Far Corners of the World07/06/2003

Mire and Mud: Spells of the Wetland

Few regions of the world hold more secrets than the vast and trackless swamps and marshes. Too tangled for all but the smallest watercraft to navigate, and too flooded and unstable for overland travel or settlement, swamps have always lurked on the edge of civilization. They are an assault to the senses. Riots of color meet the eyes in the form of brightly colored and often deadly plants. The countless swarms of insects, birds, and larger denizens of the bog emit a droning dull roar of sound. The cloying stink of rotting vegetation, swamp gas, and exotic flowers clogs the air, which itself feels like a clammy warm sheet soaked in mold.

But as with the other far corners of the world, great treasures can be found in the depths of the swamp. Foremost among these are numerous spells, a few of which have been developed by explorers from civilized realms, but most of which come from true children of the fen -- spells researched and practiced by the denizens of the swampland.

Illusion (Phantasm) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Sor/Wiz 1
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One living creature
Duration: 1d4+1 rounds
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

Fengut causes the victim's stomach to suddenly feel full and burbling with foul swamp mud. The rancid taste of rotting vegetation rises into the victim's throat and mouth, and his breath reeks of damp, rotting matter that is deep in the throes of putrefaction. The combined smell and taste is horribly nauseating to the victim, who becomes nauseated for the duration of the spell's effect. A nauseated creature cannot attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells, or do anything else that requires attention. The only action a nauseated creature can take is a single move action each round.

Conjuration (Summoning)
Level: Drd 6
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: 1d3 or 1d4+1 monstrous alligators
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell summons 1d3 exceptionally irate and hungry monstrous alligators from the surrounding waters. The alligators appear where you designate and act immediately, on your turn. You can issue vocal commands to the alligators on your turn as a free action; the spell grants these monstrous alligators the ability to understand your native tongue. If not commanded, the alligators seek out and attack any of your enemies; if no enemies are nearby, they sit patiently and await your command.

If you cast this spell in a swamp or similar environment (a wet region with lots of vegetation), the number of monstrous alligators summoned increases to 1d4+1, and they gain a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls.

Monstrous alligators have the following statistics (derived from the monstrous beast template in Savage Species and using a giant crocodile as the base creature):

Monstrous Alligator: CR 5; Huge magical beast (augmented animal); HD 7d8+28; hp 59; Init +1; Spd 20 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +5; Grp +21; Atk +11 melee (2d8+8, bite) or +11 melee (1d12+8, tail slap); Full Atk +11 melee (2d8+8, bite) or +11 melee (1d12+8, tail slap); Space/Reach 15 ft./10 ft.; SA improved grab, poison; SQ darkvision 60 ft., DR 10/magic, hold breath 76 rounds, low-light vision; AL N; SV Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 27, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2.

Skills and Feats: Hide +2*, Listen +5, Spot +5, Swim +16; Alertness, Endurance, Skill Focus (Hide).

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a monstrous alligator must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, the monstrous alligator establishes a hold on the opponent with its mouth and drags it into deep water, attempting to pin it to the bottom.

Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 17, initial damage 1d6 Str, secondary damage 1d6 Str. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Hold Breath (Ex): A monstrous alligator can hold its breath for 76 rounds before it risks drowning.

Skills: Monstrous alligators have a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.

*The monstrous alligator gains a +4 racial bonus on Hide checks in the water. Further, it can lurk in the water with only its eyes and nostrils showing, gaining a +10 cover bonus on Hide checks.

Quagmire Vortex
Evocation [Earth, Water]
Level: Drd 9
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Area: 80-ft.-radius spread
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: No

This devastating spell can be cast only in swampy or muddy environments; the entirety of the spell's spread must be located in this terrain or the spell fails.

When cast, the bog in this area lurches into a sluicing life, forming a vortex made of mud and peat not unlike a huge whirlpool. The violent churning motion of the vortex knocks down creatures, collapses structures, and inexorably pulls anything caught in its area toward its center.

Each creature standing in the area must make a Reflex save (DC 15) each round they remain in the area or fall down. Structures in the area take 50 points of damage per round. Any creature caught inside a structure that collapses takes 8d6 points of bludgeoning damage (Reflex DC 15 half) and is pinned beneath the rubble. A creature pinned beneath rubble takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage per minute while pinned. If a pinned creature falls unconscious, he or she must make a Constitution check (DC 15) or take 1d6 points of lethal damage each minute thereafter until freed or dead. Unfortunately, pinned creatures may be in for an even more terrible fate as they are drawn toward the center of the vortex.

Each round, all creatures that have fallen down and all structures that have collapsed move in the same circular pattern around the center of the vortex at a speed of 30. Each round, this motion draws objects 10 feet closer to the vortex's center.

Creatures on the ground that have not been knocked prone move in this manner as well, but this movement does not count against their maximum movement for the round, and, on their turn, such creatures can take move actions to move in any direction they wish. The thick mud reduces the base land speed of Large or smaller creatures to 5 feet, and it does not hinder creatures larger than this. If a creature has a natural swim speed, it may use this speed instead while in the mud.

Once an object or creature reaches the center of the vortex, it is pulled down into the mud at a rate of 30 feet per round to a maximum depth of 80 feet. Creatures pulled into the mud begin to drown whenever they can no longer hold their breath (see the Swim skill description in Chapter 4 of the Player's Handbook, and Drowning in Chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master's Guide). Characters held below the surface of the vortex can swim back toward the surface with a successful Swim Check (DC 35 + 1 per consecutive round of being under the surface).

Once the spell's duration ends, the vortex instantly calms. Trees and other natural vegetation are naturally returned to their positions before the vortex began, but creatures and artificial objects (including ruined structures) pulled down into the vortex become imprisoned in the mud; living creatures that do not have burrowing speeds quickly suffocate if not rescued.

Raise Hummock
Transmutation [Earth/Water]
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: Two 5-ft. squares/level (S)
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell can be cast in any swamplike area where mud, peat, or other unstable moist ground abounds. When cast, the spell causes the affected area to rise up into a low mound, so that two 5-foot squares per caster level are raised up above the surrounding terrain. The hummock rises up to 1 foot per caster level, and its edge slopes back down at a 45 degree angle to the level of the surrounding terrain (not necessarily to the surrounding water level). Any trees or other natural features in the area when the spell is cast are raised up as well, although features that are not fully encompassed by the spell's area are not raised. In this case, the rising mud and soil simply rises up around the stationary object. The raised hummock can be any shape you desire, but it cannot rise more than 10 feet vertically. The raised hummock is transformed into fertile soil, and it is solid enough to serve as a building's foundation or to grow crops.

Many wizards use this spell to create artificial islands deep in isolated regions of large swamps so they can build a library or research tower in the secluded area. It is theoretically possible to drain or destroy an entire swamp with multiple castings of this spell, although such a process would be costly and would no doubt enrage the local denizens.

Material Component: 1,000 gp of powdered gemstones, which must be sprinkled into the water in the region.

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