Environmental Hazards

From LegendWiki

The rules presented below provide options for representing the potential harm inflicted by falls, suffocation, and starvation in a game. These should be seen, in general, as tools for a GM to use. Rules for falling, suffocation, and starvation in particular may not fit into or have a role in every game, but when a game does need them you can find them below.


Willingly or otherwise, characters sometimes take the plunge, and when they do it's good to know how much hurt you can deliver with a casual defenestration. As Legend tends to deal with height as an abstract function, we typically divide falls into three narrative types.

Trivial Fall

Short and inconsequential, a trivial fall is easily survived and doesn't slow a character down in any sense besides potentially forcing him to jump back up to his previous position.

Hazardous Fall

A hazardous fall is more dramatic in nature, and might cause some real injury, dealing 5d6 damage. By default, a fall that inflicts damage should be a hazardous fall.

Dramatic Plunge

Sometimes you get pushed off a cliff by the Marquessa de Winter and a hazardous fall just isn't enough. A dramatic plunge deals 5d8 damage, plus 1d8 damage per level of the falling creature. This is, very explicitly, a fall to your doom, and should not be a common occurrence. Use dramatic plunges only sparingly, only when dramatically appropriate, and be aware that what is a dramatic plunge for one creature in one situation might not be for another.


Most creatures need air to survive, and running out of it is a bad way to go. Suffocating creatures become [Slowed] and [Energy drained] from suffocation each [Round] at the end of their turns. The penalty from the [Energy drained] condition inflicted by suffocating stacks with any other penalties from [Energy drained], up to a maximum of the suffocating creature's highest circle. Conditions gained from suffocation ignore [Immunity], and cannot be removed until the creature is no longer suffocating. If at the end of its turn a suffocating creature's penalties from [Energy drained] cannot increase, it falls [Unconscious] instead, and dies after a number of minutes equal to half its Constitution score.

The risks of suffocation can be held off temporarily by holding one's breath. Most creatures can hold their breath for 1 [Round] per point of Constitution they possess in pressurized environments, or for a single [Round] in hard vacuum. Creatures that don't need to breathe never suffocate, and can hold their breath indefinitely.


While not appropriate for all campaigns at all times, the rules for other forms of extreme deprivation are similar to those for suffocation, though they occur over much longer time scales. A creature that does not meet a basic need (e.g. eating a meal, drinking a couple litres of water, getting an 8-hour rest, etc.) for a number of days equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum 1 day) becomes deprived of that particular basic need and is [Energy drained] at the beginning of each day. The penalty from the [Energy drained] condition from being deprived of that basic need stacks with any other penalties from [Energy drained], up to a maximum of the deprived creature's highest circle. The [Energy drained] condition from deprivation of a basic need ignores [Immunity] and cannot be removed until the deprived creature meets that basic need. If at the beginning of a day a deprived creature's penalties from [Energy drained ] cannot increase, the creature falls [Unconscious] instead, and dies after a number of days equal to half its Constitution modifier (minimum 1 day). Creatures that don't have to meet a particular basic need do not become deprived of that basic need.

Dangerous Environments

Be aware that environmental hazards can easily become too deadly if applied in excess, leading to an untimely demise for all involved. This can be a far worse problem when hazards do not affect all parties symmetrically. We strongly recommend your encounters include no more than one of these hazards, plus another one for every 3-5 levels of the players, and that you monitor their potential effects carefully. As a rule of thumb, if an environmental hazard negatively affects or is likely to negatively affect a greater percentage of one party in an encounter than the other, treat the EL of the advantaged party as one higher. Try not to place your players in a position where EL is being adjusted by more than two points either way.

Hostile Environments

Hostile Environments
Environment Description Save Effect
Bright A little too bright, actually. Fortitude [Dazzled] until the end of the [Encounter]
Deceptive This place does things to your head. Will [Confused] until the end of the first [Round]
Foul air You can feel it on your skin. Fortitude [Sickened] until the end of the [Encounter]
Haunted There's something watching. Will [Shaken] until the end of the [Encounter]
Loud WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY? Fortitude [Deafened] until the end of the [Encounter]
Memetic hazard Goggles would have done something. Will [Blinded] for one [Round]
Nauseating Oh, ew. Fortitude/Reflex [Nauseated] for one [Round]
On fire This is what you get for fighting in a burning building. Reflex [Burning] for three [Rounds]
Restful You have to shake yourself awake. Fortitude [Fatigued] for one [Round]
Tricksy Don't trip on the roots, now. Reflex [Entangled] until the end of the [Encounter]

From the desert sun that forces a wayward vagabond to avert his eyes, to the fumes of a bubbling tar pit, some environments are fundamentally hostile. Simply being in these places can inflict any one of a number of undesirable conditions. At the start of each [Encounter], each creature in a hostile environment gains the condition listed as the effect of that environment given in the table for the duration listed. The DCs for hostile environments are 10 + 5 per [Encounter] spent in that environment during the current [Scene].

A successful save of the type listed for a hostile environment in the table negates the environment’s effect. If an environment lists two different saves, the GM chooses either save when the environment is created.

After a creature ends one or more [Scenes] in some hostile environments, it may become acclimated to that environment. At the beginning of each [Scene], after the first completed in that environment, each creature in a hostile environment that has completed a [Scene] in that environment may make a save to gain [Immunity] to that environment. A successful save of the type listed for a hostile environment in the table (DC 30 - 5 for each [Scene] in which the creature made a successful save against that environment - 5 for each [Scene] after the first it has completed in that environment) grants the creature [Immunity] to the effects of that particular hostile environment.

Limited Visibility

In a world navigated primarily by sight, not being able to see can be a serious hazard to anyone. There are two grades of limited visibility:

  • Obstructed-visibility conditions can be fog, smoke, heavy rain, dust-storms, and the darkest part of night, among other things. Creatures in these conditions treat all creatures outside of their [Melee] range as [Concealed], and are [Concealed] when viewed from beyond [Melee] range. They likewise treat all creatures beyond their [Close] range as [Fully concealed], and are [Fully concealed] when viewed from beyond [Close] range.
  • Zero-visibility conditions can be anything from whiteout conditions and total darkness to swimming pools full of blood. Creatures in these conditions suffer the effects of being [Blinded], and those looking into these conditions cannot distinguish features of the environment and treat creatures inside zero visibility conditions as if they were [Invisible].

Illumination, such as that provided by torches and some abilities, and [Darkvision] can counter limited visibility that results from darkness, though most illumination is useless against magical darkness. Illuminated creatures and areas are treated as [Revealed] for purposes of concealment granted by darkness, though not necessarily for other forms of concealment.


Onrush Severity
Severity 1 The creature treats movement, except in the direction the onrush is flowing, as difficult terrain.
Severity 2 The creature is [Checked] against the direction the onrush is flowing.
Severity 3 The creature is [Blown away] in the direction the onrush is flowing and takes 5d6 physical damage.
Severity 4 The creature is [Battered]
Severity 5 The creature takes 5d6 physical damage.

From avalanches and mudslides to coursing rivers and great typhoons, a certain class of hazard falls in the territory of "knocking you over and hitting you with stuff." These conditions are divided by severity, from easily-overcome currents or mudslides to brutal torrents of stone, water, or tornado-force winds. When using an onrush, a GM must determine whether the onrush occupies the whole battlefield or a smaller defined area, what direction it is flowing, whether or not they want to optionally designate it as a [Ground] effect, and its severity, from one to five.

Each [Round], at the beginning of its turn, each creature in the area of an onrush suffers the effect corresponding to the onrush’s severity, listed in the table, as well as the effects corresponding to each lower severity. A successful Fortitude save (DC 5 + 5 per severity of the onrush) negates these effects.

Unusual Areas

It's not so much that the laws of physics ever break as that they happen to be locally different on occasion. Unusual areas are places where things are a little off from the usual... or a lot off.


These areas come in two varieties: greater and lesser. At the beginning of each [Encounter] in a greater draining area, or each [Scene] in a lesser draining area, each creature in this area suffer 10 points of [HP reduction], which cannot be removed and lasts until the creature begins a [Scene] outside of the area.


The area is a maelstrom of pure energy, classified as lesser, standard, or greater. Any creature in the area at the start of its turn takes 3, 6, or 9 damage in a lesser, standard, or greater elemental area, respectively. This damage is [Fire], [Cold], [Acid], [Electricity], [Positive], or [Negative], chosen by the GM when the area is created.

Folded space

Whenever a creature in this area moves, it may add the [Teleport] descriptor to its movement.

Hard vacuum

In space, no one can hear you scream, so all creatures are [Deafened] while in this area. This condition cannot be removed and ignores [Immunity]. In addition, creatures in a hard vacuum must hold their breath or begin suffocating.

No-fly zone

Due to local regulations, creatures in this area lose [Flying] and the Fly movement mode.


All squares in this area are difficult terrain, and all d20 rolls made in this area suffer a -2 penalty.


Creatures must use the Swim movement mode or an Athletics check to navigate this area. The Fly movement mode cannot be used in this area, and unless the environment is specifically described as possessing solid ground to burrow through, the Burrow movement mode cannot be used in this area.

Zero gravity

All creatures gain the Fly movement mode while in this area, and using a free action to start or stop [Flying] does not provoke attacks of opportunity while in this area. Effects that would remove [Flying] and/or the Fly movement mode function normally.