While a fool, Phytar didn’t lack martial prowess. He easily killed creatures that attacked him, living for decades as a recluse in the subterranean swamps. Eating everything he thought he could, Phytar consumed several of the karz slugs and survived—but was delirious for weeks. A vision came to him during one of these spells, a phantasm of a wondrous amalgamation of nunchaku and a two-bladed sword.
DC 30     Despite his complete lack of intellect, Phytar’s iron resolve led to success after several decades of unending pursuit of the craft of magical weapons. He emerged with the chained-swords of ill-fate, challenging anyone willing to do battle. It’s said that these combats were a truly magnificent sight to behold, though it wasn’t long before Phytar accidentally killed himself using the very weapon he spent his life creating.

Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (two-bladed sword), Weapon Focus (two-bladed sword), Weapon Specialization (two-bladed sword), keen edge, haste; Cost 16,500 gp

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Maddening May – Nogth Ma’klurl’uth the Madness Slug

aaw-website - madnessslug2__matt_bulahaoA writhing mass of tentacles and teeth bursts from the ground. Whipping limbs surround its wide, tooth-filled maw, and its entire body is marked randomly with eyes—everytime you look at the them they appear to be in a new place. Reality swirls in waves around the monster as the world tries to push it back to the nightmare that spawned it.

Nogth Ma’klurl’uth, the Madness Slug CR 13
XP 25,600
CE gargantuan outsider (chaotic, evil, extraplanar)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +23
AC 29, touch 4, flat-footed 29 (+25 natural, -2 Dex, -4 size)
hp 184 (16d10+96) regeneration 5
Fort +16, Ref +9, Will +16
DR 15/magic; Immune acid, cold, mind affecting effects, paralysis, sleep; SR 18
Defensive Abilities acidic blood
Speed 20 ft., burrow 40 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee bite +24 (4d8+12), 4 tentacles +22 (2d6+12 plus grab)
Space 20 ft.; Reach15 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (60 ft. cone, Will DC 24, 1d6 wisdom drain), swallow whole (4d8+12 bludgeoning damage, AC 22, hp 18), feeding tentacles.
Str 34, Dex 6, Con 22, Int 12, Wis 18, Cha 9
Base Atk +16; CMB +32 (+36 grapple); CMD 40 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Blind Fight, Bloody Assault, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Armor, Iron Will, Multiattack, Power Attack
Skills Knowledge (arcana) +20, Knowledge (planes) +20, Perception +23, Sense Motive +23, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +17, Swim +31
Languages telepathy 120 ft.
SQ Change shape (drow witch; see below)
Acidic Blood (Ex) Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s blood can corrode metal on contact. If a creature damages Nogth Ma’klurl’uth with a piercing or slashing weapon made of metal, Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s blood deals 5d6 points of acid damage to the metal weapon (unlike most forms of energy damage, this damage is not halved when applied to a metal object, although it does still have to penetrate the metal’s hardness). The weapon’s wielder can halve the damage the weapon takes by making a successful DC 22 Reflex save. Creatures made of metal that deal slashing or piercing damage to Nogth Ma’klurl’uth with a natural attack take 5d6 points of acid damage (a DC 22 Reflex save halves this damage). The corrosive elements of the blood fade 1 round after it leaves Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s body or it dies. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Aura of Madness (Su) Any creature within 15 ft. of Nogth Ma’klurl’uth must take a DC 20 Will save or fall under the effects of a confusionspell (CL 16th) for 1d10 rounds.
1-25      act normally
25-50     do nothing but babble incoherently
51-75     deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand
76-100   attack nearest creature (a familiar counts as part of the subject’s self)
Whether or not the save is successful, that creature cannot be affected again by Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s aura of madness for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Breath Weapon (Su) Swirling mass of solidified madness. 60 ft. cone, Will save DC 24 to negate, 1d6 wisdom drain. Nogth Ma’klurl’uth can use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds. An opponent reduced to zero or below in wisdom by Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s breath weapon gains a severe insanity from the list below (curable DC 24).
1-3      paranoia
4-6      schizophrenia
7-9      psychosis
10-12   multiple personality disorder
See the “Sanity and Madness” section in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide for the specific rules of each one of these types of insanity.

Feeding Tentacles (Ex) Nogth Ma’klurl’uth can transfer one creature with the grappled condition from a tentacle to its mouth as a free action at the beginning of its turn. The creature does not lose the grappled condition during the transfer and starts in Nogth Ma’klurl’uth’s mouth with the grappled condition to be either swallowed whole or bitten.

Ferocity (Ex) Nogth Ma’klurl’uth continues to fight even when reduced to negative hit points.

Horrific Death (Ex) When Nogth Ma’klurl’uth is first reduced to negative hit points, creatures within its reach take 1d6+16 acid damage. While at negative hit points, Nogth Ma’klurl’uth adds a bonus to all damage equal to its hit dice (16). When it finally dies, Nogth Ma’klurl’uth dissolves into a pool of unidentifiable goo and reforms on the Plane of Madness after 101 years.

Madness Without, Madness Within (Ex) Nogth Ma’klurl’uth is madness given form and as such its insides consists of swirling fragmented visions of a variety of insanities. Any creature that has been swallowed whole must make a DC 22 Will save before attempting to cut their way out of Nogth Ma’klurl’uth. Failure results in the creature using its turn trying to maintain their precious grasp on reality; a new save may be attempted next round. Success means the creature can attempt to cut its way out and no further saves are necessary. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Voidborn (Ex) Nogth Ma’klurl’uth can exist safely in the void of space or similar hostile conditions.


The demiplane of madness is a maelstrom of insanities. The ground is a deluge of mud made of madnesses that has lost their potency—now they lie dormant and make up the ground of the plane. From this mire structures rise, but not in any conventional sense: floating towers, inverted houses, and structures that are there one moment and gone the next are common. The inhabitants of the plane are no less weird than the dimension itself. Hordes of madmen roam the everchanging landscape and nightmarish creatures prowl the skies.

This is the realm of Nogth Ma’klurl’uth; for centuries he roamed the plane, growing big on the different madnesses encountered there. When a rift appeared in the sky, Nogth Ma’klurl’uth entered it to find new avenues of destruction—what it found was the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh. The unique properties of the Slugmarsh and the madness seeping in through the rift from his home plane made it an ideal hunting ground for the madness slug, which has since spent centuries hunting in the subterranean swamps, going back to the demiplane of madness when prey is scarce in the Underworld bogs.

One of the first denizens of the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh that Nogth Ma’klurl’uth came across was a drow witch named Hejkri. The dark elf didn’t answer the impulse to run and was quickly swallowed whole by the madness slug, but did not die quickly. Instead she suffered for decades, her soul and mind torn apart by Nogth Ma’klurl’uth—since then the madness slug has assumed her form at times, insinuating herself into traveling parties, establishing a coven, and otherwise driving those that meet “her” into madness.


Drow-Female-RogueNogth Ma’klurl’uth (drow witch 7); CR 11 (XP 12,800)
HP 80 (12d6+36); AC 23 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural)
Init +8; Speed 30 ft.; Atk dagger +7 (1d4+1)
Base Atk +6; CMB +7; CMD 21; SA hexes (cackle, coven, evil eye, misfortune); SQ cantrips, darkvision 120 ft., DR15/magic; Immune acid, cold, mind affecting effects, paralysis, sleep; SR 18
AL Chaotic Evil; SV Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +11; Str 12, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 18, Wis 12 Cha 18
Skills Knowledge (arcana) +19, Knowledge (planes) +19, Perception +16, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +19, Stealth +19, Swim +16; Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes
Spell-LikeAbilities (CL 12th, concentration +16)
at will—glibness
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 7th; concentration +11)
4th—black tentacles, fear
3rd—deep slumber, dispel magic, seek thoughts
2nd—blindness/deafness, detect thoughts, hold person, touch of idiocy
1st—burning hands, chill touch, command, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement 
0th—bleed, detect magic, spark, touch of fatigue

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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 Madness” section in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide).

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Maddening May: Into the Corners of the Mind – Phobias

spider-crawlingSo you have a PC that’s got a phobia, and you are tired of all the usual ones? Spiders, snakes, rats—well take a look below! Here are eight offbeat phobias as well as an old friend (but with a new take on the rules).

Phobia Rules
A phobic character gains the condition shaken as long as the source of the phobia is obvious.
If a phobic character is directly confronted by his obsession (requiring a standard action by an opponent deliberately attempting to trigger the reaction), he must make a DC 14 Will save against the insanity or become frightened by the object for 1d6 rounds.


Ablutophobia is the irrational fear of bathing. While this phobia might not matter in some societies, in a fantasy setting half-orcs and most monster races might not take offense by the unwashed adventurer, as well as most wilderness settlements. The exceptions to this would be backwater elven settlements and the like, where they keep to a high degree of cleanliness. There are however plenty more societies where the unwashed adventurer suffers negative modifiers to social encounters. It is important to remember that we are talking about a phobia, not simply a dirty and sweaty adventurer. A character suffering from ablutophobia can avoid bathing for months—or longer.
The phobia results in a -2 penalty to social Skill checks and Charisma checks. Needless to say, the character might want to take a rain check when the party meets high society folk.

gold piecesAurophobia is the fear of gold, also known as the Dwarven Plague. Dwarves with this phobia are usually shunned by their peers, forced to leave their friends and family behind as they find a new home, far from the gold so common to dwarven cities. This phobia has forced many adventurers into early retirement, leaving them to beg for silvers or coppers in the streets. Aurophobia is also a good quirk for a beggar the party encounters—he just looks at their faces, then screams and throws away the gold piece, running for the hills in fear.
This phobia is well suited for the standard rules for phobias, but it deserves mentioning for the sheer hilarity it can bring to a campaign. I mean seriously—afraid of gold!

Catoptrophobia is the fear of mirrors. This phobia bears mentioning specifically for campaigns where vampires are common. A character who does not want to look into a mirror? That gets a vampire hunter’s attention.The character does not use mirrors for any task, including but not limited to scrying and grooming. Apart from the antipathy to mirrors the usual rule applies.

Claustrophobia is the well-known fear of confined places. Many delves if not all involve tight confined spaces, and the adventurer feels more at home under the open sky than beneath the ground. When venturing beneath the ground, he is edgy and overly worried of the chance of cave-ins, endlessly checking the cavern wall, floors and ceilings.
While easy to use with the standard rules, I suggest the following add on: enemies flanking the character gain an additional +1 to attack rolls as their target does not concentrate fully on the situation, distracted by an impulse to go for open ground.

Monk-2Hagiophobia is the fear of all things holy. In places where there are more gods than countries, this phobia is always fun to watch play out. The character is struck by an intense fear of gods and their clerics and temples. It is important to note that the character is fearful of the gods and not an atheist—he believes they are real, but that they are to be feared.
The most crippling effect of hagiophobia is the fact that before accepting any kind of aid from the gods, the character must take a Will save (DC 10 + spell level + the spellcaster’s Wisdom modifier). Apart from that the character follows the normal phobia rules when exposed to instances of divine power or holy symbols and the like.

Hylophobia, the fear of trees, woods and forests, this is the elves’ version of the Dwarven Plague, known as the Elven Illness. While this phobia does not seem so bad at first, please consider who can contract it—for druids this phobia will be devastating! In the deep forests of the world, the tale of Stoneoak is told at campfires, the treant who became scared of trees and by extension himself, so frightful that he eventually threw himself into a forest fire to free himself of a life of fear and self-loathing.
Apart from the standard rule, the character cannot use any items in which wood is incorporated into the design.

Methyphobia is the fear of alcohol, by many considered the bane of adventurers everywhere. In regards to how many hours are spent in taverns by adventurers, this phobia is a severe hindrance. At some social functions the character is at a distinct disadvantage but the views upon methyphobia sufferers vary from culture to culture; dwarves might find it odd, whereas elves view it with curiosity or downright contempt for not being able to conquer one’s fears.
Sufferers from methyphobia do not drink alcohol even if they make their saving throw; a success means that they sit in the tavern, but are visibly uncomfortably while doing so.

Mosshammer-Skeletal-Soldier-longswordNecrophobia—fear of the dead, corpses, tombstones, and coffins. This phobia is a good one to spring on adventurers fond of fighting undead (though if you are overly fond of it, maybe you are already a little deranged!). It triggers both from the environment and creatures, so you get two for the price of one. As a side note let the party stumble into Hell Darkstorm, necromancer extraordinaire—if he had not developed necrophobia sufferer, anyway. Now he sits in a tavern hoping that people will believe his tales; perhaps the party hires him to go into the catacombs below the city streets?
This phobia incurs a -2 penalty to saving throws against spells and spell-like effects coming from undead creatures. Furthermore, the usual rule applies for both the environment and undead creatures.Alternatively instead of the penalty, it could make the character deal nonlethal damage to living opponents as he does not want to be responsible for creating his own fear, so to speak.

Wiccaphobia is the fear of witches, and this shouldn’t be a phobia—witches should always garner the greatest respect from adventurers because they are witches! In a fantasy setting this phobia would be fear of any kind of magic from hedge wizards and old wise women (which we all know are witches in disguise).
The usual rule applies to any encounter with witches, and the character suffers a -2 penalty to saving throws made to resist spells cast by witches, and the character will not let a witch cast any spell on him (even if the spell is beneficiary). A particular mean GM might even impose the rule that the character fears both sorcerers and witches (in which case the rule applies to spells cast by either sorcerers or witches).

Curing Phobias
Recovering from a phobia is a lengthy process—once per week, the character makes a Will save against the insanity’s current DC. Success on this save reduces the phobia’s DC by a number of points equal to the character’s Charisma bonus (minimum of 1). The character continues to suffer the full effects of the phobia until its DC is reduced to 0, at which point he is cured and the phobia vanishes completely.

Lesser restorationhas no effect on insanity, but restoration reduces the current DC of one insanity currently affecting a target by an amount equal to the caster’s level. Greater restoration, heal, limited wish, miracle, or wish immediately cures a character of any insanity they are afflicted by.

Disclaimer: Any point of view expressed in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not in any case represent, define or otherwise reflect the view of the AaWBlog,, or AAW Games, Inc. For more information on insanity in Pathfinder, see the “Sanity and Madness” section in Chapter 8 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide.
Phobia rules and Curing phobias are taken from Paizo’s Gamemastery Guide.

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Maddening May: Echoes of the Asylum

SpiritEchoes of the Asylum     CR 8
XP 2,400 CE haunt (30 ft. radius)
Caster Level 6th
Notice Perception DC 24 (to hear painful moans, pitiful sobbing, and maniacal deranged laughter)
hp 16; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
Effect When this haunt is triggered a group of white semi-transparent humans appear. They are all dressed in rags, and their faces clearly show various pained expressions (such as sunken eyes, drooling mouths, and hands clawing at eyes and ears). They were clearly inmates at some kind of asylum as some of them still wear restraints. As one the group opens their mouths, a maddening cacophony rises within the minds of the creatures inside the haunt’s area. Creatures within the haunt’s area of effect that fail a DC 20 Will save gain an insanity from the list below (alternatively, the GM can choose an insanity fitting for the character and the campaign setting). Any bonuses against mind-affecting effects apply to this save.

d100       Insanity
1-11        Amnesia
12-48      Mania/Phobia
49-68      Multiple Personality Disorder
69-78      Paranoia
85-100    Schizophrenia
Rules for insanity can be found in the “Sanity and Madness” section of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide.For ideas on phobias, check out tomorrow’s article: Corners of the Mind!

Destruction: To destroy this haunt, a character must cast a restoration spell at the haunt’s area, while the haunt is manifest. Destroying echoes of the asylum removes any insanities that creatures may have picked up from this haunt (but only from echoes of the asylum).