Whatever its reason for existence, the Fade is a real force in the uninhabited areas ofAllusia. Its overall effect is to turn the wilds of Allusia into an unknowable chaos. Landmarks change. Ruins appear and disappear. Distances between known locales become longer or shorter unless a trained guide is brought along. Basically, any unknown territory could be changed and the reality of “the map” holds no permanence, but only to those unfamiliar to the terrain. Many an unfortunate peasant has wondered off into the woods and disappeared without a trace. Some explorers have reported finding, not only ruined cities, but populated cities where no city should be; cities which are no longer there when a party of explorers comes back the next month. Anything might be found out in the wasteland wondering between cities. Roads seem to impede the Fade, but a well travelled road left alone for a season might disappear or change shape.
Within Aversillian civilization, life can be violent but people can count on things and situations to work out in a fairly mundane manner. An ogre who lives in the forest nearby wants to attack the village and so, once a week, he wades in and kills a few guards and then, enough heat, he heads back off into the woods. That’s what civilization is like. It has dangers, but they are understandable. They make sense. Crazy monsters are basically mundane biological entities except that they are bigger, or they breathe fire, or they cast spells. Ugly intelligent species basically act like people even if they act like evil people. They are however fairly reasonable creatures in that they obey logic. This logic is referred to by sages as the Centering. You assume that the ogre eats things, that he sleeps somewhere, that his home is near the town he keeps invading, etc.. This is what the supernatural is like within the boundary of civilization.
Outside the world of civilization in Fallen Aversill, the logic of these creatures fades away, the logic of geography fades away, and even the logic of time can fade away. Inside the confines of civilization, the D and D world of Aversill is like augmented medieval Europe or the medieval Near East. Outside of civilization, however, the world of Aversill is closer to the world of fairy tales and myths. This failure of the world to obey logic is called the Fade. When it is at its worst, the world threatens to pull itself even further apart towards alien alternative dimensions (The Shadowfell, The Elemental Chaos, The Fey Wyld) so that the weirdness of a hyper-inflated natural world becomes the weirdness of dimensional travel.
Why would anyone, then, choose to head off into the Fade knowing full well the whatever logic they might count on to keep themselves safe is likely to simply vanish? Worse yet, why would anyone or anything choose to live in the shifting wilderness? Obviously, the Fade presents great risk to its inhabitants. Adventurers who head off into it are likely to never be heard from again, lost in the ‘nowhere’ of it. They are as likely to face insanity as they are to get rich. Why would anyone take such risks?
Adventurers are people who have an answer to that question. There is great wealth and magical power to be had out in the Fade. Some adventurers choose to follow up on religious beliefs, hoping that the Fade will bring them closer to their gods. Others choose to follow some personal quest that requires them, eventually, to head off into the wastelands where the roads refuse to go. Some are just bored; after all, the natural and centered world is a place that is fairly devoid of D and D exoticism (though it’s still fairly mystical compared to our own). Perhaps, they head off into the Fade for a chance to see giant animals and cities that appear out of the mist. Whatever their reasons, though, being an adventurer eventually requires that the world of logic be left behind if they hope to pursue glory outside the confines of civilization. One cannot cruise the farmlands fending off kobolds forever; there’s no money in it.
Kinds of Fade Phenomena
Minor: Minor phenomena occasionally appear even to people who are centered. They are like set dressing. A character might see a city in the clouds or enormous creatures wondering about on a faraway hill. They couldn’t interact with these things if they tried because of distance, and if they chose to take on an expedition to investigate them, they would find themselves drawn away from civilization and deeper into the wilds. Minor phenemona tend to persist for hours, days, or even longer.
Moderate: Moderate phenomena happen generally civilized areas and act something like developed mirages. They are not close enough that they can interact with characters without first drawing them in, but they are close enough that they invite exploration or interaction. A character might, for instance, come over a hill to see a carnival-esque caravan composed of elephants and giant lizards moving along a road that no one recognizes or remembers being there. Generally, moderate phenomena last minutes or even hours before drifting back into the Fade. Occasionally, moderate Fade phenomena represents geographical or temporal dislocations (a path, for instance, that offers a shortcut through the woods). An army of men march in the distance bearing the banners of armies that haven’t been seen for hundreds of years.
Major Phenomena: Major phenomena occur in places far removed from human habitation like the woods, deserts, and seas. The less likely the character is it see another member of civilization, the more likely they are to experience major phenomena of the Fade. In general, major Fade phenomena are extremely close and may have the capacity to choose whether or not to interact with characters. A character wandering off into the forest might encounter, for instance, a grove of talking trees, a forgotten temple to an unknown god, or a giant. Dislocation of time and space are fairly common Fade phenomena in these places so that characters might find themselves wandering in a forest for years even though it might take only a few days to cross it as the crow flies.
Extreme Phenomena: Extreme phenomena occur only in the most desolate of places, the deep woods, the deep deserts, underneath the ocean, etc.. In these places, the Fade is so chaotic that it opens up portals between worlds. Characters in these places are in danger of passing into the Outlands through Trods and Glooms
The Center and the Fade for Peasants and the Common Folk
They say that in medieval Europe, a peasant wasn’t very likely to ever make it more than a mile from the place of his or her birth. Take this idea to heart, and you will understand the average peasant’s attitude towards the Fade. Peasants are born in a safe place, they live in a safe place, and they die in a safe place; what reason would they have for going off into the woods? None, and so they don’t.
Peasants and commoners don’t think about the Fade; they think that the wilds outside of civilization are unsafe. They think that the area where they live is safe. If they have to move between two distant places, they will try to move at the same time as an army so as to keep safe, but they won’t know to do this in order to maintain the Center. They just recognize the age old understanding of safety in numbers.
The Center and the Fade for Soldiers
Obviously soldiers and patrols make it out into the wilderness here and again as part of their job, and thus, they are likely to encounter out of the way places and the kind of desolate terrain that tends to fall in line with the Fade. As a result, most soldiers are familiar with Fade phenomena. While on patrol, they might encounter, for instance, the kind of monster that doesn’t really appear in nature (like a manticore). A soldier, out on the March, might get lost and wander into a city that’s not on any maps. Either way, those who go out into the wilds are aware that there is something wrong there besides the threat of untamed nature. They are likely to be superstitious about the wilderness and fearful of venturing off into it alone.
Two things, in terms of soldiers, ought to be considered. The first is that soldiers who patrol a civilized area (like a road, for instance), are less likely to see major Fade phenomena as are adventurers who habitually head off out into it. Second, soldiers moving in an army are likely to carry the center with them and as such are unlikely to run into the Fade at all. It is the lone soldier or the lone scout who is likely to get the worst of it.
The Center and the Fade for Monsters
Many monsters are creatures of the Center. Dragons, for instance, establish the center around themselves and so do not worry about whether they’re at risk of slipping loose of reality. Other creatures, like humans, establish the center through their own form of civilization. Goblins, for instance, are able to quell the fade through the strength of their tribes and warbands.
The vast majority of creatures, however, do not respond to the Fade because they are, themselves, creatures of the Fade. A hydra isn’t some natural beast with an ecology. It’s a creature that lurks inside a ruined city, appearing here and again, to punish those who go too far out in the wasteland. It would make no sense to ask what the hydra eats or how the evil wizard, who has it locked up, manages to keep its cage clean. Such are logical concerns and have no place for the phenomena of the fade.
By and large, the vast majority of D and D monsters are creatures of the Fade. They do not attack civilization or exist near it because the Centering keeps them at bay.
Finally, there are those creatures who do not belong to this world but who try to exist in it anyways. Eladrin, for instance, are creatures of the Fade, but they choose to interact with humans. The result of this crossover is that Eladrin have spawned the degenerate race known as Elves. How long could a Manticore stay in a pen in one of the major cities before it was found, transformed, into a mundane lion?
The Thane Wizards at the monastery of Haresbreath, who are the most likely to know of such things, are divided as to what they should think about the dangers of prolonged exposure to the Fade. Some point to creatures like ogres, elves, dwarves and the Shadar Kai who have devolved because of their proximity to the center. Most assume, however, that the real danger of prolonged exposure to the Fade is due to the extensive possibility of becoming cursed.
Either way, people who have stayed too long in the Fade tend to have mental problems and a general reluctance to rejoin society. They are referred to commonly as the Fringe.
Basically, things that exist out in the fade, belong out in the fade, and really don’t have much success inside the center. This pertains to supernatural beasts which must make saves against being polymorphed into a recognizable creature upon entering normal society. The more powerful the creature, the more frequently it must make such saves. This pertains to creatures which are, of course, supernatural by Aversill standards. Dragons and Orcs are natural creatures of the mundane world.
Unfortunately, this tends to also effect magic items. Persistant magic items that are brought from the Fade into the civilized world must save or lose their magic. Nonpersistant items save when they are used. A persistant item has an effect that is “always on.” Nonpersistant items are items that need to be activated or that are not obviously magical except in a certain circumstances (like combat).
|Item strength||Save in Civilization||Save in populated Civilization|
|Low (expendibles, +1 – +2)||2||3|
|Medium (most wondrous items, +3 – +4)||3||4|
|High (Most rings, staves, wands, some wondrous items, +5)||4||6|
|Very High (Artifacts and rare items)||6||8|
Note, the idea of a civilized magic shop is somewhat complicated. It isn’t likely to have very powerful items as it is risky to bring those items into the city. The loss of enchantment also explains why people hide their hordes out in forgotten places.
Furthermore, magic and the like within civilized and populated regions is likely to carry with it side effects. The idea is that out in the fade, those things don’t matter nearly as much, but in a city, powerful magic is likely to cause a backlash.
Lastly, people are far less likely to suffer curses while centered. Chances of being cursed are halved while in civilized regions and one quarter in populated areas. Unfortunately, when the ire of the gods does come, it tends to come with increased vigor. Curses outside those placed by the gods themselves are almost unheard of inside of populated areas.
Delvers and the Fade
Delvers are people who routinely go into the fade in order to bring back its magical riches. They are, essentially, the player characters. If the centered world is mundane, and the Fade is supernatural, then the Delver, living between those two worlds, lives two lives. Delvers in the Fade are truly heroic and border even on the superheroic. Basically, they can perform like well orchestrated stunt men in an action film. They can do amazing things. Their feats of prowess can be physical, mental, or even social. They are, essentially, reaping the benefits of looser rules of humanity. The game effects of this are not always obvious. In some ways, AD and D combat already includes a component of the ridiculous with halflings armed with short swords able to slay giants and dragons. It goes further than that though. Characteristic checks carry far greater effect while in the fade, and characteristics of 17 or 18 should be considered far beyond human in their capacity.