DMs Guild Review – Fantastic Terrain

A collection of over 50 environmental hazards and magical zones.

A review copy of “Fantastic Terrain” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Justin Handlin (Crit Academy)

‘Fantastic’ can mean both great and imaginative; in the case of Fantastic Terrain, all the definitions apply. Fantastic Terrain is a supplement featuring over 50 magical and supernatural areas, zones, hazards, and terrain, including fiery geysers, sticky slime, dimensional portals, and swarms of metal-eating bugs.

Using hazardous and unusual terrain is a great way to change up an otherwise standard dungeon crawl or combat encounter. Fantastic Terrain includes an impressive variety, from spell-empowering nodes and leylines to exploding crystals and falling icicles.

Each of the 51 areas includes a Usage section, providing examples for how players and monsters could use the area to their advantage. A raging, grapple-happy barbarian could hold an enemy inside the Ice Twister, while beasts who excel at knocking their foes prone, such as lions, would be much stronger when fighting in the prone-restraining Grab Grass.

Loss of hit dice are used as penalties and consequences for many failed saves or checks. As explained in the introduction, hit dice represent a character’s long-term stamina and vitality. Losing hit dice is a more devious consequence, and more aptly represents the ‘damage’ a hostile environment can cause. I also like the rule that if a PC is out of hit dice, they begin to accrue exhaustion.

dms guild review

Not every fantastical zone is out to kill the party. Some empower certain spell schools or elemental magic, while another can empower healing spells. A smart villain or group of enemies could take advantage of this as well. Such areas could make great staging grounds for a dungeon themed around their use, such as a Necromancer using the Desecrated Grounds, which grants advantage to undead attack rolls and saves.

Other fantastical areas are created by powerful monsters. The Dragon’s Final Rest can occur where a dragon is slain. The area within a one mile radius can prevent a party from long resting and add exhaustion levels on a failed CON save. A Negative Energy Zone is created when a beholder becomes an undead Death Tyrant, creating a large area where hit points can’t be regained, and adding an extra layer to an already challenging boss fight.

With so many options I was impressed that I enjoyed almost all of them. Only one stood out as extremely problematic. The Feywild Transpose swaps a PC’s gender and makes them fall in love with the next humanoid they see for an entire day on a failed save.

I would never force a player to fall in love with someone else in a tabletop RPG, full stop. The Charm spell exists to cease hostilities, not turn anyone into a love-slave. You’re opening yourself up to all kinds of uncomfortable and borderline abusive situations. If you really want to have fun with this concept, have them infatuated or obsessed with an object or an animal, like a squirrel or a rock.

And gender-swapping as a gag needs to be put in the pile of shame along with blackface. For many people, ‘swapping gender’ isn’t a consequence or a failure on their part, but a part of who they are or ascertain to be. And gender isn’t a strict binary anyway. How would this area affect a trans PC?  I know Baldur’s Gate did it with a party member and it even appears as recently as Tomb of Annihilation (itself a nod to Tomb of Horrors), but it should be avoided unless a player expressly wants it to be a part of their character’s story.

Other than that, this supplement is damn near perfect. The use of art on nearly every page, along with the fun personalized sidebar messages from random adventures helps sell the entire product, even if the text, font, and headings are rather plain. With so many inventive ways to enhance an area, Fantastic Terrain is an easy recommendation for every DM.

Pros:

  • 51 hazardous, supernatural, and otherwise fantastical zones and areas.
  • Every zone includes usage notes  for tips on how to use them.
  • Fun flavor text by random adventurers.

Cons:

  • PC’s swapping genders and making them fall in love (Feywild Transpose) is extremely problematic.

The Verdict: From ice tornadoes and bomb crystals to reverse gravity fields, Fantastic Terrain features Over 50 interesting environmental hazards and effects to spice up your dungeons and encounters.

A review copy of “Fantastic Terrain” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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