Horror In Ravenloft

Horror Saves

Most Ravenloft campaigns include scenes in which the heroes witness scenes of terrible cruelty or behold events that simply should not be.

Horror is a broader emotion than fear, and more intimate. Horror often permanently colors a character's view of the world, be it through the shock of realizing that such merciless events are possible or the para- lyzing dismay of discovering some monstrous trait within oneself. Horror is the murderer of inno- cence.

Possible examples of scenes that might require a Horror save include seeing someone torn limb from limb, watching a friend transform into a hideous monster, or learning that you slew an innocent bystander while possessed by an evil spirit.

Determining the Horror Save DC

Horror saves are typically prompted by un- usual, unique situations rather than by creatures, so unlike Fear saves there's no quick formula to determine the DC. Instead, the DM should use her best judgment to apply a DC to the scene. As a rule, the more gruesome, abnormal and/or insane the scene, the higher the DC should be. A few examples follow.

DC Horrific Scene
5
Signs of violence (a dry ing pool of blood,a splintered door, etc.).
8 A decaying body.
10
A scene of pain or suf-fering (a beggar ravaged by disease; a doctor sewingwounds shut)
12 A freshly slain corpse
15
A scene of terrible agony (torture, involuntary transformation).
20
A scene of evil, cruelty, and madness(finding dismembered bodies that have been turned into marionettes).
25 Malign paradigm shift (see below).

A "malign paradigm shift" is a situation in which a character discovers that an important element of the surroundings is not only drastically "wrong," it has been so all along, unbeknownst to the character. Examples include PCs realizing that they are the only people in a crowded inn who aren't evil shapeshifters, or discovering that the carriers of a plague epidemic are actually all the victims of rampant vampiric feeding — and are still under the vampires' control.

Circumstance modifiers often factor into Hor- ror saves. All modifiers apply to the check and stack with each other. The DM will have to make judgment calls when applying some of these modifiers. For ex- ample, if a villager suddenly grabs a hero's betrothed and starts to tr ansform into a werewolf, the DM should apply a +4 bonus to the hero's roll (loved one threatened). On the other hand, if the hero's betrothed suddenly starts to transform into a werewolf, the DM may apply a -4 penalty (loved one involved) instead.

Characters typically do not need to make Horror saves when witnessing the aftereffects of their own intentional actions. As an example, if PCs defeat a band of goblins in battle, they do not need to make Horror saves when examining the slain bodies. The same is true of monsters for their victims

Modifier Condition
+4 A loved one is clearly endangered by the threat.
+4 The victim of the threat is a despised foe.
+2 A friend or ally is clearly endangered by the threat.
+2 The victim of the threat is a foe.
+1 An Innocent is clearly endangered by the threat.
-1
An Innocent is participatingin the scene (but not threatened).
-2 A friend or ally is participating in the scene (but not threatened).
-4 A loved one is participating in the scene (but not threatened).
-4 Character is inadvertently responsible for the scene.
-1 Character is of good alignment.
+1 Character is of evil alignment.
-1 Character is in close quarters (no place to run).
+1 Character is in an open area (room to run away)
+2
Character has been warned about what she's about to witness.
+1
Character has overcome or endured a similar event in the past.
-2
Character has failed a Horror save prompted by a similar scene within the past 24 hours.
-1
Character has failed a Horror save prompted by a similar scene in the past (but not withinthe past 24 hours).
-1 Character is alone.
-1 Character has lost more than half of his or her maximum hit points

Aversion: The character is frightened. Al- though the Fear effect has a duration of only 5d6 rounds, for as long as the character suffers from this Horror effect he is automatically shaken whenever he comes within 50 feet of the location where he failed this Horror save or any identical places.

Fearstruck: The character is panicked. This Fear effect lasts 5d6 ro unds, but the character suffers no further effects.

Frozen: The character is momentarily over- whelmed by the scene befo re him and can take no action for three rounds. He is considered flatfooted for the duration.

Nausea: The sight causes the character to become physically ill. He suffers an effective de- crease of 1d4+l points of Constitution. For an equal number of rounds, he cannot cast spells and can take only partial actions as he struggles to retain his last meal. The character regains these lost Constitution points at the rate of 1 per hour.

Nightmares: For the moment, the character is merely shaken. This Fear effect lasts 5d6 rounds. However, the next time the character tries to go to sleep, the horrific events of this scene will play themselves out again in his mind, causing the character to wake with a scream after only 5d6 minutes. The nightmares return every time he tries to sleep, preventing rest. For as long as this Horror effect lasts, the character cannot regain arcane spells, and each full day without rest incurs a cumulative -1 morale penalty to all attack rolls, saves, and checks, to a -4 maximum penalty. Lack of sleep also erodes the character's health. Without rest, he cannot regain hit points through natural healing.

Sleep can grant dreamless rest, allowing the character to regain spells and negate accumulated penalties. If the character does not receive a sleep spell every night, however, the nightmares begin again. Elves neither truly sleep nor dream and thus are immune to this effect; players of elven charac- ters should reroll the d4 or choose another moderate effect instead.

Obsession: The character is unable to shake this horrific memory. He continually replays the events in his mind, mumbles about them under his breath, and tries to bring all conversations back to this terrible topic.

His obsessed mind becomes clouded, and he seldom sleeps. With each day of restless obsession, he suffers a cumulative -1 morale penalty to initiative and Listen, Search, and Spot checks, to a maximum penalty of -4.

The character ignores his health while ob- sessed. He cannot regain hit points through natural healing, and each full week without rest also in- flicts 1 point of effective Constitution decrease.

Once the character recovers from Obsession, lost Constitution points return at the rate of 1 per day. (See "Recovering from Failure," below.)

Rage: The character's mind is overwhelmed by a primitive, mindless fury directed toward the source of horror. He must drop anything in his hands that is not a weapon, then rush forward to attack the object of his hatred in melee. This blind fury acts as a barbarian's rage ability, with the following exceptions: unlike a barbarian, the char- acter is not in control of his actions. He cannot retreat from battle and will not stop attacking the subject of his rage even if it is destroyed. He must also move toward the subject using the most direct route, even if this means passing through threat- ened areas. If anyone — even an ally — tries to block his path and he cannot move around, he must fight his way through the obstacle.

The rage lasts a number of rounds equal to 3 + the character's (heightened) Constitution modifier. When the rage ends, the character regains control of his actions, but he is fatigued Revulsion: Works as Aversion, except that the character is shaken if exposed to anything that merely reminds him of the horror scene. A charac- ter horrified by a vampire attack may suffer repulsion upon seeing a large swarm of bats or hearing the conversational mention of a vampire, for example.

Fascination: The character develops a morbid fascination with the scene. This obsession be- comes so overpowering that it warps the character's personality. In the fascinated character's mind, the source of the horror effect becomes more and more powerful. The fascinated character may eventually believe that the source is omnipotent; he may even revere it. As an example, a character who becomes fascinated after witnessing a vampire draining the blood from a victim may seek out that vampire and offer his servitude. As the fascinated character warps himself into a willing slave of his own horror, he suffers a cumulative, effective drain of 1 point each from Wisdom and Charisma each week. If either score drops below 3, the character becomes a lost one (see "Additional Failures" under "Mad- ness Saves").

Once the character recovers from Fascination, lost Wisdom and Charisma points return at the rate of 1 each per day.

Haunted: Witnessing the horrific scene shat- ters the character's ability to see any good in the world. He suffers the Obsession effect and also suffers 1d6+l points of effective Charisma decrease as his spirit becomes hardened and withdrawn. Once the character recovers from the Haunted effect, lost Co nstitution and Charisma points return at the rate of 1 each per day.

Mental Shock: The character's mind simply shuts down, unable to comprehend what it is wit- nessing. While suffering from mental shock, the character can take no actions and is considered flatfooted. He will walk if dragged along but cannot run.

Mental shock lasts three rounds. At the end of that duration, the character must make another Horror save at the same DC to escape the effects.

If he fails, the effects persist, but he can retry the saving throw once every three rounds until he succeeds. If the horrific scen e is no longer present, the character gains a cumulative +1 morale bonus to each retry until he succeeds.

System Shock: The shock proves to be too much for the character's heart; he must make an immediate Fortitude save against the same DC or suffer 3d6 points of temporary Constitution damage.

Additional Failures

Some Horror effects (such as Rage or Mental Shock) have outburst durations that can be mea- sured in rounds, but all Horror effects actually linger for days. (See "Recovering from Horror" for long-term durations.)

A character can carry only a single Horror effect at a time. If a subsequent failed Horror save indicates a result of equal or lesser severity, use another outburst of the existing effect. If a failed Horror save indicates a result of greater severity, remove the existing effect and default to the greater one instead. Horror effects do not stack.

Horror effect durations superimpose; the dura- tion is measured from the time of the latest failed Horror save.

Recovering from Horror

Minor Horror effects last one week. Moderate effects last two weeks. Major effects last thirty days. At the end of this duration, the character rolls a recovery check (a Horror save). Use the DC of the original Horror save with a -2 morale bonus, since time and distance heal all wounds. If the character succeeds at this check, the Horror effect is removed. If she fails, the Horror effect persists for another duration period. A character can retry failed Horror recovery checks each time she reaches the end of a duration period. The -2 DC modifier is cumulative with each attempt.

Numerous spells and magical effects (such as modify memory or remove fear) can also remove all Horror effects.

Minor Horror Effect

1d4 Effect
1 Aversion
2 Fearstruck
3 Frozen
4 Nausea
1d4 Effect
1 Nightmare
2 Rage
3 Obsession
4 Revulsion
1d4 Effect
1 Fascination
2 Haunted
3 Mental Shock
4 System Shock

 

Horror In Ravenloft

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