Magic: Essence Wells and Essence Voids (5E Rules)

Ambient essence is the raw magical energy that permeates the world of Aetaltis. The density of ambient essence is relatively uniform across the planet, but there are notable exceptions. The most common phenomenon are essence wells and essence voids.

A cloud of raw essence pulses with potential power. (Art by Mitchell Malloy)

Ambient essence is the raw magical energy that permeates the world of Aetaltis. The density of ambient essence is relatively uniform across the planet, but there are notable exceptions. The most common phenomenon are essence wells and essence voids.

(Note: These rules are designed to be used with the Aetaltan glyph casting rules.)

Essence Wells

Essence wells are places where the levels of ambient essence are higher than normal. Most essence wells are naturally occuring features of the world's magical topography. Each essence well has a power level from 1 to 10 that indicates its strength. In Aetaltis products, essence wells are indicated by listing the essence well type followed by the power level in parentheses, like this: Lesser Essence Well (1)

Types

The power level of an essence well is a game mechanic and not something the people of Aetaltis think about. Rather, if a spellcaster on Aetaltis is talking about an essence well, they’ll refer to it by its type.

Essence Well Power Levels and Types

Power Level

Type

Description

1

Minor Essence Well

Wizards seek out these sites to build their towers or laboratories. Magical creatures are drawn to minor essence wells and often lair near them. Minor essence wells often go unnoticed due to the subtlety of their power.

2-4

Lesser Essence Well

Lesser essence wells are relatively uncommon. Powerful magical creatures, such as young dragons, will lair near them, and if a wizard discovers one they will fiercely guard the secret of its location.

5-7

Greater Essence Well

Greater essence wells are quite rare. Mature dragons will viciously defend their right to lair on a greater essence well. Wizarding colleges covet these locations for their laboratories. Rulers desire these sites as a means of powering their magical defenses.

8-9

Epic Essence Well

Only a handful of epic essence wells exist. Nations are known to go to war to control these sites. Ancient dragons will fight their own kin to the death to possess one. It is rumored that the Silver Tower of Selenthea is constructed on a site of this power.

10

Legendary Essence Well

There is disagreement among scholars over whether legendary essence wells actually exist. Myth suggests that there is a legendary essence well at the center of the Elliyen Wilds. Explorers claim that a churning essence vortex exists somewhere among the Isles of the Lost Coast, and this vortex is actually a legendary essence well.

Size and Shape

Most essence wells have a spherical area of effect with a diameter of fifty to one-hundred yards. A few have greater areas of effect (as much as a few miles) while others have smaller (just a few feet across.) Typically, the more powerful the essence well, the smaller its area of effect.

Game Effects

Essence wells have the following game effects on characters and objects inside the well’s area of effect.

  • Increased Essence Recovery: You receive a bonus to essence recovery equal to the well’s power level.
  • Spell Cost Reduction: The essence point cost of spells is reduced by the power level of the essence well. The cost is never reduced below zero.
  • Increased Spell Difficulty: Casting spells with an essence point cost lower than the well’s power level is difficult due to the sheer amount of power in the area. Spellcasting checks for casting these spells are made at disadvantage.
  • Essence Stone Recovery: Essence stones left in an essence well's area of effect will recover a number of essence points per day equal to the well’s power level, up to the stone’s maximum.
  • Increased Spell Mishap Effect: Add the essence well's power level to any rolls on the spell mishap table.
  • Sensing an Essence Well: When a character with the ability to cast spells moves into the area of an essence well they may sense it with an active or passive magic Perception check1. The DC for the check is 20, but the roll is positively modified by the well’s power level.

Essence Voids

Essence voids are places with lower than normal levels of ambient essence. Usually this is the result of a magical catastrophe, although some essence voids occur naturally. Each essence void has a power level from 1 to 10 that indicates its strength. In Aetaltis products, essence voids are indicated by listing the essence void type followed by the power level in parentheses, like this: Lesser Essence Void (1).

Types

The power level of an essence void is a game mechanic and not something the people of Aetaltis think about. Rather, if a spellcaster on Aetaltis is talking about an essence well, they’ll refer to it by its type.

Power Level

Type

Description

1

Minor Essence Void

Most minor essence voids are naturally occurring, although a few are the result of a spell mishap.

2-4

Lesser Essence Void

Many lesser essence voids are the result of an abomonae draining the area of its essence to cast some vile spell during the Age of Darkness.

5-7

Greater Essence Void

Greater essence voids are uncommon, but many adventurers will encounter one during their careers. In a void of this power level, some magic items will fail and many arcane spells are uncastable. A void of this magnitude may be the result of a powerful dark magic ritual or the catastrophic failure of a high level spell.

8-9

Epic Essence Void

Epic essence voids are exceptionally rare phenomenon. Most are the result from a magical mishap of epic proportions. The level of power to inflict this much damage to the ambient essence include the destruction an Alliance city gate, the catastrophic failure of the most powerful ritual spells, or magic of the sort wielded by avatars or elder dragons.

10

Legendary Essence Void

The only place an essence void of this magnitude is believed to exist is at the center of the ruins of Old Erinor. An essence void of this power has the potential to drain the very life from one’s spirit.

Size and Shape

Most essence voids have a spherical area of effect with a diameter of fifty to one-hundred yards. A few have greater areas of effect (as much as a few miles) while others are smaller (just a few feet across).

Game Effects

Essence voids have the following game effects on characters and objects inside the void’s area of effect.

  • Decreased Essence Recovery: Characters do not recover essence naturally while they are in an essence void of any power level.
  • Essence Drain: For every hour that you spend in an essence void you lose a number of points of personal essence equal to the void’s power level. The same is true for essence stones in an essence void.
  • Spell Difficulty: All spellcasting checks rolled while in an essence void are made at disadvantage.
  • Life Drain: For each full hour a living being spends in a Legendary Essence Void (10), their maximum hit points are temporarily reduced by 1 point. This is a cumulative effect. If the living creature’s maximum hit points are reduced to zero they die, their spirit is obliterated, and they cannot be brought back from the dead. This also applies to ghosts, constructs, or other magically animated beings (assuming that haven’t already been returned to a mundane state by the void’s power.)
  • Sensing an Essence Void: When a character with the ability to cast spells moves into the area of an essence void, they can sense it with an active or passive magic Perception check1. The DC for the check is 20, but the roll is positively modified by the void’s power level.
  • Reduced Spell Mishap Effect: Subtract the essence void's power level from any rolls on the spell mishap table.
  • Magic Item, Scroll, Spell, Potion, and Magical Ability Failure: Magic items, scrolls, potions, spells, and magical abilities that replicate spell effects might not function in an essence void. If the source spell has an essence point cost less than or equal to the void’s power level, it will not function inside the void’s area of effect. (See glyph magic rules for more information on spell costs.)

You foolishly enter a Lesser Essence Void (3) in pursuit of a band of goblins. When you confront the goblins, you pull out your Acid Arrow scroll and try to cast the spell, but nothing happens. This is because Acid Arrow is a 2nd level spell which normally costs 3 EP to cast. Since the void’s power level is 3, the scroll has become nothing more than a mundane sheet of parchment with a bit of ink splattered on it. Once you leave the void, the scroll’s magical power will return.

Essence Wells, Essence Voids, and Divine Spellcasters

Divine spellcasters can sense essence voids and essence wells, but they suffer neither the advantageous nor the disadvantageous game effects when casting spells. Divine magic items, scrolls, potions, and magical abilities that replicate spell effects, however, are impacted by the negative game effects of an essence void. To determine whether a divine magical effect is impacted by the void, check the cost for an arcane spell of that level on the Spell Level Essence Point Cost table in the glyph magic rules. If the spell cost is equal to or less than the power level of the essence void, the magical effect is nullified.

ART & ILLUSTRATION

  • Art and Concept Art by Mitchell Malloy

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All game rules published under Open Game License v 1.0a.

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